Molasses, brown sugar, and warming spices flavor these soft gingerbread cookies. Top them with icing or enjoy plain for a holiday treat everyone will love!
Dry, crunchy, crispy, overspiced — these are all the things I don’t want gingerbread cookies to be.
Instead, I prefer my gingerbread cutout cookies to be ultra soft in the middle and slightly chewy around the edges, with a warm flavor that’s not too potent. These homemade gingerbread cookies are exactly that!
This is an easy recipe that can be used to make gingerbread cookies of all shapes and sizes. You’ll need to adjust the baking time to accommodate the size of your cookies, but I’ve provided a bake time range in the recipe card to minimize the guesswork on your part.
These gingerbread cookies are delicious iced, plain, or dusted with powdered sugar. Decorate them as simply or festively as you wish!
Ingredients for Gingerbread Cookies
This is a soft gingerbread recipe that’s made with basic ingredients. I iced my cookies, but you may leave the icing off if you wish. Let’s quickly review the ingredients you’ll need to make pillowy soft gingerbread cookies:
- All-purpose flour: This recipe makes roughly 30 to 32 cookies, so you’ll need 4 cups of flour to create the dough. Be sure to spoon and level the flour to measure it, rather than scooping it straight from the bag.
- Baking powder & baking soda: To create soft cookies, you’ll need to add both baking powder and baking soda to the dough.
- Spices: This recipe uses a combination of ground cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and nutmeg. There’s over a tablespoon of ground cinnamon and one tablespoon of ground ginger in these cookies, and I promise it’s not a mistake! The extra spices add so much flavor to these cookies.
- Butter: Set the butter out on the counter about an hour before you plan on making the cookies. The butter needs to be softened to room temperature before beginning the recipe.
- Brown sugar: You may use either light or dark brown sugar to make this recipe. If you’ve run out, you can make your own brown sugar substitute in about 5 minutes.
- Molasses: This ingredient also sweetens the cookie dough and adds flavor.
- Egg & egg yolk: The egg helps bind the cookie dough together and the extra egg yolk creates super soft gingerbread cookies! Make sure your eggs are at room temperature before getting started, too.
- Vanilla extract: Two teaspoons of vanilla flavor the dough and complement the warming spices so beautifully.
How to Make Soft Gingerbread Cookies
These are incredibly easy gingerbread cookies to make, but you do need to chill the dough for 2 hours prior to cutting out and baking the cookies. Do not skip the chill time, otherwise the cookies will spread significantly in the oven and will lose their soft texture.
- Combine the dry ingredients: Whisk together the flour, spices, baking powder, and baking soda in a large bowl. Set the mixture aside for now.
- Combine the wet ingredients: You’ll first need to beat the softened butter until smooth, then add the brown sugar and beat for another minute. To the butter mixture, add the egg and egg yolk, vanilla, and molasses. The mixture will look a little curdled once you mix the wet ingredients together, but this is normal!
- Add the dry ingredients to the wet: I recommend adding the dry ingredients in two batches. This helps prevent the cookie dough from being overworked.
- Roll out the dough: Divide the dough in half, sprinkle with a little flour, then roll out each ball of dough between two layers of parchment paper. Gingerbread cookie dough can be a little sticky to work with, so don’t be afraid to use extra flour as you’re rolling it out.
- Chill the dough: Place the rolled out layers of cookie dough onto a baking tray and refrigerate for at least 2 hours. This will give the butter in the dough time to firm up and prevent your cookies from spreading too much as they’re baking.
- Cut out the cookies: Once chilled, remove the top layer of parchment paper from each piece of dough. Then, use your cookie cutter(s) of choice to cut out the cookies. Re-roll the dough scraps as needed to cut out additional cookies. Don’t let any of the dough go to waste!
- Bake the cookies: Depending on the size of your cookies, they’ll need to bake for 8 to 12 minutes. You’ll know they’re ready to come out of the oven once the tops are set.
- Cool completely: Let the cookies cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to finish cooling.
- Ice the cookies: I piped my favorite sugar cookie icing onto the cookies to create smiling gingerbread people.
Frequently Asked Questions
Which molasses is best?
I recommend using a regular unsulphered molasses to make these cookies, I personally love Grandma’s molasses. I don’t recommend using blackstrap molasses because it’s incredibly bitter and won’t work for this recipe.
How long will gingerbread cookies last?
Soft gingerbread cookies with icing will last up to one week if stored in an airtight container at room temperature.
Can these cookies be frozen?
The baked cookies can be frozen once they have cooled completely. You can either freeze the cookies with or without the icing for 2 to 3 months. If you do freeze them with the icing, just be sure to wait until it has fully hardened.
The cookie dough can also be frozen and rolled out later, if desired. Raw cookie dough will freeze well for up to three months, just be sure to wrap it tightly with plastic wrap.
Why did my gingerbread cookies spread?
If you find that your cookies are spreading in the oven, it’s likely because the butter in the dough is too warm. If your cookie dough feels soft after you’ve cut out your shapes, refrigerate the cut out dough on the baking sheets for 20 to 30 minutes, then bake them as directed.
- I used a gingerbread cookie cutter that’s 3.5 inches long and 2.75 inches across to make my cookies and baked them for 9 minutes.
- This recipe calls for more than one tablespoon of ground cinnamon and an entire tablespoon of ground ginger. Neither measurement is a typo; you need lots of spices to flavor the four cups of flour called for in this recipe!
- This dough can be a little bit sticky, so don’t be afraid to add some flour as you’re rolling it out.
- If you’re having trouble getting the cut out cookies onto your baking sheet, lightly flour a thin spatula, slide it under the cut out cookies, and carefully transfer onto your baking sheets.
- Gingerbread cutout cookies keep well at room temperature, so consider making a batch ahead of time to decorate a day or two later if you don’t have enough time to do it all in one sitting.
More Classic Christmas Cookies to Make!
- No-Bake Cookies
- Chocolate Crinkle Cookies
- Soft Molasses Cookies
- Cut-Out Sugar Cookies
- Snowball Cookies
If you want to see a simple tutorial on how to make these cookies, you can watch the video below!
- 4 cups all-purpose flour spooned and leveled (500 grams)
- 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- 1 ½ tablespoons ground cinnamon
- 1 tablespoon ground ginger
- 1 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¾ cup unsalted butter, softened (170 grams; 1 ½ sticks)
- ¾ cup packed light or dark brown sugar (150 grams)
- ¾ cup unsulphured molasses (230 grams)
- 1 large egg at room temperature
- 1 large egg yolk at room temperature
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- Easy Sugar Cookie Icing for decorating
- In a large mixing bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, nutmeg, and salt together until well combined. Set aside.
- In a bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or using a handheld mixer, beat the butter until smooth. Add the brown sugar and mix for another 1 to 2 minutes or until well combined.
- Mix in the molasses, egg, egg yolk, and vanilla extract until fully combined, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.
- Add half of the dry ingredients and mix on low speed, then mix in the remaining half of the dry ingredients until just combined.
- Divide the dough in half. Place half of the dough onto a large piece of parchment paper sprinkled with flour. Flatten the dough slightly with the palm of your hand, sprinkle the top with more flour, then place another large piece of parchment paper on top. The dough will be a little sticky, so don’t be afraid to use a little extra flour if needed. Use a rolling pin to roll the dough to ¼-inch thick, between the parchment paper.
- Repeat with the remaining half of the cookie dough between two more pieces of parchment paper. Place both sheets of cookie dough on a baking sheet and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
- Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C) and line two to three large baking sheets with parchment paper.
- Remove the cookie dough from the fridge, then remove the top layer of the parchment paper and cut into shapes (I used a gingerbread cookie cutter that was 3.5 inches long and 2.75 inches across). Place 2 inches apart on the parchment-lined baking sheets. If you're having trouble getting the cut out cookies onto your baking sheet, lightly flour a thin spatula, slide it under the cut out cookies, and carefully transfer onto your baking sheets. Re-roll any scrap pieces of cookie dough to cut out more cookies, flouring the surface and top of the dough as needed. Repeat with the other half of the cookie dough.
- Bake cookies for 8 to 12 minutes or until the tops of the cookies are set. Baking time will vary depending on the size of your cookies. I typically bake mine for 9 minutes for a softer cookie.
- Allow the cookies to cool on the baking sheets for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
- Decorate with easy sugar cookie icing, if desired.