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 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.

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

285 Comments

  1. 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. 😉

  2. Made that dough last night with my 2 year old and we rolled and cut them this morning. They are delicious!! Next we just need to put the icing on,all  she wants to do is decorate them with sprinkles.

  3. Hey Sally. I was wondering if there’s anything that you could use in place of the cinnamon that would give a similar taste. I have a friend who is allergic to cinnamon. Delicious recipe as always!

    1. Ben, you can leave it out. Maybe increase ground cloves to 1 teaspoon and add 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg as well.

  4. Made these last night.  Perfection!  I may have eaten four…  Yeah, I did!

  5. Cheryl Robinson says:

    I had never made gingerbread cookies before, so I wanted to try.  These were AMAZING!!!, and so easy.  Thanks so much.  I’m adding this recipe to my personal favorites.  Have a very Merry Christmas Sally!

  6. Hey Sally,
    I need to make 48 gingerbread cookies, is it better to make two separate batches or double the ingredients? 
    Which is better to use in this recipe, light or dark brown sugar?

    1. Make two separate batches. It’s easier to work with less volume of dough at a time. I like both light and dark– though dark is fantastic in this recipe. Extra flavor!

  7. Hi Sally-

    These really are the best gingerbread men ever! They are so rich and spicy without being overpowering- had to bring them into work so I’d stop eating them. Now all my coworkers are hooked too. I’d never made gingerbread before and was nervous about them turning out, but they were so easy. Thank you for sharing the recipe!

  8. Hi Sally!

    I made these cookies recently and followed the recipe word for word (I even read the entire post). I feel like my dough was dry from the beginning, even before chilling. Then when I went to roll it out it was a chore! I didn’t have to fight any stickiness which I thought was strange.  The dough was crumbly and my baked cookies even had a crackle appearance. Do you know what might have caused this?

    Thanks!

    1. Jessica, it sounds like the flour was overmeasured. That’s what would prevent your dough form being sticky– too much flour to soak it all up. Did you spoon and level or weigh the flour? Be sure not to scoop the flour. It’s easy to overmeasure it that way. If anything, you can reduce the flour by 1/4 cup.

  9. Hi Sally, I love your recipes. You are my go to when I need to bake. Recently I made your gingerbread men. I found that they turned out salty. Have you had that feedback before?
    Thank you,
    Amy

    1. No, I haven’t! 1/2 teaspoon to over 3 cups of flour shouldn’t result in a salty cookie. Especially with molasses AND brown sugar. Did you add 1 teaspoon instead of 1/2? Did you use salted butter instead of unsalted?

  10. These are amazing. I have never been a big fan of gingerbread and I have the be honest all of the spices looked a little intimidating! I followed the recipe exactly, I used light brown sugar, and they are my favorite cookie ever!!! I am not too great at finding the proper measurement for cutting but will be better next time!!! I do have one question. I am making cookie tins with different types of cookies for Christmas gifts and I am wondering if you think a little over a week would be too long for the cookies to be at room temp or if I should keep them refrigerated or frozen. Any advice would be great!! Thank you for this amazing recipe!

    1. So happy you love these gingerbread men cookies!

      A week or a week plus a couple days is completely fine for cookies in a tin. I do that all the time.

  11. Just made your gingerbread man recipe and love, love, love them! I have never attempted to make these little cute guys, but you inspired me and I am so excited that I am planning to add them to my annual cookie repertoire now! Thumbs up on the royal icing recipe too!
    Thank you:)

  12. These are amazing! I added 1/8 teaspoon of pepper to my last batch and we’re even better.

  13. Hi Sally – I love love love this recipe!! So delicious and the the right consistency. My only issue is the gingerbread cracked during baking and now look a little bit like elderly gingerbread men!! Any tips on what i did wrong? thanks again xxx

    1. Sometimes that happens to mine as well and usually that means they were overbaked. You can take out a minute before to help reduce/avoid it!

  14. Hi, Miss Sally! Did you use dark or light brown in your cookies? I want mine to turn out just like yours!

    1. Hi Laya! I used dark brown in the pictured gingerbread men cookies. I prefer it!

  15. Brilliant! Absolutely brilliant. I’ve never made these before and this recipe made my first try a success. Will use it every Christmas from now on. Thank you so much.

  16. Becca Purnell says:

    I made these today! This recipe is perfect- easy, simple, and yielded deliciously soft cookies!!

  17. I made these last night and they turned out perfect!! Great recipe and the kids loved them! 

  18. Just made these tonight: best gingerbread cookies I’ve ever had (and my family agrees!) Thanks for a fantastic recipe!

  19. Donna Kessler says:

    My daughter and I made this a couple of weeks ago. To be perfectly honest, after we were done we thought, this is the first and last time we are making these cookies. It was more work than we imagined. However, the cookies were so delicious we’ve made them three weeks in a row. In fact, I quadrupled the recipe to make more and give them away to my co-workers. I shared samples at work and they loved it! They like how the cookies are soft and tasty and that’s exactly why we’ve been making so many batches. This is a GREAT recipe! Mahalo!

  20. These are the BEST gingerbread cookies I have ever made!! I made them for the first time last Christmas and was so excited to do it again this year. I even take some dough to work to bake so it smells delicious there!

  21. Oh my gosh these cookies came out perfect! So soft, chewy, and delicious.  I sifted my dry ingredients because my flour felt a bit clumpy. Will definitely be making more of these with my kids. We couldn’t wait to decorate we just had to try one, we’ll be decorating them tomorrow 5-yrs-old style.  

  22. Great recipe – thanks! I was looking for a nice soft gingerbread that also has flavour – most recipes end up pretty bland. I also used (Australian) Golden Syrup, and they seemed to have turned out well. BTW, have you ever tried adding nutmeg as well or instead of allspice maybe?

    1. Hi! I am from Australia too, and don’t have molasses available at the moment. I was wondering, did you substitute the molasses for Golden Syrup 1:1, and did you have any issues with the recipe with that substitution?

  23. I was never a big gingerbread fan.. but my husband loves it.. so I tried this gingerbread man recipe because Sally’s chocolate chip cookies are my favorites! This recipe sold me! I am now a huge fan! I baked 2 batches to give to family and friends and my husband and I spent a morning together decorating! What fun and a great project for anyone (of any age!). Best flavor.. soft center not hard like a rock. I think that putting the dough in the fridge overnight is key to the great flavor and workability!

  24. Best gingerbread cookies EVER!! Turned out great and tastes delicious!

  25. Tiffany Campos says:

    The best gingerbread men ever!!! I made them for Christmas and they were a huge hit. I honestly ate half of them all by myself lol. I’m making another batch tonight because they’re so good!!! Can’t wait for the cookie cookbook ❤❤

  26. Holly Peppers says:

    I tried making a batch of gingerbread cookies a few weeks ago and used lots of flour because the dough was so sticky. I see you indicate the flour should cook off of the dough. But mine didn’t. Is there something special I need to do in order to make that flour cook off? I didn’t refrigerate my dough as long as recommended here. Does that also contribute to it?

  27. I made these for my husband for Christmas, he loved them. It was my first time ever making them. His mom is a baker and said my cookies tasted better, shh 🙂 I literally ordered a rolling pin to make these, I don’t bake often. Thanks for the great recipe!

  28. The best cookies I’ve ever made!!!!!! My siblings loved them!!!!
    The process of making the dough went slightly awry when I replaced some of the all-purpose flour with whole wheat; forgetting that it absorbs more moisture. The dough was dry, so I added a little more butter and part of an egg, and put it in the freezer to rest. When I eventually made the cutout cookies, they came out crispy, and the flavor was astounding!!!! I was sooooo happy!!!!!! Thanks, Sally, for making my day!! These are the days when I wish I was British and could make these for the GBBO.

  29. Jessie Sabino says:

    OMG!!! These cookies are delicious. I am not a baker at all and I don’t like following baking directions. I am more of an eyeball the ingredients kind of person. At first, I was a little overwhelmed because of the amount of information around the actual recipe, but all of that was just little helpful hints. The recipe was soooooo easy to follow!!! Really just taking wet and dry ingredients, combining them, mushing the dough together and letting it rest in the fridge. I forgot to take the butter out so it was cold when I put it in the mixer and it just took an extra minute to get soft enough to add the brown sugar and molasses. We were able to make almost 2 lbs of small cookies. They cooked perfectly at 8 min. DO NOT WAIT UNTIL THEY ARE CRISPY TO TAKE THEM OUT OF THE OVEN! We took them out when they were brown but still a little mushy when we pressed on them. This allowed them to cool, crisp up and harden, while still being mushy and soft on the inside. My tummy is hurting I ate so much dough. I wouldn’t change a thing and I will always use this recipe!!Thank so much- non baker 🙂

  30. This recipe was perfect. I made this the other day and everyone LOVED them. I am saving this recipe for all future Christmas baking. Thank you for a fabulous recipe and to all those who took the time to write reviews. The reviews helped me to decide to try this recipe.

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