Gingerbread Cookies

These Gingerbread Cookies are everything a Christmas cookie should be! Perfectly spiced and flavored with molasses and brown sugar, this easy gingerbread cookie recipe is perfect for cutout cookies and decorating! Love Christmas cookies? Make sure to try my Chewy Ginger Molasses Cookies and perfect Sugar Cookies!

decorated gingerbread cookies with red garland and title and color block overlay at top of image

Gingerbread Cookies

Gingerbread cookies are one of my favorites, especially around the Christmas season. They have such amazing flavor and are easily one of the most nostalgic cookies for the holiday season. PLUS, they make your house smell absolutely amazing when they bake!

We have so many favorite Christmas cookies and these Gingerbread Cookies rank right up there with the best of the best:

Soft Gingerbread Cookies

Gingerbread cookies stay fresh for up to two weeks, so they are a great choice for a busy season too! This dough can be rolled thin to make crisp cookies, or a bit thicker for a soft cookie. 

Roll the cookies thicker for a softer cookie with more chew.

gingerbread cookies decorated with red hots and white frosting sitting on white surface with red and white bead garland

Gingerbread Cookie Recipe Ingredients

These cookies are super easy to make and have all the flavors and spices you would expect in a perfect gingerbread cookie recipe. Let’s take a look at what you’ll need:

  • all-purpose flour – gives our cookies structure and keeps them from spreading out of control
  • baking powder – the leavener in this cookie recipe
  • ground ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves – can’t have a gingerbread cookie without ginger and this recipe calls for just the right amount. The other spices add additional flavor and complexity to these cookies. Cloves are one of those distinct flavors that make gingerbread cookies so easily recognizable.
  • ground black pepper – this is an optional ingredient but definitely adds a little kick to the recipe. Use finely ground black pepper.
  • butter – for flavor and 
  • molasses – acts as both sweetener and flavor in this recipe
  • brown sugar – works well with the molasses
  • eggs – for structure
  • vanilla extract – really helps blend the flavors together and add additional depth of flavor

gingerbread cookies ready to be baked on baking sheet

How To Make Gingerbread Cookies

  1. In a large bowl, gently stir together flour, baking powder, and all spices. Set aside.
  2. In the bowl of your electric mixer (or other large bowl), beat butter until smooth.  Add brown sugar, molasses, eggs and vanilla.
  3. Gradually stir in the dry ingredients until they are fully incorporated.
  4. Divide the dough into 3 pieces, and flatten into rounded disk (about 1 1/2 inches thick).  Wrap dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 3 hours.
  5. When dough has chilled, preheat oven to 350*F.  On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough out to desired thickness (1/4- 1/2 inch thick).  Cut into desired shapes with cookie cutters.  Place cookies at least 1 inch apart on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a Silpat type liner.  

    If the dough is too sticky or soft to work with, put it in the refrigerator or freezer for a few minutes to firm up.

  6. Bake for 9-12 minutes (depending on the size of cookies).  Cool slightly on cookie sheet, then move to a cooling rack to cool completely.
  7. Frost with royal icing, if desire.  HERE is the royal icing recipe I use, as well as some decorating tips to get you started.

FAQs

Can these cookies be made in advance? Yes! These gingerbread cookies keep very well so you can make them up to 1 week in advance. Just keep them stored in an airtight container with parchment between layers. You can also make the dough ahead of time and store in the fridge tightly wrapped in plastic wrap. 

What kind of icing should I use to these decorate gingerbread cookies? I recommend royal icing for frosting but you can use you favorite icing or frosting.

Can gingerbread cookies be frozen? Yes. After baking, place in airtight freezer safe container with parchment between layers for up to 3 months.

gingerbread cookies decorated on white tray

Gingerbread Cookie Recipe Ideas

You may be wondering what else you can make with this gingerbread cookie recipe and I’ve got great news – SO. MUCH. Let’s take a look at these fun ideas:

Tips for the Best Gingerbread Cookies

  1. It’s annoying but this dough has to be chilled or else the cookies will spread during baking. Chilling also makes the dough easier to handle. Keep the dough you are not using chilled and and add a bit more flour as needed to work with the dough if necessary.
  2. If you are making gingerbread houses or very large cookies that need to be extra sturdy, I would recommend 5 1/2 cups flour. If making smaller cookies that you want to be soft, use 5 cups flour.  Certainly the dough will be softer and more sticky the less flour you use. 
  3. If the dough is too sticky or soft to work with, put it in the refrigerator or freezer for a few minutes to firm up.
  4. The dough can be rolled out and handled just as I described in my post HERE.

Favorite Cookie Cutters

More Christmas Cookies

  1. Cranberry Orange Cookies
  2. Snickerdoodle Cookies
  3. Watercolor Snowflake Cookies
  4. Winter Wonderland Cookies
  5. Chocolate Peppermint Biscotti

How to Make Gingerbread Cookies

decorated gingerbread cookies with red garland

Gingerbread Cookies

These Gingerbread Cookies are everything a Christmas cookie should be! Perfectly spiced and flavored with molasses and brown sugar, this easy gingerbread cookie recipe is perfect for cutout cookies and decorating!
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 12 mins
Total Time 22 mins
Course Dessert, Snack
Cuisine American
Servings 24
Calories 184 kcal

Ingredients
 

  • 5 to 5 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg slightly less if using freshly grated
  • 1 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper optional
  • 1 cup butter
  • 3/4 cup molasses
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Instructions
 

  • In a large bowl, gently stir together flour, baking powder, and all spices. Set aside.
  • In the bowl of your electric mixer (or other large bowl), beat butter until smooth. Add brown sugar, molasses, eggs and vanilla.
  • Gradually stir in the dry ingredients until they are fully incorporated.
  • Divide the dough into 3 pieces, and flatten into rounded disk (about 1 1/2 inches thick). Wrap dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 3 hours.
  • When dough has chilled, preheat oven to 350*F. On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough out to desired thickness (1/4- 1/2 inch thick). (The dough can be rolled out and handled just as I described in my post HERE). Cut into desired shapes with cookie cutters. Place cookies at least 1 inch apart on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a Silpat type liner. If the dough is too sticky or soft to work with, put it in the refrigerator or freezer for a few minutes to firm up.
  • Bake for 9-12 minutes (depending on the size of cookies). Cool slightly on cookie sheet, then move to a cooling rack to cool completely.
  • Frost with royal icing, if desire. HERE is the royal icing recipe I use, as well as some decorating tips to get you started.

Notes

  • If making gingerbread houses or very large cookies I would recommend 5 1/2 cups flour, if making smaller cookies that you want to be soft, use 5 cups flour.
  • Certainly the dough will be softer and more sticky the less flour you use. Keep the dough chilled, and/or add a bit more flour as needed to work with the dough.

Tools Needed:

Cookie Cutters
Baking Equipment
Sheet Pans | Silicone Baking Mat | Rolling Pin

Nutrition

Calories: 184kcalCarbohydrates: 40gProtein: 4gFat: 1gSaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 15mgSodium: 58mgPotassium: 218mgFiber: 1gSugar: 17gVitamin A: 36IUCalcium: 69mgIron: 2mg
Keyword gingerbread cookie recipe, gingerbread cookies
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

Originally published November 22, 2010.

75 comments

  1. Can margarine be substituted for butter?

  2. Was wondering when you changed the recipe and what made you change it ?  Was going to print it for a friend and it is completely changed~~Thanks,Karen

    • Hi Karen,
      So sorry for any confusion! I’m sorry to say I truly don’t remember when I’ve made any updates to the recipe, as it must have been over a year ago. I don’t recall making any big changes, but I do remember working on the recipe a bit to make sure they are nice and soft and chewy after being baked. Again, I don’t recall making any big changes (other than reducing the flour by just a bit and adjusting the spices by small amounts). I generally make notes for my readers if I’ve made any big changes to a recipe, so either I simply failed to do this, or if I remember correctly the changes were quite minor.

  3. I made a mistake and I put three 1/3 cups of molasses instead of 3/4 cups of molasses .  What can I do to make the recipe right? Thank you very much I hope to hear from you soon so I will not of wasted all the ingredients in this recipe.

    • Hi Kathy,
      I think it’s likely you could add a bit more flour to the mixture and it will be fine. In fact, the extra 1/4 cup of molasses will just make the dough a bit sticky, so you might still be able to work with it if you are rolling it out between parchment paper. Best of luck!

  4. Hi Glory. The cookies look delicious. Can I cut this recipe in half for a smaller batch? Thanks.

  5. what is the effect of molasses to the taste?

    • Molasses is essential for the traditional gingerbread flavor. I imagine you could use honey in place of the molasses, but the flavor would be much more mild.

  6. Thank you so much for this recipe and your royal icing recipe! For the past three years I have hosted a gingerbread house decorating party…I bake 20+ houses, plus gingerbread men and snowflakes for decorating, invite way to many friends over (usually 30-40) and have a night full of fun! Everyone is always amazed when they taste your gingerbread…they are surprised that it is so good! I appreciate the work and talent that goes into sharing your skill on your blog, and am glad that you make my party so successful! Have a wonderful holiday!

  7. Sorry, I meant the flour used to prevent the dough from sticking to the table top…

  8. The dough was so dry the flour wasn’t necessary.
    Did I refrigerate it too long? I left it in the fridge overnight…

    • You can leave the dough in the fridge up to several days, but if it’s been in the fridge more than a couple hours you may want to let it warm up just a bit at room temperature to make it easier to handle. Depending on the surface you roll the dough on, and the temperature of your home, you may need more or less flour.

  9. Glory, I just made these cookies, but mine are very light in color, nowhere near the color of yours or what I think of as gingerbread color. The only sub I made was honey instead of molasses…would that make such a big difference in color?

    • Hi Andrea,
      Yes, that would make a world of difference! Molasses is very dark in color and is the ingredient that helps give the distinctive flavor to gingerbread. What you made are called Honey Cookies… still delicious I’m sure, but not gingerbread.

  10. Hi Glory,

    May I know what can I use to replace ‘red hots’ that were used in decorating gingerbread cookies?

    • Hi Lyn,
      Sure, you can leave out the red hots and just decorate with royal icing, or add an M&M or most any candy after the cookies have baked and cooled (attach with a bit of icing). Happy baking!

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