Vegan gingerbread cookies with a little something extra – chai and espresso! Spicy, no-chill, and no-spread, they’re easy to make for any occasion.
These cookies are gorgeously spicy, keep their shape while baking, aren’t too sweet, and are nice and firm (but still keeping a soft bite) for making houses or figures or whatever else you want to do with them.
These are not puffy, soft, bread-like cookies. They’re identical in texture to my sugar cookies for decorating.
This recipe started when I realised that I had all the spices already mixed together. Like pumpkin pie or apple pie spice, my gingerbread spice was ready and waiting!
Chai in India just means “tea”, so technically I’m using bags for masala chai. But here in the United States, they just say chai.
My chai tea bags I have hundreds of in my collection (I’m a huge fan – and if you are too, you should check out my chai spice cake) have a perfect menagerie of gingerbread spices.
They have ginger and cinnamon, black pepper, star anise, clove, and cardamom. All I needed to do was amp up the ginger and cinnamon and add some molasses, and I was golden!
So that’s what I did.
What if I don’t have chai tea?
If you’re wanting to make these vegan gingerbread cookies, but don’t have chai tea – you can totally mix your own blend!
If you want to make your own spice mix, you can totally do that.
Just blend together 1/2 teaspoon each of:
And a half tablespoon plus one quarter teaspoon each of:
What are we using instead of eggs in these vegan gingerbread cookies?
Our egg replacement in these vegan gingerbread cookies is aquafaba.
Aquafaba is the cooking water from beans and other legumes. NOT the soaking water – the cooking water.
The ratio of starches and proteins means that aquafaba is moderately good at binding things, and it provides the moisture we need for our cookie batter. And believe it or not, it’s pretty darn neutral when it comes to flavor.
I use aquafaba in tons of recipes that usually use egg whites. It whips up beautifully for meringue cookies, is miraculously stable enough for vegan macarons, and even makes the silkiest no-cook meringue buttercream I’ve ever had.
You can use aquafaba from any beans you want, but I usually use it from canned chickpeas or kidney beans since that’s what I eat most of.
Why the espresso?
Uhhh.. Why not?
Do you know where you are? Cooking on Caffeine. No caffeine, no cook. That’s how it works here.
You can leave it out if you want, though. But you shouldn’t.
Seriously, have you never had a chai latte? HEAVEN.
The espresso is for more than just caffeine, though. It adds a very nice bitterness to round out the sweetness and other spices in the cookies. It also adds a nice dark hue reminiscent of holiday gingerbread cookies.
Other ingredients for the cookies
You’ll need some flour. All purpose is what you want, not bread flour or strong flour or cake flour. All-purpose flour = cookie flour.
You need some brown sugar. The darker the better! Since it can be difficult to find vegan brown sugar, you can use your favorite granulated sugar and add a half a tablespoon of molasses to it. If you can’t find molasses or don’t want to use it? Coconut sugar is a great substitute.
For the fats in our cookies, (since they are vegan gingerbread cookies) we are using a mix of shortening and vegan butter. You can actually use all shortening if you want, but you cannot use all butter.
Grab some extra ground cinnamon and ground ginger.
Equipment to make the cookies
I use a stand mixer with a paddle attachment.
You can also use a hand mixer or just a sturdy whisk or spoon with a medium or large mixing bowl.
I use a coffee grinder to powder my chai tea.
Life wouldn’t be possible without my amazing silicone spatula for scraping down the paddle and out the bowl.
You need a rolling pin and a cookie sheet that’s lined with either parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.
And of course, you need cookie cutters!
How do you make the dang cookies?
If you’ve ever made my classic sugar cookies (regular or gluten-free) you’ll recognize this process! The only thing we are doing differently this time is adding our spice mix to the aquafaba before adding it in.
So first thing’s first – preheat your oven to 350F (about 175C) and line your cookie sheet to have it ready.
Next, blend your fats (the shortening and butter) together with your sugar. Only do this on low speed until the mixture is evenly blended.
While the fats and sugar are blending, empty your tea bags into a coffee grinder and grind the chai to a fine powder.
Add the chai, cinnamon, and ginger, and instant espresso powders to the aquafaba.
Stir the aquafaba mixture until well combined. It’ll look like a thick sauce.
Slowly pour the aquafaba mixture into the mixer running on slow speed one tablespoon at a time.
Once everything is mixed together and cleans the sides of the bowl, your dough is ready! It’s the perfect consistency when you can poke your finger into it without crumbling the dough or having it stick to you. It’ll leave a perfect impression.
You do not need to chill the dough.
If you don’t want to use it right away though, wrap it well and keep it in the fridge for up to a week or the freezer for up to six months. Just bring it to room temperature before unwrapping and working with it.
Form the dough into a ball and turn it out on a floured surface. Press it down and sprinkle flour on the top of the dough to keep it from sticking to the rolling pin.
Roll it out to your desired thickness. I do 3/8″ for thicker, softer cookies. 1/4″ is great for thinner, crispy crunchy cookies.
Cut out your shapes and transfer them to your lined cookie sheet. Re-roll dough scraps and cut out as many cookies as you want. Add a teaspoon of water if your dough starts to dry out.
Bake the cookies for 10-11 minutes or until the tops of the cookies no longer appear wet.
Allow the cookies to cool on the cookie sheet for five minutes before carefully transferring them to a wire cooling rack. Allow them to cool completely before icing or using for construction.
How do I decorate them?
Not the gumdrop buttons!
I mean, not unless you find vegan ones, anyway. 😉
Gingerbread cookies are usually iced in royal icing, so that would be my first suggestion. Try adding a bit of nutmeg to my vegan royal icing recipe to take the cookies up another notch!
Royal icing is also what you’d use to glue them together for a glorious gingerbread house.
They are also great with cream cheese buttercream – the tanginess plays off the spice so beautifully.
And here’s a filtered list of vegan candies available on Amazon you can go crazy with decorating to your heart’s content!
Can I make these gluten-free?
You definitely can make gluten-free vegan gingerbread chai espresso cookies! (boy that was a mouthful).
All you need to do is use my gluten-free sugar cookie recipe and add the spices and instant espresso to the aquafaba before adding it in – just like here. 🙂
Is your cookie dough too crumbly? Add aquafaba in, a teaspoon at a time until it’s the perfect consistency.
Is your cookie dough too wet? Slowly add in flour, 1/8c at a time until it’s the perfect consistency.
Did your cookies spread? Either your butter has too much water in it or you mixed at too high of a speed. Try using more shortening and less butter, and only mix on slow speed.
Are your cookies very tough and way too chewy? You probably overmixed the dough (this develops the gluten in the flour). Only mix on low speed, and stop mixing as soon as everything is combined.
Are the cookies super dry? If the cookies came out very dry, they are overbaked. Knock a minute or two off of your baking time.
How do you store the baked cookies?
Keep them in an airtight container. They’ll stay fresh for.. pretty much ever as long as they’re airtight. Try to eat them within a week for the very best flavor, though.
Pin it For Later
- 1/2 cup (100g) brown sugar (softened)
- 1/4 cup (55g) vegetable shortening
- 1/4 cup (55g) high-fat vegan butter*
- 2 bags chai tea**, ground into powder
- 1/2 tablespoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 tablespoon ground ginger
- 1 serving instant espresso powder*** (optional)
- 3 tablespoons (45ml) aquafaba
- 1 5/8 cup (200g) all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling
- Preheat oven to 350F (175C) and line your cookie sheet.
- Cream the sugar, shortening, and butter in a stand mixer on low speed with a paddle attachment.
- While the sugar is creaming, mix the chai, cinnamon, ginger, and espresso powders into the aquafaba.
- Once the sugar is thoroughly mixed into the fats, add the aquafaba mixture one tablespoon at a time.
- Add the flour 1/4 c at a time.
- Mix the dough on low speed until it pulls away from the sides of the bowl and forms a doughball - perfect consistency is when you can press your finger into it and the dough doesn't crumble or stick to your finger - but keeps a perfect impression.
- Lightly flour your rolling surface and turn your dough out onto it.
- Lightly flour the top of your dough and roll it out to your desired thickness.
- Cut out your shapes and place onto your lined cookie sheet.
- Bake for 10-11 minutes, or until the tops of the cookies no longer appear wet.
- Allow the cookies to cool on the cookie sheet for five minutes before carefully moving them to a wired cooling rack to cool completely.
- Decorate**** and enjoy!
*My preferred butter is Country Crock Plant Butter sticks. Earth Balance and Miyokos also work. If you can't find a butter with at least 75% fat, increase the shortening to 3/8 cup and decrease the butter to 1/8 cup.
**See recipe post if you don't have chai tea bags, or wish to mix your own blend.
***I use Cafe Bustelo single serve espresso powder packets. They taste great and are super convenient.
****My vegan royal icing is perfect for decorating and gluing these cookies