Made with molasses and the perfect blend of spices, Easy Gingerbread Cookies are crisp on the outside with a soft middle. These Christmas gingerbread cookies belong on every dessert table and cookie platter this holiday season!!
An Easy Holiday Cookie Recipe
Is there a more quintessential Christmas cookie than a gingerbread cookie? While sugar cookies, chocolate chip cookies, and others are often made year-round, it seems that these warmly spiced cookies only appear as the days get shorter and colder! Seeing these cookies (or making them) is always a sign that the holidays are near.
This recipe for easy gingerbread cookies is all of the things these classic cookies should be – soft in the center with a crispy outer edge and perfectly flavored with a combination of molasses and spices like ginger, cinnamon, cloves, and allspice. One of my favorite things about baking these cookies is how nice they make my kitchen smell!
And we can’t forget about decorating these gingerbread cookies after they cool! Whether you make yours in a classic gingerbread man shape or opt for something like a gingerbread reindeer or a gingerbread snowball, they are fun to decorate. Feel free to stay classic with an outline of white icing around the edges, add a face and some buttons, or let the kids go wild with their own creativity! Baking cookies is such a fun holiday activity for families and this recipe is no exception.
What You’ll Need
These cookies are made with just the right mixture of warm spices, molasses, and brown sugar to create the perfect gingerbread flavor.
- Unsalted butter – The standard for baking, if you opt to use salted butter, reduce the added salt to 1/2 teaspoon.
- Brown sugar – Since brown sugar has a sweet, molasses-like flavor, it works better in this recipe than plain granulated white sugar. I used light brown sugar, dark brown sugar will give the cookies a darker color.
- Molasses – A classic flavor in gingerbread cookies, it also gives them that dark, rich color!
- Eggs – These bind the dough together and give the cookies a richer texture and flavor.
- Vanilla Extract – My favorite secret ingredient that makes every cookie taste better.
- All-purpose flour – My favorite is the unbleached all purpose flour from Bob’s Red Mill.
- Baking powder – Makes the cookies rise and helps give them their soft texture.
- Spices – The gingerbread flavor comes from a combination of ginger, cinnamon, cloves, and allspice.
- Kosher salt – Salt isn’t to make the cookies salty, but to turn on your taste buds and enhance all the other flavors in these cookies.
Recommended Kitchen Tools
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- mixing bowls
- spoon and whisk -or- hand mixer -or- stand mixer
- measuring cups -or- kitchen scale
- measuring spoons
- silicone spatula
- cookie scoop
- parchment paper
- baking sheets
- cooling rack
- metal spatula
How to Make Gingerbread Cookies
These easy Christmas gingerbread cookies are, just as the name suggests, surprisingly easy to make. Don’t forget to allow at least three hours for the dough to chill – I like to mix one day and bake the next!
- Make the dough. In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream the butter, add in the brown sugar then molasses one at a time, blending to combine. Add in the eggs one at a time, incorporating completely, then add in the vanilla. In a separate bowl; carefully sift together the flour, baking powder, spices, and salt. Whisk well to combine. Working in batches, add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients and blend until well combined. The dough will be soft, pliable, and slightly sticky.
- Chill the dough. Divide the dough into two equal parts and place each onto a piece of parchment paper. Use the parchment paper to shape each section into a ball, then flatten it into a disk shape. Wrap the parchment around the disks and place into airtight containers then refrigerate for at least 3 hours or as long as it takes for the dough to firm up.
- Cut out the cookies. Working with one ball of dough at a time, place it on a lightly floured work surface then gently roll out to 1/4″ inch thickness. Use classic gingerbread men cookie cutters (or other Christmas cookie shapes like a Christmas tree or snowflakes) to cut out the cookies. Place 1 inch apart on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
- Bake. Bake the cookies for 8 to 10 minutes, until the edges are slightly golden. The longer you bake, the crispier the cookies get. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before decorating with your favorite royal icing.
Tips for Success
Here are a few essential things to keep in mind when making this gingerbread recipe. FYI: Most of these tips apply to cookie recipes in general.
- Sift the dry ingredients. Sifting the dry ingredients ensures that the dough is completely smooth with no lumps or pockets of flour, as well as disperses the spices evenly. While I rarely find a lump of flour, finding a lump of spice is common.
- Allow plenty of time for the dough to chill. The dough needs at least 3 hours to chill but 4 hours or overnight is even better. This gives the butter time to solidify, making it easier to handle. Keep the extra dough in the fridge while the cookies are baking.
- Do not overwork the dough. After you roll out the dough and cut out your cookies you can press the dough back together and roll it again. HOWEVER, each time you do this you work more flour into the dough. Do it too many times and your cookies will end up tough and unpleasant to eat. To avoid this, try to cram as many cookie shapes into a single roll out as possible, then be sure to dust off any extra flour from the edge of the dough before you re work it. After you’ve rolled it out twice, put the off cuts on the baking sheet and bake them in whatever shape they are in. These are the perfect bites to sample while cookie decorating!
- Do not over-bake. While you want the edges to be slightly browned for a crispy texture on the outside you also want the middle to be soft. It’s also difficult to gauge browning edges on brown cookies, so watch carefully and adjust the baking time as needed with subsequent batches. The cookies will continue to bake a few minutes after they are pulled from the oven and will set up as they cool. Even crunchy cookies will look soft as they come out of the oven. Reduce baking time for softer cookies, increase it for crunchier cookies.
- Let cool before icing. Decorating the cookies is half of the fun! Just be sure that the cookies have cooled to room temperature to avoid melting the icing. Royal icing will dry hard, which makes it a great option for these gingerbread people. You can make your own from egg whites, powdered sugar, and vanilla extract, or pick it up in the baking aisle. If you are buying it, look for decorating icing in pouches for less mess.
These easy gingerbread cookies belong on every holiday dessert table and cookie tray. Take them to a cookie exchange and share with friends. Dunk them in a glass of milk or enjoy with a steaming mug of hot chocolate on a chilly night. Just don’t forget they are Santa’s favorite Christmas cookies, so leave some out for him as well!
How to Store & Freeze
Gingerbread cookies will stay fresh for up to a week when stored in an airtight container at room temperature. They do not need to be refrigerated.
Gingerbread cookies and gingerbread cookie dough can also be frozen in airtight, freezer safe containers for about 3 months. Depending on how much work you want to do now versus later, you can freeze balls of dough, rolled and shaped dough, or baked cookies.
Baked cookies will thaw quickly on the counter top. Frozen, raw cookies can be baked from frozen or thawed at room temperature on a cookie sheet for 30 minutes. Balls of dough that need to be rolled and shaped should be thawed out overnight in the fridge.
For best results with making ahead and freezing: make the dough, cut out the cookies, then place the cookies on a cookie sheet and freeze 4 – 6 hours until solid. Frozen cookies can then be moved to an airtight container for longer storage. When the mood for cookies strikes, pull what you want from the freezer and place on a parchment lined baking sheet. Allow them to thaw while you preheat the oven, then bake as directed in the recipe.
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Easy Gingerbread Cookies
- 3/4 cup unsalted* butter (softened)
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 3/4 cup molasses
- 2 eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 4 1/4 cups flour (sifted)
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 1 tablespoon ginger
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon cloves
- 1/2 teaspoon allspice
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt (reduce to 1/2 teaspoon if using salted butter)
- In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat butter on low speed until soft and fluffy – about 3 – 5 minutes. Add in the brown sugar blend to combine, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed, then add the molasses and blend to combine. Add in the eggs one at a time, incorporating completely, then add in the vanilla.
- In a separate bowl; carefully sift together the flour, baking powder, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, allspice, and salt. Whisk well to combine. Working in 2 – 3 batches, add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients, stopping to scrape down the sides as needed. Blend until well combined. The dough will be soft, pliable, and sticky.
- Divide the dough into two equal parts and place each onto a piece of parchment paper. Use the parchment paper to shape each section into a ball, then flatten it into a disk shape. Wrap the parchment around the disks and place into airtight containers then refrigerate for at least 3 hours or as long as it takes for the dough to firm up.
- After the dough is chilled; preheat the oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit. Prepare the baking sheet(s) by lining with a sheet of parchment paper. Set aside.
- Working with one dough disk at a time; place one section of chilled dough on a lightly floured surface. With a rolling pin, gently roll the dough out to roughly a 1/4" inch thickness. Cut out cookies with gingerbread men cookie cutters or cookie cutters of your choice. Place the cutout cookie dough shapes 1 inch apart on the prepared baking sheet.
- Once the baking sheet is full, bake the cookies in the preheated oven for 8 – 10 minutes or until the edges are slightly golden. Be sure not to over bake. Upon removing the baking sheet from the oven, transfer cookies to a wire rack to cool.
- Allow the cookie sheet to cool completely, then load it up with more cookie cut outs and bake. Repeat this process with remaining dough, until all the cookies have been baked.
- Once the cookies are completely cooled, decorate with your favorite icing. Cookies can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for 1 – 2 weeks (if they last that long!)
Nutrition information is automatically calculated and is for general information purposes only. For the most accurate information, calculate using your select brands and exact measurements.
For the step by step version of this recipe, check out the How to Make Easy Gingerbread Cookies Story.