Iced Gingerbread Men and Ginger Cats {Gluten-free}


Gluten-Free Iced Gingerbread Men

Back in college, I showed up to a holiday party at my then-boyfriend’s mom’s house with a plate of gingerbread cookies. Except, at the time, I only owned one cookie cutter: a hippo. I showed up with 4 dozen iced gingerbread hippopotamuses. For Christmas that year, his mom and grandma independently mailed me cookie cutters. Apparently they didn’t find my gingerbread hippos festive enough (I beg to differ).

I made these Gluten-Free Iced Gingerbread Men for the last day of Rodelle’s 10 days of Cookies and for old time’s sake, threw in a couple of gingerbread hippos for extra merriment. And then because I couldn’t resist using my absurdly large collection of cat cookies cutters, half the batch turned into icing-striped Ginger Cats. Mmmrrooow.

Alternative title: Ginger Cats – An Ode to Arti.

Iced Gingerbread MenGingerbread Men

For this recipe, I ground my own cinnamon from Rodelle’s whole cinnamon sticks using a coffee grinder, which created an aromatic powder with a more pungent bite than the pre-ground cinnamon in my spice rack. Scents of cinnamon are still wafting through our house.

It’s not only from the freshly ground cinnamon baked into these cookies though. Not even primarily, actually. On the contrary, it’s more likely the entire jar of cinnamon we’ve used to fight the ant brigade invading our kitchen and dining room. Whenever we’d plug up one entry-point along a window sill or the actual electrical sockets with a water & cinnamon paste, they’d find another way in, until we’d covered our entire kitchen in wet poop-like cinnamon clumps and all of our food was double-sealed in Ziploc bags.

The ants still found a way in (for some inexplicable reason;  YOU WON’T GET TO MY SUGAR, GUYS). So we built an elaborate cat-proof ant trap, luring and then barricading the colony to a contained area with a 1/2-inch wide cinnamon barrier on the kitchen floor.

I don’t want to jinx it, but our eyesore of a trap seems to be working. On the plus side, it smells like Christmas all the time.

Gluten- Free Gingerbread MenSpiced Gingerbread Cookies

If you want to make your house smell like the holidays without pouring cinnamon all over your kitchen floor, you can, alternatively, bake these gingerbread cookies. This is nearly the same recipe I made into hippos almost 10 years ago and have made many times since, but I tweaked it for a gluten-free cookie. After drooling over Nik from A Brown Table‘s spiced buckwheat molasses cookies, I was inspired to use buckwheat flour, but, having never working with it before, it took me four tests to get this gluten-free version just right.

The first batch was too sticky to roll out even after overnight refrigeration (imagine trying to roll out brownie batter). I added more buckwheat flour and the second batch turned out soft and cakey, which tasted a tad dry and stale. Even though my mom preferred this soft version, I knew it didn’t cut it. The overwhelming vote from Alanna‘s birthday was that these gingerbread cut cookies needed to be crispy. I agreed. Batch three was still soft, but this time, moist and chewy, which very well might be how some people prefer their gingerbread cookies. I still sought a crunchy cookie.

Vanilla Bean IcingIced Gingerbread Cookies

The final batch, and the recipe shared here, was the overwhelming winner in my book – crisp and snappy, just as a gingerbread man should be. With lots of butter, these cookies are crunchy, but still thin and airy in a way that’ll make you eat five in one sitting. The holiday spices, combined with dark molasses and robust buckwheat and chestnut flours give these gingerbread cookies depth of flavor.

Gluten-Free Iced Gingerbread Cookies

I drizzled half of the gingerbread cookies with a vanilla bean icing and drizzled a tart lemon icing over the rest. Both complement the cookie, with vanilla helping the warm spices shine and lemon providing a tart contrast to the spiced gingerbread. While I like both, I am partial to the lemon.

Lemon Iced Gingerbread Cookies

These cookies are the final day of Rodelle’s 10 Days of Cookies, which means all nine of the other recipes are already posted! Click the image below to get the cookie recipes from my fellow brand ambassadors.

Rodelle 10 Days of Cookies

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Gluten-free Iced Gingerbread Men (and Ginger Cats)
Gingerbread Cookies
  • ¾ cup white rice flour *for a non gluten-free version, see note
  • ¾ cup gluten-free oat flour**
  • ½ cup buckwheat flour, plus more for rolling
  • ¼ cup chestnut flour
  • ¼ cup tapioca starch or tapioca flour
  • 1 teaspoon xanthan gum
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon (I made my own by grinding whole Rodelle cinnamon sticks in a coffee grinder)
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • ½ teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature***
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • ¼ cup unsulfured molasses
Vanilla Icing
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • Seeds of 1 vanilla bean pod or ¼ teaspoon of vanilla extract (I use Rodelle Organics)
  • 3 -4 tablespoons of milk
Lemon Icing
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • ¼ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
Gingerbread Cookies
  1. Whisk together the white rice flour, oat flour, buckwheat flour, chestnut flour, tapioca starch, xanthan gum, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and salt in a medium bowl and set aside.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the butter and sugar over medium high speed, until light and creamy.
  3. Add the egg and beat until completely combined, scraping down the sides as needed. Add the molasses and beat just to combine.
  4. With the mixer on low, slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, beating until completely combined.
  5. Divide the dough into four equal pieces and wrap in plastic, shaping the dough into disks. Refrigerate for 1-2 hours, or until firm. (You can even refrigerate it overnight)
  6. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set it next to your cutting board.
  7. Remove only one disk of dough from the fridge at a time. Working quickly, roll it out on a parchment-lined surface heavily covered in buckwheat flour. I find it easiest, if I first pat the surface of the firm dough with buckwheat flour before I start rolling it out and then continuously add more underneath it and onto the rolling pin as I go.
  8. Cut out shapes with cookie cutters and immediately transfer them to the parchment-lined baking sheet. I keep a thin metal spatula on hand in case any cookies get stuck.
  9. Refrigerate the cut cookies for 10 minutes before baking (this helps them from spreading out).
  10. Bake for 10-12 minutes, until firm and lightly golden at the edges. Let cool for 5 minutes on the baking sheet before transferring to wire racks to cool. Repeat with remaining cookies, being sure to let the baking sheets cool before placing cut cookie dough on top.
  11. Drizzle with icing (recipe below).
  12. Store in an air-tight container for up to 1 week.
Vanilla Icing
  1. In a small bowl, whisk together the powdered sugar with the vanilla bean seeds and milk. Use a spoon to test whether it's thin enough to drizzle, and if not, add another splash of milk.
Lemon icing
  1. In a small bowl, whisk together the powdered sugar and lemon juice. Use a spoon to test whether it's thin enough to drizzle, and if not, add another splash of lemon juice.
*For a non gluten-free version replace the white rice flour, oat flour, buckwheat flour, chestnut flour, tapioca starch and xanthan gum with 2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
**I make my own oat flour by grinding gluten-free rolled oats in my blender or food processor (and for cut cookies like these, I sift out larger chunks from the flour)
***Make sure your butter isn't too soft when you start or your dough will turn out very sticky and hard to roll out

Disclosure: I am a Brand Ambassador for Rodelle. While Rodelle generously gave me the baking ingredients used in this recipe, I was not compensated to write this post. As always, the opinions expressed here are solely my own.

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  1. I just smiled huge when I saw these “gingercats”! So cute. Of course Mr.gingerbread man needs a pet! Great Photos too! Pinned!

    • Right?! As you can see, I also made him a girlfriend. Actually, these gingerbread people cutters came in a set with an even LARGER gingerbread man, woman, and a house and dog. So I guess they are gingerbread siblings. Also – that family totally needs a pet cat. ;)

  2. I sososo wish my computer had the crying laughing emoji because I neeed it for these cats! I’m dying! So funny and awesome

  3. I can’t get over those ginger cats! That just made my morning!

  4. I would love to know why you only had a hippo cookie cutter. Ha! That’s so funny. I have so many weird shapes. They are so fun to collect. These cookies look great, Sarah!

    • Haha – well you know how some people collect rocks as a kid? Or trolls? Or candles? Well, I collected hippos in junior high and high school (TOTALLY NORMAL – haha). People used to give me hippo EVERYTHING until eventually I had to tell them to stop. But not after getting a hippo cookie cutter first;) Thanks, Liz!

  5. I am in love with those kitty cookie cutters. I need a set in my life! These gingerbread cookies are some of the best I’ve seen. I adore all of your recipes, Sarah!

  6. Sheri says:

    I loved taste testing these little gems!! Can’t wait to sample them again on Christmas!

  7. Hippos? Now that’s an interesting thing to bring to greet the family! :)

  8. I keep getting gingerbread envy! I see all of these beautiful little guys (and gals) and beautiful gingerbread houses! But my brain hasn’t felt into making them gluten free this year (I keep saying that next year I’ll make a gingerbread village to make up for it). But I’ll probably just use your recipe now! Hooray! Thanks girl!!

  9. I’ll take a hippo over a silly little man any day :) and we have cinnamon currently in every window and doorway in the house – stupid ants

  10. I’m pretty sure that hippopotamuses were in the “12 Days of Christmas” song? ;) (Also, I did not realize until just now how hard it was to spell the full version of hippo) I have not used chestnut flour before but it sounds like it makes these cookies! Lovely photos, Sarah!

  11. Come to think of it, I don’t think I own 1 cookie cutter?! Now that is just awful! Can you tell I barely bake? And I think gingerbread hippos sound cute! Kind of like those animal crackers, which were really cookies in a circus box, but for some reason they were called crackers.

  12. Those ginger cats are adorable and I would of looooveed to see the hippos. How cute are you. I disagree with your mom and grandma too. Those hippos are the perfect cookie, hehe. These looks delicious! Pinned!!

  13. I would be partial to the lemon glaze too, lemon’s where it’s at. You blast ants with cinnamon, I will draw them to me by leaving a trail of sugar everywhere I go… :)

  14. Chestnut flour, holy yum! I tried the whole cinnamon + water trick when my kitchen was invaded but sadly it did not work and I had to settle for those clear, sugar-gel traps with borax or something in them.

    • Aw man – We have a combination of both now. It’s kinda crazy. We put those sugar-gel traps under a heavy bowl on our kitchen floor (so the cats can’t get to them), then used the cinnamon to barricade them in.

  15. I’ve had and heard of a looooot of flours, but never chestnut flour! That sounds so interesting and I bet the Korean in me would love that stuff~~~~it’s common to eat roasted chestnuts year round for us, hehe. And you’re killin’ it with these recipes Sarah! What a fun inspiration you are. ;)

    • Thank you so much, Ellie! I first discovered chestnut flour when I was making a gluten-free crepe recipe from a cookbook (I can’t remember off the top of my head which cookbook it’s from, but it’s super delicious!). Believe it or not – I’ve never actually eaten roasted chestnuts!

  16. Haha, love these cookies! And I love all the shapes that you used :)

  17. Sarah, oh my gawd. . 4 dozen iced gingerbread hippopotamuses?!!! I LOVE that!! :) love the ginger cats and both the vanilla bean icing and the lemon icing .. delish!!! yum! happy holidays!!

  18. Aaaw I love these ginger cats!! So so adorable and I totally think hippos are merry and festive!:) Thanks for testing the recipe out to get it just right for us, they look absolutely perfect!

  19. Hahaha! I’m trying to imagine a time when your beautifully-stocked kitchen had only hippo cookie cutters! Such a transition!

  20. Oana says:

    The cat cookie cutters are out of this world, love love love them! Pinned because you never know when you need a gluten-free gingerbread recipe! Thanks for sharing!

  21. Valerie says:

    I really need to make these! They’re so cute <3 My boyfriend has been asking me for gingerbread men pretty much every day since mid-november but I didn't have a good recipe. Very happy I found yours :) I shall give it a try.

    Happy Christmas xx

  22. Oh my gosh, hippo cutters!! Where can I get one?! They definitely deserve a place in the Christmas cookie extravaganza.

    I’ve never baked with buckwheat flour before, so thanks for this recipe!

  23. Min says:

    Haha so funny! What’s wrong with gingerbread hippos? Well, at least you got some cookie cutters out of it ;). And why has that thought never crossed my mind? You see we purchased a coffee grinder in hopes that we’ll drink more coffee (although we don’t drink much, we both feel like it will make us cooler somehow), but just as expected, it’s collecting dust somewhere. I shall def make my own ground cinnamon!
    You over-achiver you! Of course you prepared 2 icings ;). Love them both! Wishing you and your family a Merry Merry Christmas!!!

    • Yay! I’m so glad you have re-discovered a use for your coffee grinder:) Oh my – the icings are SO EASY to make…and since I was testing recipes, I figured I might as well mix up the icings too – heheh. I hope you have a wonderful holiday with your family, my friend!

  24. HAHA, it looks like you’ve come a long way since then ;) These cookies look great!!

  25. Christie says:

    You are hilarious! I have a rhino cookie cutter that would do the trick! These sound and look delicious. Thanks for sharing!


  26. I love buckwheat! I use it for cakes rather than cookies, where it’s much easier to get the right texture I feel. I can’t believe you went through 4 batches – committed! Also, I’d eat hippo cookies any dya.

  27. Ha ha hippopotamuses gingerbread. That is funny. I have a very large gingerbread man cookie cutter that sometimes makes an appearance at Christmas time.

  28. Rachel says:

    These look adorable….and delicious. I love the drizzled look of the icing and the vanilla bean flavor sounds like a match made in heaven with the gingerbread cookie!


  29. Hm. GINGERCATS. There’s a (delicious) theme song somewhere in there…

  30. I laughed SO hard at your hippo story that I had to read it aloud to my guy. I totally think the same thing would happen if I did that at his family’s holiday party… “Here, Merry Christmas! I’m giving you a regular man-shaped cookie cutter. And a snowman, for good measure.” Nobody appreciates a cute hippo these days… ;)

    • Haha – right?! It’s all about the hippos, cats, and butterfly cookie cutters if you ask me….

      Oddly enough the gingerbread family came with a dog cookie cutter. Now that doesn’t feel any more festive than a hippo, right?!

  31. Thanks for allowing me to feature your cookies in my round-up of 60 Ultimate Cookie Exchange Recipes on Taste As You Go! Happy Holidays!

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