Easy Gluten-Free Vegan Gingerbread Crinkle Cookies

Gluten-free vegan gingerbread crinkle cookies

Gluten-free and vegan gingerbread crinkle cookies. Need I say more? I think that’s probably all I need to write for this post because it pretty much says everything. After all, it’s the holidays. These are really, really fabulous holiday cookies. But, for some odd reason, you all keep telling me you like reading my impassioned explanations of recipes and ingredients (thanks, guys), so I guess I’ll say a bit more. I’ll keep it succinct, though. After all, I wouldn’t want to keep you all from making these cookies for too long, because that would be tragic. 😉

Cookies with spices

A few days ago, I went down one heck of a YouTube rabbit hole. I’m sure many of you can relate to this. You get on the good old ‘Tube looking for a video review of running shoes, and an hour later you find yourself utterly enthralled by clips of Martha Stewart making chocolate crackle cookies in 2006 (cringe). Then, I found myself wondering: whatever happened to crackle cookies?

I certainly haven’t eaten one since about 2006 (thanks, gluten allergy). Then, my mom started sending me pictures of the gingerbread house she just made, and that’s when it hit me. Why aren’t gingerbread crackle cookies a thing? Turns out, in 2020 people call these cookies CRINKLE cookies. So, we decided that we would go about making allergen-friendly gingerbread CRINKLE cookies a thing for the 2020-2021 holiday season (even if only in our house). We all need some more holiday cookies to catalyze those merry, merry feelings, right? So, let’s make some, shall we?

Why these gluten-free, vegan gingerbread crinkle cookies work.

Gingerbread cookie with powdered sugar.

If you all have attempted to make gluten-free/vegan versions of baked goods before, you probably know that texture is your biggest enemy. You can usually get the flavor right, but the texture can end up being so far from the real thing that it’s almost better to have no cookies than to have…well…sad cookies. These gingerbread cookies are not sad. I promise.

The Flour:

As with my other gluten-free recipes, we use King Arthur Gluten-Free Measure for Measure flour. I’ve said this before. It has the best flavor and texture, and is the easiest gluten-free flour to work with.

The Binding Agent:

When I was researching gingerbreads, I noticed that many standard recipes don’t use eggs. I realized that the perfect texture could not be achieved without some sort of binding agent (like eggs, etc.) if we wanted to make this recipe both gluten-free and vegan. Therefore, we use a flax tapioca egg. If you are vegan or if you’ve been following this blog, you probably know all about this marvelous little creation. It’s a staple that has been around in vegan baking for quite a while. All it is is some flaxseed meal and tapioca starch dissolved in warm water. It becomes the perfect, viscous binding agent, and it also helps add moisture to the cookies.

Spiced cookies

The Chewiness:

Gingerbread is wonderfully chewy. I knew that if I didn’t capture that chewiness, we’d end up with nothing more than spiced ginger snaps. That’s not a bad thing, but still…we wanted to nail this gingerbread thing. There are several ingredients and techniques that ended up being absolutely essential to capturing the correct texture.

  1. Molasses: Molasses is sticky stuff. In fact, it’s so sticky that it nearly killed my poor little hand-me-down stand mixer from 1990-something. However, that tackiness makes your gingerbread gingerbread. So, pour it on thick!
  2. Brown sugar: Brown sugar is heavier than normal white granulated sugar, or even turbinado cane sugar (which we use as part of the sweet, outer coating of the cookies later). Like molasses, it’s stickiness helps bind everything together and also adds a lovely, caramel-y flavor to the dough.
  3. Chilling the dough: We used a vegan butter stick for this recipe. Though it’s non-dairy, it still works the same way as dairy butter in that you’ll cut it up into the dough. We do this because it forms layers of butter in between particles of dough, which will eventually create that signature crinkle (crackle, cra-inkle?), as the cookies bake. When you’re mixing the dough, the vegan butter warms up slightly and can destroy the layering, so you’ll want to chill the dough before baking to make sure the butter can become firm again. Chilling also makes the dough much easier to work with.
Gluten-free vegan gingerbread crinkle cookies

Making the cookies:

After you’ve added all those ingredients and some delicious, cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom (I love cardamom) and of course, ginger, and formed them into a beautiful gingerbread cookie dough, you’re going to form the dough into little balls.

Then you’re going to roll those balls around in bit of raw turbinado sugar and some spiced powdered sugar (because we aren’t boring here), and bake them for just 15-20 minutes. The end result will be these absolutely amazing, chewy, fluffy, cinnamon-spicy, gluten-free, vegan gingerbread crinkle cookies. Say that five times fast. The texture is EXACTLY like real gingerbread. You’d never know these are plant-based with zero gluten. Plus, with all those cozy spices, these are perfect for your holiday table.

We’d love to know if you tried making these crinkle cookies and what you think of them! And, be sure to check out some of our other baked goods and holiday recipes while you’re here.

Happy crinkle cookie-ing! In the immortal words of Martha Stewart, it’s a good thing.

Easy Gluten-Free, Vegan Gingerbread Crinkle Cookies

These easy, gluten-free, and vegan gingerbread crinkle cookies are lightly spiced, fluffy, perfectly chewy, and coated in delicious cinnamon and nutmeg powdered sugar. They're the perfect holiday cookies, and some of the best gluten-free gingerbread cookies we've tried! Happy holidays!

For the cookie dough:

Dry ingredients:

  • 3 cups gluten-free all purpose baking flour
  • 3/4 cup dark brown brown sugar (packed)
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1.5 tbsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp. ground ginger
  • 1.5 tsp. ground cardamom
  • 1.5 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp. sea salt

Wet ingredients:

  • 8 tbsp. cold, unsalted vegan butter sticks, such as Earth Balance or Miyoko's. (chopped into small cubes)
  • 3/4 cup blackstrap molasses
  • 3 tbsp. almond or coconut milk

For the flax tapioca egg:

  • 2 tbsp. flaxseed meal
  • 1 tbsp. tapioca starch
  • 3 tbsp. warm water

For the sugar coating.

  • 2/3 cup raw turbinado sugar
  • 2/3 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. ground cardamom

Make the flax tapioca egg:

  1. Combine flaxseed meal, tapioca starch, and warm water in a small bowl, stir thoroughly, and then set aside until ready to use.

To make the cookie dough:

  1. To the bowl of a stand mixer or other large mixing bowl, add all the dry ingredients. Mix on low speed until thoroughly combined. If you are not using a stand mixer, stir all dry ingredients until everything is thoroughly incorporated.

  2. Keeping the mixer on low speed, add the butter and mix until the mixture looks like sandy, rocky soil. If not using a mixer, use a wooden spoon to break the butter up into the dry ingredient mixture.

  3. Next, slowly add the molasses, keeping the mixer on low. Then add the milk and the flax tapioca egg. Whether using a mixer or your arm and a wooden spoon (:D), stir until the dough is moist and sticky (reminiscent of peanut butter).

  4. Turn the dough out on a floured surface, and using floured hands, divide it in half. Form two thick disks out of each half of the dough and wrap them in plastic wrap. Place them in the fridge to chill for 2 hours, or the freezer for 30-45 minutes until they are firm. Don't forget them in the freezer! IMPORTANT: DO NOT SKIP THIS STEP! Chilling the dough absolutely necessary in order to create the crinkly texture that is the signature of these cookies. Chilling also makes the dough easier to work with.

Make the sugar coating:

  1. While the dough is chilling, preheat the oven to 350ºF and cover two baking sheets with parchment paper or cooking spray.

  2. Place raw turbinado sugar in a shallow bowl. Combine the powdered sugar with the nutmeg, cinnamon, and cardamom in a separate shallow bowl.

To form the cookies:

  1. Take one dough disk out of the fridge at a time. Working quickly, break off an approximately 2 tbsp. piece of the dough and roll it into a ball between your palms.

  2. Roll the dough ball in the turbinado sugar first, and then roll it in the powdered sugar and spice mixture. Make sure that the surface of the dough ball is generously coated with the powdered sugar mixture. Then, place the dough ball on the prepped baking sheet.

  3. Continue forming and rolling the dough balls in the powdered sugar until all the dough has been used up. Place the dough balls about 2 inches apart on the baking sheets.

  4. Finally, bake the cookies for about 15-17 minutes until they have puffed up and the surface looks cracked. The cookies will be soft when you remove them from the oven and will firm up as they cool. Be sure not to over-bake as this will disrupt the chewy, gingerbread texture.

  5. Let the cookies cool on the cookie sheet for about 5-7 minutes before removing them to a wire cooling rack. Let them cool completely before storing them. These can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week.

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