Gingerbread Men

Tested & Perfected Recipes

These festive gingerbread men are easy to make, and they taste as wonderful as they look.

gingerbread men

I love to decorate holiday cookies. Once I get started, I can get into “the zone” for hours, happily wielding colorful icing bags and sparkly candies to create everything from dapper gingerbread men to ornate snowflakes. The challenge with iced holiday cookies is that, usually, the prettier a cookie is, the worse it tastes — and gingerbread cookies are the worst offenders! But that’s not the case with these adorable gingerbread men. Flavored with molasses, ginger and warm spices, and endowed with a crisp-outside/soft-inside texture, they taste as wonderful as they look.

What you’ll need to make Gingerbread men

gingerbread men ingredients

Step-by-Step Instructions

To begin, combine the flour, baking soda, salt, ginger, cinnamon, allspice, cloves, and black pepper in a medium bowl.

dry-ingredients-gingerbread-men

Whisk to combine.

whisked dry ingredients

Combine the butter and sugars in the bowl of an electric mixer.

butter and sugars in bowl

Beat until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.

creaming butter and sugars

Beat in the egg and molasses.

beating in egg and molasses

Add the flour mixture and mix until combined.

adding the flour mixture

The dough will be quite sticky.

sticky gingerbread cookie dough

Divide the dough into two discs, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate for at least one hour or up to a few days.

discs of gingerbread cookie dough

Remove the dough from the refrigerator and place on a lightly floured work surface. Dust more flour over the dough. Using a rolling pin, roll out the dough to about 1/8-inch thick, turning and adding more flour under and over the dough as necessary.

cutting gingerbread men

Cut out shapes with a cookie cutter and transfer to parchment-lined baking sheets.

gingerbread men ready to bake

Bake the cookies, rotating the sheets from top to bottom and front to back midway through, for 8 to 10 minutes or until they feel firm. Let the cookies cool on the baking sheets for several minutes, or until set, then transfer to a rack to cool completely.

gingerbread men cooling on rack

Use royal icing or store-bought icing to decorate the cookies.

decorating gingerbread cookies

Let the icing set, then enjoy!

gingerbread-men-1

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Gingerbread Men

These festive gingerbread men are easy to make, and they taste as wonderful as they look.

Servings: About 45 cookies
Prep Time: 30 Minutes
Cook Time: 20 Minutes
Total Time: 50 Minutes, plus at least 1 hour to chill the dough and time to ice the cookies

Ingredients

  • 2-3/4 cups all purpose flour, spooned into measuring cup and leveled-off
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • Heaping 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1-1/2 sticks (12 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons packed dark brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 6 tablespoons molasses, such as Grandma's Original
  • Royal icing or store-bought icing, for decorating

Instructions

  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, ginger, cinnamon, allspice, cloves, and black pepper.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or beaters, beat the butter and sugars on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Beat in the egg and molasses.
  3. Add the flour mixture and mix on low speed until combined. Divide the dough in half and shape into two discs. Wrap the discs in plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator until firm, at least 1 hour or up to three days.
  4. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350°F ; set two racks near the middle of the oven. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
  5. Remove the dough from the refrigerator. (If the dough has been in the fridge for longer than an hour, you'll need to let it sit out at room temperature for 10 to 15 minutes and knead it briefly until it is supple enough to roll.) Place the dough on a lightly floured work surface. Dust more flour over the dough. Roll, turning and adding more flour under and over the dough as necessary, to about 1/8-inch thick (or for softer cookies, roll to 1/4-inch thick). Cut out shapes with a cookie cutter and transfer the cookies to the prepared baking sheets, using a spatula if necessary. Gather the dough scraps and knead into a ball, then roll out and cut again, adding more flour as necessary. Repeat until scraps are used up.
  6. Bake the cookies, rotating the sheets from top to bottom and front to back midway through, for 8 to 10 minutes or until they feel firm. Let the cookies cool on the baking sheets for several minutes until set, then transfer to a rack to cool completely. Repeat with the remaining dough.
  7. When the cookies are completely cool, decorate with icing. Let the icing set completely, a few hours, then store in an airtight container.
  8. Freezer-Friendly Instructions: The Cookie Dough can be Frozen for up to 3 Months: Shape the dough into 2 discs, wrap each securely in plastic wrap, and place them in a sealable bag. When ready to bake, remove the disks from the freezer, thaw the dough until pliable, and then proceed with recipe. To Freeze After Baking: Let the cookies cool completely and store in an airtight container separating layers with parchment paper or aluminum foil. Before serving, remove the cookies from the container and let them come to room temperature.

Nutrition Information

Powered by Edamam

  • Serving size: 1 cookie without icing
  • Calories: 78
  • Fat: 3 g
  • Saturated fat: 2 g
  • Carbohydrates: 11 g
  • Sugar: 6 g
  • Fiber: 0 g
  • Protein: 1 g
  • Sodium: 73 mg
  • Cholesterol: 12 mg

This website is written and produced for informational purposes only. I am not a certified nutritionist and the nutritional data on this site has not been evaluated or approved by a nutritionist or the Food and Drug Administration. Nutritional information is offered as a courtesy and should not be construed as a guarantee. The data is calculated through an online nutritional calculator, Edamam.com. Although I do my best to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures should be considered estimates only. Varying factors such as product types or brands purchased, natural fluctuations in fresh produce, and the way ingredients are processed change the effective nutritional information in any given recipe. Furthermore, different online calculators provide different results depending on their own nutrition fact sources and algorithms. To obtain the most accurate nutritional information in a given recipe, you should calculate the nutritional information with the actual ingredients used in your recipe, using your preferred nutrition calculator.

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Reviews & Comments

  • This dough was very easy to mix up and even easier to roll out and cut out shapes with. I heard on a podcast recently about a baker saying she always doubled the spices in any gingerbread cookie dough recipe she tries and I think I will try that next time. This was ginerbread-y but I wanted it even more intense! I used Jen’s royal icing recipe to decorate these cookies with my nieces and I think some more spice would compete with the icing a little better.

    • — Adriana L on January 31, 2021
    • Reply
  • I made these at Christmas. Except I made gingerbread lobsters. They were cute! The dough is a good consistency for rolling out and working with.

    • — karen c on January 30, 2021
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  • Our family made these cookies for the first time during our quarantined holidays this last year, and they were SO good, I immediately wanted to make another batch. Super moist even a few days in. We used ninja cookie cutters for extra fun.

    • — Agnes on January 28, 2021
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  • Made these ones yesterday, my first ever Gingerbread cookies!
    Our kids are grown up so a round cookie cutter made the trick and I made them pretty thick, half inch tall… Can’t event tell you how amazingly delicious and soft these came out the oven…
    Love them and love the recipe, so clear and precise!

    • — Lorena on January 28, 2021
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  • I tried this recipe this past Christmas. It is delicious – but very tender. I normally make a hole in my gingerbread men and thread them to hang up on the tree (then the kids and I eat them all the way through to Christmas – if they last that long!) But this recipe is so tender that the threads just cut through once I hung them up. Oh well, still tasty!

    • — CY G on January 28, 2021
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  • These came out so great. Perfectly cooked, moist, and just the right amount of spice. Love these!

    • — Christine Allen on January 28, 2021
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  • I haven’t made this cookie since I was a teen. Love gingerbread and wanted to get back to childhood feelings of warmth and memories this year in particular…
    The recipe was great, easy to follow and most importantly delicious. My home, oh the smell… wonderful!

    • — Laura Osborne on January 28, 2021
    • Reply
  • I made these gingerbread cookies in December and they were amazing. I have made many gingerbread cookies over the years and have not found a recipe as good as these. They are crisp which is how I prefer them and have a wonderful ginger taste. My grandkids also agreed that they were delicious. This recipe is a keeper!

    • — Joanne Thayer on January 28, 2021
    • Reply
  • I made these for Christmas and my kids loved them so much that the oldest asked for gingerbread men for his birthday. I love all of the recipes I have made of yours and can’t wait to try even more.

    • — Sharon Gagnon on January 28, 2021
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  • Made gingerbread men for my grandchildren at xmas. Triplets! All three loved them which is unusual to have all agree! I am planning on using same recipe for valentines in heart shape. Also i got your recipe book as a gift and love it!

    • — Corinne Severn on January 28, 2021
    • Reply
  • This is my absolute favorite cookie to make during the holidays! It always gets rave reviews from my coworkers during our cookie exchange. It’s the perfect gingerbread recipe, and the cookies turn out incredibly soft with just the right amount of ginger and molasses. I usually decorate a handful of these cookies upside down, using icing to create a cute Rudolph with a red M&M nose. Highly recommend! 🙂

    • — Rachel Rudolph on January 28, 2021
    • Reply
  • Love all of your recipes but especially the baked goods recipes. These gingerbread men were easy to make and had the right balance of chewy and crispy – texture is so important! The flavour was great, too. Spicy yet smooth…everyone loved them!

    • — michele on January 28, 2021
    • Reply
  • This was a delicious recipe with just the right amount of spice and tenderness, and dough easy to work with. My new favorite!

    • — Emily B on January 28, 2021
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  • My new go-to! I made this recipe during Christmas this year, and it was a huge hit. My family kept talking about how great these cookies turned out. Soft and spicy and held their basic shape during baking. Will definitely be making again!

    • — Sarah on January 28, 2021
    • Reply
  • Muy buena receta !!! Las galletas quedaron exquisitas, lo único que hice distinto fue estirar la masa entre dos trozos de plástico para que no se pegaran y no tener que agregar harina. También la estiré entre dos piezas de madera (sticks)para que tuviesen el mismo grosor. Muy ricas las galletas, RECOMENDADA!

    • — Grace on January 28, 2021
    • Reply
  • Made these gingerbread cookies tonight with my child… They turned out PERFECTLY – slightly crisp on the outside and tender on the inside (not rock hard like some gingerbread cookie recipes). Make sure you roll the dough out to 1/8 inch thickness for perfect texture cookies. We had fun decorating them too. 🙂

    • — Ann on December 24, 2020
    • Reply
  • Thanks Jen! Once again, you provided a delicious, easy to follow recipe! I followed your advice to knead the dough after taking it out of the refrigerator and had no issues with cracking or dryness. These rolled out beautifully and kept their crisp cutout shape when baked. Perfect flavor and texture (crisp on edge, soft in the middle).

    • — Leslie E on December 22, 2020
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  • Hi Jenn,
    I have never found a good way to decorate gingerbread cookies. Will you give any tips? Especially the scarves on the gingerbread men! Merry Christmas and thank you for such great recipes all year long!

    Dot🎄

    • — Dot on December 22, 2020
    • Reply
    • Hi Dot, That’s a great suggestion. I’ll try to do a tutorial in time for the holidays next year. 🙂

      • — Jenn on December 23, 2020
      • Reply
  • Is there any substitute for molasses? I can’t find it where I live in Europe. By the way, if you are interested I have a recipe from a Swedish girl friend also for this type of cookie (also with molasses) that I’d be glad to email you if you want. Thank you, Susie

    • — Susie on December 22, 2020
    • Reply
    • Hi Susie, unfortunately, there’s no perfect substitute for molasses. You could use maple syrup or honey instead but the cookies won’t have that traditional gingerbread taste. And sure, I’d love to take a look at the recipe! Feel free to email me with it – thanks! 🙂

      • — Jenn on December 22, 2020
      • Reply
  • I made these with my daughter last night and they were fabulous! Ours were soft with a little bit of crunch and very tasty. This is a keeper!

    • — Barbara on December 20, 2020
    • Reply
  • My first crack at gingerbread peeps; they are delicious! (As are all the recipes here.) They were a little more spread-y than I expected when baked though… maybe a smidge too much molasses or baking soda? Either way, yum!

    • — Evan on December 19, 2020
    • Reply
    • Maybe you didn’t chill it long enough? I think chilling the dough prevents it from spreading too much

      • — Diana on December 21, 2020
      • Reply
  • Try adding a lemon or orange zest to half the recipe before baking, then compare the results.
    I think you’ll find it interesting.
    I have yet to try this recipe, but I like the ingredients and will use it on my next ginger bake.
    Don

    • — Don on December 19, 2020
    • Reply
  • Hello!
    I’m very excited to try out these cookies! I was just wondering, instead of using molasses, could I use honey?

    • — Maya on December 18, 2020
    • Reply
    • You can, but they won’t have that traditional gingerbread taste.

      • — Jenn on December 18, 2020
      • Reply
  • I made this recipe with my small grandchildren and was delighted that it was so easy for them to work with. The gingerbread men came out perfectly and even my grandkids found them delicious. This will be a holiday tradition!

    • — Linda S. on December 17, 2020
    • Reply
  • Best Gingerbread cookie ever! I have been making them with my grandchildren for several years now. They love decorating them at Christmas, but eat many of them before decorating! They even asked for them at Halloween this year, we decorated as skeletons and vampires! Love the memories we are making with your yummy cookies!

    • — Belinda Hunter on December 17, 2020
    • Reply
  • I read all the reviews and just baked tons of cookies. Great recipe!! I also just recently became allergic to wheat/gluten BUT I made 2nd batch with Cup4Cup Gluten Free flour. This batch also came out great for all of you who wondered about gluten free. This flour has been successful for anything I bake.

    • — Diane on December 16, 2020
    • Reply
    • Thank you for sharing Diane. My daughter is celiac and so I was wondering if I could make this gluten free. I hope I can get Cup4Cup in Canada!

      • — Jennifer Patzer on December 18, 2020
      • Reply
      • Hi Jennifer, I haven’t made a GF version of these but another reader commented that she did and was happy with the results. Hope you enjoy!

        • — Jenn on December 18, 2020
        • Reply
    • Diane-I totally agree about the Cup4Cup. I have been using it for several years. Five of my grandchildren have celiac. It is the best and I’ve tried several. And of course recipes from Once Upon A Chef are the best too!

      • — Carol O'Neill on December 22, 2020
      • Reply
  • I’m from Brasil and traditionally we don’t make this kind of cookie here. But boy what a loss for us. This is the best gingerbread cookie EVER. My wife asked me if i could make it and, lucky me, i bumped into this treasure yesterday 12/14/2020. Thank you so much for sharing this recipe. I will put it in my “recipe safe box” and guard it forever. Perhaps will even cook it every year as our newest Christmas tradition. Thank you again!

    • — Marlon Souza on December 15, 2020
    • Reply
  • I will never use another gingerbread recipe. Your gingerbread cookies are melt-in-your-mouth good. No longer the filler cookie, now a star in its own right. My husband was even sneaking them, and he didn’t used to eat gingerbread cookies! Thanks, Jenn!

    • — Amy on December 11, 2020
    • Reply
  • Hi Jenn,
    I would like to make these (they look delicious!), but I don’t have molasses… Any ideas for a substitute?
    Many thanks!
    Grace

    • — Grace on December 10, 2020
    • Reply
    • Hi Grace, I would advise getting the molasses for this recipe, as it’s what gives the cookies their distinctive flavor.

      • — Jenn on December 12, 2020
      • Reply
  • These cookies are divine ! Thank you so much for sharing!

    • — Alex on December 9, 2020
    • Reply
  • I chose to make this recipe because it had lots of spice and even black pepper. They were excellent! I will make them again and I might even add a bit more black pepper just for fun. Thanks for a great recipe!

    • — Marci on December 8, 2020
    • Reply
  • Wonderful recipe (as usual)!!!! Really delicious with a chewy center and cripy sides.

    • — Claire on December 7, 2020
    • Reply
  • Hello from Greece
    This year I will try your recipe but let me know please if molasses controls the colour of cookies..
    For Ex if I put less it’s gonna be less brown?

    • — Tania on November 21, 2020
    • Reply
    • Hi Tania, Yes, the molasses does make the cookies brown.

      • — Jenn on November 22, 2020
      • Reply

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