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These gingerbread cookies are soft, chewy, and deliciously spiced. They’re fun, easy to make, and ready to be decorated for the holidays!

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Gingerbread Cookies

These gingerbread cookies may look like people, but they’re ready to be the stars of your holiday gathering! 

In my opinion, gingerbread men are not supposed to be hard, and I meant that literally and figuratively.

These festive gingerbread cookies are soft and chewy, not crispy and stiff. They’re absolutely perfect with your favorite cozy Christmas drinks. 😋

gingerbread men cookies

They’re also not “hard” to make because the recipe is straightforward.

You’ll have fun making these easy gingerbread bread cookies from start to finish! 

I’ve even shared some decorating ideas for the cutest snackable gingerbread men. 

What Are Gingerbread Cookies?

Gingerbread cookies are the quintessential Christmas cookies. What other dessert can instantly remind you of the holidays just by its aroma? 

A quick peek into gingerbread’s history will bring us back to Greece in 2400 BC. But for the distinct shape of the cookie, we can credit Queen Elizabeth I.

She served visiting dignitaries with gingerbread versions of themselves! 

But how did gingerbread become a Christmas tradition?

What Are Gingerbread Cookies

The short answer is that the treat may have become popular during the holidays because of its spices, which were believed to help warm you up in the winter.

By the way, this easy recipe yields soft gingerbread cookies. 

They’re not hard and crunchy, which might be perfect for building gingerbread houses, but let’s be honest, soft and chewy cookies are more fun for munching. 🤤

These cookies are also nicely spiced with the perfect sweetness from brown sugar and molasses. 

Just follow this easy gingerbread man recipe, and you can be assured that you’ll have fun making the Christmas desserts as much as you’ll enjoy eating them.

Why You’ll Love This Soft Gingerbread Cookie Recipe

  • Nostalgic and Comforting: The aroma and warm, sweet flavor of these soft gingerbread men cookies will make the chilly season cozy and cheery. Delight your holiday crowd with nostalgic feelings from the classic Christmas treat. 
  • Perfect for Make-Ahead: Have a stress-free Christmas dinner and make these gingerbread people cookies in advance! They store well, and you don’t need to worry about their quality suffering as you focus on other holiday dishes. 
  • Can Be For Christmas Bonding: The best thing about homemade gingerbread men is the decorating! Treat loved ones to a sweet memory by having a cookie decorating party.

What Do Gingerbread Man Cookies Taste Like?

These chewy gingerbread cookies taste spicy from the cozy winter spices and sweet, like burnt sugar, from the molasses. 

We all know that gingerbread cookies got their signature flavor from molasses. However, I suggest using unsulphured molasses.

What Do Gingerbread Man Cookies Taste Like

Though of course, no one will arrest you if you use blackstrap molasses. Some prefer its stronger flavor!

But if you want gingerbread men that will barely make it to the dessert table (because once the warm aroma flows throughout the house, everyone in the vicinity will likely steal a piece! 😅), you can’t go wrong with the less bitter unsulphured molasses.

Ingredients For Gingerbread Men Cookies

  • Light brown sugar – Brown sugar is made with molasses, and its caramel-like flavor fits the flavors of gingerbread cookies.
  • Unsalted butter – Make sure you’re using real butter and not margarine! It helps with the soft texture and rich flavor of the cookies.
  • Egg – Use room temperature eggs for easier incorporation with the rest of the ingredients.
  • Apple cider vinegar – Don’t worry! Your gingerbread men won’t taste like vinegar. However, this is an important ingredient to achieve the delightful soft texture of the cookies. 
  • Molasses – Use unsulphured molasses as blackstrap molasses can taste intense for desserts.
  • Vanilla extract – Add a bit of vanilla to your gingerbread man cookies to give them depth of flavor.
  • All-purpose flour – You only need regular all-purpose flour!
  • Baking soda – To get the perfect rise on the cookies!
  • Salt – This will enhance the delicious flavor of the gingerbread men cookies.
  • Ground ginger – A fitting spice to have on “gingerbread” cookies. But if you loathe them (*quietly raises hand), you can always lessen or omit them. 
  • Ground cinnamon – Any winter baked good deserves cinnamon. 
  • Ground cloves – Enhances the aroma and provide a hot, sweet flavor to the cookies.
  • Ground allspice – In my opinion, any dessert that uses cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg will always have a space for the spice blend allspice. 
  • Ground nutmeg – Nutmeg tastes like Christmas. Need I say more?

Tools Needed To Prepare Gingerbread People Cookies

Ingredient Additions & Substitutions For Chewy Gingerbread Cookies

Is molasses important in gingerbread cookies?

Yes, molasses is important in gingerbread cookies because it gives them their signature flavor and texture. But if you don’t have molasses, you can always use dark honey

Is gingerbread spice the same as pumpkin spice?

Gingerbread spice and pumpkin spice have similar spices, but the former tastes more like ginger versus the latter which has a stronger cinnamon flavor.

But anyway, if you already have pumpkin spice in your kitchen, feel free to use it in this recipe!

However, I would add more ground ginger and clove to get that authentic gingerbread flavor.

What do you decorate gingerbread cookies with?

Decorate your gingerbread men with jelly beans and peppermint candies inspired by the season’s colors!

If you really want to be creative, you can also cut mini marshmallows, dip the sticky side on candy sprinkles, and use them as trousers on the gingerbread man cookies (you can glue them with royal icing.)

For gingerbread ladies, you can use spice drops and candy belts to form their dresses.

How to Make Gingerbread Cookies from Scratch

Ingredients:

Tools you need:

Instructions:

STEP 1: Gather and measure the ingredients for your gingerbread cookies.

ingredients for gingerbread cookies

STEP 2: Beat brown sugar and butter on medium-high.

step 2 gingerbread cookies

STEP 3: Add the egg, vinegar, molasses, and vanilla extract and mix on medium-low until combined.

step 3a gingerbread cookies
step 3b gingerbread cookies

STEP 4: In a separate mixing bowl, combine the dry ingredients. Then, add them to the wet mixture and mix on low to form the dough. Do not overmix.

step 4a gingerbread cookies
step 4b gingerbread cookies

STEP 5: Divide the dough in two and wrap each half in plastic wrap. Flatten them into discs and chill for 3 hours.

STEP 6: Preheat the oven to 350°F. Dust your work surface with flour.

STEP 7: Line the baking sheets with parchment paper.

STEP 8: Roll out each piece of dough until about 1/4-inch thick on the floured surface, then cut into gingerbread men. You can also re-roll the dough scraps. We won’t let anything go to waste in this gingerbread cookie recipe!

step 8 gingerbread cookies

STEP 9: Arrange the gingerbread cookies an inch apart on the prepared baking sheets.

step 9 gingerbread cookies

STEP 10: Bake the gingerbread cookies for 6 to 14 minutes, depending on their sizes. Medium-sized gingerbread men usually take around 8 to 10 minutes to finish baking.

STEP 11: So, how do you know when gingerbread cookies are done? Touch the center of a cookie gently. If it springs back, the cookies are done.

STEP 12: Allow the gingerbread cookies to cool on the sheet for a few minutes, then transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely.

step 12 gingerbread cookies

STEP 13: You can use an icing mix or try the 3-ingredient royal icing recipe we’ve included to decorate the cooled gingerbread cookies. Have fun!

step 13a gingerbread cookies
step 13b gingerbread cookies

What To Serve With These Soft and Chewy Gingerbread Cookies

Ah, soft and chewy gingerbread cookies. 

They’re delicious plain AND dressed up! Serve the holiday treats dipped in melted chocolate, or simply enjoy them as they are with a glass of milk. 

You can also arrange the gingerbread cookies with fresh fruits like pineapple, strawberries, grapes, and melon wedges. 😋

What To Serve With These Soft and Chewy Gingerbread Cookies

Other than Halloween, Christmas is definitely one of the sweetest holidays. Why not prepare a feast that’ll make every sweet tooth merrier?

Your eyes and taste buds will love our super cute and tasty Christmas muffins and white chocolate-dipped cookies! Arrange them alongside these gingerbread cookies for a festive dessert table.

Tips About Making This Easy Gingerbread Cookie Recipe

  • Mix the ingredients just until combined. Remember that overmixing can yield tough gingerbread cookies!
  • It’s important to chill the dough for at least 3 hours. You’ll be rewarded with a more manageable dough, cookies that won’t spread too much, and deeper flavors from the spices.
  • Roll out the dough until it’s about 1/4 inch thick for soft gingerbread men. Feel free to add more flour to the surface since the dough can be sticky. 

How to Store Gingerbread Cookies

These gingerbread cookies are excellent make-ahead desserts, and even the leftovers store nicely!

  • Fridge: The gingerbread cookie dough will store in the fridge for up to 4 days, which means you can prepare it in advance for the holidays.
  • Freezer: You can freeze the dough for this gingerbread cookie recipe to have it ready to go (after thawing in the fridge overnight, of course) for easy entertaining! Wrap it in plastic and freeze in a freezer-safe container for up to 3 months. And if you plan on freezing baked cookies, do not decorate them yet! Stack them in the container with parchment paper separating each layer.
  • Leftovers: These soft gingerbread cookies can keep in the counter for a week or two. 
How to Store Gingerbread Cookies

How to Make Icing for Gingerbread Cookies

The best, if not the easiest, way to decorate these chewy gingerbread cookies is with royal icing. Just grab an egg white, a cup of sifted icing sugar, and liquid food coloring, depending on the design you plan on making. 

Beat the egg white until soft peaks form, then slowly add the sugar.

Continue mixing until stiff peaks form, then stir in the food coloring. 

Don’t forget to let the cookies cool down before decorating them!

gingerbread man cookies

What to Do with Leftover Gingerbread Cookies

From one sweet tooth to another, let me tell you that leftover gingerbread cookies can turn into two more desserts. 

First, you can crush the gingerbread cookies and use that “powder” to make truffles!

Combine it with room-temperature cream cheese, shape the “dough” into balls, and coat them in cocoa powder and sugar. 😋

Second, why not make a gingerbread cookie crust?

Crush the cookies into gingerbread crumbs, combine them with melted butter, press the mixture in a pie pan, and bake for 10 minutes in the oven preheated to 350°F.

I think this gingerbread cookie crust will be perfect in this no-bake pumpkin cheesecake recipe!

FAQ About Gingerbread Cookies

How long do gingerbread cookies last?

You don’t need to refrigerate gingerbread cookies! They can last on the counter in an airtight container for a week or two.

Can you freeze gingerbread cookies?

Yes, you can freeze both the dough and baked gingerbread cookies. The cookies can be frozen for up to 3 months.

What is the main ingredient in gingerbread cookies?

The main ingredient in gingerbread cookies is molasses. Together with the spices, the “smoky” sweetness of molasses gives the cookies their signature flavor.

How to know when gingerbread cookies are done?

Because of their dark color, it can be hard to know if the gingerbread cookies are done. Press the surface of a cookie gently, and if it’s dry but soft and springs back, the gingerbread men are good to go.

Why can’t I find Little Debbie gingerbread cookies?

You should be able to find Little Debbie gingerbread cookies in stores because they’re available year-round per their website’s snack finder.

Easy Soft Gingerbread Cookies

Gingerbread Cookies

Yield: 45 medium-sized gingerbread men
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Additional Time: 3 hours
Total Time: 3 hours 25 minutes

These gingerbread cookies are soft, chewy, and deliciously spiced. They're fun, easy to make, and ready to be decorated for the holidays!

Instructions

  1. Gather and measure the ingredients for your gingerbread cookies. 
  2. Beat brown sugar and butter on medium-high.
  3. Add the egg, vinegar, molasses, and vanilla extract and mix on medium-low until combined.
  4. In a separate bowl, combine the dry ingredients. Then, add them to the wet mixture and mix on low to form the dough. Do not overmix. 
  5. Divide the dough in two and wrap each half in plastic wrap. Flatten them into discs and chill for 3 hours.
  6. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Dust your work surface with flour. 
  7. Line the baking sheets with parchment paper. 
  8. Roll out each dough until about 1/4-inch thick, then cut into gingerbread men. You can also re-roll the dough scraps. We won't let anything go to waste in this gingerbread cookie recipe!
  9. Arrange the gingerbread cookies an inch apart on the lined sheets. 
  10. Bake the gingerbread cookies for 6 to 14 minutes, depending on their sizes. Medium-sized gingerbread men usually take around 8 to 10 minutes to finish baking. 
  11. So, how do you know when gingerbread cookies are done? Touch the center of a cookie gently. If it springs back, the cookies are done.  
  12. Allow the gingerbread cookies to cool on the sheet for a few minutes, then transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely.
  13. You can use an icing mix or try the 3-ingredient royal icing recipe we've included to decorate the cooled gingerbread cookies. Have fun!

Notes

  • Do not overmix the dough or the cookies might turn out dry and tough! Just mix until the ingredients are fully combined.
  • Chill the gingerbread cookie dough for at least 3 hours, or much better, overnight. This step is important so the dough will be more manageable, the cookies won't spread too much, and the flavors from the spices will have more time to deepen. 
  • Remember to roll out the dough until it's about 1/4 inch thick so the cookies will turn out nice and soft. The cookie dough can be sticky, so add more flour to the surface as needed.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 45 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 38Total Fat: 4gSaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 15mgSodium: 2mgCarbohydrates: 0gFiber: 0gSugar: 0gProtein: 0g

* Please note that all nutrition information are just estimates. Values will vary among brands, so we encourage you to calculate these on your own for the most accurate results.

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Conclusion

Make these soft gingerbread cookies part of your holiday tradition!

They’re perfectly sweet and spicy, and you’ll enjoy making them as much as decorating and eating them. 

You can also refrigerate and freeze the gingerbread cookie dough for make-ahead Christmas desserts!

Next time you’ve grown weary of pumpkin flavors from fall, why not welcome the colder season with gingerbread spices and the smoky sweetness of molasses?

soft gingerbread cookies

Treat your loved ones with sweet treats like Christmas cookies! Or, if you’re hosting for the holidays, you can set up the most amazing table with these:

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