Here are my favorite soft gingerbread cookies thanks to their tender, chewy texture, cozy and warm spices, and delicate glaze. They're perfectly spiced and sweetened just right with brown sugar and molasses. It's a Christmas cookie recipe you'll come back to every year!
This recipe is part of my annual cookie week, where I share a brand new holiday cookie every day starting on December 1. We're switching gears from pecan pie cobbler and setting our sights on the spicey, chewy, deliciousness of these easy gingerbread cookies.
Unlike the cookie you use for gingerbread houses, these soft cookies almost melt in your mouth. You dip the hot cookies directly in the glaze, giving them this beautiful, crinkly, and irrestistible look that makes them almost as fun to look at as they are to eat!
Why I Love This Soft Gingerbread Cookie Recipe
- The generous amount of spices including ground ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and molasses make them perfect for the holiday season.
- The texture is spot on with just the right amount of soft chew.
- They don't spread in the oven and puff up perfectly thanks to the hot water in the dough.
- The icing covers the gingerbread people, making them look so cute. This step also takes out the need to intricately decorate when you don't have time.
If you do have time for decorating, you have to give these gluten-free dairy-free sugar cookies a try. Making meringue icing and filling the bottles with kids is so much fun!
How to Make Soft Gingerbread Cookies
Here are the basic steps, with images, for the best gingerbread cookies. Skip down to the recipe card below for the full printable recipe.
Make and Chill the Dough
Dry ingredients: Whisk the flour, spices, and baking soda in a medium bowl.
Wet ingredients: In a separate bowl, beat the butter and brown sugar on medium speed until fluffy and light in color. Add the egg, molasses, and hot water, and then beat again until fluffy (1-2 minutes).
Finish the cookie dough: Slowly add the dry ingredients ot the wet ingredients and mix until just combined.
Wrap and chill: Divide the dough in half and turn each half out onto plastic wrap. Press them into a disc and wright tightly. Chill for at least 2 hours or overnight.
Bake and Ice the Cookies
Make the glaze: whisk all of the glaze ingredients in a medium bowl when you're ready to bake. You dip the hot cookies in the glaze so you want it ready when they come out of the oven.
Roll and cut: Roll one disc of the dough between two pieces of parchment paper to ½ inch thickness. Use a gingerbread man cut the dough into gingerbread man shapes. Transfer to a parchment lined baking sheet. Roll the scraps into a ball and repeat until the dough is gone. Cut and bake simultaneously with the second disc of dough.
Success tip: Dip the cookie cutter in flour to prevent it from sticking to the dough.
Bake: Bake for 10-12 minutes until the cookies are puffed and no longer glossy on top. I like to use two baking sheets to bake and place the cookie dough as I cut them out.
Glaze the hot cookies: Let the cookies cool slightly on the cookie sheet for 2-3 minutes, until they're cool enough to handle. Dip the tops of the cookies evenly into the icing, shaking to drip excess off. Transfer to a wire rack with parchment paper underneath to set completely.
Success tip: if the gingerbread man cookies are bending or breaking as you dip and pull them up, they need another minute or two in the oven. Do your best to ice them (they'll still be good!) but add another minute to the next batches.
Serve and enjoy: the icing will harden and set so they're easy to transfer and stock. Enjoy them right away or take them to your holiday parties and cookie exchanges.
Expert Recipe Tips
We've researched and tested this recipe to make sure it turns out just right for you. Here are the tips I compiled while I was making this recipe, so you end up with the most delicious soft gingerbread cookies.
- Weigh your ingredients for baking whenever possible (I like this particular food scale). It's the most accurate measurement!
- Use room temperature ingredients for best results. Room temp ingredients trap air and blend together better, yielding a uniform and perfectly risen cookie
- Don't skip chilling the dough. They'll spread on you if you do.
- Roll the gingerbread cookie dough out to an even thickness so the cookies bake evenly.
- Make note of how thick the cookie dough is. This will affect the bake time!
Freezing and Storing Tips
Store baked and iced soft gingerbread cookies in a freezer bag or an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week. Baked and iced (or not iced) cookies freeze well in an airtight container for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the fridge or at room temperature for an hour or so and enjoy.
Freeze unbaked cookie dough discs for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the fridge and follow the instructions to roll, cut, bake, and ice.
If you make this recipe, I’d love for you to give it a star rating ★ below. You can also tag me on Instagram so I can see it!
Don't forget more of my favorite Christmas cookie recipes: Italian sprinkle cookies, frosted eggnog cookies, and Ritz thin mints. If you can't get enough gingerbread flavor, try soft chewy ginger cookies, gingerbread snowflake cookies, or classic molasses cookies.
Soft Gingerbread Cookies
Soft Gingerbread Man Cookies
- 4 ¼ cups (531g) all-purpose flour, (Note 1) gluten-free if needed
- 2 teaspoons ground ginger
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon ground cloves
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ¾ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ cup (1 stick; 113g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
- ¾ cup (150g) light brown sugar, packed
- 1 large egg room temperature
- ¼ cup (59ml) hot water
- ⅔ cup (160ml) blackstrap molasses
- 3 cups (360g) powdered sugar
- ⅓ cup (79ml) milk
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- Stand Mixer or Electric Mixer
- Parchment paper (plenty of it!)
- Cookie Sheets
- Rolling Pin
- Cookie cutter
- Dry ingredients. Whisk the dry ingredients including the flour and all of the spices in a large bowl.
- Cream the butter and sugar. In a large bowl using an electric mixer or stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter and brown sugar together on medium-high speed until fluffy and light in color, about 2-3 minutes.
- Wet ingredients. Add the egg, molasses, and hot water, and then beat on high speed for another 1-2 minutes, until fluffy.
- Add the dry ingredients. With the mixer running on low speed, gradually add the dry ingredients. Beat on low until combined, scraping down the bottom and sides of the bowl as needed.
- Chill the dough. Spread two large pieces of plastic wrap out on the counter. Separate the dough in half and place each on a piece of plastic wrap, flattening it out to form a disc. Wrap each disc in the plastic wrap and chill for at least 2 hours or overnight.
- Prep the cookie sheets. When you’re ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350°F. Line two large cookie sheets with parchment paper.
- Make the glaze. You’ll dip the warm cookies in the glaze, working quickly, so it’s best to have it ready. Whisk all the ingredients in a medium bowl and set aside.
- Roll and cut the dough. Using a rolling pin, roll out one of the discs between two more pieces of parchment paper to ½-inch thick. This will seem thicker than other cutout cookies, this is what you want. Cut the cookies out using a medium gingerbread man cut out. Roll the scraps into a ball and re-roll and cut out until all the dough is gone. Repeat with the second disc.
- Bake the cookies. Transfer the gingerbread man cookie dough to the prepared baking sheets. Working in batches, bake in the preheated oven for 10-12 minutes, until the cookies are puffed and set around the edges and no longer glossy on top.
- Prep for icing. While they’re baking, place a piece of parchment paper under a wire rack, or just set aside another piece of parchment paper if you don’t have a rack.
- Dip cookies in icing. When the cookies are done, allow them to cool on the cookie sheet for 2-3 minutes then immediately dip the tops of the baked cookies in the icing. If the cookies are starting o bend or break while you dip and pull them out, they need another minute or two in the oven (Note 2). Transfer them to the wire rack to cool completely and set. Repeat with all of the cookies.