Addictive Recipes from a Self-Taught Baker

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

207 comments

  1. I was hoping to use my leftover dough to make some little houses, do you think I could add something to the dough (more flour maybe?) to make it sturdy enough for a small house? 

  2. How many cookies does this recipe yield ?

    Thanks!

  3. Hi Sally, if I’m not a fan of ginger or spices, do you have a suggestion for any of your other cookies that would yield a similar texture and be able to hold a gingerbread man shape? Thanks!

  4. Brilliant! Absolutely brilliant. I’ve never made these before and this recipe made my first try a success. Will use it every Christmas from now on. Thank you so much.

  5. Hi Sally, should this recipe work for a gingerbread house or are they too soft to hold up? 

  6. I made these today! This recipe is perfect- easy, simple, and yielded deliciously soft cookies!!

  7. I made these last night and they turned out perfect!! Great recipe and the kids loved them! 

  8. made these for the frist time and thay came out like yours..thank you for a awesome recipe..they didnt spread and taste so awesome ..everbody wants more…lol/

  9. Just made these tonight: best gingerbread cookies I’ve ever had (and my family agrees!) Thanks for a fantastic recipe!

  10. My daughter and I made this a couple of weeks ago. To be perfectly honest, after we were done we thought, this is the first and last time we are making these cookies. It was more work than we imagined. However, the cookies were so delicious we’ve made them three weeks in a row. In fact, I quadrupled the recipe to make more and give them away to my co-workers. I shared samples at work and they loved it! They like how the cookies are soft and tasty and that’s exactly why we’ve been making so many batches. This is a GREAT recipe! Mahalo!

  11. I have one of those braun hand held mixers that only come with either whipping attachments or dough hook attachments. Can I substitute one of these for the paddle attachment that you’re supposed to use in the first provided instruction? If so, which one do you suggest is the better substitute? I’d really like to try this recipe out but i’m not sure I want to buy another appliance to do so. Thank you in advance!

  12. These are the BEST gingerbread cookies I have ever made!! I made them for the first time last Christmas and was so excited to do it again this year. I even take some dough to work to bake so it smells delicious there!

  13. Oh my gosh these cookies came out perfect! So soft, chewy, and delicious.  I sifted my dry ingredients because my flour felt a bit clumpy. Will definitely be making more of these with my kids. We couldn’t wait to decorate we just had to try one, we’ll be decorating them tomorrow 5-yrs-old style.  

  14. I love the recipe but my husband wants it a little less “spicy”. What should I reduce to get rid of the bite? Is it cloves?

  15. I had to use wheat flour and now I’m kicking myself for not checking substitution ratios. I have a very crumbly dough. Hoping it’ll still work after chilled! Lol

  16. I have made those ytd. They are lovely but the flavour of baking soda is so strong. Now I still have half of the dough in fridge. Is there anything I can do for the remaining cookies to reduce the baking soda taste? And what can I do to better preserve the baking soda so that such a situation won’t happen?

  17. The name should be changed from “My Favorite” to “THE BEST” Gingerbread. This is the best flavored Gingerbread my husband and I ever tasted. Thanks for sharing the recipe

  18. My dough came out dry. What can I add to make the less crumbly? Thanks!

    • I guess when I converted the tablespoons of butter to cups of butter I must’ve left out some butter. I rectified the issue by adding an egg. They turned out amazing! Thank you!

      • I was going to say the same thing, they’re beautiful but a little dry!  I will try adding an egg next time. 🙂

  19. Silly question… I’ve never used molasses before. I sent hubby to pick some up and he came home with Grandma’s Robust. What’s the difference? Can I use it in this recipe?

  20. Holy cow this is a lot of comments on this post. I’m super excited to try this gingerbread after all the rave comments.

  21. Hi Sally, can i check if i can substitute the liquid molasses with Billington’s Molasses sugar? it’s in solid form! Thanks 🙂

  22. Hi Sally,

    I’m based in the UK and didn’t realise your recipe meant liquid molasses until I tried to mix the dry ingredients! What could I use/add to get the wet consistency. My local supermarket only stocks sugar molasses. Thank you!

  23. The dough was not sticky but the disc did form and is chilling now any suggestions?

  24. Great recipe – thanks! I was looking for a nice soft gingerbread that also has flavour – most recipes end up pretty bland. I also used (Australian) Golden Syrup, and they seemed to have turned out well. BTW, have you ever tried adding nutmeg as well or instead of allspice maybe?

    • Hi! I am from Australia too, and don’t have molasses available at the moment. I was wondering, did you substitute the molasses for Golden Syrup 1:1, and did you have any issues with the recipe with that substitution?

  25. I was never a big gingerbread fan.. but my husband loves it.. so I tried this gingerbread man recipe because Sally’s chocolate chip cookies are my favorites! This recipe sold me! I am now a huge fan! I baked 2 batches to give to family and friends and my husband and I spent a morning together decorating! What fun and a great project for anyone (of any age!). Best flavor.. soft center not hard like a rock. I think that putting the dough in the fridge overnight is key to the great flavor and workability!

  26. I made these last night. This recipe makes a delicious cookie. Normally I will deviate from a recipe to make it my own, but with this I decided to follow it precisely. I’ve never made gingerbread before and thought it would be safer if I trust the poster. The flavor in this is so good. They’re so soft; JUST LIKE I WANTED. I came across this recipe when googling “soft gingerbread cookie”. Spot on! I rolled this out and free cut cookies in the shape of a house. They look great. I also did a snowflake cookie cutter that’s really big. With the left over ‘scraps’ I just rolled it up and cut it and baked it. It wasn’t pretty, but it was sooo good.
    This one’s going in my Pinterest. Thanks so much!!

  27. Can I use butter flavored ahortening? I can’t do butter and can’t find a recipe without it for gingerbread cookies

  28. I have been making gingerbread cookies every Christmas for many years. I don’t always use the same recipe. This year, I tried yours and they are excellent! The only difference is that I used Crisco shortening instead of butter because my daughter is lactose intolerant. I can say from experience that the dough is very workable, easy to roll – the perfect consistency. I keep unused dough in the fridge, roll on parchment paper and sprinkle flour liberally! A very thin spatula helps pick up the cut dough. These are quite high on the spices, so adjust according to taste, but most often recipes are quite bland. I might go a bit easier on the cloves next time.

  29. My cookies were more crunchy than soft. Any ideas on why this might be?

  30. Best gingerbread cookies EVER!! Turned out great and tastes delicious!

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