Freshly baked cookies are a labor of love and a staple of the holiday season. There’s no shame in indulging your sweet tooth during the holidays, in moderation, but with the right ingredients, you can also try to make your holiday treats just a little bit better for you.

Full of sweetness and spice, these gingerbread cookies will appeal to grownups and kids alike. Homemade gingerbread cookies can be cut into any shape, making them a perfect go-to cookie any time of year. They’re a sweet homemade treat you can feel good about sharing with your kids.

In this recipe, whole wheat flour replaces traditional all-purpose flour, giving the cookies a fiber boost. Unsweetened applesauce acts as a natural sweetener and reduces the amount of butter needed, creating moist cookies with significantly less fat.

If you plan to decorate the cookies, go light and consider using raisins, nuts and seeds, or melted white chocolate as decoration instead of sugar and fat-laden icing.


¼ cup unsalted butter, room temperature
½ cup brown sugar
¼ cup unsweetened applesauce
1 egg
½ cup molasses
2 ¼ cups whole wheat flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
2 ½ teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon cloves
2 teaspoons ginger
½ teaspoon nutmeg
½ teaspoon salt

Additional supplies

Cookie cutters
Parchment paper or silpat



  1. In a large mixing bowl, cream together butter and sugar until smooth.
  2. Add applesauce, molasses and egg one ingredient at a time and blend until combined. The batter will look broken; this is OK.
The batter will look broken at first, but this is OK.
  1. In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, nutmeg and salt.
  2. Add flour mixture to molasses mixture in three batches, blending together until smooth after each batch.


  1. Split cookie dough into thirds. Cover and chill for at least four hours or overnight.
  2. Preheat oven to 350°.
  3. Remove one dough section from the refrigerator at a time — the colder it is the easier it will be to roll. Roll dough on a lightly floured surface (using as little extra flour as possible) to ¼ inch thickness. Cut into desired shapes and place on a parchment or silpat lined cookie sheet one inch apart.



  1. Bake cookies for 8-10 minutes — 8 minutes will yield soft gingerbread; cooking longer will make them more crisp.  Allow cookies to cool for a couple of minutes and then gently place onto wire racks to finish cooling.
  1. If desired, decorate cookies after they have cooled completely. Store in an airtight container.



Yield: 35 cookies cut with a 3 inch cookie cutter
Serving size: 1 cookie


Calories 68 Total Fat 2 g
Saturated Fat 1 g Monounsaturated Fat 0 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 0 g Trans Fat 0 g
Cholesterol 9 mg Sodium  56 mg
Potassium  76 mg Total Carbohydrate  12 g
Dietary Fiber  1 g Sugars  7 g
Protein 1 g