You will want to run as fast as you can to catch these allergy free gingerbread cookies! They're dairy free, egg free, soy free, wheat/gluten free, peanut free, and tree nut free and are super fun to make and decorate!
When my son was in preschool his teacher contacted me about a fun project they would be doing in class. She was reading The Gingerbread Man ("Run as fast as you can! You can't catch me, I'm the Gingerbread Man!") and wanted to have the kids make their own gingerbread men.
The kids each got to roll out gingerbread, cut out their very own "man" and put it into the oven to bake.
I hadn't attempted to make any kind of roll-out cookie that was gluten/wheat, egg, and dairy free but was motivated to do it so my son wouldn't miss out on the classroom fun.
Many of the ingredients in a traditional gingerbread cookie do not contain the most common allergens. The main substitutes I had to make were for the egg and wheat flour.
When I first made these, I was mixing up my own all-purpose gluten-free flour:
- 3 cups of rice flour
- 1 cup of potato starch flour
- ½ cup tapioca starch
I often doubled it and kept it in a large airtight container to substitute cup-for-cup in recipes. Then I would add about ½ teaspoon xanthan gum to each recipe.
In more recent years, however, I have found more all-purpose gluten-free flours available at a reasonable cost. Our go-to gluten-free flour is from Bob's Red Mill. This blend already has xanthan gum so we very seldom add it to recipes.
I do like to have some plain rice flour on hand because I use it to flour the surface for rolling the dough out. You can use the all-purpose flour, of course, but rice flour is cheaper!
The egg substitute
For replacing eggs, I use a flax "egg" most of the time. To make one flax "egg" combine 1 tablespoon of flaxseed meal with 3 tablespoons of warm water. Stir it together and let it sit until it is thickened. Then it is ready to add to your recipe!
How to make them
Make the dough
Making the gingerbread dough is just like making any other cookie dough. First, add the wet ingredients to your mixing bowl and combine them.
In a separate bowl, add the dry ingredients and mix together. Then, put the mixer on low and gradually add the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients.
The dough will be more firm than regular cookie dough but I still like to refrigerate it for 30-60 minutes so it firms up even more.
Roll them out
When you're ready to roll out the dough, flour the surface where you will be doing it. It might be a large cutting board or even your kitchen counter that has been cleaned well (this is usually what I do).
Take about a quarter of the dough and form into a ball. Put some flour on your rolling pin and then press down on the ball and roll out in one direction. Repeat in the opposite direction, and then again in another direction so the dough becomes flattened an is in sort of a circular shape.
Don't go for perfection here. As long as there is enough surface to cut out some cookies, you're good to go. And don't roll too thin! You want them thick enough so they are easy to remove from the surface that you're rolling on.
Get out your cookie cutters
Now it's time for the fun part - cutting them out! The kids love to do this part. I try not to get too bossy (after all, it's supposed to be fun!) but I do encourage the kiddos to get the shapes as close together as they can be to maximize the rolled out dough. The more you work with the dough, the drier it gets so it's best to minimize that.
Once cut out like to transfer the cookies to a cookie sheet using a mini spatula like this one:
It just helps to keep the cookie intact. I find that gluten and egg free dough can be a little more fragile than regular dough.
Baking and decorating
These cookies bake for about 9-10 minutes but this can vary depending on how thick you rolled them and how big the cookies are. We have some mini gingerbread that bake faster than the regular sized ones.
To decorate, I frost with standard powdered sugar frosting or royal icing that I make with aquafaba.
I divide up the frosting and add food coloring to it, then put it in baggies and snip a tiny hole into the corner. This works pretty well for piping the frosting onto the cookies.
Sometimes we only decorate with royal icing (my favorite - it is so fun to work with!) But other times, we like to dress up our gingerbread men with candies, chocolate chips, and sprinkles. Some of our favorites are Mike and Ikes (which work great as eyes and buttons) and Gummi Lifesavers (great smiles or hair). Use whatever is "safe" for you!
Gingerbread men are a tradition at our house each holiday season. We always have so much fun decorating them. Just remember not to take your eyes off of these little guys or they might just run away!
Allergy Free Gingerbread Cookies
- ⅓ cup granulated sugar
- ⅓ cup molasses
- ¼ cup canola oil
- 2 tablespoons + 2 teaspoons hot water
- 1 tablespoon flax seed meal
- 3 tablespoons warm water
- 2 ½ cups wheat free all-purpose flour
- ¼ teaspoon baking soda
- ⅛ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon ground ginger
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a small bowl, mix together the flax seed meal and 3 tablespoons warm water. Let stand for about 10 minutes.
- In a mixing bowl, combine the sugar, molasses, oil and water. Add the flax seed and water mixture. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and ginger. Add the dry mixture gradually to the wet mixture and mix well. Roll the dough into a ball, cover the mixing bowl and refrigerate the dough for at least 1 hour.
- Roll out the dough to ¼ inch thickness on a floured surface (I use rice flour). Using cookie cutters cut into desired shapes. Place cookies onto an ungreased baking sheets.
- Bake for 9-10 minutes in a preheated oven or until cookies are firm.
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Diana O says
Hello, due to allergy to flax seed, can the flax seed meal be substituted?
If yes what can I use instead? Thank you
Kristi Winkels, RDN, LD says
Hi Diana! I haven't tested these without flaxseed meal but if you can have chia seeds, you could try a "chia egg" by mixing 1 tablespoon of chia seeds with 2 1/2 tablespoons of warm water. If you can have eggs, you could just use one whole egg. Another idea if you can't have eggs or chia seeds is to try one of the powder egg replacers . I hope that helps!
I had my heart set on these and I tried again. This time I used red mill gluten free flour. They turned out perfectly. Previous try I used another gluten free flour blend. I don't know if the flour brand made that big of a difference or if I did in fact do something else different, but they are delicious!
Kristi Winkels, RDN, LD says
Thanks for sharing that feedback. I'm glad that the recipe worked well for you with the Bob's Red Mill gluten free flour. If you're willing to rate the recipe, I would really appreciate that! Merry Christmas!
What vran molasses and ground ginger do you recommend for peanut/tree nut allergies?
Kristi Winkels, RDN, LD says
I don't have specific brand recommendations for either of these ingredients. Neither of them would contain peanuts/tree nuts but I assume you're asking about cross-contact for those allergens (which is always a good idea to check!) I can tell you that I recently used Baker's Corner brand molasses from Aldi and that was safe (no advisory statements), however, these things can differ depending on your region. I also checked Brer Rabbit brand which also appears to be safe. As far as ginger goes, I tend to buy McCormick spices because I think they have a good allergen program in place. I hope that helps! Enjoy the cookies! 🙂
followed exactly and the whole thing is just dry crumbs. Will not come together at all... I checked and rechecked all and it's just a crummy mess.
Kristi Winkels, RDN, LD says
I'm sorry to hear these aren't working out! Sometimes the type of flour you are using can cause the dough to be dryer. Or, it might be that the flax "egg" sat for too long and incorporated less liquid into the dough. I would suggest adding 1 tablespoon of water at a time until the dough comes together. I hope that helps!
The mixture came out dry after I mixed. I did add a little bit of water but not sure if that was ok. Did I do the right thing? Smells so good so far.
The dough should be wet enough to stick together in ball. Adding a little water is ok but not too much or it will be sticky.
Hope that helps!
Yes it helped a lot. Thank you.
Good! Now time to decorate? Enjoy! 🙂
My daughter has to be egg free but she’s not gluten free. Is it ok to use regular all purpose flour? Thank you
Yes, that will work! Enjoy! 🙂
Thank you so much.
How long would you say these last after coming out of the oven?
These cookies will stay fresh for about 2 days in an airtight container. We usually decorate them and freeze them to use for cookie plates during the holidays. I use waxed paper between the layers of cookies to preserve the frosting. I hope that helps!
So they will last until next Friday if I bake today and freeze them?
Yes, you can keep them in the freezer for several weeks! If you don't freeze them, they will only stay fresh for a couple of days.
Do you use rice flour as your wheat free flour? I am new to baking gf, and need to be nut free for the school activity Im trying to find a recipe for. Thanks!
In gluten-free baking, you have to use a blend of gluten-free flours to substitute for wheat flour. I used to mix my own all-purpose flour blend but now usually buy a pre-mixed all-purpose flour by Bob's Red Mill. To mix your own, combine 3 cups rice flour, 1 cup potato starch, 1/2 cup tapioca starch, and a teaspoon of xanthan gum. Store the leftover in an airtight container. I hope that helps! Let me know if you need anything else!
It was fantastic and they were delicious, sorry for not telling you sooner.
Glad you enjoyed them! 🙂
what can we use instead of molasses?
I haven't tried a substitute for the molasses in this recipe so I can't say for sure. You could try brown sugar (which contains molasses so if you need to avoid molasses for health reasons this wouldn't be a good option). Dark corn syrup is another option that also contains molasses. Maple syrup might work but I think I would reduce the amount the recipe calls for (maybe 1/4 cup instead of 1/3?) With maple syrup, the cookie will have a different flavor. Again, I haven't tested it so I'm not sure how these substitutes will change the texture of the dough and the ability to roll it out for cut outs. If I get some time this week I just might try it! Please let me know if you try it and how they turn out!
thanks Kristi for your help I will try brown sugar I will tell you how it will turn out
Sounds good, Victoria! Hope it works out!