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Gingerbread Men Cookies

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These soft and chewy cut-out Gingerbread Men Cookies are easy to decorate with a glossy 4-ingredient icing. Grab your favorite cookie cutters and get ready for this classic Christmas treat!

A gingerbread man cookie decorated with a face and clothes with more decorated cookies beside it

The Best Homemade Gingerbread Cookies

Making gingerbread cookies from scratch is my favorite way to get into the Christmas spirit. They’re easy to prepare, fun to decorate and deliciously festive! This fail-proof recipe makes soft and tender cookies with lightly crisp edges that have no problem holding their shape. Adapted from my popular Cut-Out Sugar Cookies, these gingerbread men are guaranteed to stay soft and moist for days with proper storage.

Once the cookies are baked and cooled, they’re decorated with a simple homemade icing that comes together in seconds. After it hardens on the cookies, you can add extra icing on top of it to create detailed designs! No matter how you decide to decorate your gingerbread men, they’re bound to be a Christmas sensation.

What You’ll Need

These crowd-favorite cookies come together with a super simple list of ingredients. Here’s everything you’ll need to make the gingerbread men and the icing:

For the Gingerbread Men Cookies

  • Unsalted Butter: Brought to room temperature.
  • Light Brown Sugar:
  • Molasses: This gingerbread must-have keeps your cookies soft and moist.
  • Egg:
  • Milk: Use whatever kind you have in your fridge.
  • Baking Soda: These cookies use just enough baking soda to help them rise a little without causing them to spread.
  • Pure Vanilla Extract:
  • All-Purpose Flour:
  • Gingerbread Spices: You’ll need ground ginger, ground cinnamon and nutmeg for that unmistakable gingerbread flavor.

For the Icing

  • Powdered Sugar: Sifted to remove any clumps.
  • Milk:
  • Corn Syrup: For that shiny finish
  • Clear Vanilla Extract (Optional): You can substitute this with almond extract or another desired extract if you’d like. Just be sure the extract is clear – otherwise, you’ll lose that bright white icing color.
An unfrosted gingerbread cookie beside a bowl of sprinkles and a piping bag filled with icing

Let’s Make Gingerbread Men Cookies

In order to achieve the softest cookies, I recommend lining your pan with a silicone baking mat rather than parchment paper. Cookies bake faster on top of parchment paper, and the bottoms tend to crisp up too quickly.

Beat Butter & Sugar: Beat the butter and sugar on medium-high speed until the sugar is dissolved and creamy.

Dissolve Baking Soda in Milk: In a small glass dish, dissolve the baking soda in the milk.

Combine Wet Ingredients: Add the molasses, milk mixture, vanilla and egg to the butter mixture. Beat until all of the ingredients are well incorporated.

Add Dry Ingredients: Combine the remaining dry ingredients in a large bowl and slowly add them to the wet ingredient mixture, beating until the dough forms.

Chill Dough: Form 2 softball-sized balls of dough, flatten them into discs, then wrap each one tightly in plastic wrap. Chill the wrapped dough in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours, but the longer the better.

Prep for Baking: Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a large cookie sheet with a silicone baking mat.

Let Dough Soften: Remove the dough from the refrigerator and let it sit at room temperature for 10 minutes.

Form Cookies: Roll the dough out on a well-floured surface until it’s 1/4-inch thick. Use a cookie cutter to cut out the gingerbread men, then transfer them to the lined baking sheet. Brush off excess flour with a pastry brush.

Bake: Bake the cookies for 8-10 minutes. Remove them from the oven just as the edges start to crisp. In my oven, that’s 9 minutes. The centers of the cookies will still be soft, but baked through.

A section of dough shaped like a gingerbread man on a flour-covered countertop

Let Cool: Allow your cookies to cool for several minutes before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely.

Can I Freeze the Dough?

If you’d like, you can keep your plastic-wrapped cookie dough in the freezer instead of the refrigerator. The frozen dough should be used within 3 months. Let it thaw overnight in the fridge before you roll it out and bake the cookies.

How to Make Icing for Gingerbread Cookies

Leaving your cookies plain is definitely an option, but I think every gingerbread man should have a smiling face! This quick-fix icing is so easy to make, and it adds tons of character to your cookies.

Combine Ingredients: Combine the sifted powdered sugar, corn syrup and 2 tablespoons of milk in a bowl and whisk until well combined. The icing will be thickened.

Adjust Consistency: Add additional milk 1 teaspoon at a time to thin out the icing until it reaches your desired consistency. In order for the icing to hold its place on your cookies, it should take 3-4 seconds to flatten on its own surface when you pick some up with the whisk and drizzle it back down into the bowl. If it’s too thin, add an additional 1/4 cup of powdered sugar.

A batch of icing in a large glass bowl with a rubber spatula scooping some out

Decorate Cookies: Pipe the icing onto your cooled cookies using a small piping tip or a plastic bag with the corner cut off. Let the first layer of icing set for several hours before you add any additional icing details on top of it. If you’d like to add sprinkles on top of the icing, do so before it sets. Once all of the icing hardens on the cookies, serve or store them as you wish.

Tips for Success

Read over these quick little tips and tricks before your holiday baking begins. They’ll help you make the best soft gingerbread cookies ever!

  • Don’t Skimp on the Chill Time: You’ll notice that the dough is quite sticky when it first comes together. Once it sets in the fridge, it will have the same consistency as sugar cookie dough. If you don’t refrigerate it for long enough, you’ll have a harder time rolling it and cutting it out.
  • Flour Your Rolling Surface Well: In order to transfer the cookie dough from your rolling surface to your baking sheet, you’ll have to flour the surface generally. I also recommend flouring your rolling pin. Any excess flour on the gingerbread men can be brushed off with a pastry brush.
  • Smooth Out Cracks Before Baking: Make sure there are no cracks in your gingerbread men before you bake them. If there are cracks in the dough, there will be cracks in the finished cookies. You can see this below.
  • Color the Icing: If you’d like, you can add any gel food coloring of your choice to the icing. Just avoid using liquid food coloring, as it will thin out the icing.
Two gingerbread men cookies laying side by side on a kitchen countertop

Storage Instructions

Keep your cookies in an airtight container at room temperature once they have cooled and the icing has set. Place a sheet of parchment or wax paper in between layers to prevent sticking. These are best if they’re eaten within 2-3 days of being baked.

You can also store your baked cookies in the freezer if desired. I recommend doing this before you make the icing and decorate them. Frozen cookies will last for up to 3 months and should be thawed out on a wire rack before they’re iced and enjoyed.

A pile of unfrosted gingerbread man cookies on top of a plain white surface
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A close-up shot of a gingerbread cookie decorated with icing and sprinkles

Gingerbread Men Cookies

  • Author: Julianne Dell
  • Prep Time: 3 hours
  • Cook Time: 9 minutes
  • Total Time: 3 hours 9 minutes
  • Yield: 36

Description

These soft and chewy cut-out Gingerbread Men Cookies are easy to decorate with a glossy 4-ingredient icing. Grab your favorite cookie cutters and get ready for this classic Christmas treat!

Ingredients

For the Gingerbread Men

  • 1/2 cup (113g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup (110g) light brown sugar, packed
  • 1/2 cup (118ml) molasses
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 tablespoons (30ml) milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 2 3/4 cups (385g) all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons (5g) ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon (2.5g) ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

For the Gingerbread Cookie Icing

  • 1 cup powdered sugar, sifted
  • 2 tablespoons +2 teaspoons milk
  • 1 tablespoon corn syrup
  • ½ teaspoon clear vanilla or almond extract (optional)

Instructions

Make the Cookies

  1. Beat the butter and sugar on medium-high speed until the sugar is dissolved and creamy.
  2. In a small glass dish, dissolve the baking soda in the milk.
  3. Add the molasses, milk mixture, vanilla and egg to the butter mixture. Beat until all of the ingredients are well incorporated.
  4. Combine the remaining dry ingredients in a large bowl and slowly add them to the wet ingredient mixture, beating until the dough forms.
  5. Form 2 softball-sized balls of dough, flatten them into discs, then wrap each one tightly in plastic wrap. Chill the wrapped dough in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours, but the longer the better.
  6. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a large cookie sheet with a silicone baking mat.
  7. Remove the dough from the refrigerator and let it sit at room temperature for 10 minutes.
  8. Roll the dough out on a well-floured surface until it’s 1/4-inch thick. Use a cookie cutter to cut out the gingerbread men, then transfer them to the lined baking sheet. Brush off excess flour with a pastry brush.
  9. Bake the cookies for 8-10 minutes. Remove them from the oven just as the edges start to crisp. In my oven, that’s 9 minutes. The centers of the cookies will still be soft, but baked through.
  10. Allow your cookies to cool for several minutes before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely.

Make the Icing

  1. Combine the sifted powdered sugar, corn syrup and 2 tablespoons of milk in a bowl and whisk until well combined. The icing will be thickened.
  2. Add additional milk 1 teaspoon at a time to thin out the icing until it reaches your desired consistency. In order for the icing to hold its place on your cookies, it should take 3-4 seconds to flatten on its own surface when you pick some up with the whisk and drizzle it back down into the bowl. If it’s too thin, add an additional 1/4 cup of powdered sugar.
  3. Pipe the icing onto your cooled cookies using a small piping tip or a plastic bag with the corner cut off. Let the first layer of icing set for several hours before you add any additional icing details on top of it. Once all of the icing hardens on the cookies, serve or store them as you wish.

Notes

  • This recipe makes 24-28 cookies, depending on the cookie cutters used. My cookie cutters are 3 1/4” tall.
  • To Store: Keep cooled cookies in an airtight container at room temperature once the icing has set. Place parchment or wax paper between layers to prevent sticking and enjoy cookies within 2-3 days.
  • To Freeze: Unfrosted cookies can be frozen in an airtight container with wax paper in between layers. Frozen cookies will last for up to 3 months. Thaw them on a wire rack before icing and enjoying.
  • Category: Dessert
  • Method: Oven
  • Cuisine: American

Keywords: gingerbread cookies soft, decorating gingerbread men, icing for gingerbread cookies

More Easy Christmas Cookie Recipes

Each Christmas, I put together a cookie platter that features some of my favorite holiday treats. The cookies below make the cut every year!

Leave a Comment

Recipe rating

2 Responses
  1. Mary

    I have a question on the flour measurement. King Arthur all purpose flour is 120 grams per 1 cup. Your recipe calls for 2 3/4 cups or 385 grams of flour. What is the correct flour measurement?

    1. Julianne - Beyond Frosting
      Beyond Frosting

      Hi Mary, great questions. I have always based my recipes on 140g for one cup of flour. Not all flour brands measure the same for 1 cup. But if KAF is 120g, you can go ahead and use their gram measurements and the results will be similar.

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