Classic Gingerbread Men Cookies with Royal Icing


The other day I noticed that we didn’t have a basic dairy-free gingerbread men cookies recipe here on Go Dairy Free. We have a recipe for gluten-free & vegan gingerbread cookies, but not all of you need gluten-free treats. And you simply can’t head into Christmas without a staple gingerbread cookies recipe!

Fortunately, I have a well-loved “just” dairy-free recipe to share with you today (with vegan options). It has the perfect amount of flavor and spice for go-to, roll-and-cut, dairy-free gingerbread men cookies.

Dairy-Free Gingerbread Men Cookies Recipe with Royal Icing - a classic popular recipe that can also be made vegan!

Recipe Tips for Perfect Dairy-Free Gingerbread Men Cookies

Picking the Best Dairy-Free Buttery Sticks

Formerly known as margarine, the new “buttery sticks” are usually non-hydrogenated. And there are actually several brands to choose from. Some vegan “buttery sticks” or dairy-free margarine brands for baking include Melt, select varieties of Blue Bonnet, and select varieties of Fleischmann’s.

Eat Dairy Free - Your Essential Cookbook for Everyday Meals, Snacks, and SweetsOr you can use my Bakeable Butter Recipe if you have  the 2nd Edition of my flagship book, Go Dairy Free: The Guide and Cookbook – it works great in cookies!

As a heads up, there have been some baking issues with Earth Balance Buttery Sticks this season. They’ve sworn that their formula hasn’t changed, but many people are experiencing very flat, greasy cookies with their product. I think it’s a bad batch where the oils haven’t been properly emulsified.

A couple of the brands mentioned above do have unsalted versions. If you use an unsalted variety of buttery sticks or margarine, increase the salt in the recipe by an 1/8 teaspoon.

Which Type of Molasses

Look for an unsulphured “cooking” molasses for the best results, like Grandma’s Molasses or Brer Rabbit. For a less intense molasses flavor, you can use a mild molasses. Blackstrap molasses will work, but it produces a darker color and might be too intense for some taste buds.

How to Color the Icing

Royal icing is a classic, dairy-free, egg-based icing that spreads and sets into a perfect sweet shell. The easy recipe included with these Gingerbread Men Cookies makes a pure white icing. To color it, place 1/2 cup of the icing in a bowl and stir in food coloring (start with 3 drops) until it reaches your desired color.

Alternative Icing Recipes

The icing recipe below using powdered egg whites. If you don’t have any on hand, this Decorator Icing Recipe uses egg whites. If you need an egg-free and vegan icing, then use this Perfect Icing Recipe.

Dairy-Free Gingerbread Men Cookies Recipe with Royal Icing - a classic popular recipe that can also be made vegan!This gingerbread men cookies recipe with photo was shared with us by McCormick.

Special Diet Notes: Gingerbread Men Cookies

By ingredients, this recipe is dairy-free / non-dairy, nut-free, peanut-free, optionally soy-free, and vegetarian.

For egg-free and vegan gingerbread men cookies, see my Egg Substitutes Guide.

5.0 from 1 reviews
Dairy-Free Gingerbread Men Cookies
Prep time
Cook time
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This very popular recipe was shared with us by McCormick, and has been adapted just a bit. See the post above for more Recipe Tips and options. Please note that the Prep time is hands-on time only. Allow 4 hours or overnight for the dough to chill.
Serves: 24 cookies
  • 3 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¾ cup dairy-free buttery sticks, softened (see Recipe Tips above)
  • ¾ cup firmly-packed brown sugar
  • ½ cup molasses (see Recipe Tips above)
  • 1 egg (can use an egg sub, if needed)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Royal icing (recipe below), for decorating (optional)
  1. In large bowl, whisk together the flour, ginger, cinnamon, baking soda, nutmeg, and salt.
  2. Add the buttery sticks and brown sugar to a large mixing bowl. Beat with a mixer on medium speed until light and slightly fluffy. Add the molasses, egg, and vanilla and beat until well combined.
  3. With the mixer on low, gradually beat in the flour mixture until thick dough forms. You might need to stir it if the dough is too thick for your mixer.
  4. Shape the dough into a thick disk, and wrap it in plastic wrap. Refrigerate the dough for at least 4 hours or overnight.
  5. Preheat your oven to 350ºF and line baking sheets with parchment paper.
  6. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough to ¼-inch thickness. If it's cracking, let the dough rest and warm slightly for a few minutes.
  7. Cut into gingerbread men shapes using a 5-inch cookie cutter. Carefully transfer the cut outs to your prepared baking sheets, about 1 inch apart.
  8. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, or until the edges of the cookies are set and just begin to brown.
  9. Let the gingerbread men cookies cool on the baking sheets for 1 to 2 minutes before removing them to a wire rack to cool completely.
  10. Once completely cool, you can decorate!
Royal Icing: Sift 1 pound powdered sugar into a large mixing bowl. Add 6 tablespoons warm water, 3 tablespoons powdered egg whites (see Recipe Tips above for egg-free option), and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract. Beat with an electric mixer on high for 5 to 7 minutes, or until stiff peaks form and the icing is fluffy and glossy. Spoon or pipe the icing onto cookies to decorate.

More Dairy-Free Gingerbread Cookie Indulgences

Gingerbread Cookie Butter

Gingerbread Cookie Butter

Spiced Gingerbread French Toast

Spiced Gingerbread French Toast - a delightful dairy-free, gluten-free recipe for brunch or any morning!

Gingerbread Cookie Mix in a Jar

Gingerbread Cookie Mix Recipe (giftable with preparation instructions - dairy-free, vegan optional)

For More Sweet Dairy-Free Recipes, Get Go Dairy Free!

Go Dairy Free 2nd Edition - The Ultimate Guide and Cookbook for Dairy-Free Living with Over 250 Recipes!

About Author

Alisa is the founder of, Food Editor for Allergic Living magazine, and author of the best-selling dairy-free book, Go Dairy Free: The Guide and Cookbook for Milk Allergies, Lactose Intolerance, and Casein-Free Living, and the new cookbook, Eat Dairy Free: Your Essential Cookbook for Everyday Meals, Snacks, and Sweets. Alisa is also a professional recipe creator and product ambassador for the natural food industry.


  1. Meredith Lundin on

    Hello, It says optionally soy free. How would I make it soy free? My 4 year old is allergic to dairy and soy…but him and his brother are begging me to make gingerbread men with them. Am I just checking ingredients? Do you know of specific ones I would need to substitute? Thanks!

  2. Kristen Oxender on

    I made it as directed. My dough was too loose to roll out. Flavor was great and made good circle cookies, but not cut outs

    • Hi Kristen, I’m so sorry that happened to you. That would be due to the buttery sticks or margarine used. Which one are you using? Unfortunately, some produce oilier / greasier results and don’t swap as well in recipes. In a pinch, shortening (like spectrum organic) will produce reliable results.

    • To remedy your current dough, you can add a little more flour. If trying again, with the same brand of buttery sticks, reduce the amount by 2 tablespoons, and then add a little liquid, as needed, if the dough is too stiff.

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