Gingerbread Men Cookies | Delicious holiday cookies with brown sugar, molasses, cinnamon, ginger, and allspice. You can use this easy cookie dough to cut any shape you prefer but I like the gingerbread people the best. Try other shapes like Christmas sweaters, Christmas stockings, or reindeer. Decorate with my easy small batch Royal Icing recipe.
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These little gingerbread men cookies are so cute! And the smells in your kitchen, while they are baking, will get you into the holiday spirit if you find yourself lacking.
You can use this dough recipe to cut any shape you like. The classic gingerbread man cookie cutter is always a hit. Little deer would be really cute - or a whole woodland forest for a December baby shower. Or you could buy a sweater cookie cutter like my sister recently did for a DIY ugly Christmas sweater get-together - so fun!
This gingerbread cookie dough is easy to mix, like most cookie doughs.
Just a warning though: don't skip the chilling time!
Why refrigerate cookie dough?
When making cookie dough you often use softened, room-temperature butter because it's easiest to whip air into it. If you bake the dough right after the mixing, the butter will be soft in the dough and the heat of the oven will melt the butter faster and your cookies will spread a lot. This means that your cookies will be flat, too crispy around the edges probably, and will not keep whatever shape you cut them into.
Chilling the dough for a few hours after mixing, turns the butter back into a solid state. When the butter is very cold the heat of the oven doesn't melt it as quick and your cookies will keep their shape better.
Sometimes this can seem like an unnecessary step but chilling the dough will help your cookies stay in their proper gingerbread shape and they will bake more evenly.
About the ingredients for this recipe. See the recipe card below for exact amounts.
- basic cookie ingredients: you'll need eggs, butter, flour, baking soda, and vanilla extract. My gingerbread recipe uses brown sugar for flavor and for a softer texture.
- the gingerbread flavors: this is where things get cozy by adding molasses, ground ginger, ground cinnamon, and ground allspice for gingerbreadiness.
- for decorating: You can leave your cookies plain, I think they look great like that but if you want to decorate them like gingerbread men, then you'll need meringue powder, powdered sugar (icing sugar), and white corn syrup. Meringue powder is powdered egg white and I buy mine at Bulk Burn.
What is meringue powder?
Meringue powder is a powder made of mostly egg whites which you can use in place of raw egg whites in recipes like royal icing. Beating egg whites or meringue powder to stiff peaks with sugar creates an icing that hardens into a hard, candy-like texture, making it perfect for decorating things like cookies or gingerbread houses.
RECIPE TIP: Don't have a gingerbread man cookie cutter? Try using a stocking shape, a sweater shape, a star, or try free handing a house shape and decorate the flat cookies like gingerbread houses. You can also just cut squares or circles and decorate them with patterns, colors, or sprinkles. The Royal Icing can be colored with food gel coloring.
- Note: The dough has to chill for a few hours before baking to help preserve the shape.
1. Cream the butter and sugar together.
TIP: You can cream butter and sugar together by hand, using a bowl and a spatula (yes it will take longer), or you can use an electric hand-held mixer or stand mixer.
Make sure to cream the butter and sugar together well, until the butter turns a bit lighter in color and texture and is almost fluffy. This is important because the sugar helps beat air into the butter, making it easier to incorporate the rest of the ingredients, and also helps achieve lighter gingerbread cookies.
2. Add the molasses, egg, and vanilla extract and mix again, for about a minute or so. Scrape down the bowl, including the bottom of the bowl to incorporate all of the butter laying on the bottom. This can happen with a regular paddle on a stand mixer. To solve this, I use a scraping paddle with a rubber spatula along the side. But it helps to scrape the bottom of the bowl.
TIP: If you don't scrape the bottom of the bowl then the butter sort of hardens along the bottom and stays like that. This means when you scoop your last few cookies, the ingredients won't be fully mixed and the last few cookies will bake up a little weird.
3. Mix the dry ingredients in a separate small bowl - whisk well to make sure the spices are evenly distributed. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix well without over-mixing. You want to try to keep as much of the air in it as possible.
4. Bring the dough together and then flatten it a bit into a big disc shape. This helps when start rolling the dough. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate it for an hour or two. You can leave it overnight if you want to.
Once the dough has chilled and you're ready to bake the cookies, take the dough out of the fridge and line a baking sheet or two with parchment paper or silicone baking mats. This helps ensure your cookies won't stick.
Start by rolling the gingerbread dough with a rolling pin, on a lightly floured surface, to about a quarter of an inch thick. Lightly flour your cookie cutters and press them into the dough. Repeat this for all of the dough and then pull away the extra cookie dough. You can re-roll it and cut more cookies.
TIP: Be light with the flour, otherwise you'll incorporate too much into the dough when you re-roll it.
TIP: Brush off any extra flour with a pastry brush.
Place the cookie shapes on the lined baking sheets. Bake the cookies at 350°F (180°C).
Let the cookies cool on the baking sheet for a few minutes and then move them to a cooling rack and let them cool completely before icing them.
How to make Royal Icing
I make a quick + easy royal icing. Just add all of the icing ingredients to the bowl of a standing mixer (or you can make it with a hand mixer) and beat until stiff peaks form.
If your icing is too thin, add more powdered sugar, a little at a time, and mix. If your icing is too thick, add more water, a teaspoon at a time, and mix.
A thicker icing will be perfect for the decorations in the above photos and for outlining cookies. Make the rest of the icing just a little thinner to then flood the inside of the cookies if you want the whole cookie covered. I prefer to just outline some decorations on them.
Make sure to keep the icing covered with plastic wrap if it's in a bowl. If it's in a piping bag, wrap a wet paper towel around the piping tip, and then cover with some plastic wrap.
Royal icing dries quickly to a hard shell! Also, be sure to press any sequins or sprinkles into the icing immediately after adding the icing to your cookie.
✔ This recipe is vegetarian
> Don't like a certain spice? Try leaving it out. It might not taste like gingerbread but it'll still make a tasty cookie.
For mixing, I use a Kitchenaid Stand Mixer. To bake the cookies you'll need a baking sheet (or two) and either parchment paper or a silicone baking mat to help the cookies not stick to the baking sheet. I used a 3-inch gingerbread man cookie cutter.
More cookie recipes
Tips + FAQs
Yes you should chill your cookie dough when you want to keep the shape and height of it. Wrap the cookie dough and put it in the fridge for about an hour before rolling, cutting, and baking them.
Gingerbread Men Cookies
Gingerbread Men Cookies
Gingerbread Men Cookies
- Cream together the butter and sugar until fluffy, about 5 minutes.
- Add the molasses, egg, and vanilla. Mix again. Scrape down the bottom of the bowl to reincorporate the ingredients evenly.
- In a medium bowl, mix together dry ingredients and then add them to the wet ingredients and mix until just combined.
- Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and chill for an hour or two.
- When ready to make cookies, preheat your oven to 350°F (180°C).
- Lightly flour your counter, then roll out the dough to about a quarter inch thick, then cut out shapes with a lightly floured cookie cutter. Lightly brush off any extra flour with a pastry brush. (I use a three-inch cookie cutter and ended up with 30 cookies.)
- Place cookies an inch apart on a baking sheet lined with a silicone mat or parchment paper (I use a silicone mat). Bake for about 8-12 minutes or until cooked. (Ovens vary)
- Let cookies cool then decorate as you prefer. Enjoy!
Small Batch Royal Icing
- Combine all ingredients together in stand mixer bowl.
- Beat on medium-low for about 5-10 minutes, or until stiff peaks form. Cover immediately with plastic wrap until you are ready to use it. Keep it covered with plastic wrap or a damp kitchen towel - it dries out and hardens very easily.The icing can be separated and colored with food gel coloring. Keep the icing thicker to pipe outlines and faces, and thin it out a little to flood larger areas of the cookie.
- I used a three-inch cookie cutter and ended up with 30 cookies.
Nutritional information is an estimate. Values vary based on products used.
Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, meaning I get a commission if you decide to purchase through my link, at no extra cost to you.
This post was originally published on December 14, 2017, and updated on December 13, 2022, to provide cleared information and nutritional information.
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