How to Make Perfect Gingerbread Cookies

These gingerbread cookies are not only delicious but also feature a rich, dark color that contrasts beautifully with white royal icing decorations.

They’re quite sturdy, as this is the recipe I use for making gingerbread houses, which need to hold up for several days.

I love making gingerbread houses around Christmas time. I’ll even share a photo of the first one I made just for fun.

It wasn’t a childhood activity for me; I was a full-grown adult when I made my first one.

Growing up in Mexico, making gingerbread houses wasn’t part of our holiday traditions.

However, I adopted this charming custom once I developed an interest in baking because it’s simply too adorable to resist.

First Gingerbread House

Decorating Gingerbread House with the Royal Icing

This recipe is inspired by the one from Joy of Baking, with a few adjustments. I’ve modified the spices and reduced the baking soda to prevent the cookies from spreading too much and losing their shape in the oven.

To ensure the cutout pieces retain their shape, place them in the freezer for about 15-20 minutes before baking.

If you’re making pieces for a gingerbread house, keep a paring knife handy. When the cookies first come out of the oven, they are still soft enough (within the first minute or two) to trim the edges strategically.

For additional tips on assembling a gingerbread house, check out the Coconut Cake with Homemade Dulce de Leche post.

I decorate the gingerbread pieces with royal icing and allow them to dry thoroughly, which can take anywhere from 1 to 3 hours or even overnight, depending on the amount of icing used.

For the royal icing, I follow the recipe from the Wilton Meringue Powder container:

  • 3 tablespoons of meringue powder
  • 4 cups of powdered sugar
  • 5 tablespoons of water (I usually add a bit more).

Whip all the ingredients together for about 6 minutes until the icing forms peaks and has a good consistency for piping.

To prevent the icing from drying out, keep a damp towel over the bowl. I transfer the icing to a piping bag, secure it with a rubber band, and cover the decorating tip with a small piece of damp paper towel to keep it from drying out as well.

Gingerbread Cookies Making Process

  • Makes about 36 gingerbread men
  • Prep Time 30 minutes
  • Cook Time 25 minutes
  • Chill time 2 hours
  • Total Time 55 minutes
  • Servings 36 people

Ingredients for the Gingerbread Cookies


  • 113 g Unsalted Butter (Room Temperature):
    • Make sure the butter is soft enough to blend smoothly with the sugar.
  • 100 g Sugar (1/2 Cup):
    • Provides the right amount of sweetness and helps in creaming the butter.
  • 1 Large Egg (Room Temperature):
    • Helps in binding the ingredients together and ensures a smooth dough.
  • 230 g Molasses (160 ml, About 2/3 Cup):
    • Adds a rich, deep flavor and gives the gingerbread its characteristic color.
  • 390 g All-Purpose Flour (3 Cups):
    • Provides the structure for the cookies.
  • 1/2 tsp Salt:
    • Enhances the overall flavor of the cookies.
  • 1/4 tsp Baking Soda (Up to 3/4 tsp if Shape or Structure is Not Critical):
    • Leavening agent that adds a bit of rise; adjust according to the desired texture and shape retention.
  • 2 tsp Ground Ginger:
    • Gives the cookies a warm, spicy flavor.
  • 1 1/2 tsp Ground Cinnamon:
    • Adds a sweet and spicy note that complements the ginger.
  • 1/4 tsp Ground Cloves:
    • Imparts a strong, aromatic flavor, typical of gingerbread.
  • 1/8 tsp Ground Nutmeg:
    • Adds a subtle nutty and sweet flavor, rounding out the spice profile.


Cream the Butter and Sugar:

  • In the bowl of your electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.

Add the Egg:

  • Add the egg and mix until fully combined with the butter-sugar mixture.

Add the Molasses:

  • Pour in the molasses and mix well until the mixture is smooth and uniform.

Add Molasses

Combine Dry Ingredients:

  • In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, baking soda, ground ginger, cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg.

Dry Ingredients:

  • Gradually add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture in two parts, mixing until just incorporated.

Prepare the Dough for Chilling:

  • Divide the dough into two portions. Place each portion on a piece of plastic wrap and shape them into disks.
  • Wrap the disks tightly and refrigerate for at least two hours, or until the dough is firm enough that it doesn’t easily indent when pressed with a finger.
  • The dough can be refrigerated for up to two days.

Prepare the Dough for Chilling

Preheat the Oven:

  • Preheat your oven to 350°F (180°C).

Roll Out the Dough:

  • Roll out the dough between two pieces of parchment paper or on a floured surface.
  • Alternatively, use a floured silicone baking mat.
  • Be careful not to add too much flour and move the dough frequently to prevent sticking.
  • Once rolled out to your desired thickness, transfer the dough to a baking sheet and place it in the freezer to chill before cutting out shapes.

Cut and Freeze the Dough:

  • Cut out your desired shapes from the chilled dough.
  • Freeze the cut shapes for about 20 minutes before baking to help them maintain their shape.

Bake the Cookies:

  • Place the cutout cookies on a baking sheet lined with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper.
  • Bake in the preheated oven for 10-12 minutes, or until the edges are slightly browned.

Bake the Cookies

Cool and Store:

  • Let the cookies cool completely on a wire rack.
  • Once cooled, store them in an airtight container to keep them fresh.