Natural Gingerbread Folks and Vegan Christmas Cookies (oil-free and gluten-free options)

Have you rolled up your sleeves and started your holiday baking?  I sure have, but everything I’ve baked this past week starts with ‘gra’ and ends with ‘nola’!  Gingerbread Granola, Cocoa-Goji Granola… I’ve probably baked 15 batches for gifting by now!  This is the first year I’ve given granola as gifts, and it’s a nice change.  I bought one big case of Mason jars, and that pretty much covered off all the gift-giving for school and preschool teachers, piano teacher, friends, and hockey coaches.

And, now that I am granola’d out, I’m turning to cookies!  Last week I finally made my “Gingerbread Folks” from LTEV.  I decided to share the recipe with you today, because everyone must have a good gingerbread cookie in their recipe box for the holidays!  Plus, I have gathered a list of vegan cookie links for quick reference when you are needing some festive cookies or squares for parties or gifts.  Also, a reminder that if you need recipes for Christmas Day, be sure to check out this post.

Now, on to the Gingerbread Folks!

Gingerbread Folks RECIpage link to print/share

A variation on the holiday classic, these cookies have a slight chewiness and crunch, with a delicious, lightly spiced flavor.

1 ½ cups + 1 tbsp sifted spelt flour

1 tsp baking powder

3/4 tsp baking soda

1⁄4 + 1/8 tsp sea salt

1 tsp cinnamon

1/8 tsp ground cloves

¾ tsp ground ginger

1/8 tsp allspice

1/3 cup organic extra-virgin coconut oil (at room temperature so softened), or can use organic canola oil (see note)

1⁄2 cup unrefined sugar

2 tbsp molasses (blackstrap or regular cooking molasses)

2 tbsp non-dairy milk (see note)

2 tbsp pure maple syrup

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, and allspice.  Using a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the coconut oil, sugar, molasses, milk, and maple syrup, beating on medium speed for several minutes until creamy, and stopping to scrape the bowl as needed. Mixing at low speed, add the dry mixture about 1⁄2 cup at a time, over about a minute or so. Continue blending until the dough comes together in one or two balls on the paddle, separating cleanly from the inside of the mixing bowl. Transfer to a clean, dry countertop. Roll out the dough to about 1⁄4 inch thick. (If you are having trouble rolling the dough—if it is sticking—sandwich the dough between two sheets of parchment paper and roll your pin on top of the parchment, instead of directly on the dough.) If the dough has become too pliable (this may happen if your room is slightly warm), transfer to the fridge for 10 to 15 minutes to firm slightly. Once rolled fairly evenly to 1⁄4 inch thick, use cookie cutters to cut the dough into shapes. A spatula (offset or regular) will help lift the cookies off your counter and to the prepared baking sheet. Space the cookies at least an inch or so apart. Bake for 10 to 11 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool on the pan for at least a couple of minutes. The cookies will firm more as they cool, and even more after they are chilled. Refrigerate the cookies in an airtight container. Decorate as desired, such as with the simple gingerbread icing.

Simple Gingerbread Icing

1 cup powdered sugar (see note)

1½ – 2 tbsp vanilla non-dairy milk (‘non-dairy nog’ is very nice here!)

To prepare the icing: In a bowl, mix the sugar with 11⁄2 tablespoons of the milk, until very smooth. Add the extra 1⁄2 tablespoon or so of milk, if needed, to thin mixture to a soft enough consistency that can be squeezed through a piping or resealable plastic bag (snip one corner if using a plastic bag).  After decorating the gingerbread, allow the icing to dry on the cookies before stacking.

Note: I use Wholesome Sweeteners Organic Powdered Sugar, which is powdered sugar made from unrefined cane sugar (rather than icing sugar that is made from white refined sugar). If you cannot find organic powdered sugar, you can easily make your own. To do so, use a blender and combine about 1¼ – 1½ cups of unrefined sugar with 1 tbsp of arrowroot powder or cornstarch. Blend on a high speed until powdery, scraping down the jug once or twice. If using a high-powered blender, no arrowroot/cornstarch is needed – just WHIZ!  Update: This year I decided to making icing sugar with coconut sugar – it worked just fine!  The color is caramel, but I suggested to the girls that they use it as ‘glue’ for the toppings, rather than to try and color with natural food dye.  Toppings can include miniature dairy-free chocolate chips, pieces of dried cranberries/raisins/goji berries, coconut, vegan marshmallows, sunflower/pumpkin/hemp seeds, etc!  Just look at some of the things our girls came up with!…


If This Apron Could Talk: I like the size this batch of dough makes—enough for fifteen or more cookie cutouts. If, however, you prefer to bake in larger quantities, simply double this recipe and bake the cookies in batches. Finish cutting all of your cookies, and then refrigerate the shapes until ready to bake the next batch . . . or refrigerate the dough first and cut out only one batch’s worth at a time as they bake. Note: If you are refrigerating the dough for more than 30 to 40 minutes, it will need to soften briefly at room temperature to roll out, as the coconut oil hardens when cooled.

Ingredients 411: Any nondairy milk can be used, though I like the hint of flavor a non-dairy nog gives to the batter!

Other Top Picks for Holiday Cookies (scroll down for oil-free options)

Homestyle Chocolate Chip Cookies  (gluten-free version)


Creamed Cheese Brownies with Salted Dark Chocolate Topping (these are pictured with my “Gingery Cookies” from LTEV, which have been a huge hit!)

Hello Vegan Bars

Chocolate Mint Melties (recipe NOW posted!) :)


OIL-FREE Cookie Options

Frosted Brawnies (use nut butter option in frosting; gluten-free) (also in pic are my “Banana Nut Squares with Cream Cheese Frosting” from LTEV – make them!)

Lemon-Kissed Blondie Bites  (gf-option)

Oatmeal Peanut Butter Cookies

Cocoa Cookie Dough Balls (gf-option)

Nicer Krispie Squares (gluten-free)

Have you made baked goodies for gifts this year?  And what are your favorite cookies to make and give during the holidays?  And, do you have other ideas for more natural decorating for gingerbread?  Please share!

Merry Christmas everyone!  :)


  1. Lyla says

    Hi! I know this is like over a year after this post was made, but I just recently discovered your website here and am so excited to try some recipes!

    I have a question about this – can I use the same amount of regular flour for these cookies? I have no spelt flour, and I’m fine with wheat so the regular flour is more convenient for me. :)

    I was just wondering if wheat flour would work, and if so do I have to change any ratios for the ingredients? (I’m not sure how spelt behaves in recipes).

    I love this post, btw. So fun and makes me think of the holidays! 😀


    • Dreena says

      Hi Lyla, well I’m glad you landed here whenever, however! :) Do you want to use white wheat flour or whole-wheat pastry flour? Either way, you’ll need a little less. I talk about the diff’s between spelt and wheat flour in my book “Let Them Eat Vegan”… in general, you need about 1 cup + 3-4 tbsp of spelt for 1 cup of wheat. It varies slightly by recipe, but that’s general rule of thumb. You can modify slightly based on that ratio (using maybe 1 1/4 cups wheat, but I *haven’t* tested that, just fyi). Are you able to pick up spelt flour? It’s a beautiful flour for baking, I use it a lot. If you do pick some up you will certainly use it up with other baked goods from my blog. 😉 Enjoy!!

  2. Suelin says

    I was excited to find your site and am anxious to try some of the recipes. I had eliminated dairy and sugar from my dieat so I am intrigued with some of your alternatives.
    I looked all over for the banana nut sqaures with cream chesse frosting and I could never find a recipe for them. They were a side note in the new year’s recipes.

    • Dreena says

      Hi Suelin, thanks for the note and well done ditching the dairy and sugar! The banana nut squares are in my cookbook “Let Them Eat Vegan”. I have a lot of other cookie recipes posted if you want to look through the recipe page – just these particular ones are not on my blog right now. Good luck! :)

  3. Jane says

    not related to holiday baking but we just got in from a swim at local beach (sorry to be smug but we are in Australia!) and my daughter said “i’m hungry” and dinner is an hour away so i made your ‘white bean hummus’ from E D & B V and had a pack of (sorry) commercial sweet potato chips in the cupboard and lo and behold! another one of your recipes to go straight to our “all time fave” list. You are a vegan genius! happy happy new year, i will be making more and more of your recipes i know it!

    • Dreena says

      haha, Jane, you can brag about swimming with that kind of flattery. 😉 Thank you much, and I’m yearning for a tropical getaway myself… enjoy the warm waves!

  4. Nancy Nurse says

    Hi, I love your site, but how can you say this is OIL-FREE when it contains 1/3 cup Coconut Oil? Oil is oil, unfortunately.

    • Dreena says

      Nancy, I can say oil-free, because I give a list of oil-free cookies. Why so hostile? I try to give many options for many lifestyles, and have 5 links for oil-free cookies for people for the holidays. I do my best to offer many options – nut-free, oil-free, gluten-free, etc.

  5. Tiffany says

    Hi Dreena!

    Wow! These look great! I just sent you an email with a screen shot of my receipt for the holiday cookbook offer. :) Thank you!!

    Happy Holidays! xoxo

      • Tiffany says

        Thank you Dreena! I’m looking forward to try the recipes! My books arrive tomorrow :)

        I made your fragrant kidney bean and lentil dal for dinner…it was absolutely wonderful! My mom couldn’t get over how delicious it was!

        Thank you so much for putting in time, love, and effort to make sure that every recipe is perfect.

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