Gingerbread Cookies

with vegan cocoa Royal icing

There’s nothing more Christmas-y than gingerbread cookies. A holiday tradition turned vegan and with the addition on cocoa icing, this 10-ingredient dessert is simple enough for a beginner. These cookies are soft, slightly chewy, sweet, and spiced to perfection.

Gingerbread man cookie resting on a red cutting board surrounded by more gingerbread men cookies.

Any of you who know me know that I love Disneyland. And perhaps “love” doesn’t quite cover it but we’ll just stick with that for now. Every year at Christmas time the Happiest Place on Earth rolls out their over-the-top, insanely delicious mouse-shaped gingerbread cookies. Up until I went vegan I used to to enjoy them as often as I could throughout the month of December. Alas, since going vegan I’ve had to give them up. Well…almost…

I’m not kidding when I say that these are the Disneyland copy-cat (or mouse) vegan version. They seriously taste JUST LIKE THE ORIGINALS! What’s even better is that mine are entirely vegan. From the chewy molasses goodness of the cookie to the sugary sweetness of the royal icing. You don’t have to give up your seasonal favorites when enjoying vegan desserts and these gingerbread cookies are proof of that.

Why you’ll love them

These vegan gingerbread cookies with vegan cocoa royal icing are:

  • Soft
  • Slightly sweet
  • Simple
  • Kid-friendly
Round gingerbread cookies with a drizzle of cocoa royal icing resting on a gold napkin and Christmas lights in the background.

Gingerbread Cookie

Just a few simple tricks for making this (and almost any cookie):

  • First, get out the butter about 15-30 minutes prior to making your cookie dough. This will allow the butter to come to room temperature, making it easier to cream with the sugar.
  • Second, make sure that all your dry ingredients are well combined. If you have a sifter use it! You want even distribution of all the spices and leavening agents.
  • Third, add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients slowly. Usually adding them 1/3 at a time is a safe rule of thumb to ensure that you don’t lose half your dry ingredients when you turn on your mixer.
  • Finally, do not over mix your dough. Mix the cookie dough until everything is just incorporated. Over-mixing will result in a tough cookie crumb.

Now you have two options when making these gingerbread cookies. On a lightly floured cutting board, roll out the dough to about 1/4 of an inch thick. Use a cookie cutter (or a glass cup) to cut out your cookies. Alternatively, you can roll about 2 tbsp sized balls worth of dough in your hands and gently press them down until they’re about 1/2 and inch thick.

Whichever you choose, bake the cookies on a parchment-line cookie sheet about 350*F for about 8 minutes. They are going to be soft and that’s ok. They will firm up on the cookie sheet for about 5-10 minutes after they’re removed from the oven.

Cocoa Royal Icing

The gingerbread cookies at Disneyland are dripped in chocolate. Instead, I decided to put my own twist on the classic royal icing by including the chocolate there, instead of dipping these cookies into chocolate as well as decorating with royal icing. If you want a traditional royal icing simply omit the cocoa powder and use an additional 1/4 cup of powdered sugar instead.

You want the royal icing to be fairly thick. But not so thick that it will clog your piping bag. Test it by allowing a spoonful to drizzle from into the bowl. If the royal icing slides right off the spoon it’s going to be too runny and will not hold it’s shape on the cookie. Add more powdered sugar a tbsp at a time until you get a thicker consistency. You’re looking for the icing to very slowly flow from the end of a spoon. If it falls off in clumps, add more almond milk a tsp at a time.

Gingerbread man cookie resting on a red cutting board surrounded by more gingerbread men cookies.

Enjoy friends!

Ingredient Health Benefits

Cardamom- essential oils, antioxidants

Cinnamon- manganese, iron, calcium, and fiber

Ginger- antioxidants

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Vegan Gingerbread Cookie with Vegan Cocoa Royal Icing

A holiday tradition turned vegan with the addition on cocoa icing, these 10-ingredient gingerbread cookies are simple enough even for a beginner.
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time10 mins
Refrigeration Time1 hr
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: Holiday, Vegan
Keyword: 10-ingredients, cocoa, cocoa icing, cookies, dessert, gingerbread, holiday baking, holiday cookies, holiday dessert, holiday recipes, icing, royal icing, simple, vegan icing, vegan royal icing
Servings: 24 cookies
Author: Erin

Equipment

  • Cookie Cutter
  • Rolling Pin

Ingredients

Vegan Gingerbread Cookie

  • ½ cup vegan butter, softened
  • ½ cup brown sugar, packed
  • ½ cup bootstrap molasses
  • cups all-purpose flour
  • 3 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp ground cloves
  • ¼ tsp ground cardamom
  • ½ cup room-temperature water

Vegan Cocoa Icing

  • ½ powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp cocoa powder
  • ½ tbsp arrowroot powder or cornstarch
  • ½ tsp lemon juice
  • ½ tbsp almond milk plus more as needed

Instructions

Vegan Gingerbread Cookies

  • In a large bowl whisk flour, baking soda, salt, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cardamom. Set aside.
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer with a patal attachment (or a large glass bowl with a hand mixer) cream together softened vegan butter and brown sugar.
  • Add molasses and mix until combined.
  • Add sifted dry ingredients to molasses mixture ⅓ at a time, alternating with water.
  • Wrap cookie dough in plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for 1 hour. In the meantime, make vegan cocoa royal icing.
  • Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  • On a lightly floured surface, roll out gingerbread dough to about ¼ inch thickness. Use floured cookie cutter of choice to cut shapes in cookie dough.
  • Gently remove surrounding dough from cut shapes and transfer cookies to greased cookie sheet. Do not over-crowd the cookie sheet.
  • Bake cookies for 8-10 minutes. They will still be soft but not doughy. Allow to cool on the cookie sheet for 5 minutes before transfering to a wire cooling rack. Eat as is or decorate with vegan cocoa royal icing. Store in an air-tight container on the counter for 3-4 days.

Vegan Cocoa Royal Icing

  • In a small bowl whisk together powdered sugar, cocoa powder, arrowroot powder, lemon juice, and almond milk. Make sure that all clumps are whisked until the mixture is smooth.
  • Allow the icing to sit for 15-30 minutes while cookie dough is chilling in the refrigerator.
  • Once thickened transfer icing to piping bag and decorate cookies. Allow the icing to harden completely before storing.
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Vegan Walnut Spanakopita

Vegan, with gluten-free options, this walnut spanakopita has a crispy crust and a creamy filling. Traditionally filled with pine nuts, this Greek dish has a new twist with the addition of walnuts. Filled with spinach, herbs and vegan feta cheese sandwiched between layers of crispy fillo dough and breadcrumbs it’s sure to be a crowd pleaser on a busy weeknight.

Close up of vegan walnut spanakopita on a black plate.

Spinach Filling

This vegan walnut and spinach spanakopita filling is beyond simple to make! But don’t let the ease of making it fool you. It’s packed with flavor, texture, and satisfaction. Creamy vegan feta, crunchy walnuts, and a blend of sautéed spinach and fresh herbs create a wonderfully simple and delicious meal. All you have to do is sauté scallions, shallots, and spinach. Mix with vegan feta cheese (I love this recipe), fresh herbs, and chopped walnuts and you’re ready to assemble the spanakopita.

Fillo Dough Tips

Before we start layering the fillo dough, just a few tips…

  • Make sure that your fillo dough has completely thawed before use. If the dough is the slightest bit frozen, it will crack and ruin all the layers making it un-usable.
  • Grab two large, thin dish towels and get them wet. Wring out the excess water and lay one down on your kitchen counter. Gently place your fillo dough on the moist towel and quickly cover with the other moist dish towel.
  • Whenever you remove the top dish towel to grab a layer of fillo dough, replace the towel as quickly as possible making sure that the edges and corners of the fillo dough are covered.
  • In case you haven’t noticed, the trick to working with fillo dough is keeping it moist and cool.
Aerial view of vegan walnut spanakopita on a black plate with the rest of the spanakopita in a baking dish next to it.

Spanakopita Assembly

All you need to assemble this walnut spanakopita are 3 simple ingredients: olive oil, Italian breadcrumbs, and fillo dough. Although these ingredients are few, they are all going to be layered together to create the ultimate crispy, crunchy, and salty crust. Be prepared to put in a little bit of work here but trust me, it’s going to be so worth it!

First Layer of spanakopita

Now that you have your filling made and the fillo dough is ready to use, let’s begin layering the fillo dough. It really is very easy. The most time-consuming part is the number of layers required to create that flaky crust. Begin by placing a layer of fillo dough in the bottom of your prepared baking dish. Gently brush a thin layer of olive oil over the fillo dough then sprinkle with breadcrumbs. Lay another fillo dough on top of the breadcrumb coating and gently brush with more olive oil. Sprinkle more breadcrumbs over the olive oil. Continue this pattern of fillo dough, olive oil, and breadcrumbs until you have used half of your fillo dough. End with a layer of fillo dough.

Second layer of spanakopita

Evenly and gently spread the spinach, walnut, cheese mixture directly onto the fillo dough.

Third Layer of spanakopita

Then continue layer the rest of your fillo dough as before: fillo dough, olive oil, breadcrumbs. Finish with a single layer of fillo dough and generously brush with olive oil. Sprinkle the top of your spanakopita with sea salt and bake at 400*F for 20 minutes watching close to prevent burning. You will know the spanakopita is finished when the fillo dough is golden brown and flakey.

Close up of vegan walnut spanakopita on a black plate being cut with a fork.

And that’s it! You’ve done it! You’ve successfully used fillo dough to make this incredibly delicious spinach-filled Greek dish. Remember to follow this fillo dough tips whenever using fillo dough. And now that you know how to use fillo dough the sky’s the limit! It’s uses go well beyond just spanakopita and baklava. Use it instead of a crust on top of your next pot pie. Cut it into thick strips, fill it with any sweet or savory mixture, and fold it into neat little triangles before baking.

I cannot wait to hear what you think of this vegan walnut spanakopita!

Enjoy friends!

Ingredient Health Benefits

Olive oil- Monounsaturated fats

Spinach- Fiber; vitamin K; calcium; iron; magnesium; manganese; folate; vitamin B; vitamin A; glycolipids (cancer cell growth suppressors)

Walnuts- Omega 3s, thaimine, B6, folic acid, phosphorus, magnesium, copper, Vitamin E, polyphenols

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Vegan Walnut Spanakopita

Vegan, with gluten-free options, this walnut spanakopita has a crispy crust and a creamy filling. Spinach, herbs and vegan feta cheese are sandwiched between layers of crispy fillo dough and breadcrumbs.
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time20 mins
Fillo Dough Layering20 mins
Total Time50 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Greek, Mediterranean, Vegan
Keyword: greek, mediterranean, spanakopita, spinach, vegan, walnut butter
Servings: 4 people
Author: Erin

Ingredients

Filling

  • 5 green onions, white and greens, diced
  • 2 large shallots, diced
  • 12 oz fresh spinach
  • cup chopped walnuts
  • 1 cup vegan feta cheese + more for crumbling
  • ½ cup fresh herbs parsley, dill, etc.

Spanakopita Assembly

  • 1 package fillo dough
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • ½ cup Italian bread crumbs gluten-free if necessary
  • sea salt to taste

Instructions

Filling

  • In a large skillet, heat a tbsp olive oil over medium-high heat. Saute scallions and shallots for 3-4 minutes until soft. Add spinach and cook until wilted, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly.
  • In a large bowl, combine shallot and spinach mixture with choped walnuts, vegan feta, and fresh herbs. Set aside and begin working with fillo dough.

Fillo Dough

  • Preheat oven to 400°F. Brush the sides and bottom of an 8×8 inch baking dish with olive oil.
  • Cut fillo dough to size and place a single layer of fill dough in the bottom of the 8×8 inch dish. Lightly brush fillo dough with olive oil and sprinkle with bread crumbs. Repeat this for a total of 10-12 times.
  • Evenly and delicately spread spinach filling on the top layer of fillo dough.
  • Layer fillo dough, olive oil, and breadcrumbs for additional 10-12 layers. One the final top layer of fillo dough, brush generously with olive oil and sea salt to taste.
  • Bake for 20 minutes watching to prevent burning. Allow to cool for 20-30 minutes before cutting and serving.
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Butternut Squash and Sage Pasta

A cozy bowl of butternut squash and fried sage pasta is just what you need on a crisp autumn evening. This dish can be ready in 30 minutes and only requires 10 simple, wholesome ingredients. As an added bonus, this pasta sauce is easily turned into a soup. Grab a fork (or a spoon) and dig in.

Fried sage and butternut squash pasta topped with cranberries and walnuts on a grey plate with another plate of pasta in the background.

Can we all just take a second to appreciate pasta? What about another second to appreciate the sauces that we serve them with? Ok. Now that we’ve taken care of that…you can start appreciating this amazing homage to autumn. My incredibly flavorful, insanely easy butternut squash and sage pasta. Oh, and did I mention this squash pasta sauce can double as a soup? Yeah. Two dinner options in one. You’re welcome.

Fried Sage

This is the real secret, behind the scenes, star of the show. Fried, fresh sage is one of the most amazing little additions you could make to any squash dish. It’s so easy and it adds such a subtle sweetness to this sauce. So how exactly do we do this?

Add enough olive oil to thinly coat the bottom of a small pan. Heat the oil over high heat to get it extremely hot. Test the oil by adding a small piece of torn sage leaf to the oil. If the leaf sizzles the temperature is perfect. If it doesn’t continue testing every 30 seconds or so until it’s hot enough.

Once the oil is hot enough, add the sage leaves to the oil and allow to cook about 2-3 minutes per side until crispy and fragrant. Watch the sage closely, making sure that it doesn’t burn. Remove the leaves from the oil and place on a towel to absorb the excess oil. Set the leaves aside until later and begin working on the sauce.

Fried sage and butternut squash pasta topped with cranberries and walnuts on a grey plate with fried sage on the side.

Butternut Squash Sauce

Now that the sage portion of the dish is ready, it’s time to start the sauce (or soup). To the heated oil that you used to fry the sage, add the diced onion and sauté until translucent. Add the butternut squash, herbs, and garlic. Cook on medium-high heat for 5 minutes stirring to prevent burning but allowing the butternut squash to get a bit of a char. Add the vegetable broth to the pan and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook until the butternut squash is tender.

Allow the squash to cool a bit before adding to a high speed blender. Puree the squash with some plant-based milk and vegan parmesan cheese until smooth. At this point your pasta sauce is ready to go! Cook your favorite pasta according to package directions and toss the al dente pasta with this sauce. Top with the crumbled fried sage, dried cranberries, and chopped walnuts.

Butternut Squash Soup

If you want to turn this sauce into a soup that’s totally doable and incredibly easy. When you’re blending the sauce simply add more vegetable broth to the blender and continue to blend until the sauce turns into your desired soup consistency. Top the soup with crumbled fried sage, dried cranberries, and chopped walnuts. If you really want to go over the top, serve this soup in a sour dough bread bowl. Totally drool-worthy.

I hope that you will try this recipe and that you love it as much as I do. Let me know what you think of this dish and if you prepare it as a pasta sauce or a soup.

Enjoy friends.

Fried sage and butternut squash pasta topped with cranberries and walnuts on a grey plate with fried sage leaves on the side.

Ingredient Health Benefits

Garlic-phytochemicals

Onion-antioxidants; fiber; vitamin C; folate

Rosemary-polyphenolic compounds

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Fried Sage and Butternut Squash Pasta

A cozy bowl of butternut squash and fried sage pasta is just what you need on a crisp autumn evening. This dish can be ready in 30 minutes and only requires 10 simple, wholesome ingredients.
Course: Main Course, Soup
Cuisine: Vegan
Keyword: 10-ingredients, butternut squash, dried cranberries, entree, fried sage, pasta, sage, vegan, vegan entree, vegan parmesan, vegan soup, walnuts
Servings: 6 people
Author: Erin

Equipment

  • Blender

Ingredients

  • 10-15 sage leaves
  • ½ cup yellow onion
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 butternut squash, cubed about 8 cups
  • ¼ tsp dried sage
  • ¼ tsp dried thyme
  • ¼ tsp nutmeg
  • 2-3 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 cup plant-based milk
  • ¼ cup vegan parmesan cheese

Additional Toppings

  • dried cranberries
  • chopped walnuts

Instructions

  • To a large pan, add enough olive oil to coat the bottom of the pan with a thin layer of oil. heat over high heat. Once hot, lower to medium-high and fry the fresh sage leaves. Fry for 2-3 minutes flipping half way watching closely to prevent burning. Remove sage from the oil and place on paper towels to remove excess oil. Reserve sage leaves for later.
  • In the sage olive oil, saute onions until translucent. Add garlic, butternut squash, sage, thyme, and nutmeg. Cook for 5-10 minutes until crispy.
  • Add 2 cups of vegetable broth and bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer until vegetable broth has cooked off and the butternut squash is tender. Continue to add vegetable broth as needed in order to cook and soften squash.
  • Allow to cool slightly and blend in a high-speed blender with plant-based milk & vegan parmesan cheese*.
  • Serve over your favorite al dente pasta and top with crumbled fried sage, dried cranberries, chopped walnuts and more vegan parmesan cheese**.

Notes

*If making a soup instead of a sauce, add more vegetable broth 1 cup at a time to thin the mixture to your preferred soup consistency.
**This is my absolute favorite vegan parmesan cheese recipe.
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Pumpkin Pie Granola

Pecan meets pumpkin in this slightly sweet, totally crunchy, and super chunky pumpkin pie granola. It’s the ultimate autumn snack, breakfast, or dessert. All you need is 1 bowl and about 30 minutes to whip up it up.

Oat yogurt in an orange bowl topped with pumpkin pie granola and a jar of spilled pumpkin pie granola in the background.

So let’s talk about what you’re going to need to make this amazing pumpkin pie granola. What makes this granola special is the use of pecan butter. Have you ever tried pecan butter? If not you’re going to be hooked after this recipe. You have been warned…

Close up of a sheet pan full of pumpkin pie granola.

Pecan Butter

Now, I usually can only find pecan butter online since it isn’t carried at many of my local grocery stores. And although I’m sure the online brands are good, there’s just nothing like HOME MADE pecan butter (or any nut/seed butter for that matter). And let me tell you…it’s easy. It’s cheap. And it tastes absolutely AMAZING when you make it yourself. But you have to be crazy to make it at home right? I mean, it takes FOREVER and you have to have a super powerful food processor. Right? Wrong, wrong, WRONG!

All you need is 1 1/2 cups of pecans to make enough pecan butter for this recipe. And you’ll even end up having extra to spread on toast, drizzle into oatmeal, dip apples into, or lick right off the spoon (I won’t judge).

So here we go…Dump those lovely little raw pecans into your food processor and process. The stages of pecan butter (or any nut/seed butter) are as follows:

  • Flour: After about 30 seconds the nuts will turn into a flour-like consistency.
  • Paste: Give it another 1-2 minutes and it will turn into paste. Scrape down the sides with a rubber spatula and continue.
  • Thick butter: Another 2-3 minutes and you’ll have a thick butter-like texture. Scrape the sides again. You’re almost there!
  • Creamy, delicious, warm pecan butter: Another 2-3 minutes and the thick butter has turned super smooth and pourable. Congratulations! You’ve done it! You can now make your own nut and seed butters at home! Go crazy, get creative, and tell me what you come up with!

After you’ve successfully created the most amazing pecan butter in the world all you have to do is combine it will the other wet ingredients and pour it over the mixed dry ingredients. And if you don’t have pecan butter or don’t want to make it, you can sub almond or sunbutter instead. Bam! Done. Well, kinda…continue reading for my 3 perfect granola tips. Because having an amazing granola recipe is only half the battle.

A jar of pumpkin pie granola with oat yogurt in an orange bowl topped with pumpkin pie granola in the background.

Granola Tips

You have to promise that you’ll follow these tips for making the perfect granola. Because even though you have this awesome recipe, if you fail to do these few simple things your granola might not turn out quite as perfectly as it should.

  • First, make sure your rimmed baking sheet is lined with parchment paper or a mat. Otherwise your granola will stick and burn.
  • Next, firmly press your raw granola into the baking sheet. Make sure that it is evenly pressed into the pan and that there are no holes in the granola where you can see the parchment paper. Evenly pressed and spread = chunky granola.
  • Lastly, LET IT COOL! Please, please resist the urge to break the granola apart when it’s still hot, or even just warm. Letting it cool completely will make it brittle and perfect for breaking into large chunks.

So there you have it! I hope that you have found this post informational. And when you make this granola it’s going to be perfect. I hope that you all enjoy my Pumpkin Pie Granola and as always, please share your thoughts in the comments below.

Enjoy friends!

Ingredient Health Benefits

Oats- vitamin E, calcium, magnesium, potassium, copper, zinc, iron, fiber

Pumpkin seeds- omega-3 fats, magnesium, iron, calcium, zinc, fiber

Pecans- thiamine, vitamin E, magnesium, protein, fiber, antioxidants, oleic acid, phytochemicals

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Pumpkin Pie Granola

Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time25 mins
Total Time35 mins
Course: Breakfast, Snack
Cuisine: Vegan
Keyword: easy, granola, pecan butter, pecans, pumpkin, pumpkin pie spice, quick, simple
Servings: 3 cups
Author: Erin

Ingredients

Dry Ingredients

  • cups rolled oats
  • ¼ cup pumpkin seeds
  • ¼ cup pecan pieces
  • 2 tbsp chia seeds
  • 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • ¼ tsp salt

Wet Ingredients

  • cup pecan butter
  • ¼ cup coconut oil, melted
  • ¼ cup pumpkin puree
  • ¼ cup maple syrup
  • 1 tsp vanilla

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 325°F and line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • In a large bowl, combine dry ingredients. Add wet ingredients. Stir well to combine.
  • Evenly press granola onto parchment paper. About ¼ inch thick.
  • Bake for 25 minutes until fregrant and slightly browned but not burned. Do not stir granola or shake the pan.
  • Once completely cooled, break granola into large chunks.
  • Store in an airtight container at room temperature.
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Roasted Apple and Butternut Squash

with caramelized onions

This roasted apple and butternut squash side is vegan, gluten-free, and has an oil-free option. Topped with caramelized onions, it’s a sweet and creamy dish that’s a perfect make-ahead side for the holidays. It requires fewer than 10 ingredients and less than 15 minutes of prep. All the best of autumn in a comforting side.

Roasted apple and butternut squash with caramelized onions on a wooden platter with plate, rosemary, and butternut squash in the background.

With the holiday season quickly approaching I have begun planning my Thanksgiving menu. Anyone else? Ok, I guess that perhaps it is a tad early. But just in case you’re a planner like I am here is a recipe that I would highly recommend considering as a side for the big day. It’s simple. It’s quick. And it can be prepared ahead of time. Oh, and it’s totally delicious. What more could you want out of a holiday side dish?

Roasted apple and butternut squash

Preparing a butternut squash for roasting can be intimidating if you’ve never skinned one before. But let me reassure you, that it actually is quite simple. First, using a fork, poke holes all over your squash. And I mean ALL OVER IT. I usually jab mine about 30 times. Next place it in your microwave for 3-5 minutes depending on the strength (wattage) of your microwave. Turn it over and cook for an additional 3-5 minutes. It should be soft but not mushy or burned. Allow it to cool completely before handling. Finally, using a knife, or better yet a potato peeler, remove the skin from your squash. Cut it in half, remove the seeds, and cut into bit-sized cubes.

As for the apple…I recommend using a hearty apple for this recipe. I used a Fuji apple because they’re sturdy and sweet. A Sweet Tango would probably work too. If you would prefer a tart apple you could use a Honeycrisp or a Granny Smith. Once you’ve chosen your perfect apple, simply core, peel, and cut into bit-sized pieces. Make sure that both the apples and butternut squash pieces are similar in size so that they cook evenly.

Spray the apple and butternut squash with avocado oil and top with spices and herbs. Toss to coat and spread evenly on a prepared rimmed baking sheet. Bake them for roughly 30 minutes until they are fragrant, soft, and slightly browned around the edges. Perfection!

Roasted apple and butternut squash with caramelized onions on a wooden platter with plate, rosemary, and butternut squash in the background.
Caramelized onions

While the apples and butternut squash are roasting, prepare the caramelized onions. Begin my dicing or thinly slicing the yellow onions. You can even slice some while dicing the others just to add more visual interest and texture to your dish.

Heat a large skillet over high heat and add 1 tbsp of avocado oil. Once the oil is hot add the onions and reduce heat to medium-high. Now, the trick to perfectly caramelizing onions is TIME. You have to be patient. But trust me, your patience will pay off.

The onions will go from white, to clear, to brown, to caramelized. As they cook you will need to add water to the pan, a little at a time. Do not add more water to the pan until all the other liquid has cooked off.

Stir the onions occasionally. This gives them time to brown on the pan.

Resist the urge to pull the onions off the heat early. They are not done when they’re brown. They’re done when they are a deep, dark brown, caramelized color. You will know they’re done when they smell sweet.

Roasted apple and butternut squash with caramelized onions on a wooden platter with plate surrounded by rosemary and a blue napkin.

Suggested Pairings

This side would be excellent served with a vegan meat alternative such as “ham” or “turkey”. To fancy up this side even more top it with toasted walnuts for added crunch, pomegranate arils for tartness, or drizzle with a cashew cream sauce for creaminess.

Ingredient Health Benefits

Apple-vitamin C, soluble and insoluble fiber

Cinnamon- manganese, iron, calcium, and fiber

Onion-antioxidants; fiber; vitamin C; folate

Rosemary- polyphenolic compounds

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Roasted Apple and Butternut Squash

This roasted apple and butternut squash side is vegan, gluten-free, and has an oil-free option. Topped with caramelized onions, it's a sweet and creamy dish that's a perfect make-ahead side for the holidays. It requires fewer than 10 ingredients and less than 15 minutes of prep.
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time45 mins
Total Time1 hr
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: Vegan
Servings: 4 people
Author: Erin

Ingredients

Baked Apple and Butternut Squash

  • 4 cups butternut squash, cubed
  • 1 apple, peeled, cubed I used fuji
  • avocado spray omit if oil-free
  • ½ tsp sage
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • 1-2 sprigs fresh rosemary, removed from stem

Caramalized Onions

  • 1 tbsp avocado oil sub water if oil-free
  • 4-5 medium yellow onions, diced or thinly sliced
  • ½ cup cold water*

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 400°F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Evenly spread cubed apples and butternut squash and spray with avocado oil (omit if oil-free). Sprinkle with sage, cinnamin, and rosemary and evenly spread over baking sheet. Bake for 30 minutes, stirring half way.
  • While apples and squash are baking, heat a large pan over high heat. Add avocado oil. When oil is hot, add diced or thinly sliced onions and stir to coat. Lower heat to medium-high and cook onions for about 40 minutes stirring occasionally*.
  • Assemble roasted apples and butternut squash on a plater and top with caramelized onions. Additionally, top wtih walnuts for crunch, pomegranate arils for tartness, or raisins for sweetness.

Notes

*Add cold water occasionally, 1 tbsp at a time, to onions to prevent sticking and to de-glaze the pan.  Allow water to completely cook off before adding more water.  Be patient with this process.  The onions will go from white, to clear, to brown, to caramelized.  
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Vegan Caramel Apple Pancakes

These vegan caramel apple pancakes are perfect for a cozy autumn morning spent inside. Prepared in 30 minutes and made with wholesome ingredients, these pancakes are vegan, gluten-free, refined sugar-free, oil-free, and nut-free. With a decadent 3-ingredient vegan caramel sauce you’ll feel like you’re having dessert for breakfast.

Apple pancakes on a plate with date caramel, apples and cotton in the background.

I wanted to create a breakfast recipe that EVERYONE can enjoy. And with these caramel apple pancakes I think I’ve hit the jackpot. There’s no need to order any crazy ingredients or go hunting in specialty grocery stores to prepare these perfectly fluffy and wholesome caramel apple pancakes.

Plated apple pancakes surrounded by caramel sauce, apples and cotton.

Apple Pie Spice

Before we get going on this recipe let’s just take a quick second to discuss something: apple pie spice. It’s pretty hard to come by in the grocery store unless you happen to be shopping for it during the autumn months. That being said, making your own spice blend is SUPER simple. Plus it tastes much better in my opinion. You can also customize it. Leave out a spice that perhaps you aren’t too fond of. Or substitute in another favorite that has the same flavor profiles as the others. So really quickly, let me just tell you how I make my apple pie spice blend.

  • 2 tbsp cinnamon
  • 3/4 tsp cardamon
  • 3/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp ginger
  • 1/4 tsp allspice

Mix these all up together and store them in a small, airtight jar. Add this spice to coffee, oatmeal, quick breads, homemade applesauce…go crazy!

Close up of caramel apple pancakes on a fork with apples and a cup of tea in the background.

Pancakes

Now that you’ve got your apple pie spice let’s talk about actually making these incredibly easy and completely satisfying caramel apple pancakes. First you’ll need oat flour. If you’ve checked out my pumpkin pancakes you’ll know that I love using oat flour. It’s so easy (and cheap) to make at home and is gluten-free (just make sure that you purchase confirmed gluten-free oats). If you have rolled oats, you essentially have oat flour. Just dump the whole rolled oats into your food processor or blender and pulse until you have, well, a flour. Done! The rest of the ingredients are pretty self-explanatory which is totally what I was going for: Simple!

The only thing that I really want to stress about these pancakes is that, once all the ingredients have been combined, please make sure that you let the batter rest for at least 5-10 minutes. This is going to result in super fluffy, tender pancakes. Who wants flat, tough pancakes? Not me! So while the batter is resting make yourself some of my amazing 3-ingredient caramel sauce…

Caramel Sauce

It was really important for me to up the sweetness factor of these pancakes without adding any cane sugar, coconut sugar, maple syrup or *gasp* artificial sweeteners. Enter the incredible date. Simply pull the pits from 8 dates, toss them into a small food processor, and pulse until they’re very well chopped. Next add in the coconut milk and a splash of vanilla. Process until it’s well combined and creamy. If it’s too think simply add in more coconut milk a little at a time until it’s pourable.

The caramel color from the dates and vanilla isn’t the only thing that looks authentically caramel about this sauce: it’s just as sweet and satisfying as the dairy-containing original! This caramel sauce pairs perfectly with the apple pancakes but it could easily be used to top your favorite vegan ice cream, chocolate cake, brownies, cheesecake…you name it! You can even eat it right off a spoon. I won’t judge.

Caramel apple pancakes on a plate with date caramel sauce being poured on the pancakes.

Ingredient Health Benefits

Apple- vitamin C, soluble and insoluble fiber

Oats-vitamins A & B; calcium, magnesium, potassium, selenium, copper, zinc, iron, manganese; soluble and insoluble fiber; phytochemicals

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Vegan Caramel Apple Pancakes

Prepared in 30 minutes and made with wholesome ingredients, these pancakes are vegan, gluten-free, refined sugar-free, oil-free, and nut-free.
Prep Time5 mins
Cook Time15 mins
Resting Time10 mins
Total Time30 mins
Course: Breakfast
Cuisine: Vegan
Keyword: breakfast, gluten-free, naturally-sweetened, nut-free, oil-free, refined-sugar free, vegan
Servings: 10 pancakes
Author: Erin

Ingredients

Apple Pancakes

  • cups oat flour
  • ½ tbsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp apple pie seasoning
  • 1⅓ cup plant-based mylk
  • ½ cup applesauce
  • 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Caramel Sauce

  • 8 medjool dates, pitted soak in hot water for 5-10 minutes if hard
  • 1 cup coconut milk can be either full or reduced-fat, from a can
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract

Instructions

Apple Pancakes

  • In a medium-sized bowl whisk together the oat flour, baking powder, and apple pie spice.
  • Add the applesauce, plant-based mylk, vanilla, and apple cider vinegar.
  • Mix until just combined. Do not over-mix. Allow to sit for 5-10 minutes to thicken.
  • Heat a griddle or skillet with vegan butter. Cook ⅓ cup of batter on griddle or skillet for 3-4 minutes (or until bubbles pop) and flip, cooking additional 3-4 minutes on the other side. Repeat using all the pancake batter.

Caramel Sauce

  • In a small food processor, pulse pitted dates until well chopped.
  • Add coconut milk and vanilla extract processing until smooth. Add more coconut milk, a little at a time, if caramel is too thick.
  • Serve pancakes warm and topped with caramel sauce.
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Pumpkin Pancakes

One bowl and 10 ingredients are all you need to make these vegan pumpkin pancakes. They use simple ingredients and are gluten-free and naturally sweetened with maple syrup. These beauties are light, fluffy, golden brown and just perfect for crisp autumn mornings. Plus they come together in less than 30 minutes and are sure to be a hit with the whole family.

Pumpkin pancakes topped with vegan butter.

Ok guys. I can’t take it anymore. We are half of the way through September and I haven’t posted anything pumpkin yet. (Until now!) I’ve lasted this long and I just can’t keep these pancakes to myself anymore. So, here goes!

First let me just say: I love pumpkin. I. LOVE. PUMPKIN. I don’t think I’m alone in this but if for some reason you don’t love, like, or tolerate pumpkin anything just give these guys a chance. I swear, they don’t have an overwhelmingly pumpkin flavor! In fact, the pumpkin almost acts as a natural sweetener. The pumpkin in these pancakes is also a fantastic way to add some vegetables to your breakfast without munching on a head of lettuce. Read: give these to your kids and sit back while they delight in the thrill of pancakes for breakfast, blissfully unaware that they are indeed consuming something secretly full of plant-based nutrients. Score!

Two plates of stacked pumpkin pancakes topped with vegan butter.

But it’s not just the pumpkin in these nutrient-packed little beauties that keeps this dietitian happy! Let’s talk about some of the other reasons why I love these pumpkin pancakes. They are vegan, gluten free, naturally sweetened and can be made nut-free as well. This means everyone at the table can enjoy them!

Oat Flour

Before you throw in the towel…Stop right here and read! You do not have to run out and buy all sorts of high-end ingredients to make these pancakes! As long as you have rolled oats and a food processor you have oat flour. Ok? Ok. Simply pulse your oats in the food processor until they resemble, you guessed it, flour. All done. That simple.

Protein Powder

No need to stress about this ingredient either! If for some reason you don’t have or wish to use protein powder, simply sub in an extra 1/4 cup of oat flour instead. See friends? These pumpkin pancakes are totally customizable without compromising on deliciousness.

Two plates of stacked pumpkin pancakes topped with vegan butter.

Ingredient Health Benefits

Oats-vitamins A & B; calcium, magnesium, potassium, selenium, copper, zinc, iron, manganese; soluble and insoluble fiber; phytochemicals

Pumpkin-fiber; potassium; selenium; vitamin A

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Pumpkin Pancakes

One bowl and 10 simple ingredients are all you need to make these vegan, gluten-free, nut-free, natually sweetened pumpkin pancakes.
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time10 mins
Total Time25 mins
Course: Breakfast
Cuisine: Vegan
Keyword: banana-free, egg-free, gluten-free, naturally-sweetened, vegan
Servings: 10 pancakes
Author: Erin

Ingredients

  • 1⅓ cup oat flour
  • ¼ cup vanilla protein powder or sub extra ¼ cup oat flour
  • ½ tbsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • ¼ cup pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
  • 1⅓ cup plant-based milk, room-temperature (if using a plant-based milk with added protein, use ⅓ cup of milk and 1 cup water)
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tbsp melted coconut oil or sub canola oil
  • ½ tbsp apple cider vinegar

Instructions

  • In a medium-sized bowl whisk together the oat flour, protein powder, baking powder, and pumpkin pie spice.
  • Add the pumpkin puree, plant-based milk, maple syrup, vanilla, melted coconut oil, and apple cider vinegar. Mix until just combined. Do not over-mix.
  • Allow to sit for 5-10 minutes to thicken.
  • Heat a griddle or skillet with vegan butter.
  • Cook ⅓ cup of batter on griddle or skillet for 3-4 minutes (or until bubbles pop) and flip, cooking additional 3-4 minutes on the other side. Repeat using all the pancake batter.
  • Serve warm with maple syrup and vegan butter or cream cheese.
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