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.
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. Just like when we are making pinwheel cookies, a bit of extra flour helps the cookies can keep their shape.
- Molasses + spices for flavor
- Egg so the gingerbread cookies have structure and richness
- Brown sugar instead of white granulated sugar. I always use brown sugar when its flavor fits.
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.
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 cookie icing or my traditional royal icing recipe, whichever you prefer.
Tint the icing with a couple drops of food coloring to spice things up, too.
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 classics: Peanut Butter Blossoms and Snowball Cookies. And if you can’t get enough gingerbread flavor, try these chocolate ginger cookies, iced gingerbread oatmeal cookies, and gingerbread waffles next!Print
- 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
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.
- 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 (160ml) unsulphured or dark molasses (do not use blackstrap; I prefer Grandma’s brand)
- 1 large egg, at room temperature
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 3 and 1/2 cups (438g) all-purpose flour (spooned & 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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Allow cookies to cool for 5 minutes on the cookie sheet. Transfer to cooling rack to cool completely. Once completely cool, decorate as desired.
- Cookies stay fresh covered at room temperature for up to 1 week.
- 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.
- Gingerbread House: This cookie dough is not sturdy enough for gingerbread houses. Here is my gingerbread house recipe.
- Special Tools: Cookie cutters, rolling pin, large baking sheets, baking mats
Keywords: gingerbread cookies, gingerbread men
WHAT HAVE I DONE?
Reader Comments & Reviews
I just made a double batch of these for a party, and I love how they turned out. I don’t have a mixer, so I had to do it with a spoon, which was a bit of a workout, but I’m very happy with the results.
To clarify, I mixed each of the two batches separately. As others have stated, it would be very difficult to double this and mix it all at once.
Hello, I was wondering, have you tried this recipe with fresh finely grated ginger instead of the ginger powder? Or have you ever added fresh ginger in addition to the powder? Do you know if either of these will make a good addition? My family loves ginger, so I wanted the most snap possible without overwhelming the balance of flavors. Thank you for your time and this recipe.
Hi Hale, We haven’t tested it but you should be able to use fresh grated ginger. We are unsure of the exact amount but just remember that fresh ginger isn’t as strong as ground dried ginger so you will need to use more, and you should grate it as finely as possible.
She’s only gone and done it again. Once again Sally comes through with a recipe that is exact in its description and steps, tells you precisely what to expect and guides you every step of the way. I had to sub in golden syrup for molasses and couldn’t find ground cloves so I’m certain the Sally version is better than my version but it’s a big hit and will be used again come Christmas for certain.
pretty good recipe – but for your sake DO NOT double it. the 3,5 cups of flour can get pretty big when it’s doubled. we struggled a little with the amount but would definitely make again!
I’ve tried this recipe and my gingerbread cookies were so delicious! I had cookies dough chilled overnight and shaped cookies with different animals like bear, butterfly, dolphin, rabbit, elephant etc. My daughter loves this so much! Thank you for sharing your recipes with us
Does it matter if the butter is salted?
Hi Heather, if using salted butter, reduce the amount of added salt to 1/4 teaspoon.
My husband said these were the best gingerbread cookies he’s ever had and one of the best things I have ever made. They were delicious!!!
I loved these cookies! It was my first time even eating gingerbread cookies and they’re now my favorite. I recently found out I need to cut out gluten.
Can these be made gluten free? I have King Arthur’s measure for measure.
Hi Lydia! We haven’t tested it, but other bakers have reported success using King Arthur’s measure for measure in these cookies. Let us know if you give it a try!
I made the dough on Thursday evening, rolled it out and baked the cookies on Friday morning, then made the easy icing, frosted them, and stuck them in my oven (turned off) to reduce the cat’s access until this morning. They’re delicious! Not too sweet, with a bit of a spicy “bite” on the tongue.
I had a difficult time getting the dough to roll out evenly. I had divided dough in half when it initially went in the fridge, and I divided one of the halves in half to roll out, but I was having such trouble getting an even thickness, I divided the quarter in half again so I was dealing with a smaller amount. I wound up with cookies that were less than 1/4 inch thick. I used a two-inch round biscuit cutter – baking them for six to seven minutes – and got an absolute ton of cookies – something in the vicinity of six-plus dozen.
These were absolutely amazing. I read the whole tablespoon of ground ginger in the ingredients and had doubts about adding that much but the “(yes, 1 full Tablespoon!)” convinced me. With the cinnamon, allspice, and cloves these were perfectly spiced. Just an amazing cookie and I got rave reviews from my friends I took some to. This recipe got printed and added to a plastic sleeve and put into my best recipes binder. They will become a staple of my annual Christmas cookies baking.
I’ve probably already rated this recipe because I’ve been making them for years now, but they are still the best! Just a quick tip on rolling out the dough. I always roll my dough between plastic wrap. No problems with sticking and I don’t have to use any flour. Way less messy too!
I am a cookie / baking snob but I trust Sally (her strawberry scones are jusssssstttt…. wow) and so I tried these for our family’s first go at gingerbread men (I have a ginger molasses chewy cookie I love, but my small children were insistent that we make gingerbread men this Christmas). Followed the recipe to a T. The texture and flavor are bang on for a truly delicious cookie (not the inedible cardboard that gingerbread too often is.)
This cookie is PERFECT! We also tried the royal icing and it was easy and yummy!
Absolutely love these!
I didn’t wait the full chill time. Around 1.5 hours and they still came out perfect.
Hey Sally should I let the cookie dough get to room temperature? After all night in the refrigerator?
Hi Ben, you can let it sit at room temperature for about 20 minutes to help make rolling a bit easier, but you don’t want it to come completely to room temperature or the cookies could spread when baking. If the dough/shapes warm up too much during the rolling process, feel free to pop the cookie sheets with the dough shapes back in the refrigerator for a bit to cool them before putting in the oven. Hope you enjoy the cookies!
Hi I left the dough in the fridge for five days. Can I still use it to bake the cookies? Or is that too long?
Hi Natalia, they may be a bit dry, but it’s certainly worth a shot!