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Gingerbread Cookies

Review Recipe
overhead shot of Gingerbread Cookies on a plate
Sweet and spicy, these soft, chewy gingerbread cookies are perfect for holiday baking and decorating at Christmas.
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Table of Contents
  1. Gingerbread Cookies Ingredients
  2. How To Make This Gingerbread Cookies Recipe
  3. How To Serve
  4. Storage
  5. More Recipes You’ll Love
  6. JUMP TO RECIPE

In our family, we make these old-fashioned soft gingerbread cookies every Christmas. A handful of ingredients form a deliciously spiced dough that’s perfect for cutting into fun shapes, baking, and decorating during the holiday season!

overhead shot of Gingerbread Cookies on a plate

Gingerbread Cookies Ingredients

Gingerbread Cookies raw ingredients that are labeled

You’ll need:

For the Cookies

  • ½ cup shortening
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg
  • ½ cup molasses
  • 1 tablespoon white vinegar
  • 2½ cups flour
  • ¾ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground cloves
  • ½ tablespoon ground ginger
  • royal icing
  • candies for decorating

For the Royal Icing

  • 3 tablespoons meringue powder
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • ¾ cups water

PRO TIP:

You can also add a few drops of food coloring to create different colors in your icing.

SUBSTITUTIONS AND ADDITIONS

DECORATIONS: Besides festive icing and sprinkles, you could also add M&M’s, Red Hots, colored sanding sugar, powdered sugar, melted dark chocolate, or melted white chocolate on top of these ginger cookies.

How To Make This Gingerbread Cookies Recipe

OUR RECIPE DEVELOPER SAYS:

Any of your favorite cookie cutters can be used for your batch of gingerbread. This recipe made gingerbread men, Christmas trees, candy canes, and snowflakes, but different shapes will work too.

STEP ONE: In the bowl of a stand mixer or with a hand mixer, cream together the shortening, sugar, and salt on medium speed until smooth. Add the egg, molasses, and white vinegar; beat well.

egg, molasses and white vinegar added to a bowl

STEP TWO: In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, ground cinnamon, ground cloves, and ground ginger.

STEP THREE: A little at a time, add the dry ingredients into the bowl with the wet ingredients and mix until well combined. The cookie dough will be thick.

dry ingredients added to wet ingredients and mix together

STEP FOUR: Cover with plastic wrap and chill for at least 2 hours. The dough should be cold to properly be rolled out.

STEP FIVE: Preheat oven to 375°F. Grease or line large baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside. For the best cookie shapes, use the method below.

PRO TIP:

If preferred, the dough can all be rolled out at once, then cut into shapes. It’s just more difficult to transfer the cut-out dough onto the baking sheet while still retaining its proper shape, especially if using intricate shapes.

STEP SIX: Remove the dough from the refrigerator and keep the dough in 1 big pile. Cut out 2 sheets of parchment paper, at least 1 inch bigger than the cookie cutter.

STEP SEVEN: On one of the pieces of parchment paper, take a 1-inch ball of dough and roll it out to be ⅛ inch thick (add flour to the rolling pin if it’s sticking). Press the cookie cutter into the flattened dough, and remove the excess dough scraps around the edge, adding it back to the big ball of dough. Remove the cookie cutter. Take the other piece of parchment paper and place it on top of the cut out dough and flip it over.

PRO TIP:

When removing the excess dough from around the cookie cutter, use a toothpick to get into the small crevices if needed.

use cookie cutter to cut dough and remove the excess around edges

STEP EIGHT: Gently peel the top piece of paper off (the cookie will now be upside down). Then gently flip the dough back over onto the parchment-lined baking sheet (spacing the cut-out cookies 1 inch apart) and peel the top paper off (the cookie will now be right-side up again). This ensures a perfect shape!

PRO TIP:

When peeling the parchment paper off of the piece of dough, start from the bottom and peel back the paper nearly horizontally in the opposite direction. Doing it at this angle will help the dough not stick as much. 

STEP NINE: Bake cookies for 5 to 6 minutes or until firm. Do not overbake, or they will become crunchy. 

PRO TIP:

Oven temperatures vary and may need to be recalibrated periodically to ensure they are accurate. Make sure to check your cookies at the lower end of the recommended baking time.

The gingerbread dough is rolled out very thin, but the cookies puff up and cook through nicely in the oven.

Gingerbread Cookies baked in a baking pan

STEP TEN: Use royal icing and candies of your choice to decorate and serve!

icing and candies used to decorate cookies

For the Royal Icing

STEP ONE: In a stand mixer, add the meringue powder and powdered sugar, then add vanilla and turn the mixer on low speed.

STEP TWO: Pour in ½ cup of water. Turn the mixer on high until it starts to increase in volume, then add a tablespoon of water at a time until the frosting falls from the whisk in a slow stream. I added another 2 tablespoons of water until my frosting was perfect.

STEP THREE: Place icing in a piping bag with a small round tip.

PRO TIP:

I suggest using a #2 or #3 tip for this cookie decorating project.

How To Serve

These spicy gingerbread cookies will be perfect for any holiday event or cookie exchange you attend during the festive season. Add them to a cookie tray along with our Christmas pinwheels and Grinch snowball cookies.

Want more gingerbread recipes? We love this gingerbread fudge, this delicious gingerbread cake and these yummy gingerbread truffles.

Storage

ON THE COUNTER: Before being decorated, the cookies can be stored in an airtight container for 2 to 3 weeks. After the icing has been applied, store them in an airtight container and eat them within 1 week.

IN THE FREEZER: You can freeze these chewy gingerbread cookies, but you’ll want to freeze them before decorating. To freeze, place them on a cookie sheet until frozen, then place them in a freezer bag or sealed container for up to three months. You can also freeze the dough until you’re ready to thaw and bake it later.

a close up shot of Gingerbread Cookie with a milk bottle behind it

Filled with the perfect blend of sugar, molasses, vanilla, and spices, these classic homemade soft gingerbread cookies are sure to be a holiday favorite. You’ll love their sweet and spicy flavor, whether you make gingerbread men or another favorite shape.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Do I have to chill the dough?

For best results, you need to chill the dough so that it is easier to roll and cut using the cookie cutters.

Can I make the dough ahead of time?

If the dough is sealed in an airtight container and kept in the refrigerator, it can be made up to 3 days ahead of time.

Can I flip the cookie straight from the parchment paper to the baking sheet?

This can be done but is not recommended because the hard edges of the cookie will be on the top, and the cookie won’t look quite as it should. Flipping it over and back again ensures that the cookie is rounded at the top.

Can I use store-bought icing for these Christmas cookies?

Any cookie decorating icing, whether homemade or store-bought, is perfect to make your sweet treats fancy.

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overhead shot of Gingerbread Cookies on a plate

Gingerbread Cookies

5 from 3 votes
Sweet and spicy, these soft, chewy gingerbread cookies are perfect for holiday baking and decorating at Christmas.
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 25 minutes
Servings 30

Ingredients
  

  • ½ cup shortening
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg
  • ½ cup molasses
  • 1 tablespoon white vinegar
  • cups all-purpose flour
  • ¾ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground cloves
  • ½ tablespoon ground ginger
  • royal icing
  • candies, for decorating

Royal Icing

  • 3 tablespoons meringue powder
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • ¾ cups water

Instructions
 

  •  In the bowl of a stand mixer or with a hand mixer, cream together the shortening, sugar, and salt on medium speed until smooth. Add the egg, molasses, and white vinegar; beat well.
  • In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, ground cinnamon, ground cloves, and ground ginger.
  • A little at a time, add the dry ingredients into the bowl with the wet ingredients and mix until well combined. The cookie dough will be thick.
  • Cover with plastic wrap and chill for at least 2 hours. The dough should be cold to properly be rolled out.
  • Preheat oven to 375°F. Grease or line large baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside. For the best cookie shapes, use the method below.
  • Remove the dough from the refrigerator and keep the dough in 1 big pile. Cut out 2 sheets of parchment paper, at least 1 inch bigger than the cookie cutter. 
  • On one of the pieces of parchment paper, take a 1-inch ball of dough and roll it out to be ⅛ inch thick (add flour to the rolling pin if it’s sticking). Press the cookie cutter into the flattened dough, and remove the excess dough scraps around the edge, adding it back to the big ball of dough. Remove the cookie cutter. Take the other piece of parchment paper and place it on top of the cut out dough and flip it over. 
  • Gently peel the top piece of paper off (the cookie will now be upside down). Then gently flip the dough back over onto the parchment-lined baking sheet (spacing the cut-out cookies 1 inch apart) and peel the top paper off (the cookie will now be right-side up again). This ensures a perfect shape!
  • Bake cookies for 5 to 6 minutes or until firm. Do not overbake, or they will become crunchy. 
  • Use royal icing and candies of your choice to decorate and serve!

Royal Icing

  • In a stand mixer, add the meringue powder and powdered sugar, then add vanilla and turn the mixer on low speed.
  • Pour in ½ cup of water. Turn the mixer on high until it starts to increase in volume, then add a tablespoon of water at a time until the frosting falls from the whisk in a slow stream. I added another 2 tablespoons of water until my frosting was perfect.
  • Place icing in a piping bag with a small round tip.

Video

Notes

  • You can also add a few drops of food coloring to create different colors in your icing.
  • Any of your favorite cookie cutters can be used for your batch of gingerbread. This recipe made gingerbread men, Christmas trees, candy canes, and snowflakes, but different shapes will work too.
  • If preferred, the dough can all be rolled out at once, then cut into shapes. It’s just more difficult to transfer the cut-out dough onto the baking sheet while still retaining its proper shape, especially if using intricate shapes.
  • When removing the excess dough from around the cookie cutter, use a toothpick to get into the small crevices if needed.
  • When peeling the parchment paper off of the piece of dough, start from the bottom and peel back the paper nearly horizontally in the opposite direction. Doing it at this angle will help the dough not stick as much. 
  • Oven temperatures vary and may need to be recalibrated periodically to ensure they are accurate. Make sure to check your cookies at the lower end of the recommended baking time.
  • The gingerbread dough is rolled out very thin, but the cookies puff up and cook through nicely in the oven.
  • I suggest using a #2 or #3 tip for this cookie decorating project.

Nutrition

Calories: 163kcal | Carbohydrates: 32g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 4g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1g | Trans Fat: 0.5g | Cholesterol: 5mg | Sodium: 52mg | Potassium: 98mg | Fiber: 0.3g | Sugar: 23g | Vitamin A: 8IU | Vitamin C: 0.002mg | Calcium: 15mg | Iron: 1mg
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  1. JOHN R BEMIS says

    5 stars
    My grandmother made a hard thin gingerbread cookie. Cookie was thin, 1/8″ and very hard. Very dark with molasses. I was a elementary school child and loved these chps. I do not think that they were cut with a cutter but placed on cookie sheet. I have looked for the recipe for decades, still looking in my 70’s/ Any ideas?

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