Gingerbread Cookies are ultra thick, soft and deeply flavored! These cookies can easily be made vegan, and a simple trick makes rolling out the dough a breeze. Decorate these easy cookies with a dusting of powdered sugar or a quick royal icing, and watch them fly off the platter anywhere you take them. This truly is the BEST gingerbread cookie recipe.
This recipe was originally published in December of 2017, and got new photos in Dec of 2021, but I’ve just updated it again with extra tips & tricks!
These gingerbread cookies are easy to make – I’ve included tips and tricks for making the cutout cookie process much easier, along with lots of make-ahead tips. These festive, chewy cookies are the perfect thing to make for cookie exchanges or cookie decorating parties!
Why you’ll love these Gingerbread Cookies:
- Soft Cookies – No hard cookies here! These gingerbread are perfectly soft-baked, and are nice and thick, with a chewy texture.
- Gingerbread Flavor – These gingerbread cookies are packed with classic gingerbread flavor and warm spice flavor.
- Decorating Options – These cookies are fabulous plain, but can also be dressed up a bit with powdered sugar, royal icing, or buttercream frosting.
- Butter – I always use salted buter for the best flavor, but feel free to use unsalted butter if you prefer.
- Molasses – Find this in the baking aisle at your grocery store. Do NOT use blackstrap molasses! It’s not the same thing and will taste unpleasant.
- All-purpose flour – Spoon & level your flour for best results. Scooping the measuring cup directly in will lead to too much flour. Or use a scale, and weigh 135 grams of all-purpose flour per cup.
- Dairy-free – Swap the butter for your favorite dairy-free buter sticks.
- Vegan – This recipe is vegan with the swap above – there are no eggs!
How to Make this Gingerbread Cookies Recipe Step-by-Step:
Step 1: Make the Gingerbread Cookie Dough. Cream together the butter & sugar. Then, add your molasses and mix until well combined. Those are our wet ingredients, next we’ll add the flour mixture.
Mix in the dry ingredients until a semi soft dough forms. If it seems a bit dry, add 1-2 tsp of milk. (See photos below). If you measured your flour correctly, this shouldn’t be a problem.
Step 2: Chill & Cut Shapes. Divide dough in half, and roll each ball of dough out between two sheets of parchment paper as soon as you’ve made it -no more trying to roll out rock-hard cookie dough! Pop the rolled dough on a baking sheet to chill in the fridge or freezer, then cut out your shapes – make gingerbread people, trees, snowflakes, or stars!
Step 3: Bake the Cookies. Bake as directed in the recipe card below for soft cookie perfection! Let cookies cool completely on a cooling rack before decorating. They’ll look a tad underdone on the tops when they come out of the oven, but will set up as they cool.
Step 4: Decorate your Gingerbread. I’ve included directions and tips in the recipe card below for decorating your cookies. Use royal icing, a simple glaze, a dusting of powdered sugar, or leave them plain.
How to Make Royal Icing:
Royal icing is actually quite easy to make – requiring just powdered sugar, meringue powder (find this in craft or baking supply stores), and water. Beat these ingredients together in a large bowl until stiff – use the photos below as a guide. When the icing is the right consistency, you should be able to drizzle some of it into the bowl, and watch it sit on the surface of the mixture for 5-10 seconds before melting back in. Adjust the thickness by adding more water to thin, or beating longer to thicken. This info is in the recipe card below as well!
Pipe this onto your cookies using a very thin piping tip like a Wilton #1 or Wilton #2, and a pastry bag. The royal icing recipe can be found with the recipe below. Before the royal icing sets, I like to sprinkle on a little white sanding sugar to give a beautiful sparkle to the cookies.
Expert Success Tips:
- Cookies that hold their shape – To ensure that the cookies turn out, and hold their shapes in the oven, it’s imperative that the dough is cold when it goes into the oven. Pop the cookie dough or cut out shapes back in the freezer to chill for 5-20 minutes (depending on how long they’ve been out) before baking if at any time they no longer feel nice and cold.
- Thick Cookies – Don’t skimp on the cookie thickness! This recipe is at it’s absolute best when the dough is 3/8″ thick (or even 1/2″ thick!). This means the cookies are not only thick and chewy, but helps the cookies hold their shape, too.
- Oven Thermometer – An oven thermometer will tell you if your oven is actually running at the temperature you set it to. Your oven may not be accurate. Accurate oven temperature is crucial for most bakes, so I leave an oven thermometer in at all times to keep an eye on my oven’s calibration.
- Kitchen Scale – A food scale is the best way to make sure your flour is at the proper weight, since amounts will vary SO widely based on how you measure it, as well as the measuring cup you use, as they are not standardized.
Yes! The dough can be made, rolled out, and covered well and stored in the fridge for 1-2 days before baking. The cut out shapes can be frozen on a lined baking sheet in a single layer, then transferred to a tupperware container, with parchment between layers, and frozen for 1-2 months. Bake the dough from frozen or thaw in the fridge overnight. The gingerbread cookies can be baked, cooled, and stored in an airtight container at room temp for 1-2 days before decorating.
Royal icing can be made and stored in the fridge in an airtight container, with plastic wrap over the surface, for 1-2 days before using, or leftovers can be stored in this same way and used for other decorating within 1-2 days. Simply re-mix for about 10-20 seconds with a mixer to loosen things back up after being in the fridge. The same guidelines from above can be used to adjust the consistency.
- Glaze – If you want to use a glaze, use this plain glaze (feel free to swap the maple syrup for milk), or my buttery maple glaze, and lightly dunk cooled cookies into the glaze (or drizzle it on!) for a quick and easy decorating option.
- Powdered sugar: For a very simple decoration, lightly dust the cookies with powdered sugar just before serving.
- Plain – You can also serve these plain if you prefer not to add any decorations – they’re incredibly delicious on their own.
Serving + Storing these Gingerbread Cookies:
These sweet treats can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for 4-5 days. If they start to get a bit dry at the end, you can extend their life for a few more days by adding a piece of bread to the container. It keeps them soft!
- Baking Sheets – These are my favorite cookie sheets!
- Silicone Baking Mat – This is my favorite silicone baking mat. It reduces waste because it’s washable!
More Cookie Recipes to Love:
- Peppermint Hot Chocolate Marshmallow Cookies
- Bakery-Style Peanut Butter Chip Chocolate Cookies
- Key Lime Slice & Bake Cookies
- Blueberry Lemon Cookies
- Peanut Butter & Jelly Thumbprint Cookies
- Funfetti Cake Batter Cookies
- Cherry Pie Cookies
- Triple Chocolate Chunk Cookies
Did you make this recipe? Snap a photo and leave a comment!
Best Soft Gingerbread Cookies
- 1 cup butter, softened at room temperature I prefer salted
- 1 cup light brown sugar, packed
- 1/2 cup molasses do NOT use blackstrap
- 3 cups all-purpose flour, spooned & leveled or weighed out 390 grams
- 2 1/2 tsp ground ginger
- 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- pinch of nutmeg
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 2 cups powdered sugar
- 1 and 1/2 tbsp meringue powder See note below
- 4-6 tbsp water
- Make the Cookie Dough: Beat butter in a large mixing bowl with an electric mixer on high speed until creamed. Add the brown sugar and mix until well creamed together, about 1 minute. Add the molasses and mix until combined. Add the dry ingredients, and mix until a dough forms. Add 1-2 tsp of milk if your dough is a bit crumbly (see photos above).
- Roll and Chill: Divide the dough into two halves, and roll each one out to 3/8" thickness between sheets of parchment paper. (Use a ruler to check this, or just eyeball halfway between 1/4 and 1/2 inch. This is the perfect thickness for these cookies – trust! Even 1/2" is perfect – but don't go lower than 3/8") Place the rolled dough, still sandwiched in parchment paper, on a baking sheet and cover loosely with a clean kitchen towel. Chill for 1-2 hours in the fridge or shorter in the freezer, until completely chilled and firm.
- Cut out Cookies: Preheat your oven to 350° F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats. Cut shapes out of the chilled dough and place cookies a couple of inches apart on your prepared baking sheet. If the cookies are no longer firm and cold to the touch from working with the dough, pop the pan back in the fridge or freezer for 5 to 15 minutes to re-chill so that the cookies hold their shape when baked (it's fine to bake them from frozen).While the cookies are baking, combine your dough scraps, roll back out, and cut out more cookies. Repeat this until all remaining dough is gone! You will need to chill the dough for a bit again once you roll the scraps back out so that it's firm enough to cut the shapes easily. (Roll it back out between the parchment each time to keep things easy.)
- Bake: Bake cookies for 8-9 minutes. The cookies should appear just set, and will look a tad puffy. The centers may look a tad underdone. Don't be tempted to over bake them! They will set up to the perfect soft baked cookies. Let them cool on baking sheet for about 10 minutes before and transferring to a wire rack to finish cooling. Tip: Bake a single test cookie first if you’re worried you’ll underbake them – you’ll see that 8 minutes yields the perfect cookie!
- Decorate: Decorate by dipping the cooled cookies in this glaze (swap the maple syrup for milk, if desired), dusting them with powdered sugar, or piping them with royal icing.
- Make Royal Icing: Combine all ingredients in a large bowl, starting with 4 tablespoons of water, and mix on high speed with an electric mixer for about 1 and 1/2 minutes. When the icing is the right consistency, you should be able to drizzle some of it into the bowl, and watch it sit on the surface of the mixture for 5-10 seconds before melting back in. If it's too thick, add 1 tablespoon of water at a time. If it's too thin, beat it for another 30 seconds to a minute, or add a bit more powdered sugar, a little at a time, beating between each addition. Add the royal icing to a piping bag fitted with a wilton #1 or #2 tip (I used a #1 for my cookies) and pipe desired designs. You can even use gel food coloring to tint the royal icing. While the icing is still wet, sprinkle on a little white sanding sugar (optional, but that is what I used in the photos above).
- Serve + Store: Enjoy cookies once decorated! Be sure to let the icing set completely before storing. Store cooled, set cookies in an airtight container at room temp for 4-6 days.
- Cookie Dough and Cookie Make-Ahead Tips: The dough can be made, rolled out, and covered well and stored in the fridge for 1-2 days before baking. The cookies can be baked, cooled, and stored in an airtight container at room temp for 1-2 days before decorating. Royal Icing Make-Ahead Tips: The royal icing can be made and stored in the fridge in an airtight container for 1-2 days before using, or leftovers can be stored in this same way and used for other decorating within 1-2 days. Simply re-mix for about 10-20 seconds with a mixer to loosen things back up after being in the fridge. The same guidelines from above can be used to adjust the icing's consistency.