Recipes > Breakfast > Healthy Gingerbread

Healthy Gingerbread

Gingerbread may be the taste of winter, but these healthy gingerbread squares are delicious year round! This gingerbread is made with whole wheat flour and is lower in sugar than traditional store bought sweet breads or boxed mixes.
healthy gingerbread squares on parchment paper in a glass pan

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 easy to love!

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.

When measuring brown sugar, pack it in the cup. If you are trying to reduce your sugar consumption or prefer less sweet bread, reduce the sugar to ⅓ cup; the recipe will still come out great!

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 or glass pan, the cooking time will increase. Use a toothpick to test for doneness; when inserted into the middle, it should come out clean.

You can also cook the bread in a dark metal loaf pan for 50-55 minutes.

Ingredient Substitutions

  • White Whole Wheat Flour: substitute whole wheat pastry flour or spelt flour for similar taste, color, and texture. You can also substitute 1 cup whole wheat flour and ½ cup all-purpose flour. 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.
  • Kosher Salt: We use Morton kosher salt. If using Diamond Crystal kosher salt, use ¾  teaspoon. If you use table salt, use slightly less than ½ teaspoon. 
  • Applesauce: substitute pear sauce, shredded zucchini, shredded carrots, or pureed butternut squash.
  • 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 or coconut 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 two flax eggs, mix 2 Tablespoons of ground flaxseeds with 6 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.

Recipe Variations

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 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!

Equipment Recommendations

Use these kitchen tools for recipe success:

Find all of our favorite kitchen tools here!

Is gingerbread healthy?

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 phytonutrients. 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.

Applesauce

Does an apple a day keep the doctor away? It certainly can help! Apples contain prebiotic fibers which support gut health. Incorporating vegetables into a breakfast, snack, or dessert recipe is an easy way to help you meet your daily vegetable needs!

Less Added Sugar

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. Each muffin in this recipe has ~2 teaspoons (8 grams) of added sugar. 

Learn more about health benefits of different foods and ingredients in our book, To Your Taste!

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 airtight 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 whole grain recipes?

Try out these favorites, and as always, adjust to YOUR taste!

Overnight Oats Base Recipe

Whole Grain Pancakes Base Recipe

Baked Oatmeal Cups Base Recipe

Homemade Granola Base Recipe

healthy gingerbread squares on parchment paper in a glass pan

Healthy Gingerbread

This is a variation of our whole wheat quick bread recipe. This healthy gingerbread is made with whole wheat flour and is lower in sugar than traditional store bought sweet breads or boxed mixes. This bread is moist, delicious, and hard to mess up!
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Course Breakfast, Snack
Cuisine American
Servings 12 squares

Ingredients
  

  • 1 ½ cups white whole wheat flour*
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • ½ cup buttermilk
  • ¼ cup packed brown sugar
  • ¼ cup canola oil
  • ¼ cup molasses
  • 2 large eggs

Instructions
 

  • 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 until just moistened. Do not overmix.
  • Pour batter into the prepared baking pan. Cook 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Enjoy!

Notes

*Substitute 1 cup whole wheat flour + ½ cup all purpose flour or 1 ½ cups whole wheat pastry flour.
 
Feel free to add ½-1 cup optional mix-ins such as dried fruit, toasted chopped or sliced nuts, unsweetened coconut, or chocolate chips.
Keyword Healthy Gingerbread

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