It’s officially gingerbread season! Vegan gingerbread cookies, along with the classic vegan gingerbread house are definitely a staple coming up to the holidays, and these homemade gingerbread 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? But the secret ingredient to making this vegan gingerbread cookie recipe 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.
What to expect from this vegan gingerbread recipe
- Easy to make
- Incredibly delicious thanks to added orange zest!
- Flavoursome and full of warming winter spices
- Makes soft and chewy cookies
- Make a great Christmas gift
- Eggless and dairy free
- Plain flour
- Vegan butter: An important ingredient that gives a buttery flavour to the cookies.It’s important to use vegan block butter here and not margarine, as the water content in margarine is too high.
- Spices: For this vegan gingerbread cookie 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.
- Soft brown sugar: Lends a slight “caramel” flavour and that is perfect for cookies like these gingerbread people.
- Molasses: The liquid sweetener for this recipe, it helps to brown the cookies as well as giving them a chewy consistency.
- Vanilla extract: This enhances the flavours and sweetness of the vegan gingerbread.
- 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: If you live in the US, be sure to opt for organic variety to ensure that it’s vegan-friendly. If you’re unsure, all organic white sugar will be vegan.
- 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.
How to make this recipe (with step-by-step images)
(Full ingredient quantities and instructions can be found in the recipe card at the end of this post)
Firstly, you’ll start by creaming the vegan butter until light and airy. You can use a stand mixer if you have one, or an electric whisk is good too.
Then add in the the other liquids and sugars (in this case that’s soft brown sugar, molasses, vanilla extract and orange zest). Blend again until the ingredients are creamed together.
Secondly, sift all of your dry ingredients into a bowl (the flour, baking soda, gingerbread spices and salt) and stir until they are evenly mixed.
After that you’ll want to bring the mixture together with your hands until the mixture resembles a dough consistency (this will get messy fyi!).
Next get the dough out onto a clean surface and knead for a couple of minutes, forming a round dough ball. it’s important to chill the dough now for about 30 minutes, as this will prevent your cookies from spreading too much in the oven.
Now roll out the dough onto a flour surface to about a quarter inch in height.
Cutting the vegan gingerbread
Here’s the fun part! You can cut these cookies into any shape you like: gingerbread people, stars, polar bears, Christmas trees, the sky is truly the limit. If you don’t have fancy cookie cutters (but you do have a bit more patience!) you can download gingerbread men cookie shapes online that you can use as guides to cut your cookies from.
Pop the vegan gingerbread cookies onto lined baking trays and bake!
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!
These cookies will be slightly firm/crunchy once freshly baked and will soften after the first day. They will last in a sealed container for around 2 weeks.
Expert tips and FAQs
- 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. You can refrigerated any unused icing in a sealed container for up to 2 weeks.
- 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!).
- Make sure your countertop and rolling pin are floured to prevent the cookie dough from sticking to them.
How long should I bake gingerbread cookies for?
Depending on the consistency you’re after, the baking times will vary. Please also bear in mind that after the first day, your cookies will naturally become a little softer as they are exposed to air.
- For soft and chewy gingerbread cookies, bake for 10 minutes
- For firm gingerbread cookies, bake for 12 minutes
- For crunchy gingerbread cookies, bake for 14 minutes
More vegan gingerbread recipes
More festive vegan desserts
Vegan Gingerbread Cookies
- 150 g vegan butter room temperature, cut into small chunks
- 150 g soft brown sugar
- 100 g molasses
- 1 tbsp orange zest
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 350 g plain flour or all purpose GF for gluten-free option
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 2 tbsp ground ginger
- 1 tbsp ground cinnamon
- ½ tsp ground nutmeg
- ½ tsp ground allspice
- ¼ tsp salt
Royal icing (optional)
- 30 g aquafaba
- 200 g icing sugar
- 1 tsp orange juice
- 40 g vegan chocolate melted, optional
- Preheat your oven to 175°C (350°F).
- Add the butter to a large bowl and use an electric whisk or stand mixer to whisk the butter for 2 minutes. It will become light and airy. Add the soft brown sugar, molasses, orange zest and vanilla extract and whisk again until combined.
- In a separate bowl, sift the flour, baking soda, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice and salt and stir to evenly combine the ingredients.
- Add the dry ingredients to the bowl with the wet ingredients and bring the mixture together with your hands to form a dough consistency. Knead the dough for 2-3 minutes and roll the dough into a ball and cover wrap in cling film or place in an airtight container. Place in the fridge to chill for 30 minutes.
- Flour your countertop and roll out the dough to approximately ¼ inch in height. Cut out cookies using a 6.5 x 5.3cm cookie cutter and place them on baking trays lined with parchment paper or a silicone mat.
- Bake the cookies for 10 minutes (soft) or up to 14 minutes (crunchy). Allow the cookies sit on the baking tray to cool for about 5 minutes. Next carefully slide the sheet of parchment paper with the cookies off of the tray and on to a cooling rack. Cool for another 15-20 minutes until they reach room temperature.
- To make the royal icing, add the aquafaba to a large bowl and whip with a handheld whisk or stand mixer for 2 minutes until foamy. Add the icing sugar in quarter increments whilst continuing to whisk. Lastly, add the orange juice and whisk for 2-3 minutes until the mixture is thick.
- Transfer the icing to a piping bag. Snip the very tip of the bag with a scissors and start by piping an outline on your cookies. You can get creative with drawing faces and designs on the cookies. If you wish to coat the cookies completely in royal icing you can flood the cookies by continuing to pipe inside the outlines. You can also melt some vegan chocolate and pipe more faces/designs if desired.
- Place the iced cookies back on a cooling wrack to allow the icing to dry completely for a minimum of 1-2 hours before storing in an airtight container at room temperature.
- These cookies will be slightly firm/crunchy once freshly baked and will soften after the first day. They will last in a sealed container for around 2 weeks.