Celebrate the holidays with these festive vegan gingerbread cookies! They're soft on the inside, flavored with just the right amount of spices, and make the cutest gingerbread men.
You can decorate the gingerbread cookies with orange icing, royal icing, or a dusting of powdered sugar. But, decorating is optional because they're delicious as is. Since this gingerbread keeps for up to 2 weeks, it makes the perfect homemade Christmas gift too!
Why you'll love this recipe
- Perfectly spiced gingerbread that's soft on the inside
- Undetectably vegan: Nobody will guess these cookies are vegan! They taste just like a delicious gingerbread cookie, full stop.
- One bowl: All ingredients are mixed in a single bowl, to make clean-up easier.
- Keeps for up to 2 weeks: These gingerbread cookies can stay fresh for a while, so you can get ahead of your holiday baking!
Here are the ingredients you need to make these vegan gingerbread cookies. No "fancy" vegan ingredients required!
- Molasses: We recommend unsulphured "light molasses" (sometimes labelled "fancy molasses" or "original molasses"). "Dark molasses" works too. But, do not use Blackstrap Molasses, because it's more intense and can add a bitter taste—especially when combined with all the gingerbread spices, like ginger and nutmeg.
- Brown Sugar: Dark brown sugar makes for a rich-colored gingerbread. But, you can use light brown sugar...just expect the cookies to look lighter.
- Coconut Oil: You can use virgin or refined coconut oil. We've tested both, and the coconut flavor isn't detectable either way because of the gingerbread spices. You can substitute melted butter (vegan or otherwise), if you prefer.
How to make
These one-bowl vegan gingerbread cookies are easy and delicious. Here's how to make this recipe:
Tip! You can prep the gingerbread dough 1 to 2 days in advance, leaving the tightly wrapped discs in the fridge. Then, just roll out the dough when you're ready to bake. If the dough is so cold that it's difficult to roll, just let it sit on the counter at room temperature for about 5 minutes or until it's more pliable.
How to decorate
Once your cookies have cooled, you can decorate them if you'd like! Here are 5 ways to decorate gingerbread cookies:
- Orange Icing: We love this easy icing because it's delicious and adds flavor. Fresh orange juice and zest pairs well with the spices in gingerbread. You pipe the icing into your favorite designs. Or, keep it simple and drizzle the orange icing with a spoon.
- Royal Icing: Plain royal icing doesn't add much flavor, but it's definitely a classic. Make your favorite recipe and pipe it on the cookies using a piping bag or a freezer bag with the corner cut off. If you're up for it, you could dye the icing to be different colors. Or, keep it traditional with plain white icing.
- Powdered Sugar: Perhaps the simplest way to decorate gingerbread is to sprinkle them with a bit of powdered sugar (also known as icing sugar).
- Sprinkles, Candies and More: For an extra special touch, use colorful sprinkles, festive candies, and/or sanding sugar to decorate your cookies. You'll usually need to use icing so they stick to the cookies.
- Chill the dough: Chilling the gingerbread dough helps it firm up, so that it's easier to roll out and cut into shapes. Cookies made from cool dough also hold their shape better in the oven.
- Don't be afraid to chill it again: If your dough warms up too much on the counter, consider chilling it again. You can return the ball of dough to the fridge. Or, place the baking tray of unbaked cookies into the freezer for about 5 minutes to firm up. (This trick also helps intricate cookie cutouts keep their shape.)
- Let cookies fully cool after baking: It's important to let the cookies cool completely before decorating. Otherwise, the residual heat could cause icing to melt and/or run.
- Get creative with decorating: The icing and decorations you use also impact the flavor of the finished cookie. We love using Orange Icing to decorate our gingerbread cookies, because the citrus flavor pairs really well with gingerbread spices.
Frequently asked questions
You can substitute an equal amount of melted unsalted butter (vegan or otherwise). After melting, let the butter cool slightly so it's not hot when you add it to the mixing bowl.
Yes, you can freeze uncooked gingerbread dough. The dough can be stored in a freezer bag. Or, wrap the dough tightly with plastic wrap, then tightly wrap with a layer of tinfoil. Dough can be frozen for up to 3 months.
Let the frozen dough defrost in the fridge overnight (or up to 2 days) before rolling and baking.
Store gingerbread cookies in an airtight container at room-temperature. They're best enjoyed within 1 week, but can usually last about 2 weeks.
Best Vegan Gingerbread Cookies
- 1 tablespoon ground flax
- 3 tablespoons warm water
- ¼ cup melted coconut oil (see note 1)
- ⅓ cup molasses (see note 2)
- ⅓ cup packed dark brown sugar
- 1½ teaspoons cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- ¾ teaspoon ground nutmeg (see note 3)
- ½ teaspoon ground cloves
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ¼ teaspoon baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1½ cups + 2 tablespoons all- purpose flour (more for dusting)
- Mix dough: In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment (or in a large bowl using a hand-mixer), mix the ground flax, water, coconut oil, molasses, and brown sugar until smooth. Add cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Stir well to mix, about 1 minute. Add flour and stir on low speed until combined.
- Chill dough: Divide the dough into two equal discs. Wrap each tightly in plastic wrap or place in freezer bag. Refrigerate for a minimum of 30 minutes (up to 2 days) to allow the dough to firm up.
- Preheat: Put oven racks in the upper- and lower-thirds of the oven and preheat to 350°F (177°C). Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper.
- Roll and bake: On a lightly floured surface, roll out one disc of dough until it is ⅛ to ¼-inch (3 to 6 mm) thick. Use cookie cutters to cut out shapes. Arrange cookies on the prepared baking sheets, leaving 1 inch (2.5 cm) space between the cookies. Bake until the edges are set, 11 to 13 minutes, swapping sheets halfway through. Let cookies cool on the baking sheet before removing.
- Decorate (optional, see note 4): Decorate the fully cooled cookies with icing. Once icing is firm, transfer cookies to an airtight container or resealable bag.
- Melted coconut oil: You can use virgin or refined coconut oil. Or, substitute melted (but not hot) vegan butter.
- Molasses: Unsulphured Light Molasses ("fancy", "original") recommended; but Dark Molasses works too. Do not use Blackstrap Molasses.
- Ground nutmeg: For the best flavor, freshly grate nutmeg before using.
- Decorating: We highly recommend using Orange Icing to decorate this gingerbread. Alternatively, you could use your favorite plain royal icing instead.
- Measuring by weight: For the most reliable results, we recommend measuring by weight when baking. Ingredient weights are provided in metric. If you must go by volume (measuring cups), make sure to fluff, spoon, and level the flour to avoid adding too much.