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.

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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 (2/3 cup; 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

243 Comments

Comments

  1. Choo Huey on December 28, 2016 at 12:40 pm

    The best gingerbread men cookies ever!!! I made it together with my 4yr old daughter who loves to eat them as well! Just can’t stop thinking to bite them~~yummy yummy! This would be the perfect Christmas gift for us 😉 thanks for sharing this recipe Sally. 



  2. Lynn Annie on December 30, 2016 at 4:48 pm

    These cookies are addicting. They are my new fave cookie. Everybody loved them.



  3. Paula Gaubert on January 1, 2017 at 10:22 am

    What happens if I have run out of baking soda, can I use baking powder ?



  4. Tiffany Campos on January 4, 2017 at 7:05 pm

    The best gingerbread men ever!!! I made them for Christmas and they were a huge hit. I honestly ate half of them all by myself lol. I’m making another batch tonight because they’re so good!!! Can’t wait for the cookie cookbook ❤❤



  5. Holly Peppers on January 6, 2017 at 7:56 pm

    I tried making a batch of gingerbread cookies a few weeks ago and used lots of flour because the dough was so sticky. I see you indicate the flour should cook off of the dough. But mine didn’t. Is there something special I need to do in order to make that flour cook off? I didn’t refrigerate my dough as long as recommended here. Does that also contribute to it?



    • A M on September 7, 2017 at 12:31 am

      The dough of gingerbread is supposed to be sticky, so the extra flour you used probably skewed the recipe. I don’t know what refrigeration would have done though.



  6. jonnie potts on January 7, 2017 at 12:16 pm

    how long do you let dough soften after removing from fridge, i left mine in overnight, and its pretty hard, the dough tastes fantastic, thanks



  7. jonnie potts on January 7, 2017 at 12:25 pm

    i think i might have added the extra flour i had put aside to use next day, my memory is not as good as it used to be, anyway is there anyway or anything i can do to rectify this besides to start over



  8. Cindy on January 23, 2017 at 12:15 am

    This is a great recipe thanks for sharing



  9. Meredith on January 27, 2017 at 7:38 am

    Hi! 

    Sally the flavor in these are amazing! My son requested gingerbread cookies for his star student day. I knew this would be the perfect recipe! However, I’m having trouble figuring out why mine turned out flat-ish (definitely not puffy like the ones pictured). They were still crisp on the edges and soft in the middle but they were just flat and skinny. I suspect possible because the butter was near room temperature (not room temperature



  10. Julie on February 14, 2017 at 9:31 pm

    I made these for my husband for Christmas, he loved them. It was my first time ever making them. His mom is a baker and said my cookies tasted better, shh 🙂 I literally ordered a rolling pin to make these, I don’t bake often. Thanks for the great recipe!



  11. goddessoftheclassroom on April 26, 2017 at 8:59 am

    I’m going to make these for my students to celebrate the end of the Math state tests! How many 4″ cookies will this recipe makes?



  12. TKHoang on September 6, 2017 at 9:52 pm

    The best cookies I’ve ever made!!!!!! My siblings loved them!!!!
    The process of making the dough went slightly awry when I replaced some of the all-purpose flour with whole wheat; forgetting that it absorbs more moisture. The dough was dry, so I added a little more butter and part of an egg, and put it in the freezer to rest. When I eventually made the cutout cookies, they came out crispy, and the flavor was astounding!!!! I was sooooo happy!!!!!! Thanks, Sally, for making my day!! These are the days when I wish I was British and could make these for the GBBO.



  13. Emily on October 10, 2017 at 1:00 pm

    Hi Sally, can I use treacle instead of molasses? Same amount or less? Also would golden syrup work aswell? New to baking and unsure where to find molasses xx



  14. Vera on October 19, 2017 at 12:52 pm

    These turned out so YUMMY! Thank you!



  15. Aarti on November 11, 2017 at 1:40 am

    Hi Sally, Can I replace the molasses with honey? Kindly confirm



    • Sally on November 11, 2017 at 7:23 am

      No– the two are completely different. And you’d lose the gingerbread flavor!



      • Kim Dixon on December 10, 2017 at 11:59 am

        Hello Sally
        Am I able to double this gingerbread recipe?



  16. Lorie Saenz on November 12, 2017 at 10:27 am

    These are delicious and so easy to make!!! My new favorite for gingerbread. Thanks for sharing your recipe!



  17. clare on November 14, 2017 at 11:52 am

    what can i use to replace ground clove? cant find it at my local bake store!



  18. Amy Easson on November 17, 2017 at 7:33 am

    Just made a batch of these and froze half of the dough.. they taste amazing! However the ones that I rolled out and cut first have all cracks on the surface which happened in the oven?! Why could this be? The second and third lot I rolled from the dough were perfect. I had to use black treacle instead of molasses, will that make much difference to the recipe?



  19. Joan on November 19, 2017 at 3:08 pm

    This turned out great. Only change was stevia brown sugar. 
    First time I’ve made ginger bread from scratch. 
    Thanks



  20. Jessie Sabino on November 19, 2017 at 8:28 pm

    OMG!!! These cookies are delicious. I am not a baker at all and I don’t like following baking directions. I am more of an eyeball the ingredients kind of person. At first, I was a little overwhelmed because of the amount of information around the actual recipe, but all of that was just little helpful hints. The recipe was soooooo easy to follow!!! Really just taking wet and dry ingredients, combining them, mushing the dough together and letting it rest in the fridge. I forgot to take the butter out so it was cold when I put it in the mixer and it just took an extra minute to get soft enough to add the brown sugar and molasses. We were able to make almost 2 lbs of small cookies. They cooked perfectly at 8 min. DO NOT WAIT UNTIL THEY ARE CRISPY TO TAKE THEM OUT OF THE OVEN! We took them out when they were brown but still a little mushy when we pressed on them. This allowed them to cool, crisp up and harden, while still being mushy and soft on the inside. My tummy is hurting I ate so much dough. I wouldn’t change a thing and I will always use this recipe!!Thank so much- non baker 🙂



  21. Ruth on November 25, 2017 at 8:14 am

    Hi just wondering if this cookie recipe would work with cookie cutters that press a design on the cookies. They look a little puffy and I have some awesome Star Wars cookie cutters to use!



  22. Robert on December 1, 2017 at 2:31 pm

    Hi Sally,

    Could I double or triple this dough or should I make each batch separately?



  23. Aishwarya Kothare on December 4, 2017 at 10:46 am

    Does allspice mean black pepper



    • Aishwarya Kothare on December 4, 2017 at 1:14 pm

      Is there an alternative for allspice?



    • Karleen Gill on December 7, 2017 at 7:09 pm

      No, allspice is different. If you don’t have any, I would just make the recipe without it, instead of trying to find a substitute.



  24. Tj McCann on December 5, 2017 at 7:18 am

    This recipe was perfect. I made this the other day and everyone LOVED them. I am saving this recipe for all future Christmas baking. Thank you for a fabulous recipe and to all those who took the time to write reviews. The reviews helped me to decide to try this recipe.



  25. Karen on December 5, 2017 at 11:21 am

    Hi! Great recipe, how long can I keep the dough in the refrigerator? I made my dough on Friday night and haven’t had a chance to bake the cookies, I didn’t put the dough in frizer and now I don’t know if I can use it?
    Please help!  



    • Debbie on December 5, 2017 at 2:45 pm

      Karen,
      I would think that if you used the dough today it would be okay, but I am NOT a food safety expert.  If it were me I would go ahead and do it since I would not want to  waste the dough. 



      • Karen on December 5, 2017 at 6:04 pm

        Thank you very much! I will make them today 



  26. Lou B. on December 6, 2017 at 12:56 pm

    It would be perfect if day 10 of your Cookie Palooza for this year would be a Gingerbread House!! I was so excited that you had a gingerbread cookie recipe and was planning on using it for making gingerbread houses, until I read that they’re too soft 🙁 . Do you happen to have a recipe I could use instead?



  27. Laya on December 6, 2017 at 11:21 pm

    Light or dark brown sugar? Which did you use, Sally?



  28. Valerie on December 7, 2017 at 10:20 am

    Good morning Sally! I made these last year and loved them! Im wondering if I could roll the dough before chilling (as in your sugar cookies) or if it will be too sticky? I have a bunch of elves coming Saturday morning to help bake a mountain of cookies for a charity event, and I’d like to get as much ready ahead of time as possible. Also, is making and chilling this evening and baking on Saturday morning too much time in the fridge? I can’t make the dough tomorrow. Thanks!



  29. Jenn on December 8, 2017 at 5:55 pm

    Hi, I’ve made these last night, it was a success! I followed the instructions, and only baked for 8 mins, people loved them! Although I found them to be a bit too dry when I rolled out the dough, and I personally found it a bit dry after baking, should I add more butter to the recipe? You think the flour being added during rolling effected the texture? 



  30. Carolyn on December 9, 2017 at 8:29 am

    Simply lovely cookies. I followed the recipe exactly and was very happy with the results.



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