Gingerbread cookies are a quintessential Christmas sweet. This recipe can be made in a molasses or honey-molasses version, and also makes a terrific crust for festive cheesecakes or pies. We still think that the best way to enjoy them is when they’re dressed in icing!
These gingerbread cookies give you (and your kids) the option between a darker hue and a pronounced molasses flavor and a lighter-colored honey gingerbread cookies (see the variation in the FAQs) with a pale appearance and a sweeter taste. Either way, the stirring and rolling and cutting are a terrific afternoon distraction for you and the kids.—Renee Schettler
Gingerbread Cookies FAQs
Can I make gingerbread cookies with less molasses?
There is a variation for those of you who may want something with a less robust flavor. This version includes a generous amount of honey in place of some of the molasses, which gives them a pale golden color and a mildly sweet flavor. To make this variation, substitute an equal amount of granulated sugar for the brown sugar and use 1/2 cup honey and 1/4 cup molasses in place of the 3/4 cup molasses.
What else can I do with this dough?
In addition to having a commanding presence as Christmas cookies, these gentlemanly little gingerbread cookies also dress up all manner of desserts, including cheesecake, pudding, mousse, and more. They even work in place of graham crackers in the crust for our Gingerbread Cheesecake.
- 2-inch cookie cutter (a gingerbread man is traditional)
- 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour plus more for the work surface
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons ground ginger
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 3/4 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- 1 stick unsalted butter at room temperature
- 1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
- 1 large egg
- 3/4 cup unsulphured molasses
- Royal Icing for decorating (optional)
- In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg.
- In a or a bowl with an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat the butter and brown sugar until fluffy. Add the egg, beating well. Beat in the molasses.
- Reduce the speed to low. Gradually add the flour mixture and beat just until combined. Divide the dough into 2 portions and wrap each in plastic wrap or tuck in a resealable plastic bag. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour. (You can instead freeze the dough for up to 1 month and let it thaw in the fridge overnight.)
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a couple of baking sheets with parchment or Silpat.
- On a generously floured piece of parchment paper, roll each portion of the dough to a scant 1/4 inch thick or even thinner since the cookies will puff during baking. Freeze for 15 minutes.
- Cut out the gingerbread men (or other shapes) with a 2-inch cookie cutter.
- Using a spatula, carefully move the cookies to the parchment-lined baking sheets and freeze for 15 minutes.
- Bake the cookies for 6 minutes. Remove the sheets from the oven and firmly tap the bottom of the baking sheet on the counter. Rotate the sheets 180 degrees and return them to the oven until the gingerbread cookies are crisp at the edges, 6 to 8 minutes. Transfer the baking sheets to wire racks to cool completely.
- If desired, pipe a face and buttons and whatever else you choose onto the gingerbread cookies with royal icing.
Recipe Testers’ Reviews
I made the honey version of these gingerbread cookies. They were beautifully light. I used half the dough to make the Gingerbread Cheesecake recipe on the site, which requires the dough to be rolled quite thinly. The dough actually puffed up and expanded quite a bit, so when I used the rest of the dough to make individual cookies, I rolled it a bit thinner.
The cookie dough was very moist, almost too moist—it was so sticky that it was hard to cut more than 2 cookies without returning the dough to the freezer to firm up again. I used a small 2-inch cookie cutter but the cookies baked up larger. I also had enough dough to make small hearts and I used those on the cheesecake. The cookies were quite tasty on their own and were also great in the crust.
Originally published November 14, 2014