My Favorite Gingerbread Cookies

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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. 

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

Welcome to day 2 of Sally’s 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 so glamorous around here.

Yesterday I shared chocolate crinkle cookies and I’m repeating the classic Christmas cookies trend today. Whenever I think of Christmas cookies, gingerbread cookies come to mind first. Well, after sugar cookies of course! It’s their spice, their molasses flavor, their SMILES, their charm! (Aren’t they charming looking??) Gingerbread cookies, you have my heart.

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I’ve never shared a gingerbread 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 department. So, I made it a point this year 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.

Ingredients in Gingerbread Cookies

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 favors (cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and allspice). I like a gingerbread cookies with A LOT of flavor and I know you will too. Because of the added sticky sweetener (molasses), I add a little more flour to help soak it all up.

  1. Flour so the cookies can keep their shape.
  2. Molasses + spices for flavor
  3. Egg so the gingerbread cookies have structure and richness
  4. Brown sugar instead of white granulated sugar. I always use brown sugar when its flavor is appropriate!

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

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.

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 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 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 royal icing works just as well.

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 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

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 ground allspice
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • optional: easy cookie icing or 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.
  7. Cookies stay fresh covered at room temperature for up to 1 week.

Make ahead tip: 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:

Gingerbread House: This cookie dough is not sturdy enough for gingerbread houses. Here is my gingerbread house recipe.

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

343 Comments

  1. I had virtually given up making gingerbread cookies about a decade ago….this recipe has been my redemption! Everything about it is fabulous! Texture, smell, flavour. It’s spectacular! Thank you for allowing me to try my hand and feel successful once again with the baking gods. This is a truly wonderful recipe

  2. For the molasses I decided to use 1/3 cup of fancy molasses and 1/3 cup blackstrap molasses, so mine came out darker than the pictures, but I’ll be damned if these weren’t the nicest gingerbread cookies I’ve ever made! What a wonderful recipe.

  3. I just made these. I used some pungent blackstrap molasses, sifted all my dry ingredients, ground up my allspice and cloves…they were FABULOUS. No spice overpowered. Perfect consistency, gorgeous flavor. My kids gobbled them up instantly. I cooked them in a convection oven at 325 for 7 minutes. The easy cookie icing worked beautifully. YUM!

  4. Hi Sally!
    Can I replace the molasses with honey? Will the flavor or the consistency of the gingerbread change much?
    Thanks!

  5. Hi, you have this recipe in you book as well but the gram measurements are different, even though the cup measurements are the same. Which should I go with blog or book?

  6. I followed the recipe to a “T” and my dough came out crumbly and dry. I kneaded the dough for a few moments and placed the separated portions in the fridge. Do you have any recommendations on how to ensure the dough stays moist?

    1. 3 days, darling.. and in the freezer up to 3 months. It’s mentioned in the recipe but we all miss out sometimes out of sheer excitment. Hapoy holidays.

  7. Hi Sally. I used your gingerbread recipe and while it tasted really good mine cracked on top while baking. Just wondering what I did wrong. I believe I used the same recipe last year and they did fine

  8. This recipe is fantastic! I make gingerbread every year and thought I’d change it up this year and try a new recipe. The dough was simple to work with and they came out beautifully. Thank you for sharing this one!

  9. Hello! I made these and followed recipe exactly, but the flavor is not really spot on. The spice is very strong (I don’t mind it) but some who tried them don’t think they taste like gingerbread cookies. Could it be the molasses brand? I bought what I thought was a really great one but maybe it wasn’t so good. Anyway, will try again for sure just not super sure about my molasses brand.

  10. Excellent recipe! We’ve been looking for a gingerbread cookie recipe for a long time and we have finally found the One! Thank you Sally!

  11. I just made these today and was a little worried about how the cookies were going to turn out. They had a strong molasses smell and taste (I used grandma molasses). Then after i accidentally put it in the freezer instead of the fridge. After realizing my mistake it had already been an hour or so and i took it out and just decided to make them. They came out wonderful and my daughter loved them. They tasted great and were easy to make. Thankyou!

  12. I don’t own a mixer, I just used a bowl and wooden spoon and they turned out great. Made these with my nieces and nephew and had a cookie decorating party. So fun! And such a good cookie. Also handy that you can throw the dough in the fridge the day before.

  13. Made these boxing day,and they turned out just like the picture. Perfect. So nice to find a recipe that was as nice as the picture.

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