Gingerbread Cookies (Gingerbread Men)

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This gingerbread cookie recipe makes soft & chewy, perfectly spiced, molasses-sweetened holiday cookies that are everyone’s favorite. This gingerbread man recipe rolls well into shapes and the glaze hardens with a beautiful shine so they can be packaged and given as gifts.

7 Gingerbread Man Cookies on a plate.


I can’t think of a cookie that encompasses all that is wonderful about the holidays more than gingerbread cookies. The warm spices and rich molasses flavor of these festive cookies makes them irresistible.

I adapted my favorite soft gingerbread cookie recipe (that is to die for by the way), to create this perfect gingerbread man recipe.

These gingerbread men are soft in the center and crispy on the outside. They roll beautifully into any shape, and are fun to decorate with an easy glaze that hardens with a beautiful shine.

a gingerbread man cookie standing up leaning against a bottle of milk

Gingerbread Cookies: Ingredients & Substitutions

Let’s discuss the ingredients in this gingerbread cookie recipe, as well as possible substitutions.

overhead photo of the labeled ingredients in this Gingerbread Cookie recipe
  • Salted Butter. Unsalted butter and vegan butter work well in this recipe.
  • Light brown sugar. dark brown sugar will add to the molasses flavor.
  • Molasses. use unsulphured or light molassesnot blackstrap molasses.
  • Vanilla extract. Please only use pure vanilla extract (not imitation) for the best taste!
  • All-purpose flour. I bake with unbleached, purpose flour. You can use an all-purpose gluten-free flour blend to make these cookies gluten-free. 
  • Spices (ginger, cinnamon & cloves). The quality and freshness of the spices you use will matter in the final outcome of these soft gingerbread cookies. I believe I have worked out the perfect ratio of sweet and spicy, but you can adjust them to your liking if necessary. 
  • Sea Salt. If you are using iodized salt I recommend decreasing the amount of salt by half. 
  • Whole milk. For the glaze you can use 2% milk, half and half or heavy cream instead of whole milk.
5 Gingerbread Cookies decorated with glaze

How to Make Gingerbread Men Cookies

Follow along with me as I discuss how to make gingerbread cookies step-by-step, and don’t forget to watch the video!

Begin this recipe by making the gingerbread cookie dough. First, combine the dry ingredients in a medium-sized bowl, and set them aside to use later.

two photos showing How to Make Gingerbread Cookies - combining the dry ingredients

In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or in a large bowl with a handheld mixer, cream together the butter and brown sugar for 1 minute, until the mixture is light and fluffy.

two photos showing How to Make Gingerbread Cookies - creaming together butter and brown sugar

Next, add the molasses, egg and vanilla and beat for 60-90 seconds or until the mixture is smooth and light-brown.

two photos showing How to Make Gingerbread Cookies - adding molasses and egg

Then, add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and beat on low speed until combined.

two photos showing How to Make Gingerbread Cookies - combining wet and dry ingredients

Chill the Dough

The dough will be soft, but should not be too sticky. It has to be chilled in order to be rolled into shapes. It will firm up as it chills.

To do this, lay out a rectangle of plastic wrap, put the dough on top and form it into a thick, flat disc. Wrap it tightly with the plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours, or overnight. I usually make the dough the day before I’d like to bake and decorate the gingerbread cookies so it has plenty of time to chill.

How to Make Gingerbread Men - the dough wrapped in plastic wrap to be chilled

Roll Dough & Cut Out Shapes

After the dough has chilled, preheat oven to 350 degrees F and line 3 large baking sheets with parchment paper, then set them aside.

On a floured work surface, roll out dough until it’s ½ inch thick (you want them to be thick so they stay soft).

gingerbread cookie dough rolled out

Use a gingerbread man cookie cutter and cut into men shape (or whatever shape you’d prefer: stars, stockings, etc.).

Re-form the dough scraps into a ball, roll it out and repeat.

gingerbread cookie dough with gingerbread men cut out of it

Bake & Cool

Place the cut-out gingerbread cookies on the prepared cookie sheets 1” apart.

How to Make Gingerbread Men - cut out gingerbread men on a baking sheet before baking

Bake for 7-8 minutes in preheated oven until tops look just set (I bake for 7 minutes – be very careful not to over bake or they will be crispy and not soft).

Let the gingerbread cookies sit on the cookie sheet for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

How to Make Gingerbread Men - cut out gingerbread men on a baking sheet before baking

Make the Glaze & Decorate

To make the glaze, whisk the ingredients together in a small bowl. Then transfer it to a piping bag and decorate the cooled gingerbread cookies however you’d like.

gingerbread men glaze in a bowl

Let the glaze harden at room temperature for about 1 hour. You can put the gingerbread man cookies in the fridge or outside on a cold day to make the glaze harden faster.

6 gingerbread men cookies on a baking sheet decorated with faces and buttons

Store/Freeze Gingerbread Cookies

Store these gingerbread cookies in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days, or in the freezer for up to 2 months. I recommend putting a sheet of wax paper between the layers of cookies.

5 Gingerbread men Cookies decorated with glaze

You can make the dough for these gingerbread cookies and freeze it to bake later, here’s how: 

  1. Line a baking sheet with waxed paper.
  2. Roll out the dough and cut it into your desired shapes.
  3. Place the unbaked shapes onto the prepared baking sheet and freeze.
  4. Once frozen, transfer the gingerbread cookie dough to an airtight container (glass Tupperware or ziplock bag) until you’d like to bake it.
  5. To bake: remove frozen cookie dough balls and set them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Let thaw at room temperature, and bake according to the recipe instructions once the cookie dough is no longer frozen. 
a gingerbread man cookie standing up leaning against a bottle of milk with his arm bitten off

Gingerbread Man Recipe FAQs

Should gingerbread cookies be hard or soft?

These gingerbread cookies are soft and chewy. If you’d prefer harder cookies (to use as ornaments or decorations) bake for 10 minutes instead of 7.

What kind of molasses do you use for gingerbread cookies?

Use unsulphured or light molassesnot blackstrap molasses.

How long do gingerbread cookies last? 

These gingerbread man cookies last for 5 days at room temperature, 1 week in the refrigerator, and up to 2 months in the freezer (baked), if stored properly in an airtight container or plastic bag. 

Can I double this recipe?

Yes, you can easily double this recipe to make more cookies.

7 Gingerbread Cookies on a plate decorated with glaze

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Gingerbread Cookies (Gingerbread Man Recipe)

Laura
This gingerbread cookie recipe makes soft & chewy, perfectly spiced, molasses-sweetened holiday cookies that are everyone’s favorite. This gingerbread man recipe rolls well into shapes and the glaze hardens with a beautiful shine so they can be packaged and given as gifts.
5 from 10 votes
Course cookies, Dessert
Cuisine American
Servings 30 3″ Gingerbread Men
Calories 123
Prep Time10 minutes
Cook Time7 minutes
Chilling4 hours
Total Time4 hours 20 minutes

Ingredients 
 

Gingerbread Cookies:

Powdered sugar glaze:

Instructions 

  • In a small bowl, mix together flour, baking soda, baking powder cinnamon, ginger, cloves nutmeg and sea salt. Set aside.
  • In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or in a large bowl with a handheld mixer, cream together the butter and brown sugar for 1 minute, until the mixture is light and fluffy.
  • Add molasses, egg and vanilla and beat for 60-90 seconds or until the mixture is smooth and light-brown.
  • Add dry ingredients and beat on low speed until combined.
  • Lay out a rectangle of plastic wrap, put the dough on top and form it into a thick, flat disc. Wrap it tightly with the plastic wrap. Chill for at least 4 hours, or overnight.
  • After the dough has chilled, preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  • Line 3 large baking sheets with parchment paper, set aside.
  • On a floured work surface, roll out dough until it’s ½ inch thick (you want them to be thick so they stay soft). Use a gingerbread man cookie cutter and cut the dough into men shapes (or whatever shape you’d prefer: stars, stockings, etc.)
  • Place them on the prepared cookie sheet 1” apart.
  • Re-form the dough scraps into a ball, roll it out and repeat.
  • Bake for 7-8 minutes in preheated oven until tops look just set (I bake for 7 minutes – be very careful not to overbake).
  • Let the gingerbread cookies sit on the cookie sheet for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Make the Glaze

  • In small bowl, combine glaze ingredients. Stir until smooth.
  • Transfer to a piping bag.
  • Decorate the cooled cookies as desired.
  • Let sit at room temperature until glaze is hardened.

Video

Notes

Ingredient Substitutions
  • Salted Butter. Unsalted butter and vegan butter work well in this recipe too.
  • Egg. Make sure the egg is room temperature! I have not made this recipe with an egg substitute, so if you do let me know in the comments below.
  • Light brown sugar. If you want to add to the molasses taste then you can use dark brown sugar.
  • Molasses. Use unsulphured or light molasses– not blackstrap molasses.
  • Vanilla extract. Please only use pure vanilla extract (not imitation) for the best taste!
  • All-purpose flour. I bake with unbleached, purpose flour. You can use an all-purpose gluten-free flour blend to make these cookies gluten-free. 
  • Spices (ginger, cinnamon & cloves). The quality and freshness of the spices you use will matter in the final outcome of these soft gingerbread cookies. I believe I have worked out the perfect ratio of sweet and spicy, but you can adjust them to your liking if necessary. 
  • Sea Salt. I only ever bake with pure, fine sea salt. If you are using iodized salt I recommend decreasing the amount of salt by half. 
  • Whole milk. For the glaze you can use 2% milk, half and half or heavy cream instead of whole milk.
Store/Freeze Baked Cookies
Store these gingerbread cookies in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days, or in the freezer for up to 2 months. I recommend putting a sheet of wax paper between the layers of cookies.
How to Freeze Dough
  1. Line a baking sheet with waxed paper.
  2. Roll out the dough and cut it into your desired shapes.
  3. Place the unbaked shapes onto the prepared baking sheet and freeze.
  4. Once frozen, transfer the gingerbread cookie dough to an airtight container (glass Tupperware or ziplock bag) until you’d like to bake it.
  5. To bake: remove frozen cookie dough balls and set them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Let thaw at room temperature, and bake according to the recipe instructions once the cookie dough is no longer frozen. 

Nutrition

Serving: 1cookie | Calories: 123kcal | Carbohydrates: 22g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 3g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 14mg | Sodium: 90mg | Potassium: 109mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 14g | Vitamin A: 105IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 22mg | Iron: 1mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Did you enjoy this recipe? Have a question? Leave a comment below!

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7 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    Fantastic gingerbread recipe! I substituted treacle for molasses and added a tiny bit more ginger at hubby’s request. Set the dough in the fridge for around 6 hours before rolling out.
    Definitely a winner!

  2. 5 stars
    Hi Laura, the taste is great but mine have small cracks on them and even after chilling the mixture all night- they were still very soft and it was difficult to cut the shapes without bits getting stuck despite liberal use of flour.
    It’s summer here so I’m thinking that might be the issue?.. Any advice most appreciated:)

  3. 5 stars
    THE best gingerbread man cookies! ALL of my kids like these… soft, chewey and not overpowering flavor, the perfect recipe!