This classic cut-out gingerbread cookie recipe is easy to make, perfect for decorating, and always so delicious.
‘Tis the season!
If you are planning to bake up a batch of gingerbread cookies over the holidays, I have the perfect recipe for you.
It’s one that I have used for years and years now, based originally off of a gingerbread recipe from Elise Bauer (whom many of you know and love from SimplyRecipes.com), and it is perfection. You can bake it up to be as soft or as crispy as you’d like. It’s perfect for cutting out all of your favorite gingerbread people. It’s made with the tastiest warming spices, including lots of ginger and cinnamon. And bonus — a batch of gingerbread baking in the oven is guaranteed to make your home smell amazing.
Over the years, I have tinkered around with various spices and add-ins for the recipe, and lately have been enjoying adding some orange zest to the dough, which plays beautifully with the warming spices. But feel free to play around and spice the dough however you like. And of course, the more frostings and sprinkles that you’d like to add, the merrier!
Let’s make a batch.
Gingerbread Cookies Recipe | 1-Minute Video
Gingerbread Cookie Ingredients:
To make this gingerbread cookie recipe, you will need:
Flour: I traditionally use all-purpose flour for this recipe, but white whole wheat flour will also work.
Spices: Ground cinnamon, ginger, cloves and nutmeg.
Baking soda, salt, egg and vanilla extract: Because…cookies.
Brown sugar: To add some extra molasses-y flavor to the cookies.
Butter: Softened completely to room temperature.
(Optional) Orange Zest: The subtle citrus notes pair really nicely with the cinnamon.
Plus any kind of icing, powdered sugar, sprinkles or candies (such as red hots) that you would like to add on top of your cookies, either before or after baking. For the batch shown here, I just made a simple icing out of powdered sugar, milk and vanilla extract.
Gingerbread Cookie Equipment:
You will also need the following equipment to make these gingerbread cookies:
Rolling pin: I love this marble rolling pin, but any type of standard rolling pin will do.
Mixer: Either a stand mixer or hand mixer will be great!
Pastry bag (optional): If you’d like to get extra detailed with your icing, I would recommend using a pastry bag with tips. But I just used a simple ziplock for mine, and snipped off a tiny corner with some scissors.
How To Make Gingerbread Cookies:
So how do you make gingerbread cookies? It’s simple!
Whisk together your dry ingredients. Flour, cinnamon, ginger, baking soda, cloves, salt and nutmeg.
Beat the dough. Using either a stand mixer or a hand mixer, beat the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add in eggs and molasses, and beat on medium speed until combined. Then gradually add in the flour mixture, and beat on medium-low speed until just combined.
Chill the dough. Divide the dough into two equal portions, and form them each into a ball. Then gently use your hands to flatten each ball into a 1-inch thick disk, wrap tightly in plastic wrap, and refrigerator for an hour or so until the dough is chilled but still slightly pliable.
Roll and cut the dough. Unwrap one of the discs and place it on a lightly-floured surface. Use a floured rolling pin to roll the dough evenly until it is approximately 1/8-inch thick. Then use your favorite cookie cutters to cut out your desired shapes, re-rolling the dough as needed to cut out more. Transfer the dough shapes to to a parchment-covered baking sheet.
Bake. At 350°F for about 8 to 10 minutes, or until the cookies are crisp around the edges and on top. Remove from oven and let cool for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to finish cooling.
Decorate: Once the cookies cool to room temperature, feel free to decorate them as desired with the icing (see below) and serve. Then dive in, or transfer them to a sealed container and store (or freeze) for later.
Possible Gingerbread Cookie Variations:
Want to decorate your gingerbread cookies? Feel free to top them with:
Icing: As I mentioned above, I typically just use a quick powdered sugar icing. But royal icing, maple icing, or any other kind of frosting you like would work.
Powdered sugar: Feel free to dust your cookies lightly with powdered sugar.
Red hots: We grew up poking red hots into our gingerbread, which I still find delicious.
Sprinkles: There are so many fun sprinkles that you could add to these cookies! Lately I’ve been loving all of the fun sprinkle mixes from Sprinkle Pop. Or if you happen to be looking for some naturally-colored sprinkles, check out the cute sprinkles from Supernatural. (Both are available on Amazon.)
More Favorite Cookie Recipes:
Looking for more cookie baking inspiration? Here are few more of my classic faves:
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, cinnamon, ginger, baking soda, cloves, salt and nutmeg. Set aside.
In an electric stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or alternately, you can use a hand mixer and a separate large mixing bowl), beat the butter and sugar together for 2 minutes on medium-high speed until light and fluffy. Add in egg, molasses and vanilla, and beat on medium speed until combined. Reduce mixer speed to low, and gradually add the flour mixture until just combined.
Divide the dough into two equal portions, and form them each into a ball. Then gently use your hands to flatten each ball into a 1-inch thick disk, wrap tightly in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 1 hour or so, or until the dough is chilled yet still somewhat pliable. (Or you can refrigerate the dough for a longer period of time, and then later let soften on the countertop for 15-20 minutes before rolling it out.)
Unwrap the dough and place it on a large, lightly-floured hard surface. Use a floured rolling pin to roll the dough evenly until it is approximately 1/8-inch thick. Then use your favorite cookie cutters to cut out your desired shapes, re-rolling the dough as needed to cut out more. Transfer to parchment-covered baking sheets.
Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, or until the cookies are crisp around the edges and on top. Remove from oven and let cool for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to finish cooling.
Once the cookies are room temperature, feel free to decorate them as desired with the icing (see below) plus any extra sprinkles or candies. Serve and enjoy immediately, or store in a sealed container for up to 4 days.
To Make The Simple Icing:
Whisk all ingredients together in a mixing bowl until smooth. If your icing is too thin, add in a little more powdered sugar. If your icing is too thick, add in a tiny bit of milk.
Source: Recipe slightly adapted from Elise Bauer of SimplyRecipes.com. The instructions were also edited in December 2020 to encourage rolling out the dough when it is chilled yet still slightly soft, instead of completely chilled and hard.
Thanks for the recipe. Super easy and delicious. I bake cookies every Christmas with my son and this year your recipe made it a huge success.
These were super yummy even my kids loved them and one has sensory issues with taste and he even loved them. I’m in the process of making more! Hopefully this batch will last long enough for the icing !
Oops I forgot to rate it in last post. Definitely all stars available ?
I made this recipe today. Just the gingerbread cookies, and followed the recipe to a t. It was amazing. The dough is so good to work with, and the cookies did not spread at all in the oven. The taste is so good, with the hint of orange and just the perfect amount of sweetness. The kids couldn’t stop eating them, each batch was gone before the next one could come out of the oven! I have saved half the dough for tomorrow. This is going to be my go-to recipe for holiday cookies from now on. Thank you for sharing this wonderful recipe!
Wonderful recipe! Definitely a keeper! Soft, easy to roll dough, and beautiful cookies. The orange zest is a must. It really highlights the spices. Such a nice addition! Thank you!
First time making gingerbread cookies myself, super easy recipe that turns out amazing. Perfect for the holidays!! Thank you!!!!
Wow!!! Great Recepie!! NI even change the flour for gluten free and oatmeal flour without changing anything else in the recepie and the cookies are sooo good!!!!
So I accidentally used unsulfered blackstrap molasses. I know nothing about this stuff but I did read (too late) how intense it is. Luckily I only added about 1/4 cup or a little more and I’m trying to add some honey to sweeten.. is there anything else I can put in here to take away the strongness of it?
These cookies are so soft and chewy!! It’s the middle of March but my daughter loves the gingerbread man story so we made these with her on afternoon. We will definitely be making these again at Christmas time. If the dough feels too sticky then just cool it for a few more minutes
Can you use salted butter if you don’t have unsalted? Maybe just don’t add the salt?
I would like to put these on a stick. Are they firm enough to stand on a stick, or do you think they are too soft?
I think it depends on how much you cook them. For a nice and soft cookie go for 6-8 minutes but for a crispy one go for 11-14 minutes.
Super tasty recipe. I tripled all the spices because I love a spicy cookie.
Very easy recipe / substituted Agave for Molasses but worked fine. Christmas in June. Great family activity. Kids loved baking & they were off their electronics for hours. Thanks !
I’m making this recipe for my grandchildren. I don’t have my (marked up/add on) cookbooks here so I looked for one that was closest to mine, the addition of vanilla, caught my eye, and the red hots sold it. Thank You so much!
Hi! I`m writing from Brazil…I love all your recipes!!! they make lots of success over here! I`would like to know if I can use this gingerman recipe to make the house of gingerman!!! you think it will hold if I make it thicker?! tnks a lot!
i just made two, it worked perfectly
I can bake & I make alot of different cookies for Christmas- but gingerbread cookies were the one thing I could not do no matter how many times I tried. This year I figured let me try one more time and make a batch prior to my cookie baking season. I LOVED THIS RECIPE AND I LOVED THIS COOKIE. The directions were very clear & step by step. My niece who has autism helped me and was so very proud of her cookies. This cookie will now be an awesome addition to my Christmas cookie repertoire!
So I made these last year for my best friend’s little sister to decorate. I refrigerated the dough overnight, then rolled it out and cut the cookies, putting them in the oven to bake. The problem that arose is that within the time it took to roll out the dough and cut out all of the cookies, the temperature of the dough had risen significantly. This resulted in cookies that were VERY spread out and morphed.
I advise you to cut out the cookies, refrigerate them again while they’re on the cookie sheet, and THEN bake them.
Other than that, phenomenal recipe with amazing flavor.
Turned out perfectly
Wow! Where to even begin, hands down the absolute best gingerbread cookies ever. I didn’t change a single ingredient or measurement to the recipe and it all came out perfect, soft inside with a slight crisp on the edge. I let my dough sit overnight in the fridge and thaw for about an hour before working it. I rolled my dough on lightly floured parchment paper and sprinkled a little flour on top of the dough and dusted my rolling pin with flour as well to eliminate sticking. The dough was very easy to work with. I rolled about 1/4″ or little more in thickness(for a softer chewy cookie) and baked for 9minutes. Great recipe!
Did you use unsulphered Molasses? I see someone else commented here and said they made the mistake of using this…but pretty sure the recipe calls for that :-)
Heyy I’m planning to make these for Christmas bake sales soon. How long can this be kept in the freezer or fridge after baking?
The cookies should keep well in the freezer for up to 3 months. :)
Perfection! Loved it. Thank you for sharing! : )
Should you use dark or light brown sugar? Thanks!
I used light brown sugar, but either should work well. :)
Are you saying to use unsulphered Mollasses or not? Sorry…I cant tell based on your recipe :-)
Correct, I recommend unsulphured molasses.
These did not work. The dough was to dry and crumbly and would not roll out. I followed the recipe exactly. Such a shame.
Can I freeze the dough for a week before using?
I need about 50 just gingerbread men for Kindergarten classes I know recipe says 45 cookie yield, But what size cookie cutter is being used/ Thanks,
This is the absolute best gingerbread cookie recipe EVER!!! Perfect texture and the addition of orange peel is amazing! I have never been a huge gingerbread cookie fan but I am now. I’ll definitely be making these every year.
I love this recipe! I have been looking for a good one for. 4 years, using the same one. I almost gave up making gingerbread, but thanks to you I can !!!
So good! Such an easy recipe but has amazing results. Ended up making a TON of cookies so had to cook 15 minutes instead but otherwise so great!
This is a really great recipe! I used all white wheat flour which I think made the dough a little more crumbly, so next time I’ll half/half white wheat and regular all-purpose. But still, very easy to make, roll and cookie-cut.
It may just be in my head but I feel that using a marble rolling pin helps when the dough needs to stay chilled.
We made mini-gingerbread houses with it and they turned out very cute and YUMMY.
Can these be made to make gingerbread houses? Has anyone tried?
I made a batch last week and they were gone so yummy everyone loved them so tonight I make more thank you so much.
Love this recipe! They taste good and are fun to decorate! My only complaint was that when it came time to rolling out the dough, it would crack or break. Do you have any advice for that not to happen?
This was hands down the best gingerbread I’ve ever eaten! Very easy recipe, I got so many compliments on the cookies. The cookies were perfect for my kids’ gingerbread person decorating party. The only thing that needs changing is the quantity the recipe yields…I didn’t even get half the amount suggested. I’d say 18-24 cookies, depending on your thickness. Maybe I did mine too thick? But that’s how I like them (thick and soft). The flavors were spot on for amazing gingerbread – I actually prefer to eat them plain with no icing (they’re that good!). Thank you for an incredible go-to gingerbread cookie recipe!
So, I like gingerbread cookies somewhat, but these are absolutely fantastic! Thank you so very much for sharing this recipe…it is wonderful.
My grandsons requested Gingerbread men for Christmas this year. This recipe is fantastic. I followed the directions exactly as written. I chilled the dough overnight. It was easy to roll out and cut. The finished cookies were delicious!
they are delicious. Had to put the dough in the freezer for a bit to get it really cold.
I made these cookies for Christmas. Followed the recipe exactly as written. They were an absolute hit with the family. I usually don’t like spiced cookies. I’m a chocoholic but, these were really good. Thanks for such a great recipe.
This dough was SUPER sticky. It required a fair amount more flour in order to make it possible to work with. I made two batches and followed the instructions. The cookies had a nice spicy flavor but could have used a bit more sweetness (and I don’t like things overly sweet). So I’m not sure what happened, but we didn’t love this.
Easy recipe, but agree could be sweeter…will double sugar & omit making icing. I like a good cookie, not big on icings or fillings for sweetness.
So far amazing the beautiful rich dough is in fridge as I write this…. not sure when to incorporate zest as it is optional….? I will post pics and thank you for a beautifully fragrant recipe….
I think that this was a completely awesome recipe
There weren’t any molasses cans so we used coconut nectar
These turned out perfectly. I did it exactly as written and they are delicious and half of them I used to decorate our Christmas tree ?. I love it when I follow the directions and it turns out great!! Thanks so much
Hi Ali! Since I’m not from the US and it gets really hard for me to find the unsulfured molasses I was wondering if it is possible to replace them for any other ingredient. Thank you for your answer in advance and I’m really looking forward to baking these cookies.
Does the icing dry hard??
Yes, not as hard as Royal icing, but it’s pretty firm.
I just made these and they were super delicious and easy ?
First time I make gingerbread cookies and they were delicious ! Everybody liked them?
Can I freeze the dough for a month before using?
can you freeze the undecorated cookies?