Healthy Whole Food Gingerbread Cookies
The sweet and spicy aroma of cinnamon and molasses filling the kitchen….ahhh the smells of the holiday season! Gingerbread cookies baking in the oven always makes me think of the special memories created with my family throughout the holiday season.
I’ve been on a search for a healthier replacement to our traditional gingerbread cookie recipe. My internet searches came up with a lot of options, but many calling for less healthful ingredients like coconut oil, brown sugar, coconut sugar, maple syrup… so I finally put my own recipe idea to the test (Ha! My day job at NutritionFacts.org is rubbing off on me!).
These cookies are made with wholesome plant-based ingredients. Just fruit (dates) and molasses for the sweetness. No refined flours, just almonds and oats. They are naturally sweet, slightly crunchy, slightly chewy— and of course, delicious!
A few notes before you get started!
If you like your gingerbread cookies to have a bit more spice, I’d suggest start by adding a little more cinnamon. If you love ginger, feel free to add in another 1/2 teaspoon. Adjust the clove to your liking. Clove is a stronger spice, so start with less (1/8 teaspoon) for a more mild gingerbread cookie and work your way up to 1/4 teaspoon for a bit more flavor. If you’re not a fan of clove at all, feel free to omit from the recipe. If you are not sure about any of this, just follow the recipe as written and then next time– make adjustments.
Use blackstrap molasses for a dark, bold flavor or use mild molasses for a more traditional gingerbread cookie taste. Blackstrap molasses is a bit more nutritious, but has a more bitter/ sharp flavor.
The dough may be stickier than other gingerbread recipes. Over the years, I have found these things to be helpful:
- Add a bit more oat flour if needed to help the dough roll out better. The recipe calls for you to leave out 1/4 cup of oat flour for rolling out the dough. Use this on the cutting boards and rolling pin, if needed. If you end up not needing all the oat flour– throw it in a smoothie or your oatmeal bowls.
- I have recently discovered that putting the dough in the fridge for at least an hour before rolling out the dough really helps with the rolling process. When doing this with tip number 3 (use a silicone mat), I don’t need the additional oat flour.
- A silicone mat really helps to keep the dough from sticking to the surface when rolling it out (I have this in the recipe instructions). Just be sure to transfer to another surface before cutting so you don’t ruin your mat.
Let me know how these turn out for you!
- 1 3/4 cup rolled oats
- 1 cup raw almonds
- 8 medjool dates (or about 1/2 cup packed of pitted dates)
- 1/2 tablespoon cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/8 teaspoon ground clove
- 3 tablespoons mild molasses or blackstrap molasses*
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- Blend the oats in a dry, high speed blender until fine like flour. Set the out flour aside in a bowl. Transfer 1/4 cup of the oat flour into a smaller bowl- this is for rolling out the cookies.
- In a food processor or high speed blender, blend the almonds until fine like flour. Add the pitted dates, cinnamon, ginger, and clove. Blend and pulse the almond flour, dates, and spices together. Then add in the molasses, vanilla, and the oat flour. Blend the ingredients until the mixture rolls into a ball. The texture should be smooth and sticky.
- Scrape the dough out of the food processor or blender and place it into a bowl or container with a lid. Refrigerate the dough for at least an hour before rolling out the dough.
- Preheat the oven to 350F.
- Place a silicon mat on a cookie sheet, clean counter top, or cutting board. Add small sections of dough to the mat, and roll out with a rolling pin until uniform. Use the extra flour as needed on the rolling pin if the dough starts sticking to it. Once the dough is rolled out carefully transfer the dough to a hard surface, such as a plate or a cutting board (I would not cut on the silicone mat). Then on the plate or cutting board, cut the dough with cookie cutters.
- Transfer the cookies to a cookie sheet that is lined with a silicone mat or parchment paper. Repeat the rolling process until all the dough as been rolled out.
- Bake the cookies for 8-10 minutes, then remove from the oven. Carefully, place the cookies on a cooling rack and allow to cool before storing. Enjoy!
- Store cookies in an airtight container. After a few days, we move them from the cupboard to either the fridge or freezer to extend the life of the cookies.
- *I have not tested this recipe using store bought almond flour or oat flour.
- *Mild molasses will provide a more traditional gingerbread taste. Blackstrap molasses is a very bold taste, but also a nutritious option as it's higher in calcium and iron.
- *The number of cookies this yields varies based on the size of your cookie cutters.
- Recipe updated December 14, 2019