These gingerbread olive oil cookies will soon become a regular in your holiday baking repertoire. And this gingerbread man recipe is made without butter!
I really enjoy baking. I especially enjoy eating what I bake! My friends don’t seem to mind my baking experiments, either. Every holiday I experiment and try a brand new cookie recipe and mix them in with some tried and true favorites. And this year is no different.
When my kids were younger, they never cared for the strongly spiced gingerbread cookie. So I came up with this mildly spiced gingerbread man recipe. And because I bake with olive oil, these olive oil cookies are just as delicious as their butter counterparts.
Baking with olive oil
As you may (or may not) know, I bake primarily with extra virgin olive oil ever since I wrote an olive oil cookbook. From pie crusts to scones and even cookies, olive oil can easily replace butter in your baking. And you won’t really miss the butter, either.
And despite some of the myths you may have heard about cooking or baking with olive oil, yes you can bake most anything with this beautiful oil. The key to successful olive oil baking is the quality of olive oil you are using. I have written a lot about baking with olive oil, but I’ll share with you two big tips here.
First, only use extra virgin olive oil. This is first pressed, cold pressed olives. Secondly, taste the olive oil you want to bake with, straight up, alone. If it makes you gag, it is probably rancid. If it is peppery, those peppery notes will come out in your baking.
Extra virgin olive oil comes in a variety of flavors, from mild to pungent, depending on when the olives were harvested and pressed. Use a mild buttery olive oil for baking sugar cookies. But with these gingerbread olive oil cookies, you could totally use a more peppery and stronger flavored olive oil.
Gingerbread man recipe
This year, I was determined to update the gingerbread cookie by using olive oil instead of butter. It took a few tries, but here it is. The cookie is mildly spicy – enough to give you a kick, but it should not overwhelm you, making it very kid friendly.
As I was experimenting and making batches and batches of my olive oil gingerbread cookies, my kids kept stealing one as they passed by. Middle Child requested them in his lunch box.
My Princess would eat one when she came home from school. The Professor felt a gingerbread cookie (or two) with a glass of milk was a healthy breakfast.
I guess their tastebuds have evolved after all!
Fast forward a couple more years and those kids are now teenagers (GASP!) and guess what? They request these gingerbread cookies more often than they do the sugar cookies. And honestly, I like them more, too.
Gingerbread cookies without butter
Again, when choosing an olive oil for these gingerbread olive oil cookies, you can use a mild, buttery oil or a spicy, pepper infused oil for more kick. I have done both and each batch turned out delicious.
The only difficulty I have encountered in preparing olive oil cookies is that they are stickier than the butter based dough. So I just roll the cookie dough between two sheets of parchment paper and problem is solved.
A great perk about olive oil cookie dough is that is does not need to be chilled like butter dough. You can chill it of course, but it is not necessary. Just prepare the cookie dough, roll it out, cut it up and bake!
How to decorate gingerbread olive oil cookies
I totally admit that I am all thumbs when it comes to decorating cookies. But that doesn’t keep me from trying! One reason I love baking these gingerbread cookies is that I don’t really have to do much to make them look good.
You can full on ice the entire cookie with cute shorts and suspenders. I like to pipe white royal icing around the outline of the gingerbread man. After the cookies were baked and iced, I used a bamboo skewer to pierce two holes in the neck of my gingerbread men and tied some red and white bakers twine.
Feel free to decorate your cookies any way you want. You can even add sprinkles or leave them plain. Either way, everyone will love these delicious olive oil cookies.
More gingerbread recipes
Can’t get enough of gingerbread flavor but don’t feel like dealing with cookie dough? Here is a fabulous recipe for The Hamilton Cookbook Gingerbread Cake.
- 3 1/4 cup all purpose flour
- 2 tsp ground ginger
- 1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 3/4 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp ground cloves
- 1/4 tsp baking powder
- 1/4 tsp kosher salt
- 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
- 1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
- 1/2 cup molasses
- 1 large egg
- 1/3 cup + 1 TBS extra virgin olive oil
- Preheat oven to 350ºF and line baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.
- In a medium-sized bowl whisk together 3 cups flour, spices, baking soda, baking powder and salt.
- Using a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, mix together brown sugar, molasses, egg, and olive oil until creamy and combined.
- Put mixer on low speed, gradually add flour mixture, and beat until dough starts to form and clump together.
- Coat flat work surface or cutting board with some all-purpose flour. You can use up to 1/4 cup flour
- Gently knead dough into a round disk.
- Olive oil cookie dough is sticky, so you will need to lightly flour a silicone mat and place it (flour side down) over the dough. You can also use two sheets of parchment paper.
- Carefully roll until out dough until approximately 1-cm thick.
- Using cookie cutters, cut into desired shape. Dip a thin spatular into flour and gently transfer cut cookies at least 1-inch apart onto prepared baking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes for shapes approximately 4-inches long, 12 minutes for larger sizes.
- Remember, olive oil cookies do not brown. If you bake for too long, you will have firm, crisp cookies.
- Let sit on baking sheet for 10 minutes after removal from oven, and then using a thin spatula, transfer to a cooling rack.
- Serve as is or ice as desired. Store in airtight container for up to 1 week.
Serving Suggestions: Serve alone or decorate with royal icing.
Cooking Tips: If you want a harder, crisper cookie, bake for 12 minutes. Remember, olive oil cookies do not brown. For darker cookies, use dark brown sugar.
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Serving Size:1 cookie
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 79 Total Fat: 1g Saturated Fat: 0g Trans Fat: 0g Unsaturated Fat: 1g Cholesterol: 6mg Sodium: 57mg Carbohydrates: 17g Net Carbohydrates: 0g Fiber: 0g Sugar: 7g Sugar Alcohols: 0g Protein: 2g