This Gingerbread Cookie recipe comes out moist and soft (but still sturdy enough to decorate with the kids)!

Molasses, real butter, and pantry ingredients are flavored with warm spices like ginger and cinnamon. They bake up well and keep in the freezer for cookie decorating (along with some easy sugar cookies)!

Decorated Gingerbread Cookies

The Perfect Holiday Cookie

We have fond memories of gathering around the kitchen table with all sorts of colored icings, sprinkles, dragees, and whatever else was on hand to decorate our own gingerbread man cookies?!

  • Soft and delicious yet sturdy enough to decorate.
  • The dough is easy to make and can be made ahead of time.
  • These cookies hold their shape well.
  • A deliciously nostalgic flavor with warm spices.

Ingredients for Gingerbread Cookies

Unsalted butter adds flavor while shortening helps these hold their shape and the combination of the two gives the best texture. Salted butter will work in place of unsalted (skip the salt in the recipe), but the shortening is needed for the right texture on these cookies.

Use dark molasses for a deep, dark brown color and the flavor expected in a soft gingerbread cookie.

How to Make Gingerbread Cookies

A really good gingerbread man recipe starts with quality ingredients.

  1. Cream butter and shortening per the recipe below. Add sugar and spice.
  2. Mix in remaining ingredients except for flour. Once mixed, add flour a little bit at a time.
  3. Refrigerate at least 2 hours.
  4. Roll dough and cut with cookie cutters.
  5. Bake on a baking sheet until lightly browned. Cool on a wire rack before decorating.

Gingerbread Cookie batter in bowl

Chilling the Cookie Dough

Chilling the dough in the refrigerator for gingerbread is required in this recipe.

It makes the dough easier to roll and cut but most importantly,  it keeps the cookies from spreading too much as they bake in the oven.

Divide the dough into two before refrigerating to make it easier to roll.  Roll about ¼-inch thick and be sure to dust your surface with a sprinkle of flour so they don’t stick.

Tips for Gingerbread Cookies

  • Half butter and half shortening create a soft, chewy cookie that holds its shape and holds up to decorating.
  • Ensure egg and butter are at room temperature.
  • Add just enough flour to hold everything together and make the dough pliable and use just enough on your rolling surface to keep the dough from sticking.
  • Lightly grease the pan or line with parchment paper.
  • Additional spices can be added including a pinch of black pepper, allspice, or ground cloves.

cutout of Gingerbread Cookies

How to Decorate Gingerbread Cookies

Along with the ever-popular sugar cookie, these are the best cookies to decorate and it is a fun tradition!

Find cookie cutters in any Christmas shapes you’d like. They can be found in nearly every store! Gingerbread man cookies love to be decorated with both white icing as well as our favorite sugar cookie icing and small dragees or sprinkles.

If you’re having a decorating party, squeeze bottles make for great decorating. Rimmed baking sheets for each person can help contain the sprinkles.

Gingerbread House Icing is not ideal for spreading over cookies. It is more of a “glue” and should be used for holding things together and to adhere decorations to cookies.

Gingerbread Cookies no toppings

More Christmas Cookie Recipes

Did you make these gingerbread cookies?! Leave a comment and review below!

Decorated Gingerbread Cookies
5 from 20 votes↑ Click stars to rate now!
Or to leave a comment, click here!

Perfect Gingerbread Cookies

This gingerbread cookie recipe is made with real molasses, real butter and flavored with just the right touch of ginger is guaranteed to please any palate, young or old! 
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 7 minutes
Chilling Time 2 hours
Total Time 2 hours 17 minutes
Servings 36 cookies


  • ¼ cup butter softened
  • ¼ cup shortening
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup molasses
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 egg room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon white vinegar
  • 2 ½ cups all purpose flour


  • Cream butter and shortening with a hand mixer until fluffy. Add sugar, baking powder, ginger, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. Continue to beat on medium until well combined.
  • Add molasses, vanilla, egg, and vinegar and beat until well mixed.
  • Add flour a little at a time until combined. Divide the two in two and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate at least 2 hours or overnight.
  • Preheat oven to 375°F. Lightly grease a cookie sheet.
  • Roll dough to ¼″ thick on a lightly floured surface. Cut with cookie cutters into desired shapes.
  • Bake for 7 to 9 minutes or until edges are lightly browned. 
  • Allow to cool 2 minutes on the pan. Transfer to a cooling rack and cool completely.



  • Half butter and half shortening create a soft, chewy cookie that hold its shape and holds up to decorating.
  • Ensure egg and butter are at room temperature.
  • Add just enough flour to hold everything together and make the dough pliable and use just enough on your rolling surface to keep the dough from sticking. 
  • Lightly grease the pan or line with parchment paper.
  • Additional spices can be added including a pinch of black pepper, allspice, or ground cloves.
5 from 20 votes

Nutrition Information

Serving: 1cookie | Calories: 82 | Carbohydrates: 13g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 2g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 7mg | Sodium: 30mg | Potassium: 90mg | Sugar: 6g | Vitamin A: 45IU | Calcium: 17mg | Iron: 0.7mg

Nutrition information provided is an estimate and will vary based on cooking methods and brands of ingredients used.

Course Cookies, Dessert
Cuisine American

More Great Christmas Cookies

Recipe Slightly Adapted from Better Homes and Gardens

cutting Gingerbread Cookies and plated dish with writing
cooked Gingerbread Cookies with a title
close up of Gingerbread Cookies with writing
making Gingerbread Cookies with a cookie cutter and writing


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About the author

Holly is a wine and cheese lover, recipe creator, shopping enthusiast and self appointed foodie. Her greatest passion is creating in the kitchen and making deliciously comforting recipes for the everyday home cook!
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Recipe Rating


  1. Hi Holly, you are now my go to site for all things baking. Recipes are always well written and very practical! So thanks for that! Someone gave me a large gingerbread man baking pan last Christmas that I have never used. 3 grandchildren, all brothers and sisters, have birthdays Dec 15, 16, & 17th and this year I’d like to use the pan for a large happy birthday cookie. Would this recipe work or should I try something else. Not sure if a gingerbread cake would work better. Thanks in advance for your advise!!!!5 stars

    1. Hi Linda! I have never tried making a large gingerbread man (although it sounds super fun!) but I think it would work! Use the same temperature that the recipe calls for but bake for a longer amount of time while checking frequently. If the edges start browning before the middle is baked through, cover them with foil to prevent them getting too crispy. I can’t wait to hear how it turns out!

  2. These were great. They’re not too sweet, which i love, and my husband loved them. I personally don’t remember ever eating a gingerbread man, nor have i made them before. My husband said they just like how his mom used to make them when he was a kid!

    They came out stiff enough to pick up but soft inside.5 stars

    1. I wanted to also mention that I followed the recipe to a T. And the dough chilled in the fri for about 2.5 hrs. I had no problem with rolling it out and using my gingerbread cookie cutter .

  3. Excellent cookies – not only do they taste great, they hold their shape! 6 year old had first cookie cutter experience with this recipe and not one broke on him. They smelled wonderful while baking. A real keeper!

    BTW I followed directions exactly, including the chill time for the dough and the freezer time for the cut out cookies, and I recommend anyone that tries the recipe to do the same.5 stars

    1. So happy to hear that this recipe was a great first experience for him! That is such a special memory!

  4. Hi Holly!
    Is this the recipe I would use to make a gingerbread house? If not do you have one?

    Thanks! I love your recipes – and I’m a picky eater!

    1. Hi Brenda, vinegar is often used in baking as it creates a chemical reaction with the baking soda and helps baked goods rise. Regular white vinegar is perfect in this recipe. Enjoy!

  5. Helpful hint. If you place a slightly moistened (barely damp) paper towel on your work surface under the parchment paper before rolling out dough it will keep the paper from sliding around when rolling out the dough. then cut the cookies and peel away the trimmings transfer the entire sheet to cookie sheet to bake. No flouring of work surface and no misshapen or torn cookies from transferring to sheets and less clean up. re roll scraps for more cookies.