This Classic Gingerbread Cookies recipe includes molasses and makes soft, sweet and lightly spiced cookies. It's the perfect cookie for shaping and decorating! We love making gingerbread men, Christmas trees and snowflakes, but really any shape would work!
Everyone asks for this recipe after they try it - even if they weren't gingerbread cookie fans before. I've made this recipe at least 100 times and know that it's perfect. Let me show you how to make the best gingerbread cookies in town. These are the stuff family traditions and memories are made of.
Soft Gingerbread Cookies
You need this recipe and you need it stat! HUNDREDS of people have made and loved these cookies, just check out the comments below!
This recipe comes from my chef sister-in-law. Beth went to culinary school and her emphasis was baking! Seriously, she's amazing. And now she's my neighbor, how lucky is that.
Ingredients in Gingerbread Cookies:
- Butter: use the real stuff here, no margarine please! It gives it such a nice, chewy, soft texture and a richer flavor. Margarine just doesn't cut it.
- White sugar: this helps the cookies to hold their shape and have a nice texture. It also gives the sweetness to balance the spice of warming ginger, cinnamon, and cloves!
- Egg: one of the keys to keeping these cookies soft and helps them rise just enough.
- Molasses: classic for gingerbread cookies' color and deep flavor.
- White vinegar: helps the cookies to rise and stay soft, and I promise it doesn't give any vinegar flavor.
- Flour: all-purpose white flour works the best for this recipe because it will rise best and creates a nice, soft texture.
- Spices: ginger, cinnamon, and cloves make this a warming and perfectly spiced cookie and offsets the sugar!
How to Make Gingerbread Cookies:
- Cream butter, adding sugar gradually. Beat until well combined and light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
- Beat in egg, molasses, and vinegar.
- Sift all of the dry ingredients together and then blend sifted dry ingredients into the wet ingredients.
- Divide the dough into two even pieces, wrap each piece of dough in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 30 to 90 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Working in sections, roll the dough to ½" thick on a floured surface; cut into desired shapes.
- Bake at 350 degrees for 9-11 minutes.
- Repeat with remaining dough.
- Decorate (here are 6 Simple Ways to Decorate Gingerbread Cookies if you are looking for some inspo).
Tips and Tricks
- How to make crispy gingerbread cookies: If you like your gingerbread on the crispy side, roll the dough to ¼-inch thick and bake for 11-12 minutes. If you like it nice and soft (though still very sturdy), roll the dough ½-inch thick and bake for 10 minutes. If you play around with the thickness of the dough and the baking time, you'll discover a cookie that meets your liking. I really like these thick and soft.
- Butter + resting time: Use real butter because it really makes the softest, richest tasting cookie, and don't forget the resting time in the fridge. The dough should be tacky but not gloopy like glue when you put it in the fridge. When it comes back out of the fridge, it should be very firm. Resting time and chilling the dough let's it set up so that it's easier to work with and holds its shape better. You can keep the dough in the fridge for up to 2 days before using.
- Not for gingerbread houses: This is not a good gingerbread recipe for making gingerbread houses. The dough is too soft. I love making gingerbread houses (here's a post of a bunch I've made) and I normally use this recipe for a sturdy hard cookie that is good for construction.
- Cookie cutters: If you are in need of a cookie cutter set, I've had this one for almost 11 years and we use it all the time.
My favorite ways to decorate gingerbread cookies:
- Royal icing to add pretty patterns, clothing and face details, and anything else your creativity sparks!
- Candies for buttons, noses, eyes, or other festive designs.
- Sprinkling sugars over top the icing to add some sparkle.
- Rubber stamps for some printed designs.
- Candy melts to top cookies with a chocolatey topping.
- Sprinkles because sprinkles are always good on any cookie!
I wrote a huge post all about decorating these cookies if you want more specifics and details. You can find 6 Simple Ways to Decorate Gingerbread Cookies right here.
Can I freeze Gingerbread Cookies?
Yes! The baked cookies freeze very well. Just bake and cool (but do not add icing), store in a freezer bag or airtight container, and freeze for up to 6 weeks. You can pull the cookies out as needed when guests show up, or thaw the whole batch for decorating all at once. I froze bags and bags of these to prep for my neighbor goodie plates, and loved having the baking done ahead of time.
Can I make the cookie dough or cookies ahead of time?
Yes! The cookies will last 2-3 day ahead of time store in an air-tight container at room temperature. These are a great make-ahead cookie for parties! You can also make the dough and hold it in the fridge for 2-3 days before baking it.
I actually made these cookies for the county fair and they received a blue ribbon! I feel like stating that these are Blue Ribbon Cookies makes them pretty legit. Blue ribbon status is a big deal in my neck of the woods. 🙂
More Gingerbread Cookie recipes:
- The Best Gluten-Free Gingerbread Cookies
- Perfect Gingerbread Cookies without Molasses
- 6 Simple Ways to Decorate Gingerbread Cookies
- White Chocolate Gingerbread Blondies
- How to make a Gingerbread House (it's a thicker sturdier dough!) + free house templates
This Classic Gingerbread Cookies recipe makes soft, sweet and lightly spiced cookies. It's the perfect cookie for shaping and decorating! We love making gingerbread men, Christmas trees and snowflakes, but really any shape would work!
- 1 cup butter (2 sticks), at room temperature (salted or unsalted) (226 grams)
- 1 cup granulated white sugar (220 grams)
- 1 egg
- 1 cup light or dark molasses (do not use blackstrap or cooking molasses) (325 grams)
- 2 tablespoons white vinegar (22 grams)
- 5 cups all-purpose flour (785 grams)
- 1 ½ teaspoons baking soda (9 grams)
- ½ teaspoon salt (3 grams)
- 2 teaspoons ground ginger (3 grams)
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon (2 grams)
- 1 teaspoon ground cloves (3 grams)
- Add the butter and sugar to a large bowl (or the bowl of your stand mixer) and beat until the mixture is light and fluffy, about three minutes, using a hand mixer or the paddle attachment on your stand mixer. Scrape down the sides as few times as needed.
- Add the egg, molasses, and vinegar. Beat to combine well. The mixture will look a bit curdled.
- Add the flour, baking soda, salt, ginger, cinnamon, and cloves to the bowl and mix to combine well. The dough should come together when you press it in your hands and shouldn't be crumbly. If anything it'll still be a little tacky to the touch. That's ok.
- Divide the dough into two even pieces, wrap each piece of dough in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 30 to 90 minutes. Don't skip this step, it helps the cookies to keep their shape.
- When the dough is done chilling, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Working in sections, roll the dough to ½ inch thick on a floured surface; cut into desired shapes.
- Place shapes on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a baking mat. Gather and reroll "scraps" of dough as needed, using all of the dough.
- Bake at 350 degrees for 9-11 minutes. Let the cookies cool on the pan for 5 minutes, and then move to a cooling rack.
- Repeat with remaining dough.
- Leave plain or decorate (here are 6 Simple Ways to Decorate Gingerbread Cookies if you are looking for some inspo).
- If you like your gingerbread on the crispy side, roll it ¼" thick and bake for 11-12 minutes. If you like it nice and soft (though still very sturdy), roll the dough ½" thick and bake for 10 minutes. If you play around with the thickness of the dough and the baking time, you'll discover a cookie that meets your liking. I really like this thick and soft.
- SEE MORE NOTES in the tips and tricks section of the blog post.
- The dough can be held in the fridge for 2-3 days before using without any issues.
- You may need to add up to a ½ cup more flour as needed so the dough is workable. I'm cooking from an arid kitchen.
- I've used both salted and unsalted butter for this recipe and haven't noticed much of a difference, use what you have.
- You can substitute the white vinegar with apple cider vinegar without any issues.
- Use light, dark, or "fancy" molasses in this recipe. Do not use blackstrap or cooking molasses as your cookies will be bitter if you use the latter two. Here's a post on how to make gingerbread without molasses.
- If you refrigerate your cookies longer than the recommend time, let them rest at room temperature for about 15 minutes before rolling them out so help the dough not be too stiff.
- The dough can be made ahead of time and frozen or you can bake and freeze the cookies. Both are great options for making this recipe ahead.
- This is not the recipe that I use for Gingerbread Houses, this gingerbread house recipe is a bit thicker and much sturdier, it also comes with 2 free gingerbread house templates!
- Prep Time: 40 mins
- Cook Time: 10 mins
- Category: Dessert
- Method: Oven
- Cuisine: American
Keywords: gingerbread cookies, gingerbread cookie recipe, gingerbread man cookies, how to make gingerbread cookies, best gingerbread cookies, easy gingerbread cookies, soft gingerbread cookie recipe
New to gingerbread? Here's a full video to help you make it!
And there you have it - one lovely gingerbread man cookie recipe, from my kitchen to yours. I've been so excited to share these with you since it's cookie season. They will make you famous in your neck of the woods too. They are the stuff family memories are made of.