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Easy Vegan Gingerbread Cookies that are well-spiced and just as tasty as they are adorable. The perfect holiday cookie to share with family and friends. Oil-free option, refined sugar-free option.
Vegan Gingerbread Cookies that are soft and chewy in the center, crispy on the edges, and perfectly golden thanks to the bold molasses and sweet brown sugar. All you need is 13 simple ingredients, including a homemade sugar icing!
Table of Contents
A Well Spiced Christmas Classic
As most of you probably know, I absolutely love spicy food. This normally applies just to savory cuisine, but when I have the opportunity to throw some extra zing into a baked good, I am all for it! And that’s why gingerbread and I get along so well. In fact, I love the classic flavor combination so much, I’ve found ways to incorporate it into a Vegan & Gluten-Free Gingerbread Loaf and these Fluffy Gingerbread Pancakes.
Plus, these Christmas cookies are easy to make both oil-free and refined sugar-free, meaning the whole family can indulge and enjoy the holiday season!
Ingredients for Vegan Gingerbread Cookies
Making gingerbread cookies requires the baking basics, but there’s also a few added ingredients that are specific to this type of Christmas cookie. Here’s what you’ll need:
- Ground flax: This is the “egg” in this cookie dough recipe. In addition to adding fat to the dough, flax also helps bind the dough together and keeps these cookies from falling apart.
- Flour: I developed this recipe using all-purpose flour and have not yet tested a gluten-free version. If you’d like to experiment, I’d recommend trying a gluten-free flour blend.
- Spices: Ground ginger, cinnamon, cloves, and allspice add that nostalgic warm and “spicy” kick gingerbread is known for.
- Dairy-free butter: Any softened dairy-free butter stick of choice will work. If you are using unsalted dairy-free butter, increase the salt from 1/4 teaspoon to 1/2 teaspoon.
- Sugar: In order to make your gingerbread cookies dark in color and enhance the molasses flavor, it’s important to use dark brown sugar.
- Molasses: This ingredient is really what makes a gingerbread cookie and gives it it’s flavor. Search for it in the baking section, specifically near other sugars, syrups, and sweeteners.
- Baking soda: Helps make the perfect tender, chewy cookie, while the outside browns beautifully and becomes slightly crispy.
As for the icing, you’ll need powdered sugar (also known as icing sugar or confectioners’ sugar), dairy-free butter, and dairy-free milk to help make the icing the perfect piping consistency.
How to Make Vegan Gingerbread Cookies
- Make the flax “egg”.
- Whisk together the dry ingredients.
- Cream the butter and sugar until combined and fluffy. Add the molasses, flax “egg,” and vanilla and beat again.
- Add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients and beat until combined.
- Chill the dough for at least 3 hours, preferably overnight.
- After 3 hours, roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface until 1/4″ thick.
- Cut the cookies as desired, then bake for 8 to 10 minutes.
- While the cookies bake, make the icing.
- Let the cookies cool to room temperature on a cooling rack, then decorate and enjoy!
Caitlin’s Cooking Tips
- Start with the right equipment. Most of my vegan cookies are super simple and require nothing more than a mixing bowl and baking sheet. But when it comes to making perfectly cut vegan gingerbread people, having the right tools makes the process so much simpler. I recommend using silicone baking mats, a bench scraper, and a reusable piping bag for precise cookie decorating. Oh, and a rolling pin, too!
- Make the cookie dough the night before. Chilling the dough is required for this recipe as it helps the flour to absorb extra moisture and prevents the cookies from spreading. To make the waiting easy, prep the dough the night before and refrigerate overnight.
- Keep the dough cold while cutting the cookies. Depending on the size of your baking sheet, you’ll likely need to work and bake in batches. For this reason, it can be helpful to cut the dough into sections and keep the dough in the refrigerator until ready to use.
It’s well known that cookies are an acceptable dessert, but during the holiday season, I think it’s perfectly acceptable to eat gingerbread cookies for breakfast. Enjoy them with a mug of Vegan Hot Chocolate, coffee, a cozy nightcap, or a chilled glass of homemade almond milk. Anything goes!
If you’re looking for more seasonal cookie recipes, you’ll also love these Vegan Snickerdoodles, these Vegan Chai Sugar Cookies, and these Double Chocolate Peppermint Cookies! Or, if you’re craving more molasses-filled treats, try these Wholesome & Chewy Ginger Molasses Cookies!
How to Store Vegan Gingerbread Cookies
Decorated gingerbread cookies will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week. Before stacking and storing, let the sugar icing sit on the cookies for at least 2-3 hours, or until completely dry and hardened.
I have not tested freezing baked gingerbread cookies (they just simply don’t last long in our house!), but it would likely work well for up to 2 months.
Substitutions and Variations
- Gluten-free option: I have not tested a gluten-free version of these soft gingerbread cookies, but if you try this recipe with a gluten-free flour blend and have success, please share with us in the comment section below! Using almond flour or oat flour is not recommended.
- Ground flax substitution: Replace the ground flax with ground chia seeds.
- Oil-free option: Replace the softened vegan butter with 1/2 cup of runny nut butter such as sun butter, cashew butter, or almond butter. Peanut butter will also work, but impact the flavor of the gingerbread cookie dough. The texture of the baked cookies is slightly different, but still tasty!
- Brown sugar substitution: Coconut sugar is a great alternative, but will make a slightly more dry, crispy cookie.
Classic gingerbread cookies contain a good amount of molasses, but gingerbread cookies have the addition of spices like ground ginger, cinnamon, cloves, and allspice for a uniquely spicy cookie!
Replacing molasses is not recommended as the molasses is really what gives gingerbread cookies their signature flavor and color. If absolutely necessary, blackstrap molasses is the next best substitute, but the molasses flavor will be less prominent.
Softer cookies tend to have a higher fat to flour ratio, whereas crispy cookies often use less fat and less moisture. If you prefer crunchy cookies, bake for an additional couple of minutes.
The cookies will overspread, be difficult to roll out (the dough is sticky before chilling), and the poor gingerbread people will lose their shape. Please do not skip!
I have not tested this substitution. If you’d like to experiment, I’d suggest using softened coconut oil (not melted), and using refined oil to prevent the vegan gingerbread cookie recipe from having a coconut undertone.
Enjoy! If you make this recipe and decide to share it on Facebook or Instagram, don’t forget to tag me @FromMyBowl + #FromMyBowl! I would also love it if you could leave a comment below with a recipe rating! Thank you for the support 😊
Vegan Gingerbread Cookies
- Helpful equipment: silicone baking mats bench scraper, reusable piping bag
For the Cookies:
- 1 tablespoon ground flax + 2 1/2 tablespoons water
- 3 cups flour plus more for dusting
- 1 tablespoon ground ginger
- 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice optional
- 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon salt 1/2 teaspoon if using unsalted butter
- 1 stick salted dairy-free butter softened
- 2/3 cup brown sugar
- 1/2 cup molasses
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
For the Icing:
- 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
- 1 1/2 tablespoons dairy-free butter melted
- 1 1/2 tablespoons dairy-free milk
For the Cookies:
- Prep: Combine the ground flax and water together in a small bowl; mix well, then set aside for at least 5 minutes.
- Dry Ingredients: Whisk the flour, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, allspice, baking soda, and salt together in a medium bowl. Set aside.
- Wet Ingredients: Add the butter and brown sugar to a large bowl. Use a handheld mixer (or standing mixer) to cream the butter for 3 to 5 minutes on low speed, scraping the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula as necessary. Add the molasses, prepared flax “egg”, and vanilla to the bowl and beat again until smooth, about 1 minute.
- Combine: Add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients and beat on low speed until combined, scraping the sides of the bowl as needed. The mixture should look crumbly once mixed, but will stick together when pressed with your hands.
- Chill: Form the dough into one large ball, then cut in half. Flatten each half into a flat disc, then wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 3 hours, preferably overnight. Chilling the dough is required for this recipe as it helps the flour to absorb extra moisture and prevents the cookies from spreading.
- Baking Prep: Preheat the oven to 350F and line a large baking sheet with a silicone baking mat.
- Roll: Cover a cutting board with an extra silicone mat (optional, but prevents sticking) and a light dusting of flour. Remove one dough disc from the fridge and use a rolling pin to roll out the dough until it’s about 1/4” thick. Sprinkle the dough and/or rolling pin with extra flour as needed to prevent sticking.
- Cut the Cookies: Use cookie cutters to cut out your cookies; I find it works best to press down firmly, then wiggle the cutter a bit to fully separate the edges. Remove excess dough, then use a bench scraper or spatula to transfer the cookies to the baking sheet 1/2" apart from each other. You may need to use multiple baking sheets for each disc of cookie dough.
- Bake: Bake in the middle rack of the oven for 8 minutes for soft cookies that are 4” or less. If your cookies are larger, bake for 10 to 11 minutes. If you prefer crunchy cookies, bake the cookies for a few minutes extra. Remove from the oven and let the cookies rest on the baking sheet for 10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to let cool completely.
- Repeat: Knead the dough scraps back together, and repeat steps 7-9 with both the scraps and the second disc of dough until all cookies have been baked. Try to roll out the dough as smooth as possible, as cracks will show in the final cookies (though they will still be tasty!). You can use your fingers to pinch the dough together when necessary.
For the Icing:
- Mix: Add the powdered sugar to a bowl and add in the melted butter and milk. Whisk well until smooth; the mixture should be very thick and not drizzle or spread.
- Decorate: Use a spatula to transfer the icing to a piping bag (or ziploc with a small hole cut in the corner) and decorate your cookies as desired.
- Store: Let the icing sit on the cookies for at least 2-3 hours before storing, or it may smudge. Store cookies at room temperature for up to one week.
- Oil-Free: I have had success making this recipe by swapping out the butter for equal parts nut butter; the texture is slightly different, but still tasty!