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.
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. 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
- 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 (160ml) 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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 2) freeze well – up to three months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator then continue with step 3.
- 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?
Reader Comments & Reviews
I have a really hard time rolling cookie dough. Would this recipe work if I roll dough into log and slice and bake?
Hi Marty, we don’t see why not!
I have started using gingerbread cookie dough as crust for pumpkin pie but the texture is slightly off. How would you modify this recipe to make it into a pie crust?
Hi Mari, we wouldn’t use this cookie as a pie crust– instead, how about a gingersnap crust as we use for our pumpkin swirl cheesecake?
We had a difficult school year last year and making these cookies was a joy for me and sharing them made my co-workers happy. When I make them, I give a heads up to certain folks that I’m putting them in the Teacher’s Lounge so they can get one. Today I took 3 dozen in and I’m bringing 0 home.
Really yummy! I got molasses powder and vanilla bean paste from OliveNation. Found their vanilla bean paste to be really amazing with no alcoholic taste to it. Highly recommend!
I made the mistake of adding my brown sugar to the flour mixture instead of creaming it with the butter! 🙁 is it ruined?
Hi Krista! Unfortunately, creaming butter with the brown sugar and molasses forms the base for these cookies. You can try proceeding with the recipe, but we’re unsure of the results. We would start over for best results. Hope you love them!
Sally I love this recipe! But I like to make my cookies thicker and when I did I got a lot of cracks. Any recommendations on how to get a thick cookie without the cracks? Thank you!!!!
Hi Misdy, is the cracking happening before baking (with the dough) or after baking? If before, some tips for rolling that we’ve always found useful if your dough is crumbly– try 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. If after baking, it usually means the cookies were simply over baked. You can try slightly shortening the bake time (just a minute or two) next time to see if that helps!
The cracks are happening after baking. Thank you for any recommendations!
What can be done to eliminate spreading and “puffiness” of the gingerbread cookies? Some bakers removed the baking soda and add cornstarch.
Can the method be applied to this recipe? If so, how much cornstarch to add?
We haven’t tried that substitution with this particular recipe, so we’re unsure of the results. However, if you find the cookies are spreading too much, here are a few tips. Be sure your dough is nice and cold/chilled before going into the oven. You can even make the cut out shapes and pop them back in the refrigerator for a few minutes before baking. Make sure you are using room temperature butter, too — it may be colder than you think. This post on how to prevent cookies from spreading has some additional helpful tips. Hope this is helpful!
Can the baking soda be left out (to stop the spreading) without changing the taste or texture of the cookie?
Hi! I really want to try to make them this year, but I’m not sure if i could find molasses. Can i replace them with something else, like honey?
Hi Nico, Molasses is a very important ingredient in these cookies and they won’t turn out without it. If you don’t have molasses, we recommend our regular sugar cookies recipe and you can certainly add these dry spices.
I live in high altitude–do you have any recommendations for recipe changes? Thank you!
Hi Rebecca, we wish we could help, but we have no experience baking at high altitude. Some readers have found this chart helpful: https://www.kingarthurflour.com/learn/high-altitude-baking.html
Could these be made into cake balls or a truffle???
Hi Katie, We have not made gingerbread truffles before and wouldn’t recommend using the raw cookie dough to make them. You could use something like a gingerbread cake to make cake pops. We haven’t tested it but let us know if you do!
My 5 grandsons love these cookies! Last year I shipped them from MI to SC and many arrived broken. Please tell me what I can do to make shipping a better experience for them. My middle grandson also told me that if they break during shipping that he wanted me to still send them as he enjoys the broken pieces.
Hi Gail, we’re sorry to hear that many broke during shipping! Have you read this post on how to ship cookies? Other than those tips, all you can really do is package and cushion them as best you can, and hope for the best!
Hi, I’m making these for the first time in December and wanted to know how many this recipe will make? My cookie cuters are 4-inches. Thank you!
Hi Maddy, this recipe will make about 24 4-inch cookies.
Am not usually a fan of gingerbread, but my little one loves the gingerbread man story, so made this, and found it absolutely delicious. Dough is easy to handle and smooth, and above all not too sweet.
Can’t get molasses here, so I substituted the amount for 1/3 treacle, 1/3 honey & 1/3 maple syrup and it tastes great.
This is probably my favorite cookie ever. Seriously, this is delicious. Thank you for sharing with us.
I made this recipe last Christmas and they came out great. I recommend it they where a hit. Right now I have Christmas fever so more gingerbread cookies it is!!!!
I love this recipe, even making it outside of Christmas time just because my whole family loves them so much. if anyone needs to track their calories there is around 4000 calories in this recipe (without icing). If you want to know how many in each cookie then divide that by the amount of cookies made. please only use this information for positive calories tracking.
Such great spice taste and aroma. The recipe is an all time favorite. Today’s batch is bunnies and eggs!
tasted like liquorice? definitely the worst gingerbread cookies i’ve ever tasted and made:(
Did you maybe put in anise instead of allspice?
Great recipe for gingerbread men! I overbaked them a bit but they were still a hit. I bought the cookie cookbook and I saw the recipe in the book didn’t have the same value in g for the ingredients ex: 3/4 cup brown sugar is either 170g or 150g. Should I follow the book or the website moving forward?
Hi Kim! You need 150g of brown sugar for this recipe. Using 170g is fine and won’t make or break the recipe at all– that was amended in later version.
Thank you for sharing this recipe. I will always have jolly memories of making these cookies with my husband for Christmas 2021! We both loved them — they were so tasty. <3
This recipe is my absolute favorite cookie recipe. I made a giant double batch of the dough and freeze it, then make the cookies when I need to take a breather from my grad school program. I do have a question, my friend is vegan, and I’d like to make a version of this recipe for them. Any tips on how to do this? I don’t usually bake vegan, so I am lost. Thank you!
Hi Rebecca, So glad you love this recipe! We haven’t tried a them using vegan ingredients. If you wish to try a vegan substitute like flax egg and a vegan butter such as the Earth Balance brand, let us know how it turns out. We haven’t tested this so we are unsure of the results!
I loved this recipe. My sister made the dough at Xmas time and I saved some for later use after Xmas. I made them later to give to a few friends and they just loved them. They came out soft and were delicious. I never liked molasses cookies before but these are really good and I plan on making them every Xmas. I have a friend who just loved them and I plan on making them for her for she just had eye surgery.. Thank you for sharing this wonderful recipe.
I loved this recipe and my family did too! They are super easy and the recipe is very clear. Thank you!!
Love this recipe! I’ve never been a big fan of gingerbread, but decided to make this for my grands at Christmas. Well … I don’t want to be without it now. Just a wee piece in the morning with coffee is fantastic. Thank you for posting this.
Absolutely not tasty. insipid, floury, not sweet, not spicy. So disappointed! I will look for another recipe. 🙁
I think you should review your process–perhaps you misread the measurements. Or maybe your taste buds are off a bit?
This recipe has a lot of spices in it, and I think most of us that made it have all agreed the spiciness is just right!
So easy to make and loved by my family! Made this over Christmas and EVERYONE loved it, they were gone in a flash. Has a real old fashioned taste to it. I accidently put too much butter in but it still came out great. Biscuity round the edges and softer in the middle. Perfect!
I am looking forward to making this recipe, as I’ve had such great results from all your other recipes I’ve tried.
My question is this: I would like to try adding finely chopped crystallized ginger to this recipe, can you guesstimate how much would be an appropriate amount?
Thanks for any advice you can give me.I know it will make for a lumpier roll-out, but when you bite into that little piece of ginger, I think it will be amazing.
Hi Linda! We haven’t tested that addition so can’t offer you advice with confidence, but let us know what you try – sounds delicious!
I made a batch of these in mid-December and froze half for Christmas. I took them out of the freezer on Christmas day and they were perfect and soft and chewy. No lie, I ate the last one yesterday (January 11th) and it was STILL perfect. What witchcraft is this?! I’ve never had a cookie that didn’t go stale after one week let alone two! Amazing. Will definitely be making again.
Sally’s recepies are always great , I have made many of them and always loved them .. no wonder your cookies are fresh after two weeks
Great directions. Easy to follow for a 1st timer. Super duper yummy
Thank you for sharing this fabulous recipe! The cookies turn out perfectly every time and the flavor is perfect! I like to cut out mini gingerbread men. I melt white chocolate and dip them 1/2 in the chocolate before adding 2 cinnamon candies for buttons. They are a perfect finishing touch to every holiday cookie tray!
My mom love ginger bread cookies. I made them at Christmas and they eery wonderful. I’m making her some for Valentines Day.
Thanks for the great idea! I am definitely trying that this holiday season!