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Our classic gingerbread cookies are made from scratch and full of warm winter spices. They are fun, festive and perfect for the holidays!
Mom’s Famous Gingerbread Cookie Recipe
This year I’m trying to get ahead of the game by making/freezing all of my Christmas cookie dough-like Santa’s cookies, chocolate crinkle cookies, and white chocolate cranberry pistachio cookies! Come Christmas I want to be able to savor all of those sweet moments with my family instead of being stuck in the kitchen washing a sink full of dirty dishes.
Last week our three year old found my stash of cookie cutters and was totally enamored with the gingerbread men. We quickly got to work whipping up a batch of dough. We baked half and saved the rest for later.
The key to a perfect gingerbread man cookie is to make sure to not overcook or over mix the dough. The cookie should be soft and chewy, not crunchy!
How to Make Gingerbread Cookies
MAKING THE GINGERBREAD DOUGH
In the bowl of a stand mixer (or using a large bowl and a hand mixer), beat the butter on medium speed until it’s light and fluffy, about 1-2 minutes.
Add the brown sugar and molasses, beat on medium-high speed for 1 minute. Add the egg and vanilla, beat on medium for 2 minutes.
Next, in a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, ginger, cinnamon, allspice, cloves, and nutmeg. With mixing speed on low, gradually add the dry ingredients, mixing just until combined. The dough will be soft and sticky, don’t worry!
Divide the dough into two chunks. Place each portion of the dough onto a piece of plastic wrap, flatten and seal.
Now the important part: place it in the refrigerator to chill for 4 hours or overnight.
Pro Tip: DO NOT BAKE THE DOUGH unless you’ve chilled it first!! Letting the dough chill helps the ingredients come together better with a smaller chance of the dough cracking while baking.
HOW TO ROLL OUT GINGERBREAD COOKIES
When you’re dough is ready, preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper or baking mats; set aside.
Generously flour your countertop. You’ll need extra flour for this particular recipe.
Roll out one disc ¼-inch thick (I made the cookies pictured here a bit thinner to my husband’s liking).
Using cookie cutters, cut out desired shapes. Place the cookies 1-inch apart on the prepared baking sheets. Re-roll dough and repeat.
How to Bake and Decorate Gingerbread Cookies
Place in the oven and bake for 8-10 minutes or until the edges are crisp and the centers are soft, but baked.
Remove from the oven and allow the cookies to cool on the sheets for 2-3 minutes before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely.
DECORATING THE COOKIE:
To make the icing, whisk together the powdered sugar, water, vanilla, and salt, in a small bowl. Add more water if needed to reach the desired consistency (soft but not too runny, thick but pipeable).
Using a pastry bag fitted with a small round tip, pipe desired decorations.
What if I don’t have a pastry bag? You take your icing and plop it onto a large square of plastic wrap. Then roll it into a sausage shape. Take a Ziploc bag and cut a small hole in a bottom corner. Take your sausage roll of frosting and pull the excess plastic through the hole in the Ziploc bag and cut the plastic wrap. This allows for a clean bag and for the frosting to be accessible and not wasted!
We didn’t get overly fancy with the decorations. I kind of prefer to save that for sugar cookies. My little helper added a few sprinkles here and there and some cinnamon drop buttons- they were perfect. We had so much fun!
How to Store (and Freeze) Gingerbread Cookies
This gingerbread cookie dough can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. Or you can freeze the dough!
To freeze it, wrap the cookie dough tightly in plastic wrap and place in the freezer for up to 2 months.
Can you freeze gingerbread cookies after cutting them? Yes, and some people actually prefer to do that because it saves time for the future event of baking them. You can make the dough and cut out your desired shape before freezing them. Just make sure that they freeze flat and don’t get stuck together.
- When you are ready to bake the cookies, thaw the dough overnight in the refrigerator, then roll out, cut into shapes, and bake according to the recipe’s instructions.
Baked cookies need to be stored tightly in a container on the counter. These should last for 2-3 weeks.
Gingerbread Cookie FAQ
Can you make these without molasses? Yes, the trick is using dark brown sugar. There is some molasses in dark brown sugar, so you get a hint of the same flavor. Some recipes used 2.5 cups of brown sugar in substitution. This provides some of the same chew and texture as using molasses.
Can I use this cookie recipe to make a gingerbread house? This recipe is meant to give you a soft and chewy cookie, not the best characteristics for a house right?! You want to use a gingerbread recipe that doesn’t include a leavening agent and is going to give you a harder and stronger gingerbread.
How to tell when gingerbread cookies are done? Do a touch test! Gently nudge the cookies with a spatula to make sure edges are firm. You’ll also notice a hint of brown on the edges.
These cookies will definitely be making an appearance again come Christmas. They’re simple, sweet and oh so cute!
Find more Gingerbread recipes here:
- Gingerbread Spice Cake
- Gingerbread Muffins
- Gingerbread Cupcakes with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting
- Sparkling Ginger Molasses Cookies
Thanks to the Learning Tower, my sous chef was able to help me make and decorate these cookies. Whenever I’m in the kitchen, he’s always eager to get in on the action. The Original Learning Tower from Little Partners allows him (and my youngest) to be independent AND safe, while I prep, bake and cook. They absolutely love using it, and I love that they’re entertained and happy- it makes time spent in the kitchen fun for everyone!
It’s strong, sturdy and stays in place. Its unique design allows it to stand flush against the counter and allows toddlers to climb in and out of it easily. The adjustable height on it makes it perfect for kids as young as 18 months and all the way up to six years old. We use the Original Learning Tower every single day. When it’s not breakfast, lunch or dinner we tuck it into the corner and the kiddos play on it & under it. It makes the perfect tower for kings & princesses.
Classic Gingerbread Cookies Recipe
- 10 tbsp unsalted butter - room temperature
- 3/4 cup brown sugar - packed
- 2/3 cup molasses
- 1 egg
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 3 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp kosher sea salt
- 1 tbsp ground ginger
- 1 tbsp ground cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp ground allspice
- 1/4 tsp ground cloves
- pinch nutmeg
For the Icing
- 1 cup powdered sugar - sifted
- 1-1 1/2 tbsp warm water - more if needed
- 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
- pinch kosher sea salt
- candies - for decorating (optional)
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the butter on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 1-2 minutes. Add the brown sugar and molasses, beat on medium high speed for 1 minute. Add the egg and vanilla, beat on medium for 2 minutes.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, ginger, cinnamon, allspice, cloves and nutmeg. With mixing speed on low, gradually add the dry ingredients, mixing just until combined. The dough will be soft and sticky. Divide the dough into two chunks. Place each portion of dough onto a piece of plastic wrap, flatten and seal. Place in the refrigerator to chill for 4 hours or overnight (DO NOT bake the dough without chilling it first).
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper or baking mats; set aside.
- Generously flour your countertop. Roll out one disc 1/4-inch thick. Using cookie cutters, cut out desired shapes. Place cookies 1-inch apart on the prepared baking sheets. Re-roll dough and repeat. Repeat the same process with the remaining disc of dough (or refrigerate it for up to 4 days or freeze for 2 months).
- Place in the oven and bake for 8-10 minutes or until the edges are crisp and the centers are soft, but baked. Remove from the oven and allow the cookies to cool on the sheets for 2-3 minutes before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely.
For the Icing
- In a small bowl whisk together the powdered sugar, water, vanilla and salt. Add more water if needed to reach the desired consistency (soft but not too runny, thick but pipeable). Using a pastry bag fitted with a small round tip, pipe desired decorations. Allow the icing to set for 15 minutes before serving.