If you’re Team Chewy Cookie, ready the cookie cutters. You need these Soft Gingerbread Cookies in your life. In addition to texture perfection and an easy-to-make dough, these cookies come deeply embedded with holiday flavor thanks to warming spices, brown sugar, and the perfect kiss of molasses.
When somebody smiles at you, it’s near impossible not to smile back. Even when it’s a cookie. Plain and simple: Gingerbread Men make people happy.
Adorable and inviting, these treats say merry Christmas like no other dessert can making this the perfect cookie recipe for holiday gift-giving! Not to mention baking with the kids, and making your house smell absolutely spectacular.
HOW TO MAKE GINGERBREAD COOKIES
- Mix the Dry Ingredients – Whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, and spices in a medium-sized mixing bowl.
- Mix Wet Ingredients – Add the butter, brown sugar, molasses, and egg to a large mixing bowl and use a handheld mixer on medium-high speed to combine.
- Combine All Ingredients – Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, mixing on low all the while.
- Chill the Dough – Turn out the dough onto a floured work surface and use floured hands to divide into 4 equal portions. Then, form those portions into disks. Wrap the disks in plastic wrap and chill for at least 3 hours.
- Roll Out the Dough – Working with one gingerbread disk at a time, remove the plastic wrap, place it on a floured work surface, and dust it with flour. Roll out the dough so it is a scant 1/2″ thick.
- Cut Out Desired Shapes – Using a 3 to 5″ cookie cutter, cut out your cookies and transfer them to a baking sheet lined with either parchment paper or a silicone baking mat, placing them about 2″ apart.
- Bake – Bake at 350°F for about 8 to 10 minutes, just until the bottom edges are tinging with a deeper brown color.
TIPS FOR ROLLING OUT COOKIE DOUGH
The part that confuses most people when it comes to rolling out cookie dough is that it is supposed to be chilled, yet, when you try to roll out a chilled dough it can easily crack if it’s too cold.
It is indeed essential to chill the dough, however, if the dough is giving you trouble straight out of the refrigerator as you attempt to roll it out, you’ll need to let it rest on the counter for at least 10 minutes, but possibly up to 20 minutes.
Patience is key. You want the dough to feel soft, but not wet and sticky as the latter is even harder to roll.
3 KEYS TO SOFT GINGERBREAD COOKIES
Here are three factors to keep in mind if you want to bake up a perfectly soft and chewy batch of Gingerbread Men this Christmas!
- Bake Time
- Cookie Size
- Thickness of the Dough
1. BAKE TIME
Possibly the most important thing when it comes to baking up a soft batch of Gingerbread Cookies is the bake time.
As you probably know, the longer you bake your cookies, the crispier they’ll get! As soon as you see the bottom edges of your Gingerbread Cookies darkening, it’s time to pull them from the oven. Yes — even if the center still appears a bit soft!
Keep in mind, cookies actually continue cooking as they’re cooling on the counter! First, allow them to finish cooking on the baking sheet out of the oven (for about 10 minutes), and then transfer them to a cooling rack.
This recipe calls for a total bake time of 8 to 10 minutes. The best practice here is to check in on your cookies at the 8-minute mark and determine at that point if they need the additional 2 minutes in the oven.
2. THE SIZE OF THE COOKIE
Another factor to keep in mind for chewy, soft Gingerbread Cookies is the size of the cookie! As you probably know smaller cookies bake faster than larger cookies, meaning they’ll get crispier faster.
The average-sized cookie cutter is about 3-5 inches. If your cookie cutters are especially small (less than 3″), you should reduce the bake time by about 2 minutes or so.
3. THE THICKNESS OF THE DOUGH
The thickness of the dough once it is rolled out also matters. The thinner you roll out your gingerbread dough, the thinner the cut-out cookie will be, and the crispier they’ll bake…and vise versa!
For plump, soft Gingerbread Cookies, you’ll want to roll out the dough a bit thicker, about 1/2 an inch in thickness.
MORE SOFT AND CHEWY HOLIDAY COOKIES YOU’LL LOVE!
- Cinnamon Cookies
- Red Velvet Cookie
- Chocolate Crinkle Cookies
- Chocolate Peppermint Cookies
- Peanut Butter Cookies with Chocolate
ICING FOR GINGERBREAD COOKIES
If you’re looking to take your Gingerbread Cookies to the next level, you’ll need to ready the piping bag. Royal icing is the most common icing for Gingerbread Cookies. Royal icing makes it possible to get fine details such as tiny eyes and sweet smiles onto those sweet gingerbread faces, and it sets up beautifully!
HOW TO MAKE ROYAL ICING
- 3 cups powdered sugar
- 2 tablespoons meringue powder
- 3 ounces warm water
- Combine powdered sugar, meringue powder, and water. Mix on low speed to combine, and then increase the speed to high. You can use a handheld mixer or a stand mixer for this task.
- Mix for 2 to 3 minutes, until the icing has thickened to a consistency similar to (sorry to say) toothpaste.
DECORATING GINGERBREAD COOKIES
To apply the icing to your Gingerbread Cookies, transfer it to a piping bag fitted with a round piping tip (my favorite is Wilton #3 for outlining larger cookies and Wilton #301 for small details). If you have never worked with a pastry bag and tip before, practice by piping basic shapes in icing onto a sheet of wax paper.
- Gingerbread Men | Traditional Gingerbread men feature two dots for eyes, a smiling mouth, three dots down the center, and those adorable little squiggles around the hands and feet. If you want to get extra creative with a simple bowtie or a scarf!
- Lederhosen Gingerbread Men | Pipe on a pair of suspenders and shorts for that nostalgic German look!
- Gingerbread Women | Gingerbread women are equally irresistible on a cookie platter. You can add hair, a bow, a skirt, or even a sweet little heart in the center.
- Fun Shapes | Pipe pretty lines or designs onto festive Christmas shapes like stars, trees, snowflakes, and candy canes!
- Rodolph | Grab your favorite reindeer cookie cutter and pipe on some antlers, eyes, and grab some red M&M’s for a nose!
Don’t forget the Christmas-colored sprinkles! Nonpareils are my personal fave for adding a little holiday cheer to a batch of gingerbread cookies.
- Flour | This recipe calls for all-purpose flour. Do not attempt to sub in any other kind of flour for these cookies.
- Molasses | One look at the molasses section at the grocery store and you’ll soon see the options are plentiful. For this recipe, you’ll need unsulphured molasses. We recommend either Briar’s Molasses or Grandma’s Molasses.
- Spices | The more ginger in your spice mix, the “spicier” your cookie is going to be. Feel free to cut the ginger down from one tablespoon to two teaspoons if you’d like.
- Sugar | Brown sugar is the one and only sugar called for in this Gingerbread Cookie Dough. It plays an important role in keeping your gingerbread cookies soft and chewy, and should not be substituted with granulated sugar.
WHY ARE MY GINGERBREAD COOKIES SPREADING?!
If your cookies are spreading, it’s likely because the dough wasn’t chilled long enough. Either that or the dough sat out at room temperature too long during the rolling and cutting stage of the recipe.
To ensure your cookie shapes have nice, “sharp” edges, you can cut the cookies and transfer them back to the refrigerator to chill for 10 to 15 minutes before baking.
You can do this either on the sheet pan (if you have the space in your fridge), or cut them and transfer them to a food-safe storage container. Take the extra care to separate each layer of cut-out Gingerbread Cookies with a layer of wax paper.
CAN I MAKE GINGERBREAD DOUGH IN ADVANCE?
You can make the dough up to two days in advance. Just keep the dough rounds tightly wrapped in plastic wrap to ensure they don’t dry out.
You can also cut out the cookies and refrigerate or freeze them so they’re ready to bake at a moment’s notice! Place your cut-out cookies in a food-safe storage container, separating each layer with a sheet of wax paper. Make sure you put wax paper on the bottom too so the cookies don’t stick to the container! Then, seal and refrigerate for up to two days. You can also freeze the cookies this way for up to 2 months.
HOW TO STORE YOUR COOKIES
Gingerbread Cookies keep extremely well and can be left at room temperature in an airtight container for up to a week. If you’d like to keep them fresh for longer than this, freeze them!
These cookies freeze extremely well but, take note, the icing will stay much prettier and intact if you freeze them before frosting them. Freeze the cookies either in an airtight, freezer-safe container or a freezer-safe zip-top bag for up to two months.
5 MORE CHRISTMAS COOKIES YOU’LL LOVE
- Soft Sugar Cookies
- Italian Wedding Cookies
- Thumbprint Cookies With Jam
Soft Gingerbread Cookies with an easy-to-make dough loaded with holiday flavor thanks to warming spices, brown sugar, and the perfect kiss of molasses!
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 3/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1 tablespoon ground ginger
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ground allspice
- 1/4 teaspoon cloves
- 3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened (not melted)
- 3/4 cup packed light or dark brown sugar
- 1/2 cup unsulphured molasses (such as Brer Rabbit or Grandma's Molasses)
- 1 large egg
Add the flour, baking soda, sea salt, ginger, cinnamon, allspice, and cloves to a medium-sized mixing bowl and whisk to combine. Set aside until ready to use.
Add the butter, brown sugar, molasses, and egg to a large mixing bowl. Using a handheld mixer, mix on medium-high speed until the mixture is well-combined.
Gradually add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients mixing on low. Do not overmix.
Have ready a floured work surface and turn out the dough onto it. With floured hands, divide the dough into 2 and form it into 4 equal portions shaped like disks. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 3 hours or up to two days.
Preheat the oven to 350°F and have ready 2 baking sheets lined with either parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.
Working with 1 unwrapped disk at a time, dust your work surface, as well as the top of the disk, and roll out so that the dough is just under a 1/2" thick. Cut out your cookies using 3-5" cooking cutters.
Place your cookies 2" apart on the baking sheet and bake for 8-10 minutes.
Allow the cookies to cool on the baking sheet for about 10 minutes, then transfer them to a cooling rack. Once the cookies have cooled completely, you can begin decorating them with icing and sprinkles, or as desired.