Love gingerbread, but can’t find a healthy option? You can enjoy that holiday favorite again with these refined sugar-free paleo gingerbread cutout cookies!
A holiday favorite.
Ever since childhood gingerbread has been a favorite holiday tradition of mine. Not that I don’t enjoy gingerbread any other time of year, but during the holidays there’s just something special about it!
As a kid, my family and my best friend’s family would get together and build gingerbread houses and trains that my best friend’s mom had baked fresh. I can still smell the sweet gingerbread fragrance filling the house.
After becoming a mom myself, I’ve never actually made and decorated gingerbread for houses or trains with my kids. The thought of decorating with five little kids is a little… overwhelming. Or should I say the mess they’d make is? But I do still make gingerbread every year – either in the form of cake or cookies.
Little bites of nostalgia.
Thankfully my kids aren’t too disappointed that I haven’t included them in the gingerbread house tradition of my family. They’re perfectly happy to enjoy gingerbread cutout cookies. So I try and save them some when I make them. Haha!
Seriously, though, I have a REALLY hard time not eating a whole batch of gingerbread cutout cookies by myself! They’re just so delicious, so easy to pop right into your mouth. And the smell is full of nostalgia.
Since being on the GAPS Diet, where molasses is a no-no, gingerbread has not been frequenting my kitchen. Sadness, eh? I have cheated once and put a few drops of molasses in my gingerbread latte, but other than that, I’ve been molasses-free for a long time.
Thankfully, even though gingerbread without molasses isn’t reaaaally gingerbread, I’ve figured out a way to make it pretty dang close! And my secret ingredient is one of my all-time favorite things ever.
The power of cocoa.
That’s right, friends. While it’s not quite exactly 100% the same as molasses, cocoa does give these gingerbread cutouts that nice deep flavor that molasses provides.
Now, granted, cocoa and carob aren’t technically on the GAPS Diet, either. But after being on the diet for a while people often find that they can add cocoa in without any adverse affects. Thankfully I happen to be one of those people.
Could you imagine this blog without cocoa powder? What would I write about? Haha.
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Paleo Gingerbread Cutout Cookies
Free of grain, gluten, dairy, and refined sugar.
- 3/4 cup almond flour
- 2 tablespoons cocoa or carob powder
- 1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/8 teaspoon cloves
- dash of sea salt
- 1 organic or free-range egg*
- 3 tablespoons honey (local is best!)
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla (I like to make my own)
Whisk dry ingredients together in a bowl. Make a well in the middle and add in the wet ingredients. Mix well to combine. It will seem dry, just keep mixing until it comes together into a ball!
Cover the bowl with plastic wrap (I know, how un-crunchy of me!) and stick in the fridge for up to 1/2 hour.
Preheat the oven to 350 and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
Take the dough out of the fridge and divide in half. Roll half the dough out between two pieces of plastic wrap. Peel off the top layer of plastic wrap and cut into desired shapes. Place on prepared cookie sheet.
Repeat until all the dough is used up.
Bake in preheated oven for 8-10 minutes, depending on how crispy you like your gingerbread. Store leftovers in a covered container.
Makes 3-4 dozen cookies, depending on how thin you roll the dough and how large you cut the cookies.
Dough can be refrigerated for a few days before using it.
*I have made these egg-free, using 2-3 tablespoons of coconut oil in place of the egg. Just note that the texture of the cookies will be different and a little more crumbly.
If you are looking for more GAPS-friendly treats, check these out.
simple perfection!! Loving the start shape too!! I can bet my kids would like this more than the molasses version!
Thanks, Tessa! My kids sure love them!
These are so adorable! I didn’t know about the molasses and GAPS! How sad LOL! I’m so glad you can tolerate cocoa!
Thanks, Renee! Yes, it’s sad, but the healing was definitely worth giving up molasses!
These are so cute – perfect for Christmas and for little hands!
This is great! I was just thinking about doing gingerbread houses with my GF daughter and this would probably be perfect!
Thanks, Amy! I’m hoping to get it turned into a house this year. My kids would be in heaven. Haha!
These look awesome! I’m off molasses right now too because of the high iron content.
Gingerbread flavor is one of my favorites for the holiday and this looks so cute and yummy! I love that you can cut them into fun shapes too. Definitely saving this one for Christmas.
Yees, I have done this switch too, and it works great! Cocoa for the win in so many ways! These are wonderful! Such a fun family recipe, especially this time of year!
Thanks, Megan! Where would we be without cocoa? Haha.
These are so cute! And I LOVE ginger cookies, especially this time of year, but really ANY time!
Thanks, Lindsey! I’m definitely the same! I can eat them year ’round!
I would never have thought to use cocoa powder instead of molasses! Thank you for this beautiful, healthful cookie recipe. It’s nice to have a treat for children and adults alike to enjoy without any guilt.
Thank you, Cathy! 🙂
Wow, only 3 tablespoons of honey? That’s great, especially this time of year! Both of my kids love doing cutout cookies, but my two year old may eat half the batch before it gets in the oven. Have you tried this with an egg substitute?
Haha! My 3yo is the same way. 😉 I have made the recipe with a couple tablespoons of coconut oil in place of the egg. The texture is a little different, but it still works fine. 🙂
I recently found out that I can have sugar (molasses) and fruit, but I can’t eat them within 4 hours of each other. Even cloves are considered fruit, so most gingerbread-type recipes are out because they usually have cloves (fruit) and molasses (sugar). THIS doesn’t!!! You have no idea what a welcome recipe this is for me!
Aw, I hope you get to enjoy them, Lindsey! I actually have the same sugar+fruit intolerance, so I understand how hard it can be to navigate.
I made the batter with homemade almond flour that didn’t become as fine as a true flour – I first used my food processor, then tried to make it finer in my Vitamix and it seemed to be flour-like, but my batter isn’t as dry as it should be, it’s very sticky. I added some store-bought almond flour to soak up some moisture but it didn’t really work, it’s still very sticky! So I formed them into balls and flattened them a bit to bake! I baked for ~10 minutes and they came out ok – a bit chewy but still tasty! Any advice?!?
Well, I would say just try and use all finely ground almond flour next time. I’ve tried them before making my own almond flour and they don’t really work the same. Sorry!
That said, the dough is very soft and a little sticky, which is why it’s important to chill it before you try and roll it out, and then make sure you’re rolling it out between sheets of plastic wrap. I know that’s annoying, but it’s so helpful!
I’m glad that you thought they were tasty, even though they didn’t come out looking like the pictures. 😉 I hope you try them again!