My Favorite Gingerbread Cookies

Here is my favorite gingerbread cookies recipe and one of the most popular Christmas cookie recipes on this website. Soft in the centers, crisp on the edges, perfectly spiced, molasses and brown sugar-sweetened holiday goodness. 

decorated gingerbread cookies

Whenever I think of Christmas cookies, gingerbread cookies come to mind first. Well, after Christmas sugar cookies of course! Their spice, their molasses flavor, their SMILES, and their charm are obviously irresistible. Gingerbread cookies, you have my heart.

Gingerbread Cookies Video Tutorial


Key Ingredients in Gingerbread Cookies

The full written recipe is below, but let’s review a few key ingredients here first. Gingerbread cookie recipes all start the same and mine comes from my mom. To her recipe, I add a little more molasses and increase the amount of spice flavors (cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and allspice). Because of the added sticky sweetener (molasses), I add a little more flour to help soak it all up. Flour so the cookies can keep their shape.

  1. Molasses + spices for flavor
  2. Egg so the gingerbread cookies have structure and richness
  3. Brown sugar instead of white granulated sugar. I always use brown sugar when its flavor fits.

2 images of gingerbread cookie dough wrapped in a ball and with a rolling pin to roll out

How to Make Gingerbread Cookies

Let’s walk through the gingerbread cookie recipe so you feel confident when you begin baking.

Chill the dough: The dough is sticky once it’s all beaten together in your mixing bowl and therefore, it absolutely MUST be chilled for at least 3 hours. Give yourself enough time in the kitchen or make the cookie dough and chill it overnight. You want your cookie dough firm so the cookies hold their shape and you want your cookie dough manageable so you can work with it. You won’t have either unless you have chilled cookie dough!

Wrap up the dough: 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!

Roll it out: 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. The flour spots on top of your shaped cookie dough will bake off.

rolled out gingerbread cookie dough with a gingerbread man cookie cutter

gingerbread cookies without icing decorations

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 people, after all. 😉


How to Decorate Gingerbread Cookies

After they’ve baked and cooled, it’s time to decorate the cookies. We’re talking smiles, eyes, bow-ties, buttons, squiggles, whatever your gingerbread cookie loving heart desires. This is when it’s really fun to have a friend or little baker in the kitchen with you. You can use the easy glaze icing recipe I posted with my Christmas sugar cookies or my traditional royal icing recipe, whichever you prefer.

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

gingerbread men cookies

It’s difficult not to love this recipe which is why they’re my favorite gingerbread cookies!

  • 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
  • They’re so easy to decorate.

Don’t forget the other Christmas classic: Peanut Butter Blossoms

Print
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gingerbread men cookies

Gingerbread Cookies

  • Author: Sally
  • Prep Time: 4 hours
  • Cook Time: 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 4 hours, 30 minutes
  • Yield: 24 four-inch cookies
  • Category: Cookies
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: German

Description

This is my favorite gingerbread cookies recipe and it’s also loved by millions. Soft in the centers, crisp on the edges, and perfectly spiced. 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. Make sure you chill the cookie dough discs for a minimum of 3 hours.


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
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 3 and 1/2 cups (438g) 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 ground allspice
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • optional: easy cookie icing or royal icing

Instructions

  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. Roll out disc until 1/4-inch thick. Tips for rolling– the dough may crack and be crumbly as you roll. What’s helpful is picking it up and rotating it as you go. Additionally, you can use your fingers to help meld the cracking edges back together. The first few rolls are always the hardest since the dough is so stiff, but re-rolling the scraps is much easier. 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. Keep in mind that the longer the cookies bake, the harder and crunchier they’ll be. For soft gingerbread cookies, follow my suggested bake times.
  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.
  7. Cookies stay fresh covered at room temperature for up to 1 week.

Notes

  1. Make Ahead & Freezing Instructions: 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.
  2. Gingerbread House: This cookie dough is not sturdy enough for gingerbread houses. Here is my gingerbread house recipe.
  3. Special Tools: Cookie cutters, rolling pin, large baking sheets (these are what I use for baking, baking mats

Keywords: gingerbread cookies, gingerbread men

WHAT HAVE I DONE?

gingerbread cookies

693 Comments

  1. This recipe is wonderfully delicious and was a huge hit with everyone I gave it to as gifts this holiday season; but I’m curious as to what the intended thickness is, because I doubled the recipe and rolled my dough to roughly a 1/4″ thickness and it only yielded 32 four-inch cookies rather than the expected 48 per double-batch of dough

    1. I cannot see what temperature to set the oven for ? I am assuming 350 degrees?

      1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

        Yes! See step 3.

  2. Add 1/4 tsp fresh black pepper.
    I made well over 220 of these for Xmas gifts and they were a HUGE hit!! Perfect spices and soft. Lovely!!

    1. Kitty I am with you…just a little bit of fresh black pepper makes it perfect for me

  3. I have been looking for a recipe like this for quite a while. It is deliciously soft with just the right mix of spices. Comparable to the Archway molasses cookies or the Little Debbie seasonal Gingerbread Men. Love them!

  4. Sally, your recipe is the highlight of our 2020 Christmas!
    The cookies were beyond delicious and it was so much fun for my kids to make them together.
    By the evening of St. Stephen’s day, they were all gone.
    It was a pleasure making and eating them, they delivered every single flavour promised in the description.
    It is now a tradition in our house and we thank you for it!

  5. I’m not sure what I did wrong but my dough was so crumbly even after letting it sit once I took it out the refrigerator. I could not use it to make my Ginger Bread Cookies. I had to throw it away. It’s a shame because it’s my favorite cookie. Any suggestions?

    1. Hi Lea, this is noted in the recipe– no need to throw it away! Tips for rolling– the dough may crack and be crumbly as you roll. What’s helpful is picking it up and rotating it as you go. Additionally, you can use your fingers to help meld the cracking edges back together. The first few rolls are always the hardest since the dough is so stiff, but re-rolling the scraps is much easier.

      1. Hi,
        Thanks for responding. My dough was more crumbly than normal. When I picked it up it fell completely apart. It looked more like sand. I rolled and rolled but it continued to break apart. I even tried using my cookie cutter pieces. It just broke apart even more. I’ll have to go back over the recipe to see where I went wrong. I made a Ginger Bread Cake instead. Have a wonderful New Year!!!

    2. Charlotte Andrew says:

      i’ve made these a few times now, and this helped me alot: after the dough is made i roll a ball of it right in a zip loc type bag to the desired thickness then freeze till firm. Then cut the bag and remove the rolled dough then cut into desired shapes and transfer to baking sheet. reroll scraps in another ziploc bag and freeze before cutting. This makes it a snap and also less messy. Hope this helps!

  6. This is definitely the best recipe for Gingerbread cookies. They have the best texture and flavor compared to other recipes I’ve made.

  7. These cookies are so yummy and pretty easy to make. I made them 3 (!) times this December. I may make them again since I received more cookie cutters for Christmas. Due to the virus we didn’t share many, so my family of 3 ate most of them. Thank you for sharing the recipe!

  8. These are so bomb! The best gingerbread cookies ever!!!

  9. Absolutely delicious! Great recipe. I made these for my family and they were a hit. Super tasty! I love that they don’t have that fake gingerbread taste you often find in the non-homemade gingerbread cookies. They aren’t too sweet which I love! They taste like true genuine gingerbread cookies made from scratch. I refrigerated the dough for about 7 hours. A tip to others is to work pretty fast once you take one of the dough discs out to roll and use cookie cutters, as the dough softens quickly. My cookies held shape and came out beautifully!

  10. yumm!!!

  11. Simply the best I’ve ever tasted

  12. I had purchased all necessary ingredients to make these cookies at Christmas but never got around to it. I made them instead for Super Bowl weekend in a football shape and decorated with royal icing and “Go Bucs”. Gingerbread was the perfect color for the footballs and they were delicious ! I can’t wait to make the gingerbread men next Christmas!

  13. Mine were not sweet enough something was missing !! I following the recipe to the T!!!

  14. An absolute banger of a recipe! I made these for Christmas and they were a hit. Thank you Sally!

    I did reduce the sugar and added an extra tablespoon/teaspoon of most the spices listed though as my family and I prefer it that way. They came out amazing!

  15. I am not a huge fan of gingerbread cookies. However these are delicious. These are so tasty.

  16. Been searching for a good recipe for gingerbread cookies for years. So glad I found this!! Absolutely delicious! The whole family loved it, even the ones that are not big fans of spiced baked goods! What’s also great is that the flavors and textures ages so well that even up to (almost) a month (tested out a few pieces for shelf life), the flavors just elevated and become more refined and pronounced. Thank you for this recipe!

  17. Sally, thank you so much for this recipe. I cannot bake at all, but this recipe is so easy to follow. I made lots of baby gingerbread man with this. Big hit for the family, my kids love them.

    1. Can I make these without molasses? If so, do I need to change anything in the recipe?

  18. Kendra Short says:

    I have made these so many times!! My family and anyone I have made them for Love them!!

  19. Best Gingerbread cookie recipe! Our daughter couldn’t be home for Christmas or her birthday, but I made them today for her, before she returned to her job across the country, a Covid nurse.

  20. these are great, though our dough was very powdery. (1/2 cup water helps)

  21. adding water after mixing the wet/dry ingredients helps.

  22. Such a great recipe! Absolutely delicious, not too sweet, and perfect chewy texture!

    Question – when I mix the flour and spices in, it’s overheated/broken a couple of my hand mixers. Is there a particular power of hand mixer you recommend since the mix is so thick and sticky? Thank you!

    1. Hilari @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Alyssa, we’re so happy you enjoy these cookies! We have success using a KitchenAid 5-speed hand mixer if that helps for next time. Do you have a stand mixer? If so, give that a try – it should definitely hold up to the thick dough.

  23. This is a wonderful recipe! It’s perfectly spiced and has a lovely texture. I preferred it harder so I did 11 and 1/2 mins. I thought gingerbread cookies were hard to make but this was an easy recipe for me and really fun!

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