Classic gingerbread cookies are soft and chewy in the centre but crisp on the edges, and warmly spiced with ground ginger and a rich dose of molasses. Decorate these festive holiday cookies with royal icing to complete the look. Add these gourmet Christmas cookies to your holiday baking list.
These cut out snowflake and gingerbread men cookies are perfect for your holiday baking list, whether that's to enjoy with your immediate family at home, or to include as part of cookie exchange or a holiday cookie box to give to friends and family. Don't forget to include some other classic Christmas cookies such as Christmas sugar cookies with royal icing, chocolate crinkle cookies, peanut butter blossoms, soft and chewy ginger cookies, and pecan snowball cookies.
To make gingerbread cookies, you will need the following ingredients:
- all-purpose flour
- baking soda
- holiday spices - ground ginger, ground cinnamon, and all spice (you could also add a 1/4 teaspoon each of ground cloves and nutmeg).
- unsalted butter
- brown sugar - I used light brown sugar, but dark brown sugar works as well.
- large egg
- vanilla extract
- royal icing - to make royal icing, you will need confectioners' sugar, meringue powder, vanilla extract, and water.
Kitchen Tools and Equipment
You will also need the following kitchen tools and equipment:
- measuring cups and spoons
- mixing bowls
- hand mixer or stand mixer
- rolling pin
- gingerbread men cookie cutter and/or other Christmas cookie cutters
- half sheet baking pan and silicone baking mat (or parchment paper)
- wire cooling rack
- piping bag with a round piping tip. I used Wilton #1 round tip. You could also use a squeeze bottle.
How to Make the Best Gingerbread Cookies
- Combine the dry ingredients. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, ginger, cinnamon, all spice, and salt. Set aside.
- Combine the wet ingredients. In another large mixing bowl with a hand mixer (or a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment), cream together the butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add in eggs, molasses, and vanilla, and beat until just combined.
- Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients. Gradually add in the dry ingredients and beat on low speed until just combined. The dough should easily form into a ball. If it is too dry and crumbly, add a tablespoon of water.
- Chill the dough. Divide the dough in half, and form each into a ball. Gently flatten each ball into a 1-inch thick disc and wrap tightly with plastic cling wrap. Chill in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours, up to overnight.
- Cut out the cookies. Take one dough disc out of the refrigerator at a time, and place on a floured surface (If the dough was chilled overnight, let it sit on the kitchen counter for about 15-20 minutes to soften up before rolling). Lightly flour a rolling pin, and roll the dough out to 1/4-inch thick. Use a 5-inch gingerbread man cookie cutter and/or other Christmas cookie cutters to cut out the cookies.
- Transfer to baking sheet. Transfer the cookies a half sheet baking pan lined with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper. You will have to use two sheet pans or do this in batches. Refrigerate the dough or cut out cookies if you are not working with them or are waiting for them to go into the oven.
- Bake. Bake for 8-10 minutes, until the cookies are crisp on the edges. Remove from the oven and allow them to cool in the pan for 5 minutes. Then, transfer to a wire cooling rack and cool completely.
How to Make Easy Royal Icing for Gingerbread Cookies
Once the gingerbread cookies have been baked and cooled completely, you are ready to decorate with royal icing. Traditionally, royal icing is made with raw egg whites, but you can use meringue powder in place of the egg whites (as we did) and still get icing that hardens beautifully with the same taste, texture and consistency as royal icing. Here's how to make royal icing and decorate these cookies:
- Make the royal icing. In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together confectioners' sugar with meringue powder. Add water and vanilla extract and beat with a hand mixer on medium-high speed, until smooth. If you find that the icing is too thick, add a little water (one teaspoon at a time). If you find the icing too thin, add a little more sugar.
- Decorate the cookies. Transfer the icing into a piping bag with a fine round tip (Wilton #2 round tip) and pipe the icing onto the cookies.
Gingerbread Cookies Storing and Freezing Instructions
- How to store: Store the cookies (with or without icing) in an airtight container for up to one week at room temperature. If decorated, allow the royal icing to set and harden before stacking the cookies on top of each other, at least 3 hours, preferably overnight (or store in a single layer until they are set). This will prevent the icing from smudging before it's set.
- How to freeze: Gingerbread cookies freeze beautifully. Store in an airtight container or in a freezer bag and store in the freezer for up to 3 months.
- How to freeze cookie dough: Freeze unbaked and tightly wrapped cooke dough discs for up to 3 months. To bake, allow them to that in the refrigerator overnight before using.
More Cookie Recipes
- Gingerbread Linzer Cookies with White Chocolate
- White Chocolate Peppermint Gingerbread Cookies
- Soft and Chewy Ginger Cookies
- Christmas Sugar Cookies with Royal Icing
- Cranberry Orange Shortbread Cookies
- M&M Christmas Cookies
- Peanut Butter Blossoms
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