This gingerbread cookie recipe is a family tradition. Tried and true easy gingerbread men recipe that tastes delicious and fun to decorate!
Making this gingerbread cookie recipe (or "gingerbread boys") around Christmas time is a Gladd family tradition. We do not worry about creating the most elaborate looking gingerbread men, and instead usually focus on how much icing we can fit onto one cookie. To us, it's all about having fun together.
BUT, we do want the gingerbread men cookies to taste good. I love a chewy and soft, yet crispy and sturdy, gingerbread cookie and this is the one. It is the right amount of sweet and spice -- and it holds it shape. We made our fair share of this gingerbread cookie recipe over the years so it is tested and true!
The ingredients for this gingerbread recipe are simple and probably everything you have on hand during the holidays.
- Flour, baking soda, salt, butter, egg - your baking essentials.
- Brown sugar - because brown sugar creates a softer texture and deeper flavor than white sugar
- Molasses and spices - this is where the flavor really comes in!
Click here for full recipe ingredients and instructions.
Making gingerbread cookies is really very easy. It's basically mixing, chilling, rolling, cutting and baking! The decorating part is up to you! Every step is fun to me and even if you don't love baking you'll have fun with this, too!
Let's quickly walk through the steps of making gingerbread men cookies together:
- Make the gingerbread cookie dough - Mix the dry ingredients in one bowl and the wet ingredients in a separate bowl. Combine them but do not over mix.
- Chill the cookie dough - Chilling is essential to firming the dough and ensuring your cookie cut outs hold their shape. Once your dough is made, divide into two dough balls and wrap tightly with plastic wrap. Chill for at least 2 hours or up to 3 days in the refrigerator. You can also freeze gingerbread cookie dough for up to 1 month.
- Roll the cookie dough - After the gingerbread dough chills, remove one disc from the fridge and roll it out onto a floured surface. (One dough disc stays chilled in the fridge while working with the other.) Keep flouring the surface as usual to keep the dough from sticking. If it's difficult to roll the dough at first because it's too cold, let it stand for 5 minutes then try again. I also like to flip the dough disc once or twice while rolling to help keep it from sticking.
- Cut out the cookie dough - You can use any cookie cutter for this gingerbread recipe, it doesn't have to be gingerbread men! Work quickly, though, so your dough doesn't soften too much! Transfer cut out dough immediately to a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.
- Bake the gingerbread cookie dough - Bake the cookies at 350°F for 10 to 12 minutes. Do not over bake! However, if you want a crispy cookie, go ahead and bake them longer -- but I like them soft with a crispy edge.
Scroll to the recipe card at the end of this post for full detailed instructions.
Store: Store baked cookies at room temperature in an airtight container up to 1 week. Or, freeze them according to the directions below.
Thaw: For the frozen gingerbread cookies that were baked, remove from the freezer and allow to thaw on the countertop for about an hour before decorating. For the frozen dough, allow to thaw overnight in the fridge before rolling out to cut into shapes.
Top Tips and Tricks
- Do not overmix the dough. This goes for most all of my cookie recipes!
- Use a serving spatula with a beveled edge to remove the cookie cut outs from the dough surface. The thinner edge helps get underneath the cut out without ruining it.
- Keep dough surface floured to avoid sticking!
- Use parchment paper and not a silicone liner. Over the years I've learned that parchment keeps a better cookie shape and the grease from a silicone liner makes the cookie spread.
- Do not over bake. These cookies are done in 10 minutes, maybe 12 if a larger size cut-out is used. They might not look done, but they are.
Can you freeze gingerbread cookies?
Gingerbread cookies freeze very well and so does the dough before you bake it. So, you have a choice. You can first cut out the cookies and bake them, then let them cool to room temperature before transferring to a freezer bag. Or, before you roll the dough out, tightly wrap the dough ball with plastic wrap and place in a freezer bag. Both can be frozen for up to 1 month.
How far in advance can I make these?
Gingerbread cookies last quite a while. You can make these ahead of time to prepare for a day of decorating up to 1 week in advance. Just store them in a tin or cookie jar in a cool, dry place. Once they are decorated they will last another few days. I always prefer to eat them fresh, so if I'm not planning on decorating or eating them right away, I usually freeze them. But, like I said, you can opt to store them on the counter.
How to decorate gingerbread cookies
You can use your favorite icing recipe or tubs and tubes of store-bought frosting with any sprinkles, candy, etc. The sky is the limit on how you want to decorate your gingerbread cookies!
I used to always make my icing homemade, but for convenience I now pick up the store bought tubes and the kids love switching out the provided tips! Kroger carries Betty Crocker icing tubes with tips and Walmart has their own brand of Great Value icing tubes that work well, too.
More Gingerbread Recipes
Don't miss out on these other gingerbread recipes:
This post was originally published on December 15, 2011 and updated on December 4, 2019 with new photos and recipe tips. December 2021 with optimized photos.
Gingerbread Cookie Recipe
- 3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup unsalted butter , at room temperature
- 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons ground ginger
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1/2 cup unsulphured molasses
- 1 large egg
- 1 batch of your preferred icing
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt; set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl, beat the butter until creamy, about 2 minutes. Gradually mix in the brown sugar, beating until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Stir in the spices, then beat in the molasses and egg, mixing well after each addition. With the mixer on low speed, gradually add the dry ingredients and stir until just blended.
- Divide the dough into two halves and shape each into a disc. Wrap each disc tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm; at least 2 hours or up to 3 days.
- When ready to roll out dough, preheat oven to 350°F and line baking sheets with parchment paper.
- Remove one disc from fridge. On a floured surface, roll the chilled dough out to no less than 1/4-inch thickness. If dough is too cold to roll, wait 5 minutes and try again. Keep surface well-floured, flipping dough once or twice while rolling. Cut out shapes of your choice. Place 2 inches apart on baking sheets, making sure to place similar sized cookies on the same sheet to ensure even baking. Repeat with remaining dough disc.
- Bake until just light golden brown, about 10 to 12 minutes, depending on the size of the cookies. Do not over bake. Cool on pans for 5 minutes, then transfer to wire racks to cool completely. Decorate as desired once completely cooled.
- Keep dough chilled in between batches.
- Yield of cookies will vary based on size of cookie cutters used.
- Nutrition information is an estimate only and calculated from one undecorated cookie with no icing.