Naturally sweetened Healthy Gingerbread Loaf is moist and slightly sticky, made with warming spices, Instant Pot applesauce and whole wheat or spelt flour. The result is a lighter, guilt free homemade gingerbread treat based on a holiday classic!

Want to enjoy more healthy holiday bakes? You might enjoy delicious sugar cookies, and healthy rum balls.

gingerbread loaf with glaze and cranberries

Homemade Gingerbread Loaf

Healthy gingerbread loaf uses wholesome ingredients and contains just a fraction of the sugar of the classic recipe (just like my gingerbread cookies). The results are a holiday quick bread that makes your house smell like Christmas and tastes just as wonderful, without tons of sugar and fat!

Even better, with the combination of gingerbread spices, molasses, and maple syrup, no one will guess that this homemade gingerbread bread is healthy! It’s perfect for satisfying your sweet tooth while curled up with a mug of healthy hot chocolate (or while frantically wrapping Christmas presents).

Why Make This Easy Gingerbread Recipe?

  • Less ’empty calories’: Instead, there’s applesauce, less sugar, natural sweeteners, whole wheat or spelt flour and avocado or coconut oil.
  • Diet friendly: This easy gingerbread recipe is dairy-free, low fat with reduced sugar, and possibly even egg free!
  • Traditional Flavor: An impressive healthy gingerbread loaf that tastes like the classic (and much better than the Starbucks gingerbread loaf!)
  • Soft and fluffy: Rather than hard gingerbread cookies, this easy gingerbread loaf cake is soft, moist, and slightly sticky. 
  • Super simple: Made primarily of pantry staples and in under an hour.
  • Freezer friendly: For up to 4 months! So I recommend making a triple batch to last you through the holidays. Thaw at room temperature for 3-4 hours!

You may hear gingerbread called lebkuchen cake during the holidays! Lebkuchen is a German baked Christmas treat that closely resembles what we called gingerbread. It is said that German monks during the 13th century were the inventors of gingerbread- how is that for a slice of history! 🙂

gingerbread loaf without glaze

Ingredients for Healthy Gingerbread Loaf

The Gingerbread Cake:

  • Eggs: You need just two large eggs. Room temperature is best.
  • Flour: Use whole wheat or spelt flour (my go to flours to make treats like zucchini applesauce muffins and cranberry muffins).
  • Oil: Avocado oil, coconut oil, or another neutral cooking oil will work best. Melted butter would also work, but is my last choice for this healthier bake.
  • Spices: For this homemade gingerbread loaf cake you’ll need ground ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, and a pinch of salt.
  • Vanilla: Pure/natural vanilla extract will yield the best flavor.
  • Leavening agents: This ginger loaf cake relies on both baking powder and baking soda to provide lift and texture.
  • Applesauce: I use applesauce, which helps take the place of some of the fat and yields a super moist gingerbread cake.
  • Molasses: This will provide the classic gingerbread flavor (and several essential vitamins and minerals). Use unsulphured blackstrap molasses or dark molasses rather than light molasses.
  • Sweetener: I like to use maple syrup or honey in this easy gingerbread recipe. Agave or date syrup would also work. You may use granulated sugar instead but will need to make up for the lack of liquid in the recipe, so it’s not recommended.

Simple Orange Icing:

This is just one of several glaze options for this gingerbread cake (keep reading below for the alternatives).

  • Orange juice: Alternatively, you could just use water.
  • Powdered sugar: Use regular powdered sugar or sugar free powdered erythritol.

If you only have granulated sugar/erythritol, you can make it powdered by grinding it in a coffee/spice grinder or small high-speed blender.

You’ll also need some cooking spray to ‘grease’ the loaf pan. I use Misto.

Keep reading below (after the recipe how-to) for more information on any add-ins and recipe variations!

healthy gingerbread loaf ingredients spelt flour maple syrup molasses ginger cinnamon nutmeg

How to Make Healthy Gingerbread

There is a full recipe card below. 

This easy gingerbread recipe requires just a few simple steps, including mixing the wet and dry ingredients separately, then combining and baking. Easy peasy!

  • Prepare the loaf tin: First, preheat the oven to 350F/176C and line a 9×5-inch loaf pan with unbleached parchment paper. Then spray it with cooking spray and set it aside.
  • Mix the dry ingredients: In a medium bowl, sift in the flour and combine with all the spices, baking powder and baking soda, and salt. Whisk until lump free, then set aside.
  • Mix the wet ingredients: In a separate medium bowl, whisk the eggs for ten seconds. Then add the applesauce, molasses, liquid sweetener, oil, and vanilla. Whisk until well combined.

Spray your measuring cup with a little cooking spray (I use Misto) before measuring out any sticky ingredients like molasses. That way, they’ll slide right out!

  • Combine the two: Pour the wet ingredients into the bowl of the dry ones and mix gently with a spatula until just combined and you no longer see large flour pockets.

It’s important not to overwork the gluten, as it will impact the texture and rise of the gingerbread bread. In fact, I recommend allowing the mixture to sit for 1-2 minutes halfway, then continuing.

  • Bake the gingerbread loaf: Pour the gingerbread batter into the loaf pan and bake for between 45-50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Then, allow it to cool for 5 minutes before transferring it to a cooling rack for an additional hour (or longer to completely cool if you want to use the glaze).

Gingerbread Glaze Options

To glaze the healthy gingerbread loaf after it cools, you can either brush some honey or maple over the homemade gingerbread bread as a glaze OR combine icing sugar and orange juice in a small bowl and drizzle it over the top of the loaf.

Instead of the glaze listed above, you could also make an apricot glaze (like lebkuchen stuffed with apricot) by heating apricot jam with a little water or orange liqueur.

Once glazed, allow it to set, and then use a serrated knife to slice it into 12 slices. Enjoy!

Optional Add-In’s and Variations

I recommend using around ½ cup (maximum) or any of the below larger add-ins for a healthy gingerbread loaf with a twist:

  • Dried Fruit: Cranberries, raisins, or sultanas (golden raisins) will add little pockets of sweetness to the healthy gingerbread loaf.
  • Nuts/seeds: Chopped walnuts, pecans, pistachios, or pumpkin seeds would work.
  • Chocolate chips: Use your favorite chocolate or sugar-free chocolate chips based on your dietary requirements.
  • Crystallized ginger/stem ginger: A few tablespoons of candied ginger will add extra heat and ginger flavor but also contain lots of sugar, so don’t add too much.
  • Zest: 1-2 teaspoons of orange zest create more depth to the gingerbread bread.
  • Black pepper: A pinch of black pepper will further enhance the ginger loaf cake’s warmth and spice.
  • Cloves: Add 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves if you prefer gingerbread with this included.

Can’t get enough of the warming taste of ginger? I can’t either during the holidays! I also enjoy making gingerbread men and soft gingersnap cookies!

Tips for Best Results

  • Use room temperature eggs: Especially when using coconut oil in the gingerbread batter.
  • For mini gingerbread loaves: I haven’t actually tried this myself. However, it should be possible. Just divide the batter between smaller loaf pans and reduce the baking time. I recommend monitoring them after 20 minutes, using a toothpick to check for doneness.
  • Enjoy with or without the glaze: Either way, this healthy gingerbread loaf tastes delicious. Plus, you can always add that ‘something extra’ with toppings.
  • When scaling the recipe: You can either make multiple loaves OR double/triple the recipe and bake as a sheet cake. Use a toothpick to test for ‘doneness.’
  • Cool the cake entirely before glazing: Otherwise, you’ll end up with a drippy, sticky mess.
  • Don’t open the oven door before necessary: Or it can cause the healthy gingerbread loaf to sink!

Top baking tip: Use the spoon and level method to measure the flour!

Spoon the flour into your measuring cup, then use the back of a knife to level it off (rather than scooping the cup into your bag of flour). That way, you won’t accidentally add too much and throw off the texture of the homemade gingerbread bread.
 

FAQs

Can I make gingerbread with fresh ginger?

I haven’t tried this recipe using fresh ginger in place of ginger powder. However, you could experiment with using around 4 tbsp of ginger puree/grated ginger. You could also add crystallized ginger to the gingerbread bread as an add in for extra ginger flavor and texture.

Why is gingerbread called gingerbread?

Initially, gingerbread didn’t actually refer to bakes at all. Instead, it referred to a preserved ginger product. However, over time, the meaning of the word adapted until it now refers to a specific ginger bake made with ginger and molasses with several warming spices.

What is the difference between gingerbread and ginger cake?

Ginger cake can refer to any cake where ginger is a standout flavor. In comparison, this healthy gingerbread loaf contains the classic gingerbread cookie spices and molasses for the specific ‘gingerbread flavor’ we find at Christmas.

Can I substitute the molasses?

I find that it’s key to achieving the traditional gingerbread flavor. However, readers have noted several substitutes in the comments, including date syrup, extra maple syrup, or coconut sugar syrup. Brown sugar would also work, but you need to reduce the amount slightly (3/4 cup brown sugar per 1 cup molasses).

Can I make this gingerbread recipe egg free?

You may be able to bake this recipe using flax egg, though I admit I haven’t tried, so I can’t guarantee results. It will be denser without as much rise and a little crumbly, but it should work. Let me know if you try.

Can I make a gluten free gingerbread loaf?

I haven’t tested this recipe with gluten-free flour; however, someone in the comments successfully used a gluten free all-purpose flour blend.

Can I use this recipe for a gingerbread house?

While you could technically sculpt a gingerbread cake into a house shape, to make a traditional gingerbread house, this ginger loaf cake won’t work. It doesn’t have the structure like gingerbread cookies do.

sliced gingerbread bread with glaze and a serrated knife beside it

How to Serve Gingerbread Cake?

You can enjoy a slice of the homemade gingerbread loaf either chilled, at room temperature, or warm with:

  • A dollop of yogurt or whipped cream/ whipped coconut cream
  • A scoop of ice cream, like this healthy vegan vanilla ice cream
  • A drizzle of additional maple syrup or honey
  • With a generous pour of lemony custard
  • Serve with a spread of apricot jam (like lebkuchen)
  • A sprinkle of chopped nuts (usually combined with yogurt/cream/ice cream)
  • A healthy poached pear or poached apple would also pair wonderfully with a warm slice of this gingerbread bread for a holiday dessert.

And, personally, I love enjoying a slice with either a warm mug of tea, coffee, or hot chocolate!

How to Store and Freeze Healthy Gingerbread Loaf?

Make ahead: This homemade ginger loaf cake tastes even better on day two or three, so I fully endorse baking it in advance when possible!

Store: Allow the gingerbread cake to cool entirely, then store in an airtight container either at room temperature for up to 5 days (or slightly longer in the refrigerator).

Freeze: You can freeze a whole or pre sliced gingerbread loaf (with or without the glaze), though it will stay moister if left unsliced. If sliced, either place parchment paper between the slices or flash-freeze them first. Store wrapped in plastic and then in an airtight Ziplock bag and store for between 3-4 months. You can either leave it to thaw in the fridge, at room temperature, or defrost (and heat) from frozen in a microwave or toaster oven.

Reheat: You can warm the pieces in a toaster oven (if not iced/glazed) or in the microwave.

More Healthy Quick Bread Recipes

sliced gingerbread loaf cake sliced with icing and cranberries
healthy gingerbread loaf with easy glaze

Healthy Gingerbread Loaf

Naturally sweetened Healthy Gingerbread Loaf is moist and slightly sticky, made with warming spices, applesauce and whole wheat or spelt flour. The result is a lighter, guilt free homemade gingerbread treat based on a holiday classic!
4.96 from 21 votes
Servings 12 slices
Calories 194
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 55 minutes

Ingredients 
 

For Gingerbread Loaf:

For Glaze (optional):

  • 1/2 cup icing sugar or powdered erythritol
  • 1 1/2 – 2 tbsp orange juice or water

Instructions 

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F, line 9 x 5 loaf pan with unbleached parchment paper and spray with cooking spray.
  • In a medium bowl, add flour, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking powder, baking soda, and salt; whisk well until no lumps. Set aside.
  • In another medium bowl, add eggs, applesauce, molasses, maple syrup, oil and vanilla extract; whisk well until combined.
  • Pour into the bowl with dry ingredients and mix gently with spatula, just enough to combine or until you see no more white flour pockets. Do not stir vigorously or over mix. Also good idea let mixture sit for a 1-2 minutes and then stir again.
  • Pour into prepared loaf pan and bake for 45-50 minutes or until toothpick inserted comes out clean.
  • Remove from the oven, let cool for 5 minutes and transfer to a cooling rack to cool off for 1 hour or completely if using icing.
  • You can coat gingerbread loaf in honey glaze by drizzling small amounts of honey or maple syrup on a pastry brush and brushing on top. Or in a small bowl, whisk icing sugar and orange juice until smooth and drizzle on top.
  • Cut gingerbread loaf into 12 slices using serrated knife.

Notes

  • Store: Store in an airtight container for up to 5 days. Reheat pieces in a toaster oven (if not iced/glazed) or in the microwave.
  • Freeze: Sliced or unsliced up to 3-4 months.
  • Use room temperature eggs: Especially when using coconut oil.
  • For mini gingerbread loaves: Divide the batter between smaller loaf pans and reduce the baking time. I recommend monitoring them after 20 minutes, using a toothpick to check for doneness.
  • Cool the cake entirely before glazing: Otherwise, you’ll end up with a drippy, sticky mess.
  • Don’t open the oven door before necessary: Or it can cause the healthy gingerbread loaf to sink!
  • Flour tips: This recipe has only been tested with whole wheat and spelt flour. I do not recommend any other flour. Use the spoon and level method to measure the flour!
See recipe post for more tips and FAQs.

Nutrition

Serving: 1slice | Calories: 194kcal | Carbohydrates: 34g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 5g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 27mg | Sodium: 195mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 18g
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Author: Olena Osipov
Did you make this recipe?Mention @ifoodreal or tag #ifoodreal!

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About Olena

Welcome! I grew up in Ukraine watching my grandma cook with simple ingredients. I have spent the last 11 years making it my mission to help you cook quick and easy meals for your family!

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Comments

  1. 5 stars
    AMAZING!!! I made white flour gingerbread cookies last week with butter & brown sugar, and they were divine. I was addicted and wanted to find a “healthier” version. I expected to be somewhat disappointed considering the other had white flour, butter, etc., but the loaf turned out spectacular!!! It has the same sweet gingerbread flavor as the cookies!! I made it with the same spice ratio–2 tsp ginger, 1 tsp cinnamon, 1/4 tsp nutmeg. I even used freshly ground spelt flour, and it is so delicious–and I haven’t even tried the topping on it yet! Plus, with the loaf, I feel satisfied sooner, which I’m sure is due to the higher nutrition content–with the cookies, I couldn’t stop eating them!

    I can’t thank you enough, and I look forward to more of your recipes!

    I would LOVE to have your gingerbread cookie recipe as well! I hope you and your loved ones had a Merry Christmas, Olena, and have a Happy New Year! 🙂

  2. Hi Olena.

    This new gingerbread loaf looks delicious¡ But I was wondering were did the other recipe for gingerbread go? I always bake that one during the holidays. Live how spicy it is, and not too sweet. Could you pls post a link to the old recipe?
    Thanks¡

    1. Hi Susana. We just updated the photos and added icing, otherwise it is the same recipe pretty much. But here are old amounts anyways – enjoy!!! 🙂 You can try both versions and see which one you like better. Happy Holidays!
      2 cups spelt or whole wheat flour
      • 1 tbsp ginger
      • 1 tsp cinnamon
      • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
      • 1 tsp baking powder
      • 1/2 tsp baking soda
      • 1/2 tsp salt
      • 2 eggs large
      • 1 cup applesauce unsweetened
      • 1/4 cup molasses
      • 1/4 cup maple syrup or honey + more for glazing
      • 3 tbsp avocado oil
      • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
      • Cooking spray I use Misto

      1. Thanks Olena, I’ll try both versions. All of your recipes are delicious anyway. Thanks for sharing and happy holidays.

  3. 5 stars
    My loaf turned out delicious! I used freshly ground spelt flour, and grated some orange zest into the batter. Yum! So warm and delicious and pretty much guilt free! Thanks for another great recipe

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