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

4.93 from 41 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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161 Comments

  • Andrea

    These cookies are amazing. This was the second year I made them and they are just as good as I remembered. Out of all the cookies we make these are the first to disappear, I will be making a double batch next year. This year I did have a little more difficulty working with the dough, but all it needed was a little extra flour and problem solved. I’m thinking about making another batch even though Christmas is over.

  • Becki

    We love these cookies so much that we did it again! My little helpers are now 10 and 12. I doubled the dough but not the icing which was the perfect amount. The kids did some great decorating and we gobbled them up, saving some for friends and neighbors. The only down side was the cookies broke when stored in the cookie jar. Oh well, they still taste great. Thank you so much for this recipe. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year❤️?

  • Alicia K

    This recipe is SO yummy! My 8 year old LOVES them with and without the icing.
    The first time we made them, I used orange juice instead of milk for the liquid.
    The second time around, we used milk and I added in 2 drops each of clove, cinnamon and ginger essential oils to enhance the spicyness (sp) and boy did it deliver! These are our new favorite cookie. Which will most likely be made year round now lol Thank you for sharing!

  • Sophie

    I tried all day but mine kept coming out very sticky (and stick to the parchment paper). ??

    • Jaclyn

      Jaclyn Bell

      It sounds like they just need more flour, if you still have the batter I’d just mix a little more in. Sorry they gave you trouble!

  • Lynne

    I made your recipe last year and they were a hit! Making them again this year :) They are delicious- perfect texture and flavor!

  • Elice

    This may be a silly question.. but I don’t have a stand mixer, just a hand held. What is your recommendation on using that? Just on low speed? Thanks!

    • Jaclyn

      Jaclyn Bell

      Yes I’d mix on low to medium then as the batter gets thick as you add flour you will likely need to continue mixing the rest in by hand.

  • Jo

    This recipie is a great hit with everyone in our family. Even those who usually don’t like ginger bread cookies love these! I follow the recipie to the T with out changing or altering anything and they’re amazing. I had a quick question though, do you know if these cookie would ship well?

    • Jaclyn

      Jaclyn Bell

      I think the cookies would ship well if properly wrapped up and padded. So glad you like them!

  • Barb

    This is the best soft gingerbread cookie recipe I have tried. I’ve already made two batches. This will be my go to recipe!