Gingerbread man cookies are a must try for Christmas. The icing makes it easy to decorate the gingerbread men and women.

iced gingerbread man cookies on wire cooling rack next to pink kitchen cloth and icing bag with royal icing

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 You’ll Love This Recipe

  • Chewy texture thanks to the brown sugar and molasses.
  • Perfectly spiced. Cloves, cinnamon and ground ginger adds a punch of flavor!
  • Cookies won’t spread. The ratio of ingredients and chilling the dough guarantees minimal spreading in the oven.
  • Fun to decorate! One of the best holiday memories are made decorating cookies. Get your creative juices flowing!

Ingredient Notes

gingerbread man cookie ingredients in bowls labeled with text
  • Molasses: Unsulphured molasses is best for baking. I do not recommend blackstrap since it is too bitter for baked goods.
  • Brown sugar: Light or dark brown works for this recipe!
  • Spices: Check that your spices are fresh and not expired for the best flavor.
  • Butter: Use unsalted butter that is room temperature. Salt is added separately to activate the baking soda.
  • Milk: To help soften the dough, add a couple tablespoons of milk. Whole or low-fat is best.
  • Meringue powder (not pictured): This is used to make the icing. You can find it online or at your local baking store.

Refer to the recipe card for ingredient details and measurements.

Recipe Variations

Use frosting and sprinkles. Get creative here! Try a buttercream frosting and add your favorite holiday sprinkles.

Try different cookie cutters. No need to limit it to gingerbread people, try stars, snowflakes or stocking cookie cutters.

Make a small batch. Cut the recipe in half and make less cookies.

How to Make Gingerbread Man Cookies

photo collage demonstrating how to make gingerbread cookie dough
  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Cut the cookies: Use your favorite cookie cutters (I love this cookie cutter set!) and cut the cookie dough. Place cookies on parchment-lined cookie sheet.
  4. 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.
  5. Make the icing: Combine meringue powder and water together with an electric mixer for 2 minutes. Add confectioners sugar and mix for 3 minutes.
  6. Decorate: Transfer icing to a frosting bag with a tip and decorate your cooled cookies!
photo collage demonstrating how to roll and cut gingerbread man cookie dough

Expert Tips

Weigh your ingredients using a kitchen scale. It’s more accurate than measuring. If you don’t have a scale, spoon the flour into a measuring cup and level with a knife (don’t pack it down).

Use room temperature ingredients. The dough will come together more easily and create a better textured cookie!

Roll, then chill the dough. 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.

gingerbread man cookies decorated with royal icing on wire cooling rack

Make Ahead and Storage Tips

Store 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.

Freeze baked cookies or the dough for up to 3 months. Wrap in plastic wrap and store in an airtight container in the freezer. Defrost in the refrigerator before rolling out and cutting cookies.

Make ahead the dough and store in the refrigerator for up to 48 hours. The icing may also be made ahead of time and stored at room temperature. Press plastic wrap on top so the icing doesn’t form a crust.

Recipe FAQ

Why are my gingerbread cookies hard?

Most like the cookies were over-baked. Check your oven temperature with an oven thermometer. It’s also possible the dough was over-mixed, results in tough 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.

Why did my cookies spread?

Most likely the dough was too warm. Keep it in the fridge between batches and make sure the baking sheet isn’t hot when starting a new batch.

gingerbread man cookie balancing on glass on milk with more cookies around glass

Did you love this recipe? Please leave a 5-star 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟 rating in the recipe card below and if you REALLY loved it, consider leaving a comment further down the page.

iced gingerbread man cookies on wire cooling rack

Get the Recipe: Gingerbread Man Cookies

Gingerbread man cookies are a must-try for Christmas. The icing makes it easy to decorate the gingerbread men and women.
5 from 1 rating


Gingerbread Cookies

  • 3 cups (375 g) all-purpose flour
  • ¾ (150 g) packed brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon ground ginger
  • ½ teaspoon ground cloves
  • ¾ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 12 tablespoons (170 g or 1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • ¾ cup (255 g) molasses
  • 2 tablespoons milk


  • 2 tablespoons meringue powder
  • 6 tablespoons water
  • 2 ⅔ cups (320 g) sifted confectioners’ sugar


Gingerbread Cookies

  • 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.

Royal Icing

  • 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!


You can buy meringue powder online or find it at your local kitchen store.
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. 
Cookies spreading: Keep the rolled out dough in the refrigerator until the oven is completely preheated. Cut the cookies quickly so they dough is still cold when the cookies go in the oven. If the cookies are still spreading, use less milk in the dough next time.
Serving: 1cookie, Calories: 192kcal, Carbohydrates: 34g, Protein: 2g, Fat: 6g, Saturated Fat: 4g, Cholesterol: 15mg, Sodium: 89mg, Potassium: 177mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 21g, Vitamin A: 175IU, Calcium: 30mg, Iron: 1mg

Recipe from Baking Illustrated

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