These gluten free vegan molasses ginger cookies are ultra soft and chewy, with no dairy, oil, eggs or unhealthy ingredients. They're the perfect, healthy holiday (or any day) cookie!
Can we make a soft and chewy, moist and delicious molasses cookie that's dairy free (no butter), oil free (no coconut oil or vegan butter), gluten free, egg free, sugar free--and completely healthy? Yes we can!
What I love about these easy crinkle molasses cookies
I love that these cookies are whole food plant-based compliant* but they definitely don't test like it.
They're full of holiday spice and molasses flavors, and just lightly sweet--which to me, is the perfect cookie!
Most vegan desserts use coconut oil or vegan butter, which is not healthy. Here, almond butter and unsweetened applesauce bring a rich flavor, and a moist and chewy texture, without any oil whatsoever.
Those 'other desserts' also lean on refined sugars like coconut sugar or cane sugar, that have no nutritional value.
This recipe gets its sweetness from date sugar (a minimally processed, whole food sweetener) and molasses. See this video about the healthiest sweeteners.
And these cookies are naturally gluten-free, because they're made with almond flour rather than all purpose wheat flour.
*I used a few pinches of cane sugar for the photo to give the cookies a little sparkle, but you can omit that or use erythritol instead. They'll still get those nice cracks on top without any sugar sprinkled on them.
- almond flour super fine, blanched. (I haven't tried other flours in this recipe, so can't recommend any at this time.)
- date sugar - a whole food sweetener
- baking powder - fresh and active
- baking soda
- pink Himalayan salt
- Optional: cane sugar to sprinkle on top before baking See notes
How to make whole food, plant-based molasses cookies: Step-by-step instructions
Follow these photos and instructions to help make it great, every time. Please also see the full recipe card at the bottom of this page.
Step 1. Add all of the dry ingredients to a medium mixing bowl.
Step 2. Stir well to combine, breaking up any lumps.
Step 3. Add the wet ingredients to the bowl.
Step 4. Fold the wet ingredients into the dry, and stir to combine. Don't over stir. Refrigerate the dough for 10 minutes.
Step 4. Scoop dough into your hand and roll into 1 ½ inch balls. Place them on a parchment paper lined baking sheet.
Step 5. Gently press each ball to flatten slightly, to about half its original height. Optional: sprinkle the tops with a little cane sugar or erythritol.
Step 6. Bake until golden brown on the bottom and slightly cracked on the top.
- Cook almond flour cookies long and low. I experimented with many batches, cooking temperatures and times. Almond flour cooks faster than other flours, so at 350 F -- a common baking temperature in cookie recipes -- they tended to get overly brown on the bottoms while still being underdone inside. 300 degrees F for 20+ minutes yielded a cookie that was perfectly soft and chewy, just a bit crisp, and neither over done nor underdone. It also helps keep the cookie bottoms from over browning if you place your oven rack in the top ⅓ of the oven.
- Refrigerate the dough. While it's not necessary to produce a tasty cookie, the dough tends to be a bit wet, and refrigerating makes it easier to scoop and roll the balls.
- Don't scoop your flour with the measuring cup. Use a spoon or scoop to spoon it into the measuring cup instead, then use the flat side of a knife to scrape the excess off the top. You don't want to pack your flour, and almond flour is very easy to compress. Some recipes recommend weighing your ingredients, but I didn't find that to be necessary to get a good result with this recipe.
- Combine your wet and dry ingredients well, but don't over mix. This can lead to a tough cookie. But DO make sure to break up all of the lumps in the dry ingredients before adding the wet, using your fingers if needed.
Substitutions and variations
- Flour - I just know I'm going to get questions about substituting other flours for the almond flour. However, it's such a major element in this recipe and it just doesn't behave the same as other flours. So I can't recommend a substitute at this time, as I haven't tested any.
- Date sugar - any dry/crystallized sugar should work well here, though I haven't tested any others.
- Molasses - either blackstrap or regular work fine here. Blackstrap results in a slightly less sweet cookie, which I think is perfect, and what I used in this recipe.
- Spices - you can definitely experiment with mixing up the spices here. Just use a similar total amount, and don't go overboard with strong tasting spices like allspice or clove.
- Almond butter - you could swap another nut or seed butter, as long as its fairly runny (not too solid). Peanut butter would work, but will change the flavor of the cookies.
- Applesauce - I used applesauce here to help moisten the dough, and because any more nut butter yielded a harder, denser cookie. I imagine maple syrup would work (but would yield a sweeter cookie) or pumpkin puree would be interesting to try, with a little added sweetener. But again, I've yet to experiment with alternatives.
- Pumpkin Molasses Cookies - sub pumpkin puree and a little extra sweetener for the applesauce. I haven't tried yet, but believe this would work well.
- Crystallized Ginger Molasses Cookies - another variation I've yet to try, but believe could work. Chop up crystallized ginger into small pieces and add to the dough as you would chocolate chips. I'll update this post once I've tried it to see how it works--unless someone out there beats me to it! 🙂
- Peanut Butter Molasses Cookies - swap peanut butter for the almond butter.
Light and dark molasses have been boiled one or two times, respectively, while blackstrap molasses has been boiled three times. Blackstrap molasses has the lowest sugar content and the most nutrients. I used blackstrap molasses, and I thought the cookies were perfectly, lightly sweet.
Yes! In fact, they're among the most nutritionally dense sweeteners. Check out this video about the healthiest whole food plant-based sweeteners.
First, these cookies don't use butter, which helps non-vegan cookies spread. Also, the moist dough is chilled, which makes it a lot easier to work with, but can limit the spread. I personally don't mind a fatter, chewier cookie, so that's the result I'm going for in this recipe.
Store the cookies in an air tight container at room temperature, or in the fridge if you prefer. You can also freeze them for several months, though mine never make it to the freezer. 🙂 I have not tried freezing the unbaked dough.
Happy, whole food plant-based cooking, y'all!
More whole food, plant-based dessert recipes
Vegan Molasses Ginger Cookies
- Place a rack just above the center of your oven and preheat to 300 degrees F.
- Spoon the almond flour into a 1 cup measuring cup (DONT PACK IT DOWN), use a knife to scrape the excess off the top, and and add to a medium mixing bowl. Repeat with a second cup. Then add all of the other dry ingredients to the bowl.
- Use a spoon to combine all of the dry ingredients, breaking down any lumps.
- Add the wet ingredients to the mixing bowl, and stir well to combine, but don't over process (or the cookies may become tough).
- Refrigerate the dough for 10 minutes. (Optional, but recommended - see notes.)
- Use a spoon or cookie scoop to scoop out enough dough to form a round ball about 1 ½" in diameter. (This should yield 18 to 20 cookies.) Roll the dough between your palms to make the ball.
- Place each ball on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper, spreading them apart by about an inch. Gently press each ball to flatten by about half. (See pics in the article above for guidance.)
- Bake at 300 degrees F for 21 to 23 minutes. Remove from the oven, allow the cookies to rest for a minute or two, then place on a cooling rack to cool. Note: The cookies can be enjoyed immediately, but will firm up after cooling, so wait until cool for the best results.