Gluten-Free Gingerbread

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Moist gluten-free gingerbread loaf that’s soft and spicy.
A festive low-fat and healthy treat for the holiday season!


Gluten-Free Gingerbread -- moist, spicy & secretly skinny. A festive holiday treat!


A year ago, my mom dropped a bombshell on me. After we both scheduled to play hooky from work, Mom hopped on the freeway to visit me, and as we cranked up the car heater during our quality mother-daughter time, she shocked me with this statement:  


“I’m going gluten-free!”


Me, her baking-obsessed daughter, cringed. No gluten. None. Nil. Nada. She intended to eliminate that special protein from her diet, the one that provides structure to muffins, elasticity to bread dough, and chew to cookies. Oh boy.


Gluten-Free Gingerbread -- moist, spicy & secretly skinny. A festive holiday treat!


With Mom’s birthday quickly approaching, I scrambled to create a special dessert for her that fit within her new dietary restraints. After purchasing my first gluten-free flour mix, I started measuring, stirring, and taste testing cookie dough. Three batches later, I presented her with gluten-free Nutella cookies as we sang “Happy Birthday” and watched her blow out the candles. Whew!


During the past few months, I experimented with more gluten-free recipes, resulting in a moist pecan banana bread and chocolate brownie pancakes (my favorite rich and fudgy healthy breakfast!). And when the wintery weather blew into town last week, I instantly realized what my next treat should be.


Gluten-Free Gingerbread.


Gluten-Free Gingerbread -- moist, spicy & secretly skinny. A festive holiday treat!


Despite how much I loathe the cold (does anyone really enjoy icy white fingers, numb toes, or a sniffling nose?), I do a little happy dance every December when gingerbread season starts. I camp out in the kitchen as the loaves bake in the oven, smiling as the distinctive aroma fills the air and wafts throughout the house. I carve off slice after slice, licking my fingers and checking the countertops for any stray crumbs. And a day or two later, once I finish the entire batch of gingerbread by myself, I start mixing up another one.


After attempting countless recipes from cookbooks and magazines—many of them disappointments—I compiled a list of my required components of gingerbread.


It must be moist. Crumbly, dry gingerbread just doesn’t cut it. Nobody wants their slice to fall apart into tiny pieces as they bite into it! The moister the better, and sometimes I underbake mine just to make sure the center stays on the gooey side. (Exactly the way I like it!)


 It must be spicy. Ginger is naturally spicy, but only when added in an ample amount. Certain recipes require only a teaspoon or two—enough to flavor the loaves, but not nearly enough to give them that intense kick. I like that sharp taste to linger in my mouth after I’ve swallowed the last bite, so I make sure I mix in extra.


 It must have molasses. Molasses gives gingerbread a deep robust flavor, as well as its characteristic dark color. It also adds to that tangy ginger taste.


Gluten-Free Gingerbread -- moist, spicy & secretly skinny. A festive holiday treat!


This gluten-free gingerbread contains all of those qualities. To combat the dry crumbly problem, I added Greek yogurt. Extra oil would have worked too, but the Greek yogurt provides just as much moisture while still keeping the gingerbread skinny, low fat, and low calorie. Bonus: It also bumps up the protein content!


For that spicy kick, I mixed in 2 heaping tablespoons of ginger. The taste lingers in your mouth long after your swallow the final morsel, which is dangerous for me. It tempts me to turn back to the kitchen and carve off another slice! I also added a teaspoon of cinnamon to warm up and round out the flavor.


I used 3 tablespoons of molasses, which tinted the loaf a gorgeous milky brown. (Brown sugar also adds to the color and moisture!) Molasses’ slightly bitter taste complements the spicy ginger and helps give gingerbread its distinctive taste.


Tip: Measure the molasses after the oil in the same measuring spoon. The residual oil prevents the thick molasses from sticking, so it slides right out into the mixing bowl!


Gluten-Free Gingerbread -- moist, spicy & secretly skinny. A festive holiday treat!


With gluten-free baked goods, I prefer to use 2-4 different gluten-free flours in place of all-purpose. Each gluten-free flour differs in texture—some finer, some coarser, some in between—and blending them together creates a texture closer to that of all-purpose flour. But any more than 4 complicates the recipe! In this recipe, I chose millet, brown rice, and tapioca flours. I bought mine from Whole Foods, and other grocery stores probably stock them as well.


Xanthan gum is crucial to most gluten-free baking. It imitates the elasticity of gluten and provides structure as the leavener activates. If you omit the xanthan gum, the gingerbread fails to rise, almost as if you left out the baking powder too. After a few test batches, I concluded that ¾ of a teaspoon of xanthan gum gave the perfect amount of structure and rise, while still maintaining gingerbread’s classic dense texture. Whole Foods carries xanthan gum as well.


If not following a gluten-free diet, you could probably substitute 1 cup of all-purpose flour in place of the millet flour, brown rice flour, tapioca starch (aka tapioca flour), and xanthan gum. However, I have not tried this myself, so I can’t entirely vouch for it.


Gluten-Free Gingerbread -- moist, spicy & secretly skinny. A festive holiday treat!


I baked this healthy gingerbread in an 8” x 4” pan. I prefer a smaller, taller loaf, but you could use a standard 9” x 5” pan instead. Begin checking on the gingerbread about 5-8 minutes earlier than the suggested time in the recipe; with more surface area, it bakes faster!


Although practically impossible to wait, if you cover the gingerbread with plastic wrap and allow it to sit overnight, the flavors meld and intensify, and the spicy ginger taste really shines. The loaf also develops a thin sugary film on the top, similar to banana or zucchini bread. (Do you know what I’m talking about? Please say yes!) It’s my favorite part, and I always save that soft top layer for last!


I surprised my mom with a loaf of this Gluten-Free Gingerbread when visiting for Thanksgiving last week. As I stuck turkey and sweet potato leftovers into my tote bag on Friday, she asked if she could sneak another slice before I packed it up too. When I answered that I planned on leaving it behind for her, Mom’s face lit up and she replied, “It’ll be gone before tomorrow!”


It definitely was.


Gluten-Free Gingerbread -- moist, spicy & secretly skinny. A festive holiday treat!


Gluten-Free Gingerbread

Yield: 1 loaf, 10 slices

Serving Size: 1 slice

Gluten-Free Gingerbread

This gingerbread is full of warm spicy flavors! It’s even better the second day once the flavors meld and it develops that soft sugary film on top. Leftovers will keep for a few days if wrapped in plastic wrap and stored at room temperature.

½ c millet flour (measured correctly)
½ c brown rice flour (measured correctly)
1 tbsp tapioca starch (aka tapioca flour)
2 tbsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 ½ tsp baking powder
¾ tsp xanthan gum
¼ tsp salt
1 tbsp oil
1 egg
3 tbsp molasses
2 tsp vanilla extract
¼ c fat-free milk
¼ c plain fat-free Greek yogurt
1/3 c brown sugar

  1. Preheat the oven to 325°F, and coat an 8”x4” loaf pan with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the millet flour and next 7 ingredients (through salt). In a separate bowl, whisk together the oil and egg. Stir in the molasses, vanilla, milk, and yogurt. Mix in the brown sugar, smearing out any clumps along the side of the bowl. Add in the flour mixture, stirring just until incorporated.
  3. Pour the batter into the prepared pan, and bake at 325°F for 40-45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

View Nutrition Information


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  1. Gretchen @ Two Healthy Kitchens says on December 5, 2013 at 11:34 am

    Mmmmm … gingerbread bread!! I’ve never tried this before! I do love gingerbread cookies … so I just know this will be simply amazing as well! I imagine myself shaving off skinny little slices one right after the other! Until the entire loaf is gone! Lol!

    I love that you put the tip in about measuring the oil first, then the molasses in the same spoon. I do that all the time – especially when recipes call for honey! – and it makes things so much easier! It literally just slides right off!

    Gotta commend you on being so diligent about gluten-free baking for your mom! I’m sure she is just always thrilled with all of your delicious creations! :)

    • Amy says on December 5, 2013 at 12:33 pm

      Thanks Gretchen! I love gingerbread loaves more than gingerbread cookies, mainly because I’m a sucker for its soft texture. I do that oil trick for recipes with honey too! And maple syrup, and agave, and anything else sticky or syrupy. Such a time-saver!

  2. Brittany says on December 5, 2013 at 8:09 pm

    I LOVE the way you cut this for your photo!! It LOOKS so moist I can just see the glisten through your gorgeous photos! We just put my sister on a GF (for the most part) diet to help with her digestion and with some of her behavior, and this recipe would be prefect for her! I also want to incorporate a few more GF recipes into my cabinet!

    • Amy says on December 5, 2013 at 10:34 pm

      Aww thank you Brittany; you’re always so sweet and full of positivity. Your comments brighten my day! :) I didn’t realize that a GF diet could help some of your sister’s behavior. That’d be exciting if it worked! Is the rest of your family on a vegan diet too? I have a few more GF recipe ideas bouncing around in my head, so hopefully those will sound good to you too!

  3. cynthia says on December 7, 2013 at 7:30 am

    Love this gingerbread! Just the right amount of ginger. Such a great spice. Thanks for sharing!

    • Amy says on December 7, 2013 at 10:13 pm

      Thank you! I’m so happy you enjoyed it. Hopefully I’ll create a few more gluten-free goodies for you before Christmas!

  4. Emma says on April 2, 2014 at 8:04 pm

    I was wondering how many GF (gluten free) recipes you had, seeing as half my family eats gluten free. I was also wondering if you could make a page on gluten free baking (if it wouldn’t be to much trouble). Thank you.

    • Amy says on April 2, 2014 at 8:09 pm

      Emma, if you look at the sidebar on the right side of my blog, there should be a title labeled “Categories” about halfway down. Click on the drop-down menu, and there should be an option titled “Gluten Free.” If you click that, it will list all of my gluten free options for you! :)

  5. Suzanne Holt says on November 22, 2014 at 5:23 pm

    This would be a hard recipe to make gluten free. Thanks for taking the time to do this. We have to eat gf in my family! Pinned.

    • Amy says on November 24, 2014 at 10:45 pm

      Thank you so much for your sweet comment and pin Suzanne! If you try the gingerbread, I really hope you enjoy it!

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