This gluten free gingerbread is a delicious update on traditional gingerbread, but taste just as good! It's full of warming ginger flavor and makes great Christmas gifts.
These gluten free gingerbread cookies are a delicious update on my regular gingerbread men recipe, made gluten-free. We have family friends who are gluten free and I didn't want them to miss out at Christmas time, so I created this recipe for them.
I have been making my regular gingerbread for many many years, and I'm happy to report this gluten-free version works just as well. The cookies are a little crumblier than regular gingerbread, but the addition of xantham gum helps stick them together and they still taste great! They are a great option for friends and family who are gluten free and make a fun Christmas baking activity with the kids.
Ground ginger: gives the classic ginger taste to this recipe. I like my gingerbread Very gingery. If you prefer a milder flavored gingerbread I strongly recommend you reduce the amount of ginger to one and a half to two tablespoons.
Golden syrup: adds to the wonderful caramel flavors in this recipe without competing with the ginger. If you can't get golden syrup you could try replacing it with mild-tasting honey or maple syrup, but it's likely you will be able to taste these different flavors in the cookies.
Brown sugar: also called light brown sugar gives this recipe a lovely caramel note, without overwhelming the ginger.
Butter: unsalted butter is fine in this recipe, but make sure it's at room temperature before you start baking. You could also use dairy-free marge if you prefer.
Gluten free plain flour: is best for this recipe. The gingerbread is not meant to spread much so don't be tempted to use gluten-free self-raising flour. You can also use gluten-free all-purpose flour.
Bicarbonate of soda: also known as bicarb, helps bind these cookies. This is not the same as baking powder and you can not substitute one for the other in this recipe.
Xanthan gum – sometimes called vegetable gum, is a fermented by-product. It’s used in gluten free baking and a huge variety of other products to thicken and stabilize food. In this case it will help bind the shortbread without the gluten. It is available from some supermarkets, health food stores and online.
Icing sugar: also called powdered sugar. Other types of sugar won't work for this recipe. And remember to sift it or your icing may be lumpy.
Egg white: helps to bind this recipe together and for it to set solid.
Lemon juice: lemon juice helps the icing set and remain hard. I don't recommend using bottled lemon juice, it may add an unpleasant bitter taste to your icing.
Gluten free candies: are used for the pretty gingerbread men buttons. I used M&Ms and mini smarties in this recipe but you can use whatever button-shaped candy you like or mix it up with different shapes and types. Gluten can hid in all sorts of places so check the packet to make sure they are gluten free.
How to make gluten free gingerbread men
Preheat your oven to 355°F (180°C) (fan-forced). Grease about four oven trays with butter or marge. This recipe makes approximately six to eight trays of gingerbread, depending on how big your trays are. I usually grease every tray I have that will fit in the oven, then have a production line going.
Add the butter and brown sugar to a large mixing bowl. Mix together, either by hand or with handheld electric beaters or stand mixer. Add the golden syrup, egg yokes and ginger. Mix well.
Switch to a large strong wooden spoon unless your mixer can handle thick cookie dough. I strongly recommend a thick-handled wooded spoon.
Add the first cup of flour and the xantham gum and mix well. Add the remaining flour, one cup at a time, mixing well between each addition.
Hot tip: If you don't have a kitchen scale I recommend using the spoon and fill method to measure the flour. Spoon the flour into the cup, then level off with a flat butter knife or spatula.
The dough will become progressively harder to mix. You may need to tuck the bowl in next to your body and give it some elbow grease to mix in the flour towards in end.
Heavily flour a clean workbench and tip the dough onto the bench. Sprinkle with more flour. Cut the dough in half and put half back into the mixing bowl.
Roll the dough out with a rolling pin until approximately 3 to 4 mms thick, sprinkling more flour as needed to prevent it from sticking to the rolling pin.
Cut the gingerbread out with the gingerbread men cookie cutters, transferring each man to a baking tray as you go, leaving about half an inch space in between each cookie. You also make plenty of other gingerbread shapes. My family has always made gingerbread stars but you can make Christmas trees or whatever cookies shapes you like. One year we even made gingerbread cats and dinosaurs!
Fill the trays, then bake for about ten to twelve minutes or until just starting to brown around the edges. Remove from oven and allow to cool for a few minutes, before transferring to wire rakes to cool completely.
How to decorate:
To make the icing first sift your icing sugar. Beat the egg whites with an electric handheld beater or stand mixer until soft peaks form. Slowly add the sifted icing sugar until it's fully mixed in. Add the lemon juice and mix well. You should have a thick, opaque white paste.
Transfer to a piping bag, or pop into a zip lock bag and seal tightly. Decorate the gingerbread men with icing and candies. Allow to set fully before storing or eating.
For more information on decorating gingerbread and giving as gifts see my full post on regular gingerbread men.
How to serve
These pretty gluten free gingerbread men are perfect to serve after a Christmas feast, as part of a festive dessert bar or when friends and family pop over during the festive season. They also make fantastic make-ahead homemade Christmas gifts.
How to store
These gingerbread men will store well un-decorated in an airtight container lined with baking paper for up to a month, and maybe Ok for up to a further month after that. If undecorated they should last for a similar amount of time in a sealed, airtight gift bag.
If the cookies are icing and decorated the storage time is reduced. They should last ok for up to a week in a sealed airtight container or gift bag. After this they will still taste good but may start to go soft and less crispy.
Have you made this recipe? Tell me how it went in the comments below and tag me on instagram so I can see your delicious creations! @keep_calm_and_eat_icecream
Looking for more yummy festive gluten free dessert recipes?
Why not try making
- Gingerbread Ice Cream
- Chocolate Covered Orange Peel
- Gluten free shortbread
- Chocoalate Orange Ice Cream
- Mulled Apple Cider Popsicles
Gluten Free Gingerbread
- Electric hand beaters or a stand mixer
- Baking trays
- Cookie cutters in your preferred shapes i.e. gingerbread men, stars, trees etc.
- Rolling Pin
- Piping bag with fine round tip for decorating or small zip lock bag
- extra butter or margarine to grease several baking trays with.
- 1 cup (220gms) tightly packed brown or light brown sugar
- 2 sticks plus 1 tablespoon (250gms) butter, room temperature
- 1 cup (250mls) golden syrup
- 2 egg yokes from large eggs
- 6 cups (600gms) glutne free plain flour
- 4 flat teaspoons (10gms) xanthan gum
- 2 teaspoons bicarbonate of soda
- 3 flat tablespoons ground ginger
- extra plain flour for dusting
- 1 cup (160gms) icing or powdered sugar
- 1 egg white from one large egg
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- decorations such as M&Ms, smarties or your favorite candy
- Preheat oven to 355°F (180°C) (fan forced)
- Lightly grease two to four baking trays with butter or marge.
- Add sugar and butter to a bowl and beat together.
- Add egg yokes and golden syrup and ginger and beat together.
- You will need to switch to mixing with a large wooden spoon at this point.
- Sift in bicarb and xantham gum and add flour one cup at a time, mixing well between each addition.
- Sprinkle a clean worktop well with flour and turn out dough. Sprinkle with additional flour and kneed lightly. Cut dough in half, put half aside.
- Ensure workbench is well floured. Roll out half of dough until its about 3 to 4 mm thick.
- Cut out shapes with cookie cutters, transferring to pre-greased baking trays as you go.
- Try to cut the shapes out on the dough close together to minimize re-rolling. When the first batch is all cut out, ball up the dough and re-roll as needed.
- Bake in the oven for ten to twelve minutes or until golden brown.
- As the first batch of gingerbread comes out of the oven transfer to wire racks to cool. roll, cut put in the next batch onto bake.
- Re-grease the trays and continue to cut and lay gingerbread onto the trays until all the dough is used up.
- Cool completely before decorating.
To decorate (optional)
- Whip the egg white with an electric hand beaters or stand mixer until soft peaks form. Slowly add the sifted icing sugar a bit at a time until it is all mixed in.
- Add the lemon juice and mix well. Transfer to a pipign bag or zip lock bag and decorate gingerbread. Add candies and allow to set completely before eating or storing in an airtight container lined with baking paper.
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