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Gluten-Free Gingerbread Cookies

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These soft gluten-free gingerbread cookies are the perfect holiday treat. Use this dough to make gluten-free gingerbread men, snowflakes, ornaments, trees, and more! 

Overhead view of a plate of decorated gluten-free gingerbread cookies on a white background with red hot candies scattered around

My kids LOVE decorating gingerbread cookies around the holidays, and a good gluten-free gingerbread cookie recipe can be a bit tricky to find.

After a few years of experimenting, we’ve settled on a recipe that’s just what we’re looking for–soft, chewy gluten-free gingerbread cookies with just enough spice, a *tiny* hint of vanilla, and a simple fuss-free icing to top them off with. Perfect for Christmas!

You won’t want to miss the game-changing piping trick we’ve been using!

Here’s what you’ll need to get started…

Overhead view of decorated gluten-free gingerbread cookies shaped like gingerbread men, snowflakes, and trees on a white background
Close up view of gluten-free gingerbread cookie dough with cutout shapes on a white background

Simple Ingredients For Gluten-Free Gingerbread Cookies

  • BUTTER OR VEGAN BUTTER. Butter or vegan butter helps give these gluten-free gingerbread cookies their tenderness and structure. I don’t recommend swapping in oils or shortening.
  • EGGS +  To bind the gingerbread dough together and keep it moist and soft, you’ll add an egg to the mix.
  • MOLASSES + SUGAR. For sweetness and that distinctive gingerbread cookie flavor, I use a mixture of molasses and brown sugar. (Did you know molasses is what makes brown sugar brown?)
  • SPICES + VANILLA. Then, you’ll add classic gingerbread spices, like ginger, cinnamon, and cloves, along with a little vanilla, which I find softens the strong tastes a bit. I like my gluten-free gingerbread cookies spiced, but not spicy, so if you like yours even more punchy, feel free to increase the spices to your taste.
  • BAKING SODA + SALT. Standard cookie ingredients! These will balance the flavors, help your cookies puff, and keep them nice and soft while they’re at it!
  • A MEASURE-FOR-MEASURE GLUTEN-FREE FLOUR BLEND. To keep things simple and consistent, I prefer using a measure-for-measure or 1:1 gluten-free flour blend that contains xanthan gum. These blends tend to bake more consistently and can handle being rolled out multiple times to make cutouts. My favorite is this one from King Arthur Baking and this one from Bob’s Red Mill.
  • A SIMPLE ICING FOR DECORATING. The most iconic icing for gingerbread cookies is royal icing, which provides beautiful results, but can be a bit finicky and time-consuming. You can absolutely go that route if you like (I’d recommend Mary Berry’s recipe!), but I usually use a simple powdered sugar icing that comes together in minutes.
  • COOKIE CUTTERS! If you want just gingerbread men, this set has 3 sizes to choose from. Otherwise, I love this set, which also comes with a tree and a snowflake.
Close up Overhead view of decorated gluten-free gingerbread cookies with white icing on a white background
Overhead view of a plate of gluten-free gingerbread cookies decorated like snowflakes on a white background

Pretty piped icing MAKE gingerbread cookies! Here are a few tips for icing your gluten-free gingerbread cookies…

1. Watch That Texture!

When decorating these gluten-free gingerbread cookies, you’ll want icing that’s bright white and holds its shape. You won’t’ want it too runny or too stiff.

When you lift up your whisk and drizzle the icing back into the mixing bowl, you should be able to see the trail of icing clearly for a few seconds. If you can pipe a tiny bit on your finger without it losing its shape, it’s perfect!

(See the video for a really great visual on how it looks drizzled into the bowl when you’ve mixed it correctly)

  • IF IT’S TOO RUNNY. If your gingerbread cookie icing is on the runny side, just add a bit more powdered sugar and mix until it stiffens up.
  • IF IT’S TOO STIFF. Add a *tiny* bit (like 1/2-1 tsp.) of milk at a time until it loosens up. Make sure to whisk/mix well in between additions to make sure you don’t’ add too much!

2. An Easy Way To Pipe Icing Onto Gingerbread Cookies:

A piping bag can be easy-breezy for adults, but if you’ve got little ones helping you, a squeeze bottle like these accordion-style piping bottles or these silicone piping bottles can be much easier for little hands (or beginner bakers!). You do need some hand strength, so your tiniest bakers will still need some help, but most elementary-aged kids should be able to manage okay!

3. Don’t Stress About Going Store-Bought!

I’ll also just say: ain’t no shame in that store-bought game. These pre-filled icing bottles are a great way to go if you need a shortcut!

Overhead view of decorated gluten free gingerbread men cookies on a white background
Overhead view of a plate of decorated gluten free gingerbread men cookies on a white background

Cute Ways To Decorate Gluten-Free Gingerbread Men Cookies

Part of what’s so fun about this gingerbread recipe is all the fun ways there are to decorate! Try one of these cute ideas:

  1. CLASSIC WITH BUTTONS. Classic gingerbread cookies often have a smiley face a few buttons down their chest. Feel free to add cinnamon candies for buttons!
  2. ADD SPRINKLES. Some small mixed-color sprinkles added to freshly iced cookies adds a fun layer of color. If you plan to do some of the decoration with sprinkles and some without, do the sprinkle decorations first so the sprinkles stick to the fresh icing. After applying your sprinkles, add your remaining sprinkle-free decorations!
  3. LEDERHOSEN. I love the look of a simple lederhosen design. It’s so cute! Make some simple “overalls” with a few connecting lines.
  4. ADD A SIMPLE BORDER. Tracing around the border of the gingerbread cookie adds a lot of dimension and looks so crisp!
  5. TRY A SCARF. Warm up your gingerbread men by adding a little scarf. My kids love this detail!
  6. ADD A BOWTIE. A cute little bowtie looks adorable. Cover it in sprinkles for a fun effect!
  7. NINJABREAD MEN. If you’ve got a family full of karate-chopping ninjas at your house, or just want to add a bit of fun to your cookie plate, these “ninjabread” cookie cutters can be so fun!
  8. SNOWFLAKES + TREES + ORNAMENTS + MORE! I’m just going to float out the idea that you can absolutely use this gluten-free gingerbread cookie dough to make gingerbread snowflake cookies, Christmas trees, ornaments, stars, candy canes, and more. The white icing looks so lovely on all different shapes, and it can be really fun to play around with. Don’t limit yourself to just gingerbread men!
Overhead view of decorated gluten-free gingerbread cookies shaped like gingerbread men, snowflakes, and trees on a white background
Overhead view of a plate of gluten-free gingerbread cookies shaped like trees decorated with white icing on a white background

FAQ + Tips and Tricks For The Best Gluten-Free Gingerbread Cookies:

DON’T RUSH THE CHILLING PROCESS! Chilling the cookie dough before rolling it out is VERY important. Chilled dough will hold its shape better during baking so your cutouts will look crisp. It can be tempting to try to skip this step, but you’ll get the best results if you chill the dough as recommended. You’ll need at least 1 hour. 2 hours is better!

A TIP FOR EASIER ICING. In case you missed it above, we really love using a squeeze bottle like these accordion-style piping bottles or these silicone piping bottles. They’re easier for little hands and beginner bakers, and they require less skill to use.

CAN I USE THIS DOUGH FOR A GLUTEN-FREE GINGERBREAD HOUSE? No. This dough will not be sturdy enough for a gluten-free gingerbread house. It’s made specifically for soft, chewy gluten-free gingerbread cookies.

CAN I MAKE THE DOUGH IN ADVANCE? You bet! If you want to make the dough up to a day in advance and store it in the refrigerator, that’s totally fine! It will likely need a few minutes at room temperature to soften a bit before you roll it out since it’ll be chilled so much longer, but the flavor and bake shouldn’t be impacted.

WHAT’S THE BEST WAY TO STORE GLUTEN-FREE GINGERBREAD COOKIES? The less air exposure, the better, so your best bet is to store gluten-free gingerbread cookies in an airtight bag or airtight container. They’ll be okay at room temperature for 1-2 days, about 3-4 days in the refrigerator, or a month in the freezer.

HOW TO FREEZE BAKED GINGERBREAD COOKIES: flash freeze them on a baking sheet lined with parchment or a nonstick baking mat until they’re no longer tacky. Then, transfer to an airtight bag or container, using parchment paper to divide each layer of cookies (this will prevent them from sticking together).  This will work with decorated or undecorated baked gingerbread cookies. (So helpful if you want to bake them in advance to decorate or enjoy later!)

Overhead view of decorated gluten-free gingerbread cookies with white icing on a white background
Close up Overhead view of decorated gluten free gingerbread men cookies on a white background

More Gluten-Free Holiday Treats To Try This Season:

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Overhead view of a plate of decorated gluten-free gingerbread cookies on a white background with red hot candies scattered around

Gluten-Free Gingerbread Cookies


5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star

4.7 from 10 reviews

  • Author: One Lovely Life
  • Total Time: 2.5 hours
  • Yield: About 2 dozen cookies (depending on the cutters you use) 1x
  • Diet: Gluten Free

Description

These soft gluten-free gingerbread cookies are the perfect holiday treat. Use this gingerbread dough to make gluten-free gingerbread men, snowflakes, ornaments, trees, and more! 


Ingredients

Scale

FOR THE GLUTEN-FREE GINGERBREAD COOKIES:

  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter or vegan butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar (packed)
  • 1/2 cup molasses
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
  • 3 1/2 cups (420 grams) gluten-free measure-for-measure flour, like King Arthur Flour*
  • 1 Tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 Tablespoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • A few tablespoons additional flour, for flouring the work surface + cookie cutters.

FOR THE COOKIE ICING:

  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 34 Tablespoons milk (I use almond milk. You can use whatever you drink)
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

Instructions

FOR THE GLUTEN-FREE GINGERBREAD COOKIES:

  1. In a large mixing bowl (or the bowl of a stand mixer), combine butter and brown sugar. Cream 2-3 minutes with a hand mixer (or the stand mixer) until smooth and creamy.
  2. Add egg, molasses, and vanilla to the butter/sugar mixture. Mix until incorporated into the dough.
  3. In a medium bowl, combine flour, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, salt, and baking soda. Whisk to combine.
  4. Add about half of the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and carefully mix to combine. Add remaining dry ingredients and stir/mix until a soft dough forms (it should be a bit like play-dough).
  5. Divide the dough into two discs and wrap tightly in plastic wrap or beeswax wrap.
  6. Chill the dough for at least 1 hour. 1 1/2-2 hours is better! (Don’t skip this step! It will help your cookies hold their shape.)
  7. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment.
  8. Get ready to roll out your dough. Place a piece of parchment paper down on the counter and very lightly flour it with 1 Tbsp. flour or less.
  9. Unwrap 1 of the dough discs and lightly flour the top. Cover with a second piece of parchment paper and use a rolling pin to roll dough out to about 1/4″ thick. Carefully, remove the top piece of parchment paper.
  10. Dip your cookie cutter into flour and use cookie cutters to punch out your shapes. (Try to put the cutouts close together to avoid waste and to cut down on the number of times you’ll need to re-roll the dough.)
  11. Transfer any cutouts to a prepared baking sheet. When you can’t get any more shapes out of the dough, scrape together all the scraps and re-roll them out using the same steps above.
  12. Repeat steps 8-11 with the second disc of dough.
  13. Bake your cookies at 350 degrees for about 8-10 minutes.
  14. Allow them to cool 2-3 minutes on the cookie sheet before transferring to a wire cooling rack. Cool baked cookies completely (at least 10-15 minutes) before icing the cookies.

FOR THE ICING:

  1. To make the icing, add powdered sugar to a bowl or large liquid measuring cup.
  2. Add 3 Tbsp. milk and the vanilla.
  3. Whisk until smooth, adding an additional 1 Tbsp. of milk as needed.
  4. Check the icing’s consistency. When you lift up your whisk and drizzle the icing back into the bowl/cup, you should be able to see the trail of icing clearly for a few seconds.
  5. If it immediately disappears into the icing, your icing is too thin. Add powdered sugar 1 Tbsp. at a time until it can hold its shape better.
  6. If the icing doesn’t drizzle smoothly, it’s too thick. Add milk a *tiny* bit at a time (1/2-1 tsp.), whisking well after each addition.
  7. You can also test the icing by adding a drop of icing to the tip of your finger. If it holds its shape when you move your hand around, it’s probably just right!
  8. Transfer the icing to a piping bag or squeeze bottle and decorate your cooled cookies as desired.
  9. Let the decorated cookies set completely on a wire rack before transferring to an airtight container. Store at room temperature 2-3 days or freeze up to 2 months. 

Notes

*I like King Arthur Measure-for-Measure flour or Bob’s Red Mill 1:1 Gluten-Free Baking Flour. Both mixes have xanthan gum and were tested in this recipe. If you use another flour blend, you may get slightly different results.

  • Prep Time: 30-40 minutes + 1 hour to chill
  • Cook Time: 16 minutes
  • Category: Dessert
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American

29 Comments

  1. These turned out great! We bake gingerbread men every year but always have struggled with the dough. Not with this recipe! Not sure what the magic was, but thank you! Do you have a gf sugar cookie recipe? Thank you!






    1. Joy, you totally made my day! I’m still perfecting my sugar cookie recipe, but it’s my next cookie to master! Thank you so much for taking the time to leave a review. It’s SO helpful!

  2. These turned out great! We did have to experiment with the baking time. Step 13 states 8 min, but our took at least 15 minutes.






    1. Kerrie – I’m glad they turned out well for you! I’m curious with the bake–did you bake till crisp or did yours still come out soft? It could be a difference in oven temperature (many ovens actually don’t cook at the temperature they’re set to, so an oven thermometer is the only way to know if you’re really at the temp. you’re trying for), or a preference in cook time. It could also be a difference in thickness. Regardless, I’m so glad you were able to get them exactly the way you wanted! Thank you so much for taking the time to leave a review! 🙂

    1. I probably wouldn’t, since the bake will be a bit different and the flavor would likely be impacted, but I haven’t tested it. I’m sorry! (If you need a non-butter or non-vegan-butter option, non-hydrogenated shortening (like Spectrum) brand, would likely work!

  3. Nice tasting but the mix was quite dry and I ended up adding extra butter and milk to create a dough, and even then it was a bit crumbly. But overall it worked well as a dough that held its shape with different cookie cutters






    1. Jess – I’m not sure if you measured by volume or by weight, but one thing that can contribute to dryness especially with GF cookies is packed flour. If you’re measuring by weight, I find this is less of an issue. If you’re measuring by volume, I recommend the scoop and level method, where you use a spoon to scoop the flour into the measuring cup and level with a knife to avoid accidentally adding more flour by packing the flour down into the measuring cup. Either way, I’m glad you were able to find a way to make them work for you! 😊

    1. Oh, I’m so glad you loved them. Thank you so much for taking the time to leave a review. I appreciate it so much! You’re the best Melanie!

  4. These came out absolutely fantastic. They were perfect. I did use the Vegetable butter since I was making them for a GF, vegetarian friend. did exactly what you suggested for spices. I decorated hers with the icing, I had mine plain and they were scrumptious.






  5. Made these cookies tonight and they are amazing! I used vegan butter and they turned out great! I also used coconut sugar instead of brown sugar and it didn’t change the taste at all. I’m so happy I came across this recipe. I wanted to freeze them for Christmas so I hope they will stay good. 😬






  6. We just made these and they turned out beautifully!! I am so pleased with the taste AND texture (and let’s be real, that’s hard to accomplish with gluten free baking)! Thank you so much. This will definitely be a staple in our holiday baking now!






  7. hoping to use this recipe for a tart crust. think it will hold up? maybe pie weights for a blind bake first? so glad to have found this recipe!

    1. That sounds delicious! I’ve never used it for anything other than cookies before. I’d think it might puff up too much for a tart crust, but you can *try* blind baking!

  8. These turned out great. I just added more ginger the second time I made them. It’s so nice to be able to make a good gluten free cookie! and just in time for Christmas!

    1. It’s a little tricky to split with the egg, but you can weigh it, beat it, and then add half of the egg to the batter (this will work better texturally than just using the egg yolk).

  9. Well I have been gluten free for almost 12years and I do not bake much, as I find that even when you buy baking from the grocery stores it is just meh. But I was feeling like I would try some this year and happened to come across your recipe on Pinterest. It did not disappoint. Of course the end product was not the same as baking with regular flour, but I have to say for my first time, I am impressed. Thanks so much






  10. I love these cookies! Found the recipe last year, made them multiple times and using it again this year (multiple times)! They’re so good! Perfect flavor, texture and baker friendly






  11. These were so good. It also made a great gingerbread house. I had cutouts for walls and a roof and it worked great once we dried them out.






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