Turn your pantry staple ingredients into beautiful gluten free gingerbread ornaments! These easy homemade Christmas ornaments are allergy friendly and are a great holiday craft to make with kids.
Looking for a fun and easy Christmas DIY that you can easily do with kids? Make some gingerbread Christmas ornaments! We took our allergy friendly gingerbread cookie dough and made some fun Christmas ornaments with them out of melted starlight mints.
I got the inspiration from one of our old posts about how to make candy dishes back when I first started this blog in 2011, and I had used the same technique for the windows of our old gingerbread house (we recently remade that post but you can still see photos of our old gingerbread scene).
These gingerbread Christmas ornaments are such a fun holiday craft to do with kids, and it’s completely allergy friendly so you don’t have to worry about contact reactions with food allergies.
These homemade cookie ornaments are:
- Dairy free
- Gluten free
- Peanut free
- Tree nut free
- Soy free (depending on the brand of butter you choose)
How to make these gingerbread cookie ornaments
These cookie ornaments are pretty simple to make and you can decorate these in whatever way you’d like!
We’ll skip detailing the mixing up of the cookie dough since those steps are in the recipe card, but here are the rest of the steps (the full recipe card is at the end of the post):
- Once your dough is mixed, preheat your oven to 350 degrees F and line the baking sheets with parchment paper (don’t skip the parchment paper!).
- Roll the dough out to about 1/8 to 1/4 inch thick (this dough doesn’t need chilled).
- Cut out some circles that are about 3 inches in diameter.
- Cut out the inside of the circles with a cookie cutter that’s about 1-1/2 inches in diameter, or some shapes (like hearts, snowflakes, etc.) about that size.
- Move the circles to the cookie sheet lined with parchment paper and poke holes in the top of the cookie dough with a straw or chopstick for the ornament string.
- Bake the cookies for about 8 minutes. If the string hole closes up a little, use a straw or chopstick again to open it up a bit more as the cookies cool.
- Allow the cookies to cool on the sheet pan for about 10 minutes. Allowing this to cool a bit before baking again prevents burning or getting too dark.
- Place a piece of starlight mint candy in the center of the cookie circle and bake again for 8 minutes, until the candy melts and fills the space.
- Allow the cookies to cool for about 10 minutes on the pan and make sure the candy is solid before removing it from the pan. This is where the parchment is important: the candy releases easily from the parchment paper.
- Cool completely on a wire rack and then decorate with our allergy friendly buttercream frosting (which pipes well and dries firmly) in your favorite designs.
- Allow the frosting to dry firmly before adding a string to the ornament and hanging on the tree (or where ever you like!).
- If you want these to last a long time for re-use, you can spray these with clear spray paint to help preserve them, just make sure people or animals don’t accidentally try eating them after you’ve sprayed them! Our ornaments have held up very well without any spray on them.
Can I eat these ornament cookies?
We made these cookies pretty hard so they can stand up to being used as ornaments, so while you could eat these, they are going to be quite hard to eat since they have been baked twice.
If you’d like to make these for eating, just make sure to bake the cookies just once. You can bake the peppermint candy with the cookie dough for 8 minutes once to bake the cookie and melt the candy at the same time. Although we haven’t tried this yet to see how it would turn out.
What frosting can I use for these cookie ornaments?
We have found that our dairy free buttercream frosting actually works great to decorate these ornaments and hardens pretty well. That’s that frosting what we used to assemble and decorate our allergy friendly gingerbread house.
But if you want to go a more traditional route with the icing, you can always use a traditional royal icing for decorating if you can have eggs.
The great thing about our buttercream frosting is that it’s egg free, unlike royal icing. So if you have contact allergies to eggs, the buttercream is a safer option and still works great for decorating!
I’ve also noticed that our dried and hardened buttercream doesn’t tend to break off or break apart as easily as royal icing can when it is bumped. We actually dropped one of our cookie ornaments and it stayed together and didn’t lose any frosting.
If you’d like to use several different colors or frosting tips, use ziploc bags and snip a corner off for an easy icing bag. We have tip sets with the screw-on tip holders and it all works great in a ziploc bag.
We can use several kinds of colors and tips at once easily, and cleanup is fast! Just squeeze out and save any excess frosting, and toss the bags (remember to remove the tips of course first!).
Variations for these ornaments
If you want to make these cookie ornaments look great on both sides, you can “glue” 2 ornaments together back-to-back to create a double sided ornament that’s decorated on both sides!
We tried making these with Jolly Rancher candies as well to see how that would work and it does work if you want different colors. But we found that the Jolly Ranchers didn’t have as smooth an appearance and tended to have bubbles.
You can use the green spearmint starlight mints to add another color to these besides white and red! We also played around with different colored sprinkles on the frosting, and colored sugars.
Check out our gingerbread house recipe and printable template!
Gluten Free Gingerbread Ornaments
- ⅓ cup dairy free butter, softened (we recommend using a firm DF butter, avoid using Earth Balance since it's too soft)
- ½ cup packed brown sugar
- 2 Tablespoons molasses
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- ¾ cup fine sorghum flour (we use Authentic Foods superfine sorghum flour)
- ½ cup gluten free all purpose baking mix* (we used King Arthur gluten free baking mix)
- 1 ½ teaspoons ground ginger (use less if you want less ginger taste)
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ⅛ teaspoon ground cloves
- Dash allspice
- 1 to 1 ½ Tablespoons oat or rice milk
- Peppermint starlight mints
- Dairy Free Buttercream Frosting
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
- In a medium bowl, beat together the dairy free butter, brown sugar, molasses, and vanilla.
- In a separate small bowl, whisk together the flours, spices, and salt.
- Add half the flour mixture to the butter mixture and blend together.
- Add the rest of the flour mix to the bowl with the oat/rice milk and beat together until a thick dough forms that sticks together when pressed together. Mixing the flour in parts makes it much easier to mix the dough.
- If the dough seems a little dry and doesn't come together, add more milk 1 teaspoon at a time, mixing and testing how cohesive it is after each addition, until a thick dough forms. It needs to be thick and able to rolled out (so not too soft or moist).
- If the dough seems a little too moist to roll, add an additional 1-2 Tablespoons gluten free baking mix flour and chill the dough for 1-2 hours to help it firm up a bit before rolling.
- Divide dough into 2 balls, flatten slightly into disks. While rolling one disc of dough, wrap the other one with plastic wrap to keep it from drying out.
- Flour a pastry mat with some of the gluten free flour and roll out one of the cookie dough disks 1/8 to 1/4 inch thick and cut out with a round cookie cutter.
- Cut out the center of the dough round with a smaller round cutter or a shape that fits inside but still leaves enough cookie for good structure.
- Use a lightly floured spatula to lift the cut out cookies onto the baking sheet.
- Poke a hole for ornament string or ribbon with a straw or chopstick.
- Press the scraps together, roll out again, and cut again until most (or all) of the cookie dough is used up.
- Repeat all steps with the other cookie dough disk until all the dough is used.
- Bake the cookies for 8-10 minutes. It's ok if these cookies get harder since they are for hanging as ornaments and won't be eaten.
- If the hole for the string has started to close up a little, use a straw or chopstick again to press into the cookie while it's still soft to open the hole again.
- Allow the cookies to cool about 10 minutes on the pan. Keep these on the pan.
- Add a piece of starlight mint candy to the center of each cookie ornament (using 2-3 pieces of candy if you are making larger ornaments).
- Return the cookies with the candy to the oven and bake about 7-8 minutes until the candy is melted and has spread into the space inside the cookie. Make sure to have parchment paper on your pan for this part so it is easy to remove!
- Cool the cookies on the pan for about 10 minutes until the candy is cooled.
- Remove to a wire cooling rack and cool completely before adding frosting.
Sarah Jane Parker is the founder, recipe creator, and photographer behind The Fit Cookie. She’s a food allergy mom and healthy living blogger based in Wyoming. Sarah is also an ACSM Certified Personal Trainer, ACE Certified Health Coach, Revolution Running certified running coach, and an ACE Certified Fitness Nutrition Specialist