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These soft and chewy Gingerbread Cookies are my favorite gingerbread cut out cookies! Frosted with an easy royal icing, they’re the perfect holiday cookie.

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gingerbread snowman and men with outlined royal icing and sprinkles
Table of Contents
  1. The BEST Soft Gingerbread Cookie Recipe
  2. Gingerbread Recipe Ingredients
  3. How to make Ginger Bread Cookies
  4. Hack for Rolling Out Cookie Dough
  5. How to Make Royal Icing Frosting
  6. Decorating Gingerbread Cookies
  7. Chewy & Soft Gingerbread Cookie Recipe Recipe
  8. Other Holiday Favorites

I make gingerbread cookies every year, but I haven’t made gingerbread cut out cookies in a really long time. It’s probably been at least 25 years since my last batch, so I figured it was about time to make them again. We normally make sugar cookie cutouts but this year I decided I want BOTH.

Why you’ll LOVE this recipe

My dad and I both love gingerbread. When I was young, we’d make this recipe every Christmas. I remember going to the cookbook cabinet and sorting through to find the Christmas one that held this recipe. Back then we only had a hand mixer so I remember how, by the 4th cup of flour, mixing would get hard. Usually my dad was called in to help finish up the dough.

The only difference between making them in the past and present is how much EASIER I’ve made it. I promise: you will no longer hate rolling out cookie dough after you see how I do it.

If you’re wondering how to make chewy gingerbread cookies that are also soft AND keep their shape, this is the recipe for you.

ingredients in gingerbread cookies with words on photo

Gingerbread Recipe Ingredients

  • Butter: make sure it’s softened to room temperature
  • Molasses: I use the regular kind you find at the grocery store
  • Sugar: This recipe uses granulated sugar. I wouldn’t substitute brown sugar; they’re soft enough by design and brown sugar might make them too soft.
  • Egg, vanilla, salt: regular cookie ingredients!
  • Baking Soda: You’ll need 1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda – this makes a lot of cookies.
  • Vinegar: the SECRET to soft and chewy gingerbread cookies! This activates the baking soda to keep them nice and soft. Substitute lemon juice if you don’t have white vinegar.
  • Flour: All-purpose flour, be sure to spoon and level it into the measuring cup.
  • Spices: A teaspoon ground cinnamon, 2 teaspoons ground ginger and a teaspoon ground cloves.
collage of 4 photos making cookie dough

How to make Ginger Bread Cookies

  1. Cream butter and sugar: Beat butter, sugar, and molasses in a stand mixer (or very large bowl with a hand mixer) until smooth.
  2. Add wet ingredients: Mix in the egg, then add the vinegar, baking soda, salt, and spices. Mix until combined (mixture may look a bit curdled, that’s normal.)
  3. Add Flour: Mix in flour, 1 cup at a time, until dough forms. Divide dough into two or three sections (depending on how much space you have for rolling out).

At this point your mixture is pretty wet but using my hack for rolling cookies, it’s okay.

3 photo collage showing dough, dough with parchment paper on top and dough rolled out with cookie cutters

The trick to making an EASY rolled out cookie recipe comes after the dough is made, when it’s time to roll it out.

A few years back I discovered the trick that’s going to change your life: roll your cookie dough between sheets of parchment paper before you chill it.

  1. Roll dough: Cut the cookie dough in half or into thirds, like you normally would. Then, sandwich each half between two sheets of Parchment Paper. Roll out the dough to 1/4″ thick using a rolling pin, and use the guidelines on the parchment paper to help with your rectangular shape.
  2. Chill the dough: Once you’ve rolled out your cookie dough between the sheets of parchment, cover with plastic wrap and chill it until it’s firm.
  3. Cut your shapes: use your favorite cookie cutters to cut out your cookies, re-rolling the dough between the parchment as needed. NOTE: if your dough is too soft to remove to the cookie sheet, chill the dough first.
  4. Before baking: Once you cut your shapes, I like to chill it again because the chances of spread are reduced if you bake these COLD. Plus, baking a cold cookie ensures softness and lessens the likelihood of an overdone cookie.
collage of 4 photos with powdered sugar in bowl, mixing icing, finished icing and icing on cookie

How to Make Royal Icing Frosting

Once cooled, I make a simple royal icing to decorate with. You can definitely use regular sugar cookie frosting, but I love making a simple royal icing. Royal icing comes together fast and dries hard, so you can stack the cookies for giving.

  • Powdered Sugar – be sure not to pack it (spoon it into the measuring cup)
  • Meringue Powder – powdered egg whites; this is why the icing hardens
  • Vanilla Extract – for flavoring (use any extract you like)
  • Water – the amount depends on how thick you want your icing
  1. Whisk the powdered sugar and meringue powder.
  2. Start with 5 tablespoons water and mix on high speed until it’s no longer glossy, then add more water as needed for consistency (whether you plan to pipe, flood, or frost).
  3. Mixing will take 7-10 minutes. It’s done when it’s no longer glossy.
  4. Pipe or frost as desired!
parchment paper with gingerbread men and snowmen on it outlined with royal icing and sprinkles

Decorating Gingerbread Cookies

I like using a pastry bag fit with a small round tip (a 4 or 5) to pipe the edges, then I decorate with sprinkles.

My favorite part about decorating cookies like this are adding eyes. I love seeing how they turn out dependent on how the eyeballs land. Confused? Scared? Happy?

(Mr. Snowman is definitely giving a side eye to something off camera. HA!)

You could also use vanilla buttercream frosting to frost your cookies instead.

gingerbread man, snowmen and stars cutouts of gingerbread cookie dough with royal icing

FAQs

My dough is too sticky and I can’t get my cookies off the parchment.

The dough is a sticky dough, so make sure to chill the rolled out sheets until they are hard (they shouldn’t move if you pick them up). I use a spatula sometimes to help me release them up from the parchment paper. If you’re still having trouble, cut your cookies then chill again, then try moving them.

Can I use apple cider vinegar?

Yes you can use any vinegar (or lemon juice) instead of white distilled. But don’t use red wine or balsamic – you don’t want to taste it.

How do you make gingerbread cookies keep their shape during baking?

As long as you follow the recipe you shouldn’t have this problem: be sure to chill the cookies before baking and to measure the ingredients correctly.

Should Gingerbread Cookies be hard or soft?

It’s personal opinion – but I think they should be soft. Gingerbread cutouts are soft, gingersnaps are hard and crunchy.

Why are my gingerbread cookies so dry?

Chances are you added too much flour during the rolling process or you packed it and/or used too much when mixing. This recipe requires chilling a few times by design – the cookies stay the right shape when you chill them but the amount of flour used leaves a soft cookie that’s never dry.

gingerbread cookies
4.81 from 42 votes
These easy soft and chewy gingerbread cookies are the perfect holiday cutout cookie recipe!
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Chill Time 30 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Yield 36 cookies
Serving Size 1 cookie

Ingredients
 

For the cookies:

  • 1 cup (226g) unsalted butter softened
  • 1 cup (200g) granulated sugar
  • 1 cup (237ml) molasses
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 tablespoons white vinegar
  • 1 ½ teaspoons baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 5 Cups (620g) All purpose flour Sifted

For the frosting:

  • 3 tablespoons meringue powder
  • 4 cups (452g) powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 5 tablespoons water

Instructions

Make the cookies:

  • Beat butter, sugar, and molasses in a stand mixer (or very large bowl with a hand mixer) until smooth. Mix in the egg, then add the vinegar, baking soda, salt, and spices. Mix until combined (mixture may look a bit curdled, that’s normal.)
  • Mix in flour, 1 cup at a time, until dough forms. Divide dough into two sections.
  • Lay out a sheet of Reynolds Kitchens Parchment Paper with SmartGrid on your work surface. Add half the cookie dough and add a second sheet of parchment paper on the top. Use a rolling pin to roll the dough to 1/4″ thick, in between the pieces of parchment. Periodically, gently lift the parchment off the layer to make sure it’s not sticking. Repeat with second half of dough.
  • Chill the rolled out dough in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.
  • Preheat oven to 375°F. Line two cookie sheets with Reynolds Kitchens Parchment Paper with SmartGrid. Cut shapes from chilled dough, placing on the prepared pans. Chill another 10 minutes before baking.
  • Bake for 8-12 minutes, depending on cookie size. Re-roll any scraps of dough and re-chill and repeat.
  • Cool cookies completely before frosting.

Make the frosting:

  • While cookies are cooling, make the frosting. Add meringue powder, powdered sugar, vanilla, and water to the bowl of a stand mixer. Beat until peaks form and it’s lost it’s glossy sheen, about 7-10 minutes. Add a bit more water as needed for piping consistency.
  • At this point you can color the frosting if you want, using food coloring. Frost cookies and top with sprinkles. (I used a small piping tip in a disposable pastry bag.) Let set for at least an hour before stacking.

Recipe Video

Recipe Notes

You can find meringue powder at most craft stores in the baking section, and even at Walmart in the cake decorating aisle.
Recipe from Christmas Gifts From the Kitchen, a complimentary Bell Savings cookbook.

Recipe Nutrition

Serving: 1cookie | Calories: 212kcal | Carbohydrates: 39g | Protein: 2g | Fat: 5g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Cholesterol: 19mg | Sodium: 85mg | Potassium: 161mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 26g | Vitamin A: 166IU | Calcium: 25mg | Iron: 1mg
Nutritional information not guaranteed to be accurate
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Author Dorothy Kern
Keyword christmas, cookies

Other Holiday Favorites

This post was sponsored by Reynolds Kitchens in 2018; I know you’ll love the simple hack for rolling out the cookies I do with their parchment paper.

parchment paper with gingerbread cookies

I absolutely love this parchment paper because it comes with a SmartGrid to help you with placement and it also helps you cut the paper to fit your baking sheet. I use parchment paper because it offers a non-stick cooking surface and easy clean-up, but the SmartGrid is a major added bonus. Plus: you can reuse this parchment paper up to three times, reducing waste, and it’s compostable. You can bake ALL your gingerbread cookies on two cookie sheets, easy peasy.

**Did you make this recipe? Don’t forget to give it a star rating below!**

Last Updated on October 11, 2022

Dorothy Kern

Welcome to Crazy for Crust, where I share recipes that are sometimes crazy, often with a crust, and always served with a slice of life.

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65 Comments

  1. This is my favorite recipe. Gonna recommend chilling in the freezer not the fridge though. First time I made these, 30 minutes in the fridge was not enough and I was in tears trying to get the cut out cookies onto the tray because they were so sticky. Gave them another try the next christmas, froze them for 30 instead of chilling in the fridge, no tears at all, super easy to work with. Adore these cookies so im really glad i gave them another try.

  2. Love, love, love this gingerbread cookie recipe. It’s quick, shapes don’t spread, and of course they are delicious!! My 92 year old father says they taste as good as the one his gramma made so many years ago.

    Thanks for sharing.

    1. I haven’t halved it – but you can either weigh the egg and use half, or probably just use the yolk. Let me know how it works!

  3. This has been my go-to recipe for a few years now and I never even want to try another one! The cookies are so soft and delicious every time! Thank you!

  4. I was wondering if , I can pre make the gingerbread dough and then freeze it for a couple of weeks. This is because we have to buy a new wall oven because ours went caboom ish.
    I’m trying to make some of my doughs ahead of time while we wait for the oven . I look forward to hear from you .
    Joy

  5. I always thought my mom’s recipe for gingerbread men was the best. I now stand corrected! This past Christmas of 2020, I just needed to be swept away in the joys of cookie baking to soothe away the crumminess of everything that had transpired last year–namely Covid and the ugliness of the elections! My favorite Christmas cookie of all time has always been the traditional gingerbread men but I could not for the life of me find my mom’s recipe! To make matters worse, my own mother could not find her original recipe! So what’s a gal to do but search Google for the “best gingerbread recipe?” Lo & behold, your recipe was the first one to pop up! And I have to say, YOURS will now be my go-to recipe! (Shhhhh, don’t tell my mother)

    And do you want to know why this is now my favorite recipe for gingerbread men?! They really ARE soft & chewy, which is how I prefer my cookies! My mother’s always turned out rock hard and crispy until you frosted them and placed them in Tupperware to bring out that amazingly soft, chewy texture. BUT yours have remained soft & chewy without even having to frost them! I know, it’s a kind of cookie decorating blasphemy not to frost a gingerbread man & give him a little bit of life. But I have to say, I kind of prefer them without the frosting. And my mother-in-law had gifted me with the cutest cookie cutters which actually gave my gingerbread men eyes and a mouth, plus the words “Happy Holidays” across his tummy, so that gave him a little bit of life right there. Today is Jan. 19th and I am STILL enjoying these cookies since I’m the only one in my family who likes gingerbread (I know, they’re crazy, right?!) Oh well–more for me and I can make them last longer! There is absolutely NOTHING better than a gingerbread cookie & coffee in the morning!

    Anyway, I know I wrote a short little novella here, but KUDOS to you & your YUM-A-LICIOUS gingerbread recipe. I will be using nothing else for the rest of my Christmases to come! Happy 2021!

      1. You’re quite welcome! I’m now on your e-mail list for more recipes. You hooked me with this gingerbread cookie recipe. I look forward to more recipes 😋