A simple and delicious recipe for classic gingerbread men! these cookies are made with all butter (no shortening!) for the best flavor, are perfectly spiced with molasses ginger, cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg, and are topped off with a sweet and simple decorative frosting.
This Gingerbread Men recipe marks the fifth cookie recipe in a row that I’ve shared, I hope you don’t mind cookies! At least you’ll have no shortage of options when it comes to loading up a plate of cookies for Santa.
Cookies are my favorite sort of baked good to create (if not photograph), but I promise that I have a non-cookie recipe planned for you on Friday (I have some birthday cupcakes planned, instead).
You might remember that I just recently shared a spiced molasses cookie earlier this week, but while those cookies may contain similar ingredients, you just can’t roll them out and put smiley faces on them like you can with this gingerbread men recipe!
Let’s jump in.
This Gingerbread Men recipe came about after a lot of trial and error. I started by working with a recipe that my Mom used to make when I was a kid, but quickly decided that despite the molasses and spices, the shortening that the recipe called for just wasn’t cutting it.
A ton of testing ensued, I went through batch after batch of cookies that were too dry, too hard, too bland (those were the worst!), before finally landing on this perfectly soft gingerbread cookie recipe that I’m sharing with you today. Below, I want to cover some of what I think are the most helpful tips that I learned along the way.
How do you decorate Gingerbread Men?
With a simple icing and colorful candy, of course! Gumdrop buttons are always optional, as well 😉
I applied just a small amount of icing to each of my gingerbread men, and before the icing could set, I pressed candy pieces onto their “buttons”. The icing recipe that I provided is essentially the same as the one that I used for my Sugar Cookie Recipe (remember, the light corn syrup that is used here is not the same as high fructose corn syrup).
It’s simple to make, and hard to mess up. It also makes a lot of frosting, more than you’ll need to decorate your cookies the way that I have here. You can cut the recipe in half if you’d like, but I wanted to provide enough that you could fully decorate your cookies to your heart’s content.
I kept my frosting white and used colored candies to add some color to the gingerbread men, but you can easily add food coloring to this frosting if you want to pipe on colorful bow-ties or bright red and green buttons, too.
Tips for No-fail Gingerbread Men
While the base recipes for my Gingerbread Men and my Sugar Cookies are very different, the tips that I have for both of these cookie recipes are pretty similar.
- Add flour: Don’t be afraid to generously dust both the surface that you are working on and the gingerbread cookie dough with flour. This will keep the dough from sticking, and any excess flour will bake off the cookies in the oven. There are few things as frustrating as a perfectly cut out gingerbread man stuck to your counter!
- When cutting out your gingerbread men cookies: make sure to keep your cuts as close together to get as many gingerbread men out of your dough as possible. Once you’ve cut out as many cookies as possible, gather the scraps together and re-roll them out again for more cookies.
- Watch the edges: I provided a baking time in the recipe below, but it can vary depending on a lot of things, such as how large your cookie cutters are (mine are about 3.5″) and how thick you actually roll out your dough. A good way to know that your cookies are done is to look for the edges to just be beginning to turn a darker shade of brown. This will yield cookies that have slightly crisped exteriors and soft, chewy interiors. Just make sure to let them cool a bit on their baking sheets before trying to move them, otherwise they may break!
- When making the frosting: As I mentioned above, it’s hard to mess this one up. If you make the frosting too thin, just add more powdered sugar, and if it’s still too thick, just add more milk! Play with the consistency until it is easily manageable for you.
A simple and delicious recipe for classic gingerbread men! these cookies are made with all butter (no shortening), are perfectly spiced with ginger, cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg, and are topped off with a simple decorative frosting.
- ½ cup unsalted butter (113g)
- ½ cup light or dark brown sugar, tightly packed (100g)
- ½ cup molasses (120ml)
- 1 large egg
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 2 ¼ cups all purpose flour (313g)
- ¾ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 ½ teaspoon ground ginger
- 1 ½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
- ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 3 cups powdered sugar sifted (375g)
- 2-4 Tablespoons milk
- 2 Tablespoons light corn syrup
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Decorative candies and sprinkles as desired
For Gingerbread Men:
Using a stand mixer or electric mixer, combine butter and sugar and beat until well-creamed.
Ad molasses and beat until combined (mixture may look piecey, this is OK).
Stir in egg and vanilla extract.
In a separate, medium-sized bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, salt, and spices.
With mixer on low speed, gradually add dry ingredients to wet until completely combined.
Scrape dough roughly into a ball (it will be sticky, use a spatula), wrap completely in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 3 hours or overnight.
Once dough has chilled, preheat oven to 375F (175C).
Flour a clean surface and lightly flour the dough as well.
Use a rolling pin to roll the dough to ¼” thickness, and use a cookie cutter (my cookie cutter for these was about 3.5” long) to cut out shapes. Transfer to a parchment paper lined cookie sheet (or an ungreased cookie sheet), transfer to 375F oven, and bake for 8-10 minutes.
Allow cookies to cool on baking sheet for at least 5 minutes then transfer to cooling rack to cool completely before decorating.
Once cookies have cooled, prepare frosting and decorate.
Gingerbread Men Icing
Combine sugar, 2 Tablespoons of milk, corn syrup, and vanilla extract in a medium-sized bowl and stir until combined. If frosting is too thick, add more milk, about a teaspoon at a time, until the frosting is thick but pipeable. If you accidentally add too much milk, add powdered sugar until desired texture is reached.
Transfer to a piping bag with a piping tip (I used Wilton #5), or place in a Ziploc bag and snip a small piece of the corner off (not as neat, but this will still work, just take care that the frosting isn’t so thick that it breaks open the seam of the bag when you are squeezing).
Pipe frosting on cookies and decorate with decorative candies, if desired.
Allow frosting to harden before enjoying (this took only about 30 minutes for me, but may take longer if your frosting is wetter)
Keep uneaten cookies sealed in an airtight container at room temperature.