This Gingerbread Cookie recipe is foolproof and SO easy to make. Use this easy gingerbread recipe to make gingerbread men, tree decorations or a cookie wreath.
Delicious, festive and perfect for decorating – make my easy Gingerbread Cookies part of your Christmas tradition!
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Published December 2014 | Updated November 2019
Baking a batch of gingerbread cookies always heralds the start of the festive season in our house. The kids and I put on our Christmas playlist, make the dough, then roll and cut out batches and batches of these fragrant cookies.
If you want to join in with the festive baking then I have the perfect recipe for you! I have updated my favourite gingerbread recipe to make it even EASIER.
Take a look at the recipe video, step by step tutorial and read through my tips for baking the perfect Christmas cookies! Prefer sugar cookies to gingerbread? Try my easy cut out sugar cookie recipe.
Here’s what you will need for this recipe. You can play around with the ratio of treacle and golden syrup to suit your preferences. Treacle will add a lot of complex flavour and make the cookies quite dark while golden syrup has a much more mellow taste. Check out my Vegan Gingerbread cookie recipe here.
- Molasses a.k.a Treacle – adds tons of flavour to your gingerbread but you can make this recipe without it if you prefer (see below)
- Golden Syrup – I prefer to use a mix of Golden Syrup and treacle in my cookies. You can make this recipe with 100% golden syrup if preferred – the cookies will not be as dark and will have a mellower taste. You can substitute golden syrup with light corn syrup or agave.
- Soft dark (or light) brown sugar – do not use granulated sugar in this recipe
- Spices: Ground ginger, ginger, allspice and cloves. Feel free to play around with the spices if you like.
- Baking soda (bicarbonate of soda): check it is within date
- one large egg
- Flour: Plain (all-purpose) flour
- Festive sprinkles – optional but look how cute!!
- Food colouring – if you wish to colour the icing
Some simple tools make all the difference in getting your gingerbread men just right!
- Digital scales – I always use these for accurate measuring
- A rolling pin with spacing rings – makes rolling out cookie (and pie) dough evenly so much easier!
- A selection of cookie cutters – gingerbread men of course but any festive cutters can be used. I love Christmas tree cutters (excellent decorations for Xmas cakes) and you can even buy Gingerbread house kits
- Heavy cookie sheets (trays) that will not warp in the oven
- Oxo Good Grips Baker’s Silicone decorating kit is perfect for piping the icing – and for drizzling glaze on drip cakes 😉
- This reusable baking liner is fantastic for rolling out the dough on and for baking the cookies
HOW TO MAKE GINGERBREAD COOKIES
Take a look at this step by step tutorial – please note you will find the full recipe, including ingredients in the recipe card at the end of this post.
STEP 1. Put the molasses (treacle), golden syrup (or light corn syrup), brown sugar, all the spices and butter into a large bowl.
STEP 2. Microwave for one minute, stir and microwave for another 30-60 seconds until the butter melts. Use a small whisk to stir everything together then stir in the baking soda.
STEP 3. Add the egg and quickly stir in to combine.
STEP 4. Gradually add the flour, mixing with a wooden spoon.
STEP 5. Use your hands to mix the last of the flour into the dough, adding as much as required to create a pliable, non sticky, dough. Knead briefly and gather into a ball. You can now use the dough straight away, but you can also store it in the fridge for later use. Keep any dough you are not using straight away covered so it doesn’t dry out.
STEP 6. Roll out the dough. Line your worktop with a piece of greaseproof paper, the size of your cookie sheet. Dust with a little flour and roll out a third of your dough to a thickness of 1/8 inch .
STEP 7. Cut out the cookie shapes using your favourite cutters. Carefully lift the cookies and arrange on your prepared cookie sheet, spaced slightly apart. Reroll any leftover dough to cut out more shapes.
STEP 8. Bake in the preheated oven for 12 minutes until the cookies just start to colour a little at the edges. Smaller cookies might need slightly less time – do a test batch if you are worried. Cookies which contain a lot of treacle (molasses) tend to cook quite dark so you might need to adjust the time. You will need to bake your cookies in batches.
STEP 9. Leave the cookies to cool on the baking tray then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
STEP 10. Decorate once the cookies have cooled down (see options below).
Let’s decorate some cookies!
Royal icing is, in my opinion, the best icing for decorating cookies and even assembling gingerbread houses.
This is made with egg whites and powdered (icing) sugar using a stand or hand mixer. This icing can be used to pipe fine decorations on the cookies or to flood (fill) them as well.
A simple icing glaze made with powdered (icing) sugar and water is another, easier, option for decorating cookies (see recipe card).
HOW TO MAKE ROYAL ICING
STEP 1. Put the egg whites and cream of tartar in the bowl of your stand mixer. Start whisking on low speed until frothy.
STEP 2. Increase the speed and once the egg whites form soft peaks, start adding the icing sugar one tablespoon at a time. Continue to whisk until it forms firm peaks. The longer you whisk the stiffer the icing will become.
STEP 3. The icing needs to drip slowly off a spoon to be used for piping on cookies. You can thin it out with water, adding a few drops at a time, if you want to fill (flood) the cookies.
I love the look of marbled cookies and they are so much fun to make – if a little messy. You can vary the colours to suit – take a look at these pink cookies used as cake decorations!
STEP 1. Fill a bowl with thinned royal icing. Add drops of food colouring and use a skewer to swirl the colour so it creates a marbled effect. Dip the cookies into the icing, lift them up and let any excess icing drip off.
STEP 2. Place on wire rack to cool completely. You can add piped icing over the marbled cookies once they dry completely to complete the look.
Essential Tips and FAQs
– What is a substitute for golden syrup? Lyle’s Golden Syrup is a very common baking ingredient in the UK however it may be hard to source elsewhere. You can make this recipe using 100% molasses (your cookies will look quite dark) or substitute the golden syrup with light corn syrup or light molasses.
– Do I have to chill the dough? This dough can be used straight away without chilling first but you can chill it if you like, it will make cutting out the cookies a bit easier.
– Christmas tree ornaments or a cookie garland – use a straw to cut out small holes prior to baking. You might need to enlarge the holes once the cookies come out of the oven. Do this before they cool down by pushing a wooden skewer through the hole if it has closed up during baking. I love using baker twine for hanging them on the tree.
– How long does gingerbread dough last in the fridge? Flatten the dough to form a disk and wrap (or put in a silicone bag) then store in the fridge for up to three days.
– Can you freeze the dough? Yes provided you wrap it really well in plastic wrap. Keep for up to a month and defrost overnight in the fridge. Bring back to room temperature before rolling out, kneading it briefly so it becomes pliable.
– How do you store gingerbread cookies? Store the cookies in an airtight tin, separated by greaseproof paper. Make sure that any decorations/icing have dried completely first! Your cookies will happily last for 2-3 weeks if stored properly.
– Can you freeze these cookies? Gingerbread freezes well. Space the (undecorated) cookies out on a tray and freeze until solid then pack in a container, separated by greaseproof paper.
Easiest Gingerbread Cookies
- 85 g (⅓ cup) soft light brown sugar
- 100 g (3 ½ oz) treacle or dark molasses
- 100 g (3 ½ oz) golden syrup or light molasses
- 115 g (1 stick) unsalted butter at room temperature
- 2 tsp ground ginger
- 1 ½ tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp allspice
- ½ tsp ground cloves
- ¼ tsp salt
- 2 tsp baking soda bicarbonate of soda
- 1 egg
- 440 g (3 ½ cups) plain flour plus more for dusting and rolling
- 3 egg whites
- 500 g (4 cups) icing sugar (powdered sugar)
- ½ tsp cream of tartar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract optional
- lemon juice or water to thin the icing as needed
- 250 g | 2 cups icing sugar (powdered sugar)
- 2 tbsp water or as much as needed
- 1 tsp vanilla extract optional
Make the gingerbread cookie dough
- Preheat the oven to 170C (340F) and line 3 heavy trays with baking paper (you will need to bake the cookies in batches).
- Put the sugar, treacle, golden syrup, butter, spices and salt in a large bowl. Microwave in 30 second bursts until the butter starts to melt.
- Stir until butter melted completely and you have a smooth thick liquid.
- Stir in the baking soda and then the egg.
- Gradually add all the flour, stirring it in with a wooden spoon.
- Use your hands to mix the last of the flour into the dough, adding as much as required to create a pliable, non sticky, dough the consistency of Play Doh.
- You can now use the dough straight away or chill it and use later. Divide the dough into chunks, keeping any unused dough covered so that it doesn't dry out.
Roll out the dough and cut out cookies
- Roll out the dough. Line your worktop with a piece of greaseproof paper, dust with a little flour and roll out to a thickness of ⅛ inch. A rolling pin with spacing rings is very useful here.
- Cut out the cookie shapes using your favourite cutters. Carefully lift the cookies and arrange on your prepared cookie sheet, spaced slightly apart. Reroll any leftover dough to cut out more shapes.
- Bake in the preheated oven for 12-14 minutes until the cookies just start to colour a little at the edges. You will need to bake your cookies in batches. Smaller cookies will need between 8-10 minutes.
- The cookies will still be a bit soft when out of the oven. Carefully transfer to a wire rack to cool.
- Put the egg whites and cream of tartar in the bowl of your stand mixer. Start whisking on low speed until frothy.
- Increase the speed and once the egg whites form soft peaks, start adding the icing sugar one tablespoon at a time. Continue to whisk until the icing drops slowly off a spoon. TOP TIP: always keep the royal icing covered otherwise it will quickly dry out.
- If the icing is too thin you can add more icing sugar. If too thick, thin it with a little water or lemon juice. You will want the icing to be quite thick if you are making a gingerbread house.
Decorate the cookis
- Put the royal icing in a piping bag and snip a very small hole at the tip (or use a silicone bottle as I have done).
- If you wish to fill (flood) the cookies, thin half of the icing with a little water and use it to fill an outlined cookie – pushing the icing to the edges using a toothpick. Leave to dry completely at room temperature.
- Put the icing sugar in a bowl and gradually add enough water until you have a thick glaze that drops slowly off a spoon. Stir in the vanilla if using. Use this glaze to decorate the cookies leaving it to dry completely before storing them.