Vegan Gingerbread Cookies
It’s November which officially means we’re taking the switch from all things pumpkin spice to gingerbread everything! Gingerbread cookies are definitely a staple coming up to the holidays, and these gingerbread people cookies are completely vegan, but you would never know it!
Chances are, you’ve probably seen hundreds (maybe even thousands) of gingerbread cookie recipes all over the internet, so what sets these biscuits apart from the rest? Apart from being vegan, these cookies are sweetened with coconut sugar which not only makes (ahem) slightly healthier, it also adds a wonderful deep caramel flavour! But the secret ingredient to making these cookies irresistibly good (and literally impossible to stop at eating just one), is the addition of orange zest. The zest adds a lovely freshness to cookies which compliments the warming spices of ginger, cinnamon and nutmeg.
These cookies would also make a lovely gift for your family and friends, and making them can be a fun way of bringing the family together in the kitchen on the weekend!
WHAT INGREDIENTS WILL I NEED?
Milled flaxseeds: Flaxseed acts as the binding agent and egg substitute for these gingerbread biscuits. When water is added, flax swells up and forms a gel-like consistency.
Flour: For the regular version of these cookies, all purpose flour is the best. Spelt flour also works, the end results are almost identical to one another. For the gluten-free option, a gluten-free all purpose flour also works perfectly.
Vegan butter: Vegan butter is rubbed into the flour to form the base of these soft gingerbread cookies, while adding favour.
Spices: For this gingerbread recipe, ground ginger, ground cinnamon and ground nutmeg are combined to which makes them super flavoursome.
Salt: As always, I add a little salt to this recipe as it enhances all the other flavours of the cookies.
Orange zest: This is optional, but highly recommended! The fresh orange zest flavour really comes through and helps to balance the “spiciness” of these cookies.
Coconut sugar: Coconut sugar has a deep caramel flavour and that is perfect for cookies like these gingerbread people. It is in my opinion, a better alternative to highly refined white sugar.
Maple syrup: Black treacle, molasses and golden syrup are commonly used to make cookies, but I recommend using maple syrup as the liquid sweetener for this recipe.
Plant-based milk: You can used any plant-based milk of your choice here. I normally use soya or oat milk. Be mindful to take into account what milk you use if you are gluten-free.
Aquafaba: Aquafaba is the viscous liquid leftover from cooking chickpeas or other white legumes. Chemically, aquafaba has many of the same components as eggs, making it an ideal substitute for many recipes. The addition of aquafaba to the icing makes it harden when it’s exposed to air.
Icing sugar: There’s not much good I can say about this ingredient other than it’s needed to create the vegan royal icing. If you live in the US, be sure to opt for organic variety to ensure that it’s vegan-friendly.
Orange juice: A touch of orange juice livens up the icing with a citrus twist. This marries in well with the subtle orange zest flavour of the gingerbread cookies.
Vanilla extract: This softens the sweetness of the icing sugar and adds some flavour.
LET’S MAKE VEGAN GINGERBREAD COOKIES
PREPARE THE INGREDIENTS
First, get your oven pre-heated to 175°C (350°F) so that it’s reached the right temperature once you’re prepped. Cut the vegan butter into chunks that are a manageable size as you’ll be rubbing them into the flour to make the cookie dough in the next step. Before making the dough, it’s also good to get your “flax egg” ready. Mix the milled flaxseeds in water and set aside. The flaxseed will swell and create a gel consistency.
MAKE THE COOKIE DOUGH
To make the cookie dough, first sieve the flour into a large bowl. Using your finger tips, rub the butter into the flour until the butter is combined with the flour the mixture resembles a “crumble” consistency. Make sure there aren’t any larger lumps of butter left before moving onto the next step.
Mix the spices and salt into the butter/flour mixture. Use a spoon of a whisk to make sure all the ingredients are evenly combined.
In a separate bowl, mix the remaining wet ingredients, flax egg, orange zest, coconut sugar, maple syrup and plant based milk to form a paste. Add the paste to the dry ingredients and knead until a dough forms. Roll the dough into a ball and cover wrap in cling film or place in an airtight container, and place in the fridge to chill for 20 minutes.
CUT THE COOKIES
Here’s the fun part! You can cut these cookies into any shape you like: gingerbread people, stars, polar bears, Christmas trees, the skies the limit. If you don’t have fancy cookie cutters (but you do have a bit more patience!) you can download cookie shapes online that you can use as guides to cut your cookies from.
Make sure your countertop and rolling pin are floured to prevent the cookie dough from sticking to them. Roll out the dough to approximately ¼ inch in height and cut out cookies using a cookie cutter and place them on a baking tray lined with parchment paper or a silicone mat.
Bake the cookies for 10 minutes until they start to brown, then place them on a cooling rack to cool completely for at least 30 minutes.
HOW TO MAKE VEGAN ROYAL ICING
- First whip up the aquafaba until it’s foamy, this will take about 5 minutes.
- Add in the icing sugar bit by bit, while continuing to whisk and combine the ingredients.
- Add in the flavourings, in this case orange juice and vanilla extract and whisk for another 2-3 minutes until the mixture is thick and smooth.
- Lastly, transfer the royal icing to your piping bag and it’s ready to use for decorating the cookies!
Note: The royal icing will stay in it’s liquid form as long as it isn’t exposed to air. So keep the piping bag sealed until you are ready to use it.
When icing the cookies, I recommend going around the outline of the cookie shape first, and allowing that to dry. Then fill in the rest of the cookie with more icing (or just leave an outline effect!).
WHY YOU’LL WANT TO MAKE THESE FESTIVE COOKIES
- Plant-based and vegan-friendly
- A delicious festive treat
- Flavours of delicious gingerbread spice with zest orange
- Makes soft and chewy cookies
- Great as gifts for Christmas
- Easy to make
- Can be adapted as gluten-free
- Free from eggs, dairy and all other animal-derived additives
OTHER RECIPES YOU’LL LOVE
Vegan Gingerbread Cookies
- 1 tbsp milled flaxseeds * see notes
- 300 g all purpose flour or spelt flour or all purpose GF for gluten-free option
- 150 g vegan butter cut into small chunks
- 30 g ground ginger
- 15 g ground cinnamon
- 2.5 g ground nutmeg
- pinch salt
- 15 g orange zest optional
- 150 g coconut sugar
- 30 g maple syrup
- 15 ml plant-based milk
ROYAL ICING (optional)
- 80 g aquafaba
- 350 g icing sugar
- 1 tbsp orange juice
- 5 g vanilla extract
- Preheat your oven to 175°C (350°F).
- Prepare the flax egg by mixing the milled flaxseeds and 2 ½ tablespoons water and allowing them sit and soak for at least 5 minutes.
- Sieve the flour into a large bowl and add the chunks of butter. Rub the butter into the flour until the mixture resembles a "crumble" consistency.
- Add the ground ginger, ground cinnamon, ground nutmeg and salt and stir to evenly combine the ingredients.
- In a separate bowl, mix the flax egg, orange zest, coconut sugar, maple syrup and plant based milk to form a paste.
- Add the paste to the dry ingredients and knead until a dough forms. Roll the dough into a ball and cover wrap in cling film or place in an airtight container, and place in the fridge to chill for 20 minutes.
- Flour your countertop and roll out the dough to approximately ¼ inch in height. Cut out cookies using a cookie cutter and place them on a baking tray lined with parchment paper or a silicone mat.
- Bake the cookies for 10 minutes until they start to brown, then place them on a cooling rack to cool completely for at least 30 minutes.
- To make the royal icing, add the aquafaba to a large bowl and whip with a handheld whisk or stand mixer for 5 minutes. Add the icing sugar in quarter increments whilst continuing to whisk. Lastly, add the orange juice and vanilla extract and whisk for 2-3 minutes until the mixture is thick.
- Transfer the icing to a piping bag. Snip the top of the bag with a scissors and get creative with drawing faces and designs on the cookies.
- Place the iced cookies back on a cooling wrack to allow the icing to dry completely before storing in an airtight container at room temperature.