If you're looking for a delicious and soft gingerbread cookie recipe, these Soft & Chewy Gingerbread Men Cookies are perfectly spiced with molasses, cinnamon, ginger and other warm spices, and sweetened with brown sugar. This tried, and true recipe is definitely a family favorite.
Just the aroma of the molasses and cloves and ginger and cinnamon is enough to transport you to Santa's workshop and make you feel like one of his baker elves.
Soft & Chewy Gingerbread Men Cookies are part of my personal Christmas cookie trifecta. The other two cookies are these perfect peanut butter blossoms and classic sugar cookies decorated with frosting and sprinkles or M&Ms.
With some simple ingredients you likely already have in your pantry, you can have fresh gingerbread cookies that are perfect for gifting or serving at your next Christmas party. Plus, this recipe is so easy that even beginners can make them successfully. The royal icing is super simple to make with just a little corn syrup for shine and no messing around with meringue powder, unlike classic royal icing.
The best way to spread Christmas cheer might be singing out loud for all to hear, but this soft gingerbread cookies recipe comes in a close second! It's easy to follow, produces perfectly soft and chewy cookies, and will be sure to please everyone at your Christmas cookie exchange. Plus, the gingerbread men are so cute! Be sure to try it out next time you're in the mood for some ginger molasses goodness!
WHAT YOU'LL NEED
Scroll down to the recipe card below this post for ingredient quantities and full instructions.
- Salted butter
- Brown sugar
- Molasses - You want unsulphered, not blackstrap, molasses. My favorite brand is Grandma's original molasses.
- All-purpose flour
- Baking soda
- Spices - A combination of ground ginger, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and allspice gives the best gingerbread flavor.
- Powdered sugar
- Vanilla extract or essence
- Light corn syrup
- Pinch of salt
How to Make Delicious Soft Gingerbread Cookies
Prepare. In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together the butter and brown sugar until smooth.
Add the molasses (it really does help to spray your measuring cup with cooking spray before measuring the molasses (It will pour out more easily afterward) and egg.
Mix again to combine, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.
Cook. Add the flour, salt, baking soda, and spices, then mix until everything is completely combined.
Scrape the gingerbread cookie dough out of the bowl onto a large piece of plastic wrap, then wrap it up into a disc and put it in the refrigerator to chill for 3 hours or even overnight.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. On a floured surface, roll the dough out to ¼" thickness.
I always find I need to be generous with the flour so the cookies don't stick to the counter or the rolling pin , but you don't need to worry about having cookies that look dusted by flour because it will be absorbed into the dough as the cookies get rolled out.
Assemble. Cut out shapes with cookie cutters. Carefully transfer the cookies to the baking sheets, leaving a little space between each cookie.
They don't spread much, but you don't want them touching while they are baking. Bake for about 10 minutes until they just start to look set but do not overbake, or they won't stay soft.
Let cool for 5-10 minutes on the pan. Remove from cookie sheets to cool completely on a wire rack. Frost or decorate when cool with royal icing.
Finish. Whisk together the powdered sugar, vanilla, corn syrup, and 2 tablespoons of water. The royal icing should be thick, but if it is TOO thick, whisk in another ½ tablespoon of water at a time, checking consistency after each half tablespoon.
If you go too far and it gets too runny, whisk in two additional tablespoons of powdered sugar at a time. You want the royal icing to drizzle off your whisk into the bowl and hold its shape for a second or two before melting back into the rest of the icing.
If desired, you can separate your icing into different small bowls at this point and add food coloring , then transfer to piping bags with small decorating tips.
I'm partial to the gingerbread snowflakes sprinkled granulated sugar after frosting them with royal icing. It adds a wonderful sparkle, a bit of crunch, and extra sweetness.
Tips for Success
Here's how to make sure your gingerbread man cookies turn out perfect!
- Room temperature ingredients. Make sure all your ingredients are at room temperature before you start baking. This definitely makes a difference with this dough.
- Don't overbake them. The cookies should still be slightly soft when you take them out of the oven. Most regular-sized gingerbread cookies will take 9-10 minutes, but you might need a little more or less time depending on whether your cookie cutters are small or extra large. Large cookies will take more like 11-12 minutes to bake. Tiny cookie cutters take more like 8 minutes in the oven.
- Cool completely before decorating. It's tempting to dig right in, but if you plan to decorate you should let the cookies cool on wire racks before adding royal icing and decorations.
- Use a piping bag with a decorative tip to easily decorate your cookies with royal icing. Or just fill a freezer safe ziploc bag with your royal icing and then snip off one small corner with scissors.
- Be sure to measure the flour carefully so as not to add too much, which could result in the dough being crumbly and dry. If you have a kitchen scale, use it. Otherwise I have a great post on how to measure flour and other baking ingredients.
- Make ice cream sandwiches. While these gingerbread men are perfect for eating all by themselves, they also make AMAZING ice cream sandwiches if you want to put a little vanilla, strawberry, or peach ice cream, or peppermint ice cream between two of them. Seriously, gingerbread ice cream sandwiches are my favorite!
Substitutions and Variations
- If you want to get creative with your decorations, add some festive sprinkles or white chocolate chips.
- Use other holiday-shaped cookie cutters like a Christmas tree or a snowman.
- For a more intense molasses flavor, replace the light brown sugar with dark brown sugar.
How to Store
Store your leftover gingerbread cookies in an airtight container or freezer bag at room temperature. If kept in an airtight container, they can last up to two weeks!
If you plan to freeze your gingerbread cookies, I recommend freezing them in a single layer on a baking sheet first for 2-3 hours, then transferring them to an airtight container where you can stack them for longer term storage, up to 3 months. Let them thaw on the counter for 2 hours before serving.
Soft gingerbread biscuits are ideal. They ought to be flexible. However, they should still be somewhat elastic, and if you hold them too firmly because you're so excited to eat them, you might even be able to leave your fingerprints on the cookie!
Keep cookies in a cold, dry area by placing them in a covered jar or tin and wrapping them in plastic wrap or foil. Because of their limbs, gingerbread people require a larger area and more meticulous wrapping. Make a tent out of aluminum foil if you don't have a large enough jar or tin.
Some gingerbread recipes require some time to soften after baking because they are initially firm. Gingerbread is made harder by molasses and honey, but it becomes softer when water is absorbed by the sugar.
No, these cookies are too soft to make a stable gingerbread house. Instead, use the recipe on my post about how to make a gingerbread house.
More Christmas Cookie Recipes For Your Cookie Platters
- The Best Snickerdoodle Cookies Recipe
- Oatmeal Rolled Sugar Cookies
- Perfect Peanut Butter Blossoms
- Double Chocolate Crinkle Cookies
Did you make this recipe?
Let me know what you thought with a comment and rating below. You can also take a picture and tag me on Instagram @houseofnasheats or share it on the Pinterest pin so I can see.
Soft & Chewy Gingerbread Men Cookies
- 1 cup salted butter (227g)
- 1 cup light brown sugar (200g)
- 1 cup molasses (340g)
- 1 large egg
- 5 cups all-purpose flour (625g)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 2 teaspoons ground ginger
- 1 ½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1 ½ teaspoons ground cloves
- ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- ½ teaspoon ground allspice
- 1 ½ cups powdered sugar
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon light corn syrup
- 2-3 Tablespoons water, room temperature
- Pinch of salt
- Gel or liquid Food coloring (optional)
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together butter and brown sugar for 1-2 minutes until creamy and smooth.
- Add the molasses (it helps to spray your measuring cup with cooking spray before measuring the molasses - it will pour out more easily afterwards) and egg and mix again to combine, scraping down the bottom and sides of the bowl.
- Add flour, salt, baking soda, and spices. Mix until completely combined.
- Transfer the gingerbread cookie dough onto a large piece of plastic wrap and shape it into a disc. Wrap it up tightly in the plastic wrap and let it chill in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours or overnight.
- Preheat the oven to 350°F and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
- Roll out the gingerbread cookie dough on a floured surface to about ¼" thickness. I always find I need to be generous with the flour so the cookies don't stick to the counter or the rolling pin . Don't worry about the cookies looking dusted with flour. It will be absorbed into the dough as the cookies get rolled out. Cut into desired shapes with cookie cutters.
- Carefully transfer the cookies to the prepared baking sheets, leaving a little space between each cookie. They don't spread much, but they will puff slightly and you don't want them touching while they bake.
- Bake for 9-11 minutes until they just start to look set, but do not overbake or they won't stay soft. Let cool for 5-10 minutes on the pan before transferring the cookies to wire cooling racks to cool completely. Frost or decorate when cool with royal icing.
Easy Royal Icing
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the powdered sugar, vanilla, corn syrup and 2 tablespoons of the water until smooth. The icing should be thick but you should still be able to drizzle it into the bowl and it should melt in on itself within 1-3 seconds. If it is TOO thick, whisk in another ½ tablespoon of water at a time to get the desired consistency. If you go too far and the icing is too runny, whisk in two additional tablespoons of powdered sugar at a time.
- If desired, you can separate your icing to different small bowls at this point and add food coloring , then transfer to piping bags with small decorating tips.
- Pipe eyes, a mouth, buttons, or other decorations on the cooled gingerbread cookies, then let them sit out for 3-4 hours for the icing to harden before storing in an airtight container for up to 7 days.
- Measure carefully: This recipe calls for 5 cups of flour, which means that if you overmeasure or lose track of your count you could make the dough too dry and it will be crumbly. I recommend the spoon & sweep approach where you spoon flour into a measuring cup then level it off with the flat backside of a knife or another flat-edge tool. This post explains in more detail how to measure flour accurately.
This post was originally published in December, 2016. The photos and content were updated in December, 2022.