Gingerbread Cookies

December 9, 2018

This is my favorite Gingerbread Cookie recipe! It makes perfectly soft and chewy cookies and they have the just the right amount of spices and rich molasses flavor. The dough is easy to work with and they are so fun to decorate. These will quickly become a new favorite holiday cookie!

Gingerbread men cookies and trees and snowflakes on a red plate surrounded by Christmas sprinkles.

Gingerbread Cookies

Gingerbread men are such a Christmas classic and it’s about time I finally got around to sharing a recipe!

I’ve always loved gingerbread cookies but I’m not so much of a fan of the cracker-like ones so I made these to be a slightly softer cookie. If you do prefer a crispier cookie just roll the dough a bit thinner than listed and even bake a little longer if needed.

I made these cookies to be a little more mild on the molasses flavor so they’ll still be kid friendly.

You’ll that the dough was easy to work with and doesn’t need a long time to chill.

These are so good and definitely a cookie that both young and old alike will love! Plus they’re so fun to decorate, every holiday season you need to decorate at least one batch of cookies right?

My kids got my first test batch to decorate and I gave them tons of sprinkles to decorate and they were in Heaven!

And who doesn’t love the scent of gingerbread cookies baking? It is Heavenly!

I hope these make it to your holiday cookie tray! The are such a delicious tradition and we all need a delicious, reliable gingerbread cookie recipe.

Decorated Gingerbread Cookies with icing and colorful candies.

Ingredients for Gingerbread Cookies

  • All-purpose flour: this is the base for the cookies. I don’t recommend substitutes such as cake flour or bread flour.
  • Ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves: this blend of spices gives the cookies their traditional richly spiced flavor.
  • Baking powder and baking soda: these help the cookies puff up a little so they aren’t totally flat.
  • Salt: this helps keep the cookies from tasting flat.
  • Dark brown sugar and powdered sugar: the brown sugar helps give the cookies that classic chewy texture. Powdered sugar is used for a smooth icing.
  • Unsalted butter: what would a soft cookie be without it? If you only have salted butter, reduce salt to 1/4 tsp in the recipe.
  • Egg yolk: I like to just use the yolk here so cookies don’t puff up and spread a lot and lose that cute shape.
  • Vanilla: this adds a little background flavor.
  • Molasses: this is key to real gingerbread. It adds rich deep flavor and also helps keep them soft.
  • Milk: this helps thin the dough a little.
  • Meringue powder: this is used in the royal icing instead of raw egg whites.

Where Can I Find Meringue Powder?

You can find meringue powder at kitchen supply stores, places like Walmart carry it in their cake decorating section, craft stores like Michaels carry it or you can buy it online.

Gingerbread cookies sitting on a white wooden surface.

How to Make Gingerbread Cookies:

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Whisk dry ingredients: In a mixing bowl whisk together flour, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
  • Cream sugars and butter: In the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment cream together sugar and butter until well combined.
  • Blend in wet ingredients:  Mix egg yolk and vanilla. Mix in molasses and 1 Tbsp milk.
  • Add flour mixture to butter mixture: With mixer set on low speed slowly add in dry ingredients and mix until combined, while adding additional milk as needed just to bring dough together.
  • Roll dough: Divide dough into two equal portions then roll each portion out evenly to 1/4-inch thickness between two sheets of parchment paper.
  • Chill on a cookie sheet in freezer 10 – 20 minutes until firm then cut into shapes using cookie cutters.
  • Transfer and bake: Remove from paper transfer to parchment paper lined cookie sheet and bake in preheated oven minutes until nearly set, about 8 minutes.
  • Cool and decorate: let cool then completely, prepare icing and decorate with icing, let set.

Gingerbread christmas tree cookies.

About Royal Icing for Gingerbread:

If you’d prefer not to make royal icing you could also use a buttercream frosting you just won’t be able to decorate with detail. You could even use a store-bought icing (but keep in mind you won’t be able to stack them).

This icing really is easy to make though, the key is just in getting the right consistency so be careful no to add too much or too little water and let it whip up for a fair amount of time until it has a nice sheen to it.

Keep in mind it does make a lot of icing so you you are only doing the gingerbread men you would probably only need 1/2 to 2/3 of the recipe listed because they don’t need as much icing as the snowflakes or Christmas trees.

Gingerbread Cookies | Cooking Classy

Tips for this Recipe:

  • Don’t use fully softened butter. The semi-firm butter helps them spread less.
  • Don’t be skimpy with the spices. The amounts listed give them their classic gingerbread flavor.
  • Be sure to chill the dough in the freezer before cutting and shaping, it makes the dough easier to work with.
  • Another fun idea is to turn the gingerbread men upside down and they become shapes for reindeer. Or just cut into rounds and make reindeer faces. I posted a quick how-to video on Instagram here.

How to Store Gingerbread Men:

Store gingerbread men in an airtight container at room temperature for up to about 6 days.

Can I Freeze Gingerbread Cookies?

Yes these will freeze well once the icing is fully set. Store in an airtight container in the freezer up to 2 months.

Mini gingerbread men cookies in a gift tin.

More Christmas Cookie Favorites to Try!

Gingerbread Cookies

4.92 from 35 votes

This is my favorite Gingerbread Cookie recipe! It makes perfectly soft and chewy cookies and they have the just the right amount of spices and rich molasses flavor. The dough is easy to work with and they are so fun to decorate. These will quickly become a new favorite holiday cookie!

Servings: 24 Cookies
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Chilling time 20 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 20 minutes

Ingredients

Cookies

  • 3 cups (425g) all-purpose flour
  • 1 Tbsp ground ginger
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 3/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup (165g) packed dark brown sugar
  • 10 Tbsp (142g) unsalted butter, softened about halfway*
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup (172g) molasses (not blackstrap)
  • 1 - 2 Tbsp milk

Icing

  • 3 (420g) cups powdered sugar
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp (15g) meringue powder
  • 4 - 6 Tbsp water
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

  2. Whisk dry ingredients: In a mixing bowl whisk together flour, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, baking powder, baking soda and salt set aside.

  3. Cream butter and sugar: In the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment cream together sugar and butter until well combined, occasionally stopping and scraping down bowl.

  4. Mix in wet ingredients: Mix egg yolk and vanilla. Mix in molasses and 1 Tbsp milk. 
  5. Mix dry mixture with wet mixture: With mixer set on low speed slowly add in dry ingredients and mix until combined, while adding additional milk as needed just to bring dough together. 

  6. Roll dough: Divide dough into two equal portions then roll each portion out evenly to 1/4-inch thickness (into more of a oblong or rectangular shape so it will fit on a cookie sheet) between two sheets of parchment paper.
  7. Chill briefly: chill on a cookie sheet in freezer 10 - 20 minutes, or until firm then cut into shapes using cookie cutters.

  8. Transfer to baking sheets and bake: Remove from paper using a thin metal spatula or pastry scraper if needed then transfer to parchment paper lined cookie sheet, spacing cookies about 1-inch apart, and bake in preheated oven 8 minutes or until slightly set*.
  9. Let cookies cool: Remove from oven and cool on baking sheet 2 minutes then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Repeat process with remaining dough. 

  10. Make the icing: Add powdered sugar and meringue powder to the bowl of an electric stand mixer. Fit mixer with paddle attachment, add in 4 Tbsp water and the vanilla them mix on low speed until combined. 
  11. Thin as needed and whip: Add more water to thin as needed and increase speed and whip mixture until it is glossy and thickens up. Tint with food coloring if desired. Transfer to piping bags fitted with tiny round tips.

  12. Decorate as desired: decorate cookies with icing and add sprinkles if desired. Let icing set at room temperature and store in an airtight container.

Recipe Notes

  • *Butter should still hold it's shape pretty well and be cool. The cool butter will make dough easier to work with and make cookies spread less.
  • **Cookies should leave a slight indentation when touched. For soft cookies be careful not to over-bake, if you want them more crisp you can bake longer.
  • Cookies are even better and softer the second day.
  • See notes in post above for instructions on how to decorate reindeer cookies. 
Nutrition Facts
Gingerbread Cookies
Amount Per Serving
Calories 229 Calories from Fat 45
% Daily Value*
Fat 5g8%
Saturated Fat 3g19%
Cholesterol 20mg7%
Sodium 89mg4%
Potassium 158mg5%
Carbohydrates 43g14%
Sugar 29g32%
Protein 2g4%
Vitamin A 160IU3%
Calcium 35mg4%
Iron 1.3mg7%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: christmas cookies, gingerbread cookies
Author: Jaclyn

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150 Comments

  • Penny Barry

    Thank you for another great recipe! I have been following you for a long time and I can always count on your recipes to be a hit with friends and co workers. Did exactly as stated. Made no changes. So nice and soft and great flavor. I liked it at 8 minutes and my husband liked them at 9-10. I will be making many more batches before xmas for neighbors. Thank you!

  • Joan

    This was my first time making gingerbread cookies and for someone who does not like gingerbread, these cookies are good! My decorating is terrible compared to your photos. I think my royal icing was a little too thick. I like how the cookies didn’t spread and mine came out a little chewy just the way I like cookies!

  • Hannah

    If I only have blackstrap molasses, how much should I use, do you think? I like the bitterness of it, but I assume half a cup of it would be a little much.

      • Jaclyn

        Jaclyn Bell

        As is it would probably be too soft but I wonder if you bake longer until crisp that it would work?

    • Jaclyn

      Jaclyn Bell

      Honestly I’ve only ever baked with the standard unsulfured molasses so I couldn’t say for sure. I’d just recommend sticking with it though because if you alter the amount of molasses added it will alter the recipe.

  • Marilyn Rivera

    So good! I never made them before so was really worried they wouldn’t turn out. But they turned out great. I need to get a smaller cookie cutter though. Thank you!

  • Becki

    I have a question about the icing. How thin can I make it? It seems awfully hard to stir and I’ve already added 2 extra T of water. I don’t want to make it too runny but I’m not sure since this is royal icing not just plain powdered sugar frosting. Thanks.

    • Jaclyn

      Jaclyn Bell

      The consistency won’t be the same as a royal icing used to flood it should be thicker like icing used to decorate, but with that said it also shouldn’t be hard to stir and should be easy to pipe so it sounds like you still need a little more water to thin.

  • Beth

    We’ve tried a different gingerbread cookie recipe each year looking for one we love and we finally found it! Love these so much! I used light brown sugar since that is what we had and even almond milk and they turned out so delicious.