Gingerbread Cookies: ‘Tis Always the Season to Enjoy Them

Gingerbread cookies have always been a seasonal favorite. We think it is time to pop them into the mainstream and turn them into a year-round staple. Who wants boring old chocolate chip cookies when you can feast on some melt-in-your-mouth soft gingerbread cookies?

After searching for years for a “perfect” recipe for gingerbread cookies, I think I have finally found one. I found it at the Scary Teacher blog, but I made a few modifications. I don’t have a lot of fancy kitchen gadgets, so I also have some tips for people with small kitchens.

Here I am going to add a shameless plug for the Scary Teacher. I know her by her real name and she is an awesome blogger with some really great information. Teachers, parents, and students will find plenty of interesting content there.

Assemble Your Ingredients

Whenever I bake, I like to make sure I have all the ingredients in the house before I begin. Common sense, right? But, more times than I can count, I’ve had to make an emergency trip to the market for one item. So, with that in mind, here is what you will need.

Gingerbread Cookies: Ingredients set out and ready to go
Gingerbread cookie ingredients all ready to go.
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Wet ingredients

These are the items that you start with, called wet ingredients. You will notice that sugar is on this list, even though it starts out dry.

  • Granulated sugar — 1 cup
  • Butter — 1 cup (2 sticks, salted or unsalted)
  • Egg — 2 large or extra large
  • Molasses — 1 cup
  • Apple cider vinegar — 2 tablespoons

Dry ingredients

You will sift these ingredients, so you can measure them and toss them all in a separate bowl together. My picture shows them all separated into individual recycled applesauce bowls.

  • All-purpose flour — 5 cups
  • Ground ginger — 2 teaspoons
  • Salt — 1/2 teaspoon
  • Ground cinnamon — 1 teaspoon
  • Baking soda — 1 1/2 teaspoons
  • Ground cloves — 1 teaspoon

Although I double-sifted my ingredients because I started with them all separate, you don’t have to. That is an extra step, but you can leave it out, as long as you sift on the way into the wet mix.

Perfect Gingerbread Cookies Coming Up

The method for making cookies is pretty standard no matter what type of cookie you are making. I found that mixing this dough by hand works best and is not that difficult.

A handy trick I learned from Harry Potter: Stir three to five turns clockwise, then three to five turns counterclockwise. If you change up the rotation while combining your ingredients, they tend to incorporate quicker and easier. I am not sure why it works, but it does.

Are you ready for gingerbread cookies?

The process. As with most cookie preparation, these gingerbread cookies follow a simple step-by-step process. If you are running on a timer, this part, including assembling and mixing ingredients, took me about 15 minutes.

Step one:

Cream/mix the butter and the granulated sugar. You’ll end up with a grainy gloppy yellow mess.

If your butter isn’t quite soft and squishy, you can toss it in the microwave for 10 – 15 seconds to make it more pliable. DO NOT melt your butter, as this changes the consistency of the mix (and it also cooks your egg, which we will be adding next).

Gingerbread Cookies: Wet ingredients in a bowl, not mixed
Wet ingredients in the bowl, ready for mixing.
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Step two:

Add the remaining wet ingredients (vinegar, eggs, and molasses) and combine them to make a gloppy brownish mess.

Step three:

Sift your dry ingredients into your wet gloppy mess. I usually do this in segments, using about a third of your flour, then mixing.

If you have a fancy mixer with a cookie paddle, this part will be easier. But I always do it by hand because grandma always said that the stirring makes your cookies fluffier. She also said something about stirring in the love.

Gingerbread Cookies
Your dough should look like this and be sort of sticky.
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Step four:

Separate the dough into two blobs on two sheets of parchment paper. Form it into a log and roll it. Toss the two rolls into the fridge for at least an hour.

Gingerbread Cookies: Dough separated into two portions on parchment paper
Dough blobs on parchment paper.
Image supplied by author. Copyrights apply.
Gingerbread Cookies: Dough rolled into parchment paper
Dough rolled into handy-dandy logs.
Image supplied by author. Copyrights apply.

Play with your kids, go for a jog, or watch a cooking show on TV. If you just sit there and watch the fridge door, I promise you, that hour will seem like three days. And speaking of days — you can keep the prepared dough in your fridge for up to three days. So if you have the nieces and nephews coming over on Saturday, you can prepare the dough on Thursday.

Step five:

For this step, you’ll need about 1/4 cup of flour, a rolling pin, and a rolling mat. If you don’t have those, I’ll share some workarounds later. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees while you perform this step.

Pull one of your logs out of the fridge. I use a knife to cut mine into four sections. Dust your hands with flour and gently knead one section to warm it up a bit and make it pliable. Dust a bit of flour onto your rolling surface and plunk your dough ball in the middle of it. I flatten mine to about an inch by hand.

Dust your rolling pin with flour and roll out your dough until it is about 1/4 inch thick. You can make it up to 1/3 inch thick. No, you do not need to get out your measuring tape. Unless you have really large hands, a perfect thickness is about as wide as your pinkie fingernail.

Using cookie cutters, stamp out your gingerbread men or whatever shapes you are using. Roll up the remaining excess dough and set it aside for now. Grab the next section of dough and repeat the above steps with all four sections.

Lay your cookies out on cookie pans. Keep them about 1/2 inch apart. I use parchment paper on my cookie sheets, but you can bake them right on the pan.

I did this in two batches. Leave the unused dough in the fridge to stay cool. My batch made five dozen medium-sized trees and stars. The actual yield will vary depending on the size and type of cookie cutter you use. With a larger gingerbread man or ugly sweater cutter, you might only make three dozen.

Step six:

It’s time to bake your little masterpieces. Pop your cookie trays into the oven.

Baking times will vary depending on how thick you made your cookies and your oven. Generally, these are quick baking and will be done between 8 and 11 minutes. Mine were perfect at 9 minutes. They are done when you see the edges just start to get darker. This is really subtle, so be careful not to burn yours.

Step seven:

I put my cookies on a paper bag to cool for about two minutes, then I move them to a cooling rack. I have no clue why I do this, it is just the way my grandma always did it. Since her cookies were always awesome, I just keep doing things the same way.

Gingerbread Cookies: Cookies cooling on a paper bag
Cookies cooling on the paper bag.
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Once your cookies are cool, you can frost them if you want to. Honestly, we started eating them and decided they were great without frosting, so we quit after frosting the first dozen. While they came out gorgeous, the frosting didn’t seem to add much more than a visually appealing look.

Tips, Tricks, and Stuff Learned in My Kitchen

I promised you some extra stuff. So here it is.

If you don’t have a fancy rolling mat, you can use several different things to keep your counters flour-free. I have probably used all of these at one point or another, so consider them tested.

Tape wax paper or parchment paper to your table. To avoid damage to a wooden table, use painter’s tape, not duct or packing tape. You can thank me later.

I use my glass stovetop, a dollar store cutting board, and a piece of shelf liner. As crazy as that sounds, it works for me. The shelf liner under the cutting board (which is basically a sheet of firm, but flexible plastic) keeps it from sliding. As long as I don’t try to roll out all my dough at once, it works wonderfully well.

My 30-year-old dollar store rolling pin finally broke, so I may be using one of these fixes for my next batch. But, I think it is safe to say that I definitely got my dollar’s worth out of this item.

Gingerbread Cookies: Sad little broken rolling pin
My sad little broken rolling pin.
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If you don’t have a rolling pin, don’t fret about that either. You can use pretty much any largish, round object, like a tall drinking glass. You just need one that isn’t tapered.

A one-inch dowel rod will also work, but because it isn’t exactly sanitary, you will want to wrap it with wax paper or parchment paper. To do that, just dash off a piece of your paper and roll it as tightly as you can around the rod (taping the inside edge helps). I make mine wider than the rod, then twist the ends to secure them. Just make sure that you are rolling so that the exposed flap doesn’t catch. You can only roll one-way with this cheat, but it works well.

Make These Gingerbread Cookies — You Will Not Be Disappointed

They are gone. The entire five dozen are completely gone. There were only two of us. We ate them all. This is absolutely the best recipe I have ever found for gingerbread cookies.

Drop a comment below and let us know if you tried this recipe and how it worked out for you. We look forward to hearing from you.