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
Can I skip the cinnamon in this recipe ? I’d like to bake some for the family I can’t see for Christmas but my BIL is highly allergic.
Hi Eleehna, you’ll lose a bit of flavor without the cinnamon, but you can certainly feel free to omit or increase the other spices in place of the cinnamon.
This recipe is great! My first time making gingerbread people, and I made alterations to make this recipe vegan: used Miyoko’s cultured vegan butter and a flax egg. Dough worked well, held shape when baked, tasty, chewy, strong enough to give away in plastic baggies. Cooked 3-4” cookies for 8 minutes, and 1-2” cookies for 6 minutes. Recipe makes way more than 24 cookies- closer to 50. Will make again! (I’ve already made it twice this season!)
I finished icing my latest batch of gingerbread men, they are delicious! I have been making them these past two years so now it’s definitely a tradition! I love the spice profile and that they come out soft, and slightly crisp rather than dry or hard.
Thank you so much for the Xmas fun this year; my daughter and I had a great time mixing the dough and cutting out lots of fun shapes. And the whole family had a great time eating the results!
I made this dough a day ahead in anticipation of rolling out and making gingerbread men with my granddaughter. However, I forgot to bring the dough with me to her house. We made your sugar cookie recipe instead. But, the next day, I took the dough out, rolled into a log, cut and rolled pieces into balls and rolled them in demera sugar (granulated brown sugar). OMG! They are the best molasses cookies I’ve ever eaten. Soft and chewy with nice spice. I would say don’t limit yourself to just gingerbread men.
This was a very easy to follow recipe. The tips were extremely helpful and the cookies turned out perfect. I did not have all spice so I just added more ginger powder instead. I got wonderful feedback from all friends and family who I shared them with. Thank you
I’ve needed to make this gluten free and dairy free in the past, I used plant based butter sticks and a 1 to 1 cup gluten free flour by pillsbury. It was amazing. Would absolutely recommend it this way for those with sensitivities.
This cookie recipe smells and tastes so good. I just made the dough for a family Christmas party cookie swap.
This is my second year doing this recipe ! Is the best one! So easy to follow and they taste amazing , thank you for this ♥️
I made these cookies with your recipe last year and they were excellent.
I just made the dough and put it in the refrigerator, but will not be able to roll out and bake them today. Just wanted to know if there were any specific instructions for dough refrigerated overnight.
The dough will be quite firm after chilling overnight. You’ll likely need to let it sit at room temperature for about half an hour before rolling. Hope you love them!
Is it possible to use this recipe with a springerle mold?
Hi Mimi, some readers have had success doing so, but the patterns may not hold well. These cinnamon brown sugar cookies may be a better option!
Hi, I only have blackstrap molasses on hand and was wondering how well that would work? Would the flavor be too strong?
Hi Annie, blackstrap molasses can have a very strong, bitter taste so we don’t typically recommend using it in recipes.
SO good! Very straightforward recipe, yielding absolutely delicious cookies! I could’ve eaten a whole pan of these if there weren’t other people here . This recipe will have a permanent spot in our dessert rotation.
I’ve made these as roll out cookies quite a few times and love them! I was wondering if anyone has tried this recipe with a cookie stamp? Does the design turn out sharp?
I have been making these biscuits ever since I found the recipe 3 years ago. Its now a Christmas tradition that we bake these every year.
We love the recipe!
I have baked for many years, and I thought my gingerbread cookie recipe was quite good. However, I decided to give yours a try, and it is sensational! I will never go back to my old recipe. I have tried several of your recipes, and they are all good, easy to follow, and yummy! I bought your cookie book for my daughter, who is a professional baker, and she was quite impressed. Keep up your wonderful work.
I made these today with my grandchildren. I did not have time to refrigerate it for the recommended time, so right after mixing, rolled each half of the dough to 1/4 inch between two sheets of wax paper, making sure there was flour on each side (but more on the bottom than the top). Then I put it in the fridge for about 30 min. The kids got back from school and it was all ready to go! They loved making these; the dough was super easy to work with and even the 5 year old was able to cut out the shapes and put them on the cookie sheet on his own. Of course many were eaten even before decorating. This is a yummy recipe. Thank you!
This week I tried this recipe for the first time. It was also my first time making gingerbread cookies, and I was really nervous but they came out really good! Just as Sally said – the outside/ edges are slightly crispy or crunch but the inside is soft. I also followed the recipe and instructions exactly as stated. I let mine chill overnight until the next evening.
Changes I made:
~ I could not find molasses in my country, so I substituted the molasses with maple syrup. As a result, the cookies did not come out light brown instead of dark brown.(Upon researching that was one of the best substitutes, there were a few other options.)
~ While looking for a recipe, I came across another that said to put some orange zest when mixing the wet ingredients and I did that. The orange zest added a little extra flavour and fragrance to the cookies.
**Quick question – is it okay to add a little more ginger? Because personally I think the gingery-ness wasn’t very strong.**
Thanks for this wonderful recipe, Sally! I will definitely make these cookies again using this recipe!
Hi Tara, thanks so much for giving our recipe a try! Yes, feel free to add a bit more ginger to your taste.
** As a result, the cookies came out light brown instead of dark brown.(Upon researching that was one of the best substitutes, there were a few other options.)
Could I use lard instead of butter?
Hi Judy, We have not tested this recipe with lard but let us know if you try it.
Can I use fresh grated ginger for this?
Hi Kate! We haven’t tested it but you should be able to use fresh grated ginger. We are unsure of the exact amount but just remember that fresh ginger isn’t as strong as ground dried ginger so you will need to use more, and you should grate it as finely as possible.
How many cookies does this make?
Hi Jordyn, this recipe yields 24 four-inch cookies. You can make them larger or smaller, but the final yield will change.
I used freshly grated ginger instead of ground ginger and it was delicious
Can the butter be subbed for margarine to make them dairy free?
Hi JB, we don’t recommend using margarine here. It has a different chemical makeup than butter and will results will be different. You could try a plant based butter, but again, we’re unsure of the results. Let us know if you give anything a try!
These cookies are amazing! Festively fragrant & soft! I was pretty worried about the tbsp of ginger but it’s much needed to cut through all the molasses. I will definitely be making these cookies again. Thanks for the recipe.
I can’t wait to try this! Could you leave the egg out (for allergies) or is there a substitute you would suggest? Thanks!
Hi Lisa, we haven’t tested an egg-free version of this recipe so we’re unsure of how a substitute would work. Let us know if you give anything a try!
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce per egg substitute.
Can you substitute the All Purpose flour for Gluten Free flour?
Hi Megan, we haven’t tested a gluten-free version of this recipe, so we’re unsure of the results. You might have been success experimenting with a gluten-free all-purpose flour like Bob’s Red Mill or Cup4Cup. If you give anything a try, we’d love to know how it goes for you!
What is the frosting for the gingerbread cookies?
Hi Elaine, you can use easy cookie icing or royal icing with these gingerbread cookies.
Love the rich ginger flavor & have made this recipe twice this month. After the cookies were completely cooled, I stored the cookies in a plastic container with a tight fitting lid. Should they be crisp? Mine were soft & delicious.
Hi Mary, they should be soft so it sounds like yours turned out perfectly! So happy you enjoyed them!
i followed the recipe completely how it said double triple checked it everything i did and it came out clumpy, dry and completely wrong.
I tried this. It was good, I subbed coconut palm sugar for brown sugar-I probably changed the flavor profile too much by doing this. Also-baking for 5 min worked better. At 10 they were very hard.
I baked mine for 9 minutes. But the size of cookie cutter plays a factor in the baking time.
I’ve tried many roll-out cookie recipes, and I always wondered why they turned out dry and crumbly for me. I started adding about a half cup less flour, and that solves the problem! You can always add less flour, and add more later. Or, you could weigh out your flour on a scale. I believe that it has to do with the humidity where you live, as I live in a dry climate. Hopefully this helps!
Mine to. And hard as a rock. I did not like this recipe. I don’t even know what I did wrong
We don’t have molasses in our country what would you recommend as the best alternative for molasses ?
Hi Rehana, Unfortunately there isn’t a comparable substitute for molasses that will give the cookies that signature gingerbread taste. Some readers have used golden syrup, treacle, or agave, but the flavor profile will be different.
I loved this recipe so much!
Love this recipe, this is my go too recipe every Christmas, sometimes I do add more of the spices
Best gingerbread cookie recipe ever! Made these last year and SO excited to bake them tomorrow after the dough chills! Thank you! Merry Christmas!
In India and other south Asian countries you can find jaggery (it’s unseparated cane sugar blocks) and I have seen recipes online for making molasses from jaggery.