It’s hard to beat gingerbread cookies during Christmas. Our family takes gingerbread very seriously, which is why it took years to develop a vegan gingerbread cookie recipe that truly is the best. We originally shared this recipe four years ago, as part of a series to make a Vegan Gingerbread Cake House. But we’ve since made a couple very minor changes, and figured these cookies should stand on their own given how many people love them! People love them, in part because they’re undetectably vegan (i.e. they just taste like an awesome gingerbread cookie, full stop). And best of all they’re made in one bowl and without needing to run out to the store for any fancy ingredients.
Gingerbread dough is a bit on the stiffer side, so we prefer to use a stand mixer - but a handheld electric mixer works as well. The base of the cookies is made with ground flax seeds and water (instead of an egg), coconut oil (instead of butter), brown sugar, and the usual suspects like molasses, spices, and flour. You’ll want to let the dough chill in the fridge for at least 30 minutes before rolling. If you want to split up the process, you could even make the dough a day or two in advance and keep it in the fridge. If you keep the dough in the fridge overnight, let it soften on the counter for 5-10 minutes if you’re having difficulty rolling.
These gingerbread cookies have just a wee bit of puff (which in our opinion is just the right amount), so you can use any kind of cookie cutter you like. If you’re using a more intricate cookie cutter, then we’d recommend popping the tray of cookie shapes in the freezer for 5-10 minutes before putting the baking sheet in the oven. This helps the cookies hold their shape: it’s a trick we use for all kinds of cookie dough that gets rolled and cut out. These cookies are tender in the center (and not at all rock hard), but sturdy enough to handle and decorate. Lately, we’ve really loved pairing these gingerbread cookies with Orange Icing. The flavor combination of the warm spices and slight hints of citrus are perfect. It makes us wonder why everyone usually just sticks to plan white royal icing, which to be honest, doesn’t really have much flavor at all! But to keep things simple, you could also just dust the cookies with some powdered sugar - or keep them plain. In any case, they’ll be absolutely delicious.
A few notes about this recipe:
- What should I use to decorate gingerbread cookies?: We highly recommend this Orange Icing. Alternatively, you can use a plain royal icing, or similar pipe-able icing. Or you can top the gingerbread cookies with a dusting of powdered sugar.
- What can I use instead of coconut oil? If you’re not vegan, you can substitute an equal amount of melted (but not hot) unsalted butter. If you’re looking for a vegan option, you can substitute the coconut oil with melted vegan butter, like Miyokos or Earth Balance sticks. Because Earth Balance sticks do taste quite salty on their own, we’d normally recommend reducing the amount of salt in the recipe. But because there’s so little oil in this recipe, you do not need to adjust the salt as it won’t make much of a difference.
- Can I make gingerbread cookies in advance? Yes, you can make the dough up to two days in advance. You can also make the cookies in advance, just store them in an airtight container at room temperature before you’re ready to decorate.
- How do I store gingerbread cookies? Store the gingerbread cookies in an airtight container, at room temperature.
- How long do gingerbread cookies last? Up to two weeks, but they’re best eaten in the first week when freshest.
Best Vegan Gingerbread Cookies
- 1 tablespoon ground flax
- 3 tablespoons warm water
- ¼ cup melted coconut oil
- ⅓ cup molasses
- ⅓ cup packed dark brown sugar
- 1½ teaspoons cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- ¾ teaspoon ground nutmeg (see note 1)
- 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)
- 1 batch Orange Icing (or other icing or powdered sugar, for decorating)
- 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: Decorate the fully cooled cookies with icing. Once icing is firm, transfer cookies to an airtight container or resealable bag.
- Ground nutmeg: For the best flavor, freshly grate nutmeg before using.
- 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.