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. yumm!!!

  2. Simply the best I’ve ever tasted

  3. I had purchased all necessary ingredients to make these cookies at Christmas but never got around to it. I made them instead for Super Bowl weekend in a football shape and decorated with royal icing and “Go Bucs”. Gingerbread was the perfect color for the footballs and they were delicious ! I can’t wait to make the gingerbread men next Christmas!

  4. I am not a huge fan of gingerbread cookies. However these are delicious. These are so tasty.

  5. Been searching for a good recipe for gingerbread cookies for years. So glad I found this!! Absolutely delicious! The whole family loved it, even the ones that are not big fans of spiced baked goods! What’s also great is that the flavors and textures ages so well that even up to (almost) a month (tested out a few pieces for shelf life), the flavors just elevated and become more refined and pronounced. Thank you for this recipe!

    1. Natasha Sohail Chaudhary says:

      Hi! This may be a dumb question, but this is something I’ve never attempted so just want to be sure. The molasses should be liquid right? Because it’s available as a powder too. And I’m guessing that’s important to keep the texture right.

      1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

        Hi Natasha! Yes, liquid molasses is what you need for this recipe. It should be quite thick. Enjoy!

  6. Sally, thank you so much for this recipe. I cannot bake at all, but this recipe is so easy to follow. I made lots of baby gingerbread man with this. Big hit for the family, my kids love them.

  7. Kendra Short says:

    I have made these so many times!! My family and anyone I have made them for Love them!!

  8. Best Gingerbread cookie recipe! Our daughter couldn’t be home for Christmas or her birthday, but I made them today for her, before she returned to her job across the country, a Covid nurse.

  9. Such a great recipe! Absolutely delicious, not too sweet, and perfect chewy texture!

    Question – when I mix the flour and spices in, it’s overheated/broken a couple of my hand mixers. Is there a particular power of hand mixer you recommend since the mix is so thick and sticky? Thank you!

    1. Hilari @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Alyssa, we’re so happy you enjoy these cookies! We have success using a KitchenAid 5-speed hand mixer if that helps for next time. Do you have a stand mixer? If so, give that a try – it should definitely hold up to the thick dough.

  10. This is a wonderful recipe! It’s perfectly spiced and has a lovely texture. I preferred it harder so I did 11 and 1/2 mins. I thought gingerbread cookies were hard to make but this was an easy recipe for me and really fun!

  11. Dough was very crumbly and this was a hard recipe.
    Plus no clarity on oven temperature as even after 11 minutes at 200C the cookie was soft to touch…
    Never attempting again

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Sarah, thanks for giving these a try. 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 we’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. These are softer gingerbread cookies, but feel free to add more bake time for a crispier texture.

    2. Point 3 in the recipe says
      • Preheat oven to 350°F (177°C).

  12. Great recipe. I made a couple of tweaks and wondered if I needed to make adjustments for liquid if I remove some of the molasses and brown sugar (about 10 grams each). I noticed the cookies seemed dried out the following day. I did add 2 TB more of butter. Just wondered if maybe I should add an egg white or something else to give it more moisture. Thank you for your thoughts.

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Gloria, Omitting some of the molasses and brown sugar will definitely remove some of the moisture from the cookie. It would take some additional recipe testing to find a way to balance that out, but let us know if you try anything. We’re glad you enjoyed them!

  13. Paolas Work says:

    Hi! Can I substitute the molasses? If I can for what ingredient ?

    Thanks

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

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

      1. Have not tried yet, but was wondering if the molasses could be substituted for golden syrup??

      2. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

        Hi Evie, some readers have made that substitution with success, but there’s a lot of flavor lost. For best results, we recommend sticking with molasses.

  14. Your cookies are so yum!! I am obsessed…….I’m even making gingerbread cookies in the summer time hahah. I love how the cookies are no too crispy, they are perfectly soft when you bite into them. Adding icing and sprinkles just ties everything together.

  15. Cindy Pilkington says:

    I had a gingerbread cookie stuffed with apricot preserves from a bakery. Do you think it would be possible to roll out thinner and cut two circles to make the stuffed cookie. I would put a dollop of apricot on the the bottom disc and then top with other and attempt to seal the edges. Do you think it would work for this recipe? Thanks in advance for your reply!

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Cindy, absolutely! Just like we did with these chocolate gingerbread sandwich cookies which use this same gingerbread recipe. We would love to hear how your cookies go, that flavor combination sounds absolutely incredible. Happy baking!

      1. Cindy Pilkington says:

        Thanks for that link too. The bakery cookie I tried actually had the apricot preserves sealed inside and it was a surprise to bite into it and taste that great combination. It had a smooth surface on the cookie and also dipped halfway in white chocolate. I hope to make these soon! Thanks for your quick reply!
        Cindy

    2. Love this recipe! My absolute favorite cookie! Was curious if there’s a way to make it gluten free as we have a new allergy in the house? Would almond flour work?

      1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

        Hi Janina, how great to hear that you loved this recipe! We haven’t tested a gluten-free version of this recipe, so we’re unsure of the results. We don’t recommend almond flour as it has very different baking properties and is not always a 1:1 swap. You might have been success experimenting with a gluten-free all-purpose flour like Bob’s Red Mill or Cup4Cup. If you give anything a try, we’d love to know how it goes for you!

  16. Delicious classic! I make these every Christmas.

  17. Had great fun making these with my grandson. So easy to make and delicious. Rolled out perfectly. I don’t need to look any further for a recipe, this is a keeper.!

  18. Mary Ann Laun says:

    I read “the gingerbread man” folk story to my grandson and now I want to make some for him. He is only two and a little bit picky. Would you recommend cutting some of the spices a bit?

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Mary Ann, you can certainly try reducing the spices if you’d like, however it’s not overwhelming as written. Hope your grandson enjoys the cookies!

  19. These cookies were phenomenal. The flavour from that combo of spices was sublime. The cookies were soft, tender and absolutely delicious. Definitely a new favourite recipe!

  20. I can’t wait to try this recipe to make German hearts (like the ones you find at German Christmas markets). Would this recipe work for those (never made them before). I would think I would have to roll out the dough thicker and possibly bake longer as a result../just curious if you’ve made them before and if you have any tips. Thank you! P.S. I love your recipes!

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Christina, We’ve never tried to make the cookies that big, but it should work! The bake time will be longer depending on how large you make them. Let us know if you give it a try.

  21. Stephanie Morrison says:

    I followed the recipe almost exactly. I only had cake flour and the cookies are very good. Not overly sweet and the ginger stands out. I saved the recipe.

  22. Hello! Thank you for the recipe. I have tried it but unfortunately the dough was too crumbly and not sticky at all. I could not make anything with it. Is 3,5 cups of flour the right amount? It seems to me it was too much.

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Olga, how are you measuring your flour? Be sure to spoon and level (or weight measure) your flour to ensure you’re not adding too much flour to the dough. Too much flour can lead to a dry cookie. Hope this helps!

  23. Hello, i haven’t cooked them yet the dought is resting, Is there a way to make the dough more darker

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Jayna, different types of molasses can yield darker/lighter colors. However, keep in mind that the darker the molasses, the stronger and more potent the taste.

  24. I’ve used your recipe plenty of times and everyone loves the cookie. Now I have lots to make for a baby shower. I know that I can freeze the dough, then roll them out as needed. To stay ahead, do you think that I can cut out the cookies, then freeze it and save the baking of them later on? I don’t want the cookie to dry out in the process.

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Jan, yes, that should work just fine. Make sure the cookies are tightly sealed in the freezer. Hope they’re a hit at the baby shower!

  25. Can you give insight on how long these cookies will remain soft? Do they dry out quickly? Need to know before I make and put in gift tins. I don’t want them to get hard between back/decorate, package, gift giving and however long it takes the recipient to eat them. Just curious if you have tested the “soft” time. TIA

    1. Hi Michelle, if you avoid over-baking the cookies and store them tightly covered, they remain soft for about 5-7 days.

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