My Favorite Gingerbread Men Recipe

Here is my favorite gingerbread men recipe! Soft in the centers, crisp on the edges, perfectly spiced, molasses and brown sugar-sweetened holiday goodness. 

So did you do any shopping on cyber monday yesterday?! I did a little Christmas shopping for Kevin but won’t go into too much detail in the off chance he is reading this. (He doesn’t read this.) Also got presents for my sisters and MAYBE another Christmas ornament for… my dog. What? It was on sale.

cookiepalooza-logo-final-christmas

So anyway! Welcome to day 2 of my cookie palooza. A huge party filled with butter, sprinkles, melted chocolate on our sleeves, and flour all over our faces. Is that just me? Marathon cookie baking is soooo glamorous in my kitchen.

This is the best recipe for gingerbread men! Easy to mix together, taste unbelievable, and fun to decorate! Gingerbread cookie recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

Yesterday I shared a classic holiday cookie and I decided to repeat the traditional trend today as well. Whenever I think of Christmas cookies, gingerbread men come to mind first. Well, after these of course! It’s something about them. Their spice. Their molasses flavor. Their smiles. Their charm! (Aren’t they charming looking?? Seriously look at them!) Gingerbread cookies, you have my heart. And stomach.

I’ve never shared a gingerbread men cookie recipe on my blog before. The truth is, I haven’t been able to find “the one” I’m proud of to post on my blog. I’ve tried them for the past few years and, while each batch is certainly tasty, I’m always left disappointed in the flavor and texture scene. So, I made it a point this year– well, this past month– to really work on a perfect gingerbread men cookie recipe. Or at least one that is perfect in my eyes and on my tastebuds! You’ll love these too.

Gingerbread men cookie recipes all start the same. There’s a lot of flour so the cookies can keep their shape. There’s molasses and spice for flavor, egg(s), butter, and sugar. The amounts and kinds all vary between recipes, but the recipe I absolutely adore is based off my mom’s recipe. To her recipe, I add a little more molasses and increase the amount of spice favors (like cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and allspice). I like a gingerbread cookies with A LOT of flavor, which shouldn’t surprise you. Because of the added sticky sweetener (molasses), I add a bit more flour to help soak it all up. I also use brown sugar instead of white granulated sugar in my gingerbread men recipe. This is for extra flavor. I always use brown sugar when its flavor is appropriate! Again, I’m sure you know this by now!

My favorite gingerbread cookie recipe! Soft in the centers, crisp on the edges, and so much flavor!!

Let’s walk through the recipe real quick so you don’t get confused.

The dough is a little sticky once it’s all beaten together in your mixing bowl. It absolutely MUST be chilled. There is no way around this crucial step, so make sure you give yourself enough time in the kitchen. I chill my gingerbread men cookie dough overnight in the refrigerator but 3 hours is enough. It’s a long time, I know, but you want your cookie dough firm and manageable. You also want it to keep its shape when the cookies are baking– and you won’t get that unless you have chilled, solid dough.

IMPORTANT ↓

It’s easiest to wrap the dough in plastic wrap before chilling. Scoop out 1/2 of the prepared cookie dough, plop it onto a long sheet of plastic wrap, wrap it up, and flatten it out into a disc. Repeat with the other 1/2 of dough. Then chill. See that photo above? That’s what you’re doing, but you’ll have 2 discs. Why are you doing this? It’s easier to roll out the chilled cookie dough when it is in a disc shape. Also, the cookie dough chills faster when there is less volume. And it’s just easier to work with smaller portions when rolling/shaping!

After chilling, roll out the chilled cookie dough discs until about 1/4-inch thick. Don’t be afraid to flour your hands, rolling pin, work surface, and everything in the world. By that, I mean: the cookie dough can become sticky as you work. So, don’t be scared to add more flour to the work surface.

More flour is ok.

The flour spots on top of your shaped cookie dough men will bake off.

This is the best recipe for gingerbread men! Easy to mix together, taste unbelievable, and fun to decorate! Gingerbread cookie recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

This is the best recipe for gingerbread men! Easy to mix together, taste unbelievable, and fun to decorate! Gingerbread cookie recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

Place the cut-out cookies onto a lined baking sheet about 1 inch apart. The cookies won’t really spread, but you want to make sure they have enough room to breathe. They are gingerbread men, after all.

The cookies only take about 9-10 minutes in the oven, which produces a soft cookie with slightly crisp edges. If your cookie cutter is much smaller than 4 inches, your cookies will be done in about 8 minutes. If you’re baking XXL gingerbread men, your cookies might take closer to 12 minutes.

Now, decorate your little heart out. We’re talking smiles, eyes, bow-ties, buttons, squiggles, whatever your gingerbread men cookie loving heart desires. This is when it’s really fun to have a friend or little baker in the kitchen with you. I use my basic and simple decorating icing, but you can use your favorite royal icing.

Tint the icing with a couple drops of food coloring to spice things up, too!

This is the best recipe for gingerbread men! Easy to mix together, taste unbelievable, and fun to decorate! Gingerbread cookie recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

It’s difficult not to love this recipe! That’s why it’s quickly become my favorite gingerbread men recipe. The dough comes together easily, the flavor is spot on- lots of molasses, ginger, cinnamon, all-spice, and cloves- the edges are slightly crisp, the centers are soft and chewy, and they’re so easy to decorate. Happy cookie making!

PS: I encourage you to read through the recipe before beginning. And don’t be overwhelmed by all the steps, I’m just very thorough.

My Favorite Gingerbread Men Recipe

Make sure you chill the cookie dough discs for a minimum of 3 hours. I played around with the spices a lot and really loved the flavor of these cookies when using a full Tablespoon each of ground ginger and ground cinnamon.

Ingredients:

  • 10 Tablespoons (145g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 3/4 cup (150g) packed light or dark brown sugar
  • 2/3 cup (200g) unsulphured molasses (I use Grandma's Molasses brand)
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 3 and 1/2 cups (437g) all-purpose flour  (spoon & leveled)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 Tablespoon ground ginger (yes, 1 full Tablespoon!)
  • 1 Tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon allspice
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • Easy royal icing

Special Equipment

Directions:

  1. In a large bowl using a hand-held mixer or stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter for 1 minute on medium speed until completely smooth and creamy. Add the brown sugar and molasses and beat on medium high speed until combined and creamy-looking. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed. Next, beat in egg and vanilla on high speed for 2 full minutes. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed. The butter may separate; that's ok.
  2. In a separate bowl, whisk the flour, baking soda, salt, ginger, cinnamon, allspice, and cloves together until combined. On low speed, slowly mix into the wet ingredients until combined. The cookie dough will be quite thick and slightly sticky. Divide dough in half and place each onto a large piece of plastic wrap. Wrap each up tightly and pat down to create a disc shape. Please see photo and description above in my post. Chill discs for at least 3 hours and up to 3 days. Chilling is mandatory for this cookie dough. I always chill mine overnight.
  3. Preheat oven to 350°F (177°C). Line 2-3 large baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats. (Always recommended for cookies.) Set aside.
  4. Remove 1 disc of chilled cookie dough from the refrigerator. Generously flour a work surface, as well as your hands and the rolling pin. Don't be afraid to continually flour the work surface as needed- this dough can be sticky. Roll out disc until 1/4-inch thick. Cut into shapes. Place shapes 1 inch apart on prepared baking sheets. Re-roll dough scraps until all the dough is shaped. Repeat with remaining disc of dough.
  5. Bake cookies for about 9-10 minutes. If your cookie cutters are smaller than 4 inches, bake for about 8 minutes. If your cookie cutters are larger than 4 inches, bake for about 11 minutes. My oven has hot spots and yours may too- so be sure to rotate the pan once during bake time.
  6. Allow cookies to cool for 5 minutes on the cookie sheet. Transfer to cooling rack to cool completely. Once completely cool, decorate as desired.

Make ahead tip: Cookies stay fresh covered at room temperature for up to 1 week. Baked and decorated (or not decorated) cookies freeze well - up to three months. Unbaked cookie dough discs (just the dough prepared through step 2) freeze well - up to three months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator then continue with step 3.

Recipe Notes:

NOTE: This cookie dough is not sturdy enough for gingerbread houses.

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© Sally’s Baking Addiction. All images & content are copyright protected. Please do not use my images without prior permission. If you want to republish this recipe, please re-write the recipe in your own words, or link back to this post for the recipe.

WHAT HAVE I DONE?

This is the best recipe for gingerbread men! Easy to mix together, taste unbelievable, and fun to decorate! Gingerbread cookie recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

140 comments

  1. Hello Sally, i live in the UK. I noticed you use ‘cups’ as measurements. Would it be possible for you to convert your cup for me please. I was initially looking for some peanut butter g/bread men. How much peanut butter would i add to this recipe? Crunchy or smooth?
    Thank you very much.

    • Lorna, I’m unsure how to add peanut butter to these cookies without testing it myself. I don’t think I’d be a fan of the flavor combination, but let me know if you try anything! Sounds very unique! This recipe includes gram and ml measurements where cups are listed.

  2. Just made your gingerbread man recipe and love, love, love them! I have never attempted to make these little cute guys, but you inspired me and I am so excited that I am planning to add them to my annual cookie repertoire now! Thumbs up on the royal icing recipe too!
    Thank you:)

  3. Hi Sally, I am making this as I type, followed instructions to the letter, leveled my flour and my dough is dry, not sticky…how do I fix it?

  4. Made these as gifts for neighbours and colleagues and decorated with your royal icing recipe. As is always the case with your recipes, these turned out awesome!  Big thumbs up from everyone I gave these to.  Your instructions are the best.  Merry Christmas and all the best for 2016 🙂

  5. Dear Sally
    , I am from Hong Kong. I have always looked a gingerbread men as a kind of American thing… I was curious to try but never got around to it. Finally, a friend asked me to make some for her. I was looking online and my eye caught your recipe – the fact that it is soft inside really got me. I always had the impression that gingerbread men were hard, tough cookies. I JUST finished making a batch. WOW!!! I had to control myself from eating it right off the oven. They smelled so good – and as promised, it was soft in the middle. I will decorate them tonight and give them to my friend tomorrow. Thanks for a great recipe. I will be checking out your other recipes soon!

  6. Hi Sally! I’m planning on making these for Christmas,and I don’t have any allspice or ground cloves. I was wondering if I could substitute them for other spices, as I do have nutmeg,cinnamon, ginger, cumin, and pumpkin pie spice. Thanks!

  7. These are delicious cookies! I just baked mine for a little less time. Warning – it’s very hard to quit eating these! 🙂

  8. I can’t wait to try these cookies – they’ve got amazing reviews! I was going to ask if the recipe was suitable for making gingerbread houses, but already saw your answer! You should start working on your own Homemade Gingerbread House recipe for Christmas 2016!! 

  9. The soft gingersnaps are a hit with friends and family, so this one I would love to try out as a gift for a friend’s birthday party. How long can they keep with or without refrigeration (if possible) after decorating? I’m family and I will be away a week before event and won’t be attending := so I’d be making these beforehand. 

    • A week is perfectly fine! Truly, they last about 2 weeks if you want them to. 🙂

      • Thank you for your reply, Sally! I hope she likes them, each recipe I’ve tried has been wonderful. You’re my go to whenever I crave something! 

  10. Hi Sally, looking forward to making these cookies soon for the holidays. I just wanted to see if the gram measurement was correct for the molasses? I think with your other molasses cookies, you usually post 1/3 cup as around 104 grams, so would this require 208 grams? Thanks for any insight you could share!

    • Hi Kathy! This would be about 200g. I had it listed with ml measurement but just changed it so it’s easier for any readers.

  11. Hi, quick question. If I wanted to try making this recipe but not roll/cut it out as “gingerbread men”…and just use it as a round regular cookie shape…would I have to chill it still? Seems the benefits for chilling were only applying towards the rolling and shaping.

    Please let me know. Thanks.

    • You mean as drop cookies? I fear they’d spread a little bit too much without chilling. Or you can make these soft molasses cookies (similar but with less intense flavor) but they require 2 hours of chilling.

      • Yes, drop cookies. As delicious as those molasses cookies look, I’m determined to make a delicious Gingerbread “drop” cookie. I’ll just chill the dough then without flattening them into discs. Thanks!

  12. Hi Sally, 

    I live in a India and I would love to try these cookies – unfortunately I can’t find molasses anywhere. Cam I substitute molasses with golden syrup? And would the substitute be 1:1? Please let me know. Thanks. 

    • Hi Lari! Unfortunately molasses is the key ingredient here. They won’t taste like gingerbread without it! Golden syrup isn’t the ideal replacement. You can try more brown sugar and a little water, but I’m afraid the cookies won’t set up properly.

    • Hi Lari,

      I live in Australia and the molasses we have over here is very rich, dark and slightly bitter. I used golden syrup and they were DELICIOUS! I think treacle syrup would also work well (maybe even better) if that is available in India.

      Just thought I’d offer my advice 🙂

  13. Hi Sally,

    I am planning to make this gingerbread man cookies soon. Read on the ingredients which require molasses. Just wondering if the measurement is the same for dry or liquid form of molasses?

    Thank you!

  14. Hi sally! love love love your website such a huge fan! All the recipes I’ve made from your website have been absolutely delicious and a big hit with my family and friends, just had to get that off my chest haha. I have a simple questions what did you use to pipe the icing onto your gingerbread? \

    Thank you!

  15. These are delicious – my first ever gingerbread men and everyone in work loved them. I used a little less mollasses/treacle and flour as suggested in an earlier comment for UK and the dough was perfect!

  16. Do you know the nutritional information?

  17. These are amazing! I added 1/8 teaspoon of pepper to my last batch and we’re even better.

  18. I have never made gingerbread before and just attempted this recipe – so yummy! The recipe was very easy to follow. I am in Australia and used golden syrup instead of molasses (treacle syrup would also work well). I think the molasses you can buy from supermarkets here is too dark and rich (and slightly bitter – similar to feed grade molasses). Perhaps a molasses more suitable for baking is available in larger cities but not where I live.

  19. Hi Sally I didn’t find all spice in my local store can I use gingerbread spice instead thank you 

  20. Well my daughter wanted to use her cookbook she borrowed from school… as much as I tried she didn’t want to use your recipe…. wish me luck, her book has flour ginger melted butter brown sugar honey baking soda and a beaten egg……. hmmmmm. The dough is chilling in the fridge now.

  21. Hello Sally !

    For my first recipe on December, I wanted to try an Anglo-Saxon one. So I chose the famous Gingerbread men. And after reading a lot of recipes (about 10), I chose yours. And I have to say I wouldn’t have been able to choose a better one. Thank you thank you THANK YOU for sharing such great recipes, Sally.

    I decided to make the version you recommended in one of your comments, using less molasses and I love it ! My family too.

    Merry Christmas Sally, to you and your family.

    Fiona, from France xxx

  22. Hi Sally,

    thank you for sharing this recipe. I’ve googled quite a few, but after stumbling your site, I knew I had to do your recipe
    it was a hit at home, but I want to make it softer, what should I do?
    I am also considering making it less sweet, how should I go about it without compromising the consistency? (I need it to be less sweet so I can add the Royal Icing. (I’m thinking about my diebetic mom.. 🙁 )
    Please help! would greatly appreciate your feedback. 🙂 thank you so much!

    • I can’t be much help about making them less sweet because the sugars play such an important role. Though you can leave off the icing 🙂
      You can bake the cookies for a minute less to make them softer too.

  23. Hi, 
    I love your website. I use it for my classes.  Just curious if I could keep the dough refrigerated longer than 24 hrs. I think it would be fine but just wondering. 

  24. First time making gingerbread men. Used this recipe and my dough was very difficult to work with. I ended up spending hours trying to roll it out. My dough was very dry and cookies came out thin and crunchy. 

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