Gingerbread man cookie recipe is a must try for Christmas. The icing makes it easy to decorate the gingerbread men and women.
This post was originally published December 2013. It was last updated August 2020.
Christmas wouldn’t be the same without gingerbread men and women! On day 16 of my 25 Days of Baking I’m sharing a holiday classic. I use this gingerbread man cookie recipe every year to bake perfectly cut gingerbread cookies.
Why this recipe works: These cookies are chewy and ginger-y thanks to dark brown sugar, molasses and seasonal spices. The ratio of ingredients also prevent too much spreading when the cut-out cookies are baking in the oven.
Step by step instructions
- Make the dough: Combine the dry ingredients, followed by the butter, molasses and milk (no eggs!) A thick, dense dough will form and be ready to roll out.
- Roll the cookie dough: Roll out the dough between two pieces of parchment paper and lie them flat on a cookie sheet to chill for 2 hours in the fridge or 20 minutes in the freezer.
- Cut the cookies: Use your favorite cookie cutters (I love this set!) and cut the cookie dough. Place cookies on parchment-lined cookie sheet.
- Bake the cookies: Bake at 350 F for 8-10 minutes. Cool on sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to wire rack to cool completely.
- Make the icing: Combine meringue powder and water together with an electric mixer for 2 minutes. Add confectioners sugar and mix for 3 minutes.
- Decorate: Transfer icing to a frosting bag with a tip and decorate your cooled cookies!
Pro tip: I like to roll the cookie dough out before chilling it. It limits the time between the fridge and oven once the cookies are cut to prevent spreading.
Frequently Asked Questions
How to decorate gingerbread man cookies: Use a standard icing and trace out pants and a shirt (or dress) for the gingerbread man and women. While any frosting would do, I like icing with meringue powder because it hardens. You can find meringue powder at your local baking store or online. It’s always good to have if you find your baking often! You can get creative here! Try adding sprinkles to the cookies before baking them.
How to store gingerbread man cookies: Place cookies in an airtight container with parchment paper between layers so the icing will stay in tact. Cookies will keep at room temperature for 3 to 4 days.
How to freezer gingerbread cookie dough: Place cookie dough in an airtight container or wrap cookie dough in plastic wrap. Freeze for up to 3 months. Defrost in the refrigerator before rolling out and cutting cookies.
How to make reindeer out of a gingerbread man cookie cutter: Turn the cookie upside down so the legs are the antlers, the arms are the ears and the head is the nose/mouth.
Love gingerbread? You can use this same cookie dough to make gingerbread crinkle cookies. They are chewy and rolled in confectioners’ sugar. I’m personally a fan of gingerbread cupcakes topped with cinnamon cream cheese frosting. And what would Christmas be without a Gingerbread house?
Try the gingerbread man cookie recipe this Christmas and have fun decorating! Put on some holiday music to make it more fun. When you make these cookies tag @ifyougiveablondeakitchen on social media so I can see how you decorated them!
Gingerbread Man Cookies
- 3 cups (375 g) all-purpose flour
- 3/4 (150 g) packed brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
- 1 tablespoon ground ginger
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
- 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 12 tablespoons (170 g or 1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 3/4 cup (255 g) molasses
- 2 tablespoons milk
- 2 tablespoons meringue powder
- 6 tablespoons water
- 2 2/3 cups (320 g) sifted confectioners’ sugar
- In a stand mixer fixed with the paddle attachment, combine flour, brown sugar, baking soda, spices, and salt on low.
- Stop the mixer, add the butter pieces and then mix at medium-low speed until the mixture is a sandy texture. Reduce mixer to low, gradually add the molasses and milk. Mix until the dough is evenly moistened, about 20 seconds. Increase speed to medium and mix dough until thoroughly combined, about 10 seconds. Scrape down the sides of the bowl if necessary.
- Take half the dough and, between two large sheets of parchment paper, roll it until it is 1/4 inch thick. Repeat with other half of dough. Leaving the dough between the parchment paper, stack on a baking sheet and freeze until firm, 15 to 20 minutes. Alternatively, you can refrigerate dough for 2 hours or overnight.
- When ready to cut cookies with firm dough, preheat oven to 350° F and line baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Remove 1 dough sheet from the freezer or fridge and place on lightly floured work surface. Remove top parchment paper, carefully flip dough over and remove bottom parchment paper. Cut out gingerbread men with cookie cutters and place them on baking sheet. With dough scraps, re-roll the dough to 1/4 inch thick and repeat cutting process.
- Bake in oven 8-11 minutes or until the edges are set. Let cookies cool on baking sheet for 2 minutes before placing them on a wire cooling rack. Repeat process for second dough sheet.
- Add whisk attachment to mixer and beat meringue powder and water on medium speed until frothy, about 2 minutes.
- Add confectioner’s sugar and mix on medium-low speed for about 3 minutes or until the icing holds a ribbon. Scrape down the sides of the bowl if necessary.
- Transfer to an icing bag fitted with a small round tip (I used Wilton #2) and have fun decorating!
- Meringue powder can be found online.
- Store cookies in an airtight container at room temperature for up to five days.
- Dough may be frozen for up to three months. Let dough defrost in the refrigerator before rolling and cutting cookies.
Recipe from Baking Illustrated