Gingerbread Cookie Bars
Wondering what to bring to your next Christmas party? Gingerbread cookie bars are the perfect dessert! The recipe uses a 9×13 pan, which yields plenty of dessert bars for a party. Your guests will love the chewy texture, spiced flavor and rich cream cheese frosting.
My favorite dessert to make for parties are cookie bars. They are quick and easy to make and everyone loves them! These gingerbread cookie bars will definitely be making an appearance at many holiday parties this year. The gingerbread spices paired with cream cheese frosting is always a hit with friends and family!
Why This Recipe Works
There is only 30 minutes of active time in this quick and easy recipe. They come together so quickly because you don’t have to roll each individual cookie. Just bake, cut and serve! Since the recipe uses a 9×13 pan, it yields plenty of bars making it the perfect dessert for Christmas parties!
The texture is chewy and soft with the right amount of gingerbread flavor. The rich cream cheese frosting complements the spiced bars perfectly.
- Molasses: Unsulphured molasses is best for baking. Do not use blackstrap (it’s too bitter).
- Brown sugar: Light or dark brown sugar will work in this recipe. It complements the ginger molasses flavor nicely and makes a chewy texture.
- Spices: Use fresh spices for the ultimate flavor. Check the expiration date if you only bake during the holiday season.
- Fresh ginger: This is just an option, but adds a nice depth of flavor. You can also use finely chopped candied ginger if you have it on hand.
- Cream cheese: Full fat cream cheese as a block works best for frosting. It helps make the frosting thick and creamy.
- Confectioners’ sugar: Also known as powdered sugar, this sweetens the frosting.
Try mixing in 1/2 cup chocolate chips or nuts to your cookie dough! I think white chocolate chips would add a nice flavor. As garnish, I like adding sprinkles on the frosting, but you could also do a sprinkle of ground cinnamon, some chopped nuts or crushed gingerbread cookies.
If you don’t like cream cheese frosting, try a simple vanilla buttercream frosting instead (like I do for my sugar cookie bars). Another good option would be the eggnog frosting on these eggnog cupcakes. However, these bars also taste good without frosting too!
To make a small batch of gingerbread cookie bars, simply cut this recipe in half and use just an egg yolk. Bake in an 8×8 baking pan at 350 F for about 15 minutes.
How to make gingerbread cookie bars
- Whisk together the dry ingredients: flour, baking soda, salt and spices. Set aside.
- Mix wet ingredients. Beat melted butter, brown sugar and sugar until light and creamy. Add molasses, egg and freshly grated ginger (if using). Mix until incorporated.
- Add dry ingredients to the wet ingredients. Mix just until combined.
- Bake cookie bars. Transfer dough to a 9×13 baking pan lined with parchment paper. Bake at 350 F for 16 to 18 minutes. Cool completely.
- Make the cream cheese frosting. Beat cream cheese and butter until smooth and creamy. Add confectioners’ sugar and vanilla, then mix until combined.
- Frost the bars: Spread frosting over cooled cookie bars. Add sprinkles, cut and serve.
Weigh your ingredients with a kitchen scale for accurate measuring. If you don’t have a scale, spoon your flour into a measuring cup (don’t pack it in) and level it off with a knife. Use room temperature ingredients for a nice consistent dough.
Don’t over-bake the bars otherwise they will turn out dry. The edges should be set and the center soft. The bars will continue to bake as they cool in the pan. On that note, make sure they are completely cooled before frosting.
Use full-fat block cream cheese for the frosting. It is thicker and has less air than the tub cream cheese. This will help the frosting stay thick and creamy! It’s also best that it is brought to room temperature, but is still cool to the touch.
Make Ahead and Storage Tips
Make ahead: The gingerbread cookie dough can be made up to 48 hours in advance and stored in the refrigerator. It can also be frozen for up to 3 months. Defrost in the refrigerator before bringing to room temperature and baking in a 9×13 pan.
Storage: The baked cookies bars will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
Freezer: You can also freeze them (frosted or unfrosted) for up to 2 months. Wrap the bars in plastic wrap and place in an airtight container for best results. Defrost in the refrigerator overnight before adding sprinkles and serving at room temperature.
Unsulphured molasses is what I recommend for all my baking. I use Grandma’s Original Molasses, which can be found in most grocery stores. Blackstrap is way too bitter for desserts.
I have not tried using this dough to make cookies. I do not think it will work for cut-out cookies. Instead try my gingerbread man cookie recipe!
They were baked for too long or your oven is too hot. Another reason is there was too much flour. Make sure to weigh your flour or fluff it up before measuring (don’t pack it into the cup).
Yes, since the bars have cream cheese frosting they need to be kept in the refrigerator. However, they are okay to serve at room temperature for up to 2 hours.
Whether you love gingerbread or cookie bars, you will definitely enjoy one of these recipes!
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Get the Recipe: Gingerbread Cookie Bars
Gingerbread Cookie Bars
- 2 cups (250 g) all-purpose flour
- 1 ½ teaspoons baking soda
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 Tablespoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- ½ teaspoon ground cloves
- ½ cup (113 g) unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
- ¾ cup (150 g) packed light brown sugar
- ¼ cup (50 g) granulated sugar
- ⅓ cup (80 ml) unsulphured molasses, (not blackstrap)
- 1 large egg, room temperature
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground ginger, optional
Cream Cheese Frosting
- 1 cup (8 ounces or 226 g) full-fat block cream cheese, room temperature
- ¼ cup (57 g) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1 ½ cups (180 g) confectioners’ sugar, sifted
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- Holiday sprinkles
- Preheat oven to 350° F. Line a 9×13 baking pan with parchment paper (or grease with butter) and set aside.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger and cloves. Set aside.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer (or using a hand mixer), beat the melted butter, brown sugar and sugar on medium-high speed until creamy, about 2 minutes. Add the molasses, egg and freshly grated ginger, then beat until well combined. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl as necessary.
- Add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients and mix just until combined.
- Transfer dough to the prepared baking pan. Use an offset spatula to spread it into an even layer.
- Bake at 350° F for 16 to 18 minutes or until the edges are set and when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with little to no crumbs. Cool bars completely before frosting.
- To make the frosting, use an electric mixer to beat cream cheese and butter on medium-high speed until smooth and creamy. Add confectioners’ sugar and vanilla, then mix until combined.
- Transfer frosting to cooled cookie bars and spread evenly. Garnish with some holiday sprinkles, cut and serve.