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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. 

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 1x
  • 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

Scale
  • 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

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

Reader Questions and Reviews

  1. Sally, you’re always my trusted go-to and I recommend your blog to anyone seeking a recipe. I just wanted to tell you how much I appreciate you putting the weight of your measurements as well. As a precise baker, it’s incredibly helpful and saves me a lot of sifting and measuring! I love just setting the scale and measuring out my ingredients quickly.

    I measured this out last night and whipped it up in 15 minutes this afternoon. Now it’s sitting in the fridge for some post-dinner fun.

  2. I love, love these cookies. I made them for a neighbourhood event and the kids ate them all up quickly. The recipe is five-star and the instructions were excellent. I had no problem following everything and appreciate that she shares her baking methods. Thanks!

  3. Fantastic! Made this dough yesterday afternoon. My oldest son cut out and baked one disc of dough for a late night snack. I cut out and baked up the second one early this morning with my preschooler and the dough was easy to work with and baked up wonderfully. The few we have left will be decorated with the rest of the kids after school probably won’t make until bedtime because they taste amazing. I’d better make up another batch of dough and hide it in the freezer for Christmas.

  4. Hello Sally

    The dough must chill in the fridg for 3 hours or at room temperature? If it‘s in the fridg, does it have to chill for a few minutes at room temperature?

    Thanks for your feedback.

    Angela

    1. Hi Angela, You must chill discs in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours and up to 3 days! You do not need to let it sit at room temperature before rolling it out. Enjoy!

  5. How long will the dough last in the fridge? We made it Sunday night and baked half Monday. Today is Thursday and I want to do the rest tonight.

    1. Hi Gina! A few days in the fridge is just fine. As long as it’s been covered tightly, your dough will be OK!

  6. I made the dough yesterday and it’s in the frig. but I want to use raisins for the eyes. Can I cook the cookies with the raisins or should I wait until they’re cooked.

    1. Hi Linda! I would cook the gingerbread men HALFWAY, remove from the oven, stick the raisins into the warm-ish cookies, then continue baking. Or you can adhere them to the baked cookies with icing.

  7. This is my first time making gingerbread cookies and I must say they turned out perfect! I was hesitant at first thinking the cookies would spread and be a mess, but no they held their shapes perfect! I froze quite a few to decorate on the week my kids are off from school. They taste amazing and my whole house smells so good! Thank you Sally for this recipe!!

  8. Do you use royal icing or a thin buttercream to decorate the cookies???

  9. This a fabulous recipe! The explosion of flavor the ginger and other spices is extraordinary! Thank you for sharing the recipe.

  10. I had virtually given up making gingerbread cookies about a decade ago….this recipe has been my redemption! Everything about it is fabulous! Texture, smell, flavour. It’s spectacular! Thank you for allowing me to try my hand and feel successful once again with the baking gods. This is a truly wonderful recipe

  11. I just made these. I used some pungent blackstrap molasses, sifted all my dry ingredients, ground up my allspice and cloves…they were FABULOUS. No spice overpowered. Perfect consistency, gorgeous flavor. My kids gobbled them up instantly. I cooked them in a convection oven at 325 for 7 minutes. The easy cookie icing worked beautifully. YUM!

  12. I followed the recipe to a “T” and my dough came out crumbly and dry. I kneaded the dough for a few moments and placed the separated portions in the fridge. Do you have any recommendations on how to ensure the dough stays moist?

    1. Hi Dawn! Moisten your fingers when rolling it out and work little droplets into the dough. Will moisten it up nicely!

  13. This recipe is fantastic! I make gingerbread every year and thought I’d change it up this year and try a new recipe. The dough was simple to work with and they came out beautifully. Thank you for sharing this one!

  14. Hello! I made these and followed recipe exactly, but the flavor is not really spot on. The spice is very strong (I don’t mind it) but some who tried them don’t think they taste like gingerbread cookies. Could it be the molasses brand? I bought what I thought was a really great one but maybe it wasn’t so good. Anyway, will try again for sure just not super sure about my molasses brand.

    1. Molasses varies in strength depending on the brand and variety. I like using Grandma’s brand dark molasses. Which did you use?

  15. The first time I used this recipe and it turned out SO GREAT! I’m sooo excited about it. This is the first time I made gingerbread cookies and I loved it!

  16. Never cared for gingerbread cookies (too hard and dry; overpowering molasses flavor) until I tried these. I have made at least a dozen times over the last few years and they are so delicious. Thanks sally!

  17. Hi Sally, this is my favourite gingerbread recipe! Wanted to know if I can use it as a base for brownies this year? A layer of the dough in the base then topped with brownies, to make gingerbread brownies do you think it’ll work? If yes, will a 13×9 inch pan work? Thank you! Xx

    1. I love this idea – YUM!! I am picturing it similar to my chocolate chip cookie brownies. While I have never tested this with gingerbread cookie dough I would start with this recipe as a guide (minus the peanut butter cup layer): https://sallysbakingaddiction.com/chocolate-chip-cookie-brownie-bars/
      Please let me know if you try it!

  18. Good recipe, substituted 45g of the butter with cannabutter with all the spices in these really blended in well.
    Baked at 170 in my fan oven for 10 mins and have a large gingerbread man cutter.

  19. Made the dough and am worried the molasses is my too overpowering. I haven’t baked them yet, but as I spent 20 bucks on fine molasses I’m wondering if it’s my tastebuds or if anyone else had this problem?

    1. Hi Christi, If you are using 2/3 cup of unsulphured molasses it should not be too overpowering. Let me know what you think after you bake and try them!

  20. Hi, these look delicious! I was just wondering if I could half the recipe? Looking to make a smaller batch if possible.

    1. You can definitely halve this recipe. For the egg, crack the egg, beat it together, then use half of the beaten egg.

  21. I love your website! I had a question…Do you think i could use your gingerbread cookie recipe as a rolled out pumpkin pie crust? I had a gingerbread cookie pie crust (not the crumbled cookie kind) in Dallas, TX at the famous Emporium pies and really wanted to create something similar at home. Or do you think i am better off using a flaky pie crust recipe and adding molasses and all the similar spices?
    Their pie really tasted like eating a Gingerbread cookie that encased the pumpkin pie filling.
    Thanks for sharing all your knowledge and expertise. Thanks!!!

  22. Hi Sally
    I made the dough yesterday and made this afternoon. My question is the dough got crumbly on the ends when rolled out. Is that normal? Is there something else I should have done for that not to happen?
    They taste delicious and for my first attempt I am super happy.

    1. That’s totally normal! You can meld any cracked dough back together with your fingers. You need to roll and re-roll this dough so many times (the scraps to get more shapes!) that by the 2nd time, the edges won’t crack as much.

  23. I am testing gingerbread recipes. I have been looking for a good one. I followed this one exactly and the dough was too crumbly. It constantly broke a part and made it hard to roll out where there was enough rolled dough to actually cut cookie shapes. Is there something missing? The taste was really good, but I had to take a star off because of the dough.

    1. Hi Theresa, If the dough is super cold coming out of the refrigerator it can be crumbly! Let it sit on your counter for a few minutes and then begin to roll it gently from the center out. You can meld any cracked dough back together with your fingers. You need to roll and re-roll this dough so many times (the scraps to get more shapes!) that by the 2nd time, it won’t crack as much.

  24. Can you make these cookies just plain round and not use any cookie cutters? Like chocolate chips or peanut butter cookies (which I roll in my hands and then press down a bit with a fork to get the crisscross pattern. I have never made gingerbread cookies and was thinking of trying them this year, but if make round was wondering if they would turn out okay. Could something like that be done with gingerbread cookies?

  25. Hi there, will the dough consistency Or flavour change much if I use golden syrup instead of molasses?

    1. Hi Ash! Yes, the consistency of the dough and flavor (especially) will change without molasses and with the addition of golden syrup. I recommend sticking with molasses.

  26. Simple and delicious – I kept an eye on them in order not to over bake. I did add some finely chopped candied ginger just to kick it up a notch. Wonderful recipe. Thank you

  27. I loved the gingerbread dough – came together easily and tasted terrific! It will be my favorite Christmas cookie this year, Thanks.

  28. These are the best gingerbread cookies I’ve ever made, hands down. All the other gingerbread men I’ve made before are either too bland, too bitter/spicy, or don’t roll out nice- these are ideal.
    I made the dough last night and gave it a taste, thinking it was waaay too spicy/bitter, but the same dough this morning was perfect. The cookies are even better!! Not too hard or soft, perfectly spiced, can’t wait to add some little designs in icing. They are delicious right from the oven, but even BETTER the next day, so don’t skimp the spices!

    I rolled the dough out a little thicker and only made big gingerbread men because it’s very humid here in Houston, TX, so the dough was a little soft. I substituted 2 tablespoons butter flavored shortening instead of real butter as I’ve never been able to use all butter in roll out cookies (it melts too fast), but I bet I could have used all butter and will try next time.

    If you’re making these in a hot/tropical environment, I highly suggest putting the dough in the freezer about 20 minutes before rolling, and if possible, rolling out away from the preheating oven.

    Thank you so much Sally!

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