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.
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
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.
- 3 and 1/2 cups (440g) 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
- 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
- optional: easy cookie icing or royal icing
- In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, ginger, cinnamon, allspice, and cloves. Set aside.
- In a large bowl using a handheld 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. 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.
- Add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients, and beat on low speed 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. 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 3) freeze well up to three months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator then continue with step 4.
- 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?