Thick and Chewy Gingerbread Cookies

I have finally found the perfect man! These classic gingerbread cookies are spicy, thick and chewy. To me nothing says “merry christmas” more than a plate full of decorated gingerbread men. You can cut these cookies into any shape that you want and decorate them with royal icing. I promise you will get many oohs and aahs from anybody that tries them. They are quite addictive! 🙂 Yesterday I posted my gingerbread cupcakes with a thick and chewy gingerbread man on top. I remember when I was younger making gingerbread cookies with my mom and hanging them on our christmas tree. They made the house smell so wonderful! However, they never lasted long on the tree, they were devoured too quickly. If you would like to make these cookies to hang on your tree, just use a toothpick or straw to make a hole in the top of the cookie before baking. After decorated, tie a ribbon on the gingerbread man and hang him on your tree. Whether you put them on a cookie plate or hang them from your tree they won’t last long-better double the batch! 😉

Thick and Chewy Gingerbread Cookies

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  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 12 pieces and softened slightly
  • 3/4 cup molasses
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • Royal Icing for decorating


  1. In the bowl of a food processor fitted with steel blade, process flour, sugar, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, salt, and baking soda until combined, about 10 seconds. Scatter butter pieces over flour mixture and process until mixture is sandy and resembles very fine meal, about 15 seconds. With food processor running, add molasses and milk; process until dough is evenly moistened and forms soft mass, about 10 seconds.
  2. Divide dough in half and roll into ¼ inch thickness between two sheets of parchment paper. Place in refrigerator at least two hours (or overnight) or place in the freezer for 15 to 20 minutes, until firm.
  3. Adjust oven racks to upper- and lower-middle positions and heat oven to 350 degrees. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.
  4. Once firm, remove parchment from dough and cut out cookies using a 5-inch gingerbread man or 3-inch gingerbread cookies. Place on prepared baking sheets spacing cookies 1 inch apart. Bake until centers are just set and dough barely retains imprint when touched very gently with fingertip, 8 to 11 minutes. Rotating the baking sheets halfway through. Cool the cookies on the baking sheets about 2 minutes; using a wide metal spatula, transfer the cookies to a wire rack and cool to room temperature. Decorate as desired with royal icing.
  5. Gather scraps; repeat rolling, cutting, and baking in steps 2 and 4. Repeat with remaining dough until all dough is used.

Source: Baking Illustrated

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39 Responses to Thick and Chewy Gingerbread Cookies

  1. Kristen says:

    These are soooo adorable! Love the idea of decorating them with royal icing. I have never made/decorated with royal icing, but I just might have to try it!

  2. These little guys are so cute and looks so delicious too! Awesome photos as well!

  3. Shelbi says:

    Walking into the kitchen to make these scrumptious looking little guys right now! Thanks!

  4. Bonnie says:

    Hello! My daughter is gluten-free and we weren’t sure about this recipe, but she really wanted to try some ‘gingerbread men’. So, we cut the recipe in half (which worked very well – it made about 1.5 dozen), and we replaced the flour with a gluten free flour mix. The taste is very mild and the cookies hold together very well once they’re cooked (some GF cookies crumble very easily). We had a lot of trouble getting the cookies off the waxed paper (we didn’t use parchment paper), so we ended up freezing them for longer and rolling them a little thicker, then moving the right away to the cookie sheet.

    So, yeah all around! Happy holidays!

    • Christina says:

      Yea!! That is wonderful that you adapted it to be gluten free! 🙂 I love these cookies, they are so soft and delicious. I have always used parchment paper and never had a problem with cookies sticking. I would try that next time. Hope you and your family have a happy holidays!

      • mo says:

        This might be a dumb question, but these little guys look like they have a “caramel” coating on them. Did you just color the royal icing brown??


      • Christina says:

        I colored the royal icing brown, but it does look like a caramel coating! 😉

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  7. huntfortheverybest says:

    i agree–gingerbread men are the perfect men. lol. yours look great!

  8. Linnie says:

    I found this site by searching for soft gingerbread men and I’m so glad I did! The recipes look great, I love the pictures, and the format is so user friendly! Thank you, Christina for this wonderful site. It’s nice to know I will be making new friends and enjoying great food.

  9. Leslie says:

    I just finished a batch of these and they are awesome!!!!
    This recipe rocks 🙂

  10. Thanks for the great recipe. I made these for my family and they were a big hit. My boys had fun putting frosting on them (your cupcake frosting) and I had to keep myself away from them or I would have eaten them all! We gave those cookies away for Christmas so I am planning on making another batch soon since they were so tasty.

  11. Suzanne says:

    I have to tell what i did with this recipe, it turned out phenomenal!
    I pureed an apple, 1/4 cup almonds and a 1/4 x 1/4 ” piece of ginger.
    I used the above with 3 T butter and 1 T canola oil. I used this in place of the 12 T butter.
    Then I used all the other ingredients as listed except:
    1 cup spelt flour, 1 cup whole wheat flour and 1 cup white flour.
    1/2 cup splenda brown sugar instead of 3/4 c brown.
    I also added allspice. I did not have to refrigerate the dough or anything, just used some flour to roll them right away.

    I used the recipe unaltered for christmas cookies and it was very good as well.
    Thank you!

  12. Joy says:

    Hello, I realize this is somewhat long after the post, but I would like to try this gingerbread cookie recipe and had a few questions regarding the process. First, I don’t have a food processor; any suggestions? Should I use my hand mixer? Perhaps combine the ingredients the ‘normal’ way (butter/sugar, add egg/molasses, then dry)? Any tips would be greatly appreciated! Your cookies look wonderful, I can only imagine that they tasted great! 🙂 Thank you for your time!

    • Christina says:

      If you have a stand mixer or hand mixer you can use that instead of a food processor. You don’t need to alter the way you mix the ingredients. Just add and mix them in the order listed. If you give them a try I would love to hear how they turn out for you! 🙂

      • Joy says:

        I recently tried this recipe, using my hand mixer, and it turned out great! Wonderful flavor, great texture, and very easy to make! Thank you for the recipe, it has made me and several others very happy. 🙂 Also, I tried baking a few like ‘normal’ molasses cookies: rolling into balls (after refrigeration), rolling in sugar and then baking. Happily, these also turned out yummy! 🙂 This recipe will definitely make an appearance on the Christmas cookie tray!

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  15. sarahmyers says:

    These taste delicious! And they’re just the right level of chewy while still being a little crisp on the edges. I’m having a problem with them spreading though – the shapes I cut get completely distorted. I froze the dough for a few hours prior to cutting, then put the pan with cut outs back in the freezer for a few minutes before popping them in the oven. I’m wondering if anyone else has had this problem? I’m going to try another batch and use an egg instead of 2 Tbs. milk and decrease the butter by 1/2 stick.

    • sarahmyers says:

      Hi Christina,

      I thought I’d let you know I tried a few things to help with the spreading. I made so many batches of this, I really wanted to get it just right! This is what I tried:

      1. Using half butter and half butter flavored shortening. They held their shape much better, but didn’t have the same taste as all butter (I’ll take taste over shape!)
      2. Using an egg and decreasing the butter by 1/2 stick. This didn’t seem to make much of a difference.
      3. Cutting butter by 1/2 stick and decreasing baking soda to 1/4 tsp. I think this worked the best. They didn’t spread as much, but I still wasn’t able to get the thick cookie with definition (like in your pictures). Taste was great.
      4. With the last batch I tried one tray at 350 degrees and one at 375. At 375 they seemed to hold shape a little better but not by much.

      Maybe I am the only one with this problem?

      • Christina says:

        It could be that your butter was too soft. How long did you leave it to soften? When I make these I cut the butter into small pieces and let them sit at room temperature about 5 minutes before proceeding with the recipe. If the butter is too soft the cookies will spread when baked and lose their shape. I am so sorry you are having trouble with these cookies. I have made these cookies so many times never had that problem before.

      • sarahmyers says:

        Thanks for the suggestion, I didn’t let the butter soften much during the mixing. It seemed like a pretty sticky dough so I rolled it out between parchment and froze the discs for 20 minutes. Then I cut the shapes out and put them in the preheated over. Maybe the temp change from frozen to hot is making them spread too much? I’m using land o lakes unsalted butter.

  16. Mary Ellen says:

    I was planning on adding these to my cookie boxes this year. What is the yield? It looks like it could be at least 2 dozen…. depending on how big you cut them.

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  18. Marilyn says:

    I’m getting a really nice mixer for Christmas so for the most likely last time I threw all the ingredients into my bread baker. It works really well for cookies like these and also sugar cookies. I round up all the scraps too and let it mix them back into a dough as awesome as the first round. I’m about to bake and ice the cookies, can’t wait to eat them!

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  20. Faye says:

    Hello;-) I Veganized your wonderful recipe by using vegan buttery sticks and soy milk, added fresh grated ginger and some homemade chai spice 🙂 I haven’t made gingerbread men in years, I forgot how much fun it is. Thank you for your wonderful recipe!!

  21. Lisa K says:

    Is there any particular reason these aren’t mixed by creaming the butter and sugar together first? It’s what I always do but I don’t want to ruin them 🙂
    Thanks for the recipe and your response!

    • Christina says:

      Most recipes do call for the butter and sugar to be creamed together. With this recipe you chop up the butter in the food processor into tiny pea sized bits that mix into the rest of the dough. When the dough is baked, these little bits give the cookies their chewy texture. Let me know how they turn out for you! 🙂

  22. zainab says:

    making now with my mom and little sisters. looking forward to decorating(and eating)

  23. sarahmyers says:

    I should add I sifted together the dry ingredients to mix and added the butter with a pastry cutter since I don’t have a food processor. Then I handmixed in the wet ingredients. Maybe it’s my process that’s giving me strange results? Or maybe I’m rolling too thin? I’ll keep trying 😉

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