Spiced Gingerbread Loaf

Soft, moist, and intensely flavored gingerbread loaf tastes just like the holidays! Made with molasses and ginger and drizzled with orange glaze, you’ll welcome a slice any time of day.

gingerbread loaf with icing

Today’s wonderfully spiced gingerbread loaf is breakfast, snack, and dessert all rolled into one. Orange icing and all. You can make the loaf as muffins (see my notes!) or serve with a scoop of vanilla ice cream for dessert. Have a slice with coffee in the afternoon or top with homemade whipped cream and fresh cranberries. The possibilities are endless and if you have a few minutes to spare, you can whip up this gingerbread batter. Let’s do this!

slice of gingerbread loaf on a silver plate

Why You’ll Love This Gingerbread Loaf

One of the many things I love about this recipe is the smell as it bakes– your home will smell completely divine as guests come and go, not to mention put you in a completely festive holiday state of mind. If you need even more convincing to give gingerbread loaf a try… it’s:

  • Deeply spiced and moist
  • Has rich, dark molasses flavor
  • Not overly sweet
  • Easy to make
  • Perfect any time of day
  • Adaptable into muffins or cupcakes (or try my gingerbread muffins)
  • Delicious with or without the icing
  • Always impressive!

2 images of the hot water and molasses mixture in a glass measuring cup

Ingredients in Spiced Gingerbread Loaf

We use pretty standard ingredients to make gingerbread loaf. They’re all pantry basics that you likely already have on hand.

  • Flour: This is a dense, moist cake so we need sturdy all-purpose flour as the base.
  • Baking Soda: Baking soda helps it rise.
  • Salt & Spices: This loaf is a deeply spiced gingerbread. There’s plenty of ginger, cinnamon, and cloves. The three spices I use the most this time of year! Also: I add black pepper. I love it so much in my pumpkin pie, I figured why not in gingerbread too. There’s not much– only 1/8 teaspoon– but just enough to make this a super spiced gingerbread, unlike any others I’ve ever tried.
  • Molasses: A gingerbread essential. There are varying intensities of molasses on store shelves from lighter molasses to blackstrap molasses. Go for a dark molasses, also sold as “robust” molasses. A few brands I favor: Grandma’s Robust Molasses, Grandma’s Unsulphured Molasses, or Wholesome!’s Organic Molasses (this stuff is potent and delicious– it’s what I used in the pictured loaf and why the loaf looks so dark.)
  • Water: We use hot water to thin out the molasses and provide some liquid for the gingerbread batter.
  • Butter: Adds flavor and moisture. Make sure it’s properly softened to room temperature before beginning.
  • Brown Sugar: We use brown sugar (light or dark) for extra molasses flavor and moisture.
  • Egg: One egg binds everything together.
  • Vanilla Extract: A must! Vanilla pairs wonderfully with all of the spices and flavors we have going on. Try using homemade vanilla extract.

gingerbread loaf batter in a glass bowl

Son of a nutcracker! This gingerbread is dark!

How to Make Gingerbread Loaf

  1. Mix the dry ingredients together.
  2. Whisk the molasses and hot water together.
  3. Cream the remaining wet ingredients together. (Butter, brown sugar, egg, and vanilla extract.)
  4. Add the dry ingredients and molasses/water mixture. In three additions, add the dry ingredients alternating with the molasses/water mixture. Mix each addition just until incorporated. The batter will be thin.
  5. Bake. 
  6. Make the orange icing. Drizzle over cooled loaf.

gingerbread loaf

Orange Icing

I made a simple and quick orange icing for drizzling on top of the soft and spicy gingerbread. You can certainly use vanilla icing instead, but I highly suggest the citrus! It’s a light and fragrant contrast to the richer, more intense flavors in the gingerbread. It’s just 2 ingredients: orange juice and confectioners’ sugar. You’ve got both on hand, so why not pour on top? You won’t regret this.

Top with cranberries for color. You can even sugar them like I did in my pumpkin pie recipe!

slice of spiced gingerbread loaf on a silver plate

More Gingerbread Recipes

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gingerbread loaf with icing

Spiced Gingerbread Loaf

  • Author: Sally
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 60 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour, 10 minutes
  • Yield: 1 loaf
  • Category: Bread
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American


Spiced Gingerbread Loaf is full of robust molasses flavor, cinnamon, cloves, and topped with orange icing.


  • 2 cups (250g) all-purpose flour (spoon & leveled)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
  • 3/4 cup (180ml) unsulphured or dark molasses
  • 3/4 cup (180ml) hot water (about 100°F (38°C))
  • 1/2 cup (115g; 1 stick) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 1/3 cup (67g) packed light or dark brown sugar
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Orange Icing

  • 1 cup (120g) confectioners’ sugar, sifted
  • 23 Tablespoons (30-45ml) orange juice


  1. Adjust the oven rack to the lower third position and preheat oven to 350°F (177°C). Grease a 9×5-inch loaf pan. Set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, baking soda, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, salt and pepper together until combined. Set aside. In a separate bowl or dish, whisk the molasses and hot water together.
  3. In a large bowl using a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter on high speed until smooth and creamy – about 1 minute. Add the brown sugar and beat on high speed for 1 minute until creamed together fairly well. Scrape down the sides and up the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed. On medium-high speed, beat in the egg and vanilla extract until combined. Scrape down the sides and up the bottom of the bowl as needed. With the mixer on low speed, add the dry ingredients in three additions alternating with the hot water/molasses and mixing each addition just until incorporated. Avoid overmixing. Batter will be thin. Whisk out any big lumps.
  4. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake for around 50-60 minutes or until the gingerbread loaf is baked through. All ovens are different and your loaf could take a little more or less time. To test for doneness, insert a toothpick into the center of the gingerbread loaf. If it comes out clean with only a couple moist (not wet) crumbs, it is done. Allow to cool completely in the pan set on a wire rack before removing from pan.
  5. Make the icing: Whisk the confectioners’ sugar and orange juice together. Drizzle over cooled loaf.
  6. Leftover loaf keeps well covered tightly in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. The flavor gets even better after a day or two!


  1. Make Ahead & Freezing Instructions: The loaf can be baked, cooled, and covered tightly at room temperature overnight. Loaf can be frozen up to 2 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator and bring to room temperature before serving.
  2. Special Tools: KitchenAid Stand Mixer, KitchenAid Glass Bowl, 2-cup Glass Measuring Cup, Melamine Mixing Bowls, and Loaf Pan
  3. Muffins or Cupcakes: Simply pour batter into muffin liners or a greased muffin pan. Bake at 350°F (177°C) for 20-22 minutes. Makes about 10-12.

Keywords: gingerbread loaf, spiced gingerbread

Spiced gingerbread loaf that's soft, moist, and intensely flavored like the holidays with molasses and ginger! Recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com


  1. Hi! this recipe looks soo wonderful! I was wondering if you thing I would be able to turn it into a layer cake. Do you think it would hold-up to stacking? Is it too dense to work in a layer cake?

    1. You certainly can try this as a layer cake but yes, it would be more dense than your typical cake! I suggest you try this one: https://sallysbakingaddiction.com/moist-gingerbread-spice-snack-cake/

  2. I was wondering if oil could be used instead of butter? Also, how would I turn it into cookies?

    1. Hi Karen! Solid coconut oil could replace the butter– other than that, I recommend sticking with softened butter. Here is my recipe for gingerbread cookies.

  3. I made this today – three quarter cups of molasses was too molasses-y. Not enough of the ginger came through 🙁 I might cut back the molasses and increase the ginger next time.

  4. michelle mammes says:

    Hi Sally! I’ve made this twice this week (my husband cannot get enough of it!). Both times my bread was not as dark as yours. I used the Grandma’s Unsulphured molasses and I weighed all ingredients (as opposed to measuring cups). And, I greased the pan with crisco before baking but it still stuck to the bottom both times! Is the kind of molasses I used to blame for the color? And is there something else I can try to prevent sticking? None the less, this is delicious! And we enjoy it in the microwave for a few seconds before eating!

    1. Hi Michelle! I used Wholesome brand dark molasses for the pictured gingerbread. I remember specifically because when I’ve made this gingerbread loaf with Grandma’s molasses (my usual kind), it is not as dark. Tastes the same though! Try using nonstick spray, like Pam, instead. I’ve never had sticking issues with that!

      I’m so glad you enjoy the gingerbread loaf!

  5. Rochelle Spiegel says:

    Hi! This looks perfect for the holidays and I can’t wait to make it. I was wondering if this recipe could be doubled. Would I have to make any adjustments to the leaveners or could I just double everything? Thanks!

    1. Hi Rochelle! For best results (both taste and texture) I recommend making two batters instead of doubling the recipe.

  6. I really want to have a cranberry gingerbread loaf or cake. Would this recipe work with some fresh cranberries mixed in?

    1. Definitely! I suggest 3/4 – 1 cup fresh or frozen cranberries (do not thaw).

      1. Awesome! Plan on making tomorrow … yum!!

  7. Hi there! If I wanted to do mini loaves instead of a big loaf are there any major adjustments I need to make besides time and temperature? What temperature and how long would I bake the mini loaves? I want to wrap them and send them as gifts to family and friends!

    1. Hi Shannon! Same oven temperature. The mini loaf baking time varies between pans (they are all different sizes these days!) but generally 22-25 minutes. Use a toothpick to test for doneness.

  8. Sounds wonderful! Any idea the calories in a slice of a muffin? I want to gift these (as muffins) to a friend who will ask if I know the calories thank you in advance!

    1. Hi Victoria! I’m unsure, but feel free to calculate using a free online calorie calculator and plug in the exact brands you use.

      1. Thank you…I didn’t think of that, have a wonderful weekend!

  9. Just made this as 4 little mini loaves in 3x5ish size pans and it turned out great! Dark and spicy, yum. Will be giving them as gifts (except for the one my husband and I ate haha)!

  10. I made a few of these loaves last year and they turned out beautifully! This year I was thinking about making them bite size and using my mini muffin tin. I’ve had little success doing this with other recipes but I’m quite stubborn. How long do you think I should bake them for? Also, what do you think the yield might be?
    Thank you for any help you can give! I just love this recipe thank you for posting it!

    1. Hi Tracey! I’m unsure of the yield as I’ve only baked this loaf as regular size muffins (about 10-12). Mini muffins usually take about 11-13 minutes at 350 degrees F.

  11. I saw the recipe note for making muffins; thanks! How many do you estimate it would make? I want to send treats into work with my husband and wasn’t sure if sliced up loaf or muffins would stretch further, to give as many of his people something as possible. ☺

    1. Hi Susan! This gingerbread loaf recipe yields about 10-12 muffins.

  12. This is SO delicious! I’m not a huge fan of gingerbread, but with the holidays I thought I’d give this a try. I’m so glad I did- I absolutely loved this bread! I used lemon for the glaze instead of orange because my kids ate all the oranges before I could make the bread! Definitely a keeper!

  13. I made this for a snack while our gingerbread houses were setting. It was delicious with lemon curd and certainly didn’t last long. I’ll be adding this to my fall and winter menus.

  14. I want to make this in my mini loaf pan. It makes 8 mini loafs. Would you recommend the same temp and cook time as what you recommended for the cupcakes? Thank you!

    1. Hi Lynnsey! The bake time will be similar to cupcakes. Same oven temperature as the loaf.

      1. Thank you! I look forward to trying this. Any suggestions on how to get the icing to set well? I always have a hard time with icings/glazes soaking into the bread and not setting up on top?

  15. Hi Sally! I made this cake to bring into work this week and it was a HIT so I’m planning on repeating it for a quick but delicious Christmas treat. I don’t want to buy a whole bag of cranberries for just a few on top; any other suggestions for festive toppings?

    1. Do you have sprinkles? They are always my go to decoration 🙂 Or if you happen to have made gingerbread men, snowflake, or any other shaped cookies you can place one on top, or even a candy cane….but honestly with a pretty drizzle of icing you don’t even need anything!

  16. I whipped this up this afternoon, and it’s amazing!

    We love the extra dark flavor the heavy spices.

    I added the zest of half and orange and half a lemon as well as the juice from half a lemon to the glaze as written, and it was amazing. This is definitely a keeper. Thanks so much and Merry Christmas!

  17. This is the best gigerbread I have ever made. I have previous recipies from aunts who are judges with the Scottisj women’s rural feferation. They judge at local showa around the country, but your recipe surpasses any recipe they have given me!!! A definate winner. Shiela from Liverpool, England.

  18. I made this today and it turned out perfect. The taste is amazing and everyone in my household loved it. Thank you for sharing.

  19. Shirley Effner says:

    This is my first time on your site. I was looking for a gingerbread recipe and this fit the bill. I have my grandmother’s recipe (and yours is pretty close) but, sorry Gram, it only has 2 T. of butter and it’s kind of dry. It’s baking in the oven as I write this and it smells divine. Thanks, Sally
    Your neighbor from New Jersey,

    1. I hope you love it, Shirley!

      1. Shirley Effner says:

        My husband and I loved it. Thanks!

  20. Brenda Sandefur says:

    I don’t usually do comments, but this recipe is so very good! I’ve been following you for years now, and have found that I can depend on your recipes always being consistently delicious. I’m very thankful to have discovered you I tell anyone who asks me for a recipe that I don’t have to check your site, that they’ll be happy. I learned from you to bake my muffins at a high start temperature. What a difference! They’re so pretty now! I would not have thought of that to remedy them from spreading out on the muffin pan and being flat. Now they have beautiful rounded tops! Thank you!


    So, I like to make something from your blog I haven’t tried each weekend (I’m having heart problems and baking something new distracts me). I would like to make this but I’m out of orange juice. Do you think lemon juice would work or that would be weird?

    1. Hi Jennifer! Lemon icing on gingerbread is delicious! You can use that OR you could even use milk.

  22. The recipe immediately reminded me of the older molasses spice fruit cakes. What do you think about walnuts, dried apples and diced candied ginger for additions? Would I have to soak the dried apples first? (If so, I’m thinking of hot apple cider…) Is there another dried fruit that would work better? And how much of each addition?

    1. You can certainly add in nuts and dried fruit! I recommend keeping the total amount of add-ins to about 2/3 cup. Let me know how it turns out!

  23. So so so so good!!! I made this cake with a little extra spice and added a spoonful of honey to help with the strong molasses, and I didn’t use the orange glaze – I used a brandy-butter glaze instead because I wanted something boozy and sweet with the cake, and served with freshly whipped cream. There were two other, fancier, desserts at this dinner party but a week later, everyone is still talking about the gingerbread. Yes, it was too strong for a few people – you have to appreciate real gingerbread to like this. But for those that do, this cake is DELICIOUS. We had literally one slice left, and hubby and I split it the next night and licked our plates clean. I used a fancy-patterned Nordic Ware loaf pan so I buttered the inside of the pan and then dusted it with fine granulated sugar hoping that would help it release – it did, and it also made a lovely crust on the cake. I’ll do that again for sure. I’m on a quest for the best gingerbread cake recipe, and so far this one is in the lead.

  24. Even though it’s only October and still in the mid 80’s here in California, I’m ready for the smells and tastes of the holidays. This recipe is wonderful. The bread turned out moist and delicious. It smelled so amazing while baking that I didn’t wait for the glaze before I tried a slice. I made the glaze with cinnamon rather than orange and added finely chopped crystalized ginger to the batter. Next time I’ll try the Wholesome! molasses to get that dark color. Thanks for another winning recipe.

  25. So tasty! I made this using one of those Nordic Ware cakelet pans, and while I ultimately wouldn’t recommend it for that (I think it rose a bit more than you want batter to when you use those pans? I’m not actually sure – I’ve never used one before), the resulting mini cakes taste SO GOOD. Next time I’ll bake it as a loaf or as muffins. Yum!

  26. This recipe is perfection!!!!!! Thanks so much for sharing it!

  27. Deborah Walser says:

    Sally – was wondering if putting a lil orange rind in batter would enhance or take away from loaf! Love your recipes.

    1. Would be delicious! I love citrus and gingerbread together.

  28. Hi Sally! I’m wondering if this loaf could be sliced after cooling, wrapped individually, and then frozen in a large sealed bag? I’m thinking for ease of access for breakfasts, I could just pull out a slice and it’d defrost by the time I get to work. Also, freeze with the glaze or without?

    1. Hi Lydia! Yes, and I do that often. You can slice and freeze individual slices. And you can freeze with or without the icing– I’ve done it both ways. The icing thaws just fine on the slices.

  29. I tried this recipe over Thanksgiving, and everyone loved it. It has a richer molasses and gingerbread taste than the one I relied on for years. Also threw in some dried cranberries

  30. I love the flavor of this loaf. It’s probably a good thing I froze individual slices of it otherwise i probably would have eaten it in one day! The only reason I put 4 stars was because it still stuck to the bottom of the pan, even after spraying generously with non-stick spray. Could I use parchment next time? Or do I need to spray even more?

    1. Hi Lydia! It could have been your pan OR it just wasn’t greased enough. Easy fix for next time– either line with parchment or use extra nonstick spray.

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