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 turned out amazing! The flavor of these cookies were delish! My daughter decorated all the cookies! It was so much fun!

  2. This is by far the best gingerbread cookie recipe I have ever made. That being said I did not make gingerbread men out of the cookies. I made thumbprint cookies out of them. However they are fantastic and all my friends and family love them.

    I followed the recipe exactly. Which is not something I normally do. I usually end up tweaking it a bit but I did not need to on this one.

  3. Loved this recipe! I would recommend really rolling them out thin because they have a beautiful snap but if they are just a little too thick they be a bit tough, I added some light decorations with almond flavored royal icing and they are just so good! I made half a batch and managed to make about 24 cookies, so beware that with a whole batch you’re going to get a lot of cookies! This will definitely be a recipe I save for a long time!

  4. Susan schroeder says:

    These cookies are delicious! A few comments: 1) my dough was not particularly sticky. No problem putting them in the discs. I did refrigerate overnight and dough was very easy to work with. Not sticky at all. 2). I only got qty 12 out of this recipe…. my cookie cutter was 5 inches so exited a few less. I think they were pretty close to the 1/4 in thickness.
    Anyway,,,they sure are good! Yum! I’d put a picture but didn’t know how to add.

  5. Delicious! I made them gluten free by using BRM 1 to 1 baking flour & they are perfect! Lovely spice & perfect consistency.

  6. My daughter has been asking to make gingerbread cookies all Christmas season. We tried these and I’m not sure what went wrong but our dough wasn’t wet/sticky, it was more dry/crumbly. The only thing I can think of is that there may have been a little molasses leftover in the measuring cup but I added an extra tablespoon at the end when I noticed the consistency.

    1. Hi Katie, I don’t think you did anything wrong. Perhaps the flour wasn’t spooned and leveled, but it’s nothing that can’t be fixed during the rolling process. Tips for rolling that I’ve always found useful if your dough is crumbly– try 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.

  7. I’ve made this recipe twice; once exactly as written, and the second time with the spices (ginger, cinnamon, cloves, allspice) 1.5x (i.e. 1.5 tbs cinnamon and ginger, and 3/4 tsp allspice and cloves). My husband and I preferred the batch with more spices; with the icing it isn’t overpowering. If you roll it much thinner than 1/4 inch your cookie cutter shapes won’t hold while you peel them off the counter and move them to the baking sheet. I found that if I let the dough sit at room temp for a while after chilling it was much easier to roll out. I had to use quite a bit of flour to prevent things from sticking. Looking forward to making these all season. 🙂

  8. Hi! I’d like to try this recipe out but just wondering if the molasses can be substituted. Since dark brown sugar already has molasses in it, and someone mentioned that the taste of molasses was too strong. Thank you! I love your recipes!

    1. Hi Adeline! Unfortunately molasses is a key ingredient in this recipe and leaving it out or reducing the amount would change how the cookies turn out. (I would recommend either adding milk or butter or another sweetener, but that would require testing.) Feel free to try my sugar cookies instead and add some spices like cinnamon, ginger, and cloves.

  9. If we wanted to decorate the cookies on Christmas day/night how many days in advance can I make these and how would I store them. I plan to make them the week of Christmas but wonderinf if I could make them a few days in advance. Christmas lands on a Friday, was wondering if I could bake them wednesday? Ive never had the guts to make gingerbread cookies but I’m going to this year! And so glad I found your recipe. Thanks for the help!

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Shelby, You can definitely make the cookies in advanced. They will stay fresh covered at room temperature for a week – of if you want to make them even earlier see the recipe notes for freezing instructions. Happy baking!

  10. This was my first time making gingerbread and this recipe did not disappoint! We used Earth Balance vegan butter because of diary issues in our house and they still turned out delicious. Thanks for this lovely recipe and new tradition!

  11. Lyndsi Schuesler says:

    I just made these and they are good. Rolled 1/4 inch thin they came out nice soft texture with no spreading. Mine are much darker than the pictures though and do have a bit too much molasses flavor. I am goong to try to tweak next time.

  12. These cookies are amazing!! I made them last night and they turned out perfectly. You weren’t kidding when you said to “generously flour” your work surface! Very sticky if you don’t use enough flour. I am not a baker at all and I found this recipe very easy to follow.
    Someone mentioned a strong molasses flavour but I didn’t get that at all. I found the flavour to be perfect actually. And this is coming from a true gingerbread cookie fan 🙂

  13. Emmily Lenehan says:

    This is the most perfect cookie recipe I have ever tried!! So delicious, moist and easy to make! Two huge thumbs up!

  14. These were delicious, although I felt the spices were a bit strong – so did my brother. I have tried many of Sally’s recipes though and it was great overall. Will definitely make again but will slightly reduce the amount of spices I add in next time though.

  15. This recipe did not work out for me. The dough came out extremely crumbly and dry and I followed the instructions exactly. I added a bit of water to the dough and it seemed to help a tiny bit. I ended up chilling the dough and it came out crumbly again and when I tried rolling it out it all just fell apart. The reviews on this recipe were so good but I’m pretty disappointed that mine turned out so bad.

    1. Hi Millie, did you see that section of the directions where I mention this could happen? Let the dough sit at room temperature for a bit to slightly soften. It will be much easier to roll out. After the first few rolls, it begins to come together. It can just be very tough right out of the refrigerator. Thanks for your feedback!

  16. Made a batch of these to give to neighbours with their Xmas cards this year. They came out super nice, but for my personal taste they are much too sweet. When making again I’d probably halve the mount of molasses.

  17. Lauren Cutler says:

    Hello! For “overnight” results, would you equal that out to about 8 hours? 12? Thanks!!

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Lauren, Anywhere between 8-12 hours would be great. Really 3 hours is the minimum we recommend for this dough, and it can chill for up to 3 days.

  18. The BEST recipe. If you don’t have allspice, I found 7spice to be a great replacement. I did heaping spoons for the spices bc we like the flavor to be rich (which it already is, just added an extra kick). Other than that, I followed the recipe as is and it’s so incredibly awesome.

  19. I made a batch of these tonight because I love gingerbread cookies and I wanted to try my hand at them. The spice combination is amazing but oh my gosh, the molasses! Way too overpowering, I am disappointed because the cookies look amazing and cooked perfectly but don’t taste as good as I had hoped. I am relieved to see others had the same issue with the molasses, I double checked that the recipe did indeed call for 2/3 cup. I would highly recommend using about half that amount if you do not like the sickly sweet molasses taste. However, I will definitely use this recipe again, just with tweaks.

  20. This really is the best gingerbread recipe, and I’ve made it countless times during the Christmas season. One time, during cleanup, I realized I had added 2/3 cup sugar instead of 3/4 cup. So I pressed in some brown sugar on top of the dough, mashed it in a bit and chilled it and baked as usual the next morning. The cookie had an occasional delicate crunch in addition to the crisp bite and chewy~ness and I can’t believe it made it better! I’m going to make it this way from now on. I make 20 5” gingerbread cookies with each recipe and I ate them all over 3 days. Burp.
    Thank you for sharing!!

  21. I mDe this gingerbread cookie recipe and I felt it was very mild. I had thought it would be spicier. The edges do have a nice crisp and the middle is soft. I made 4 inch gingerbread men and they took 8 minutes in the oven.
    My 11 year old son likes them a lot.

  22. This recipe is wonderfully delicious and was a huge hit with everyone I gave it to as gifts this holiday season; but I’m curious as to what the intended thickness is, because I doubled the recipe and rolled my dough to roughly a 1/4″ thickness and it only yielded 32 four-inch cookies rather than the expected 48 per double-batch of dough

  23. Add 1/4 tsp fresh black pepper.
    I made well over 220 of these for Xmas gifts and they were a HUGE hit!! Perfect spices and soft. Lovely!!

    1. Kitty I am with you…just a little bit of fresh black pepper makes it perfect for me

  24. I have been looking for a recipe like this for quite a while. It is deliciously soft with just the right mix of spices. Comparable to the Archway molasses cookies or the Little Debbie seasonal Gingerbread Men. Love them!

  25. Sally, your recipe is the highlight of our 2020 Christmas!
    The cookies were beyond delicious and it was so much fun for my kids to make them together.
    By the evening of St. Stephen’s day, they were all gone.
    It was a pleasure making and eating them, they delivered every single flavour promised in the description.
    It is now a tradition in our house and we thank you for it!

  26. I’m not sure what I did wrong but my dough was so crumbly even after letting it sit once I took it out the refrigerator. I could not use it to make my Ginger Bread Cookies. I had to throw it away. It’s a shame because it’s my favorite cookie. Any suggestions?

    1. Hi Lea, this is noted in the recipe– no need to throw it away! 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.

      1. Hi,
        Thanks for responding. My dough was more crumbly than normal. When I picked it up it fell completely apart. It looked more like sand. I rolled and rolled but it continued to break apart. I even tried using my cookie cutter pieces. It just broke apart even more. I’ll have to go back over the recipe to see where I went wrong. I made a Ginger Bread Cake instead. Have a wonderful New Year!!!

    2. Charlotte Andrew says:

      i’ve made these a few times now, and this helped me alot: after the dough is made i roll a ball of it right in a zip loc type bag to the desired thickness then freeze till firm. Then cut the bag and remove the rolled dough then cut into desired shapes and transfer to baking sheet. reroll scraps in another ziploc bag and freeze before cutting. This makes it a snap and also less messy. Hope this helps!

  27. This is definitely the best recipe for Gingerbread cookies. They have the best texture and flavor compared to other recipes I’ve made.

  28. These cookies are so yummy and pretty easy to make. I made them 3 (!) times this December. I may make them again since I received more cookie cutters for Christmas. Due to the virus we didn’t share many, so my family of 3 ate most of them. Thank you for sharing the recipe!

  29. These are so bomb! The best gingerbread cookies ever!!!

  30. Absolutely delicious! Great recipe. I made these for my family and they were a hit. Super tasty! I love that they don’t have that fake gingerbread taste you often find in the non-homemade gingerbread cookies. They aren’t too sweet which I love! They taste like true genuine gingerbread cookies made from scratch. I refrigerated the dough for about 7 hours. A tip to others is to work pretty fast once you take one of the dough discs out to roll and use cookie cutters, as the dough softens quickly. My cookies held shape and came out beautifully!

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