The aroma that will fill your kitchen is reason enough to make adorable and festive homemade Gingerbread Men this holiday season! Made with molasses, brown sugar, and the perfect blend of spices, it’s a classic cookie to add to any dessert tray!
Gluten free gingerbread cookies and gingerbread cake are fantastic and everything, but there is nothing quite like the longstanding tradition of making homemade gingerbread cookies around Christmas time. They’re timeless favorite holiday cookies!
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Easy Gingerbread Men Recipe
I make everything from Grinch cookies to snickerdoodles to chocolate crinkle cookies during the holiday season but if you were to ask me what I think about when I hear the words classic holiday cookie, gingerbread men would be my answer hands down!
Making fun gingerbread men from scratch is fun tradition and a great way to get everyone involved in the process. It takes just 15 minutes of prep time and 12 minutes in the oven! There is some chill time to account for, which is super important and can’t be skipped, but it’s worth the wait for the kids to have some fun decorating.
Plus, it’s a great opportunity to make some s’mores whipped hot cocoa to sip on while you wait!
This recipe makes a soft cookie with crisp edges which are sturdy enough to hold their shape. They’re adorable once decorated but just as delicious without any icing at all. Enjoy them with a hot cup of coffee or tea for a snack or with a bowl of ice cream for dessert.
- Brown sugar: Lightly packed brown sugar will result in the perfect amount of sweetness. We’re using brown sugar to give it a bit of extra moisture as well as that delicious caramelized flavor.
- All-purpose flour: The foundation of the cookie needs to be flour that can be strong enough to hold shape but light enough not to be too dense. That’s why it’s extremely important to always measure your flour using a kitchen scale or the spoon and level method.
- Warm spices: Ground ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, ground cloves.
- Baking soda: This will give the cookies a bit of a rise in the oven so they don’t fall flat.
- Salt: Used to bring out the flavor of all of the other ingredients to really showcase the layers of flavor.
- Large egg: Used to bind the ingredients together so your cookies don’t fall apart.
- Vanilla extract: A beautiful warm flavor that balances out the spiced elements.
- Unsalted butter: We’re using unsalted butter so we can control the amount of salt in these gingerbread men. Melted butter usually means the cookies will spread and create a crispier cookie. In this case, because the dough gets chilled before baking, it will only spread just slightly.
- Unsulphured classic molasses: I usually aim for medium to dark molasses for the best flavor and color. Blackstrap molasses would be too intense, so best to avoid it.
1. You can use white sugar if preferred. The cookie won’t be as soft.
2. If you don’t have gingerbread men cutouts, by all means, use whatever shapes you have!
How to Make these Gingerbread Cut-Out Cookies
Homemade gingerbread man cookies are worth the extra bit of effort it takes to make them from scratch. You’ll never go back to store bought again!
Step 1: In a large mixing bowl, mix together the brown sugar and melted butter with molasses. Use a electric mixer or bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment on low speed.
Step 2: Add the egg and vanilla extract and mix in completely.
Step 3: In a medium bowl, add the flour, spices, baking soda, and salt and toss to combine.
Step 4: Add the dry ingredients to the large bowl with the wet ingredients and mix until there is no more flour remaining. Tasting lumps of flour in your cookies is no fun.
Step 5: Once the dough has formed, pour it out onto a clean flat surface. Divide the dough in half and shape each half into a 1” thick round disc.
Wrap each one in plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for at least 2 hours. If you’re making these ahead and won’t be baking them until tomorrow, leave them in the fridge overnight.
Step 6: When the chill time is over, take one disc out of the fridge (it needs to be cold to roll out properly) and unwrap the plastic. Place the dough on a lightly floured surface and roll it out until it’s about ⅛” thick.
Step 7: Use a gingerbread man cookie cutter to cut out your cookies. Carefully place them on a parchment-lined baking sheet leaving room in between each one. Combine your scraps into a ball and roll it out once more if there’s enough to make another cookie or two.
Step 8: Place the baking sheet in the freezer for 15 minutes. While it chills, preheat the oven to 350 degrees and repeat the cutout process with the second disc of dough.
Step 9: Bake the chilled cookies for 10-12 minutes for soft and chewy gingerbread men or 13-15 for slightly crunchier cookies.
Step 10: Once done, let them cool for 5 minutes on the baking sheet then transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely before decorating.
Transfer Cookie Dough Without Losing Shape
Since gingerbread dough can be delicate and quite thin, it can be tricky to try and move the shapes from your work area to the baking tray. Here is a hack I have learned along the way:
- Make one cutout at a time. Have an extra couple of sheets of parchment paper, not much larger than the size of the cookie cutter.
- Place just enough dough (about 1″ ball of dough) onto the small piece of parchment paper.
- Roll it out to ⅛″ thick and cut out the cookie. Remove the excess.
- Place the second piece of parchment paper on top of the dough and flip it over in your hands.
- Carefully peel off the back layer of parchment paper and gently flip back over the dough onto the parchment-lined baking sheet. There you have it, a perfectly shaped cookie!
It’s a lot easier than it sounds but is only necessary if you’re a stickler for this kind of thing!
- You can skip the chill time after you’ve cut out the gingerbread men, however, they will spread a bit. Never skip the chill time after you’ve made the dough!
- Always measure your flour correctly. It can make or break any baking recipe.
- Use fresh spices. I know sometimes we keep things on our spice rack for longer than we should. If you’re making delicious holiday cookies from scratch, it’s worth making sure nothing is expired!
- Always wait until your cookies have completely cooled before decorating. Otherwise, the icing will melt from the heat.
- Royal icing is my favorite type of icing to use and is traditional to use on gingerbread men.
If your dough is sticky, add an extra sprinkling of flour until it is no longer sticky. Be careful not to add too much otherwise it will show on your cookies.
These will stay fresh for up to 5 days when kept in an airtight container at room temperature. If left uncovered they will dry out.
Yes! You can freeze them for up to 3 months. baked cookies and the cookie dough for up to 3 months.
Definitely! Make it ahead and store the discs in the freezer for up to 3 months. Thaw in the fridge overnight, then roll them out and bake the next day.
Gingerbread Men Cookies
- ½ cup brown sugar lightly packed
- ½ cup unsalted butter melted (1 stick)
- ⅓ cup unsulphured molasses
- 1 large egg
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 ½ cups all purpose flour
- 1 ½ teaspoons ground ginger
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- ⅛ teaspoon ground cloves
- ⅛ teaspoon salt
- In a large mixing bowl, add the brown sugar, melted butter, and molasses and whisk until combined.½ cup brown sugar, ½ cup unsalted butter, ⅓ cup unsulphured molasses
- Then, add the egg and vanilla extract and mix in completely.1 large egg, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- In a separate medium bowl, add the flour, ginger, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and salt.2 ½ cups all purpose flour, 1 ½ teaspoons ground ginger, 1 teaspoon baking soda, 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg, ⅛ teaspoon ground cloves, ⅛ teaspoon salt
- Then add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix until no flour is remaining.
- Divide the dough into two halves and shape each half into a 1 inch thick round disc. Wrap the discs in plastic wrap and place them in the refrigerator and chill for at least 2 hours (you can leave it in the refrigerator overnight as well).
- After the dough has chilled, and working with one disc at a time, place it on a lightly floured flat surface like a counter or cutting board. (don’t use too much flour it will show on the gingerbread men).
- Roll the dough out until it’s ⅛” thick.
- Cut out gingerbread with your desired cutters and carefully place them on a parchment lined baking sheet. (these are 3 inches tall).
- Place the baking sheet in the freezer and chill the cut-out cookies for 15 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 350° F while they are chilling.
- Repeat with the second disc of dough.
- Bake the chilled cookies for 10-12 minutes for soft and chewy cookie. Or bake for 13-15 minutes for crunchier cookies.
- Remove from the oven and cool them for 5 minutes on the pan then transfer them to a wire cooling rack and cool completely before decorating.