My Best Cut Out Spiced Gingerbread Cookies Recipe

In the event that you haven't noticed (or if you're new here), I am a big fan of anything gingerbread. If my recipes for gingerbread biscotti, creme brûlée and macarons tell you anything, it's that I'm a spice girl. So, it's only natural that I have a great recipe for the MVP of Christmas cookies: these generously spiced, easy gingerbread cookies. In addition to the obligatory gingerbread men cookies, they are delicious, fool-proof, and beautiful baked into any shape. Even little bunnies for Easter.....gingerbread is a year-round thing in my house!

Cut out gingerbread cookies shaped like a gingerbread man.

Three Things that make this my "Best" Gingerbread Cookie Recipe

  1. It's in the book!: When I wrote my cookie book, 100 Best Decorated Cookies, I knew that I had to include a top notch classic gingerbread cookie recipe. This recipe is the result of lots of testing, tweaking, and many, many, batches of gingerbread cookies.
  2. They can be chewy or crunchy: Whether you're Team Chewy Gingerbread Cookies or Team Crunchy Gingerbread Cookies, this recipe works both ways. Simply bake the cookies a few minutes more before cooling if crunchy gingerbread is your jam.
  3. Quintessential gingerbread flavor: As I mentioned above, I love the warm flavors of anything gingerbread. But if something labeled "gingerbread" isn't gingerbread-y enough for me, well, that's a problem. I've packed these cookies with the perfect blend of spices, brown sugar and dark molasses, so that they earn their "best gingerbread cookies" title.
Decorated gingerbread cookies.

My Top Tips for Making Gingerbread Cookies

  • Watch your bake time: Gingerbread cookies don't need to bake for a long time. Depending on their size and your desired texture (soft cookies vs. crunchy cookies), the cookies will be done any time between 9-15 minutes. Bake the cookies 9-11 minutes, until the tops are just set, for soft and chewy cookies. Bake them a few minutes more for cookies that are deep golden brown and crisp when cooled.
  • Roll them evenly: You are looking for dough that is an even ¼ inch thickness when it is rolled out. Cookies with uneven thicknesses will take different amounts of time to bake.
  • Keep the dough COLD!: Warm or room temperature dough is more likely to spread while baking. Cold dough retains its shape. If the dough becomes too soft when you are working with it, simply roll it out between two sheets of parchment paper and re-chill it.  You can also chill your cut-outs for 15 minutes before baking to ensure they keep their shapes.

Ingredients and Special Equipment

Please check full recipe card at the bottom of this post for specific quantities.

Ingredients for cookie dough.

Key Ingredients for Gingerbread Cookie Dough

  • All-purpose flour: Substitute an equal amount of your favorite gluten-free flour blend for a gluten-free dough.
  • Ground ginger, ground cinnamon, ground cloves: I've included a generous amount of these warm spices to create the signature gingerbread flavor of these traditional cookies. Add a bit of orange zest or even a generous pinch of black pepper for additional layers of flavor.
  • Dark brown sugar: Light brown sugar may be substituted. Dark brown sugar will yield a richer molasses flavor.
  • Unsalted butter: Room temperature but still cool.
  • Molasses: Use a ligt or dark unsulphured molasses and not a blackstrap molasses for this recipe. Dark molasses contains more concentrated flavors and is commonly used in gingerbread recipes. Blackstrap molasses has an intense, slightly bitter taste.
  • Heavy cream: Half-and-half may be substituted.
  • Powdered sugar and meringue powder: If you plan to decorate your cookies with my Royal Icing Recipe.
Gingerbread cookie party set up.

Special Equipment

  • Gingerbread people cookie cutters or assorted favorite cookie cutters: Some of my favorite shapes to decorate are Christmas trees, winter hats, or basic circles that I decorate like holiday candies (see below for a photo!)
  • Electric mixer with a large mixing bowl or a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment
  • Rolling pin
  • Cooling rack or wire rack
  • Piping bag or a squeeze bottle: If you plan to decorate your cookies with Royal Icing.

Step by Step Photos and Instructions

Prepare the Cookie Dough

  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together dry ingredients: flour, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, salt and baking soda.
  2. In a separate bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or using a hand mixer with a large bowl, beat brown sugar and butter at medium high speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.

3. Beat in molasses, cream, and vanilla until well combined, stopping to scrape the sides of the bowl as necessary.

4. With the mixture on low speed, gradually add the flour mixture to the bowl, mixing until combined.

5. Turn dough out onto a work surface and divide dough into three equal pieces. Shape each piece into a flat disk. Wrap each disk tightly in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours, until cold, of for up to 3 days.

Roll out and Bake your Gingerbread Cookies

6. Preheat your oven to 350℉ / 180℃. Place the oven racks in the upper and lower thirds positions. Line 2-4 baking sheets with pieces of parchment paper. It's easier to bake these cookies using 4 cookies sheets, rather than 2.  While the first batch of cookies is baking, you can roll and cut shapes for the second batch so that they are ready to bake as soon as the first batch is done. Remove the chilled dough from your refrigerator.

7. On a lightly floured surface, roll out one piece of dough to an even thickness of ¼ inch (.5 cm.)

8. Using your gingerbread man cutter or your cookie cutter of choice, cut out shapes and then carefully transfer them to the prepared baking sheets, spacing the cut outs about 1-inch (2.5 cm) apart. Reroll dough scraps as necessary. Repeat the rolling and cutting process with the remaining disks of dough.

9. Bake cookies for 9 to 15 minutes, switching positions of the cookie sheets halfway through, until the tops are set and lightly browned. Bake cookies on the lower end of the baking time for chewy or soft gingerbread cookies and on the higher end for a crisper cookie.

10. Let the baked cookies cool on the cookie sheet for 10 minutes, then carefully transfer cookies to a wire rack to cool completely before decorating with my Royal Icing.

Peppermint candy decorated gingerbread cookies.

FAQ and Troubleshooting your Gingerbread Cookies

Why did my cookies spread while baking?

Here are some reasons why cookies might spread more than expected while baking:
Butter and dough temperature: If the butter or dough is too soft, it can cause cookies to spread. Use softened butter that's still cool to the touch is usually recommended in recipes. Chilling the dough before baking helps to keep cookies from spreading.
Incorrect ratios of ingredients: Sometimes, the ratio of ingredients in the recipe might need adjustment. Too much sugar or not enough flour can cause cookies to spread more than desired.
Oven temperature: If your oven runs too hot, it can cause the cookies to spread faster before they set. Usean oven thermometer to check the temperature.
Baking sheet temperature: Using a hot baking sheet can cause the dough to warm before being place in the oven, leading to increased spreading.

What's the best way to ship gingerbread cookies?

Ship gingerbread cookies with care so that your delicious treat arrives looking as good as when it was packed. Here are some tips:
Individually Wrap: Wrap each cookie in plastic wrap to protect decorations and prevent them from sticking to each other.
Layering: Place parchment paper between layers to prevent cookies from sticking.
Cushioning: Use a sturdy box and then fill empty spaces with bubble wrap, tissue paper, or crumpled parchment paper to prevent movement.
Mark as Fragile: Label the package as fragile to alert handlers to handle it with care.

Can I freeze decorated gingerbread cookies?

Yes! Freeze decorated gingerbread cookies when you want to make them in advance to share, ship or enjoy later. To freeze decorated cut-out cookies:
Ensure Icing Has Dried: Make sure the icing has dried thoroughly before freezing.
Layer for Protection: Place cookies in a single layer on a cookie tray lined with parchment. Place a sheet of parchment paper between layers to prevent sticking.
Flash Freeze: Place the sheet with the cookies into the freezer for about an hour. This process helps prevent the cookies from sticking together and maintains their shape.
Store: Once the cookies are firm, transfer to an airtight container or a resealable plastic bag. Label the container with the date and contents for easy identification.
Store cookies in the freezer for up to a few months. Thaw at room temperature in their container.

Stocking shaped decorated cookies.

more of my favorite cookie Recipes for your next cookie exchange, bake sale or Special homemade Treat

Tried this recipe and loved it? Take a photo and tag me on Instagram or give it a review!

Spiced gingerbread cookies.

Spiced Cut Out Gingerbread Cookies

Julie Hession
While these spiced gingerbread cookie are baking in the oven, your kitchen will fill with the warm and inviting scents of the holiday season. I love this recipe not only for its delicious flavor, but because the dough rolls out easily and the cut outs keep their shape while baking. Bake your cookies a few minutes less for a chewier texture or a few minutes more for cookies with a little more crunch!
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 13 minutes
Servings 36 cookies
Calories 131 kcal
5 from 10 votes
Print Recipe Pin Recipe

Equipment

  • 1 Rolling Pin
  • 2 to 4 Baking sheets, lined with parchment
  • Cookie cutters of choice

Ingredients
 
 

  • cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon ground ginger
  • 2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground cloves
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup dark brown sugar, packed
  • sticks unsalted butter, room temperature (¾ cup plus 2 tbsp)
  • ¾ cup molasses
  • 2 tablespoon heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 Recipe Royal Icing

Instructions
 

  • In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, salt and baking soda.
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or using a hand mixer, beat brown sugar and butter at medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
  • Beat in molasses, cream, and vanilla until well combined, stopping to scrape the sides of the bowl as necessary.
  • With the mixture on low speed, gradually add the flour mixture to the bowl, mixing until combined.
  • Turn dough out onto a work surface and divide it into three equal pieces. Shape each piece into a flat disk. Wrap each disk tightly in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours, until cold, of for up to 3 days.
  • Preheat your oven to 350℉ / 180℃. Place the oven racks in the upper and lower thirds positions. Line 2-4 baking sheets with parchment paper (see Notes.)
  • On a lightly floured work surface, roll out one disk of dough to a thickness of ¼ inch (.5 cm.)
  • Using your cookie cutter of choice, cut out shapes and carefully transfer them to the prepared baking sheets, spacing the cut outs about 1-inch (2.5 cm) apart. Reroll scraps as necessary. Repeat the rolling and cutting process with the remaining disks of dough.
  • Bake cookies for 11 to 15 minutes, switching positions of the cookie sheets halfway through, until the tops are set and lightly browned. Bake cookies on the lower end of the baking time for chewier cookies and on the higher end for a crisper cookie.
  • Let cookies cool on the cookie sheets for 10 minutes, then carefully transfer cookies to wire racks to cool completely before decorating with my Royal Icing.

Notes

  • It's easier to bake these cookies using 4 cookies sheets, rather than 2.  While the first batch of cookies is baking, you can roll and cut shapes for the second batch so that they are ready to bake as soon as the first batch is done.
  • Cookies will keep at room temperature, stored in an airtight container, anytime from 3 days to one week, depending on humidity in your kitchen. 

Nutrition

Calories: 131kcal | Carbohydrates: 21g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 5g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1g | Trans Fat: 0.2g | Cholesterol: 13mg | Sodium: 53mg | Potassium: 129mg | Fiber: 0.4g | Sugar: 11g | Vitamin A: 150IU | Vitamin C: 0.01mg | Calcium: 25mg | Iron: 1mg
Did You Make This Recipe?Please leave a comment below or pin it to your Pinterest account!

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11 Comments

  1. Love how you've decorated your gingerbread cookies. I made a batch early last month and had both my 9 year old niece and nephew do the decorations. They had a ball of a time doing it.

  2. 5 stars
    These look very cute,I think if I make anything as cute as these,I would not have the heart to bite into them 🙂

  3. 5 stars
    I love these Julie! They are so cute, my boys would love playing arouond with these. Great pictures!

  4. 5 stars
    I also have a huge cookie cutter collection--which is a sign I am eternally optimistic since I am dough rolling-out challenged! These look fabulous.

  5. 5 stars
    These are absolutely adorable! It's great that you got to play around in the kitchen at such an early age. My mom wouldn't let me.. I remember her being stressed out when baking because she wasn't confident enough so I wasn't allowed to touch anything. I am now making up for those years 😀

  6. 5 stars
    Julie i cant eat gingerbread guys anytime of the year. What a cute way to
    have them in the summer. I love their little bathing suits. Great job!!

  7. 5 stars
    What a great idea! I'd love to actually EAT gingerbread/holiday cookies this time of year... I love the idea of putting them in bathing suits!

  8. 5 stars
    Excellent! You're right, there's no reason we can't have gingerbread year-round. These are very cute cookies you've pictured!

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