Can you get more classic than a gingerbread cookie at Christmas? There’s something festive about the rich spices and dark molasses in these delightful cookies that everyone always loves. One of the best parts are the beautiful shapes of the cookies, which can be very easily decorated with a simple icing. I love using woodland animals and other Christmas/winter shapes in addition to the classic gingerbread man.
Royal icing is traditionally used to decorate gingerbread, but I’ve opted for a simpler icing. This basic icing is called water icing, which is not surprising since it consists of icing sugar and water. 😊 There’s no raw egg involved, so no worries there! Plus, it sets quite firmly and looks just as good as royal icing.
I encourage you to make this family favorite recipe with your kids this Christmas season! Everyone will have a blast making, decorating, and eating them. 😋
Gingerbread cookies are a classic Christmas cookie that’s perfect to make and decorate with kids. This recipe contains lots of spices and molasses for a great-flavored gingerbread, plus a super easy icing recipe.
For the Cookie Dough
- 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 4 teaspoons ground ginger
- 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
- 3/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
- 3/4 teaspoon mixed spice
- 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground
- 3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
- 1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
- 1 large egg
- 2/3 cup molasses
- 2 tablespoons strong coffee, cooled
For the Icing
- 1 cup icing sugar, sifted
- 1-2 tablespoons filtered water
Making the Cookie Dough (30 minutes + 1 hour chilling)
- Whisk together the flour, baking soda, and spices and set aside.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the butter until smooth, then add the sugar and beat until light and fluffy.
- Scrape down the sides of the bowl, then add the egg, molasses, coffee, and two large spoonfuls of the flour mixture and beat until well blended.
- Mix in the flour on medium-low speed in three additions, being careful to blend all the ingredients thoroughly without overmixing.
- Split the dough into three equal discs and wrap tightly in plastic wrap. Chill for a minimum of 1 hour.
Rolling & Cutting the Cookies (1 hour)
- Preheat the oven to 350 F. Line two 11 by 17-inch cookie sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.
- Cut two large pieces of parchment paper and lay them on a clean work surface. Dust one with flour.
- Unwrap one of the dough disks, leaving the others in the fridge. Place it on the floured parchment and put the other piece of parchment on top. Roll out the gingerbread dough to about 1/8 inch thick and cut out the cookies with a cutter or paper template.
- Transfer the cookies to the prepared trays and repeat with the remaining dough. You will probably have enough cookies to fill about 4 trays, so just reuse the 2 trays after the cookies have baked.
Baking the Cookies (10 minutes per tray)
- Bake each tray one at a time in a 350 F oven for 10-15 minutes. The cookies should be set in the middle and firm around the edges, but not dark around the edges. Keep in mind that the cookies will harden up as they cool.
- Transfer the baked cookies to a wire rack to cool completely before decorating.
Decorating the Cookies (30 minutes + 15 minutes hardening)
- Sift the icing sugar into a small bowl and gradually stir the filtered water a few drops at a time, until the icing is a thick but pipeable consistency.
- Spoon the icing into a piping bag fitted with a small round tip and pipe the icing onto the gingerbread cookies as desired.
- Let the icing harden for 15 minutes before serving.
- If the dough is too sticky to roll out, gently knead in some more flour.
- Be careful not to add too much flour during the rolling process, as it will affect the final flavor of the cookies.
- If the dough becomes too soft as you’re working with it, chill it in the fridge for 5-10 minutes, or until it has hardened up again.
- For softer cookies, bake for a couple less minutes. For crisper cookies, bake for a few extra minutes.