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.


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!


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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


  • 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


  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, 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

  • Too bland. We made 3 batches, playing with the douce ratio each time. They all taste too flat and floury.

    • — Anne DeSiecle on October 31, 2020
    • Reply
  • I have been making gingerbread cookies for many years from an old recipe. This year I decided to switch and I used your recipe. They were a huge hit from my young grandchildren to my grown children to my husband. They absolutely disappeared before my eyes. Perfect spices and great texture. This recipe is a keeper!

    • — Nancy S Dressel on January 1, 2020
    • Reply
    • Do you have to use ground cloves or would it be ok if I didn’t

      • — Linley on November 14, 2020
      • Reply
      • Hi Linley, you can replace the cloves with more of one of the other spices. Hope you enjoy!

        • — Jenn on November 16, 2020
        • Reply
  • Hi Jen!! Love this recipe, I made it last Christmas and they turned out perfect! However, this year I was hoping to use pumpkin pie spice instead of the cinnamon, ginger, allspice, and cloves. Would that work out okay? Would the measurement just be all those separate ingredients combined? Thanks!

    • — Rebecca on December 21, 2019
    • Reply
    • Hi Rebecca, Yes and yes. 🙂

      • — Jenn on December 22, 2019
      • Reply
  • I made this recipe last week and they were yet another winner, Jenn! I’ve always found gingerbread cookies to be pretty finicky but these rolled out easily and even with royal icing covering them, the ginger flavor and spices came through nicely. And I know why some people have spreading issues with them! The first batch we rolled to 1/4″ because we were thinking we’d prefer softer cookies, but they spread a ton and the men were essentially blobs. I scale my ingredients and followed the recipe precisely so figured it had to be something to do with my process. The rest of them I rolled to 1/8 inch and they came out perfectly! So we ended up with some soft gingerbread men who needed to go on a diet and some crispy ones who were in perfect shape 🙂 They were all yummy tho!

    • — Emilie on December 20, 2019
    • Reply
  • Can I substitute flour with Bob’s Red Mill 1 to 1 gluten free baking flour and get similar results?

    • — Yvette on December 19, 2019
    • Reply
    • Hi Yvette, I’ve never made these with gluten-free flour so I can’t say for sure. Often times readers will comment if they’ve made a recipe with gluten-free flour but it looks like you would be the guinea pig for this one! If you do go that route, many people have commented they’ve had good luck with this King Arthur all-purpose gluten-free flour. Please LMK how the cookies turn out if you try them this way!

      • — Jenn on December 20, 2019
      • Reply
    • Hi, Yvette: Came across your question re: using Bob’s Red Mill 1 – 1 GF flour blend. Did you do so, and how did they turn out? Did you have to add a TBS or more of the blend, or dough was “just right”? Would appreciate a response from you or any other onceuponachef fan who has done this.
      Thanks! Have a great and safe holiday!: iris

      • — iris on December 17, 2020
      • Reply
  • Wow, great cookies! I never cared for gingerbread growing up as all the ones I tried were either bland, dry or hard as rock but these were flavourful with firm edges & slightly soft centres. I increased the spices (ca. 1.5 times), added a dash of nutmeg and made them slightly thicker as I have a convection oven. I ate 3 before I could deliver them to my nephew for decorating. Thanks Jenn for another fine recipe!

    • — Rebecca on December 19, 2019
    • Reply
  • I made the gingerbread cookies. The flavor was great, but the cookies were very cake-like and they easily broke. I am looking for a more sturdy cookie, more like shortbread cookies. How can I adapt this recipie?

    • — Coral on December 19, 2019
    • Reply
    • Hi Coral, It sounds like the dough wasn’t rolled thin enough. If you make the cookies again, just roll the dough a bit thinner and you’ll find them to be more crispy. Hope you enjoy!

      • — Jenn on December 20, 2019
      • Reply
  • Hello-

    just a quick question: is it ok to substitute light brown sugar for the dark? We’ve enjoyed the snickerdoodle recipe ( I’ve made 5 batches!) and thought we’d try the gingerbread cookie. I have everything in the pantry except for the dark brown sugar.

    Thanks in advance,
    D S

    • — D S on December 17, 2019
    • Reply
    • Yes, that’s fine, DS. Enjoy!

      • — Jenn on December 17, 2019
      • Reply
  • I love the ease of making this cookie and the taste is complex yet traditional. I am going to keep this recipe for every holiday season! Thank you!

    • — Kit on December 9, 2019
    • Reply
  • This is the best gingerbread cookie recipe I’ve found!! I made these cookies with my children and international law students. They were a hit. My daughters who do not generally like gingerbread cookies loved these. My son who loves gingerbread cookies declared these the best ever. And my international students who had never tried gingerbread cookies before preferred these to sugar cookies. I think the fresh ground pepper adds a depth of flavor and zing that other gingerbread cookies lack. We cooked half until they were firm and good for decorating. The other half my daughter pulled out a bit early so they remained soft and pliable, not great for decorating, but the flavor was even better, we thought. We ate them with no adornments. They were delicious. This recipe is a keeper.

    • — Rana Lehr-Lehnardt on December 9, 2019
    • Reply
  • Any suggestions for sticky dough? I made it exactly as directed, and chilled for over 24 hours. When I went to roll it out, it was sticking to my granite counter top–even after adding a lot of flour. It turned out to be a mess. Please help!

    • — Julie on December 6, 2019
    • Reply
    • Hi Julie, The dough definitely is sticky but refrigerating it (along with adding a bit more flour) should’ve helped. Is there any chance you may have mis-measured something?

      • — Jenn on December 7, 2019
      • Reply
  • I just made these and they turned out perfect! They aren’t too spicey which I like. I think it made a difference leaving them in the fridge over night. Thank you for this recipe I will be using for many years to come.

    • — Martina on November 24, 2019
    • Reply
  • New favorite gingerbread recipe! These turned out great. Excellent flavor and texture. They did puff up a bit…the gingerbread men looked like me once I get finished eating Christmas goodies! But the flavor/texture was so good that I don’t mind that the cookies lost their shape a little.

  • These cookies are excellent! I have literally made this recipe 4 times since Christmas as my 14 year old son absolutely loves them. Today I made them as heart shaped Valentines and they turned out great. Not sure why anyone would have a problem as they are simple to make and come out perfect every time! Thank you so much for the recipe!!

  • I made this recipe for a Christmas party and people are still asking me for the recipe. I was told “this recipe is a keeper” from a good friend that doesn’t serve family or friends anything unless it’s from scratch. I will keep this forever and hopefully pass it on to my kids.

  • Bad recipe. Came out as gingerbread blimps not even tasting gingerbread-y. I think too much baking soda.

  • I thought the dough was very easy to work and the cookies baked beautifully. They stayed soft, but were firm enough to decorate. My problem was that mine had an overwhelming flavor of molasses and were darker than your photos. What could I substitute for 1/2 the molasses?

    • Hi Paula, What brand of molasses did you use? You could sub half of it with honey.

  • If like to make closer to 1.5 recipes than double. Do you think an egg + 1 egg white could work?

    • I think that’s fine, Melinda. Enjoy!

  • And a new Christmas tradition has started in our household. I love that my kids can get creative while decorating and the cookies actually get eaten because they are delicious. Now you need to make a video or write a blog on pro tips on how to decorate with royal icing. You can’t tell which ones I made and which ones my 5 and 3 year old made… haha! More decorating practice for me…

  • Best gingerbread cookie recipe out there! I love to bake and was requested to make a few dozen gingerbread cookies for a play called Into The Woods which has a scene where they needed to make it look real when Little Red Riding Hood took baked goods from the baker! They were such a hit that they varnished them so they could be used as props in other plays so i had to make more to accommodate eating 2 per day for a month so i used different color icing for the edible ones so the actress would know which one to take lol !so thank you for this recipe as its now in show business.

  • The flavour is wonderful! This will be my go-to recipe, but I’d really like some advice on how to solve the two problems I had. I rolled them 1/4″ inch and they melted and looked a bit blobby. Not the lovely tight shape I see in your photo. Also, the surface cracked rather than being smooth. I used an oven thermometer to make sure my oven was the correct temperature. Do you have any idea why the cracks on the surface and the loss of shape? I am at 7,400 feet.

    • Hi Lynne, I have a feeling the issues have to do with your elevation. I don’t have any experience baking at high altitudes but you might want to check this high-altitude baking guide from King Arthur. Hope that helps!

  • Hi Jenn
    Every one of your recipes is amazing,! Went to make these now but only have light brown sugar will that work?
    Thanks so much

    • Light brown sugar is fine, Melissa. Enjoy!

  • This has become my new Favourite Gingerbread recipe. I really like a good ginger flavour, so I increased the ginger to 3 tsp.and the cinnamon to 1 1/2 tsp. It is a softer gingerbread than my old tried and true, so although I like flavour better and will use this for my future gingerbread men, I would not use it in the construction of my gingerbread house as I prefer a sturdier gingerbread for that. It says a lot, however that this recipe will be replacing the one I have used for over 40 years!

  • Can I use just one type of sugar for these cookies? I only have granulated on hand. Thanks!

    • Hi Maggie, For best results, I recommend sticking with both sugars — sorry!

  • My family has a tradition of baking gingerbread cookies every year. This year we tried your recipe and it is amazing!! No more Betty Crocker for this crew! Its the only gingerbread recipe I’ve tried that actually tastes GREAT! Can’t wait to bake them again next year.

    I did find that the refrigerated dough was a little sticky, even with added flour. I didn’t want to over-flour, so I decided to try rolling a few sheets between parchment paper to the ~1/8 to 1/4 thickness, and then stuck them in the freezer until I was ready to cut them out. The frozen dough was much easier to work than the refrigerated dough!

    • — Jennifer A Monson
    • Reply
  • I love the look of this recipe and cant wait to try it! Quick question, how long will they keep and can the dough be frozen? Thanks Nikki

    • Hi Nikki, The cookies will keep nicely for 3 – 4 days and both the dough and the baked cookies can be frozen. For freezing the dough, shape it 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 them 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.

  • Does the size of the gingerbread men determine length of baking time? My cutters are large – 51/2” x 4 1/2”.

    • Hi Doreen, They may take a minute or so longer at that size but I’d still start checking at the suggested baking time. Hope you enjoy!

  • WOW.

    I thought I didn’t like gingerbread cookies…
    until this.

    My family loves them, baking, decorating and eating, so I have made it every year for as long as I can remember. Only I didn’t use to eat them.

    This recipe is so easy and the dough comes together beautifully and it is just the right consistency for cookie cutting. I ice them with royal icing and decorations and it is still not overly sweet.

    Amazing. Grateful!

  • I followed the instructions exactly. The cookies came out flat and some looked like a big blob and not a ginger bread man shape. The whole batch was a waste. I will try a different recipe this time.

    • So sorry you had trouble! These cookies always hold their shape for me.

  • What temperature do you bake them?

    • Hi Molly, these get baked at 350°F. Enjoy!

  • Best gingerbread men we ever made! Delicious! Eaten before we could get them decorated. Thank you for sharing your recipe. It’s a keeper.

  • How do I adjust this recipe to accommodate high altitude locale?

    • Hi K, I don’t have any experience baking at high altitudes, but these tips may help. Hope you enjoy!

  • problem… what temperature do
    i cook the gingerbread men,
    i have an airfryer, a convection oven a microwave and a fanforced oven

    • Hi Wendy, I would bake these at 350 degrees in an oven on the regular (not convection/fan) setting. Hope you enjoy!

  • Oven temperature? Failed to mention for Gingerbread cookies.

    • Hi Gloria, the cookies should be baked at 350 degrees. Enjoy!

  • Will this recipe work in the 24 cavity silicone gingerbread mold? I’m not sure what to make there.

    • Hi Nancy, I don’t think that would work here — sorry!

  • Made these last night with my girls while we decorated our tree. These were so easy to put together! The dough was great to work with! Had a great time decorating with the girls! We will have to make them again soon. The cookies were DELICIOUS!

  • Made these last weekend with the grandkids. Did add a couple of my own twists to the recipe. Doubled amount of spices and added a few grates of fresh nutmeg. Also, substituted half the butter with lard. I know this sounds odd, but the lard adds a “sparkle in your mouth” when you bite into the cookie and the flavor does not change.

  • Could this dough be used for a gingerbread house?

    • — Lucie Loiselle
    • Reply
    • Sure – Yes but roll the dough on the thicker side (about 1/4-inch) and bake a bit longer (until the cookies are completely firm).

  • Can you freeze the cookie dough? How would you go about thawing it?

    • Hi D, Yes, it can be frozen. I’d divide the dough into 2 or 3 balls, and then flatten them into disks (like pie crust). Before taking, thaw the dough until pliable and then proceed with recipe.

  • Loved this recipe! Just finished making and decorating with my friend’s 8 year old. Made and chilled the dough last night and it was easy to work with and delicious! Thanks

  • I can’t wait to try this recipe! Instead of cookies, I would like to bake the batter in a square tin. Do you have an idea of how long the cooking time should be if the oven is at 350? [or should I experiment?]

    • Hi Samantha, It’s hard to say since I’m not sure how large the tin is, but I’d start checking around 15-20 minutes. Hope that helps!

  • Hi – what will the black pepper add to the cookie? Will I taste it? Thanks for your reply.

    • You won’t taste it at all, Jennifer — it just adds a delightful little kick. Feel free to leave it out or reduce it if you’re nervous about it but I always use black pepper in ginger cookie recipes.

  • I don’t remember the last time I baked, but decided to make these cookies with my daughter. Excitedly we bought all the ingredients and cookie cutters and followed your recipe. Cookies came out perfect and delicious! Not too spicy or over powering, soft and perfect with tea. Thank you!

    • So glad, Anna!

  • Tried them out this weekend and came out just as described. Soft on the inside but a nice crisp edge. However, my baking time was extremely short, about half the time that was specified. What might be the reason for this because they were completely cooked?

    • Hi Kayley, Could you have rolled them very thin? Or could your oven be running hot?

  • Made these little guys this weekend with my children, they were a hit. Exactly as you described, crispy on the outside, chewy in the middle.

  • Thank you for the recipe. you didn’t mention what oven temperature they need to be baked at. I asssume 350?!

    • Hi Dina, Yes, 350°F (it’s about halfway through the recipe since the oven doesn’t get preheated in the beginning). Hope you enjoy!

  • Can you use this recipe to make a ginger bread house?

    • Hi Jeanette, Yes but definitely roll the dough on the thicker side (about 1/4-inch) and bake longer until the cookies are completely firm.

  • Can you just drop scoops of the dough and make round cookies rather than cutouts? I find it rather cumbersome to do

    • Hi Priya, If you’d like to make drop cookies, I’d reduce the flour to 2-1/3 cup, and roll them in sugar (preferably turbinado or raw sugar) before baking.

  • I can’t WAIT to make these! I’m still searching for that perfect gingerbread wo/man – as you said, crispy but chewy.

    I just saw Dorie Greenspan speak, and she recommended rolling out dough between 2 pieces of parchment paper, and THEN chilling b/c it’s so much easier to roll when it’s warm… I’m going to try it. THANKS!

  • Is this suitable for a gingerbread house? Or is it too tender to be sturdy. I would be using one of the gingerbread house cutter sets.

    • Hi Liz, I don’t think I’d use it for a gingerbread house as is. However, if you roll it a little thicker (about 1/4-inch) and cook it longer (until firm), it should work.

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