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Making gluten-free gingerbread cookies is a beloved pastime for many, especially when it comes to the joy of icing and decorating them.

Gingerbread cookies have a rich history rooted in Europe, and their popularity has spread across the globe. Take part in this delightful gingerbread-making journey and create your very own edible masterpieces.

Over the past two decades, I’ve baked countless gingerbread cookies in anticipation of Christmas, sharing them with my family, and friends, plus for catering events.

Decorating the gingerbread

While I try to keep the icing decorations elegant and simple, there are times when my creativity gets the best of me and I end up generously covering the entire biscuit with icing, followed by intricate designs on top. These overloaded cookies are particularly appealing to children! At the same time, I appreciate that adults tend to prefer the “less is more” approach when it comes to their gingerbread.

If you’re on the lookout for handmade holiday gifts, why not consider gifting a batch of these delicious gingerbread cookies? They are certain to bring joy and delight to the faces of your loved ones.

Where did gingerbread originate from?

Gingerbread originates from Europe and has different names and shapes from Lebkuchen in Germany & Austria to Pepperkakor in Sweden, but one common denominator is GINGER!

As early as the 13th century, gingerbread cookies were made by Swedish nuns to ease indigestion. In England, monasteries, pharmacies and farmers’ markets sold gingerbread cookies for their medicinal properties. Eventually, it wasn’t long before European settlers took the gingerbread to the US where the gingerbread man became a famous Christmas cookie.

Which syrup is better to use? Treacle or Molasses?

One interesting ingredient used in gingerbread is treacle or molasses. Treacle is a dark-sweet syrup which was used in medicine before the 17th century This bittersweet syrup was thought to help with snakebites and poisoning. Two centuries later, treacle was used as a meat preservative similar to salt preservation. Nowadays, we know it as a sweetener to many baked goods, desserts and even meat marinades. Treacle is the British version of America’s molasses. Either can be used for this gingerbread recipe. If you can’t find either syrup, you could use honey, but your gingerbread may appear slightly lighter in colour and may taste less intense.

Gluten-Free Gingerbread Cookies

by Sandra, Fun Without Gluten
Bake some gingerbread cookies with the family and fill your home with the heavenly aroma of spices and baking. This recipe is a fool-proof, tested 50x and 100% delicious! Get creative with the icing and admire your efforts before indulging.
5 from 2 votes
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 14 minutes
Dough chilling time 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 14 minutes
Course baking, Festive, Kids' Snacks, Valentine's Day
Cuisine American, Austrian, Festive, German
Servings 30 medium size cookies


For the cookie dough:

  • 500 g store-bought or homemade gluten-free plain flour
  • 2 tsp xanthan gum
  • 2 tbsp store-bought or homemade gingerbread spice blend recipe below
  • 250 g butter, softened at room temperature
  • 180 g dark or light brown sugar
  • 150 g white or caster sugar
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • tsp bicarbonate of soda or baking soda
  • 1 tbsp treacle or molasses
  • 2 tbsp boiling water
  • tapioca flour, for dusting counter & rolling pin

For the gingerbread spice:

  • 1 tsp cinnamon powder
  • 2 tbsp ginger powder
  • 1 tsp nutmeg powder
  • tsp clove powder
  • ½ tsp salt

For the icing:

  • 225 g icing sugar, sifted
  • 2-3 tbsp water at room temperature
  • tbsp meringue powder (optional)


  • Red, green and white food dye liquid or gel-paste food colouring
  • An assortment of edible cookie decorations (check the ingredients list for any gluten ingredients)


For the gingerbread spice:

  • Whisk the gingerbread spice together in a small bowl. Set aside
    The spices needed to make the gingerbread spice blend

For the cookie dough:

  • Sieve the flour, xanthan gum and gingerbread spice into a medium bowl and whisk together well.
  • In a large bowl or stand mixer bowl, beat the butter for 3 mins, scraping down the sides.
  • Add both the sugars to the butter and cream them together for 3 mins until it appears fluffy and the sugar granules are no longer visible.
  • Beat the eggs in the butter mixture, one at a time.
  • In a small heatproof bowl or cup, blend the bicarb. of soda with the treacle and boiling water. The mixture will become foamy and fragrant. Mix this into the butter mixture.
  • With the mixer on, slowly add the flour mixture. After several minutes, remove the dough and place it in a bowl covered. Allow it to rest in the fridge for a minimum of 30 mins. Overnight is ideal as it develops more flavour from all the spices.

Rolling out the dough:

  • Remove the dough from the fridge and allow to come to room temperature
  • Divide the dough into several portions.
  • Sprinkle the counter surface with tapioca flour and start rolling out the dough to a thickness of ½ cm. Don’t forget to dust your rolling pin and cookie cutters with tapioca flour too to avoid sticking.
  • Cut out cookies with an assortment of Christmas cookie cutters and transfer the cookie gently to the lined baking tray using a tapioca flour-dusted spatula.
    Cutting out the shapes from the dough to make gingerbread cookies
  • Keep the cookies 5cm apart on the baking tray.
    Postion the gingerbread cookies 5cm apart

Preheat the oven to 170°C/325°F.

  • Bake on the middle rack for the following sizes: Small cookies: 10 mins, medium cookies: 12 mins and large cookies: 13 to 14 mins.
  • Allow the cookies to cool on the baking tray for 5 mins before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely. The cookie is perfectly baked when the bottom of the cookie is crisp and slightly golden.

For the icing & icing techniques:

  • Whisk the icing sugar with the meringue powder * (optional, see notes) and add one tablespoon of water at a time until the mixture comes together into a smooth paste.
  • To pipe outlines and detail, do not add more than 2 tablespoons of water otherwise the icing will spread. Test the icing by pouring a small teaspoon of icing onto a plate. If it spreads out, the icing is too runny, therefore add more icing sugar. If it is too stiff and breaks, add more water in very small quantities. This takes a little patience to achieve the perfect “drawing” consistency.
  • Once the outlines are complete, prepare a more fluid icing by adding another tablespoon or more of water. This more spreadable icing is good for filling the remaining cookie, also known as “flooding”.
  • Divide the icing into three separate bowls and add one drop at a time for each red, green and white food colouring.
  • Cover the bowls when not in use, otherwise, they will form a crust and start to harden.
  • Select which colour you would like to start decorating with and pour the icing into a disposable icing bag. Snip the end off similar to the size of a pencil tip.
  • Allow the decorated gingerbread cookies to air-dry (preferably in a cool room).
  • Once the icing is set, they stack well in an airtight cookie tin or glass jar container.


Meringue powder is a dry form of egg whites used to make Royal Icing. The powder creates a more stable icing that dries faster. If you intend to make iced cookies in advance, I recommend using the powder. Wilton Meringue Powder or other brands can be found at specialist cake-making shops or online.
  • Keeps for 5 days at room temperature
  • Suitable to freeze for 3 months, iced or uniced
Keyword gluten-free cookies, gluten-free gingerbread, gluten-free icing
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