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

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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


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 (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


  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.


  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


gingerbread cookies


  1. Claudia | Breakfast Drama Queen says:

    Haha, that picture after the recipe killed me! Poor, delicious gingerbread man 😛
    By the way, I made a batch of gingerbread on the weekend, and just happened to be eating one while reading this post 😀

  2. I love gingerbread cookies! My sister insists on the kind from the box (whatever), and the last time I used a recipe, she was upset…but I’ll try again to convert her with yours 😀 I love decorating them with craisins and raisins 🙂

  3. You’ve gotta bite the heads off first to be merciful! 🙂
    My husband doesn’t read my blog, either. Which is good, because I plan to share how much I spent on cute running gear yesterday. Maybe too much, but Athleta was like 20% off!
    These little guys look perfect!

    1. Should’ve gotten new workout tops from Athleta! I missed out!

  4. Lynn @ Fresh April Flours says:

    I put gingerbread men on my blog last year and made them 2 more times after posting! I LOVE them so much! I add black pepper to mine to really spice it up! Nothing worse than a happy little man cookie that tastes like cardboard. Yum! 

    PS all of the snowballs are gone. I ate 3 on my way home from dinner with you and Matt had the other 2. I told him you only gave me 3… 😉 

    1. And did you have powdered sugar all over your coat and car seat?? I restrained and only had 1 compost cookie last night!

  5. These little men are adorable! And your recipe sounds perfect Sally!

  6. Love the recipe! You are so cute Sally 🙂

  7. Melanie @ Gather for Bread says:

    You’ve made gingerbread look easy to conquer. I must try. They look perfect and the kids would love them!

  8. May I ask what unsulphured molasses is in the UK?

    1. It’s the highest quality kind of molasses.

      1. Great, thank you! Looking forward to making this this weekend 🙂

    2. Hi! In Britian it’s called treacle, I’m pretty sure

    3. I got a jar of Molasses from Holland and Barrat, couldn’t find it anywhere else!

  9. Love these cookies. I use less molasses and sometime will add hot water of the dough starts to dry out. I have a similar recipe with less spics- these taste just a good. Love your blog and all the tips for baking. Never though to chill the dough in discs so they are easier to roll out after chilling. 

  10. I think my poor hand mixer would burn up trying to push around that much flour, but these are getting pinned for when I have a kitchen with enough storage for a real mixer. Until then I’ll just have to content myself with gingerbread cupcakes!

  11. Leah @ Grain Changer says:

    Sally these look like perfection! and I literally LOLed at the last picture with the head bit off. Too good. I’ve been trying to perfect my gluten-free gingerbread recipe, and MAN it’s hard being a gingerbread perfectionist! But you hit the nail on the head – it’s all about those extra spices!!!

    1. Let me know if you land upon a gluten free version Leah!

  12. Elaine @ FoodParsed says:

    These cookies look so flavorful! The picture at the end with the sad gingerbread man made me laugh – it was super cute.

  13. This is definitely going to be my weekend baking project. It’s December 1st, officially Christmas! This time of year is my favourite and so are gingerbread cookies. I can’t wait to get into the holiday spirit! 

  14. Can you use this dough to make gingerbread house pieces? 🙂

    1. Unfortunately, it’s not sturdy enough! I suggest finding a recipe specifically for house building. 😉

  15. They look so cut 🙂 The recipe sounds perfect. Need to try them


  16. Stella @ Stellicious Life says:

    These happy, smiling colourful gingerbread men are so cute and jolly, I couldn’t help but smile while scrolling down your photos 🙂

    I make gingerbread cookies every year, yep, the chilling is a must even if it’s a pain in the butt. It’s the decorating where I feel there’s still room for improvement. With my high school best friend we are planning on baking a bunch to gift away, will have plenty of opportunity to decorate then 😉

    1. It took me awhile to only decorate 8 of them in the photos you see! Definitely something to do with a friend.

  17. Joshua Hampton says:

    Those gingerbread men look so cute. I can’t wait to make them in my own kitchen.

  18. I’ve been wanting to try making gingerbread men this year and your post came just in time! Thank you! Pinned it! 😀

  19. I made gingerbread cookies once before, but wasn’t a huge fun of the flavor of the cookies, once baked. It tasted more of molasses than ginger. I’m sure this recipe will be nothing like that!
    I got myself a new KitchenAid stand mixer this weekend. All the better to bake your recipes with!
    This is going to look like a stupid request, but could you add a picture to a cookie recipe that shows the fluffy butter stage? I’m never sure if I’m doing that part right!

    1. Hey Krithika! I just emailed you back. Glad you got the mixer! I can try adding a photo of creamed butter/sugar in the next few weeks if it fits. Here’s a good photo for you though!

  20. Yay!!! I’ve been searching for the perfect gingerbread cookie recipe for forever!!
    I  cannot wait 🙂 Is there any way to make a cream cheese glaze for them? That always makes them double amazing!!! 😉

    1. That sounds amazing! How about using the cream cheese glaze I use in my cinnamon rolls? I would double it to make enough for the batch of cookies.

  21. Wow these are the cutest gingerbread men I have ever seen and I do love good chewy gingerbread cookies!! Pinned!

  22. Just looking at your happy little gingerbread men this morning made me smile (a nice way to start the day!). This will be on this weekend’s agenda for sure. Have you seen gingerbread men turned upside down & decorated as reindeer cookies? They are super cute. I decorated 2 dozen last night but have to admit the cookie recipe I used wasn’t quite right. I will just have to make more with your recipe. (I don’t think anyone will be complaing though….you can’t have too much gingerbread!) ☺
    There is a cookie called Pfefferneuse (Dutch I think) that have black pepper in them. They are kind of gingerbready & double dipped in powdered sugar….yummi!

    1. I’ve seen them as reindeer, yes! I think I saw them on Pinterest. So stinkin’ cute!

  23. Jennifer Farley says:

    I have been doing a little too much online shopping recently, I need to back off! The makeup deals have been speaking to me, ugh. Anyway, these look amazing!!!

  24. Hi Sally!
    This is is terrific – I was looking for gingerbread recipies and I couldn’t find one on your blog and I realized that I couldn’t make these cookies without a Sally approved recipie first! I’m so glad you posted these I just made these today and as I speak the dough is chilling! Question – what is your reaction to using liquid egg whites in place of an egg on this recipie? Thanks 

    1. Do not use liquid egg whites in cookies! They never, ever turn out quite the same as using a whole egg.

  25. Aria | Purrfectly Inspired says:

    Super cute! I love gingerbread men!

  26. Great recipe!! I can’t wait to try this out. Could you share where you got the gingerbread man cookie cutter you used for this? Thanks!

  27. YAY!! I’m so happy you finally have a gingerbread cookie recipe on your blog. They are my ultimate holiday cookie! These are adorable 🙂

  28. A tip I tried recently for freezing unbaked cookie dough …. I scooped the dough into a gallon-size freezer bag and “mushed” it all flat to fill the bag. Then into the freezer on a cookie sheet to freeze flat. When I’m ready to bake, the dough thaws quickly in the frig because it’s nice and flat. I open the bag, cut it away with scissors, peel off the plastic, and roll out the dough. There’s very little rolling to do since it’s only about 1″ thick to start. A fast way to the fun part!!

    1. Sharon– incredible tip!! Thank you so much for sharing with the rest of us!

  29. Hi Sally,

    I am so excited about the Cookie Palooza!
    I wanted to report to you that I am close to hitting 70!
    Yes, I have tried 70 of your recipes, each one of them a super hit!

    Today being the Giving Tuesday, I wanted to share something with you.
    Over the Thanksgiving Break, I created this:

    I wanted to thank you for inspiring me to do this! Hope you have to time to go through the website!
    Thank you 

    1. That’s my list close to 70!

    2. LOVE the new site! Thanks so much for sharing Anu. So inspired by your growing list. YOU inspire ME! 🙂

  30. Amy @ Thoroughly Nourished Life says:

    Gingerbread men are such a wonderful part of festive baking! In my family we make spice men because my Mum was never keen on gingerbread men. I’m sure an SBA recipe will have her well and truly swayed towards the gingery side though 🙂
    I’m certainly a ginger lover – I’m even marrying one! 😉 

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