It’s not Christmas without Gingerbread Cookies! This is a tried and true recipe that’s packed with spicy, warm flavors and decorated with a simple vanilla icing. They’re perfect for the Christmas cookie box or tray!

Soft gingerbread cookies piled on a wooden server

**This post was originally published in December 2012. I’ve updated the photos and text to include more useful information

It’s just not Christmas for me without Soft Gingerbread Cookies.  I started my own tradition baking them many years ago, and I include them in an assortment of cookies that I give away as gifts.

There’s just something about cute little gingerbread boys with white icing swirled decoratively around the hands and feet, and little candy eyes and buttons.  They bring out the child in me, and I look forward to making them every year.

Why you’ll love this recipe:

  • These gingerbread man cookies are special because they’re nice and soft with a slight chewiness and plenty of warm gingerbread flavor.  
  • They’re topped with an easy vanilla icing that is the perfect compliment to the spicy flavor of the cookies.
  • The cookie dough may be made a few days in advance, so you can roll it out and bake the cookies when you’re ready.
  • These are festive cookies that are perfect for the Christmas cookie tray or to give as gifts to friends and family.
Assortment of gingerbread cookies with holly branches

Recipe ingredients

This gingerbread cookie recipe requires the following ingredients:

  • All purpose flour
  • Baking soda
  • Salt
  • Ground ginger
  • Ground cinnamon
  • Ground cloves
  • Unsalted butter. Salted butter may be substituted, but omit the additional 1/4 teaspoon salt.
  • Dark brown sugar. I prefer dark brown sugar for its deep flavor, but light brown sugar may be substituted.
  • Egg
  • Molasses
  • Powdered sugar
  • Corn syrup. The corn syrup adds a nice sheen and a bit of elasticity to the icing, but it may be omitted if you don’t have any on hand.
  • Vanilla extract

How to make this recipe

Gingerbread cookies are very easy to prepare, but baking and decorating the cookies does require some time. Pro tip: Break this recipe up into 2 or 3 stages. I typically make the dough and chill it overnight, then bake the cookies the next day and either decorate them the day they’re baked, or the next day.

Prepare the cookies

How to make gingerbread cookies collage 1
How to make gingerbread cookies collage 2
How to make gingerbread cookies collage 3
  1. Combine the dry ingredients in a small bowl and set aside. Cream the butter and sugar in large bowl until light and fluffy. 
  2. Add the egg and molasses and beat well to combine.  The mixture will appear slightly curdled.
  3. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and beat on low speed just until incorporated.  The dough will be crumbly.
  4. Using your hands, form the dough into (2) disks and wrap tightly in plastic wrap.  Place in the refrigerator and chill for a minimum of 30 minutes.
  5. When ready to roll the dough, line (2) large baking sheets with parchment paper and preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly flour your rolling surface and rolling pin. Roll the dough 1/4″ thick for nice soft cookies.  Cut out the cookies with the cookie cutters and place 1″ apart on the prepared baking sheets.  Add more flour as needed, being careful not to add to much when re-rolling the dough scraps.
  6. Bake the cookies for 6-8 minutes until the edges are lightly golden brown and the cookies feel dry on top.  Cool completely on wire racks.

Decorate the cookies

Gingerbread cookies process collage 3
  • Place the cooled cookies on sheets of waxed paper and prepare the icing.  
  • Place the powdered sugar, (2) tablespoons hot water, corn syrup and vanilla in a medium bowl and stir until smooth.  Add more water until the icing has reached the desired consistency.
  • Pipe or spread the icing on the cookies and immediately top with candies or sprinkles as the icing dries quickly. Let the cookies stand at room temperature until set.

FAQs


Do you have to chill gingerbread dough?

The dough must be chilled before rolling as it’s too soft and sticky to work with.  Chilling helps firm up the dough, which makes rolling and cutting into shapes much easier, and it helps prevent the dough from cracking.

How do you know when gingerbread cookies are done?

It’s harder to tell when gingerbread dough is golden brown as it’s darker.  If you touch the top of the cookie and it’s nice and dry, the cookies are done.

Should gingerbread cookies be hard or soft?

I prefer my gingerbread cookies to be thick and soft, so I roll the dough out to 1/4″ thick and bake them only until the top of the cookies are dry, about 8 minutes.

If you like crispy gingerbread cookies, roll your dough to about 1/8″ thick and bake 6-8 minutes.

How long do soft gingerbread cookies last?

Cookies keep for a week in air tight container at room temperature. Once decorated, store between sheets of waxed paper.

Undecorated cookies may be frozen for up to 3 months.

Recipe notes

  • Dough may be made a few days in advance stored in the refrigerator wrapped tightly in plastic wrap. Let stand at room temperature for 15-30 minutes until soft enough to roll.
  • Break this recipe up into 2 or 3 stages for time management if necessary. I typically make the dough and chill it overnight, then bake the cookies the next day and either decorate them the day they’re baked, or the next day.
  • If you wish to freeze the dough, wrap it in plastic wrap, then in foil and store in the freezer for up to one month. Thaw the dough in the refrigerator overnight and let stand at room temperature until soft enough to roll out.
  • Store decorated gingerbread cookies between sheets of waxed paper in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week.
Gingerbread man cookies on a wooden server

More Christmas cookies you’ll love:

If you make this recipe I’d love to hear from you! Leave a comment and rating below, or tag me @flavorthemoments on Instagram!

Gingerbread cookies piled on a wooden server

Gingerbread Cookies

Soft, festive gingerbread cookies are a must for the Christmas cookie tray! They're soft and slightly chewy, with warm, spicy gingerbread flavor and an easy vanilla icing!
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Ingredients

  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon ground ginger
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter softened
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar packed (may be substituted with light brown sugar)
  • 1 large egg room temperature
  • 1/2 cup molasses

Vanilla icing:

  • 2 cups powdered sugar sifted
  • 2-4 tablespoons hot water
  • 1 teaspoon corn syrup adds sheen and elasticity to the frosting, but may be omitted
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • optional decorations: hard cinnamon candies, mini chocolate chips or M&M's, or your favorite candies or sprinkles

Instructions 

For the Cookies:

  • In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, ginger, cinnamon, and cloves. Set aside. In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar with an electric mixer until light and fluffy.
  • Add the egg and molasses, and beat until smooth.
    How to make gingerbread cookies collage 1
  • Add the flour mixture to the sugar mixture and beat just until combined.
  • Scrape half of the dough onto a sheet of plastic wrap, flatten into a disk. Wrap it tightly and store in the refrigerator. Repeat with the other half of the dough. Chill for two hours or overnight.
    How to make gingerbread cookies collage 2
  • Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper. Roll the dough out on a lightly floured surface to 1/4" thickness for softer, chewier cookies, or 1/8" thickness for thinner, crispier cookies. Place cookies 1" apart on prepared baking sheet.
  • Bake 6-8 minutes, or until edges become golden brown. Cool on wire racks.
    How to make gingerbread cookies collage 3

Prepare the icing:

  • Place the powdered sugar in a medium bowl. Add the hot water, corn syrup and vanilla extract and stir well until smooth.
  • Spread or pipe the icing using a piping bag and a fine tip, and top immediately with the candies or sprinkles of your choice. Leave the cookies out at room temperature until set.
    Gingerbread cookies process collage 3

Notes

  • Pro tip: the butter will soften much faster if you cut into small cubes, and the egg will come to room temperature must faster when placed in a bowl of warm water.
  • Nutrition information does not include candies or sprinkles.
  • Dough may be made a few days in advance stored in the refrigerator wrapped tightly in plastic wrap. Let stand at room temperature for 15-30 minutes until soft enough to roll.
  • Break this recipe into 2-3 stages to make it more manageable.  I like to prepare the dough and chill it overnight, then bake the cookies the next day and decorate them the day they’re baked or one day after.
  • If you wish to freeze it, wrap the plastic wrapped dough in foil also and store in the freezer for up to one month. Thaw the dough in the refrigerator overnight and let stand at room temperature until soft enough to roll out.
  • Store decorated gingerbread cookies between sheets of waxed paper in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week.

Nutrition

Serving: 1cookie, Calories: 116kcal, Carbohydrates: 22g, Protein: 1g, Fat: 3g, Saturated Fat: 2g, Cholesterol: 12mg, Sodium: 52mg, Potassium: 87mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 13g, Vitamin A: 86IU, Calcium: 17mg, Iron: 1mg

Nutrition is estimated using a food database and is only intended to be used as a guideline for informational purposes.

Tried this recipe?Mention @flavorthemoments or tag #flavorthemoments!

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