This recipe for Gingerbread Cookies is a classic, well-loved one that is perfect for the holidays. Gingerbread men are easy to bake up and take just a few minutes to decorate with a simple cookie icing.
If you’re baking for Christmas, you have to make these classic Gingerbread Cookies! A Christmas party won’t be complete without sweetly spiced cut-outs on the cookie platter.
These gingerbread men are just a bit chewy with crisp edges, and they are flavored with 5 different spices, plus the richness of molasses.
Everyone will be smiling once they have a bite of one of these adorable guys. Plus, these are the only cookies on your list that are going to smile back at you!
Be sure to check out all of our Christmas Cookie recipes! Pecan Meltaways and Pizzelle Cookies are two other classic favorites.
Which part of the gingerbread man do you eat first? Leave a comment and let me know!
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Why You’ll Love This Recipe
- Easy to Make Ahead. The dough for gingerbread cookies needs to chill for at least 3 hours, but you can leave it in the fridge for a day or more if you need to. That means that you have some flexibility around when you actually have to bake them, so they will fit into your busy holiday schedule.
- Easy Icing Decorations. Unlike other cut-out cookies, gingerbread doesn’t need to be completely covered in icing. We’ll mix up a simple cookie icing, and use it to add a few details.
- Sweet and Spicy. There are a lot of spices in this cookie dough, and that’s exactly how you want it. Cinnamon and Ginger lead the pack while the others add their own special flavor notes in the background. Brown sugar and molasses make the cookies sweet and balance everything out.
Key Ingredients in Gingerbread Cookies
Complete list of ingredients with quantities and instructions is located in the recipe card below
- Flour, Baking Soda, and Salt: The basic dry ingredients for most cookie recipes are included in this one too.
- Spices: Cinnamon, ginger, cloves, nutmeg, and allspice are the 5 dried spices to add to gingerbread cookie dough. Blend them into the other dry ingredients with a whisk so that they are evenly distributed in the dough.
- Butter: Butter makes these cookies rich and delicious.
- Brown Sugar: This is how we sweeten gingerbread cookies. There’s no regular granulated sugar in the recipe because we want all the flavor in the brown sugar. Plus, cookies made with brown sugar stay softer.
- Molasses: The flavor of brown sugar actually comes from molasses! We’ll add more to this recipe to enhance that flavor and give gingerbread its deep color.
- Egg: Let the egg come to room temperature so that it will mix in easily.
- Vanilla Extract: You’ll smell the vanilla, along with all of those spices while the cookies are baking. Vanilla is a must for any good cookie recipe.
- Easy Cookie Icing: Powdered sugar, milk, vanilla, and light corn syrup are mixed together to make a simple frosting that you can use to decorate gingerbread men. The corn syrup gives the icing a glossy look.
How to Make Classic Gingerbread Men Cookies
- Mix the Dry Ingredients: In a large mixing bowl, mix together the flour, baking soda, salt, cloves, nutmeg, allspice, cinnamon, and ginger. Mix well using a fork or whisk and set aside.
- Cream: In a separate mixing bowl, cream together the butter and brown sugar until smooth. Then add in the molasses, egg, and vanilla and continue to mix until well combined.
- Combine: Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix with an electric mixer until a dough forms. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as you’re mixing.
- Chill: Wrap the dough with plastic wrap and place it in the fridge to chill for at least 3 hours. The dough will be sticky, so chilling is important.
- Cut Out Gingerbread Men: After the dough has chilled, preheat the oven to 350°F/180°C and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Dust the surface with flour, and roll out the dough to about ¼ of an inch using a clean rolling pin. Cut out the gingerbread men using a cookie cutter, and place them on the baking sheet.
- Bake: Bake for 10 minutes, or until the edges of the cookies are firm. Allow the cookies to cool on the tray for a minute, then transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely.
- Make Icing: Combine the powdered sugar, milk, vanilla, and corn syrup in a bowl and stir until combined. It takes a few minutes for everything to come together smoothly.
- Color: Remove two small portions of icing to separate bowls. Use gel food coloring to tint one green and one red. Add all three colors of icing to separate piping bags. You can use small round tips, or just cut the ends off the bags for these simple cookies.
- Decorate: With the white icing, create eyes and a smile on each cookie. You can also add an outline or zig-zag patterns on the arms and legs. Use the red and green icing to add buttons down the center of the gingerbread men.
- Gingerbread people are the most classic way to make these cookies, but you can cut the dough into any shape you want! Try simple circles or use your holiday cookie cutters and make a variety of shapes to decorate.
- I used a four-inch cookie cutter to make these adorable gingerbread men. You may get more or fewer cookies, depending on your cutter.
- You MUST chill the dough. Please don’t skip this step, thinking that it will be fine because it won’t! The dough needs to be very cold when you cut it out. Otherwise, it will stick to your cookie cutters. You also want the cookies to be cold when you put them in the oven so that they won’t spread much while baking.
- Cut the cookies very close together, almost touching. You want to avoid needing to fold and re-roll this dough, as the 2nd and third round cookies tend to spread more.
More Christmas Cookie Recipes
- Stacked Christmas Tree Cookies
- Candy Cane Cookies
- Christmas Sprinkle Sugar Cookies
- Chocolate Peppermint Kiss Cookies
- Eggnog Cookies
- Christmas Tree Brownie Bites
Yes, you can! Follow my recipe for royal icing and decorate the same way. Using royal icing can be beneficial, especially if you want to ship these cookies, as it dries harder and is more likely to survive wrapping and shipping.
You don’t need to, but I think that the simple decorations make these holiday cookies extra special. You could also dust the cookies with powdered sugar instead of the icing, that’s a bit easier and very pretty!
Because molasses is added to gingerbread dough, it’s going to be sticky. The best way to keep the dough easy to work with is to chill it very well and keep it like that. If it starts to get soft while you’re working with it, pop it back in the fridge. A small amount of flour can be helpful to keep the dough from sticking to the counter, but don’t add too much or the cookies will look dusty.
Use a small ziplock bag! Snip off a very small piece of one corner to make an opening, and squeeze to decorate.
Whatever your baking plans are this holiday season, be sure that these Classic Gingerbread Cookies are on the list! Pin the recipe so you have it every single year.
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