Whether or not you actually like gingerbread cookies . You make them every single year because they make people happy. And because they’re so damn adorable. We tested this recipe over and over (and over again) until it was perfect. Here’s everything you should know.
Melted butter will lead to denser cookies. We like our gingerbread people soft and almost a little fluffy. For this texture, you need to cream the butter and sugar until it’s light and fluffy. And for this, the butter needs to be nice and soft.
There’s a way to soften butter faster.
On the counter, butter can take forever to soften. I always like to cut my stick into tablespoon tabs to maximize surface area (and exposure to warmth). If even that isn’t fast enough, I microwave the stick(s) on a very low level and check on it every 10 seconds. It sounds excessive, but it’s necessary. Otherwise, half it will be melted.
The type of molasses you use can make a BIG difference.
When we ran out of Grandma’s Molasses in our test kitchen and used Wholesome (a brand we found at Whole Foods), the cookies came out many shades darker. They still tasted amazing and looked very cute, but the difference was surprising. Especially considering that they looked very similar in the jar.
You can change the amount of spices.
For me, gingerbread should have a lot of ground ginger, a bit of cinnamon, and a tiny amount of cloves. It’s the perfect Christmas formula. But if you don’t have cloves (or really loathe them), you can just leave them out. As for the ginger, it’s necessary but negotiable. Feel free to use less.
Don’t skip the chill time!
Even if the dough seems rollable after mixing, DO NOT skip refrigerating it. If you roll the dough out before it’s really firm, the gingerbread people won’t keep their shape in the oven. Be patient and wait at least 3 hours.
You can make the dough ahead of time.
The dough will stay good in the fridge for about 2 days wrapped in plastic wrap. If the disc feels supeerrrr stiff, just let it be on your counter for a bit until it’s more pliable.
Cookies will stay good for up to one week.
If you store them in an airtight container at room temperature, they’ll stay amazing and soft. Although it’s very doubtful that they’ll last longer than 10 minutes once they’re on a platter.
They make great gifts!
Because they last for a while and they’re sturdy, these make great treats to share with friends, family, and neighbors. They ship well too!
Made them? Let us know how it went in the comment section below!
GINGERBREAD COOKIE INGREDIENTS:
- Flour: I traditionally use all-purpose flour for this recipe, but white whole wheat flour will also work.
- Spices: Ground cinnamon, ginger, cloves and nutmeg.
- Baking soda, salt, egg and vanilla extract: Because…cookies.
- Molasses: I typically just opt for the “original”
- Brown sugar: For extra molasses-y flavor.
- Butter: Softened completely to room temperature.
- (Optional) Orange Zest: The subtle citrus pairs really nicely with the cinnamon.
HOW TO MAKE GINGERBREAD COOKIES:
So how do you make gingerbread cookies? It’s simple!
- Whisk together your dry ingredients. Flour, cinnamon, ginger, baking soda, cloves, salt and nutmeg.
- Beat the dough. Using either a stand mixer or a hand mixer, beat the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add in eggs and molasses, and beat on medium speed until combined. Then gradually add in the flour mixture, and beat on medium-low speed until just combined.
- Chill the dough. Divide the dough into two equal portions, and form them each into a ball. Then gently use your hands to flatten each ball into a 1-inch thick disk, wrap tightly in plastic wrap, and chill in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours or overnight. The disc shape will make it easier to roll the cookies out later.
- Roll and cut the dough. Once the dough is thoroughly chilled, unwrap one of the disc and place is on a lightly-floured surface. Use a floured rolling pin to roll the dough evenly until it is approximately 1/8-inch thick. Then use your favorite cookie cutters to cut out your desired shapes, re-rolling the dough as needed to cut out more. Transfer the dough shapes to to a parchment-covered baking sheet.
- Bake. At 350°F for about 8 to 10 minutes, or until the cookies are crisp around the edges and on top. Remove from oven and let cool for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to finish cooling.
- Decorate: Once the cookies cool to room temperature, feel free to decorate them as desired with the icing (see below) and serve. Then dive in, or transfer them to a sealed container and store (or freeze) for later.
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