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.

 

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
  • 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. Some of the links above are affiliate links, which pay me a small commission for my referral at no extra cost to you! Thank you for supporting Sally’s Baking Addiction.

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

279 Comments

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  1. 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 🙂

  2. 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!

  3. 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… 😉 

  4. 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. 

  5. 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!

  6. 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!!!

  7. 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! 

  8. 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 😉

  9. 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!

  10. 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!!! 😉

  11. 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!

  12. 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 

  13. 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!

  14. 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!!

  15. 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!
    THANK YOU!

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

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

  16. 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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