Nothing smells more like the holidays than a fresh batch of gluten free gingerbread. These perfectly spiced cookies are great for decorating and eating on their own, but they are also sturdy enough to use in a gluten free gingerbread house.
The recipe for royal icing is included, so bust out those sprinkles, candies and chocolates!
- Gluten free flour blends
- How to measure gluten free flour
- How to make gluten free gingerbread
- Gluten free gingerbread dough
- How to tell when the cookies are baked
- Tips for making gingerbread cookies
- How to make these cookies in advance
- Why did my gingerbread cookies spread?
- Making gluten free gingerbread houses
- How to decorate these cookies
If you’re more than ready to make your own gluten free gingerbread cookies, here’s what you’ll need:
- Gluten free flour blend: I use this blend that contains white rice flour, tapioca starch, and sorghum flour. Feel free to use a different blend; however, results may not be exactly the same.
- Baking powder
- Xanthan gum: the gluten free flour blend I use doesn’t contain xanthan gum, so I always add it separately.
- Ground ginger
- Ground cinnamon
- Unsalted butter: you can substitute with a good dairy-free version, if needed.
- Brown sugar: I used light brown sugar, but any will work in this recipe.
- Molasses: an essential gingerbread ingredient! (Along with all those spices)
- Vanilla extract
- To make this recipe dairy free: substitute the unsalted butter for a good quality dairy free alternative
- To make this recipe vegan: substitute the unsalted butter for a dairy free version and use a flax egg in place of the egg (1 tablespoon of ground flaxseed + 2-3 tablespoons of water)
Gluten free flour blends
The gluten free flour used in this recipe is a homemade blend. It’s a combination of white rice flour, tapioca starch, and sorghum flour. It’s a great all-purpose blend that works in so many recipes! It only takes 5 minutes to make!
Want the recipe? Here’s the link: Gluten Free Flour Blend (All Purpose).
If you want to use a commercially available blend of gluten free flour, you definitely can try. Most pre-made blends contain xanthan gum, so be sure to omit it from the recipe.
I can’t guarantee the success of the recipe with certain blends, but be sure to let me know if you have success with a store-bought version! (My success has been limited, so I’d love to hear about great results!)
How to measure gluten free flour
The best way to measure gluten free flour is with a scale. The one I use was very inexpensive (about $15) and I use it every single day when I test recipes. I even use it when I make things on a regular basis - like these Oat Flour Waffles that the kids beg for every Saturday!
Weighing flours is much more accurate than using measuring cups. There’s a higher chance you’re going to have success with a recipe, because it’s easier to replicate the amounts that are called for. If you’re scooping your flour into a measuring cup, there’s a chance you’re taking too much (or not enough), which can massively impact your results.
If you’ve never used a kitchen scale before, it might seem scary / annoying / cumbersome, but I promise it’s none of those things. After a few times, you’ll hate having to go back to using measuring cups and spoons! (I speak from personal experience. I held out for a long time and regret it!)
How to make gluten free gingerbread
Gluten free gingerbread is the best holiday cookie. (There, I said it.) Once you get the hang of it, the recipe is super simple. The hardest part is being patient during the chill time!
Start by mixing together the gluten free flour, baking powder, xanthan gum, salt and all the spices. In a separate bowl, combine the remaining ingredients: unsalted butter, brown sugar, egg, molasses and vanilla extract. Mix both the wet and dry ingredients together to get a super sticky dough.
Chill the dough in the fridge for 1-2 hours (or overnight), then roll out on a lightly floured surface. Cut out cookie shapes, place on a parchment lined baking sheet and chill in the fridge for 10 minutes.
Bake cookies in an oven set to 350°F for 9-10 minutes. Allow them to fully cool before decorating.
Gluten free gingerbread dough
Here’s the scoop on this gluten free gingerbread cookie dough - it can be kind of temperamental. To be fair, all gingerbread doughs are moody, even the gluten-y ones, because they need LOTS of time to chill before being rolled out.
After all of the ingredients are mixed together, the dough is going to be wet and very sticky. Put your hands in there and it’s game over - it’s all over your fingers, hands, spoons and maybe even your clothes. But that’s perfect - this is how it’s supposed to be!
Chilling the dough in the fridge for 1-2 hours, or even overnight, is needed. By that time, the dough will have firmed up and can be rolled out. Give it a little kneading with your hands to warm up slightly and then roll away on a well floured surface!
If the dough goes back to a sticky mess, simply pop it back into the fridge (or freezer) for a few minutes to firm up again.
How to tell when the cookies are baked
You know that most cookies are done when they turn a nice golden brown colour. But what happens with these gluten free gingerbread ones, because they are already brown to start with?!
Figuring out when your gingerbread cookies are baked is easy once you know the signs. After about 9-10 minutes, the cookies will be slightly puffy (thanks baking powder!) and set. The colour will also go from a dark brown to a lighter shade of brown.
If they seem a bit too soft, it’s ok. They will firm up after cooling.
Tips for making gingerbread cookies
Here are my top tips when it comes to making gluten free gingerbread:
- Chill the dough if it starts to become too warm during rolling. Warm hands, or a warm kitchen, can heat up this dough more than we’d want, so make use of the fridge if you need to. If the cookies are sticking to your floured surface after cutting, just pop the dough back into the fridge (or freezer) for a few minutes to firm up.
- Use a well floured surface when rolling out the dough. This will prevent the dough from sticking all over the place if it gets a bit too warm during rolling. The cookies may appear a bit whitish with extra flour, but don’t worry - it will disappear during baking (as long as you don’t overdo it).
- Use light coloured aluminum baking sheets. When recipe testing, I used a darker, well loved baking sheet and a lighter aluminum one. The cookies looked and tasted the best from the lighter aluminum baking pan, because they cooked too quickly on the darker one. If you only have dark baking sheets, consider decreasing the bake time if your gingerbread is cooking too quickly.
How to make these cookies in advance
Want to make these gingerbread cookies ahead of time? Perfect - the chill time comes in handy for that. After mixing together the dough, simply chill the dough in the fridge overnight - or 1-2 days - until you’re ready to roll out and cut the cookie shapes.
Need even more time? Freeze the dough for up to a month and defrost in the fridge overnight before you need it. Then follow the recipe as directed.
Why did my gingerbread cookies spread?
If your gingerbread spreads and doesn't hold its shape during baking, it all comes down to the chill time. This dough needs to be chilled prior to rolling and again prior to baking in order to properly hold its shape.
Chill the dough for at least 10 minutes in the fridge prior to baking.
Making gluten free gingerbread houses
This gluten free gingerbread is the perfect recipe for making gingerbread houses! Instead of cutting the dough out into cookie shapes, cut out house pieces instead.
My daughter (who has celiac disease as well) had never experienced the joy of a gingerbread house - until this recipe! We had my husband draft up some plans and after rolling out the dough, cut out the house shapes instead. There is lots of inspiration and a few plans on Pinterest, if you want to make your own.
Chill the house shapes as per the recipe instructions and bake as directed. Once the pieces are fully cooled, you can use royal icing to “glue” the house pieces together.
How to decorate these cookies
This recipe also includes the directions for how to make royal icing. Using a piping bag with a tip, or a sandwich bag with the corner cut off, the royal icing can be used on its own to decorate the cookies, or as a “glue” to hold on your favourite candies, chocolates or sprinkles! Place the cookies out to dry at room temperature so the icing can harden and set.
Make sure cookies are decorated once they are fully cooled, to avoid melting the icing.
Store gingerbread dough in the fridge for 1-2 days, wrapped in plastic, before using. For longer term storage, the dough can be stored in an airtight container or wrapped in plastic in the freezer for up to a month. Defrost in the fridge overnight before using.
To store baked cookies, use an airtight container at room temperature. Cookies will last up to a week. (Although only a few of mine made it that long because people kept eating them!!)
Gluten Free Gingerbread
For the gingerbread cookies:
- 2 cups (265g) gluten free flour blend (see note below)
- ¼ teaspoon baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon xanthan gum (if using a commercially available gluten free flour blend with xanthan gum, omit this from the recipe)
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
- ¼ teaspoon cloves
- ⅓ cup (75g) unsalted butter, softened
- ⅓ cup (65g) brown sugar, packed
- 1 egg
- ¼ cup (85g) molasses
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
For the royal icing:
- 2 cups icing sugar
- 1 ½ tablespoons meringue powder
- 3-4 tablespoons water
- Gluten free gel food colouring optional
To make the gingerbread cookies:
- In a large bowl, combine the gluten free flour, baking powder, salt, xanthan gum, ground ginger, ground cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves. Mix well.
- In a separate bowl, mix together the unsalted butter and brown sugar until well combined. Add in the egg, molasses, and vanilla extract and mix well.
- Add the wet ingredients into the bowl containing the dry flour mixture and mix well until thoroughly combined. The dough will be very soft and sticky.
- Transfer the gingerbread dough to a sheet of plastic wrap and form it into a disc. Wrap the dough well and chill in the fridge for 1-2 hours, or overnight. The dough will become firm as it chills.
- After chilling, preheat the oven to 350°F and line 2-3 baking sheets with parchment paper.
- Remove the dough from the fridge. It may need to be worked with your hands a bit to make it pliable and rollable. On a well-floured surface, roll the dough to ⅛” (3mm) thickness. If the dough gets too sticky while rolling, pop it back into the fridge (or freezer) for several minutes to chill.
- Cut out cookie shapes and place on the prepared baking sheet, about ½” (1cm) apart. Chill the cookies in the fridge for 10 minutes.
- While the first batch of cookies chill, begin to cut out the next round and place on the second parchment sheet.
- Once the first batch of cookies has chilled, bake in the oven for 9-10 minutes until the cookies are set. The colour of the cookies will change from a dark brown to a lighter brown and they will puff up slightly.
- While the first batch of cookies bake, set the second set to chill in the fridge. Begin to cut out the third round (if required). Repeat the process until all dough has been rolled, cut, chilled and baked.
- Allow all cookies to fully cool on a wire rack prior to decorating.
To make the royal icing:
- Sift together the icing sugar and meringue powder in a medium-sized bowl. Ensure it is mixed well.
- Add in water, 1 tablespoon at a time, until the desired consistency is reached. The royal icing will thicken and harden as time passes, but the icing should be thick enough to pipe, but not so thin that it’s runny.
- To make the icing thicker, add more icing sugar. To make it thinner, add more water.
- Add food colour as desired. Separate the icing into several batches if multiple colours are needed.
- Place the icing into a piping bag fitted with a tip and decorate fully cooled cookies as desired.
- Gluten free flour: I used a blend of 50% white rice flour, 30% tapioca starch, and 20% sorghum flour. You can blend your own by following this recipe: Gluten Free Flour Blend (All Purpose). Another blend can be used; however, results may not be the same.
- Storage: Store unbaked dough in the fridge for 1-2 days, wrapped in plastic, before using. For longer term storage, the dough can be stored in an airtight container or wrapped in plastic in the freezer for up to a month. Defrost in the fridge overnight before using. Store fully baked cookies in an airtight container at room temperature for up to a week.