Gingerbread Cookies Recipe

Every Christmas, as snow began to blanket our quiet neighborhood, a delightful aroma wafted from Mrs. Thompson’s kitchen next door. The elderly lady had an unmatched passion for baking, and her pièce de résistance during the holidays was her famous gingerbread cookies recipe. Year after year, my siblings and I would eagerly await that delightful knock on our door when Mrs. Thompson, with her characteristic smile, would hand us a tin filled with these festive treats.

What made these gingerbread men truly special wasn’t just their mouth-watering taste, but the stories she shared with each batch. From tales of winters long ago to the adventures of her own gingerbread creations, every cookie came with a sprinkle of love and a dash of nostalgia. Inspired by those cherished memories, I embarked on a journey to recreate those flavors, and I’m thrilled to share my rendition of the beloved gingerbread cookies recipe with all of you today.

How to Prepare Gingerbread Cookies

Ingredients for Gingerbread Cookies

  • Margarine: I chose margarine for its ability to give a crisp texture, though butter works too!
  • Sugar: A moderate ½ cup of white sugar brings out the sweetness just right.
  • Egg yolk: Using only the yolk imparts a deep richness to these cookies.
  • Molasses: Stick with regular molasses and steer clear of the intense blackstrap variety.
  • Flour: Regular all-purpose flour binds everything together seamlessly.
  • Salt: A smidge enhances the flavors and brings them to life.
  • Leavening agents: Both baking powder and baking soda give these cookies their perfect rise.
  • Spices: A blend of cinnamon, cloves, ginger, and nutmeg for that authentic gingerbread zing.

Directions for Gingerbread Cookies

  1. Begin by blending the margarine and sugar using an electric mixer on low until mostly combined. Ramp up the speed to medium-high and continue until it’s creamy and fluffy. Incorporate the egg yolk, followed by the molasses.
  2. In a different bowl, sift together the flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, and spices until uniformly mixed. Gently fold this dry mix into the molasses blend, stirring until a cohesive dough forms.
  3. Partition the dough into two, shaping each into a flat disc. Envelop in cling wrap and let it rest in the fridge for a couple of hours or overnight if possible.
  4. When you’re set to bake, heat your oven to 350°F (175°C). Roll out one dough portion on a lightly floured counter, maintaining a quarter-inch thickness. Use cookie cutters to shape your gingerbread men or any festive shapes you prefer.
  5. Position the cut-outs on an ungreased baking sheet, leaving about 2 inches between them. Reuse any leftover dough by shaping and chilling it for subsequent batches.
  6. Bake for approximately 8 to 10 minutes until firm. Once done, set them on a wire rack to cool.
  7. Once cooled, channel your inner artist and adorn your gingerbread cookies as your heart desires.

How do I store these delightful cookies?

After cooling the gingerbread cookies completely, shift them to an airtight container and keep them at room temperature. They’ll remain fresh for up to a week!

Can I freeze the gingerbread cookies?

Absolutely! You can either freeze the baked cookies or the dough. For baked cookies, place the undecorated ones in an airtight box and freeze. They can stay fresh for up to three months. Thaw them in the refrigerator before decorating. For the dough, tightly wrap and freeze it. Prior to baking, thaw it in the fridge overnight, then proceed as usual.

What’s the difference between molasses and blackstrap molasses?

While both are by-products of the sugar-making process, blackstrap molasses is thicker, darker, and has a more robust flavor. It’s the result of the third boiling of sugar syrup, making it less sweet than regular molasses. For this recipe, regular molasses is preferred as blackstrap can dominate the cookie’s flavor profile.

Why use only the egg yolk and not the whole egg?

Using just the yolk yields a richer, denser cookie texture, which aligns with the traditional gingerbread cookie’s characteristics. The whole egg can make the cookie lighter, altering its authentic feel.

How thin should I roll out the dough?

For optimal results, aim for a 1/4 inch thickness. This ensures that the cookies are neither too thick nor too thin, offering the right bite and texture.

Do I need to chill the dough before baking?

Yes, chilling the dough is crucial. It allows the fats to solidify, ensuring the cookies maintain their shape while baking and preventing them from spreading too much. Moreover, a chilled dough is easier to handle and roll out.

Gingerbread Cookies Recipe

Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Refrigerate 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 40 minutes
Course Cookies
Cuisine American
Servings 2 dozens


  • 1/2 cup margarine softened
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1/2 cup molasses not blackstrap
  • 2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg


  • Beat margarine and sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer on low speed until mostly incorporated, 1 to 2 minutes. Increase speed to medium-high and beat until light and fluffy, another 2 to 3 minutes. Beat in egg yolk, then molasses.
  • Whisk sifted flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, and nutmeg in a separate bowl until well combined. Gradually add flour mixture to the molasses mixture, beating until well blended and smooth.
  • Divide dough in half and form each into a 1-inch-thick disk. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 to 3 hours, or overnight.
  • When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  • Working with one disk at a time, and leaving remaining disk in the refrigerator, unwrap chilled dough and place on a lightly floured surface. Working from the center to the edges, roll dough with a floured rolling pin to a thickness of 1/4 inch.
  • Cut dough into desired shapes with cookie cutters, dipping the cutters into flour as needed so they don't stick to the dough. Fit the cookie cutters as closely together as possible to cut as many cookies as you can. This will minimize the number of times you have to re-roll the dough.
  • Transfer gingerbread cookies to ungreased cookie sheets, spacing them 2 inches apart. Gather any dough scraps into a ball, flatten, re-wrap with plastic wrap, and refrigerate to use for later batches.
  • Bake each sheet in the preheated oven until firm, 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer cookies to wire racks to cool while you finish rolling, cutting, and baking the remaining cookies.
  • Frost or decorate cooled gingerbread cookies as desired.
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