Gingerbread cookies are such a treat. If there’s a 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. Gingerbread men cookies are the most nostalgic Christmas 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.
What You’ll Need for This Recipe
Spices: Cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger are the classic choices but you can add your favorite spices for these gingerbread cookies.
Brown Sugar: I prefer dark brown sugar for this recipe but light will definitely work too if thats what you prefer.
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 then 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 men holding the candy cane nugget, roll up a ball of aluminum foil and bend the arms around the ball before baking. Bake your gingerbread 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 for gingerbread people with bent arms.
Pro Tips for this recipe
- Make sure to lighten or sift the flour before measuring it out. If you pack it into the measuring cup then 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 more crisp gingerbread 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 gingerbread men spicier with more ginger or reduce the spices for a milder taste.
- If you’re not a royal icing fan then try whipping up a small batch of buttercream and decorating with that instead. They will need longer to set but your gingerbread men will be delicious and look great.
- Don’t SKIMP on the chill time! It’s very important as this is a soft dough. If you you want a QUICK cookie then add the same spices to my no spread sugar cookie recipe!
- Store the gingerbread men in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks.
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 them puff up less?
If you like a crisper gingerbread 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 baking.
- Freeze undecorated baked cookies for up to three months. Its best to freeze them on a baking sheet or cooling rack and then transfer to an airtight container or freezer bag. Add a sheet of parchment paper between each cookie to prevent sticking.
If you’ve tried this gingerbread cookies 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 while mixing on low until a nice dough form until combined.
- Divide dough into two portions and 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/ shapes with a cookie cutter. Carefully transfer to a baking sheet.
- 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.