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This homemade gingerbread cookies recipe has a delicious ginger molasses flavor. They’re perfect for decorating!

Our favorite cookies to make and decorate for Christmas are gingerbread cookies Christmas Sugar Cookies and Italian Christmas Cookies.

Gingerbread cookie recipe stacked on red Christmas plate.

a Holiday Must-Make!

Every Christmas there are a few quintessential recipes that I always make; Christmas Cookies, Snickerdoodles and Gingerbread Men.

No matter how busy I get with holiday preparations, I always squeeze in the time for these 3 recipes. They’re my favorite – and Santa loves them too!

Here’s why we love them:

  • Simple. This cookie has a quick prep, but does require some chill time.
  • Delicious. These cookies are soft, chewy and more flavorful than the store-bought variety.
  • Perfect for decorating. These cookies are perfect for adding your special flair, and the kids love to get involved!
Gingerbread cookie dough mixed in a metal bowl.

ingredients for gingerbread cookies

  • all-purpose flour 
  • ground ginger
  • ground cinnamon
  • ground nutmeg
  • ground cloves
  • baking soda
  • salt
  • unsalted butter – use this post on How to Soften Butter Quickly
  • sugar
  • brown sugar
  • Egg – Room temperature eggs will incorporate better with the other ingredients.
  • vanilla extract
  • unsulphered molasses – I use “Grandma’s Molasses – unsulphered”. Do not use sulphured or blackstrap molasses. 
  • powdered sugar
  • milk I like whole milk, but any milk will do. 
  • clear (light) corn syrup you could use dark corn syrup but it will affect the coloring. Do not use high fructose corn syrup.  
  • food coloring – use liquid, gel, or powder food coloring.
  • decorating candies red hots, M&Ms, mini M&Ms, candy eyes, sprinkles, SMARTIES, gumdrops

How To Make Gingerbread Cookies

  1. DRY INGREDIENTS. Whisk together the dry ingredients: flour, spices, baking soda and salt.
  2. WET INGREDIENTS. In a separate large mixing bowl, beat together the butter and sugars – followed by the egg, molasses, and vanilla extract. Then add brown sugar and molasses.
  3. COMBINE & CHILL. Carefully mix the dry ingredients with the wet ingredients. Divide the dough into 2 balls, wrap each in plastic wrap, and place in the fridge for at least 4 hours. Chilling is mandatory otherwise it’ll be too sticky to roll out and cut into shapes.
  4. ROLL OUT. Working with one ball of dough at a time, roll each out on a well floured surface and cut into shapes.
    • Roll dough out thinner for a more crisp and crunchy cookie.
    • Do not roll dough out as thin if you want more soft and thick cookies.
  • Easy clean up. Line the baking sheet with sheets of parchment paper or a silpat.
  • How much it makes. The number of cookies you can make will depend on the size of your cookie cutters – I’ve made anywhere from 25-35 cookies.
  • For the gingerbread cookie icing. I’ve included a royal icing recipe and a buttercream frosting. Royal icing works better for detailed decorations, but the confectioner’s (buttercream) icing has a creamier flavor.
Top view of decorated gingerbread men on a cooling rack.

Storing Tips

  • Make ahead of time. Cool gingerbread cookies and cover or place in an airtight container and keep in a cool, dry place for up to 3 days before using.
  • FREEZE. Do this before decorating them. Place in a freezer-safe bag and separate layers with parchment paper. Freeze for up to 1 month in advance.
    • Let thaw overnight on the counter before decorating.
  • Freeze the gingerbread cookie dough. Instead of refrigerating the wrapped dough, place it into a freeze ziploc and freeze up to one month. Thaw overnight in the fridge before rolling.
Three decorated gingerbread cookie recipe on a red plate.

For More Great Holiday Treats:

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4.95 from 38 votes

Gingerbread Cookies Recipe

By: Lil’ Luna
This homemade gingerbread cookie recipe has a delicious ginger molasses flavor. They're perfect for decorating!
Servings: 36 cookies
Prep: 30 minutes
Cook: 10 minutes
Chill Time: 4 hours
Total: 4 hours 40 minutes

Ingredients 

Gingerbread Men

  • cup all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling out the cookies
  • teaspoons ground ginger, or use 2 tsp for a stronger flavor
  • teaspoons cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
  • ¾ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup unsalted butter, softened
  • cup sugar
  • cup brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ cup unsulphered molasses, spray the measuring cup with non-stick cooking spray first to avoid sticking

Royal Icing

  • cup powdered sugar, sifted
  • 1-2 tablespoons milk
  • 2 teaspoons clear corn syrup
  • food coloring

Confectioners Frosting

  • 2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
  • ½ cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1-2 tablespoons milk or cream
  • food coloring
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Instructions 

Gingerbread Men

  • In a medium bowl whisk 2¾ cups flour, 1½ teaspoons ground ginger, 1½ teaspoons cinnamon, ¼ teaspoon nutmeg, ¼ teaspoon ground cloves, ¾ teaspoon baking soda, and ¼ teaspoon salt.
  • In a large bowl using an electric mixer, beat ½ cup butter, ⅓ cup sugar, and ⅓ cup brown sugar until fluffy. Beat in 1 egg, 1 teaspoon vanilla, and ½ cup molasses. 
  • Carefully beat in the flour mixture until it's all incorporated. 
  • Divide the dough in 2, form each half into a round disc, wrap each in plastic wrap, and chill in the fridge for at least 4 hours or up to 2 days. 
  • When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350°F and line cookie sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats. 
  • Work with one ball of dough at a time. If the dough was in the fridge overnight, you may need to let it warm up for 10-15 minutes first.
  • On a well-floured countertop using a well-floured rolling pin, roll out one disc of the dough until it's about ¼ inch thick. Cut into shapes and place 1-2 inches apart on the cookie sheet.  
  • Bake for 8-12 minutes until the tops are set. (This will depend on the size of your cookie cutters and the thickness of the dough).

Royal Icing

  • Whisk 1½ cup powdered sugar, 2 teaspoons corn syrup, and 1-2 tablespoons milk. Mix in a little more milk or powdered sugar as necessary.
  • Divide into small bowls and mix with food coloring.  
  • Decorate the cookies using piping bags, or a knife. I like to use disposable piping bags and a 4M tip.

Buttercream Frosting

  • In a large bowl using an electric mixer, beat ½ cup butter until fluffy. 
  • Beat in 2 cups powdered sugar about ½ cup at a time, then beat in 1-2 tablespoons milk or cream. Add in a little extra powdered sugar or milk/cream as necessary.  
  • Divide the icing into small bowls and mix with food coloring. 
  • Frost the cookies using piping bags or a knife.

Video

Notes

  • Freezing the dough. Instead of wrapping and refrigerating the dough, place it into a freeze ziploc and freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the fridge before rolling.
  • FROSTING. Let the frosting set before storing the gingerbread cookies. Store in an airtight container, and keep in a cool, dry place. They will last for 3-5 days.
  • STORE COOKIES in the freezer, place in a freezer-safe bag, separate layers with parchment paper, and freeze for up to 3 months. (Note that any candy decorations may fall off in the freezer.)

Nutrition

Serving: 1cookie, Calories: 178kcal, Carbohydrates: 30g, Protein: 1g, Fat: 6g, Saturated Fat: 3g, Cholesterol: 21mg, Sodium: 54mg, Potassium: 94mg, Sugar: 21g, Vitamin A: 185IU, Calcium: 19mg, Iron: 0.8mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Additional Info

Course: Dessert
Cuisine: German
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About Kristyn

My name is Kristyn and I’m the mom of SIX stinkin’ cute kids and the wife to my smokin’ hot hubby, Lo. My mom’s maiden name is Luna, and I’m one of the many crafty “Lil’ Lunas” in the fam. On this site I like to share all things creative - from recipes to home decor to gifts and home decor ideas. Welcome!

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Recipe Rating




42 Comments

  1. Hilary says:

    5 stars
    Loved this recipe! I used Better Batter All Purpose gluten-free flour instead of regular wheat flour because my family is gf!! The taste is so good and gingery just how we like them (we used the 2tsp ginger for extra!) ! We absolutely loved them and they were so easy to make. They turned out perfectly!! Thank you!

  2. One Day says:

    3 stars
    Something about these cookies is off. Followed the recipe exactly, but for some reason they don’t taste very good.

    1. Lil'Luna Team says:

      Thanks for the feedback and for giving the recipe a try.

  3. Tara G says:

    5 stars
    I made these with my kids and they were easy enough to make and they could help! We had fun decorating them too, thank you!

  4. Jessica says:

    5 stars
    These were SO GOOD. THANK YOU SO MUCH for sharing!

  5. Kristie says:

    5 stars
    These are so fun to make and decorate and so good!!

  6. Julie says:

    I thought that these would keep their thickness when they cooled, but they didn’t. Are they supposed to be thicker cookies?

    1. Lil'Luna Team says:

      Ours usually turn out about as thick as you can see in the pictures. Chilling the dough helps and depending on how thick you roll out the dough, that can make a difference too. I wouldn’t say they are really thick… they will thin out a little as they bake. But they aren’t super thin either if you chill/roll them thick enough.

    2. Kristen says:

      5 stars
      I made these and they were delicious. My kids also got in on the fun and had a blast decorating their own gingerbread cookies.