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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. Delicious gingerbread cookie recipe. Thank you very much. I did a shortcut and used canned frosting and it was still yummy.

  2. I was so nervous to put in a tbsp of ginger, but like all of your recipes that I’ve tried, these cookies turned out perfect. Thank you!!

  3. Just made this dough/cookies today. Everything from the bake time to the chilling instructions were spot on. I love that the cookies are soft, and are not overly sweet. Perfect!

  4. These are delicious and the perfect softness. I will definitely make this recipe again, and double it!

  5. I made this recipe last Christmas, and it was a huge hit. Even people that don’t usually like gingerbread cookies loved them. I had 2 different recipes saved to my recipe book (from when I was looking around for a recipe originally), and I accidentally made the other ones first, and was disappointed and really confused. The taste was okay, but just… off. They were pretty dry and NOT AT ALL what I had remembered. Then I realized I saved this recipe too, and made a second attempt, and there it was! The magic I had craved! Promptly deleted the other one and wrote this one down. Incredible isn’t a strong enough word. Thank you so much for this!

  6. Just made these with my kids, lovely recipe and they loved making them! Really spot on spice hit!
    What a beautiful site you have, I literally want to eat everything lol!
    I also made the chocolate pannetone yesterday, I took out 1/2 cup milk and added 2 eggs though.

  7. The BEST gingerbread cookies! Such a rich, deep, and spicy gingerbread. Nothing compares to these-everyone loves them, they always get gobbled up every time I make them. And no need to adjust anything in the recipe-it’s perfect as is.

  8. Love the flavor, but mine are crisp! I have them in a container with bread, hoping it softens them up. If they last that long! I only had blackstrap molasses. Is that why they are so dark?

    1. I’m so glad you enjoyed this recipe, Linda! A slice of bread with the cookies should do the trick for softening them up. And yes, blackstrap molasses will definitely give it a darker color and stronger taste. Thank you so much for making my recipe!

  9. Second year making this recipe, and it is a favorite. I am asked to make them all winter long. I tell people that once spring has sprung the recipe goes into hibernation til next Christmas. Thank you!

  10. This is by far the best gingerbread recipe out there. My family and gingerbread lovers truly love these cookies they are a huge hit. Thanks so much!

  11. So maybe you can tell me what happened with my cookies here. I had a lot of kids to feed so I double this recipe. I mixed all the spices in with the flour (which was supposed to be equal to 7 cups doubled) I couldn’t even get 5.5 cups of the flour mixture mixed in before it came dry as the dessert and all crumbly. I panicked and didn’t know what to do, so I added an extra egg that I worked into the dough by hand. The dough seemed ok…but it was missing a bunch of spice that was still in the left over flour. I chilled them, rolled them out, and have to say they are pretty gross. Taste like spiced flour! What happened, why didn’t they turn out. Super bummed because I ended up having to throw them all away. 🙁

  12. This recipe was amazing! The supermarket I go to did not have ground clove and so I substituted 1/2 teaspoon of allspice instead and they still turned out great. I already passed on this recipe to a few friends! It was my first time making gingerbread men (specifically, gingerbread hospital staff — I included an Instagram link to the picture of cookies) and happy it was a success. Thank you!

  13. Hi Sally! I made your gingerbread cookies for the first time for Christmas this year, and they were a HIT! Everyone in my family loves them and are wanting more! I have a feeling they’ll be expecting these for Christmas from now on!

  14. Thank you!!! These were easy and I had great results. The cookies impressed my daughter who is a talented baker. I took the suggestion to refrigerate the dough overnight. It seemed very stiff so I set it out on the counter for an hour before working with it. I used the plastic wrap that I had refrigerated the dough in when I rolled it out. Top and bottom. No sticking, no need to add flour to my hands. My cookie cutters were four inches in size. I came out with about a dozen gingerbread men and a half dozen smaller heart shaped cookies to decorate the plate. I’ve never had such success with a gingerbread man recipe. Use quality ingredients, follow the recipe and that’s it.

  15. I tried this recipe over the weekend! Easy to work with and the combination of spices is just right!
    Only thing is…checking to see if they’re done. Some were crispy and some were soft. I did use a timer but because they’re dark, it’s hard to tell when they’re done—didn’t want to overbake them. :0

    Thank you for sharing your recipe and tips!

  16. These should be renamed “Best Gingerbread Cookies”! As a new baker, your instructions are so helpful and I appreciate all the tips. I have made at least 7 batches of these gingerbread cookies and every one has turned out wonderful. The spice is just the right amount and the texture is soft, but not crumbly. I also made the cream cheese frosting from your “Cream Cheese Sugar Cookies” and iced these cookies for added richness. Thank you for helping to make my Christmas extra delicious!

  17. I love this recipe! These gingerbread cookies stay soft for days and the flavor is perfect. They did spread a bit more than I would’ve liked but I was able to solve that for the other badges by chilling the cut out dough before baking.

  18. Made these gingerbread cookies tonight with my 4 year old. They were very tasty! Thank you.

  19. Made this over the holidays twice because it was so good and the cookies didn’t last. Whole family raved! Excellent with or without icing.

  20. Perfect gingerbread cookies, love them more than the ones I had growing up!

  21. I’ve been looking for a gingerbread cookie that had lots of ginger flavor. This is exactly what I’ve been looking for. I also used your easy cookie icing which was so easy to make and perfect for these cookies. Thanks for the recipe

  22. These are fabulous!! I made for Christmas plates and everyone loved them. They are better the day after baking. Thank you so much!!!

  23. These are delicious! The recipe caught my eye because it uses a lot of ground ginger. I like a really strong ginger taste. I do have one question though. I plan on trying to decorate them with royal icing tomorrow. I’ve worked with royal icing before, but with sugar cookies. These are soft-ish and I’m wondering if they will be able to hold up to totally flooding the tops with the icing, as opposed to just adding some eyes and a mouth etc.?

    1. Absolutely! I cover them completely with royal icing most of the times I prepare/decorate them. So glad you enjoy these cookies too!

  24. I’m have a cookie cutter in the shape of Winnie the Pooh’s face and am looking for a recipe to use with them. (It’s my daughter’s birthday and we’re throwing a Pooh-themed birthday party.) Does this recipe work well with all sorts of shapes? Thanks!

  25. Great combination of flavors! The molasses and ginger flavors were perfect and not overpowering.

    The dough worked great for slice-and bake cookies, too. I didn’t have any cookie cutters, so I just rolled the dough into a log before chilling (according to the recipe) and then sliced them before baking.

    My dad who isn’t a fan of gingerbread cookies loved them especially when we topped them with homemade whipped cream!

  26. Hi Sally,
    I love this recipe and have used it twice now, its definitely a crowd favorite. I was just wondering how it compares to the Gingerbread cookie recipe in your Cookie Addiction cookbook. It seems to have similar ingredients but different amounts, is one an updated version of the other?

    1. Hi Farrah! The recipes are exactly the same. 🙂 The gram measurements are very slightly different, but nothing that would make or break the recipe.

  27. Hello Sally!
    I love this recipe, made it twice with my four year old.
    Is it okay to decorate these with chocolate chips before baking?
    Thank you!

    1. I’m so happy you enjoy this recipe, Haniya! Yes, you can press chocolate chips into the dough before baking. Have fun 🙂

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