This gingerbread cookie recipe is a family tradition. It's a reliable easy cookie recipe that tastes delicious and is fun to decorate! You can use this recipe for a gingerbread house, too.
This gingerbread recipe is the BEST! We've used this recipe for years and years to make them the tastiest! Every Christmas we make these together. It's a favorite tradition with our sugar cookies, puppy chow, toffee, hot chocolate cookies and more!
Baking and decorating "gingerbread boys" around Christmas time is a Gladd family tradition. We do not worry about creating the most elaborate looking cookies, 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 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 molasses flavor -- and it holds it shape. We made our fair share of this recipe over the years so it is tested and reliable!
Ingredients & Instructions
The ingredients for this gingerbread recipe are simple and probably everything you have on hand during the holidays.
Here's What You Need
- 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!
Here's How to Make Them
The prep and process is very easy. The decorating part is up to you! Every step is fun to me and even if you're not much of a baker, you'll have fun with this, too!
Let's quickly walk through the steps together:
- Make the dough - Mix the dry and wet ingredients in separate bowls. Combine them with an electric mixer, but do not over mix.
- Chill - Chilling is essential to ensuring your cookie cut outs hold their shape. Divide mixture into two dough balls and wrap tightly with plastic wrap. Chill for at least 2 hours or up to 3 days in the refrigerator.
- Roll - After the dough chills, remove one disc from the fridge and roll it out onto a lightly floured surface using a rolling pin. (One disc stays chilled in the fridge while working with the other.) Keep the surface floured to keep from sticking. If it's difficult to roll at first because it's too cold, let it stand for 5 minutes then try again. I also like to flip the dough once or twice while rolling to help keep it from sticking.
- Cut out shapes - 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 - 350°F for 10 to 12 minutes should do the trick. I like them soft with a crispy edge.
- Cool - Let cool completely on a wire rack before decorating.
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 cookies that were baked, remove from the freezer and allow to thaw on the countertop for about an hour before decorating. For the frozen raw dough, allow to thaw overnight in the fridge before rolling out to cut into shapes.
Top Tips and Tricks
- Do not overmix. This goes for most all of my cookies!
- Use a serving spatula with a beveled edge to transfer the cookie cut outs from the floured surface to the cookie sheet. The thinner edge helps get underneath the cut out without ruining it.
- Keep the surface floured to avoid sticking!
- 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?
These cookies freeze very well and so does the raw dough. 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 out the dough, tightly wrap it with plastic wrap and place in a freezer bag. Both raw and baked can be frozen for up to 1 month.
Can I make ahead?
These 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 Man Cookies
You can use your favorite icing recipe or tubs and/or tubes of store-bought frosting with any sprinkles, candy, etc. The sky is the limit on how you want to decorate your gingerbread men!
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 frosting 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:
Made this recipe?
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This post was originally published December 15, 2011 and updated on December 4, 2019 with new photos and recipe tips, and no changes to the recipe. December 2021 update: optimized photos. October 2022 update: keyword.
Gingerbread Cookie Recipe
- 3 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 cup unsalted butter , at room temperature
- ¾ cup packed brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons ground ginger
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ⅛ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
- ½ 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 ¼-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.