These healthy gingerbread cookies are so easy to make and perfect for holiday baking! They're gluten free, vegan, and paleo but still bring all the cozy gingerbread flavors.
Happy December! I'm so excited for this holiday season, mainly for the baking!😝 There's just something about the cool weather, pretty lights, and smelling gingerbread, peppermint, and hot chocolate (and eating them ofc) that make my heart full every year. Baking gingerbread cookies is something my family never misses out on...and we usually do it multiple times 😉
Now that I'm thinking about it, I remember there was time earlier this year when my sister randomly decided to make gingerbread cookies...I think it was June😳🤣
Anyways, now is the perfect time to start your holiday baking (as well as every other day this month) so why not kick it off with the classic gingerbread cookies or the recipe I posted 2 days ago: Healthy Cranberry Oatmeal Cookies (Vegan, Gluten Free)!
This recipe is actually based off of one of my favorite cookie recipes ever: Healthy Cinnamon Roll Cookies (Vegan, Gluten Free, Paleo)! I made some ingredient adjustments obviously, so they have gingerbread flavor, but the base of the cookie is the same. If you liked those cinnamon roll cookies, then I'm sure you'll love these gingerbread ones...and if you haven't made them yet I highly recommend doing so!💕
Like the cinnamon roll cookies, these gingerbread cookies are healthy, vegan, gluten free, refined sugar free, and paleo. They're also relatively easy to make--the dough requires less than 5 minutes to throw together and only 1 bowl! The hardest part (which isn't even hard) is rolling and cutting the dough...which is the fun part imo!
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Making the Dough + Key Ingredients
Like I just mentioned, making the dough could not be easier. You literally just throw everything into a bowl and mix! There are only 5 ingredients + salt and spices--here they are!
The base of the dough starts with almond flour, as most of my cookie recipes (like Vegan Almond Flour Thumbprint Cookies and Healthy Homemade Oreos (Vegan, Gluten Free, Paleo)) do.
Almond flour isn't actually flour; it's finely ground almonds! These almonds resemble flour but actually work in a very different way. While regular flour is just carbohydrates, almond flour is mostly fat with fiber and protein as well. This not only increases the nutritional value, it also makes it preform differently.
The fat in almond flour allows it to hold the cookie's structure like butter would, unlike oil which is liquid. This is why you are able to roll out the dough, as opposed to a wet dough which you scoop out of a bowl. The end result is a chewy and slightly crispy cookie.
Unlike oat flour, you can't make almond flour at home (you technically can, but it's really hard to get right). It's important that the flour should be super fine and blanched for ideal texture. This is the brand I use and love...and you really can't beat the price!
Next is the nut butter. Both cashew and almond butter work here, although I did use almond. Although both almond flour and almond butter are made from almonds, they preform in completely different ways! Almond butter is like almond flour that is completely blended through, so the oils release and the texture is smooth.
While the almond flour gives the cookie structure, almond butter makes it softer and richer...it basically makes the cookie more cookie-like and not just like blended up almonds 🙂
I like to use this brand of almond butter because the only 2 ingredients are almonds and salt. No added sugars, oils, or preservatives! It's also the best price that I could find and will last you a while.
Avocado oil has a similar purpose as the almond butter, but it also allows the cookies to become crispy, and have the texture of a cookie. I have learned my lesson a long time ago that no matter how hard you try, oil free recipes will never taste as good as the oil version.
Plus, why would you go oil free when oil is actually pretty healthy? Correction: some oils are really healthy, like avocado oil and olive oil. While canola and vegetable oils are chemically processed and genetically modified, avocado oil is not and offers a good amount of unsaturated fats and omega-3 fatty acids.
I use avocado oil in 95% of my dessert recipes, and a lot in my cooking too since it has a higher smoke point than olive oil. Here is my favorite brand: the best quality and price I could find.
Just an FYI: I always try multiple brands of ingredients before giving my recommendations. I will promote the cheapest and highest-quality I can find only because I love it myself and I want your recipe to be a success without breaking your bank💖
Finally, you've got molasses: an unrefined natural sweetener that is a classic in gingerbread cookies.
The original cinnamon roll cookie recipe has maple syrup, but I just swapped it for molasses since it is the traditional flavor, and I did increase the amount a bit since it's not as sweet.
This, along with the spices of course, are what make a gingerbread cookie what it is!
Rolling, Baking + Decorating the Cookies
This is the fun part! It is a little more work, but so worth it in the end.
First, you will need to chill your dough so it's easier to roll. Unfortunately, room temperature dough doesn't hold together and will crumble easily. However, 30 minutes is all it takes!
Then you can roll out your dough with just a rolling pin and parchment paper. You don't need any more flour...the fats will prevent it from sticking!🥳
Cut out shapes with whatever you have...cookie cutters and cups both work great! You can also free-form your own shapes with a knife if you're talented like that🤓
Bake for 10 minutes and you're done! Or you can take the extra step to decorate...this was my favorite part!
You don't need any fancy royal icing (unless you want to be fancy lol). I just used 2 ingredients: powdered sugar and lemon juice!
For the powdered sugar, I used powdered cane sugar, but any kind works. I like this one because there's no cornstarch added! I've heard of people blending coconut sugar which works in some cases, but I haven't tried so experiment at your own risk.
Lemon juice may sound weird with gingerbread cookies but you can hardly taste it. It just solidifies the icing after you pipe it out so that your icing isn't running all over 😉
And speaking of piping, it's really simple with just a sealable bag, no piping bag needed! Just cut a small hole at the tip and you're good to go 🙂
I really hope you like this recipe! If you decide to make it, I'd love if you could post a picture/story and tag me @nutritiousdelights on Instagram so I can see!💖
More recipes you might love:
Healthy Gingerbread Cookies (Vegan, Gluten Free, Paleo)
- 2 ¼ cup fine almond flour blanched
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
- ½-3/4 teaspoons ground ginger based on preference
- ¼ teaspoons ground cloves based on preference
- ⅓ cup molasses
- ¼ cup almond/cashew butter
- ¼ cup avocado oil or any neutral oil
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- Roll out the dough until it's about ⅛" thick (they won't rise so roll to the thickness you want in the end). Cut out shapes with cookie cutters or cups and place on the prepared baking sheet. Bake for about 10 minutes. Let them cool before decorating/eating.
- Optional icing: mix powdered sugar with a bit of lemon juice until you get a thick icing (runny icing won't hold). Transfer to any bag (doesn't have to be a piping bag) and cut a very small hole at the tip. Then decorate and enjoy!