My Gluten Free Gingerbread Cookies are easy to make and completely melt-in-the-mouth delicious. A classic Christmas gingerbread, it has a perfect snap, is rich with warming ginger and versatile enough to build seasonal houses. Just add kids! (optional dairy free)
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Gluten Free Gingerbread Cookies – A Christmas Tradition
Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without some traditional Gingerbread Cookies. And this is the perfect gluten free recipe! It’s easy to make, warmly-spiced, makes biscuits which hold their shape and is robust enough (without being ‘hard’) to build gingerbread houses. Actually, the recipe is exactly the one we used to build our epic Gluten Free Gingerbread House. But for this post, I’m sharing lots of inspiration of the cookie variety.
If you’ve got kids, so much the better. Because once chilled, the dough is perfect for little hands. Who cares about the mess? It’s way more fun making gingerbread cookies with little people!
What type of Gingerbread Cookies are these?
When you start to dig into the world of gingerbread cookies, you realise there are dozens of varieties out there. From texture and spice, to process and origin, there is a gingerbread to fit every palate and any occasion.
The Germans are particularly prolific in their Christmas cookie repertoire. Indeed, at Gluten Free Alchemist we have worked our magic on two very different types of German Lebkuchen… Our German Gingerbread Cookies and our Gluten Free Lebkuchen recipes are as different as they are delicious…
The Gingerbread Cookies shared here are different again… Classic Christmas biscuits that are crisp yet melt-in-the-mouth, with a perfect ‘snap’ and a warming ginger kick. Divine with a cup of coffee, winter hot chocolate or a warmed glass of milk.
Gluten Free Gingerbread Men; Reindeer; Christmas Trees… and MORE!
I debated posting a recipe that was specifically dedicated to making gluten free Gingerbread Men (or rather… Gingerbread People)… But I wanted to share just how versatile this dough is when making cut-out cookies for Christmas. Seriously… Any cookie cutter can be used… Be as creative as you like! From stars and Christmas trees… to reindeer and sausage dogs. Use whatever you have in your kitchen and have fun. I think my sausage dogs look quite the seasonal treat in their Christmas jumpers!
Just make sure you don’t roll the dough too thin to be sure the biscuits hold their shape and don’t burn.
Making Gingerbread Biscuits that are safe for Coeliacs (Celiacs) and are dairy free
To ensure your gluten free Gingerbread Men are safe for people with Coeliac Disease (Celiac) make sure all the ingredients used are certified as safe. This means checking all labels for cross-contamination or hidden gluten. For information about label checking, head over to my page ‘Coeliac Disease + Food’.
The only dairy ingredient in this recipe for Gingerbread Biscuits is the butter… And that can be easily subbed for a good dairy free block alternative to make them dairy free as well as gluten free.
What’s the BEST gluten free flour blend for making Gingerbread Cookies?
My ‘go to’ flour blend for making gluten free Gingerbread Cookies is my Gluten Free Alchemist white Blend A. The recipe can be found at the bottom of my post on Gluten Free Flours and Flour Blending. It’s neutral and far less ‘gritty’ than many commercial blends. However… If what you have in your kitchen is ‘Doves’ Freee or another alternative, it should work fine. Just double-check the ingredients label for whether it already contains xanthan gum and if it does, don’t add more.
What other ingredients do I need to make this Gingerbread Cookies recipe?
In addition to a good gluten free flour blend, you’ll need:
- Bicarbonate of soda (baking soda) – for lightness
- Xanthan gum – for structure (if your flour doesn’t already contain it)
- Ginger, cinnamon, vanilla and salt – for flavour and spice
- Butter (or a good dairy free BLOCK alternative – such as Flora or Stork baking blocks).
- Soft light brown sugar
- Liquid Black Treacle (or Molasses as an alternative)
And… if you want your gingerbread men or sausage dogs to dress smart, you’ll need some icing sugar, food colour and sprinkles.
Tips for making the BEST Gluten Free Gingerbread Men or other Gingerbread Cookies
Follow the recipe
The most common reason for a recipe not working is that the ingredients and/or instructions haven’t been followed. The recipe is your guide to getting perfect cookies.
Beat in the egg by hand
While it’s fine to mix the butter and sugars together using an electric whisk (for lightness and to save your arms), it’s really important to beat in the egg by hand. Use a firm wooden or silicone spoon. This ensures that the dough doesn’t take on too much air and that the cookies do not over-rise when baked.
Working with sticky gingerbread cookie dough
I’ve dealt with this separately below because it’s super important to making the perfect cut-out cookies.
The thickness of the rolled cookie dough
Don’t roll the gingerbread dough too thin. It needs to be about ½ to ¾ cm (¼ inch) thick so that it holds its shape well, doesn’t burn to a crisp and gives the best cookie-eating experience.
Baking Gingerbread Biscuits to perfection
Keep a really close eye on the cookies when baking so they don’t burn and so they bake evenly. Set a timer for the halfway bake point and swap around the trays in the oven so all the cookies get an even colour.
If you’re worried that the cookies are browning too quickly, turn the oven down a notch. They may take a minute or two longer, but that’s fine.
Batch bake to avoid over-filling the baking trays
The recipe makes enough biscuits for three to four baking trays. Unless you have a very large oven, you are unlikely to fit them all in at the same time. So… Bake them in batches (a couple of trays at a time). If you only have two trays, hold on the extra rolling and cutting until the tins are cold, so that the cookie dough doesn’t melt.
Dry out the cookies in the oven after baking
For gingerbread cookies with a perfect ‘snap’, transfer all of them to a couple of the trays (laid out flat) after baking. Then… switch off the oven and pop the trays back in. The residual heat of the oven will help dry out any remaining moisture in the cookies, to give the best texture and shelf-life.
Get the kids involved… They LOVE making gingerbread men
Making gingerbread men and cookies is one of those times when the kids absolutely should be involved. It is Christmas after all. So brace yourself for the cleanup and throw caution to the wind… I promise you’ll have so much fun together.
Handling and rolling gingerbread dough – Tips for perfect shaping
The dough for making Gingerbread Cookies is sticky. It’s not because it’s gluten free… All gingerbread dough is sticky. So here are a few tips for working with it so that you get the best cut-out cookies without getting into a sticky pickle. Cold is your friend on this one!
- Once the dough is mixed, wrap it tightly and place in the fridge to chill until firm. This will take about an hour. It’s much easier to handle that way.
- After chilling, cut the dough into quarters and work with one piece at a time (leaving the rest wrapped in the fridge to stay firm). This ensures the dough does not become too warm to roll.
- Work the dough as little as possible… Warm hands will quickly make it sticky again.
- If the dough does become sticky, pop it back in the fridge (or freezer) for 10 minutes or so to firm up again… As often as you like!
- Roll the dough on a surface that is liberally sprinkled with gluten free flour (plain tapioca or corn starches are good). I usually roll onto dusted baking paper for the least ‘stick’.
- Once cut, transfer as quickly as possible to a baking tray lined with good-quality baking paper. Use a palette knife to help with this.
- Chill the cut gingerbread shapes (on the baking trays) in the fridge for a further 30 minutes or so before baking. This ensures the cookie surface bakes and seals with the initial heat of the oven before the dough can melt and spread.
Do I have to decorate these Gingerbread Biscuits?
No. Absolutely not! If you prefer your biscuits plain, then they are super delicious without any additions.
Decorating Christmas Cookies and Gingerbread Men
On the other hand… Gingerbread men and sausage dogs look super cute in Christmas jumpers. And stars and trees love a little sparkle.
How you decorate the cookies is completely up to you… I used icing (coloured with concentrated food-safe gels), sprinkles and edible food glitter. But you can equally use melted chocolate, or even flavour your icings with citrus juice. Lemon, lime or orange in place of water is a lovely pairing with ginger.
Tips for decorating with icing
However you decide to decorate, there are a few tips that you need up your sleeve…
- Wait until the gingerbread cookies are completely cold before icing them.
- Use food gels (rather than liquid) to colour the icing… It’s more concentrated for colour and won’t ‘water it down’ into an unusable dribble.
- Mix the icing sugar with water (or juice) a drop at a time. The tiniest bit over much and the icing will become too runny to pipe or stay on the cookies. Use a little instinct and test the icing on a scrap of baking paper to be sure.
- Unless you’re a master piper, the best piping control comes when using a squeezy piping bottle. They can be rinsed between colours if you only have a couple.
- For piping outlines and more defined markings, make sure the icing is thicker… It needs to leave a trail when the mixing spoon is lifted.
- Fill in outlines (known as ‘flooding’) with icing that is very slightly ‘looser’. And use a cocktail stick to pull it across the biscuit surface and fill in any gaps.
- If using sprinkles, add them to the cookies as you go and while the icing surface is still wet… Otherwise, the sprinkles won’t stick.
- Once the cookies are decorated, place them in a single layer on a couple of baking trays and set aside in a dry place for the icing to fully harden. This can take up to 24 hours, depending on the icing thickness. Don’t stack them until the icing is completely hard or they will stick together.
- If you can’t bear to wait, sneak a few while the icing is still soft and a little sticky… It’s heaven!
How long do these gluten free Gingerbread Biscuits last and how should they be stored?
These particular gluten free Gingerbread Biscuits have a great shelf-life and should last for a good two or three weeks providing they are stored in an airtight container or a sealed cellophane bag. That makes them perfect for giving as food gifts or for getting ahead in time for Christmas!
Made my Gingerbread Cookies?
And that’s all there is to it! If you make my recipe for gluten free Gingerbread Cookies, let me know. Leave a comment at the bottom of the post or message me on social media. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to get in touch.
For lots of other Christmas recipe inspiration, we have a dedicated Gluten Free Christmas Index with loads of seasonal inspiration… And for everything else, our main Gluten Free Recipe Index has everything you need so that you never miss out ever again!
Happy Baking and Happy Christmas
More delicious Christmas treats you’ll love…
Gluten Free Gingerbread (for cutters)
- silicon/wooden spoon/spatula
- baking paper/clingfilm
- cookie cutter(s)
- piping bag and small nozzle or squeezy icing bottles (for each colour)
- cocktail sticks
- children (for more fun)
- 180 g unsalted hard block butter/dairy free BLOCK alternative softened
- 100 g soft light brown sugar
- 40 g liquid black treacle or molasses
- ½ tsp vanilla extract
- 1 large egg At room temperature – UK large (Canadian ‘Extra Large’; Australian ‘Jumbo’; and US ‘Extra or Very Large’)
- 250 g plain gluten free flour mix eg Gluten Free Alchemist blend A (see NOTES)
- 1 tsp xanthan gum (if your flour blend already contains xanthan gum, don't add more)
- ½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
- 1 to 1½ tbsp ground ginger powder
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- ⅓ tsp fine sea salt
Icing (make white icing and split into separate bowls to colour) – See NOTES
- 230 g icing sugar (powdered/confectioners sugar)
- 60 g boiling water less or more for thicker/thinner icing
- food colour gels/pastes as desired
- sweets, edible glitter, sprinkles, etc
- Cream together the butter and brown sugar with an electric whisk until pale and fluffy.
- Add the treacle and vanilla and whisk again until fully blended.
- Add the egg and beat by hand using a wooden/silicone spoon until fully combined.
- In a separate bowl (or airtight container), weigh and mix together the flour, xanthan gum, bicarbonate of soda, ginger, cinnamon and salt, making sure any lumps are completely broken down.
- Add the dry ingredients to the wet mix and stir until evenly combined.
- Transfer the biscuit dough to a large piece of baking paper and use the paper to wrap the dough well (use a large piece of cling film as a second layer to hold together and seal if needed).
- Refrigerate the dough for a good hour or so, until firm.
- Line three or four baking sheets with baking paper (if you don't have this number, then cut and bake the biscuit pieces in two batches, chilling the excess dough between bakes). Pre-heat the oven to 180 C/350 F/Gas 4. (170 Fan)
- Cut off about a third of the cold biscuit dough and on a well-floured surface (with a sprinkling of flour on top of the dough also), roll to a thickness of about ½ to ¾ cm / ¼ inch. Chill the remainder of the dough between batch-rolling.
- Use cookie cutters to cut shapes of choice, and carefully transfer to the lined baking trays with the help of a palette knife (try to keep larger pieces together and smaller pieces on a separate tray, so that you can remove the smaller pieces from the oven earlier if necessary).
- Chill the cut dough pieces on the trays for about 30 minutes in the fridge (or 10 minutes in the freezer), before placing in the oven.
- Bake for 10 to 15 minutes (small to large cookies), swapping the trays around part-way through to ensure an even bake.
- Turn the oven down to 170 C/325 F/Gas 3 (160 Fan) and continue to bake for a further 10 minutes or so, keeping a very close eye to ensure the biscuits do not burn. If concerned the oven is too hot, turn down a little further and leave slightly longer.
- Repeat this process until all the biscuit pieces are cut and baked.
- When the baking process is complete, arrange all the cookies together (keeping them flat) on a couple of the trays.
- Turn the oven off and place the trays back inside, allowing the cookies to dry with the cooling heat of the oven.
Icing and decorating (allow the cookies to cool completely first)
- Weigh the icing sugar into a small bowl.
- Add most of the water and beat with a spoon/fork or hand whisk until smooth, glossy and thick.
- Test the thickness and adjust with more water/icing sugar as required. (Borders and detail require a thicker consistency (test on a spare piece of baking paper if unsure)
- Split the white icing into small bowls to add different colours (as preferred) and add food colour gels of choice. Mix well.
- Using a piping bag with a small nozzle (or squeezy piping bottles), pipe the icing onto the biscuits piece by piece.
- Decorate the cookies with sprinkles as they are being made and while the top of the icing is still wet, to ensure the sprinkles and decorations stick.
- Set aside on trays and leave to air dry for 12 to 24 hours (dependent on the thickness of icing) before stacking in airtight containers to store.
© 2019-2023 Kate Dowse All Rights Reserved – Do not copy or re-publish this recipe or any part of this recipe on any other blog, on social media or in a publication without the express permission of Gluten Free Alchemist