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 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
  • 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

  • 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

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

284 Comments

  1. It may be Easter, not usually the season for gingerbread 😉 but we tried this recipe during the quarantine for something to try! We like it very much, and I do like that the cookies are soft. I probably would add a bit more sugar to mine next time but I’ll hold on to this recipe. Thank you 🙂

  2. Judi Ellis says:

    Since it’s been snowing in Ohio my 3 year old Grandson reverted to watching Christmas videos so we had to make Gingerbread cookies .
    I didn’t check my spices before starting and had No Ginger! I substituted Pumpkin pie spice and I think I like them better then regular ginger.
    Great recipie, never even got to frost them.

  3. Reliable and tasty gingerbread cookie recipe! I have been using this recipe for xmas cookies for the past few years. You won’t be disappointed!

  4. These are so good, I’ve just made my third batch since finding this recipe. I use golden syrup instead of molasses and my 1yo, 3yo and husband love them! I made double dough this time, to keep in the fridge.

  5. Robyn and Grace says:

    We made these gingerbread cookies as a fun treat for a family tea. So delicious. We did butterflies, chicks and lambs.

  6. Hi Sally, can i apply your sugar cookies tricks in this recipe i.e roll it our before chilling? Or this dough is supposed to be not that hard to work with once chilled? I had previous experience with really sticky dough. Thanks for replying!

    1. Hi MaryJane, This dough is too sticky to roll out before it’s chilled. It’s really best to chill first, then roll it out and if it becomes sticky as you work don’t be scared to add more flour to the work surface, hands, and rolling pin.

  7. I’m an avid baker, but weirdly, have never made gingerbread. This is the perfect recipe! When looking for one, my daughters and I recognized you from your show and knew these would be a winner. We have made many of your recipes and they always turn out just right (your lemon cake is a total fav around here). Keep up the awesome work!

  8. Hi, I just made this and it tastes delicious!! The cookie is a little dry and the bottom part of the cookie is a little uneven and crumbly. Any suggestions of what I could do?

    1. Hi Kanchi Patel, it sounds like the cookies could have been over-baked. A minute or 2 less in the oven should help if you decide to try the recipe again.

  9. They’re amazing! Great flavor and a lot of fun to make and decorate.

  10. I made these several times with a 4″ Christmas tree cutter and then made a lemon icing I put in a squeeze bottle and just did a zig – zag across all of them and then sprinkled with a bit of sanding sugar for a bit of sparkle, super simple and delish. Today I am making big round ones for frozen lemon custard ice-cream sandwiches. I do love a lemon gingerbread combo, so yummy together! Great old fashioned cookie.

  11. Hi, Can I use golden syrup in place of molasses like some other gingerbread men recipes?

    1. Hi Emma! Some readers have made that substitution with success, but there’s a lot of flavor lost. For best results, I recommend sticking with molasses.

  12. These were delish cookies! Perfect amount of spices for my 5-year-old to handle. One problem though- The dough was a bit too soft. We tried refrigerating it to firm, but once it came out it was too hard to roll. Once it was soft enough to flatten it was too soft to move the shapes onto the trays! Any ideas how I can prevent this from happening again?

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Maria, If the dough becomes too soft after rolling out (or at any time in the process), place the rolled out dough back in the refrigerator for about 15 minutes or until it firms up again. I find myself having to do this if it’s warm in my kitchen or I let the dough sit out for a while!

  13. I’ve made this twice, once per instructions, another time I substituted shortening for butter because it was easier to travel with, and we didn’t refrigerate it before baking, and they turned out just as good.

  14. My dough turned out a lot darker but the gingerbread man is still very cute. Sadly my 4 year old doesn’t like a lot of spices, but he sure enjoys decorating them. Can I add more flour to the left-over dough to make the taste a bit more subtle.

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Lori, Adding more flour would make pretty tough cookies. If you try these again feel free to reduce the spices in the recipe.

  15. I made these to go with the “Gingerbread Man” story I share with my grandchildren. Great flavor and they turned out perfectly. I did not make any substitutions. They rolled out well- not too strong but had a good ginger flavor. I did wrap and leave my dough in the refrigerator overnight. I will use this recipe again.

  16. Can I substitute butter flavored shortening for the butter in order to make the cookies dairy free?

    1. Hi Lisa, I can’t see why not!

  17. My 3 year old son and I made these and they are simply delicious. Easy to make and fun to decorate. I recommend this recipe for all the mom’s out there and it makes the house smell so good.

  18. Made these today and let rest overnight. I’ve never used molasses in my baking before so it may be a taste im not use to. I find the after taste bitter. But that might be me.
    My kids loved them. I might sub for maple syrup and see.

  19. I made these gingerbread cookies, they are perfectly delicious! Soft & chewy, if you do you roll too thin or bake too long! Baker error! My favorite. I will make these again. Love them

  20. I’ve been looking for a gingerbread cookie that tastes like the kind my neighbor used to make when I was growing up and these are pretty damn close! So delicious. I will definitely be making them again.

  21. Hi! Can I make these with earth balance (lactose intolerant child)? Thank you!

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Maura, We haven’t tested this recipe with Earth Balance brand butter but let us know if you try!

  22. Thank you so much for this recipe!
    It is absolutely fantastic.

  23. Susan Sanchez says:

    This came out amazingly! I received some many compliments. I refrigerated overnight and was not sparing with the flour dusting when rolling out and that really helped. Thank you for sharing!!!

  24. Cristina Tanner says:

    Do you have recommendations for molasses?

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Christina, We use unsulphured molasses – Grandma’s brand is what we have in the kitchen!

  25. Love this recipe! Have you ever tried using whole grain flours? I have Einkorn, Edison Hard Wheat, and Barley flours that I would like to use.

    1. Hi Kat, I haven’t tested the recipe with any of the flours listed. The dough may be a little dry if you ever try whole wheat flour, though. I would add 1 Tablespoon of water when you add the molasses or increase the butter by 2 Tbsp.

  26. The dough looked dry at first but got better after hand mixing. Also the cookies weren’t very sweet I had to add sugar but overall it was pretty good.

  27. I’ve made these many times—love the recipe! For some reason my dough is almost crumbly (not so sticky) this time. Any idea what I did wrong? Thanks for your help!

  28. The BEST gingerbread cookies I have ever made! And I’ve tried many lots of flavor and a nice crisp texture ❤️ Thanks for the recipe!

  29. Turned out Fantastic!
    Not too tough, nice and chewey, taste delicious and not too spicy.
    Thank you for sharing

  30. I made this last year and they are amazing, i would love to make a gluten free batch for my brother in law. Do you have a recommendation on replacement ingredients?

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