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The BEST Soft Gingerbread Cookies Recipe

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We’ve had our blog for over 10 years and this is the first time we’ve posted our recipe for the BEST soft gingerbread cookies ever!

a grey board with the best soft gingerbread cookies recipe decorated with royal icing.

The BEST Gingerbread Cookie Recipe

I’ll be honest, we made more sugar cookies than gingerbread cookies this year around the holidays. I’m not sure why, it was just how life was. But now that I’ve tested and tested so many cookie recipes, I can say that this really is the best soft gingerbread cookies recipe and it will be in our cookie rotation year after year.

If you’re looking for a crisp gingerbread cookie, this isn’t it. But let me tell you, the best soft gingerbread cookie recipe is absolutely the recipe that Christmas cookie wishes are made of.

That soft and chewy cookie that you can smell the moment you walk into the house. The spices fill up every bit of you as you take a bite and letting everything hit your tongue in the most experiential way you’ll ever have with a cookie. It’s just dang good.

No, really, it is.

a grey board with the best soft gingerbread cookies recipe decorated with royal icing.

Soft Gingerbread Cookies Ingredients

I absolutely love that gingerbread cookies are packed full of flavor, and it warms you from the inside out. Oh how I love warm and comforting foods!

Here’s what you’ll need to make these soft gingerbread cookies: 

  • All-purpose flour
  • Baking soda
  • Salt
  • Unsalted butter
  • Light brown sugar
  • Molasses
  • Egg
  • Vanilla extract

And the gingerbread spices you’ll need are: 

  • Ground Ginger
  • Cinnamon
  • Ground Cloves
  • Allspice

a grey board with the best soft gingerbread cookies recipe decorated with royal icing.

How to Make Gingerbread Cookies

Don’t let the thought of rolling and cutting out gingerbread cookies scare you! These soft gingerbread cookies are a cinch to make. Here are the basic steps for how to make gingerbread: 

  1. Beat the butter and brown sugar together until light and fluffy. 
  2. Add in the remaining wet ingredients and stir until combined. 
  3. Add the dry ingredients and mix.
  4. Divide the gingerbread cookie dough into two balls, wrap with plastic wrap, and chill for 3 hours. 
  5. Once chilled, roll out the dough and cut into any shapes you like. 
  6. Bake the gingerbread cookies for 9 to 10 minutes. 

The Perfect Temperature to Bake Gingerbread Cookies

Oh, how many temperatures are listed for baking gingerbread cookies! In all of my research, I found everything from 450 degrees Fahrenheit, then lowering the temperature to a mere 325 degrees. Here’s the thing though, unless you’re making cookies for a gingerbread house you really need to treat these like any other soft and chewy cookie, so 350 degrees F it is!

a grey board with the best soft gingerbread cookies recipe decorated with royal icing.

What’s the Best Molasses for Gingerbread?

We prefer to buy Grandma’s Unsulphured Molasses. It has the best flavor, viscosity, and color to give flavor and chew to the soft gingerbread cookies.

Can You Make Gingerbread Cookies without Molasses?

I know not everyone carries molasses on hand at all times, and if it’s around the holidays your store might just sell out like our’s did last week. Here’s the issue though: the main ingredients in gingerbread cookies that creates their distinct flavor and chewy texture is molasses. Therefore, you can’t really use a molasses substitute in these cookies. 

However, I understand that sometimes you just need a substitute. If you’re in a pinch, here are a souple molasses substitute you can use: 

1 cup dark corn syrup or maple syrup OR 3/4 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar

Can I Omit the Cloves?

You can skip the ground cloves if you need to in gingerbread cookies but we really like that warmth from the spices.

a grey board with the best soft gingerbread cookies recipe decorated with royal icing.

 

How to Store Gingerbread Cookies

Gingerbread cookies need to always be stored in an airtight container. While these are really soft cookies as soon as you leave them sitting out on the counter or on a plate for Santa they are going to quickly crisp up. Even faster than many other cookies.

I tend to store my cookies in gallon sized ziploc bags because it removes so much more air.

How Long are Gingerbread Cookies Good For?

When stored properly, gingerbread cookies can last for up to a week.

Can You Freeze Gingerbread Cookies?

If you want to freeze gingerbread cookies, do it before you decorate. The royal icing, buttercream, or cream cheese frosting can all separate or liquify, which is no bueno. Instead, consider freezing them as dough (I like to make them into balls and then freeze) and bake them off one-by-one later.

Note that gingerbread cookie dough can be frozen for up to 2 months. Already baked gingerbread cookies can be frozen and stored in an airtight container or freezer bag for up to 4 weeks.

 

a grey board with the best soft gingerbread cookies recipe decorated with royal icing.

 Tips for Making the Best Gingerbread Cookies

To make truly soft gingerbread cookies, make sure that you beat the butter and sugar together for a few minutes. There’s an actual change in the properties of butter and sugar as they are creamed together, which makes for a softer cookie. You can see it happen if you watch the color of the butter change from yellow and grainy to extra light and fluffy.

The absolute most important step in making gingerbread cookies involves chilling the dough. And I’m not just talking about resting the dough in the fridge, I mean totally letting it chill in there for hours. This allows the dough to really hold up to rolling and cutting out shapes as well as holding shape in the baking process. Please, do not skip this step.

If rolling and cutting is taking a while, once you have the dough on the cookie sheet place it in the freezer for a couple of minutes to slow down the spreading in the oven.

Also note that when you’re frosting with royal icing, use a small pastry bag with a very small tip. I’ve linked to some. You see, when you are decorating the royal icing starts to solidify quite quickly. That causes issues as it can’t come out of the bag if it’s turning into a hard mess. For this purpose, you want as much as possible to hang out in the bowl so you can stir it to soften it and adjust with water if needed.

More COOKIE RECIPES You’re Going to Love:

If you’re looking for Christmas Cookies specifically, try these:

a grey board with the best soft gingerbread cookies recipe decorated with royal icing.

The Best Soft Gingerbread Cookies

4.6 from 10 votes
Prep Time: 3 hours
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 3 hours 10 minutes
Servings: 24
We've had our blog for over 10 years and this is the first time we've posted our recipe for the BEST soft gingerbread cookies ever!

Ingredients

  • 3 1/2 cups All-Purpose Flour 
  • 1 Teaspoon Baking Soda
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Salt
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Ground Cloves
  • 2 1/2 Teaspoons Ground Ginger
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Allspice
  • 1 Tablespoon Cinnamon
  • 10 Tablespoons unsalted butter softened (1 stick plus 2 tablespoons)
  • 3/4 Cup Light Brown Sugar (dark works for even more flavor)
  • 2/3 cup Molasses*
  • 1 Large Egg at room temperature
  • 3/4 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract

Royal Icing

  • 1 1/2 Cups Powdered Sugar
  • 1 Teaspoon Light Corn Syrup
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Vanilla
  • 2-3 Tablespoons Room Temp Water

Instructions

  • In a bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, salt, ginger, cinnamon, allspice and cloves, whisking to completely combine.
  • In a large bowl using a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter and the brown sugar for 3 minutes on medium high speed. Add the molasses and beat on medium high speed until combined and creamy-looking.
  • Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl.
  • Next, beat in egg and vanilla. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
  • Add the dry ingredients to the bowl. On low speed, slowly mix into the wet ingredients until combined.
  • Divide the cookie dough in half and place each onto a large piece of plastic wrap. Wrap each dough up tightly and pat down to create a flat disc shape.
  • Chill the discs for at least 3 hours and up to 3 days in the refrigerator. Chilling is mandatory for gingerbread cookie dough.
  • Preheat oven to 350°F
  • Line 2-3 large baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats. (We  recommend these for cookies and never bake without them.)
  • Remove 1 disc of chilled cookie dough from the refrigerator.
  • Generously sprinkle a work surface, as well as your hands and the rolling pin with powdered sugar, not flour.
  • Roll out disc until 1/4-1/2"-inch thick. Cut into shapes. Place shapes 1 inch apart on prepared baking sheets. Re-roll dough scraps until all the dough is shaped. Repeat with remaining disc of dough.
  • Bake cookies for about 9-10 minutes.
  • Allow cookies to cool for 5 minutes on the cookie sheet. Transfer to cooling rack to cool completely. Once completely cool, decorate with royal icing!

Royal Icing

  • In a large bowl, mix together the powdered sugar, water, vanilla and corn syrup until smooth. When you lift your spoon you should see the icing ribbon down onto the remaining icing, staying in its ribbon for a few seconds before melting back into the rest. If it doesn't hold it's shape just add a little more powdered sugar. If it's incredibly thick and doesn't melt back within a few seconds add a little more water.

Notes

*We've had the best luck with Grandma's brand of molasses. 
Nutrition Facts
The Best Soft Gingerbread Cookies
Amount Per Serving (1 g)
Calories 119 Calories from Fat 9
% Daily Value*
Fat 1g2%
Saturated Fat 1g6%
Cholesterol 10mg3%
Sodium 105mg5%
Carbohydrates 26g9%
Sugar 20g22%
Protein 1g2%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

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a grey board with the best soft gingerbread cookies recipe decorated with royal icing.

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About the authors

Cheney Family

Cade and Carrian have three children and love to spend time together whether it’s vacationing or snuggled up on the couch for a good movie.

And this family especially loves to eat.

They love everything from the keep you fit and healthy to the get out your sweat pants indulgent and everything in between.

But most of all, they love the memories made, shared and treasured and it’s all thanks to a meal shared together with loved ones.

Leave a comment

13 comments

  • Truely amazing and really easy! Even after a week they are still soft. Thank you for the recipe. It has been a great addition to our family’s Christmas traditions. ♥️

    • Reply
  • I made these this weekend, and they really are soft and perfect. I chilled the dough overnight in the fridge and cut/baked the next day. At times, the dough got slightly dry and started to crack when rolled, (even though I took out each half before I was ready to cut). To remedy this, I wet my hands by just barely dipping them in water and kneaded to moisten the dough. Then, I dusted more confectioner’s sugar on my hands, rolling pin, and work surface so the dough didn’t stick. It worked like a charm, and my cookies came out of the oven without any surface cracks. Delicious!

    • Reply
    • Thank you so much for the feedback and for the helpful tip! So glad you enjoyed these awesome cookies!

      • Reply
  • Can’t wait to make these with my kids!

    • Reply
    • They are going to love it! Have fun making memories together!

      • Reply
  • I would like to make the dough and freeze it in the balls. Do you bake straight from the freezer or let defrost in fridge counter at all? If I wanted to make gingerbread…should I cut out and then freeze (instead of the ball shape)?

    • Reply
    • Let the balls thaw in the refrigerator overnight, then you can pull them out and bake them as stated in the instructions. If you want to shape them, roll and cut the dough into the desired shapes and then freeze them. Lay the shapes flat on a cookie sheet and freeze them, then you can stack them with parchment paper in between each layer. When you are ready to bake, let them thaw in the fridge and then bake as directed.

      • Reply
  • I haven’t made these yet but I will for a nursing home party. I was wondering if I could use a different brand of molasses instead of Grandma’s as I don’t have any. I know it’s not Blackstrap though. Thank’s

    • Reply
    • Oh man, Grandma’s really is the best, but if you can’t find it, another brand will be fine.

      • Reply
  • Aww, your cookies all look pretty! My family always enjoy decorating these beautiful gingerbread cookies together, especially it’s a great treatment for the kids in which they can be freely creative!
    Merry Christmas Cade and Carrian and your sweet family too 😊😊😊
    – Natalie

    • Reply
    • Thank you Natalie! Hope you Christmas was wonderful!

      • Reply
  • Thank you very very much for this about gingerbread cookies and all the questions you answered!!

    • Reply
    • You’re so welcome! I hope you enjoy them!

      • Reply

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