Christmas cookie season is here, which is great news! But for those of us with food sensitivities and allergies, cookie season gets complicated.
Today I want to show you a dairy-free cookie recipe for Christmas – specifically gingerbread, but you can use these tips for many different Christmas cookies.
It’s actually really easy! And they taste amazing. In fact, you’ll hardly taste a difference between these and your classic, buttery Christmas cookies.
I’ll also show you how to make them a little more real food and budget-friendly.
Dairy-Free Cookies for the Holidays
Here’s the key to dairy-free cookie recipes: Palm shortening.
It’s a plant-based shortening that makes buttery, flakey dough, creamy dairy-free frosting, and works great for sauteeing and deep-frying. Palm shortening is perfect for dairy-free dessert.
Dairy-Free Cookie Recipe: Gingerbread
While you can simply plug palm shortening into any cookie recipe, today I’ll share my favorite recipe for gingerbread. It’s based on a recipe I copied from a long-forgotten magazine as a teenager. That was the year I made caramels, homemade chocolate bars, stovetop cinnamon candy, and learned how to make classic gingerbread cookies.
The fact I spent my Christmas season doing that is everything you need to know about my teenage years. I was so wild.
Dairy-Free Dessert: Christmas Cookies
We’re going to use palm shortening instead of butter and almond milk instead of regular milk.
Safe, real-food, dairy-free gingerbread cookies, and no more work than regular cookies. Ready for dairy-free dessert?
Classic Christmas Cookies turned Dairy-free
Try using this method (Palm shortening and almond milk) on other classic cookies to make dairy-free desserts!
- Classic Christmas Sugar Cookies
- Whole wheat chocolate chip cookies
- Almost oatmeal cookies
- St. Nicholas spice cookies
- Katie’s favorite Christmas cookies: kilfi
- Gluten-free chocolate peppermint twist cookies
- Gluten-free, dairy-free eclairs
- Gluten-free pumpkin cookies
- More healthy cookie recipes in Smart Sweets
Keep in mind that cookie recipes with very few ingredients, like thumbprint cookies and other shortbread-based cookies rely heavily on the butter for flavor. Using palm shortening will likely make them blander. You can make them anyway – if you are dairy-free, you will probably just enjoy the fact you can have thumbprint cookies. But people who eat butter might miss the flavor.
If you absolutely need the butter flavor, use a clean vegan butter substitute for half of the shortening in the recipe. We like Earth Balance brand plant-based butter spread.
Classic Christmas Cookie Recipe
Want to make classic sugar cookies dairy-free? This is the recipe we love! And we made a video of the hot mess called, Making Christmas Cookies With Your Children. Enjoy.
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Ingredients for Dairy-Free Gingerbread Cookies
In this video, I used freshly ground soft white wheat flour. We have a Wonder Mill flour grinder (Katie loves her Mock Mill!) so we can make all kinds of whole-grain flour at home.
When my kids were gluten-sensitive, we made dairy-free cookies with spelt flour, which is a low-gluten flour.
You can also use unbleached white flour or sprouted wheat or spelt flour from the grocery store.
In these dairy-free cookies, I used organic sugar and molasses. You can use whatever kind of sweetener you prefer, understanding that each one lends its unique flavor and texture to the recipe. Turbinado and Sucanat work great!
The extra molasses makes up for the fact we don’t use brown sugar in this recipe. I’ve found that as long as I have some organic sugar and molasses on hand, brown sugar (which is essentially sugar mixed with molasses) is unnecessary.
You can use regular powdered sugar, organic powdered sugar from any grocery store with a health food section, or order organic here.
Or, if you’re in a bind, pop that granulated organic sugar into the blender and make your own powdered sugar!
- Eggs (make a flax-egg for egg-free!)
- Baking soda
- Spices: ginger, allspice, cinnamon, and nutmeg
Simple, delicious, real-food based gingerbread bread cookies made dairy-free for you!
- 3/4 c. granulated sugar (organic sugar, turbinado, sucanat, etc.)
- 1/2 c. palm shortening
- 2 eggs
- 1/3 cup molasses
- 3 1/4 cup unbleached flour (spelt flour and freshly ground soft white wheat also work)
- 2 tsp ginger
- 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp allspice
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp nutmeg
- 1/2 tsp
For the Icing:
- 3/4 cup plus 1 tbsp powdered sugar
- 1 tbsp almond milk (plus more if needed)
- Dye-free sprinkles (optional for decorating)
- In a large bowl, beat sugar and shortening until fluffy.
- Add eggs and molasses, then beat until smooth.
- In another bowl, sift together dry ingredients. Gradually add it to the liquids until well blended. If using freshly ground flour, you may need to add more flour to get a good cookie consistency.
- Transfer cookie dough to a container with a lid (or wrap in parchment paper) and refrigerate for one hour or overnight.
- Preheat the oven to 350 F.
- Split cookie dough in half. Set one aside. Lightly flour your work surface and rolling pin with flour. Roll one half of the dough out until it is 1/8-inch thick. Use cookie cutters to cut it into desired shapes, then place cookies on greased cookie sheets, about 1/2 inch apart (they will not rise much as they bake). Bake for 8-10 minutes, until barely golden on the edges.
- Transfer to a cooling rack and cool completely before icing.
- Gather the scraps of cookie dough into a ball and roll it out again. Repeat the rolling, cutting, baking, and cooling process until all the dough is baked.
Make the Icing:
- In a small bowl, stir together the powdered sugar and almond milk, adding more almond milk 1/2 tsp at a time if necessary to get your desired consistency.
- Scoop the icing into a frosting bag or quart-size freezer bag (not a sandwich bag – it will break). Snip the corner off the freezer bag, and ice the cookies as desired. You can also simply use a butter knife to spread the icing on the cookies.
- Enjoy immediately or let the icing set for a few minutes before serving (just kidding – who waits before digging into the cookies?!)
- Serving Size: 2 cookies
- Calories: 321
- Sugar: 25g
- Sodium: 270mg
- Fat: 10g
- Saturated Fat: 6g
- Carbohydrates: 53g
- Fiber: 1g
- Protein: 4g
- Cholesterol: 27mg
Keywords: Holiday baking, Christmas cookies
Whether you’re just looking to make a more real food-based Christmas cookie, or you desperately want to eat some good dairy-free gingerbread, try this recipe! I’m sure it will become a favorite.