This is a variation of our whole wheat quick bread base recipe. Gingerbread may be the taste of winter, but these healthy gingerbread squares are delicious year round! This gingerbread is packed with whole grain nutrition and is lower in sugar than traditional store bought sweet breads or boxed mixes. This bread is moist, delicious, and hard to mess up!
Three Must Know Cooking Skills
For recipe success, learn how to:
Culinary Tips for the Best Easy Gingerbread Recipe
Measure the flour properly to prevent dense bread. Fluff, spoon, and level; don’t scoop and pack!
When measuring brown sugar, pack it in the cup. If you don’t have much of a sweet tooth or prefer a less sweet loaf, reduce the sugar to 2 Tablespoons. The recipe will still come out great!
Whisking the dry ingredients together mimics sifting, so don’t substitute another utensil.
Don’t overmix the batter! Overmixing creates dense and tough bread. Watch our muffin method culinary technique video to learn how to mix the batter just enough so that you end up with light and fluffy bread.
We used a dark non-stick pan to bake these squares. If you use a light colored pan, the cooking time will increase. Use a toothpick to test for doneness; when inserted into the middle, it should come out clean.
- White Whole Wheat Flour: substitute whole wheat pastry flour or spelt flour for similar taste, color, and texture. If substituting regular whole wheat flour, use only 1 cup, then use ½ cup all purpose flour to maintain a light texture. To make gluten-free quick bread, use a gluten-free flour mix, such as Bob’s Red Mill 1-to-1 Gluten-Free Flour.
- Ground Ginger and Cinnamon: substitute 2 teaspoons pumpkin spice or apple pie spice.
- Buttermilk: substitute plain yogurt, Greek yogurt, kefir, or sour cream. You can also make your own buttermilk by mixing ½ cup milk or milk alternative with ½ Tablespoon white vinegar or lemon juice.
- Brown Sugar: substitute cane sugar, but note that the flavor will be slightly different.
- Canola Oil: substitute avocado oil. Do not substitute olive oil, as this has a strong flavor. Do not substitute vegetable oil, as this is not a heart-healthy oil.
- Molasses: substitute maple syrup or honey, but note that the color of the bread and flavor will be slightly different.
- Eggs: to make vegan muffins, substitute the eggs with flax eggs. To make one flax egg, mix 1 Tablespoon of ground flaxseeds with 3 Tablespoons of water and let it rest for 10 minutes. Eggs help leaven the muffins, so a vegan version might not be quite as fluffy.
Boost the fiber by adding 2 Tablespoons ground flaxseed (flaxseed mill) to the dry ingredients or by topping the batter with pumpkin or sunflower seeds.
Feel free to add ½-1 cup optional mix-ins such as dried fruit, toasted chopped or sliced nuts, unsweetened coconut, or chocolate chips.
Want some more quick bread recipe inspiration?
Use our whole wheat quick bread base recipe as a guide, or check out some of our other favorite variations!
You just need a few basic kitchen tools for this easy recipe!
- Mixing Bowls
- Dry Measuring Cups & Spoons
- Liquid Measuring Cup
- 8″ Square Cake Pan
- Portion Scoop
Is gingerbread healthy?
Well, that depends. Many quick breads and mixes contain way too much added sugar. Some even contain up to or even more than your daily allowance of sugar – yikes! The key nutrients that make our favorite gingerbread recipe healthier are whole wheat flour, applesauce, and less sugar than leading brands.
Whole Wheat Flour
Whole wheat flour is a good source of fiber, B vitamins, Vitamin E, trace minerals, and phytochemicals. Replacing refined grains (i.e. white flour) with whole grains (i.e. whole wheat flour) may reduce the risk of developing chronic conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, and certain types of cancer. (1)
Does an apple a day keep the doctor away? It certainly can help! Apples contain prebiotic fibers which support gut health. (2) Incorporating vegetables into a breakfast, snack, or dessert recipe is an easy way to help you meet your daily vegetable needs! (3)
Less added sugar than leading brands
High sugar consumption is not good for health, and in general, most Americans eat way too much. Men should aim to consume less than 9 teaspoons (~36 grams) of sugar per day, and women should aim to consume less than 6 teaspoons (~24 grams) of sugar per day. (4) Each serving of this recipe has only 2 teaspoons (~8 grams) of added sugar.
Healthy Gingerbread Serving Suggestions
Top this easy gingerbread recipe with almond butter or serve with fruit and yogurt for a balanced breakfast, eat on its own for a light snack, or enjoy as a tasty treat at lunch.
What to do with Leftover Gingerbread
Because this is a moist bread, it will spoil more quickly at room temperature. Store the bread in a bag or container at room temperature for a couple of days or in the refrigerator for up to one week. Make sure the bread is entirely cool before storing.
Got a busy few weeks ahead? This gingerbread recipe is great for the freezer! Cool completely, wrap squares individually or in pairs, and then store in a freezer-safe bag for up to 3 months. When ready to eat, thaw overnight in the refrigerator, or reheat in the microwave in the morning!
Want more healthy quick bread recipes?
Check out these healthy twists on classic favorites!
- 1 ½ cups white whole wheat flour*
- 2 teaspoons ground ginger
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 ½ cups unsweetened applesauce
- ½ cup buttermilk
- ¼ cup packed brown sugar
- ¼ cup canola oil
- ¼ cup molasses
- 2 large eggs
- Preheat oven to 350° F. Prepare an 8×8 baking pan with nonstick spray or parchment paper.
- In a large bowl, gently whisk flour, ginger, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt.
- In a separate medium bowl, whisk together applesauce, buttermilk, brown sugar, canola oil, molasses, and eggs.
- Add buttermilk mixture to flour mixture. Using a spatula, fold ingredients just until moistened. Do not overmix.
- Pour batter into the prepared baking pan. Cook 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Enjoy!