Gluten Free Vegan Allergy Friendly Gingerbread Cookies with Icing

Dairy Free, Egg Free, Gluten Free, Nut Free, Seed Free, Top 8 Allergy Free, Vegan

Here it is…the gingerbread cookie dough I have been waiting to post!!  I have made so many gingerbread men, cookies and houses over the years and I’m going to give you all the tips you need to know.  This is an adaptation of a recipe I used for years when teaching and it is delicious and failsafe!  I’m jumping right in with ingredients and substitutions to make this safe for all needs.  Note the recipe tips before you start.  I’m adding in an egg white free royal icing, but you can use your favorite royal icing if egg is not an issue for you, or even safe tub or buttercream icing.

Enjoy everyone, be well and remember life is short so eat dessert first…safely!! 💙👩🏻‍🍳🎄

**As always, please check which brands are safe for your needs**

 Ingredients and Substitutions & Recipe Tips

Safe shortening/butter – So I tested this recipe so many times to get it right and my very favorite version was done with a mixture of safe butter/regular butter and shortening, either Spectrum or Crisco.  Regular butter or vegan butter can be used without shortening as well.  The shortening helps keep it softer and the butters will make the dough crisper when baked.  For a house, no shortening is the better option.  Regular dairy butter will make the crispiest dough when baked, but still soft.

Gluten Free or Regular Flour – This cookie bar can be made with either regular all-purpose flour or gluten free flour.  If using a gluten free flour blend, stick to the 140 g. per cup and use a blend that has xanthan gum.  Add ¼ tsp. per cup of flour if it does not have it.  Remember all gluten free blends are different with different densities there will have to be minor adjustments depending on the one you use, but they are minimal.  I use King Arthur Flour Measure for Measure gluten free flour blend.

Molasses – Molasses is essential for the recipe!  It not only gives flavor and moisture but the acid in the molasses reacts with the baking powder and soda to help the gingerbread puff a bit.  This is extra important when working with gluten free baking.  I have always safely used Grandma’s and Wholesome brands.

Egg/Applesauce – This is your safe option.  If egg allergic you can even use Ener-G egg replacer.

Decorations – There are so many fun options but something to take note of is if the sprinkles/sugar/candies etc. are oven safe.  It’s a big bummer to do all the work just to have the decorations bleed all out.  You can also save your decorations for

Food Coloring – Tinting the icing is fun to make wreaths, trees, and anything else you might like.  My safe go to colors are Americolor, Betty Crocker and Cake Mate.  I also prefer gel color as you need less, and it blends much better.  The more liquid you add to the icing the softer it will get.

Icing – The choice about icing is up to your safe needs.  If eggs are not an issue, then use a royal icing with egg white powder or pasteurized egg white for stability.  I’m adding an egg free royal icing recipe in this post.  It sets up fairly hard (as hard as it can without the egg whites) and tastes EXACTLY the same!  If you prefer, homemade buttercream or tub frosting works too! FOR THE CONFECTIONER’S SUGAR: If corn is an avoidance for you, Wholesome brand makes corn-free powdered sugar.   Instead of cornstarch in the vegan recipe, arrowroot or tapioca starch can be used as well. 

**As always, please check which brands are safe for your needs.**

Recipe Tips

For Houses

  • Before you begin, make templates from cardboard for the dimensions of your house. So many can be found on the Internet.  You can cut it from one large sheet warm from the oven or before it’s baked.
  • When the gingerbread comes out of the oven, trim the edges while it is soft. Cooled gingerbread will be very brittle when cutting and the whole piece can crack.
  • MAKE EXTRA PIECES!! Please, take my advice from someone who has learned the very hard way!
  • If your gingerbread house pieces puffed a lot when baking, then weigh it down with a sheet pan while cooling.
  • When adding icing to the seams of the house, use cans on the inside and outside to prop the pieces up or to help stick together. It helps tremendously!  The icing sets quickly so move fast.
  • Let it dry fully before decorating!! If the weather is warm, rainy, or snowy (moisture in the air) it will take longer to dry.

For Decorated Gingerbread Cookies

  • Unless you prefer the cookies crisp, do not overbake. Gingerbread gets softer as the days go on, but they won’t lose the overbaked taste.
  • Let the cookies dry completely before icing.
  • Add decorations while the icing is still tacky and wet. It gets a crust quickly.  If the weather is warm, rainy, or snowy (moisture in the air) it will take longer to dry.
  • Some fun pre-baked decorations are chips, raisins or currents for eyes and buttons, cut cherries for smiles, and dried apricots for mittens.
  • If you look at my picture, I made ornaments out of some. Before baking, use the end of a straw to make a hole in the top.  If needed, do it again as soon as it’s out of the oven.  Add decorative ribbon when iced and dry.  It can be sealed with ModPodge and saved from year to year!

Icing Tips

  • When making the icing, either vegan or with egg white, cover any portion you are not using with a moistened paper towel on the icing surface to prevent a crust from forming. Any unused portion can be refrigerated for a day with a damp paper on the surface and covered in plastic wrap.
  • Don’t overdo the food coloring as it can make the icing softer and bleed.
  • Add decorations while the icing is still tacky and wet. It gets a crust quickly.  If the weather is warm, rainy, or snowy (moisture in the air) it will take longer to dry.
  • Give it ample time to dry.
  • The egg free icing cannot have too much water, or it will not set up!
  • If corn is an avoidance, Wholesome makes a corn free confectioner’s sugar. In the vegan recipe, arrowroot or tapioca starch can be used in place of cornstarch.

Gluten Free Vegan Allergy Friendly Gingerbread Cookies with Icing

Dairy Free, Egg Free, Gluten Free, Nut Free, Seed Free, Top 8 Allergy Free, Vegan

Author: Katie Martino Lopez

Prep Time: 15 minutes


Chill Time: at least 2 hours


Cook Time: 12-15 minutes

Total Time: about 2-3 hours, with decorating

Yield: with cutters, about 3 dozen; or enough dough to make a house




NOTE: This is a large recipe and can be halved for cut out cookies, but a full batch is recommended for a house.

Gingerbread Dough

  • 11 oz. safe butter or part safe butter and part safe shortening, room temperature
  • 8 oz. light brown sugar (don’t use granulated)
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • ½ tsp. powder (for gluten free)
  • ¾ tsp. salt
  • 2 ¼ tsp. ginger
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • ½ tsp. ground cloves (optional)
  • 2 eggs OR 1/3 c. unsweetened applesauce for vegan, room temperature
  • 11 oz. molasses
  • About 5 ¼ c. (1 ib. 8 oz./750 g.) gluten free all-purpose flour blend with xanthan gum or regular flour

Egg Free Royal Icing

  • 4 c. confectioner’s sugar, sifted
  • 1 Tbls. cornstarch, sifted with the confectioner’s sugar (can use arrowroot or tapioca starch instead)
  • ¼ c. + 2 Tbls. cold water (to start)



  1. In a large bowl whisk the flour, baking soda, optional baking powder, salt, ginger, cinnamon, and cloves together well to blend. Set aside.
  2. In a stand mixer, cream the safe butter/shortening with the brown sugar until light but not soft.
  3. Add the egg or applesauce and molasses. Turn off the mixture and scrape the mixture down off the sides and bottom of the bowl.
  4. Add the flour mixture and blend well to incorporate but don’t over mix! The dough should be soft but not sticky.  It will absorb moisture as it sits.  Add a bit more flour if needed.
  5. Divide the dough in 2, wrap in plastic and refrigerate at least two hours. This is a VERY important step!  It allows the dough to rest and absorb the moisture from the molasses.  It can also be frozen, well wrapped, for up to 2 months at this point.  Defrost in the refrigerator.
  6. When ready to roll, have your house templates cut (if using) and your cookie cutters ready if any decorations being used. If making ornaments, use a straw to make hole in the top of the cookie.
  7. For cookies, preheat oven to 375 degrees, for a house 360 degrees.
  8. On a well-floured bench or between sheets of parchment roll out the dough to ¼” thickness. Cut out dough and transfer to a parchment lined sheet pan.  Chill in the refrigerator if the dough is getting too soft.  It will not have clean edges when baked if too soft. Use a spatula to transfer if necessary.  Be gentle rerolling scraps with too much flour as it can cause bubbles in the dough.
  9. Bake about 12-15 minutes or until set and a bit soft on top. They will harden as they cool.  Trim for your house or cut the template while warm from the oven to prevent breakage.
  10. Prepare the royal icing – Either with a hand mixer or in a stand mixer with the whisk attachment, start on low speed to blend the confectioner’s sugar and water. Increase speed to high and whip until thick and stiff. If it’s too hard and pebbly, DRIZZLE cold water in until the consistency is correct for your needs.  Thick icing is better for stiff lines, outlines, and defined art, runnier is better for filling in.  Color icing as needed and set aside.  NOTE-keep a damp paper towel on the icing surface when not in use or it will start to set and crust over.
  11. When cookies are cool, decorate cookies or build your house as desired (see house notes above). Ornaments can be glazed with ModPodge and saved for yearly decoration.
  12. Cookies keep up to 10 days at room temperature in an airtight container.

Recipe Notes

  • This cookie dough freezes amazing, I prep the dough at few weeks before I start my holiday baking two days before Christmas. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator.
  • Have a game plan in mind before you start working on the cookies. They are a slave to icing and having everything prepared ahead of time (as us chefs say, our mise en place) will make it a much better experience.
  • The key is to keep the dough cold and it will be easy to with and have a great texture when baked. Store in a cool, dry area in an air-tight container for up to two weeks.



As we all know, reading labels and preparing food when managing allergies is a job within itself with much responsibility. All the brands I use are ones that I have contacted, and Casey has eaten safely. That being said, I must remind…

Please do your own research when deciding which products and foods are safe for the allergies you manage. These are the ones that are safe for our needs but may not be for you. Everyone has different comfort levels with manufacturing and production procedures.

And, as a friendly reminder, always have 2 epinephrine auto injectors on hand!

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