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4 adorable gingerbread men and women on a white plate all holding hands.
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5 from 21 votes

Homemade Gingerbread Cookies [Video]

Our favorite holiday cookies are our soft and chewy spiced molasses cutout men and women Homemade Gingerbread Cookies.
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time8 mins
Refrigerator Resting Time3 hrs
Total Time3 hrs 23 mins
Course: Desserts
Cuisine: American
Servings: 36
Calories: 105kcal
Author: HWC Magazine

Equipment

  • flour sifter
  • mixer
  • baking sheets

Ingredients

Gingerbread dough

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
    and a little extra to roll out the dough and prevent sticking.
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
    dried ground
  • 2 teaspoon ginger
    dried ground
  • ½ teaspoon allspice
    dried ground
  • ½ teaspoon cloves
    dried ground
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
    ground
  • 8 tablespoon butter
    at room temperature
  • ¼ cup vegetable shortening
    at room temperature
  • ½ cup light brown sugar
    packed, (If using blackstrap molasses increase to 1 cup)
  • cup dark molasses such as Mrs. Baer's Rabbit Full Flavor Molasses or Grandma's Original. (If using blackstrap molasses, decrease amount to ¼ cup and increase brown sugar to 1 cup)
  • 1 egg
    large (room temperature)

Royal Icing (or can use pre-packaged decorating frosting tubes)

  • 4.5 cups confectioners' sugar
  • 6 tablespoon milk
  • food coloring
    (as desired)
  • edible candies for decorations (as desired)

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (176 C). Use parchment paper or baking liners to baking sheets or grease lightly to prevent cookies from sticking.
  • Sift the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, allspice, cloves, salt and pepper. Set aside dry ingredients.
  • In a large bowl, using an electric mixer at high-speed, beat the butter and vegetable shortening. Add the brown sugar and beat until the mixture is light in texture and color, about 2 minutes. Beat in the molasses and egg. Gradually mix in the flour mixture to make a stiff dough. Divide the dough into two disks. Wrap each disk in plastic wrap. Refrigerate until chilled, about 3 hours. (The dough can be prepared up to 3 days ahead.)
  • To roll out the cookies, work with one disk at a time, keeping the other disk refrigerated. Remove the dough from the refrigerator and let stand at room temperature until just warm enough to roll out without cracking, about 10 minutes. Place the dough on a lightly floured work surface. Avoid putting a lot of flour on the top of your dough or otherwise your gingerbread men will be streaked white. If you use a piece of waxed paper between the dough and the rolling pin, this prevents sticking. Roll out the dough about 3/16 inch thick (between ⅛ to ¼ inch thick). If you want a softer cookie, roll out dough a little thicker. If you want a crispy cookie, roll the dough out a little thinner.
  • Dip your cookie cutters into a little flour to prevent sticking. Using boy and girl cookie cutters (or any cut out shapes desired), cut out the cookie dough all the way through and do a little wiggle back and forth to remove. Carefully transfer your cutout gingerbread man to nonstick cookie sheets 2 inch apart. Keep up with process until you cannot fit another cookie cutter on the dough. Then, gently knead the scraps together. Form into another disk and roll out to make more cookies. If at any time your dough becomes difficult to work with, wrap it in plastic wrap and place it in the refrigerator for a few minutes. If your dough becomes dry, add 1 teaspoon of water at a time into the dough and knead in gently.
  • Bake cookies on the middle rack for about 8-10 minutes for chewy cookies and 10-12 minutes for crisper cookies. (Cooking time depends on the size of your cookie cutter and the thickness of your dough) Bigger cookie cutters and thicker dough needs more time. Smaller cookie cutters and thinner dough needs less baking time. (our little mini gingerbread only took 6 minutes to bake.) It's best to set your timer for the lowest time and then add more time as needed. Cool on the sheets for 2 minutes, then transfer to wire racks or set on parchment paper to cool completely.
  • Decorate with Royal Icing or prepackaged decorating icing tubes. (The cookies can stored in a sealed container for about 1 one week in the refrigerator or placed in the freezer for up to 2 months. (However, in our house, we will be lucky if we can even just save a couple of cookie for Santa)
  • Enjoy!

Video

Notes

Please note there is a BIG difference between original molasses and Blackstrap molasses.
If using the original molasses, the ratio is ⅔ cup molasses to ½ cup brown sugar. 
If using the hard core Black strap molasses which is much stronger the ratio is ¼ black strap molasses to 1 cup brown sugar. 
After living around the world, we have found some helpful solutions for the molasses dilemma. Depending on what country you are living in, this can be really confusing.
In the USA, a couple of common molasses brands are Grandma’s Molasses and Brer Rabbit.
Grandma’s Molasses
  • Original (this is the type we used for this recipe)
  • Robust (Closer to the taste of blackstrap molasses so reduce the amount of molasses to ¼ and increase the amount of brown sugar to 1 cup to compensate for the bitter taste of the blackstrap)
Brer Rabbit
  • Mild Flavor
  • Full Flavor (this type would be best for our homemade gingerbread cookies)
  • Blackstrap Molasses (this type of molasses can be used BUT you must reduce the amount of molasses to ¼ and increase the amount of brown sugar to 1 cup to compensate for the bitter taste of the blackstrap.)
Treacle is most commonly used substitution for molasses in the United Kingdom (UK) and other countries as well.
Lyle’s
  • Lyle’s Golden syrup – light honey golden in color and really sweet and light compared to molasses – (not the best solution as it is more sweet and does not have that depth of flavor)
  • Lyle’s Black Treacle – similar to a blackstrap molasses but a little sweeter. (Use this one for this recipe)
Secret for Soft and Chewy Molasses Cookies
It is really quite simple, and it all comes down to math. If you like a soft and chewy cookie, roll the cookie dough out thicker (about ¼ inch thick) and bake for less time (6 to 8 minutes). However, if you like a crisper homemade gingerbread man cookie, then roll out dough thinner (about ¼ inch thick) or bake for a little longer. Baking time is also determined by the size of your cutout device. The larger the cut, the longer cooking time. On the other hand, if the cut out is small it will need less time in the oven.
In addition, each and every temperamental oven can vary. Our suggestion is always to start out with less time in the oven. If needed, you can always reset timer and let bake a little longer.
Prevent Cookies From Sticking
To save yourself a headache later, either line your baking sheet with parchment paper, baking liners or grease the baking sheet to prevent cookies from sticking. If you decide to grease your pans, just do this lightly as if you have to much oil it can cause your cookies to spread.
Gingerbread Cookies Decorating and Icing Ideas
  • If you like to draw features on your gingerbread men and women, make it easy for yourself and buy a few tubes of the pre-made decorating icings in different colors. Make sure you buy the corresponding icing tip adapters and go to it! We usually buy a tube of green, red, white, yellow and blue with the corresponding tips. This is the easiest option. Check out our video for decorating inspiration.
  • Sometimes, we like to make a little homemade royal icing and then let the kids decorate the cookies with sprinkles and candies. Add natural food coloring as desired to make red, green or other colors.
  • If you make your royal icing thick, then you can decorate designs on your gingerbread cookies using a piping bag. Another option or easy icing hack is to make the icing a thinner. Then, just dip the front of the cookie right in the icing and there is no need to spread icing with a knife.
  • Maybe you want to keep a few cookies plain without frosting too. We have left all of the little doggie bone gingerbread cookies plain for the Healthy World Cuisine clean-up crew.
Cookie Hacks
  • We made our gingerbread girls and boys cookies dough a couple of days in advance as it needs to be refrigerated for about 3 hours before use. The refrigeration process makes the cookie dough easier to work with. As long as you have the cookie dough wrapped tightly in plastic wrap, you can make as long as 3 days in advance.
  • You could even do the cut outs and baking on one day and then let your family and friends come over for a holiday cookie decorating party.  This has been a family tradition for years.
  • If you dough gets a little dry and cracks, add just a teaspoon of water at a time and rework the dough.
  • Refrain from putting lots of flour directly over the gingerbread men and women before rolling. The reason being is that your cookies will bake with white flour streaks. Instead, use a sheet of waxed paper between to prevent sticking or use less flour.
  • If at any time your dough becomes too sticky and too difficult to work with, wrap in plastic and place in the refrigerator for a little bit to chill.
  • To allow time for the royal icing to set, we have found placing the cookies on plates with little cups in between and stacking more plates on top works great. This saves counter space. We then put these in the freezer for a couple hours until the icing sets. After that, you can use waxed paper or parchment paper between cookie layers and stack in your sealed freezer safe cookie containers.

Nutrition

Serving: 1g | Calories: 105kcal | Carbohydrates: 16g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 4g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Cholesterol: 11mg | Sodium: 95mg | Potassium: 108mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 8g | Vitamin A: 85IU | Calcium: 19mg | Iron: 1mg