Recipe: Gingerbread Cookies

These cookies are delicious! Spicy, balanced, and not overpoweringly sweet. I grew up making these with my mom. We usually didn’t ice them but I’ve included an optional icing recipe here.

Many (dare I say most) recipes for baked goods are difficult to properly adapt for a gluten-free diet. This one is different and I am SO HAPPY because it’s also a super-easy recipe! I substituted gluten-free flour for the all-purpose flour, just a one-for-one substitution, and they came out GREAT!  My favorite g/f flour is King Arthur Gluten-Free Multi-Purpose Flour, but for this particular batch I used Namaste Perfect Flour Blend.

The gluten-free version of these cookies are a bit drier, crumblier and more delicate than the wheat version, to nobody’s surprise. But they have great flavor and no gritty or gummy texture. Just handle them delicately while icing and storing them, and be sure to enjoy them with a cup of coffee or glass of cold milk.

Gingerbread Cookies (optionally gluten-free)

Makes about 30 medium-sized cookie shapes

1/3 cup soft shortening
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 egg
2/3 cup molasses
2-3/4 cups flour (all-purpose or gluten-free)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon ginger


  1. In the bowl of an electric mixer, using the paddle attachment, thoroughly mix shortening with brown sugar, egg, and molasses until smooth and lighter brown in color.
  2. In a separate large bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and ginger.
  3. Gradually add the dry ingredients to the shortening mixture. Mix thoroughly until a smooth, stiff dough forms.
  4. Wrap the dough securely in plastic wrap, and chill in the refrigerator for at least two hours.
  5. Preheat oven to 375˚.
  6. Sprinkle flour onto a cutting board or a clean counter, and roll out the chilled dough to 1/4-inch thick with a rolling pin. Cut into shapes with a knife or cookie cutters, or for round cookies you can use the mouth of a glass. (For crisper cookies, roll the dough to 1/8-inch thick.)
  7. Carefully lift the cookies from the counter with a pancake turner or other wide flat utensil, and place 1 inch apart on a lightly greased baking sheet. You can also use a Silpat or other silicone baking mat, and skip the greasing step.
  8. Bake for 9-10 minutes (7-8 minutes for 1/8-inch thick cookies), or until no imprint remains when lightly touched. Remove the cookies from the oven, let cool on a baking sheet for about 3 minutes, and then carefully transfer them to a wire cooling rack to finish cooling.
  9. When cool, frost and decorate as desired.

The following is a recipe for Royal Icing, which you can use to achieve a very smooth iced finish to the top of your cookies.

Royal Icing

1 egg white
1 teaspoon lemon juice
Powdered sugar (you may need up to 4 cups)


  1. In the bowl of an electric mixer, using the whisk attachment, stir the egg whites and lemon juice together until combined. (Do not whip egg whites until fluffy. Leave them liquid.)
  2. Add powdered sugar by the 1/2-cup measure, beating thoroughly between additions, until a stiff icing forms. The icing should leave stiff peaks that don’t fall over or lose their shape when you pull up the beater. But i    t should still be flexible enough to pipe or spread easily, though.

Icing the Cookies

The following instructions are for icing your cookies with just one color. You’ll need to do some planning if you want to use multiple colors. If you do, you’ll need a lot of small bowls, spoons or spatulas, and pastry bags and tips (or ziploc bags with the tip of one corner snipped off).

  1. First, color your icing as desired. Next, fill a pastry bag with a small amount of the icing and pipe a border around each cookie. Let dry for about 15 minutes.
  2. Now make your fill-in icing. In a small bowl, thin a portion of the icing with water, a few drops at a time, until it flows smoothly in the bowl. It’s thin enough if you can drizzle a bit of it from a spoon into the bowl and the drizzle disappears from the surface of the icing within a few seconds.
  3. With either a small squeeze bottle or a pastry bag, squeeze the thinned icing into the cookie, getting it close to the edges and covering about 75% of the cookie. Don’t squeeze so much that it overflows over the edge, though. Use a toothpick to spread the thinned icing all the way to the border.
  4. Let the cookies dry for a few hours.


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