These classic, holiday gingerbread cookies are spicy, scrumptious and don’t spread all over the place!
Gingerbread cookies are such a treat. If there’s any bad wrap to them it’s because of those box kits for gingerbread houses with stale pieces inside. For the best results you just have to bake your own. There is a lot of molasses in this recipe so it really requires overnight chilling to set, which just means a little planning ahead. I really liked the spice profile of this recipe but you can play with it and add more of your favorites and eliminate the one’s you dislike.
Gingerbread man cookies are the most Christmassy cookie I can think of and they’re as fun to make as they are to eat! I love the spices and crunch of the royal icing.
Royal icing isn’t the easiest thing to work with and I always over-flood my cookies so I kept is fun and simple for these cookies and used some of the sprinkles and sugar balls I had on hand for the decorations.
I think holiday baking should really mean time together with friends and family, sharing and enjoyment. Not stress and frustration! Also, I do love how crunchy the icing gets after a day or so but these cookies won’t last very long so good luck with that!
Frequently Asked Questions
How far in advance can you make the dough?
You can make this dough up to three months in advance! Wrap well in plastic and freeze then thaw overnight in the refrigerator.
How can you make gingerbread cookies that puff up less?
If you like a crisper cookie with less puffing then reduce the leavening agents and add 1/4 cup of corn starch. You can also scale back the molasses.
How should you store these?
Store in an airtight container for up to three weeks when refrigerated. They keep at room temperature in a sealed container for up to 4 days and of course you can leave the cookies out and nibble at your own risk. They will become dryer and dryer with time.
Can you Freeze Gingerbread cookies?
You have a few options here!
- Freeze the dough for up to three months. Wrap well in plastic and thaw in the refrigerator overnight before rolling, cutting and backing.
- Freeze undecorated baked cookies for up to three months. It’s best o freeze them on a baking sheet or cooling rack then transfer to a airtight container or freezer bag. Add a sheet of parchment paper between each cookie to prevent sticking.
How to Make Gingerbread Cookies
1. In a large bowl, sift the flour, ginger, cinnamon, baking soda, nutmeg and salt.
In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter and brown sugar on medium speed and mix until it’s fluffy.
3. Add in the molasses, egg and vanilla and mix until combined. Scrape the bowl down and mix once more.
4. Gradually add in the flour until a nice dough is formed. Roll into disks, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for about 4 hours or overnight. This dough really needs time to chill so don’t rush it!
5. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. On a well-floured surface roll out the chilled dough to about 1/4 inch in thickness. Flour the top and your rolling pin as well and make sure to move the dough around so it doesn’t stick.
6. Cut out the gingerbread people with a cookie cutter and transfer them to a baking sheet. For the gingerbread people holding the candy cane nugget, roll up a ball of aluminum foil and bend the arms around the ball before baking. Bake cookies for 10 minutes and let cool.
7. To make the royal icing; sift the powdered sugar into a bowl, add a dew dashed of cream or tartar and mix together. Add an egg white and mix until combined. Add a teaspoon of vanilla if desired then whisk in water until a desired consistency is reached. Transfer icing to a piping bag fitted with a small round tip or with the tip snipped off.
8. Once your gingerbread cookies are cool, pipe a shirt, pants and facial details. Attach sprinkles for buttons and eyes. You can also add candy cane nuggets to gingerbread people with bent arms.
Pro Tips for the Best Gingerbread Cookies
- Make sure to lighten or sift the flour before measuring it out. If you pack it into the measuring cup you could almost double the amount of flour required by the recipe! And of course the best way to measure flour is by using a kitchen scale.
- If you like a crisper cookie with less puffing then reduce the leavening agents and add 1/4 cup of corn starch. You can also scale back the molasses.
- You can make the cookies spicer with more ginger or reduce the spices for a milder taste.
- If you’re not a royal icing fan try whipping up a small batch of buttercream and decorating with that instead. IT WILL need longer to set but you’ll have a delicious cookie that looks great.
- Don’t SKIMP on the chill time! It’s very important as this is a soft dough. You you want a QUICK cookie then add the same spices to my no spread sugar cookie recipe!
- Store the cookies in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks.
If you’ve tried this gingerbread cookie recipe then don’t forget to rate the recipe and let me know how you got on in the comments below, I love hearing from you!
For the Cookies:
- 3 cups flour 360g
- 2 teaspoons ground ginger 4g
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon 2g
- 1 teaspoon baking soda 6g
- ¼ teaspoon nutmeg 1g
- ¼ teaspoon salt 1g
- ¾ cup butter 170g, room temp
- ¾ cup firmly packed brown sugar 150g
- ½ cup molasses 118mL
- 1 egg room temp
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 5mL
For the Icing:
- 2 egg whites
- 1 lb confectioners sugar 454g
- 1/4 tsp cream of tartar 1g
- 1 tsp vanilla 5mL
- 2-4 tsp water 10-20mL
For the Cookies:
- In a large bowl, combine flour, ginger, cinnamon, baking soda, nutmeg and salt.
- Using a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream butter, and brown sugar on medium. Mix until fluffy.
- Add in the molasses, then the egg and vanilla and mix until combined. Scrape the bowl down and mix once more.
- Add in flour gradually until a nice dough forms.
- Roll into disks. Cover with plastic wrap.
- Refrigerate for about 4 hours or overnight. This step is important because the dough gets soft quickly and really needs to be thoroughly chilled.
- Preheat to 350 degrees F. Roll out chilled dough to about ¼-inch in thickness.
- Cut out gingerbread people with a cookie cutter. Carefully transfer to a baking sheet.
- If you'd like to make gingerbread people holding a candy cane ball, roll up a ball of aluminum foil and bend the arms around the ball before baking.
- Bake cookies for 10 minutes. Let cool.
For the Icing and Decoration:
- Sift the powdered sugar and cream or tartar into a bowl then whisk together.
- Add the egg white in an mix together.
- Once combined, mix in a teaspoon of vanilla and then add water until desired consistency is reached. Transfer to a piping bag fitted with a small round tip or with the tip snipped off.
- Pipe decorations onto the cooled cookies with the royal icing.
- Attach sprinkles and or candies for added visual interest.
- If you made any cookies with bend arms swap out the foil for peppermint balls.