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
  • Easy 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.

Make ahead tip: Cookies stay fresh covered at room temperature for up to 1 week. 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:

NOTE: This cookie dough is not sturdy enough for gingerbread houses.

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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

279 Comments

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  1. The best gingerbread men cookies ever!!! I made it together with my 4yr old daughter who loves to eat them as well! Just can’t stop thinking to bite them~~yummy yummy! This would be the perfect Christmas gift for us 😉 thanks for sharing this recipe Sally. 

  2. The best gingerbread men ever!!! I made them for Christmas and they were a huge hit. I honestly ate half of them all by myself lol. I’m making another batch tonight because they’re so good!!! Can’t wait for the cookie cookbook ❤❤

  3. I tried making a batch of gingerbread cookies a few weeks ago and used lots of flour because the dough was so sticky. I see you indicate the flour should cook off of the dough. But mine didn’t. Is there something special I need to do in order to make that flour cook off? I didn’t refrigerate my dough as long as recommended here. Does that also contribute to it?

    1. The dough of gingerbread is supposed to be sticky, so the extra flour you used probably skewed the recipe. I don’t know what refrigeration would have done though.

  4. i think i might have added the extra flour i had put aside to use next day, my memory is not as good as it used to be, anyway is there anyway or anything i can do to rectify this besides to start over

  5. Hi! 

    Sally the flavor in these are amazing! My son requested gingerbread cookies for his star student day. I knew this would be the perfect recipe! However, I’m having trouble figuring out why mine turned out flat-ish (definitely not puffy like the ones pictured). They were still crisp on the edges and soft in the middle but they were just flat and skinny. I suspect possible because the butter was near room temperature (not room temperature

  6. I made these for my husband for Christmas, he loved them. It was my first time ever making them. His mom is a baker and said my cookies tasted better, shh 🙂 I literally ordered a rolling pin to make these, I don’t bake often. Thanks for the great recipe!

  7. I’m going to make these for my students to celebrate the end of the Math state tests! How many 4″ cookies will this recipe makes?

  8. The best cookies I’ve ever made!!!!!! My siblings loved them!!!!
    The process of making the dough went slightly awry when I replaced some of the all-purpose flour with whole wheat; forgetting that it absorbs more moisture. The dough was dry, so I added a little more butter and part of an egg, and put it in the freezer to rest. When I eventually made the cutout cookies, they came out crispy, and the flavor was astounding!!!! I was sooooo happy!!!!!! Thanks, Sally, for making my day!! These are the days when I wish I was British and could make these for the GBBO.

  9. Hi Sally, can I use treacle instead of molasses? Same amount or less? Also would golden syrup work aswell? New to baking and unsure where to find molasses xx

  10. Just made a batch of these and froze half of the dough.. they taste amazing! However the ones that I rolled out and cut first have all cracks on the surface which happened in the oven?! Why could this be? The second and third lot I rolled from the dough were perfect. I had to use black treacle instead of molasses, will that make much difference to the recipe?

  11. OMG!!! These cookies are delicious. I am not a baker at all and I don’t like following baking directions. I am more of an eyeball the ingredients kind of person. At first, I was a little overwhelmed because of the amount of information around the actual recipe, but all of that was just little helpful hints. The recipe was soooooo easy to follow!!! Really just taking wet and dry ingredients, combining them, mushing the dough together and letting it rest in the fridge. I forgot to take the butter out so it was cold when I put it in the mixer and it just took an extra minute to get soft enough to add the brown sugar and molasses. We were able to make almost 2 lbs of small cookies. They cooked perfectly at 8 min. DO NOT WAIT UNTIL THEY ARE CRISPY TO TAKE THEM OUT OF THE OVEN! We took them out when they were brown but still a little mushy when we pressed on them. This allowed them to cool, crisp up and harden, while still being mushy and soft on the inside. My tummy is hurting I ate so much dough. I wouldn’t change a thing and I will always use this recipe!!Thank so much- non baker 🙂

  12. Hi just wondering if this cookie recipe would work with cookie cutters that press a design on the cookies. They look a little puffy and I have some awesome Star Wars cookie cutters to use!

    1. No, allspice is different. If you don’t have any, I would just make the recipe without it, instead of trying to find a substitute.

  13. This recipe was perfect. I made this the other day and everyone LOVED them. I am saving this recipe for all future Christmas baking. Thank you for a fabulous recipe and to all those who took the time to write reviews. The reviews helped me to decide to try this recipe.

  14. Hi! Great recipe, how long can I keep the dough in the refrigerator? I made my dough on Friday night and haven’t had a chance to bake the cookies, I didn’t put the dough in frizer and now I don’t know if I can use it?
    Please help!  

    1. Karen,
      I would think that if you used the dough today it would be okay, but I am NOT a food safety expert.  If it were me I would go ahead and do it since I would not want to  waste the dough. 

  15. It would be perfect if day 10 of your Cookie Palooza for this year would be a Gingerbread House!! I was so excited that you had a gingerbread cookie recipe and was planning on using it for making gingerbread houses, until I read that they’re too soft 🙁 . Do you happen to have a recipe I could use instead?

  16. Good morning Sally! I made these last year and loved them! Im wondering if I could roll the dough before chilling (as in your sugar cookies) or if it will be too sticky? I have a bunch of elves coming Saturday morning to help bake a mountain of cookies for a charity event, and I’d like to get as much ready ahead of time as possible. Also, is making and chilling this evening and baking on Saturday morning too much time in the fridge? I can’t make the dough tomorrow. Thanks!

  17. Hi, I’ve made these last night, it was a success! I followed the instructions, and only baked for 8 mins, people loved them! Although I found them to be a bit too dry when I rolled out the dough, and I personally found it a bit dry after baking, should I add more butter to the recipe? You think the flour being added during rolling effected the texture? 

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