These protein gingerbread cookies are about to be your favorite better-for-you sweet treat this holiday season! Each cookie packs in 4 grams of protein – and, yes – still tastes like an actual cookie. (Is it just me or do so many protein baked goods not taste anything like the original product they’re trying to recreate?!).
Disclosure: This post is sponsored by NOW®. As always, all opinions are my own.
Here’s a photo of all the ingredients you’ll need, along with selected ingredient notes:
- Protein Powder – I’ve tested this cookie recipe with several different proportions of ingredients and several different types of protein powder. You want to make sure you are using NOW® Sports Plant Protein Complex (Creamy Vanilla Flavor) for this recipe. This protein powder is made with a blend of pea, hemp, and quinoa. Note that whey protein does not work the same way in these cookies. The taste and texture are both far better using the plant protein complex. Please trust me on this and grab yourself a container of the NOW® product. You can even get 20% off with code CHRISSY.
- Cashew butter – This has a neutral taste and texture, which is best for this recipe. In a pinch you can substitute peanut butter, but note that the cookies will have a peanuty taste when baked.
- Molasses – This is a thick syrup that comes from the sugar making process, with a distinct rich flavor – kind of like a very dark caramel with slight smokiness and moderate sweetness. This is part of what gives gingerbread cookies their distinct flavor, so be sure to use it in this recipe.
You’ll find the full recipe amounts and instructions in the recipe card below, but here’s a helpful overview with photos and tips.
Start by creaming together the butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy, like below. I find the paddle attachment on a stand mixer works best for this, but you can certainly use a hand mixer or good ‘ol fashioned stirring by hand if you prefer.
Then add the molasses, cashew butter, egg, vanilla, ginger, cinnamon, and cloves. Mix this until well combined.
In another mixing bowl, combine all the dry ingredients – the flour, protein powder, baking soda, and salt.
Pour those into the wet ingredients, and stir until just combined. This is what your dough will look like:
Place the dough in the refrigerator, and turn on the oven to preheat. You’ll let the dough chill for a bit while the oven is preheating. This makes it easier to roll out the dough. Important: If you don’t chill it, the dough is soft and hard to work with, so it’s important to follow this step.
After about 15 minutes, the oven will be fully preheated and the dough should be firm enough to work with. Remove about half the dough and turn out on a lightly floured surface. Pat into a disc, then roll it out about ¼-inch thick. Use your gingerbread man cookie cutters to cut out the dough.
Place them on a parchment-lined baking sheet, repeating until all the dough is used up. Note that the total number of cookies you’ll get from this recipe will vary based on the size of the cookie cutters. I usually get around 20 from mine, but you may get more or less if your cookie cutters are smaller or larger.
Bake those at 350 degrees F for about 10 minutes. Keep an eye on them, as you may need less time if the cookies are smaller or you rolled the dough thinner, and you may need a few extra minutes if you had large cookie cutters or rolled the dough thicker.
Let cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes, then remove to a cooling rack. Now you’re ready to dig in! They can be enjoyed as is, or you can feel free to decorate them with frosting if you’re making ‘em with the kiddos.
Here are some common questions that may come up as you’re preparing this recipe:
These cookies are best stored simply sitting out on a plate for up to 2 days. You can store them in a zip top bag or airtight container for up to 5 days, but note that storing them this way leads to them getting softer and they may crumble a bit.
Yes! You can freeze baked gingerbread cookies, just be sure they’re cool prior to freezing. You can let them thaw on the counter at room temperature before enjoying. You can also freeze the cookie dough prior to baking. Shape the dough into two round discs, then wrap tightly in plastic wrap, and place them both in a zip top bag or airtight container. Thaw until the dough is workable, then roll, cut out, and bake.
When fully cooked, gingerbread cookies will no longer appear moist on top. Don’t use color as an indicator because the color doesn’t change much from raw to cooked, though you may notice a slightly darker color around the edge when they’re done. Avoid overbaking these cookies, as they can dry out with prolonged baking.
You certainly experiment with cutting the sugar if you’d like. Try using allulose in place of the brown sugar to reduce the total sugar content (you may want to use ½ cup of allulose rather than ⅓, though, since it’s about 70% as sweet). Pairing allulose with the molasses should work quite well. I’ve had quite a bit of success in other recipes (like these lower sugar apple muffins) using Slender Zero™ Allulose, Organic Powder to replace some of the sugar.
As a dietitian, I love this recipe because it provides a way to enjoy a sweet treat with an extra boost of nutrition. While there’s absolutely nothing wrong with enjoying traditional gingerbread cookies, it can be fun to experiment with swaps too! For this recipe, each cookie has only 114 calories and packs in 4 grams of protein – a great fit for anyone’s balanced meal plan.
And while I know there are other protein cookie recipes out there that use less fat or no flour or all sugar substitutes, I really wanted to create a recipe that tasted as close to a traditional gingerbread cookie as possible – and this is pretty close. Of course, feel free to make any modifications or adjustments based on your own dietary preferences.
More Protein Powder Recipes
If you’re looking for more creative ways to use protein powder, be sure to give one of these a try:
- Pumpkin protein muffins
- Peanut butter protein bars (just 4 ingredients and one of my very favorite recipes!)
- Banana protein muffins
- Peanut butter protein fudge
- Protein coffee
I hope you enjoy these protein gingerbread cookies as much as my family does! My kiddo has been getting them as his snack quite a few times over the last month as I was testing this recipe, haha – he loves ‘em as much as I do. If you get a chance to try this recipe, feel free to leave a recipe rating or comment below.
Protein Gingerbread Cookies
- 6 tbsp butter, softened
- ⅓ cup brown sugar
- ⅓ cup molasses
- 3 tbsp cashew butter
- 1 large egg
- ½ tsp vanilla extract
- 1 ½ tsp ground ginger
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- ¼ tsp ground cloves
- ¾ cup all-purpose flour
- 2 ½ scoops NOW® Sports Plant Protein Complex, Creamy Vanilla Flavor (read notes)
- ¼ tsp baking soda
- ¼ tsp salt
- In a large mixing bowl, cream together the butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy.
- Add the molasses, cashew butter, egg, vanilla, ginger, cinnamon, and cloves. Mix until well-combined.
- In a small mixing bowl, combine the flour, protein powder, baking soda, and salt. Stir together, then pour into the wet ingredients. Mix until just combined.
- Place the dough of bowl into the refrigerator to chill. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (it should take about 15 minutes; leave the dough chilling in the fridge). Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
- When the oven is fully preheated, remove about half the chilled dough and pat into a disc on a lightly floured surface. Roll out until about ¼-inch thick. Cut with gingerbread man cookie cutters and place on the parchment-lined baking sheets. Repeat with the remaining dough.
- Bake in the oven at 350 degrees F for about 10 minutes (may be more or less depending on the size of your cookies), until the cookies are just cooked through. (Do not overbake).
- Let cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes, then remove to a cooling rack. Enjoy.
- I have tested this recipe with numerous types of protein powder (whey, pea, etc). NOW® Sports Plant Protein Complex by far yields the best results. I recommend using this exact type, as I cannot guarantee results with other types. I do not recommend using whey for this recipe as it resulted in a gummy texture to the dough and crumbly cookie.
- If you want to reduce the sugar in this recipe, try substituting ½ cup of allulose for ⅓ cup of brown sugar.
- The yield for this recipe will vary based on the size of your cookie cutters. We get approximately 20 cookies from this, but you may end up with more or less depending on the size of the cookie cutter.
- The baking time will be slightly longer for large cookie cutters or dough that was rolled thicker; the time will be slightly shorter for small cookie cutters or dough that was rolled thinner.
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