Spicy Gingerbread Cookies

spicy gingerbread cookies (gluten-free recipe)

The holiday season isn’t complete without a batch (or two or three) of gingerbread cookies. This recipes skimps not on the spices or molasses, and as such would have been completely snubbed by the younger clove/nutmeg/ginger-only-enjoyed-in-moderation me. Now that I can actually catch a whiff of molasses straight from the bottle without grimacing, I prefer to use one of the most flavorful, non-blackstrap molasses available — Brer Rabbit Full Flavor. (B&G Foods makes both Brer Rabbit and Grandma’s molasses — two of the most common brands at grocery or big box stores — for a discussion of the various strength levels please see the third and fourth Q&As here.) Anyway, the resulting cookies are nice and crisp — perfect for gingerbread people, festive shapes and houses alike!

How do you like your gingerbread cookies? Crispy, chewy or very soft? Spicy or mild? Full of molasses flavor or just a hint? Iced or dipped in chocolate or bare? (My preferences — in recent years — are bolded.)

Spicy Gingerbread Cookies

(very heavily adapted from Thin Mints)

Preparation Time: 30 minutes

Inactive Preparation Time: 1 1/2 hours

Baking Time: 10 – 11 minutes

Makes: About 22 medium-size cookies


Wet Ingredients:

  • 57 grams (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melt and cool slightly (15 – 30 minutes)
  • 84 grams (1/4 cup) molasses (not blackstrap, I prefer Brer Rabbit full flavor)
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

Dry Ingredients:

  • 45 grams (1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons) millet flour, plus more for rolling
  • 45 grams (1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons) garbanzo fava flour
  • 24 grams (2 tablespoons) potato starch
  • 16 grams (2 tablespoons) arrowroot starch
  • 1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum
  • 30 grams (1/4 cup) powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/8 – 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg


Make and chill dough:

Combine melted and cooled butter, molasses and vanilla extract in whatever vessel you used to melt the butter (saucepan, measuring cup); set aside. Whisk together millet flour through ground nutmeg in a small (2-quart) bowl. Pour melted butter mixture into dry ingredients and stir by hand until the dough comes together into a smooth ball. Turn dough out onto a lightly millet-floured sheet of plastic wrap, pat into about a 3/4″ thick disk, wrap tightly and refrigerate for about 30 minutes (dough won’t be rock hard, just firmed slightly).

Roll dough and cut out cookies:

Line a small, rimmed sheet pan or freezer-safe platter with a silicone baking mat or a piece of plastic wrap (make sure it’s smooth, no wrinkles); set aside.

Sprinkle rolling surface with millet flour, turn chilled dough out and roll out until about 1/8″ thick. Cut out desired shape(s) and transfer to the prepared sheet pan using a small or large offset spatula (you really need a very thin tool to get under the cookies). No need to leave any space in between cookies, we’re not baking them yet.

Knead together scraps and re-roll/cut until it’s all shaped. If you run out of space on your baking sheet, lay down another sheet of plastic wrap over top (though the stacked cookies, even with plastic in between, are a bit difficult to separate once frozen they will). Transfer baking sheet(s) to the freezer and chill for 1 hour.

Bake and cool cookies:

While cookies chill, arrange oven rack in the center and preheat oven to 350°F. Line two large, rimmed baking sheets with silicone baking mats or parchment paper; set aside.

Once cookies have chilled for an hour, arrange half on one of the prepared sheet pans — they hardly spread, so about 1/2″ of space between each is enough. Return other half of cookies to the freezer. Bake until cookies are golden, edges are firm but middle is still a little soft, about 10 – 11 minutes (I baked mine for 11). Remove from oven and allow cookies to cool on the baking sheet for about 2 minutes before removing to a cooling rack.

Repeat with the second prepared cookie sheet and other half of the cookies from the freezer. (Please note: it’s really important that you don’t use the cookie sheet that just came out of the oven, it will cause the cookies to warm, spread and generally not come out as well. If you only have one sheet pan or baking mat that’s ok — just let it cool to room temperature before using it.)

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  • Reply
    December 10, 2014 at 8:37 am

    Thanks for this! The result is EXACTLY what I was looking for. Crispy and spicy. However, I added up the price for the various grains/flours and the total was over $140.00. I realize these ingredients can be used for other things but was wondering if whole wheat pastry flour, for example could be substituted for those with gluten tolerance?

    • Reply
      Heather Sage
      February 25, 2015 at 1:03 pm

      I’m so happy to hear these turned out to your liking!! To keep the startup costs down a bit, I’d recommend buying single bags of the flours, starches and xanthan gum from a local store (or from Bob’s Red Mill, though shipping adds a bit). The total for all five bags should be about $35 or less, which I realize is still quite pricy compared to conventional, all-purpose flour.

      As for a swap with gluten-containing flour, that’s a bit tricky. Adjustments to liquid and leavening — and sometimes even technique — need to be considered when successfully converting one to another. Rather than potentially leading you astray with a bad product rec, I’d be happy to point you to some gluten-ful bloggers. Please let me know if you’d like some site recommendations!

  • Reply
    December 16, 2014 at 2:15 pm

    these look yummy but I need to avoid millet and all bean flours.
    do you have any suitable substitutions?

    • Reply
      Heather Sage
      February 25, 2015 at 12:44 pm

      Thank you for the kind words! I’m so sorry, but I don’t really :(. Buckwheat is the closest, but its flavor is just so predominant that I hesitate to recommend it.

  • Reply
    December 17, 2014 at 5:07 am

    Yummy! Can’t wait to bathe these! Are these a crisp or chewy recipe!? I’m craving a hard crisp!!

    • Reply
      Heather Sage
      February 25, 2015 at 12:49 pm

      These turn out quite crisp once cooled, but not, like, gingersnap hard.

  • Reply
    December 17, 2014 at 5:08 am

    Bathe…haha….no. TRY these….

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