Gingerbread Man Cookies

Originally posted 2005.

No cookie says Christmas more than a gingerbread man cookie. It’s been thirty years since I last made gingerbread men, and it took all weekend to get this recipe right. After starting with a truly terrible recipe from a 1974 edition of the Joy of Cooking (1/4 cup of butter for 3 1/2 cups of flour? – had to throw the whole batch out), I settled on this recipe, which makes some rather tasty cookies.

After running around to several stores looking for the perfect gingerbread man cookie cutter, and getting nowhere, I created my own stencils (see links below). To use them, print them out and fold them in half lengthwise to make it easy to cut along the lines (don’t worry if the lines don’t perfectly match up, I drew them freehand.) Place the stencil over the rolled-out dough and use a small sharp knife to cut along the inside of the stencil.

Gingerbread Man Cookies Recipe

  • Yield: Makes 16 5-inch long cookies.

Ingredients

Cookies

  • 3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter (room temperature, softened)
  • 1/2 cup dark-brown sugar, packed
  • 1 Tbsp ground ginger
  • 1 Tbsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoons ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon finely ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup unsulfured molasses
  • Optional raisins, chocolate chips, candy pieces, frosting

Royal Icing

  • 1 egg white
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1 3/4 cup confectioners sugar (powdered sugar)

Method

1 In a large bowl, vigorously whisk together the flour, baking soda, and spices. Set aside.

2 In an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter. Add sugar and beat until fluffy. Mix in eggs and molasses. Gradually add the flour mixture; combine on low speed. (You may need to work it with your hands to incorporate the last bit of flour.) Divide dough in thirds; wrap each third in plastic. Chill for at least 1 hour or overnight. Before rolling out, let sit at room temperature for 5-10 minutes. If after refrigerating the dough feels too soft to roll-out, work in a little more flour.

3 Heat oven to 350°. Place a dough third on a large piece of lightly floured parchment paper or wax paper. Using a rolling pin, roll dough 1/8 inch thick. Refrigerate again for 5-10 minutes to make it easier to cut out the cookies. Use either a cookie cutter or place a stencil over the dough and use a knife to cut into desired shapes. Press raisins, chocolate chips, or candy pieces in the center of each cookie if desired for "buttons".

4 Transfer to ungreased baking sheets. Bake until crisp but not darkened, 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from oven. Let sit a few minutes and then use a metal spatula to transfer cookies to a wire rack to cool completely. Decorate as desired.

 

Royal Icing

The traditional way to make Royal Icing is to beat egg whites and lemon juice together, adding the powdered sugar until the mixture holds stiff peaks. With modern concerns about salmonella from raw eggs, you can either use powdered egg whites or heat the egg whites first to kill any bacteria. With the heating method, mix the egg white and lemon juice with a third of the sugar, heat in a microwave until the mixture's temperature is 160°F. Then remove from microwave, and beat in the remaining sugar until stiff peaks form. Using the powdered egg whites method, combine 1 Tbsp egg white powder with 2 Tbsp water. Proceed as you would otherwise. (Raw egg white alternatives from the 2006 Joy of Cooking)

If the icing is too runny, add more powdered sugar until you get the desired consistency. Fill a piping bag with the icing to pipe out into different shapes. (Or use a plastic sandwich bag, with the tip of one corner of the bag cut off.) Keep the icing covered while you work with it or it will dry out.

Gingerbread man cookie stencils:

Gingerbread Man Stencil
Gingerbread Woman Stencil

Links:

Shuna's Famous Gingerbread
A collection of gingerbread recipes through the ages from the Old Foodie

106 Comments

  1. Christine

    I’m from Finland, and we use the following kind of icing for decorating gingerbread cookies:
    (it’s metric, sorry…)
    4 dl / 225 g powder sugar
    1 egg white
    1 tbsp water or lemon juice

    Mix the ingredients to a smooth paste, the water or juice may not be needed, if the mixture feels pipe-able enough without it.
    You can dye the icing with food coloring, if you fancy different colors than pure white.

  2. dav

    Love your website…but would like to confirm what exactly is 1.5 sticks of butter?
    Is 1 stick = 250 grams of butter?

    Cheers!

  3. Elise

    Hi Dav – 1 stick of butter = 1/2 Cup of butter = 1/4 pound of butter = approximately 113 grams. So, 1 1/2 sticks of butter is approximately 170 grams.

    There is a measurement converter on the left side of the page with a link to more metric conversions.

  4. Lisa

    Some cookie recipes call for a combination of butter and shortening. Apparently adding shortening gives you a more cakey texture–I learned this from Alton Brown. This transcript from his Good Eats show discusses how to alter cookie recipes to get either a crispy, puffy or cakey result.

    Three Chips For Sister Marsha

  5. Rob

    Does this icing harden well? The main issue I’ve had with gingerbread men in the past was icing that would smash under the weight of another cookie when they’re stored. I was using the Confectioner’s suger / heavy cream type of icing before.

    Note from Elise: Royal icing hardens well, but it can be fragile too.

  6. Jamie

    Hi! I was wondering if this recipe turned out to be softer cookies than the others you had tried. Every Christmas I try to make gingerbread cookies and they always are so hard after they cool that you can’t even eat them. Any suggestions??
    Thanks!
    Jamie

    These cookies were much softer than the cookies from the first recipe I used, which as I mentioned were barely edible. The difference is the amount of butter. These are definitely cookies for eating, not decorating a tree with. ~Elise

  7. April

    My kids are decorating these right now. I have them using an icing that is just some butter, powdered sugar, cream, and vanilla, all whipped up fluffy in the kitchenaid.

    The cookies turned out very tasty, although I do wish I hadn’t been a tad low on molasses. Also, I skipped the pepper. They are fairly soft and cakey. Much better than my old recipe.

    I love your site!

  8. Scent

    Hey Anna,

    I tried the recipe today and had the same problem of the dough not being firm enough, but what I did was to add more flour.. I freezed it out for about an hour and actually rolled out my gingerbread men one by one on a greaseproof paper.. that way, you can just peel off the paper and dump the fella on the tray straight after cutting him out… It turned out great!

    Anyone has any advice on whether “treacle” should be used in gingerbread? Cos I came across some recipes which suggested treacle.. Any advice anyone?

  9. Cookerlady&toddlerCook

    I would love to know what “treacle” is??

    it’s funny – this is the second time in as many weeks that I’ve landed on your site. My husband, kidlet and I are all foodies. [kid's favorite veg is grilled artichokes, he's 3]

    anyhow, I was looking for a recipe that would provide a tasty cookie that would say more than “I spent a couple hours in the kitchen playing with my son to bring this to you”

    Someone asked about softer cookies -shortening can also add to the softness factor (as well as increasing the flour content and lowering temp a bit.

    Thanks for your site, I love it!

  10. cakegrrl

    OMG, Elise… I just made there last night. I made a double batch of dough and I boosted the spices a bit, but this is one of the best tasting cookies everrrr…. :) Thanks for pointing it out. I was looking for a reliable gingerbread cookie recipe and was so happy to see you post one!

  11. Scent

    Hi all,

    I did some research and found out what “treacle” is.. Treacle is actually a form of the product of some sugar extraction process, so it’s the group name for the sugar syrup extracted from such a process.. Molasses and Golden syrup are members of the treacle family.. While Molasses is the darker syrup (more concentrated), Golden syrup is the lighter syrup (less concentrated) of the treacle family…

  12. Scott

    This recipe turned out wonderfully! I’ve never really had a gingerbread cookie that worked well until now. Everyone who tried one of these (took them to a party) raved about them. I, of course told them to check out this site.

  13. Anamika

    These came out really well with the cutouts on the site. Couldnt find any molasses…so used honey…but as you know..the colour was wrong..taste was lovely. A

  14. Jo

    For those people in other countries, e.g. Australia where molasses is not commonly used, or stocked use golden surup instead, it tastes delightful.

  15. Jill Etheridge

    Hi just seeing your great recipe. Is all-purpose flour the same as plain flour or is it Self Raising Flour (Sorry I am an Aussie and we don’t have what they call all-purpose flour. I presume it is plain flour as you have baking soda in your recipe. Could someone please confer.

  16. Jill Etheridge

    Just to let you know that I made the gingerbread man cookies and they turned out absolutetly yummy. I used golden syrup instead of molasses (as we don’t have that here in Australia) and I decorated them with chocolate chips. I only needed to put the dough in the fridge for 2 hours and it was perfect to work with. My husband thought they were pretty good as he said “you could sell these”.

  17. C

    Elise, I made these this weekend and they were wonderful! My dad loves that they’re soft and not too sweet. I can’t wait to make them again!

  18. Lydia

    I just made the cookies and they turned out sooooo gooooood I am very pleased with how simple it was to make perfect gingerbread cookies. thanks!!!

  19. joanne

    I found fun little cutters at Michael’s. They are made by Wilton, and are little boy and girl with pigtails. I’ve had them for 10 years.

  20. Anonymous

    I keep looking for a recipe that will be like my grandmother’s. Her cookies are very thin & elegant, while most recipes I’ve tried make thicker cookies (still good — but you understand the search for the remembered). She’s of Swedish extraction, although never lived in Sweden, but I’m starting to wonder if my error is always trying US/UK recipes. Any ideas?

    Check out the gingersnap cookies recipe on this site. ~Elise

  21. Diane

    Anonymous, looking for her Swedish grandmother’s recipe:

    I think her cookies were Pepparkakor. Do a google image search to see if they look right, if so a suitable recipe should be easy to find.

  22. Sarah

    Thank you, Diane — I think you’re right that Pepparkakor are probably what she made. Now I have a new direction for experimentation!

  23. Heather

    I will be making these for sure, but I’ll have to find cutters, because I’m too lazy to use a knife. Also, I saw some cookie tips on one of the morning news shows, and the expert lady suggested rolling out the dough directly on the baking sheet. Then you remove the extra and leave the cookies, and they don’t get stretched or distorted. I can’t believe I never thought of that before!

  24. Brian S.

    Good recipe. Made six batches for church youth group decorating party, 144 cookies. Wow! First batch we used baking powder instead of soda and they were just a little more “cookie” like instead of “bread” like and they stayed more thin and crispy (very old baking powder). Michaels Crafts had a 4″ cookie cutter and we got about 24 per batch.

  25. Grace

    I tried this recipe yesterday, and I found the cookie to be kind of bland on its own (maybe its because I still have a cold) but they were excellent with the frosting. I had no problem with the dough, though – but I double-sifted it.

    Your tongue is what tastes sweetness, so even with a cold you would be able to taste that. Most flavor however comes from the aromatics being processed through your nose. When you have a head cold, that can definitely affect what you are able to taste. ~Elise

  26. aspen

    we made these last night and were very disappointed. The flavor was almost completely bland… very little of the spice flavour came through and they tasted almost completely of flour. I’d prefer them a good deal sweeter, and i’d cut down on the amount of flour. the icing does help with the flavour but the gingerbread itself was a big disappointment. and we arent sure why, but ours look nothing like the picture. we were excited about the rich dark color, but ours are much paler. That said, they made our apartment smell fantastic!

    Funny, this recipe has more than twice as much spice as the original JoC recipe called for. If you want them spicier, just up the spices even more. If you want them darker, up the ground cloves in particular. Using blackstrap molasses will help too. I wouldn’t reduce the flour amount as that would probably make the dough too sticky to roll out. But if you increase the sugar, it should make the cookies chewier. Also, make sure your spices are fresh! Anything older than a year needs to be replaced. ~Elise

  27. Brittany

    I also found they were a bit bland. I think I will still use this same recipe next time, but add a bit more spices.

  28. Elle

    Haven’t made gingerbread men for years but these turned out excellent! They also made about 21 instead of the said 16 (although this is probably cause I may have rolled them a bit thinner than usual) these taste brilliant and I didn’t even refridgerate them!!
    thanks a lot!

  29. licia

    Nice to see that this recepie has been looked up for a number of years now. We baked these cookies but with an Ozzie twist! We made liquid toffee instead of using molasses and deleated the pepper. While my youngest son was cutting out his dough he decided that he didn’t want to make little man, he cut out “love heart shapes for all the girls!!”, mind you he is only 4yrs old (he,he) Thanks for the great recepie, they turned out yummylicious!!

  30. Rebecca S.

    Hey, I’m probably not the norm’ for people who use your recipes since I’m just 13. Nobody in my family bakes except me. Well my mom does some but usually uses box mixes in baking sweets.
    I tried this recipe today(just pulled some out of the oven in fact). It turned out perfect, they weren’t too spicy which is good because my sister and dad don’t like things too seasoned, but they were totally not bland. The dough was perfect to work with after an hour in the fridge, and they were darker then my normal cookies. I changed the recipe a little bit. I used light brown sugar(we didn’t have any dark), I also omitted the cloves(we only had whole cloves and I have no way to grind them,) and pepper because I forgot to add it. But they are delicious and they made the kitchen smell really good lol. This is so far my absolute favorite recipe for gingerbread men. Thank you for sharing this delightful recipe.

  31. Brenda

    Can you make the frosting ahead of time and save it? Does it keep well?

    Royal icing tends to harden up pretty quickly, so no, I would not make the icing ahead of time. ~Elise

  32. Joyce

    Hi Thanks you for the wonderful recipie. I’ve tried making the cookies today. It smells wonderful. I found that the gingerbread men tasted a little bitter. Not sure what could have gone wrong. Would it help if I cut down a little of the mollases? or spices?

  33. Jeanine

    Hi–I made these tonight, and they came out very well, I thought. They were crisp but not hard and were pleasingly spicy. I couldn’t find my gingerbread men cutters and didn’t make the icing, but we did the best we could with what we had.

    The recipe made approximately 40 4″ bears, and I had to re-roll the scraps twice. Thanks!

  34. Elissa

    The icing has egg whites in it. Are these safe to store unrefrigerated? How long does the applied icing keep?

    The icing will dry and harden. Royal icing is the same that is used on gingerbread houses and that will keep for months. Now, regarding the safety of this approach, it’s up to you. For generations this icing was used as is. Recently there has been concern about salmonella with raw eggs, for which alternatives are suggested. ~Elise

  35. Linda

    Not for the novice cookie baker. The dough was very sticky, even after an hour and a half’s refrigeration. I rolled it out between two sheets of waxed paper because otherwise it stuck to the rolling pin. I am not an experienced cookie baker and don’t know how to fix this. Add flour? Refrigerate longer? Chuck it into the dust bin and head to the bakery?

    I tried this recipe because I wanted soft gingerbread cookies. Is soft gingerbread dough always this difficult to work with?

    If it’s sticky, add a little flour. ~Elise

  36. Tiera

    Thanks for the stensils! I’m making these for a friend and I’ve been having the hardest time finding a cookie cutter without the stubby legs and arms!!

    Happy Holidays!
    Tiera

  37. Traci

    What about using Cream of Tartar in the icing? I think my mom used that.

    And Props to the 13 yr old. That’s the same age I was when I went through a cooking frenzy stage. :)

  38. Robert

    Thank you for this terrific recipe! It makes for delicious gingerbread cookies that Santa now gets to enjoy at our home each year.

  39. melissa

    These cookies are fabulous….soft and flavorful! I don’t even like gingerbread cookies, but I love these! They are also fun to decorate with the kids!

  40. Tres Amie

    I noticed that some readers thought these cookies were bland. Spices lose flavor over time, perhaps they need to get some new ones!

  41. claudia

    Hi, Elise, I am from Brazil and I like you site very much. I have done another recipe, but it was not good. Now I’ll try yours. Please tell me how you cut the the cookies using the stencil, is it with a knife? or you made your own cutters? How? I wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

    I used a knife, and just cut around the dough following the form of the stencil. ~Elise

  42. amy

    Just made these cookies and couldn’t keep the kids from eating the dough! They turned out soo adorable, although I had trouble frosting them. I guess I need to invest in a piping bag for the frosting instead of a plastic sandwhich bag:) the kids loved them and sometimes kids don’t like all the spices so I was pleased! LOVE your blog!

  43. gina

    How do you store gingerbread cookies? I made 4 large gingerbread cookies (I think I cooked them a bit longer than I should have as they are bit harder than we like…). Should I put them in a few slices of fresh bread in the container to keep them from getting too hard? Any ideas would be helpful. Thanks a million!

  44. Suzanne :: Adventures in Daily Living ::

    I like the Joy of Cooking recipe as it makes a kid-resistant dough and a crispy cookie. If I didn’t have kids, I’d go for a softer dough with a more tender cookie, but for this era of my life, I use a modified version of the Joy recipe.

    Which edition of Joy of Cooking? Different editions have different recipes. ~Elise

  45. Lisa

    I just made this recipe for a Christmas party and the cookies turned out wonderful!! They are so cute and taste great! Thank you for the recipe.

  46. Eric McAnly

    I made these cookies for people at work and everyone gave me high compliments. I can only claim the preparation compliments the recipe compliments I direct your way. Thank you for making my first gingerbread man baking a great experience!

  47. Damon

    I just made these today and “dough” came out very powdery? Not sticky like dough at all. I do not have a mixer, so I did this by hand with a whisk. Any idea how I can save the dough?

    On the plus side, powdery as it is, the dough tastes great.

    Wet your hands with water and work the dough a little, wet some more, work some more until it is no longer dry. But don’t keep going until it is sticky, you don’t want sticky dough, too difficult to work with. ~Elise

  48. Nina

    As a follow-up to my 12/19/08 post, I wanted to share a friend’s message to me on Facebook:

    ********* wrote at 5:36pm
    Nina! Those cookies you gave me the other day were quite possibly the best I have ever eaten!!!!!!!!

  49. Joey Dressel

    I tried out this recipe a few weeks ago and wow! I shared them and everyone raved about them. Now, I will be making 3-4 batches and give as Christmas presents. This was my first time making gingerbread men. My only problem was that I could only find whole cloves and ground them up with motar and pestle. This time, I will try grinding them up in my blender.
    Thanks for the wonderful recipe!

  50. Chantal

    Hi Elise, I’ve always counted on your website for the best cookie/pie/desert recipes (I love baking, but I’m not such a good cook) – and this one is amazing. I absolutely love the way these gingerbread cookies came out. (I used buttercream instead of royal)
    I made them for a Christmas party, and also as stocking suffers for our families (along with Christmas tree sugar cookies).
    Thank you so much :)
    Merry Christmas

  51. Aunt Moe

    The cookie only tasted like Molasses. Sadly the only taste i have in my mouth now is Blackstrap Molasses. (Unsulfered =)) but i recommend more cinnamon and less molasses. In the frosting, if you dont want to use eggs: it tastes better with 3/4 tablespoon of vanilla extract instead of lemon juice. Also add just a little under 1/4 cup of milk. That half drowns out the molasses taste.

    Thanks Elise.. Kindof

  52. Valerie

    I made the gingerbread family last night using this recipe. They are delicious! And they turned out quite soft – I cooked them for 8 mins and 30 seconds and anyway they continue to harden when they cool, but I think the texture was perfect. I used 1/4 cup molasses and 1/4 cup honey. And I also skipped the pepper and removed the nutmeg as the taste is quite strong and not a favourite with my family. We will decorate them today. Thanks for posting the recipe! I will surely use it again!!! :)

  53. Mikaela

    So, I probably made these wrong because I kept adding a dash of cinnamon here, a little honey there, and a bit of molasses. It doesn’t help that I don’t have much experience (I’m only 15). I made the dough tonight and plan to make them tomorrow evening after I get home from ballet practice…I hope they work out. It smells a bit interesting and of course, the color isn’t right because I used light brown sugar, but I don’t mind that. Thanks, Elise! I’ll let you know how they turned out :]

  54. Gene

    Great recipe! One day while making the little guys I had some oranges on the counter; naturally my taste buds got to work on my imagination, and wondered what the zest would taste like in the dough.
    After smooshing some raw dough and a little zest in my fingers, and tasting it, I decided I would try it in your Ginger Bread cookies. I added 2tsp of fresh orange zest to the dough along with the same amount of fresh grated dry ginger.
    This is the second year of making these and I love them. And so do my friends! Thanks for the recipe Elise.

  55. reena

    Whats a substitute for molasses? We dont get molasses in India. Can I use honey instead? How much?

    Another word for molasses is treacle, which you may be able to find. I do not think that honey would well as a substitute, but you could try it. ~Elise

  56. Audrey

    Make your own cookie cutter with aluminum roof flashing. Just cut a strip and shape it round the stencil and then crimp the ends together. If you make the arms a bit longer you can vary the position.
    Molasses should be available at health food stores.

  57. Jood

    I’m addicted to buying cookie cutters and have spent years hunting down a nicely-shaped Gingerbread Man cutter and I finally found a store that stocks the Wilton version. We don’t have Michael’s here in this part of the world. You, North Americans are sooooo lucky. I almost ordered one off Amazon despite the shipping costs.

    I am so in love with it.
    They even make copper ones – a perfect heirloom gift.
    I love cut-out cookies and gingerbread is the best and smells just like Christmas.I’ll be trying your recipe this Christmas.
    Will this recipe make a puffy cookie? I’m actually more fond of crispy, flatter-style cookies. Actually all of my cookies end up puffy. Am I supposed to replace baking powder with baking soda?
    By the way, your Snickerdoodles recipe is the best and my entire family loves your Orange Poppyseed cookie recipe. Thanks so much. You have a great site. I visit often.

    If you like crispy, flat cookies, you might want to try the gingersnap cookies here on the site. ~Elise

  58. Kristal

    Oh my gosh, I made these and the sugar cookies from the archive and they were awesome! I made them for a cookie decorating party my mom went to and everyone was impressed at how little they spread and how good they were. Thank you!

  59. Megan

    MMMMM….I just took them out of the oven; the smell is so lovely. The kids can’t wait to decorate and devour!!

  60. chandani

    Will love to try this recipe but as I am new to baking I have few questions. What is unsulfured molasses? Where can I get it? Is there substitute for that ingredient?
    Thanks in advance.

    Unsulfured molasses is high quality molasses made from ripe sugar cane. If you can’t find it where you are, you might try treacle. ~Elise

  61. mia

    I was wondering if I could make the dough and freeze it until I am ready to bake it?

    I don’t see why not, though I haven’t done it. You will still need to defrost the dough to roll it out. So you may want to freeze it in the shape of a long tube, so it defrosts more quickly and evenly. ~Elise

  62. S

    I didn’t care for the taste much either. I actually thought they were a little weak; maybe my spices are getting old. Did have some fun with the stencils. Picture in url.

  63. Tawney Warren

    I just used this recipe for my first attempt at making Gingerbread cookies (for 6 year old class Christmas party today). I made a couple of modifications and these were the BEST gingerbread cookies we’ve ever had!

    First, I left out the cloves and pepper and I used a whole egg instead of just an egg white (it accidentally fell in so we went with it!) and they were so moist and yummy!

    I liked them cut closer to the 1/4″ thickness better than the 1/8″…a bit more cakey and just plain yummy!

    My husband says “we never have to buy them at the store ever again.

    The first batch I made was not chilled and even though it was a bit sticky to work with (added flour) they turned out just as well as the chilled dough batch. What I found helpful when rolling was to have a bit of flour on the wax paper and then put another piece of wax paper over the dough to roll….first time trying that too!

    The ginger flavor was just right!! It was just so much better without the cloves.

    Thanks for the recipe!

  64. cristey

    This recipe is so good that I decided to keep my first batch for myself and make a second round for presents. The cookies are full of flavor, very savory. However, I can see where people who are expecting *cookie-sweet* might be disappointed. This is definitely a ginger-spice flavored cookie that kicks you in the mouth. And writing about it makes me want to go have another one.

  65. Anne

    Black pepper in gingerbread men? o.o
    Why is black pepper needed for this recipie? What does it do?
    And what about unsulfured molasses? Is that the same as the molasses I can find at the store?

    I cook a lot but am new to some things, I’m just trying to learn. : )

    A small amount of finely ground black pepper will give the cookies a slightly spicy kick. Unsulfured molasses is molasses made from ripe sugar cane that does not require sulfur as a preservative. ~Elise

  66. Ana

    Hey, Elise! I started baking these on Christmas Eve and my baby three-year-old sister had SO MUCH fun cutting shapes with cookie cutters (we had no humans, just trees and stars…). Then we pressed shiny candy decorations into them and after they were baked, her and my cousin squeezed coloured frosting all over them. They had SO MUCH fun, I cannot explain. And for the first time, my sister actually ate the cookies I baked. She adored them.

    Merry Christmas to you and your family! Blessed holidays to you!

    PS. In my country, we do not have liquid molasses so I tried caramelizing the molasses sugar. The cookies turned out fine, but I heard honey is a better substitute for molasses. In case anybody suffers from the problem I encountered.

  67. Dorothy

    I tasted the cookie dough and I thought it was gross. I was pretty sure the cookies would be gross, too. I was wrong. They are lovely. Thanks so much, Elise, for working so hard to bring the world a lovely gingerbread man recipe.

  68. Kristan

    Thank you so much for posting this recipe! I have searched a long time for a good gingerbread cookie recipe and this one is the BEST! The cookies were easy to make and turned out soft but firm. Both my husband and my father in law were eating them faster than I could pull them out of the oven – and they never eat cookies! Great recipe, I will recommend it to anyone :)

  69. Sherrie

    To keep your gingerbread soft, put an apple in the plastic bag with them. I make Lebkuchen (King Arthur Flour recipe) and it calls for NO FAT and they are absolutely addictive. I used the lemon & orange peel in them and for a change, I shaped them by hand into two big gingerbread men. I didn’t use a cookie cutter…I made them the old fashioned way, like the old woman in the story would have made. I put raisins for the eyes and dried cranberries for the buttons. They have honey in them and it makes them sweet enough that you don’t need to frost them.
    I did NOT chill the dough…I justs shaped them on lightly greased parchment paper. After baking, store them with the apple in the bag and enjoy! You don’t need ANY butter in the recipe at all.

  70. Pippa

    This was the perfect amount for a small gingerbread house. I found the icing too thick to pipe, but it was perfect to roll by hand and stick the house together. I made the recipe a second time for gingerbread men and only used 1.5 cups icing sugar in the icing and it was perfect. What to do with the leftover icing? My husband decided it would make great meringue. He put spoonfuls on a tray and baked in the oven at 100 degrees celsius for half and hour – they made “meringue biscuits” and were delicious!

  71. www.bakedinmaine.com

    Great recipe!

    I like that you increased the ginger and cinnamon. We like whole-grain and used half whole wheat pastry flour.

    For my famous icing (that hardens!) I use a 1/2 teaspoon of almond and bit of corn syrup.

  72. Cindy Oakley from Indy

    My daughter and I traditionally bake sugar cookies, spritz cookies, and russian teacakes for sharing and gift-giving during the holidays. This year my daughter urged me to include gingerbread cookies in the mix. After much online searching, I decided to attempt your recipe. I am thrilled to report that these cookies will now and forever be included in our treasured recipes. We were unable to figure out how to manipulate rolled out dough to ‘Refrigerate again for 5-10 minutes to make it easier to cut out the cookies’, but they turned out beyond perfect anyway. I can’t begin to tell you how yummy they made our house smell. We doubled this recipe. After packaging several tins for gifts, and ‘testing’ many ourselves, there are less than a third of the cookies left. I highly recommend tripling this recipe if you plan to share. Have many Blessed Holidays! Thank you!

  73. Kayla

    My husband and I made these today for Christmas and they came out perfectly! I added a touch more of the spices and left out the pepper. I also cooked them for the least amount of time (8 minutes) and they came out nice and soft! LOVE this recipe!!!

  74. Kay

    Made these (along with the 1st recipe of sugar cookies…delicious!)and we all loved them! I used a little buttercream icing to lightly decorate some of them and left some undecorated. My family’s biggest complaint with desserts is that they are just too sweet. These were perfect!

    Everything I’ve made from this site has always been delicious and has gotten many compliments.

  75. Denise

    I made these cookies on Thanksgiving last year and the smell was absolutely delicious! My kids loved them and now the want me to make them for every holiday. Make them on the same day as they holiday and when you eat then nice, warm, and soft, no that is a flavorable dessert.

  76. Bryan

    Great recipe. My only thought would be that they could be a bit sweeter.
    If I made them again, I would use 3/4 cup brown sugar.
    But, they were very good.

  77. Andrea Kearney

    Hi Elise, we like to hang our gingerbread cookies on the Christmas tree. Have always used a Southern Living recipe but was never fully happy with it because the cookies are so fragile. Any suggestions for more durable cookies? Anything in particular I should look for in trying new recipes for this purpose? Many thanks for this wonderful site! Andrea

    I think there is a trade-off between durability and edibility. The first time I made gingerbread cookies from a 1972 Joy of Cooking recipe, they were tough as drywall. To make those you just need a higher ratio of flour to butter and less sugar. ~Elise

  78. Sheyanne 13 o_O

    im 13 & i want to be a baker, so i try to make cookies and stuff. I just tried to make these i thought they were good but my mom didn’t think they were cooked all the way. the icing recipe you have is to make gingerbread houses thats why it hardens so fast. Can you put the gingerbread man and woman on the same page so i can print them at the same time? Thank you!o_O

  79. Jackie

    Last Christmas, I made several of Elise’s Gingerbread Houses and they were a big hit. This year, I made these Gingerbread People Cookies, and they are just delightful! It’s very warm where I live, and even though my granite countertop is relatively cool, I always seem to have an issue with rolled doughs getting too soft so I have to use a lot of flour to roll them, and I worry that they’ll end up getting tough. These didn’t. They tasted really good and were not dry, even with the extra flour they must have absorbed during rolling. Thanks Elise! You are my go-to gal! :)

  80. Crystal

    This was my first time making Gingerbread cookies, so I was hopeful that it would turn out tasting as good as the ones I buy at the store. I live in the mountains, so high altitude was definitly a concern to me. The smell of the molasses was not my favorite and was making me a little nervous as my oldest made faces while we stirred the batter. Rolling the dough was easy (used wax paper underneath)and used a big Gingerbread boy cookie cutter. Very fun! We followed the directions exactly and they are really tasty and smell wonderful. After they came out of the oven they had puffed up slightly, but held their shape perfectly. We cant wait to decorate after they cool. Will definitly use this recipe again as I think we will make this a yearly tradition. My children loved doing this, as did I. Thank you so much!!!

  81. Terry McGuire

    Thank you, thank you for not including rediculous metric measurements in your recipes. I live in Canada, I use metric for cooking and baking and don’t understand the confusion that most recipe sites have with metric. 1 cup of anything is 250 ml of anything. Units of volume need to convert to units of volume. 1 cup of flour should never be converted to 125 grams. And there is no way I can weigh 1/2 gram of nutmeg, 1/4 teaspoon or 2ml yes.

    Thanks a metric tonne.

    Well, when it comes to baking, weighing is actually much more accurate, especially when it comes to flour. So, when I think of it, and I don’t think of it nearly enough, I do like to weigh the ingredients. Have you ever compared measuring cups? Even in the U.S. different brands of measuring cups can have wildly different volumes. Drives me nuts. ~Elise

  82. Raphaella

    Hi, I live in Italy and I would like to make gingerbread men for my little girls for Christmas but I cannot find molasses nor brown sugar. No treacle either. I don’t know what to replace the molasses with – honey? Can I use non processed sugar instead of brown sugar?

    This gingerbread man cookie recipe requires molasses. I would look for another recipe, or make sugar cookies in a gingerbread man cut-out shape. ~Elise

  83. HANNA

    i a sm sorry but this was so crumbly it was very very hard to roll it :( cookies are very dry in taste . very dissapointed :(

  84. Anju

    Thanks for the lovely cookies! I made these with my 3-year-old son today. It was the first time making gingerbread men (for both of us) and we had a blast. I ended up not using the icing and just using dried fruit for eyes/buttons.

    I made four batches out of the dough. The first two batches turned out to be too crispy because I kept them in the oven too long. I had followed the recipe’s advice about keeping them in the oven until they were crispy and that resulted in the cookies being a little bit too crispy after they had cooled down. So, for the last two batches, I took them out after 10 minutes no matter how soft they were. That worked perfectly. They hardened a little bit during the cooling process, so they were crispy but not too hard. Overall, a great recipe and one that is sure to be a Christmas staple in our family. Thanks Elise!

  85. Jorie

    Thank you for a wonderful recipe. I agree – I made the Joy of Cooking Gingerbread men a few years ago and they were inedible! (And I have the newer edition.) Though I do a lot of baking I have had a disproportionate number of gingerbread disasters. These however, were a big success! I made a double batch for my daughter’s Christmas program because she really had her heart set on gingerbread men. We decorated them together with royal icing and all the kids loved them. The smell alone I think qualifies as aromatherapy.

    I had the best luck rolling the dough on waxed paper, and baking them on parchment paper.

    Thanks for the recipe, it’s in my file now!

    (PS- I found my gingerbread man cutter at a flea market. He stands a little shorter than the template, and I got about 3.5 dozen from a single recipe).

  86. Dasha

    Just made those cookies, and loved the texture even though I messed it up a little when I added baking powder instead of baking soda first. Then I thought for a minute and added baking soda anyway. I only had a 1/4 cup brown sugar left so my men tuned out lighter than in the picture.

    I’m no expert in gingerbread but the cookies taste a little too much like pumpkin pie/bread too me. I might experiment with the spices the next time. Thanks for a good recipe!

  87. Carolina

    Hi, I just wanted to thank you for posting this amazing recipe. I made gingerbread men for this christmass and couldn’t believe how great they were! I loved the spicy and softly sweet flavor, also the texture was great.
    I replaced molasses with honey, because I ran out of it and didn’t notice until I start cooking, but it didn’t mean a problem. Also, I didn’t use black pepper and instead added an extra ginger tablespoon.
    Thanks again, I’m visiting your blog again if I need to cook something for sure!
    Greetings from Chile :)

  88. Teater

    I followed the recipe exactly (except that I did raisins, no icing). They were easy to roll out. I baked them on the softer end of the time spectrum. Spice cookies are often best the next day and this was true here. Fabulous texture. But just pretty good flavor. I love molasses cookies but these should have tasted more of ginger since they’re gingerbread and for the holidays. Next time I will bake slightly crisp (one minute more), reduce molasses and increase ginger, and press the raisins in more firmly. Otherwise great.

  89. Yentlsoup

    Although my family made over a dozen types of cookies every year at Christmas, we had no tradition of gingerbread. The last time I was asked to make gingerbread cookies, it was horrible. The dough was probably fine but the rolling and cutting was impossible.

    For this, I followed the recipe EXACTLY except for the pepper. My spice grinder finally gave up and I couldn’t get the pepper fine enough for this kind of thing. Also, for my first batch I skipped the second chilling step, and regretted it.

    For those who have not tried to make gingerbread men before, I would strongly recommend following the instructions carefully on chilling. It makes the difference between nightmare and just making tasty cookies.

  90. Tamara

    I tried this recipe tonight and it worked wonderfully! I used the royal icing recipe, which has hardened nicely on the cookies by now. So, I’m wondering about storing the cookies. Do they need to be stored in air tight containers?
    Also, I put the left over icing in the fridge in a plastic bag and I’m getting the impression that it won’t keep until tomorrow, when I hope to finish frosting them. So, I’ll probably go ahead and make an extra batch when I’m ready.
    Thanks for your help!

    I would recommend storing in an airtight container. ~Elise

  91. tobias

    I just baked an apple pie with the same dough. Thats a delicious way to use ginger bread too.

    Great idea, a gingerbread crust, thank you! ~Elise

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