My Favorite Gingerbread Cookies

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 glaze icing recipe I posted with my Christmas sugar cookies 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

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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
  • 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 (200g) 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


  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.


  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


gingerbread cookies


  1. Hello Sally, i live in the UK. I noticed you use ‘cups’ as measurements. Would it be possible for you to convert your cup for me please. I was initially looking for some peanut butter g/bread men. How much peanut butter would i add to this recipe? Crunchy or smooth?
    Thank you very much.

    1. Lorna, I’m unsure how to add peanut butter to these cookies without testing it myself. I don’t think I’d be a fan of the flavor combination, but let me know if you try anything! Sounds very unique! This recipe includes gram and ml measurements where cups are listed.

  2. Just made your gingerbread man recipe and love, love, love them! I have never attempted to make these little cute guys, but you inspired me and I am so excited that I am planning to add them to my annual cookie repertoire now! Thumbs up on the royal icing recipe too!
    Thank you:)

  3. Hi Sally, I am making this as I type, followed instructions to the letter, leveled my flour and my dough is dry, not sticky…how do I fix it?

    1. Maybe a little warm water to soften it up again.

      1. I did, it softened and got sticky! They taste amazing, my 3.5 yr old and I thank you. Merry Christmas Sally!

  4. Made these as gifts for neighbours and colleagues and decorated with your royal icing recipe. As is always the case with your recipes, these turned out awesome!  Big thumbs up from everyone I gave these to.  Your instructions are the best.  Merry Christmas and all the best for 2016 🙂

  5. Dear Sally
    , I am from Hong Kong. I have always looked a gingerbread men as a kind of American thing… I was curious to try but never got around to it. Finally, a friend asked me to make some for her. I was looking online and my eye caught your recipe – the fact that it is soft inside really got me. I always had the impression that gingerbread men were hard, tough cookies. I JUST finished making a batch. WOW!!! I had to control myself from eating it right off the oven. They smelled so good – and as promised, it was soft in the middle. I will decorate them tonight and give them to my friend tomorrow. Thanks for a great recipe. I will be checking out your other recipes soon!

    1. Happy you tried them for the first time Jo-Ann! AND loved them too 🙂

  6. Hi Sally! I’m planning on making these for Christmas,and I don’t have any allspice or ground cloves. I was wondering if I could substitute them for other spices, as I do have nutmeg,cinnamon, ginger, cumin, and pumpkin pie spice. Thanks!

    1. I have no idea why I typed cumin there…oops!!!:)

  7. These are delicious cookies! I just baked mine for a little less time. Warning – it’s very hard to quit eating these! 🙂

  8. I can’t wait to try these cookies – they’ve got amazing reviews! I was going to ask if the recipe was suitable for making gingerbread houses, but already saw your answer! You should start working on your own Homemade Gingerbread House recipe for Christmas 2016!! 

  9. The soft gingersnaps are a hit with friends and family, so this one I would love to try out as a gift for a friend’s birthday party. How long can they keep with or without refrigeration (if possible) after decorating? I’m family and I will be away a week before event and won’t be attending := so I’d be making these beforehand. 

    1. A week is perfectly fine! Truly, they last about 2 weeks if you want them to. 🙂

      1. Thank you for your reply, Sally! I hope she likes them, each recipe I’ve tried has been wonderful. You’re my go to whenever I crave something! 

  10. Hi Sally, looking forward to making these cookies soon for the holidays. I just wanted to see if the gram measurement was correct for the molasses? I think with your other molasses cookies, you usually post 1/3 cup as around 104 grams, so would this require 208 grams? Thanks for any insight you could share!

    1. Hi Kathy! This would be about 200g. I had it listed with ml measurement but just changed it so it’s easier for any readers.

  11. Hi, quick question. If I wanted to try making this recipe but not roll/cut it out as “gingerbread men”…and just use it as a round regular cookie shape…would I have to chill it still? Seems the benefits for chilling were only applying towards the rolling and shaping.

    Please let me know. Thanks.

    1. You mean as drop cookies? I fear they’d spread a little bit too much without chilling. Or you can make these soft molasses cookies (similar but with less intense flavor) but they require 2 hours of chilling.

      1. Yes, drop cookies. As delicious as those molasses cookies look, I’m determined to make a delicious Gingerbread “drop” cookie. I’ll just chill the dough then without flattening them into discs. Thanks!

  12. Hi Sally, 

    I live in a India and I would love to try these cookies – unfortunately I can’t find molasses anywhere. Cam I substitute molasses with golden syrup? And would the substitute be 1:1? Please let me know. Thanks. 

    1. Hi Lari! Unfortunately molasses is the key ingredient here. They won’t taste like gingerbread without it! Golden syrup isn’t the ideal replacement. You can try more brown sugar and a little water, but I’m afraid the cookies won’t set up properly.

    2. Hi Lari,

      I live in Australia and the molasses we have over here is very rich, dark and slightly bitter. I used golden syrup and they were DELICIOUS! I think treacle syrup would also work well (maybe even better) if that is available in India.

      Just thought I’d offer my advice 🙂

  13. Hi Sally,

    I am planning to make this gingerbread man cookies soon. Read on the ingredients which require molasses. Just wondering if the measurement is the same for dry or liquid form of molasses?

    Thank you!

  14. Hi sally! love love love your website such a huge fan! All the recipes I’ve made from your website have been absolutely delicious and a big hit with my family and friends, just had to get that off my chest haha. I have a simple questions what did you use to pipe the icing onto your gingerbread? \

    Thank you!

    1. I use either an empty squeeze bottle or a decorating tip, like this one.

  15. These are delicious – my first ever gingerbread men and everyone in work loved them. I used a little less mollasses/treacle and flour as suggested in an earlier comment for UK and the dough was perfect!

  16. These are amazing! I added 1/8 teaspoon of pepper to my last batch and we’re even better.

  17. I have never made gingerbread before and just attempted this recipe – so yummy! The recipe was very easy to follow. I am in Australia and used golden syrup instead of molasses (treacle syrup would also work well). I think the molasses you can buy from supermarkets here is too dark and rich (and slightly bitter – similar to feed grade molasses). Perhaps a molasses more suitable for baking is available in larger cities but not where I live.

  18. Hi Sally I didn’t find all spice in my local store can I use gingerbread spice instead thank you 

  19. Well my daughter wanted to use her cookbook she borrowed from school… as much as I tried she didn’t want to use your recipe…. wish me luck, her book has flour ginger melted butter brown sugar honey baking soda and a beaten egg……. hmmmmm. The dough is chilling in the fridge now.

  20. Mon Îlot Pâtisseries says:

    Hello Sally !

    For my first recipe on December, I wanted to try an Anglo-Saxon one. So I chose the famous Gingerbread men. And after reading a lot of recipes (about 10), I chose yours. And I have to say I wouldn’t have been able to choose a better one. Thank you thank you THANK YOU for sharing such great recipes, Sally.

    I decided to make the version you recommended in one of your comments, using less molasses and I love it ! My family too.

    Merry Christmas Sally, to you and your family.

    Fiona, from France xxx

  21. Hi Sally,

    thank you for sharing this recipe. I’ve googled quite a few, but after stumbling your site, I knew I had to do your recipe
    it was a hit at home, but I want to make it softer, what should I do?
    I am also considering making it less sweet, how should I go about it without compromising the consistency? (I need it to be less sweet so I can add the Royal Icing. (I’m thinking about my diebetic mom.. 🙁 )
    Please help! would greatly appreciate your feedback. 🙂 thank you so much!

    1. I can’t be much help about making them less sweet because the sugars play such an important role. Though you can leave off the icing 🙂
      You can bake the cookies for a minute less to make them softer too.

      1. thank you so much! and also thank you for taking time to reply! ^_^ I hope to try your other recipes soon!

  22. Monica Kindervater says:

    I love your website. I use it for my classes.  Just curious if I could keep the dough refrigerated longer than 24 hrs. I think it would be fine but just wondering. 

  23. First time making gingerbread men. Used this recipe and my dough was very difficult to work with. I ended up spending hours trying to roll it out. My dough was very dry and cookies came out thin and crunchy. 

  24. Hi Sally – I love love love this recipe!! So delicious and the the right consistency. My only issue is the gingerbread cracked during baking and now look a little bit like elderly gingerbread men!! Any tips on what i did wrong? thanks again xxx

    1. Sometimes that happens to mine as well and usually that means they were overbaked. You can take out a minute before to help reduce/avoid it!

      1. Ok, thanks! I’ll give it another try, my work mates have sampled the last (cracked) batch and won’t mind me having another go at making these!

  25. Hi, Miss Sally! Did you use dark or light brown in your cookies? I want mine to turn out just like yours!

    1. Hi Laya! I used dark brown in the pictured gingerbread men cookies. I prefer it!

  26. When I was a kid my grandma made each grandkid a giant gingerbread man and a bunch of medium and small sized ones. When my Grandma died, I asked about the recipe and my aunts told me they found more than 50 different gingerbread recipes clipped out. So we have no idea what the recipe was. I tried the recipe in my Betty Crocker cookbook and it was not the same. Her’s were more sweet. Can’t wait to try yours to see if it might be the “one”. My favorite part was the raisins she used for the buttons and eyes. They go so well with the gingerbread. Not as cute but reminds me of Gram.

    Thanks for the recipe for me to try! I love your bog.

    1. oh my just saw my typo. Meant to say blog. lol

  27. Hi Sally, can I substitute molasses with moscovado sugar for these buiscuits?

  28. Hi Sally! I’m about to try your recipie 🙂 just wanted to check before hand…and I right in saying that Molasses is the same as what we call in the UK Black treacle? 

  29. I made these recently. Very good. Perfect texture. Though next time I’d tweak the frosting recipe. Too runny. 

  30. I was hoping to use my leftover dough to make some little houses, do you think I could add something to the dough (more flour maybe?) to make it sturdy enough for a small house? 

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