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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. I used this recipe for making my first ever gingerbread cookies. I followed it exactly and they turned out wonderfully! I really appreciated the hints about using lots of flour because the dough is really sticky! I baked these with my granddaughters (6 and 8) and they did really well handling the dough and using the cookie cutters! Lots of fun and great memories were made.

  2. I’ve tried multiple times to make gingerbread men and the dough is always dry and crumbly what am I doing wrong I follow the recipes to the letter and can not seem to make this cookie

    1. Hi Amanda! 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. Make sure your work surface is floured. 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.

  3. I had never made gingerbread before Thanksgiving weekend, but my friend wanted to make gingerbread, so I hunted for a recipe. I have made your recipes before, so I thought I would try this one, even with three hours of chilling. Oh my cookies, this is fabulous. My husband liked it so much, I had to make another batch today. Thanks for a great cookie.

  4. Hi! Doug here. My wife got several got several ginger bread cookie kits and on Sunday I baked one up. I didn’t really like how they turned out. But it did get me in the mood to make some gingerbread cookies, and I prefer baking from scratch, so I looked up some recipes and found yours. Now this is the first time I ever baked with Molasses, so I went out and bought some Grandma’s Original Unsulphured Molasses. Now with some reading, I noticed that there is Light and Dark Molasses. I already got some dough made up and put in the fridge, so I was wondering if I used the right stuff?

  5. Hello, I have followed the recipe to a T, but my dough seems way too sticky, i have floured to the high heavens, but yet my dough gets stuck in the cutters, sticking to everything even when floured. I’m not sure what could be wrong??? Please help haha, smells amazing

    1. Hi Jasmine, Make sure the dough is very cold when you work with it. If it begins to warm up after you roll it out feel free to place the whole thing back into the fridge before you use your cookie cutters!

  6. Great recipe, thank you for sharing and for adding weight measurements. I thought they wouldn’t be sweet enough but now that the icing is on they’re just right!

  7. These are without a doubt the best gingerbread cookies I have ever made! The flavour is perfect, a slight crunch on the edges and soft and chewy inside. Followed the recipe exactly and had no trouble rolling them out. Wish I could attach a picture 🙂

  8. This is a great gingerbread cookie recipe! The recipe states approximately 24 four-inch cookies. My cookie cutters are slightly smaller (about 3 1/2 inches) – imagine my surprise when I found that I got close to 48 cookies from one batch of dough! Lovely if you’re working with one batch of dough but I was working with five (yes, I am definitely crazy). I ended up with 317 gingerbread cookies – I must admit I had fun making them and they taste great. I followed the recipe exactly (I weighed the ingredients) and didn’t have any issues rolling out the dough. The only thing I would do differently next time (besides make less dough) is add a bit more ginger. 🙂

  9. First time Gingerbread cookie maker here— Just made this dough and it’s far darker than the picture and very strong smelling …. I used blackstrap molasses. Is this batch a bust? I wanted to make them for kids to decorate at a Christmas party but maybe now they’ll be too strong ?

    1. Hi Kristin! Blackstrap molasses is quite bitter, strong, and extremely dark. I recommend using regular dark unsulphured molasses. Your cookies will have a very strong flavor.

  10. I swear you had a link with this recipe, to gingerbread for houses… do you still have that recipe? Planning to make both but need all the ingredients.

    Your cookies were a huge hit last Christmas with my children.

  11. Hi Sally,

    I baked these cookies for the first time yesterday but I had a couple of problems. First of all the colour was pretty much darker than your cookies. What kind of molasses do you use? Secondly the surface of the cookies cracked a lot, they had many areas with holes. I used different type of the cutters and the cookies didn’t really keep their form. Do you maybe know what could cause the problem? The only change I made was using Erythritol to replace half of the sugar.

    1. Hi Ayca, happy to help. I typically use Grandma’s brand dark molasses. The color widely varies depending on the brand you are using. The cracking and uneven baking is due to the replacement of sugar. I don’t recommend replacing any of it with erythritol in this cookie recipe.

  12. Hi Sally! I am so glad I found your recipe to try. My family and I went to Disneyland for thanksgiving and loved their gingerbread cookies. So I would love to try your recipe and create that memory for Christmas. I would love to do dipped chocolate maybe for the feet of the gingerbread for boots. Do you have any recommendations to do chocolate? How to make? Brand to use? Thank you so much!

    1. Hi Stephanie! It would be best to use pure baking chocolate for dipping– it’s what I always recommend if coating something in chocolate. Use the 4 ounce bars found in the baking aisle next to the chocolate chips. I recommend Baker’s or Ghirardelli brands. Semi-sweet is perfect.

  13. Made them tonight. Great taste. Made Christmas trees and Holly and bells because I had cutters. My oven is convection so did 325 for 8 minutes. Never sure when they are done. How do you decide time ?

  14. Got a lot of compliments and a coworker asked for the recipe! My boys and I had fun decorating the 48 cookies we got out of one batch 🙂 thank you !

  15. This is the BEST gingerbread men cookie recipe! So flavorful and soft!!! Love love love them!! Thank you so much for sharing!

  16. I made these with Bob’s Red Mill 1 to 1 gluten free flour (everything else the same) and they turned out great! I use a scale and the weight in grams was different than with AP flour, but the back of the bag tells you how many grams are in 1/4 c.

  17. Baked these cute little men yesterday. They were perfect. Loved them. Going to bake them again. Thanks for sharing the recipe. Am saving this recipe.

  18. Dear Sally,
    I had made this recipe last year and had no problems, but maybe I’ve become a little rusty because this year I’m having some difficulties. My dough, when fully formed and mixed, is not as sticky and is instead, crumbly and dry. I followed the measurements but I am unsure as to why my dough would be so dry. My first question is whether you measure molasses with a measuring cup for liquids or for solids, then I was wondering if you had any thoughts as to why my dough is doing this! Ah so frustrating because they were such a hit the first time around. Thank you!

    1. Hi Shannon, I usually use a liquid measuring cup for the molasses. Make sure you are measuring your flour properly – spoon and level instead of scooping. Too much flour can soak up all the liquid and make your dough dry.

  19. Hello! Wonderful recipe. However, my cookies came out incredibly soft – even after baking for an additional five minutes. How can I get those crisp edges?

    1. Hi Steven, I’m glad you enjoyed the recipe! If you are rolling our your dough thicker than 1/4 inch your edges might still be on the softer side!

  20. Hi Sally!
    I don’t ever write comments, although I pretty much only ever bake from your recipes 🙂
    Just wanted to share that I’ve been making these gingerbread cookies for 3 years straight. They are my family’s favourite and I make them for everyone I know! Each year at least two new people ask me for “my” recipe. Just wanted to share that your gingerbread recipe is absolutely the BEST!!
    Happy holidays!

  21. Hi Sally,

    I baked these cookies last year and they turned out great! This year I started to make them and found the dough was falling apart, it wasn’t sticky at all, and the dough is just overall crumbly. I followed everything to a T, what do you think went wrong? Should I start over from scratch?

    1. Hi Niki, Be sure you are measuring the flour correctly (spoon and level instead of scooping). Too much flour can soak up all the liquid and dry out your dough.

  22. This is my new favorite gingerbread recipe – finally something with a decent amount of spice! I’ve made these twice now and they turned out perfectly, and the texture is spot-on. Thanks!!

  23. I have found my favorite gingerbread recipe, thank you! This recipe is a hit in my home and with my friends. Soft and crisp yummy:-) I am making my 3rd batch this season-my family and friends can’t get enough.

  24. My recipe is almost exactly like yours, except mine has 3 Tablespoons of finely grated lemon zest. You should try it, if you haven’t already. It really taste great. BTW, big fan. Your site is ‘Always’ my go to for cookies. Thank you so much. Merry Christmas to you and yours.

  25. Hi Sally
    Thank you for your wonderful Christmas cookies cut out recipes. I tried your Sugar and Gingerbread rejoices today. I substituted Nutmeg for the Allspice bcs it wasn’t in hand. They are absolutely Devine! I also followed the sugar cookie recipe to a T and included the almond extract and they are phenomenal!!! Thank you so much. These are keeper recipes.

  26. Hi Sally,
    Thank you for the simple to follow steps for a Dad who doesn’t bake often. After having the dough rest in the refrigerator overnight, the dough became very dry and hard to roll. The dough was cracking into a zillions pieces with the cookie cutter. Ideas on what I did wrong? Thank, Mark

    1. Hi Mark, there is an easy fix here. Moisten your fingertips and press your fingers lightly into the rolled out dough to add a little moisture. (A spray bottle with a gently mist of water helps too.)

  27. How long do you cook them if you are not rolling them out to make gingerbread people? I’m going to use a 2 tbsp scoop instead. Thanks!

  28. This recipe worked out better than I one we used last year which I think was more for gingerbread houses. It was easy to mix, roll out and cut the cookies without too much stickiness (used enough flour on the countertop I guess). We are not very experienced or good with using icing bags and tips so our decorating does not look great. Didn’t seem to matter what tip we used, all looked the same. Made the royal icing but had to add a lot more sugar to it to make it less drippy. Ended up applying some of it with a toothpick and going out and getting some ready made cookie icing in squeeze packets.

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