Soft Gingerbread Cookies

4.97 from 93 votes

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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!

Gingerbread cookies that are shaped like men, trees, and snowflakes on a white background.
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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. I love to decorate them with royal icing.

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.

Gingerbread snowflakes decorated with white icing.

 Why You’ll Love This Recipe 

  • I 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. 🙂
  • The combination of ginger, cinnamon, and cloves creates a warm, aromatic profile that epitomizes the holiday season, making each bite a delightful experience.
  • The dough can be refrigerated for several days or frozen, allowing you to prepare in advance and bake fresh cookies whenever needed.
  • This recipe holds its shape well, making it perfect for cutting into festive shapes and decorating with icing, sprinkles, or other creative toppings.


  • 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. If you prefer no molasses, try my gingerbread cookies without molasses.
  • White vinegar – Helps the cookies to rise and stay soft, and I promise it doesn’t give any vinegar flavor. It can be subbed with apple cider vinegar.
  • Flour – All-purpose white flour works the best for this recipe because it will rise best and creates a nice, soft texture. If you are looking to be gluten-free, try my gluten-free gingerbread cookies.
  • Spices – Ginger, cinnamon, and cloves

See the recipe card below for full information on ingredients and quantities 

How to Make Gingerbread Cookies

Step 1. Beat the butter and sugar until fluffy, then add the egg, molasses, and vinegar, mixing well.

Step 2. Add the flour, baking soda, salt, ginger, cinnamon, and cloves, and mix until the dough forms.

Step 3. Divide the dough into two pieces, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 30-90 minutes.

Step 4. Roll out dough to desired thickness, cut into shapes, place on a lined baking sheet, and bake at 350°F for 9-11 minutes. Cool before decorating.

Recipe FAQs

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.

What is your favorite way to decorate gingerbread cookies?

1. Royal icing to add pretty patterns, clothing and face details, and anything else your creativity sparks!
2. Candies for buttons, noses, eyes, or other festive designs.
3. Sprinkling sugars over top the icing to add some sparkle.
4. Rubber stamps for some printed designs.
5. Candy melts to top cookies with a chocolatey topping.
6. 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.

What kind of molasses do I use?

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.

Gingerbread cookie recipe baked and cooking on a rack, cut like gingerbread men.

Expert Tips

  • If you like your gingerbread on the crispy side, roll the dough to 1/4-inch thick and bake for 11-12 minutes. If you like it nice and soft (though still very sturdy), roll the dough 1/2-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.
  • Use real butter because it really makes the softest, richest tasting cookie.
  • 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.
  • This recipe is not for making gingerbread houses. The dough is too soft. I love making gingerbread houses and I normally use this How to Make a Gingerbread House recipe for a sturdy hard cookie that is good for construction.
  • 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.
Gingerbread cookies cut out like trees and decorated with green icing and sprinkles on white paper.

How to Serve and Store Soft Gingerbread Cookies

Pair these gingerbread cookies with a glass of milk, hot chocolate, or spiced tea for a cozy treat. Other fun deserts to arrange on platter for holiday gatherings or gift them in decorative tins are Christmas magic cookie bars, christmas peanut butter cookies, and Grandma Lucy’s Christmas sugar cookies.

Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week or keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. 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.

4.97 from 93 votes
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!
Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 10 minutes
Chilling Time: 1 hour
Total: 1 hour 30 minutes
Servings: 3 dozen large cookies


  • 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, 625 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
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  • 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 1/2 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 your dough is too tacky you can add additional flour as needed, it will be a little sticky (and firms up when you refrigerate it) but it shouldn’t be overly wet. 
  • If you like your gingerbread on the crispy side, roll it 1/4″ thick and bake for 11-12 minutes. If you like it nice and soft (though still very sturdy), roll the dough 1/2″ 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 1/2 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!


Serving: 1 of 36 large cookies, Calories: 167kcal, Carbohydrates: 26g, Protein: 3g, Fat: 6g, Saturated Fat: 3g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.4g, Monounsaturated Fat: 2g, Trans Fat: 0.2g, Cholesterol: 39mg, Sodium: 132mg, Potassium: 168mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 13g, Vitamin A: 194IU, Vitamin C: 0.003mg, Calcium: 28mg, Iron: 1mg
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Recipe Rating


  1. Kelli says:

    5 stars
    I absolutely HATE gingerbread cookies, but I made these because my Kindergartener was reading The Gingerbread Man and we thought it would be fun. These are SO delicious-I keep eating them! Question though, I cut mine 1/2” thick per the recipe and they look WAY thicker than yours. They spread a tiny bit and also cracked a little more than yours show so I’m wondering if it was because they were too thick?

    1. Melissa says:

      I bet you needed just a bit more flour and you can for sure roll them thinner if you like. I agree though, I sure don’t love gingerbread in general but I LOVE this recipe!

  2. Jessie Somers says:

    I bought Blackstrap molasses because the only other types at Safeway were Cooking Molasses and Fancy Molasses.. there was no dark molasses option, but I’m reading online that Blackstrap is bitter and likely won’t work well.

  3. Gina Flores says:

    I am trying this recipe for the first time. My daughter’s boyfriend, Issiah requests home baked desserts from time to time…THIS time, it was Gingerbread Cookies. I finished mixing the dough (which seems to be a nice consistency already). I’ve split the dough into two equal parts, wrapped each with plastic and placed them into the refrigerator. I won’t be rolling and baking until the morning. I will let you know how they turn out tomorrow.

    1. Melissa says:

      Can’t wait to hear how you like them Gina!

  4. Pam says:

    Are the cloves necessary? I have everything except the cloves. (I never use cloves so don’t have it in my cupboard) And if I left it out, should I increase the ginger &/or cinnamon? If so, how much? I’m DYING to try this recipe as I LOVE soft gingerbread!

    1. Melissa says:

      I think the spice mix in this recipe is really really perfect. So if you want to try them, make it without the cloves (I wouldn’t add anything additional, just omit them) but do yourself a favor and pick some up when you can so that when you make it a second time you’ll have them. So it’ll work without them just fine but they are REALLY good with them, so I’d plan on a trip to the store and a second batch sometime 🙂 Hope that helps!

    2. Pam says:

      Thanks! Think I’ll go buy some cloves first then. lol I’m dying to make these!

  5. Barbara says:

    Love to try it

  6. Mera says:

    How long are these cookies good for at room temperature? If I’m going to bake and decorate on separate days is it better to store them at room temperature or refrigerate them? I want to avoid them from getting stale or too soft that heads, arms, legs break off? I live in Hawaii where it is warm and humid. Made the dough so far and love it!

    1. Melissa says:

      They’d be fine stored in an airtight container for 2-3 days and I keep mine covered well int he freezer when I want to make them farther in advance than they. They freeze great!

  7. Mera says:

    Excited to try your recipe! I prefer a chewy gingerbread cookie, and like my current recipe, but feel that it can be too soft and sometimes a few heads, arms and legs break off. My current recipe calls for brown sugar, but yours calls for white sugar . . .why? I am used to dealing with sticker dough in order to achieve chew cookies, and I’ve used the parchment paper to roll out my dough to avoid adding more flour. Will this work with your recipe? I also put my re-rolled scraps in the freezer if it gets too soft. Will this work with your recipe? How much space do you need in between cookies when baking to allow for spreading?
    Thank you!

    1. Melissa says:

      I’m not sure why we use white sugar, it’s an old family recipe and it just works. I assume it’s because you already use molasses and brown sugar is essentially white sugar with molasses, so you are making your own brown sugar right in the bowl. You don’t need much space, they don’t really spread and you are fine to roll it and reroll as you like. If the dough is too sticky on this recipe though, your gingerbread will spread. I’d try it as written and see what you think!

  8. Rashida says:

    Very good. Easy and my grand twins loved them

  9. Kaylen says:

    5 stars
    These are delicious. However, mine came out very dark in color, and tasted more like a molasses cookie than gingerbread. Soft texture was awesome, cut great into shapes, and was super yummy. We’ve eaten all of them 🙂 Just wondering if perhaps using pure Blackstrap molasses caused this? That’s what I have. I was hoping for the lighter color cookie and more of a gingery taste. Only used 1 cup blackstrap molasses (measured in a pyrex glass liquid measuring cup) and properly measured my flour. It’s no big deal, but I may lessen the molasses next time if so, just for that traditional taste and color 🙂 Great cookies!!

    1. Melissa says:

      Blackstrap is super strong, I’d look for a more traditional molasses next time! So glad you liked them!

    2. Kaylen says:

      Ah. Makes sense! Thanks!

    3. Carrie Anne says:

      Can you use regular molasses instead of dark? If so, does it take a different amount?

    4. Melissa says:

      Yep, it works great, just don’t use backstrap molasses, it’s too bitter. No need to change anything in the recipe.

  10. Beth says:

    Thank you sooo much! I have been looking for YEARS for just the right gingerbread recipe that can hold its shape, yet a bit soft (and yummy to eat), AND has just the right amount of spice. Similar to a cookie a family friend would make when I was little (…but better- shhh!). I made mini cookie cutter shapes and miniature gingerbread houses with this recipe and they were awesome! Thanks again!