My Favorite Gingerbread Cookies

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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. 

This is the best recipe for gingerbread men! Easy to mix together, taste unbelievable, and fun to decorate! Gingerbread cookie recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

Welcome to day 2 of Sally’s Cookie Palooza. A huge party filled with butter, sprinkles, melted chocolate on our sleeves, and flour all over our faces. Is that just me? Marathon cookie baking is so glamorous around here.

Yesterday I shared chocolate crinkle cookies and I’m repeating the classic Christmas cookies trend today. Whenever I think of Christmas cookies, gingerbread cookies come to mind first. Well, after sugar cookies of course! It’s their spice, their molasses flavor, their SMILES, their charm! (Aren’t they charming looking??) Gingerbread cookies, you have my heart.

 

I’ve never shared a gingerbread cookie recipe on my blog before. The truth is, I haven’t been able to find “the one” I’m proud of to post on my blog. I’ve tried them for the past few years and, while each batch is certainly tasty, I’m always left disappointed in the flavor and texture department. So, I made it a point this year to really work on a perfect gingerbread men cookie recipe. Or at least one that is perfect in my eyes and on my tastebuds! You’ll love these too.

Ingredients in Gingerbread Cookies

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 favors (cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and allspice). I like a gingerbread cookies with A LOT of flavor and I know you will too. Because of the added sticky sweetener (molasses), I add a little more flour to help soak it all up.

  1. Flour so the cookies can keep their shape.
  2. Molasses + spices for flavor
  3. Egg so the gingerbread cookies have structure and richness
  4. Brown sugar instead of white granulated sugar. I always use brown sugar when its flavor is appropriate!

My favorite gingerbread cookie recipe! Soft in the centers, crisp on the edges, and so much flavor!!

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.

This is the best recipe for gingerbread men! Easy to mix together, taste unbelievable, and fun to decorate! Gingerbread cookie recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

This is the best recipe for gingerbread men! Easy to mix together, taste unbelievable, and fun to decorate! Gingerbread cookie recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

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 men cookie loving heart desires. This is when it’s really fun to have a friend or little baker in the kitchen with you. I use my basic and simple decorating icing, but royal icing works just as well.

Tint the icing with a couple drops of food coloring to spice things up, too!

This is the best recipe for gingerbread men! Easy to mix together, taste unbelievable, and fun to decorate! Gingerbread cookie recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

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

My Favorite Gingerbread Men Recipe

Make sure you chill the cookie dough discs for a minimum of 3 hours. 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.

Ingredients:

  • 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 (I use Grandma's Molasses brand)
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 3 and 1/2 cups (437g) 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

Special Equipment

Directions:

  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. Don't be afraid to continually flour the work surface as needed- this dough can be sticky. Roll out disc until 1/4-inch thick. 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.
  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.

Make ahead tip: 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.

Recipe Notes:

Gingerbread House: This cookie dough is not sturdy enough for gingerbread houses. Here is my gingerbread house recipe.

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WHAT HAVE I DONE?

This is the best recipe for gingerbread men! Easy to mix together, taste unbelievable, and fun to decorate! Gingerbread cookie recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

345 Comments

  1. 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? 

  2. Hi Sally, if I’m not a fan of ginger or spices, do you have a suggestion for any of your other cookies that would yield a similar texture and be able to hold a gingerbread man shape? Thanks!

  3. Brilliant! Absolutely brilliant. I’ve never made these before and this recipe made my first try a success. Will use it every Christmas from now on. Thank you so much.

  4. made these for the frist time and thay came out like yours..thank you for a awesome recipe..they didnt spread and taste so awesome ..everbody wants more…lol/

  5. My daughter and I made this a couple of weeks ago. To be perfectly honest, after we were done we thought, this is the first and last time we are making these cookies. It was more work than we imagined. However, the cookies were so delicious we’ve made them three weeks in a row. In fact, I quadrupled the recipe to make more and give them away to my co-workers. I shared samples at work and they loved it! They like how the cookies are soft and tasty and that’s exactly why we’ve been making so many batches. This is a GREAT recipe! Mahalo!

  6. I have one of those braun hand held mixers that only come with either whipping attachments or dough hook attachments. Can I substitute one of these for the paddle attachment that you’re supposed to use in the first provided instruction? If so, which one do you suggest is the better substitute? I’d really like to try this recipe out but i’m not sure I want to buy another appliance to do so. Thank you in advance!

  7. These are the BEST gingerbread cookies I have ever made!! I made them for the first time last Christmas and was so excited to do it again this year. I even take some dough to work to bake so it smells delicious there!

  8. Oh my gosh these cookies came out perfect! So soft, chewy, and delicious.  I sifted my dry ingredients because my flour felt a bit clumpy. Will definitely be making more of these with my kids. We couldn’t wait to decorate we just had to try one, we’ll be decorating them tomorrow 5-yrs-old style.  

  9. I love the recipe but my husband wants it a little less “spicy”. What should I reduce to get rid of the bite? Is it cloves?

  10. I had to use wheat flour and now I’m kicking myself for not checking substitution ratios. I have a very crumbly dough. Hoping it’ll still work after chilled! Lol

  11. I have made those ytd. They are lovely but the flavour of baking soda is so strong. Now I still have half of the dough in fridge. Is there anything I can do for the remaining cookies to reduce the baking soda taste? And what can I do to better preserve the baking soda so that such a situation won’t happen?

  12. The name should be changed from “My Favorite” to “THE BEST” Gingerbread. This is the best flavored Gingerbread my husband and I ever tasted. Thanks for sharing the recipe

    1. I guess when I converted the tablespoons of butter to cups of butter I must’ve left out some butter. I rectified the issue by adding an egg. They turned out amazing! Thank you!

      1. I was going to say the same thing, they’re beautiful but a little dry!  I will try adding an egg next time. 🙂

  13. Silly question… I’ve never used molasses before. I sent hubby to pick some up and he came home with Grandma’s Robust. What’s the difference? Can I use it in this recipe?

      1. Sally, if I only have salted butter, could I use that and just leave out the other salt, or should I run and get unsalted?

  14. Hi Sally, can i check if i can substitute the liquid molasses with Billington’s Molasses sugar? it’s in solid form! Thanks 🙂

  15. Hi Sally,

    I’m based in the UK and didn’t realise your recipe meant liquid molasses until I tried to mix the dry ingredients! What could I use/add to get the wet consistency. My local supermarket only stocks sugar molasses. Thank you!

  16. Great recipe – thanks! I was looking for a nice soft gingerbread that also has flavour – most recipes end up pretty bland. I also used (Australian) Golden Syrup, and they seemed to have turned out well. BTW, have you ever tried adding nutmeg as well or instead of allspice maybe?

    1. Hi! I am from Australia too, and don’t have molasses available at the moment. I was wondering, did you substitute the molasses for Golden Syrup 1:1, and did you have any issues with the recipe with that substitution?

  17. I was never a big gingerbread fan.. but my husband loves it.. so I tried this gingerbread man recipe because Sally’s chocolate chip cookies are my favorites! This recipe sold me! I am now a huge fan! I baked 2 batches to give to family and friends and my husband and I spent a morning together decorating! What fun and a great project for anyone (of any age!). Best flavor.. soft center not hard like a rock. I think that putting the dough in the fridge overnight is key to the great flavor and workability!

  18. I made these last night. This recipe makes a delicious cookie. Normally I will deviate from a recipe to make it my own, but with this I decided to follow it precisely. I’ve never made gingerbread before and thought it would be safer if I trust the poster. The flavor in this is so good. They’re so soft; JUST LIKE I WANTED. I came across this recipe when googling “soft gingerbread cookie”. Spot on! I rolled this out and free cut cookies in the shape of a house. They look great. I also did a snowflake cookie cutter that’s really big. With the left over ‘scraps’ I just rolled it up and cut it and baked it. It wasn’t pretty, but it was sooo good.
    This one’s going in my Pinterest. Thanks so much!!

  19. I have been making gingerbread cookies every Christmas for many years. I don’t always use the same recipe. This year, I tried yours and they are excellent! The only difference is that I used Crisco shortening instead of butter because my daughter is lactose intolerant. I can say from experience that the dough is very workable, easy to roll – the perfect consistency. I keep unused dough in the fridge, roll on parchment paper and sprinkle flour liberally! A very thin spatula helps pick up the cut dough. These are quite high on the spices, so adjust according to taste, but most often recipes are quite bland. I might go a bit easier on the cloves next time.

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