We adore gingerbread cookies around here, because they never fail to make us feel warm & cozy, happy & healthy, & full of joy! This recipe is tried and true with a good snap and great flavor. You'll love this gingerbread cookie recipe!
I simply adore my children learning the value of tradition, of "old-school", of simplicity, and something that is simply good. There are no fancy gimmicks with gingerbread cookies. Because there doesn't need to be, does there? Oh, what it does to the soul to eat the best gingerbread cookies (real, homemade ones!) over the holidays!!
Gingerbread Cookie Christmas Tree
Use this recipe to create an edible Gingerbread Cookie Tree. An easy and fun activity that kids love to make all by themselves!
So, cheers to you teachers that use gingerbread cookies in class...giant hugs and cheers!! And, to you parents & grandparents that make these every year (especially if you get your kids involved!)...please share with us some of your tips, tricks, creations, and stories about why this kind of cookie, in particular, is special!
Key Ingredients for Gingerbread Cookies:
- Shortening I make my gingerbread cookies with shortening so that they don't spread as much when baking. This makes this recipe ideal for cut-out gingerbread cookies. You can sub butter for shortening. You will get a richer cookie but it will spread a bit more in baking.
- Molasses Unsulphured molasses tastes mild and sweet in this recipe. The color is lovely and the taste perfect for kids. When making gingerbread cookies for children I wouldn't recommend blackstrap molasses because most children find the flavor too strong and dark. However, many adults love the stronger flavor.
- Spices You can't have gingerbread cookies without a good dose of cinnamon and cloves. You could also add ginger and allspice, if you like. Even a bit of black pepper to add a bit of kick is a nice touch.
- Vinegar Vinegar helps keep gingerbread cookies soft and yet maintain that nice snap essential to a good gingerbread cookie.
Tips for great gingerbread cutout cookies:
- Chill your dough for a couple of hours prior to starting.
- Roll your dough in small batches a time keeping the rest in the fridge to stay cool.
- Try to make sure your surface and rolling pin are cold (I often take an ice pack and rub the surface and rolling pin down).
- Work quickly to roll out the dough and cut the cookies out.
- Chill the dough AFTER it has been cut and placed on the pan. Even just 10 minutes will result in crisper cookies.
- Make sure your oven is preheated so the cookies go into a hot oven.
What kind of molasses is best for gingerbread cookies?
Light, unsulfured molasses has a sweeter, more mild flavor and a good choice for baking. Blackstrap molasses brings a much more intense flavor and dark color. If you haven't made gingerbread cookies before I recommend going with the lighter variety.
Should gingerbread cookies be hard or soft?
Either! It's really up to your preference. Traditionally, they tend to be hard. That's the best for making them into things like houses or decorating. But if you don't like them like that, don't make them that way.
How do you know when gingerbread cookies are done?
When the edges become firm. The center will still be a bit soft. The longer you bake them, the harder they will become. When you want to make gingerbread houses, baking your gingerbread a bit too long is great for making it stiff (and good building material). For eating cookies, be sure to bake them just until the edges are dry or you will have over-baked and dry cookies.
Are gingerbread cookies the same as molasses cookies?
While they're similar, gingerbread and molasses cookies aren't exactly the same. Molasses cookies are normally chewy, and gingerbread usually snaps if you break it. We have a great no-molasses ginger cookie recipe, by the way. You simply must try it!
Why do you use vinegar in gingerbread cookies?
The acid from the vinegar helps keeps the gingerbread cookies tender without tasting nasty.
Rarely do we frost or ice our gingerbread cookies. For one, they get eaten so quickly that I don't have a chance. For two, my family really doesn't seem to need the additional sugar to enjoy their charm. And, why fight that? This recipe is simple, it tastes great, and why mess with that?
However, there is one icing that we do love. It's eggnog icing. So if you make these cookies, be sure to give it a try. To make beautifully decorated cookies I suggest using Royal Icing for that perfect professional look.
How to Make Egg Nog Icing:
- 2 oz soft cream cheese
- ¼ cup soft butter
- 3 tablespoons eggnog
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- pinch of cinnamon
- Beat the cream cheese and butter together.
- Add in the eggnog and cinnamon.
- Beat in the powdered sugar.
Best Gingerbread Cookies
- ½ cup shortening
- ½ cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ¾ teaspoon ground cloves
- ½ cup molasses use dark for stronger flavor, light for a lighter flavor
- 1 egg
- 1 tablespoon white vinegar
- 2 ½ cups flour or until it's good to roll out
- Beat shortening on medium speed for about 45 seconds, until light and fluffy.
- Add sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and spices. Beat until combined.
- Add molasses, egg, & vinegar. Beat until combined.
- Add 2 cups of the flour and beat until combined.
- Beat in the remainder, if you can. Otherwise stir it in.
- Cover and chill the dough for at least 3 hours (you can leave it overnight, too!)
- ----For basic cookies roll the dough into 2 inch balls and place on greased cookie sheet. Press down gently (use the bottom of a cup covered in sugar, for a bonus!)
- ----For cut-outs roll the dough (about ½ at a time) on to a lightly floured surface until about ⅛ inch thick. Cut out.
- Bake cookies at 375 degrees for 5 to 6 minutes or edges are slightly brown. Cool before icing or frosting.
Additional Christmas Cookies and Treats to try:
- The Ultimate List of Christmas Cookies for Kids to Make
- Fool-Proof No-Chill Sugar Cookies (great for a GF option!)
- 3 ingredient peanut butter cookies
- Grapefruit Shortbread Cookies
- Citrus Linzer Cookies
- the BEST Homemade Toffee Recipe
- the BEST Gingerbread cake recipe
- Caramel Cookie Cup - a family favorite!
- Jam Thumbprint Cookie recipe
- Super-Moist Apple Almond Cake - perfect for coffee or tea!
- 2 Minute Microwave Fudge
- the BEST Gingerbread Cookies
Holiday Cocktails, Mocktails, & festive drinks:
- Bucket List of Holiday Cocktails
- Sex on a Snowbank Cocktail
- Cranberry Margarita (with mocktail version)
- Cranberry Moscow Mule (Moscow Unicorn)
- Rosemary Honey Moscow Mule
- Bourbon Cherry Smash Cocktail
- Whiskey Pom Cocktail
- Cranberry Whiskey Sour
- Root Beer and Rum Cocktail
- Hard Cider Hot Toddy
- Bailey's S’mores Dessert Shots