Gingerbread Cookies are soft and full of spicy gingerbread flavor.  This gingerbread cookie recipe is decorated with easy vanilla icing and is a Christmas tradition!

Gingerbread cookies piled on a server with cinnamon sticks

**The photos and text for this post were updated in December 2019.

It’s just not Christmas for me without gingerbread cookies.  I didn’t grow up baking gingerbread men with my mom every Christmas, but started my own tradition baking them many years ago.

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

Gingerbread cookies with icing and cinnamon candies

This gingerbread cookie recipe is adapted from The Christmas Cookie Book by Lou Seibert Pappas, which a friend of mine gave me as a gift years ago.  These 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.

These cookies just taste like Christmas.

How to make gingerbread cookies

  • Place the butter and egg on the counter to allow them to come to room temperature. 
  • Note: 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.

Gingerbread cookies process collage

  • Combine the dry ingredients in a small bowl and set aside.
  • Cream the butter and sugar in large bowl until light and fluffy.  Add the egg and molasses and beat well to combine.  The mixture will appear slightly curdled.
  • Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and beat on low speed just until incorporated.  The dough will appear crumbly.

Gingerbread cookies process collage 2

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.

Gingerbread cookies process collage 3

  • When the gingerbread cookies have cooled, place 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.

Decorated gingerbread cookies

Why 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.

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.

Decorated gingerbread men on a plate

 

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 these gingerbread men last?

Soft gingerbread cookies last for one week stored at room temperature in an air tight container.  

Gingerbread cookie in deer shape with pine leaves

Gingerbread cookie 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.
  • 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 gingerbread cookies between sheets of waxed paper in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week.

Gingerbread cookies on plate with cinnamon candies

Hungry for more cookies?  See all of my Cookie recipes.

More Christmas cookies you’ll love:

Chocolate crinkle cookies by Gimme Some Oven

Chocolate dipped almond horn cookies

Christmas sugar cookies

Greek butter cookies

Peanut butter blossoms

Shortbread cookies by Food Network

Gingerbread cookies piled on a server with cinnamon sticks

Gingerbread Cookies

Warm, spicy gingerbread cookies deliver the flavors of Christmas. Sweeten up the spiciness with vanilla butter icing and decorate with the candies of your choice. A must for your Christmas cookie platter!
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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
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup molasses

Vanilla icing:

  • 2 cups powdered sugar sifted
  • 2-4 tablespoons hot water
  • 1 teaspoon corn syrup
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • For decorating: 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. 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 until firm enough to roll.
  • 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.

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.

Notes

  • 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.
  • 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 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.

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