How to Make Soft Gingerbread Cookies

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This recipe makes wonderful gingerbread cookies! They’re deliciously soft and chewy and stay fabulously moist for days. So easy and fun to bake up in your home, these cookies make the perfect holiday gifts and treats.

Do you love gingerbread cookies? I really, really do! For me, nothing has quite the Christmas charm as gingerbread cookies!

I don’t know why I typically wait till the holidays to make them, when it’s so obvious you can enjoy them year round.

Ah, perhaps it’s something about gingerbread cookies and Christmas that makes me think of them as somewhat special, festive cookies.

Assorted gingerbread cookies, iced in festive Christmas colours

Gingerbread men and assorted gingerbread cookies

These are cookies with oodles of character, and I have been testing and tinkering with this gingerbread cookie recipe over the past few weeks, to get it just right.

My version of perfect gingerbread cookies? Soft cookies with that rich gingerbread spice taste and distinctive, deep molassey flavour. And with just the right texture – firm around the edges, deliciously soft and chewy centres.

When decorated with royal icing, these cookies have a nice, light crunch, with an added dose of sweetness that balances the warm, mildly sweet, and somewhat smoky flavour of molasses.

Assorted gingerbread cookies, iced in festive Christmas colours

This royal icing is easy to make too. It’s one that I chanced upon on Sally’s Baking Addiction, and it works beautifully! Thanks, Sally!

To cut out gingerbread cookies, use your favourite cookie cutters. I used a combination of 3.0 and 3.5 inch cookie cutters from this Christmas assorted cookie cutter set, as well as this beautiful snowflake cookie cutter set.

Both sets are made by Wilton, and I absolutely love them!

For really amazing gingerbread cookies, chill this cookie dough overnight. Trust me, you’ll be rewarded for your patience with a richer, more decadent flavour in your cookies.

With chilling, the dry ingredients have time to soak up the moisture from the wet ingredients, and this concentrates the flavour.

Cutting into rolled out gingerbread cookie dough

But if you’re in a hurry to bake on the same day, give the dough a good 30 minutes to 3 hours in the chiller, and you’re good to go!

Don’t be afraid to flour the work space as well as the cookie dough before rolling out and cutting your cookies. Nothing is more stressful than having your cookies bent out of shape when they stick to the counter top, trust me!

Flouring the work top and cookie dough before rolling and cutting

Flour only as as much as you need to easily roll, cut and lift the cookies off the work top. The excess flour will bake off in the oven. You can easily clean them off your baked, cooled cookies with a dry, clean pastry brush.

It also helps a lot to use a metal scraper or offset spatula, to get the cookies off the work top and onto the baking pan.

Chill the cut-out cookies before baking (yes, again!)

I know the last thing you need is one more step in the process, but chilling your tray of cut-out cookies for 5 to 10 minutes before you pop them in the oven does wonders.

Cut-out gingerbread man cookies on a baking tray

It keeps the fat (butter) in the dough cold, and we want that. The cookies will expand more slowly, keeping their shape and texture.

It’d be so disappointing after all your hard work to watch your cookies flatten out and lose their shape.

How to make soft gingerbread cookies

A gingerbread man cookie with a cup of hot coffee
  • Step 1: Sift together the flour, baking soda, salt and ground spices.
  • Step 2: In a stand mixer or with hand-held beaters, beat the softened butter on medium speed, until smooth and light. About 1 – 2 minutes.
  • Step 3: Tip in the brown sugar and cream until light and fluffy, about 3 to 4 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl once or twice to get all the butter in.
  • Step 4: Beat in the egg and vanilla extract until the butter mixture becomes smooth again, about 15 seconds.
  • Steps 5: Add the molasses, and beat until well incorporated. You want to get the mixture smooth again and of uniform consistency.
  • Step 6: Next, on low speed, add the flour-spice mixture in three batches, each time beating until just incorporated. Do not over-mix the dough. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Finish by hand with a spatula or flexible dough scraper.
  • Step 7: The final gingerbread cookie dough will be soft and sticky.
  • Step 8: Divide into half and place each on a large piece of clingwrap. Wrap tightly, and pat down into a round disc. Chill for at least 30 minutes to 3 hours. For a much richer and intense gingerbread cookie flavour, I highly recommend chilling overnight.

Roll, cut out and bake gingerbread cookies

Assorted gingerbread cookies, iced in festive Christmas colours
  • Place a disc of chilled cookie dough on a lightly floured surface. If needed, lightly flour the cookie dough and rolling pin.
  • Roll the dough to ¼-inch thickness. With cookie cutters, cut out cookie shapes. Bring the scraps together, re-roll and cut out. I use 3 – 3.5 inch cookie cuttters, which makes about 36 cookies.
  • Transfer to the lined baking trays, allowing for 1 – 2 inches of space between the cookies. Repeat with the other disc. Important! Chill the trays with cut-out cookies in the chiller for 10 to 15 mins.
  • Bake for 10 – 12 mins at 175°C (350°F) for soft and chewy cookies. The edges should just start to brown, but not darken.
  • Remove from the oven. Let sit for a few minutes, the cookies will be soft. Use a metal spatula to transfer cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.
  • Make the royal icing. Once cookies are completely cooled, decorate as desired.
A gingerbread man cookie in focus
  • Gingerbread cookie dough, when wrapped and sealed properly, can be kept in the chiller for up to 3 days, or in the freezer for up to a month.
  • Dough chilled over several hours may need to sit for a few minutes at room temperature to slightly soften, before rolling out. Frozen cookie dough should be moved to the chiller to thaw overnight. Then proceed in the same way as with chilled cookie dough.
  • Gingerbread cookies benefit from baking a few days in advance. Their flavour actually develops and deepens with time. So they are great make-ahead cookies!
  • Baked gingerbread cookies will keep well at room temperature for up to a week. To keep them soft and chewy, store in a well-sealed (preferably air-tight) container in a cool, dry space.
  • These cookies, without decorations, also freeze well. Let cookies cool completely. Freeze them individually first, by placing them on baking sheets lined with baking paper, until firm. Then transfer to a freezer bag or air-tight container to store in the freezer.

Here are more suggestions for your next bake:

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Soft Gingerbread Cookies

Soft Gingerbread Cookies

Yield: 36 cookies, depending on size
Prep Time: 50 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Chilling Time: 3 hours
Total Time: 4 hours

The perfect soft gingerbread cookies recipe! These cookies have lots of warmth of gingerbread spices and rich flavour of molasses. Stays fabulously moist!

Ingredients

For the cookie dough:

  • 130 g (½ cup + 1 tbsp) unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
  • 150 g (¾ cup) light or dark brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 165 g (½ cup) unsulfured molasses (do not use blackstrap molasses as it is too bitter)
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 360 g (3 cups) plain or all-purpose flour
  • ¾ tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp ground ginger
  • 1 tbsp ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp ground nutmeg
  • ½ tsp ground cloves
  • ¼ tsp finely ground black pepper

For the royal icing:

  • 480 g (4 cups) icing or confectioner's sugar, sifted
  • 3 tbsp meringue powder
  • 9 - 10 tbsp water, at room temperature
  • Optional: Gel food colouring, as desired

Instructions

Make the cookie dough:

  1. Sift together the flour, baking soda, salt and ground spices.
  2. In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment or with hand-held beaters, beat the butter on medium speed until smooth and light, 1 - 2 minutes.
  3. Tip in the brown sugar, and cream until light and fluffy, about 3 to 4 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl once or twice to get all the butter in.
  4. Beat in the egg and vanilla extract until well incorporated, about 15 seconds.
  5. Add the molasses, and beat until well incorporated. The mixture should be smooth and of uniform consistency.
  6. Next, reduce mixer speed to low. Add the sifted flour-spice mixture in three batches, each time folding until just incorporated. Do not over-mix the dough. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, and finish by hand with a spatula or flexible dough scraper. The cookie dough will be soft and sticky.


Chill the cookie dough:

  1. Divide into half. Place each half on a large piece of clingwrap. Wrap each up tightly, and pat down into a round disc.
  2. Chill for at least 30 minutes to 3 hours. I recommend chilling overnight for a much richer and intense gingerbread cookie flavour.


Roll and cut out cookie shapes:

  1. Preheat oven to 175°C (350°F). Line 2 - 3 baking trays with baking paper or silicon baking mats.
  2. Place one cookie dough on a lightly floured silicon baking mat or large sheet of baking paper. If needed, lightly flour the cookie dough and rolling pin.
  3. Roll the dough to ¼-inch thickness. Using cookie cutters, cut out cookie shapes. Transfer to the lined baking trays, allowing for 2 inches of space between the cookies.
  4. Important! Chill the cut-out cookies in the tray for 10 to 15 mins.
  5. Bring the scraps together, re-roll and cut out. Repeat with the other disc.


Bake the cookies:

  1. Bake for 10 - 12 mins for soft and chewy cookies. The edges should just start to brown, but not darken.
  2. Remove from the oven. Let sit for a few minutes, the cookies will be soft. Use a metal spatula to transfer cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.
  3. Once cookies are completely cooled, decorate as desired.

Make the royal icing:

  1. Put all the dry ingredients into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. Add 9 tbsp water first.
  2. Start on the lowest speed for 10 to 15 seconds.
  3. Increase to high speed and whip for 1.5 to 2 minutes. Stop to lift the whisk and check for consistency. When the icing drizzles down and disappears or smoothens out in 15 - 20 seconds, it is ready.
  4. If it's too thick (takes longer than 20 seconds), add a bit more water. If it's too thin (takes less than 10 seconds), add a bit more sifted icing or confectioner's sugar. Sometimes, you may need more water, as much as 10 - 12 tbsp, depending on your environment.
  5. If desired, divide the icing and mix in gel colours of your choice. Using piping bags and a Wilton No. 2 tip, decorate the cookies. The icing needs about 1 - 2 hours to set completely.
  6. Once made, royal icing will dry and harden quickly at room temperature. While working with some but not all of the icing, keep the unused icing covered with a damp paper towel set directly onto the surface of the icing and up the sides of the bowl. This prevents it from hardening.
  7. Alternatively, you can press a large sheet of clingwrap onto the surface and up the sides of the bowl to seal any gaps where the icing is exposed (see Notes below on how to store/restore unused icing).

Notes

  • This recipe makes more royal icing than you might require, depending on the number and size of cookies, as well as the decorations you make.
  • To keep unused icing, press a large sheet of clingwrap onto the surface and up the sides of the bowl to seal any gaps where the icing might be exposed.
  • If sealed well, it can keep well in a cool, dry place at room temperature for about 2 weeks.
  • Some water may separate from the icing after a few days, but this does not mean the icing can no longer be used. Just give it a good, thorough stirring before using.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 36 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 150

All nutritional values are approximate only.

Did you make this recipe?

I’d love to see! Remember to share your pics on Instagram and tag @foodelicacy or #foodelicacy.

3 Comments

  1. Hi Janice, it’s a thick syrup like honey but not as sweet. If you can’t find it, the next best substitute is Lyle’s golden syrup or treacle, though the flavour won’t be as rich or authentic as molasses-baked gingerbread cookies, but still very nice. I’ve used both.

  2. Molasses is it syrup or like sugar ?

  3. Hohoho! I saw read your latest recipe on the gingerbread cookies and the royal icing method. I am over the moon now as I only want to bake the perfect gingerbread cookies as giveaways. Thank you so much Celia. You will be blessed for generously sharing your tried and tested recipes. I wish you a wonderful Christmas.

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