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Easy Gingerbread Cookie Recipe for Eating & Decorating

Fill your home with the warm and comforting scents of the holiday season with this gingerbread cookie recipe. Not only is this the perfect tasty treat with a hot drink, these cookies can also be used as Christmas decorations. Just hang them with a ribbon – they’re as pretty as they are delicious!

A variety of gingerbread cookies laying on a marble surface with a rolling pin beside.

Why You’ll Love these Gingerbread Cookies

Although I usually start out my Christmas baking with classic rolled sugar cookies, this was the first time I’ve ever tried making gingerbread cookies!

This gingerbread cookie recipe (adapted from the Reader’s Digest Canada recipe) is just simple ingredients – all of which I had in my pantry and fridge. The dough can be mixed up quickly the evening before and chilled to be ready to bake in the morning.

Easy to roll out and cut with cookie cutters, they bake to the perfect crispness – sturdy enough to hang as decorations, but not too hard to enjoy eating with a cup of hot coffee or hot chocolate. (They’d be amazing with fireside coffee!!)

These cookies are the perfect cookie to make with your kids or grandkids. I think they would have so much fun joining in the process from cutting to decorating.

Have fun!

Gingerbread Cookie Ingredients

(A printable recipe card is available below for your convenience.)

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ginger
  • 1/8 teaspoon cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup butter (softened to room temperature)
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1/2 cup molasses
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla

Step by Step Instructions for the Best Gingerbread Cookies Recipe

  1. Whisk together the flour, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, nutmeg, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat together the butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy – about 3 minutes. Add in the molasses, egg, and vanilla and mix until combined.
  3. While the mixer is on low speed, gradually add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix to combine. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl to ensure it is all mixed together well.
  4. Scoop out half of the dough and place on a piece of plastic wrap and press into a disc. Do the same with the other half of the dough. Chill the gingerbread dough in the fridge at least 3 hours or overnight.
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper or silicone mats.
  2. Remove one gingerbread dough disc from the fridge and sandwich it between 2 pieces of parchment paper. Using a rolling pin, roll out the dough to 1/8 inch thick and cut with whatever shapes you’d like. If you want to use the cookies as decor, use a straw or skewer to cut a hole to thread ribbon through.
  3. Place cookie shapes on the cookie sheet about 1 inch apart and bake for 8-10 minutes, or until the cookies are firm.
  4. When fully cool, ice with royal icing (recipe below) or powdered sugar icing.

Tips for rolling out gingerbread cookie dough

One of the most frustrating parts about rolled cookies can be the rolling out part. If the dough gets too sticky, all kinds of problems follow. Here are some tips to make rolling out gingerbread cookies easy peasy:

  1. Start with chilled dough. Chilling for at least 3 hours is essential as this is a pretty sticky dough. Before chilling the dough, form it into a disc and press the edges smooth with your thumb. It will help it to stay together better when you roll it out.
  2. Sandwich the dough between two pieces of parchment paper when ready to roll out the dough. To prevent the parchment paper from slipping on your cupboard, wipe the surface under the paper with a very lightly damp cloth. It will keep the paper from sliding around.
  3. Dust the parchment paper with flour before putting the dough on it, and dust the top of the dough before putting on the top sheet of parchment paper.
  4. Throughout the process of rolling out, flip over the paper, peal it off, and dust with more flour if it’s getting sticky. Don’t be afraid to dust on flour whenever it gets sticky. This dough is very forgiving and doesn’t mind a bit more flour.
  5. Roll the dough quite thin for these cookies – 1/8 inch is thin, but it will be ok! These cookies don’t spread on the pan, but they do puff up a bit.
  6. If you are having trouble with the dough sticking after you have it all rolled out, pop it in the freezer for 5 minutes. Then flip it over, peel off the back piece of parchment paper and dust it lightly with flour again. Then your cookies should come off nicely.
An assortment of gingerbread cookies laying on a marble surface.
Have fun adding personality to gingerbread cookies with your own unique gingerbread decorating ideas!

How to Make Royal Icing for Gingerbread Cookies

I’ve always been a powdered sugar icing person, but this time, I decided to try making royal icing instead. Royal icing makes a really sturdy icing that dries very hard – making the perfect decorating options for these gingerbread Christmas tree ornaments!

Ingredients for Royal Icing

  • 3 egg whites
  • 4 cups icing sugar, sifted after measuring
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond or vanilla extract

Step by step instructions for Royal Icing

  1. Beat the 3 egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer until frothy.
  2. Gradually add in sifted icing sugar 1 cup at a time. Once it is all added in, stop the mixer and scrap down the sides of the bowl. Then add the almond or vanilla extract.
  3. Beat until the icing becomes glossy and stiff peaks form – about 5-7 minutes.
  4. Place the icing in an icing bag fitted with your preferred decorating tip. (I used 2 small sizes of round tips.) (Be sure to cover any icing that may be left in the bowl as it hardens really fast.)

Note: I had lots of leftover icing after decorating these cookies, so if you’d like to half the batch of royal icing, you should still have plenty.

A gingerbread man cookie decorated with a smiley face.
Decorating these gingerbread cookies would be the perfect activity to do with friends and family over the holiday season!

Tips for decorating with royal icing

This was my very first time decorating with royal icing – and it won’t be the last. It was kind of fun. But, having said that, I admit there is a bit of a learning curve, so don’t be too hard on yourself!

Here are a few tips when starting out with royal icing decorating.

  • Use an actual piping bag for this project. I happened to be out of piping bags, so I cut the tip of a ziploc bag and fitted the decorator tip in it. It did work, but it was very awkward to handle.
  • If you make a mistake, you can wipe the icing off immediately with a knife, or wait until it is dry and scrape it off then. I had lots of scraped off frosting before I figured out how much pressure I needed to put on the piping bag to keep the line flowing well.
  • An alternative to piping bags is to put the icing in a plastic bottle with a nozzle. If kids are decorating cookies, this might be a nice option for them.
  • If you want to add more colors to your icing, just divide the icing into different bowls and add food coloring to color it, and then put it in icing bags.
  • Be sure to cover all the icing that is sitting in bowls or bags as it dries very quickly.
  • If you want to “flood” icing on to your cookies, thin out the royal icing with water – a very little bit at a time – until you get the consistency you’d like.
An assortment of different shaped gingerbread cookies - stars, trees, gingerbread men, and hearts - on a white platter.

How to turn Gingerbread Cookies into Christmas Decor

If you’d like to turn these gingerbread cookies into ornaments for your tree, just punch a hole in the top of each one with a straw before baking. Then once finished, tie on a piece of baker’s twine or string to attach it to the tree. These gingerbread cookie decorations would also be so cute tied to gifts!

Gingerbread cookies tied onto a tree with red striped bakers twine.
These gingerbread cookies are delicious enough to eat and pretty enough to decorate with!

Other Christmas Cookies Recipes

Soft & Chewy Rolled Cut Out Sugar Cookie Recipe
Never Fail Fudge
Make this condensed milk fudge recipe in the microwave in 5 minutes!
Cranberry Lemon Bars
Jam Sandwich Cookies (a shortcut recipe!)
75+ Christmas cookie recipes with pictures
Cute & quick Rudolph Cookies
Brownie Mix Cookies

Christmas baking just got easier!

With a mix of traditional classics, and new trendy favorites, our Christmas Cookies Recipes E-Book cookbook can help make Christmas baking SIMPLE & FUN. With 12 digital (and printable) recipes with tips & tricks, you’ll have time for more traditions – and less stress in the kitchen!

SAVE TIME & STRESS!

CHRISTMAS COOKIES RECIPES COLLECTION

With a mix of traditional & trendy Christmas cookies, this recipe collection with pictures can help bring back the fun (& simple) traditions of Christmas baking.

Pin this to remember later:

Gingerbread cookies decorated with a rolling pin beside.
Gingerbread Cookie Recipe

Gingerbread Cookie Recipe

Yield: 36
Prep Time: 1 hour
Cook Time: 8 minutes
Additional Time: 3 hours
Total Time: 4 hours 8 minutes

Fill your home with the warm and comforting scents of the holiday season with this gingerbread cookie recipe. Not only is this the perfect tasty treat with a hot drink, these cookies can also be used as Christmas decorations. Just hang them with a ribbon – they’re as pretty as they are delicious!

Ingredients

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ginger
  • 1/8 teaspoon cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup butter (softened to room temperature)
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1/2 cup molasses
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla

Instructions

  1. Whisk together the flour, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, nutmeg, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat together the butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy – about 3 minutes. Add in the molasses, egg, and vanilla and mix until combined.
  3. While the mixer is on low speed, gradually add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix to combine. Scrap the sides and bottom of the bowl to ensure it is all mixed together well.
  4. Scoop out half of the dough and place on a piece of plastic wrap and press into a disc. Do the same with the other half of the dough. Chill the gingerbread dough in the fridge at least 3 hours or overnight.
  5. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper or silicone mats.
  6. Remove one gingerbread dough disc from the fridge and sandwich it between 2 pieces of parchment paper. Using a rolling pin, roll out the dough to 1/8 inch thick and cut with whatever shapes you’d like. If you want to use the cookies as decor, use a straw or skewer to cut a hole to thread ribbon through.
  7. Place cookie shapes on the cookie sheet about 1 inch apart and bake for 8-10 minutes, or until the cookies are firm.
  8. When fully cool, ice with royal icing (recipe below) or powdered sugar icing.

To Make Royal Icing:

Ingredients for Royal Icing

  • 3 egg whites
  • 4 cups icing sugar, sifted after measuring
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond or vanilla extract

Step by step instructions for Royal Icing

  1. Beat the 3 egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer until frothy.
  2. Gradually add in sifted icing sugar 1 cup at a time. Once it is all added in, stop the mixer and scrap down the sides of the bowl. Then add the almond or vanilla extract.
  3. Beat until the icing becomes glossy and stiff peaks form – about 5-7 minutes.
  4. Place the icing in an icing bag fitted with your preferred decorating tip. (I used 2 small sizes of round tips.) (Be sure to cover any icing that may be left in the bowl as it hardens really fast.)

Did you make this recipe?

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