Classic Gingerbread Cookies are a must-make for the holidays. Decorated with colorful sprinkles and delicious icing, they're like edible art ready to share with family and friends.
How to Make Gingerbread Cookies
I suppose, it doesn't get more classic than gingerbread and sugar cookies at the holidays. Rightly so, I have fond memories of baking holiday cookies as a girl and love sharing those same holiday tasks with my own family. Now that they're grown, I can still tell they love this lifelong tradition and that means the world to me.
Helpful Tips for Making Gingerbread Cookies
- In the instance of these cookies, softened butter is better to use instead of melted butter. Creaming the butter together with sugar lends a soft and slightly fluffy texture to the gingerbread cookies. Melted butter will result in a more dense cookie.
- If you forget to set the butter out to soften, you can utilize the soften feature on your microwave. Likewise, you could cube the butter to maximize the surface area to speed up the process on the counter. I would caution you from using the cook feature on the microwave, or it could melt unevenly resulting in partially softened and partially melted butter.
- The type of molasses you use can make a difference. Grandma's brand unsulphured molasses is what's used in this recipe. Please note, different brands of molasses can vary in color once combined with the remaining ingredients.
- You can change the amount of spices, if that's your preference. If you loathe the flavor of cloves, you could omit them or replace with the same amount of allspice.
More Pro Tips and How to Store Gingerbread Cookies
- Don't skip the chill time. Even if the dough seems rollable after combining, the fats need time to firm so the gingerbread cookies will keep their shape while baking.
- You can make the dough up to 2 days in advance and form into a disc like you would pie crust, then wrap in plastic wrap to chill. Allow a few minutes on the counter to soften just a tad so it will be easier to roll.
- You can store these cookies in an airtight container at room temperature for up to one week.
- After decorating, place into an airtight container in a single layer to prevent smudging the decorations. If you choose to stack, place wax paper between layers.
- The most traditional way to make gingerbread cookies is to decorate them with royal icing. If you prefer less fuss, they can be frosted completely with icing, instead of piping designs, and sprinkled with edible glitter or seasonal sprinkles.
Other Christmas Cookie Recipes to Add to the Menu
All Christmas cookies don't have to be frosted and decorated. Some come ready to eat straight out of the oven. A few others you may like to add to your baking plans:
- Cutout Cream Cheese Sugar Cookies for the sugar cookie fans at your holiday table.
- Chocolate Dipped Pecan Lace Cookies
- Cranberry Walnut Chocolate Chip Cookies
- White Chocolate Cherry Pudding Cookies
- Dark Chocolate Mint Brownie Cookies
- Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Truffles
- Christmas Sugar Cookie Bars from The Country Cook
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Helpful Kitchen Items:
- ¾ cup unsalted butter softened
- ¾ cup packed light brown sugar
- ⅔ cup molasses (unsulphured)
- 1 large egg
- 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 1 Tbsp orange zest
- 3 ½ cup all purpose flour
- 1 Tbsp ground ginger
- 1 Tbsp ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp baking soda
- ½ tsp ground clove
- ½ tsp salt
- ¼ tsp ground nutmeg
- Royal Icing:
- 3 cups powdered sugar
- 2 Tbsp meringue powder
- 1 tsp clear vanilla extract or ½ tsp almond extract
- 4-6 Tbsp water
- sprinkles, edible glitter, red hots, candy for decorating
- In a large bowl using an electric mixer, cream together butter, brown sugar, and molasses until fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add egg and vanilla beating until fully combined. Add zest, mixing until evenly distributed.
- In a medium size mixing bowl use a whisk to sift together flour, ginger, cinnamon, baking soda, clove, salt and nutmeg. With mixer on low, gradually add dry ingredients to wet ingredients just until the dough comes together. (Don't overmix)
- Divide dough in half and create two flattened discs. Wrap each in plastic wrap and chill until firm, at least 2 hours preferably 4 hours or overnight.
- Preheat oven to 350° and line two large baking sheets with parchment paper. Place one disc of dough on a lightly floured surface and roll to around until ¼-1/3" thick rectangle. Cut into 3 inch wide cookies using a gingerbread cookie cutter, Christmas trees, stars, candy canes. Transfer to baking sheets. Keep second disc chilled until ready to repeat the process.
- Bake for 8-10 minutes, or until lightly puffed, adjusting the time depending on the size of the cookies.
- Cool on pan for 5 minutes then transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely.
- To make royal icing: Combine powdered sugar and meringue powder in a medium bowl adding 3 tablespoons of water. Beat with an electric mixer on medium speed until creamy and smooth, about 1-2 minutes. Turn to medium high speed beating until white and fluff. Add additional water, 1 teaspoon at a time, until desired consistency is reached. Likewise, if you need to thicken, add additional powdered sugar. Divide icing into 3 or 4 portions, and tint each with white, red or green gel food coloring. Decorate cookies as desired with icing, sprinkles and candy. Let dry.
- Store in an airtight container at room temperature. Do not stack.