Gingerbread Men Cookies

Gingerbread men cookies are such an epitome of Christmas baking, but I never tackled them for one primary reason – all of the gingerbread cookies I had ever tasted were pretty much the equivalent of a rock. Unless you’re talking about biscotti or pizzelle, I am a diehard soft and chewy cookie person. Crunchy cookies just aren’t my thing. As a result, I’ve been avoiding these adorable little guys for fear of the crunch. Then as luck would have it, I came across a recipe for “Thick and Chewy Gingerbread Cookies”. Clearly, that recipe had my name all over it. So I busted out my yet-to-be-used cookie cutter and went to town. I’m so glad I finally came across a recipe for soft gingerbread cookies because they are cute-as-a-button as well as delicious! (Full disclosure: I totally ate more than a few fingerfuls of the dough!)

Now, I know that variety is the spice of life and that chances are that many of you are a fan of crisp and crunchy cookies and might be looking for a recipe for that type of gingerbread cookies. This recipe can actually be used to make thinner, crispier, more gingersnap-like cookies with just a couple of alterations in technique. Unless noted in the modifications below, do everything else the same.

To Make Thin, Crispy Gingerbread Men Cookies:

  • Follow the same instructions below (with all of the same ingredients) in Step 1.
  • In Step 2, roll the dough out to 1/8-inch thick and proceed with freezing the dough as directed.
  • Preheat the oven to 325 degrees and bake for 15-20 minutes, until they are slightly darkened and firm in the center when pressed with a finger. Cool on the baking sheet for 2 minutes then remove to a cooling rack.
  • These cookies can keep up to a month stored as directed below.

Which is your preference: soft and chewy or thin and crisp??

One year ago: Homemade Hot Cocoa Mix
Two years ago: Date Nut Spice Bread
Four years ago: Roasted Red Potatoes

Gingerbread Men Cookies

Yield: 30 (3-inch) cookies

Prep Time: 45 minutes

Cook Time: 22 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes

A recipe for soft Gingerbread Men Cookies - a holiday staple.

Ingredients:

3 cups all-purpose flour
¾ cup dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon ground ginger
½ teaspoon ground cloves
½ teaspoon salt
¾ teaspoon baking soda
¾ cup (6 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into 12 pieces and softened slightly
¾ cup molasses
2 tablespoons milk

Directions:

1. In food processor workbowl 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 machine running, gradually add molasses and milk; process until dough is evenly moistened and forms soft mass, about 10 seconds. (Alternatively, in the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with paddle attachment, stir together flour, sugar, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, salt and baking soda at low speed until combined, about 30 seconds. Stop mixer and add butter pieces; mix at medium-low speed until mixture is sandy and resembles fine meal, about 1½ minutes. Reduce speed to low and, with mixer running, gradually add molasses and milk; mix until dough is evenly moistened, about 20 seconds. Increase speed to medium and mix until thoroughly combined, about 10 seconds.)

2. Scrape dough onto work surface; divide in half. Working with one portion of dough at a time, roll ¼-inch thick between two large sheets of parchment paper. Leaving dough sandwiched between parchment layers, stack on cookie sheet and freeze until firm, 15 to 20 minutes. (Alternatively, refrigerate dough 2 hours or overnight.)

3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.

4. Remove one dough sheet from freezer; place on work surface. Peel off top parchment sheet and lay it back in place. Flip dough over; peel off and discard second parchment layer. Cut dough into gingerbread people or round cookies, transferring shapes to parchment-line cookie sheets with a wide metal spatula, spacing them ¾-inch apart. Repeat with remaining dough until cookie sheets are full. Bake cookies until set in centers and dough barely retains imprint when touched very gently with fingertip, 8 to 11 minutes, rotating cookie sheet from front to back halfway through baking time. Do not overbake. Cool cookies on sheets 2 minutes, then remove with wide metal spatula to wire rack; cool to room temperature.

5. Gather scraps; repeat rolling, cutting and baking in steps 2 and 4. Repeat with remaining dough until all dough is used.

6. Once cookies are cool, decorate with royal icing, if desired. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week.

(Recipe adapted from Cook's Illustrated)

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111 Responses to “Gingerbread Men Cookies”

Comment Pages 1 2
  1. Jessica on December 13, 2011 at 12:47 am

    SOFT AND CHEWY!

    ^^^obviously I am serious about my love of gingerbread being soft and chewy :-P

    Reply

  2. CouponClippingCook on December 13, 2011 at 1:31 am

    These cookies are sooooo cute! When I’m craving sweets….my preference is soft, chewy, thin, and crisp…love them all.

    Reply

  3. Choc Chip Uru on December 13, 2011 at 3:11 am

    These cookies are much too adorable to eat yet much too tasty to ignore – how to solve such dilemmas :)

    Reply

  4. linda on December 13, 2011 at 4:35 am

    your “men” are so cute!
    i am a thin & crispy cookie lover…& these look great!

    Reply

  5. Kiri W. on December 13, 2011 at 6:17 am

    The adorable classic :) Great job – I’d love one! Gingerbread is just such a perfect thing, haha.

    Reply

  6. Katrina on December 13, 2011 at 6:29 am

    These are so freaking cute!

    Reply

  7. Jenn on December 13, 2011 at 6:34 am

    may i know what are molasses? i’m a pretty new at baking

    Reply

  8. Kristen M. on December 13, 2011 at 7:07 am

    I can’t really think of any cookie I would prefer thin and crispy…soft and chewy all the way for me! Thank you for posting this recipe…I used to have a killer soft gingerbread cookie recipe and I haven’t been able to find one like it in years…Finding a recipe that produces a soft, chewy texture that is still sturdy enough to be decorated isn’t easy so thank you!

    Reply

  9. Leia on December 13, 2011 at 7:19 am

    Thin and crispy.

    Reply

  10. Jennifer@Peanut Butter and Peppers on December 13, 2011 at 7:34 am

    I just love Gingerbread cookies. There so cute!!

    Reply

  11. Elizabeth on December 13, 2011 at 8:08 am

    I think I’ll do some of both for the grands to help decorate. I’m not good at choosing!

    Reply

  12. Elizabeth King on December 13, 2011 at 8:16 am

    I love soft and chewy!! and these bowls look wonderful and festive! :)

    Reply

  13. sue@ cakeballs, cookies and more on December 13, 2011 at 8:39 am

    I am the same, I hate crunchy cookies, soft and chewy are the best.

    Reply

  14. Josephine on December 13, 2011 at 8:44 am

    Soft and Chewy, I don’t like any kind of hard/crisp cookies (well maybe Thin Mints haha)

    Reply

  15. Cathy M on December 13, 2011 at 8:58 am

    Already started my x-mas cookie blitz, may have to try these. They are just so danged cute!

    Reply

  16. Beth on December 13, 2011 at 9:34 am

    Soft and Chewy for me…It’s so funny that this is your post today, I was going through my cookbooks last night specifically for a gingerbread man cookie recipe! I really want one with a “bite” would you say these fit that description? Thanks!

    Reply

    • Michelle on December 14th, 2011 at 7:10 pm

      Yes, definitely!

      Reply

  17. Amber, RD on December 13, 2011 at 9:59 am

    Ah, thank you! I have been wanting to make gingerbread cookies for Christmas, but my husband isn’t a fan. He refuses to eat hard cookies. I think you just solved my problem. And I guess if he still doesn’t like these, tough! I want gingerbread cookies! :)

    Reply

  18. Judith on December 13, 2011 at 10:11 am

    Soft and chewy

    Reply

  19. Lisa on December 13, 2011 at 10:19 am

    I’m an equal opportunity cookie eater. Soft & chewy, hard & crispy, doesn’t matter to me. But would you believe I’ve NEVER made gingerbread man cookies??? I so want to. Maybe next year I’ll have more time. LOVE these! Adorable!

    Reply

  20. Sarah @ See Sarah Bake on December 13, 2011 at 10:36 am

    I can not thank you enough for posting this. I LOVE the taste of gingerbread, but I hate the crunch. This sounds like a perfect marriage of soft and chewy with that classic gingerbread spice :)

    Reply

  21. Barbara on December 13, 2011 at 10:42 am

    Was in dire need of a gingerbread man recipe. Thanks can’t wait to try this one out.

    Reply

  22. Paula on December 13, 2011 at 11:04 am

    Happy you have found a recipe that you love. Your gingerbread men are sweet (and delicious no doubt). Looks like you’ll be doing these every Christmas. I’m in the soft and chewy fan club :)

    Reply

  23. LaurBucks on December 13, 2011 at 11:38 am

    Soft & chewy!!

    Reply

  24. Ally on December 13, 2011 at 12:27 pm

    Perfect little gingerbread men!!
    xo
    http://allykayler.blogspot.com

    Reply

  25. Krissy @ Krissy's Creations on December 13, 2011 at 12:54 pm

    Gingermen men that are soft?! YES please! I was just about to make a batch of these with a different recipe, but you’ve definitely convinced me to make these! Printing out the recipe now :)

    Reply

  26. Ashley @ Wishes & Dishes on December 13, 2011 at 1:10 pm

    Yesssss these look perfect! I will be making these, thanks!

    Reply

  27. Elizabeth King on December 13, 2011 at 1:13 pm

    I also already subscribe to daily emails

    Reply

  28. Grubarazzi (@Grubarazzi) on December 13, 2011 at 1:17 pm

    These are so friggen cute!

    Reply

  29. Madeline (@ Thursday Night Baking) on December 13, 2011 at 3:22 pm

    I swear I make a different gingerbread men recipe each year because I cant seem to find the perfect soft/chewy cookie without them spreading out and losing the cute shape. I’ll have to try out this recipe this year :)

    By the way, your link to Print isn’t working! Just so you know :)

    Reply

  30. Maria on December 13, 2011 at 4:02 pm

    Can’t wait to try these! I love soft gingerbread men:)

    Reply

  31. Pattypro on December 13, 2011 at 4:11 pm

    Count me among the soft & chewy bunch!

    Reply

  32. Rachel @ Baked by Rachel on December 13, 2011 at 4:53 pm

    I’m seriously with you – soft and chewy all the way. I don’t like thin crispy cookies. An occasional crunch with the right cookie is okay but in general soft is perfect. These look fantastic! Love the icing decoration :)

    Reply

  33. Angelyn on December 13, 2011 at 5:46 pm

    Soft & chewy allll the way! These look incredible :)

    Reply

  34. Ann on December 14, 2011 at 2:34 am

    I have to say – I like my ginger BREAD soft and moist, but my ginger bread COOKIES crispy! However, these look amazing!

    Reply

  35. Diana @ a girl, a dog & an oven on December 14, 2011 at 11:39 am

    I’m a soft and chewy girl. So excited for a soft gingerbread cookie recipe – definitely going to try this for our sweater party on Saturday!!

    Reply

  36. Mi Vida en un Dulce on December 14, 2011 at 12:11 pm

    Gingerbread cookies are a must during this season, all recipes I tried are for a crunchy cookie, but if this recipe is for chewy cookies, I have to try as I prefer chewy cookies.

    Reply

  37. Becca on December 14, 2011 at 8:07 pm

    Ok, got a question. Is the dough super sticky before the rolling stage? I am worried it might need flour? Help!

    Reply

    • Michelle on December 14th, 2011 at 8:17 pm

      Hi Becca, Yes, it is sticky, but because you roll it between pieces of parchment and then freeze it it does not stick. Not adding flour is what keeps the cookies nice and soft. You’ll just have to trust me on this one :)

      Reply

  38. Tina on December 15, 2011 at 11:13 am

    Have you tried freezing them? Do they freeze well? If so, did you decorate before or after freezing?

    Reply

    • Michelle on December 16th, 2011 at 12:24 am

      Hi Tina, I haven’t tried freezing them but I definitely think you could. I would decorate after thawing them.

      Reply

  39. Arianna on December 16, 2011 at 1:22 pm

    I’m struggling with these cookies! I chose the recipe specifically after seeing the words “soft and chewy” but mine did not turn out that way at all. What am I doing wrong?

    Specifics: followed measuring exactly. Did not use any type of mixer, hand mixed everything, so this is my only thought as to where I might have gone wrong: I did my best to get my mix to retain a fine cornmeal texture but maybe it just isn’t the same without the mixer? My dough might have been slightly thinner than 1/4″, and I let it sit in the freezer longer than 15-20 minutes, but also made up for it by leaving out on the pan longer before baking. Left my cookies in oven just as directed, even took them out on the earlier end of time- but my oven had been on for about 3 hours between dinner and cookies. Left on cookie sheet precisely 2 min and moved to cooling tray. They were soft out of the oven but got very hard. I love this site so I really don’t want to give up on it! Please help!

    Reply

    • Michelle on December 16th, 2011 at 6:48 pm

      Hi Arianna, A couple of things… The final dough really didn’t have a cornmeal mixture, it was very smooth and soft. If the dough was thinner, then that could definitely have contributed to a crisper cookie. Leaving it in the freezer longer than 20 minutes wouldn’t have been a problem, but letting them sit out before putting them in the oven could be. Putting them in while the dough was still could helps to keep them soft and retain their shape. Lastly, if your oven had been on for a long time, is it possible that the temperature was higher? That could definitely contribute to a crisper cookie. I hope this helps!

      Reply

  40. Andrea on December 16, 2011 at 11:35 pm

    I made these and they were fantastic! Definitely a new Christmas cookie staple. Thanks for sharing!

    Reply

  41. Denise on December 17, 2011 at 11:11 am

    Can’t wait to try them I will be making these for a cookie decorating party for kids. I will defiantly come back and let everyone know how these cute little gingerbread men turned out. They should be great because every recipe that i have gotten from here has been wonderful. (:

    Reply

  42. Tina on December 17, 2011 at 11:34 am

    I just noticed a discrepancy. The narrative says the cookies can be stored up to one month, but the recipe instructions say one week. Can you please provide clarification on which is correct? Thanks!

    Reply

    • Michelle on December 17th, 2011 at 8:20 pm

      Hi Tina, The narration in the post is a variation to make thin and crispy gingerbread cookies. Those cookies can be stored for up to a month, but the thicker, soft and chewy ones can only be stored for 1 week.

      Reply

  43. Joanna on December 19, 2011 at 4:55 pm

    Your cookies are fantastic. I made it :) I love soft gingerbread men. Thanks for the recipe.

    Reply

  44. kaitlin on December 19, 2011 at 8:48 pm

    Just tried this recipe tonight and they are so good, taste like trader joes ginger cookies but soft :) follow the cooking time or they’ll be crunchy, thanks so much for the recipe

    Reply

  45. Becky Merritt on December 20, 2011 at 1:54 pm

    Made these to send off to my son’s class for their christmas party. My 5 year old loved them, I loved them (I’m not a huge gingerbread fan), and I think my husband ate a dozen in one sitting he liked them so much! Making another batch today to pass out to friends and family :]

    Reply

  46. Suzy Robinson on December 26, 2011 at 9:08 pm

    This is the BEST Gingerbread men cookie recipe ever!!! It is very simple and I have received so many compliments from them, even my finicky mother and daughter loved them! Thanks so much for sharing!!!

    Reply

  47. Anna on October 6, 2012 at 11:03 pm

    “Bake cookies until set in centers and dough barely retains imprint when touched very gently with fingertip, 8 to 11 minutes, rotating cookie sheet from front to back halfway through baking time. Do not overbake. Cook cookies on sheets 2 minutes, then remove with wide metal spatula to wire rack; cool to room temperature.”

    The second line you say “cook cookies on sheets 2 minutes”. Do you mean leave them on sheet for 2 minutes? Because you have already specified baking time

    Reply

    • Michelle on October 10th, 2012 at 5:14 pm

      Hi Anna, Yes, that is a typo and should say “cool cookies on sheets 2 minutes”. I will make that correction right now!

      Reply

  48. Holly on October 27, 2012 at 2:50 am

    I just made the dough, and it’s definitely not light brown like yours – it’s dark brown. I wasn’t even using dark brown sugar – I was using light brown! I’m in Australia, and tried to make up for the discrepancies between baking up sizes, but I wonder if that made a difference.. it’s also not particularily sticky. it’s shiny and smooth, and when I put it up it doesn’t stick to my hand. I added some more milk, but it’s about the same.
    I’m about to freeze the dough for bit less than a week for a bake sale, but I wonder if you have any ideas about where I went wrong.. hopefully it’ll taste okay when I bake it.

    Reply

    • Michelle on October 30th, 2012 at 1:16 pm

      Hi Holly, I’m wondering if there were some differences in measurements? The dough was definitely sticky for me before rolling out and refrigerating. Let me know how they turned out.

      Reply

  49. Pam on November 12, 2012 at 2:58 am

    hi, My problem is the same, I made these and they turned out dark brown, and they were only in the oven for around 10 minutes and when I took them out they were burnt, what am I doing wrong? :|

    Reply

    • Michelle on November 13th, 2012 at 11:47 pm

      Hi Pam, Do you have an oven thermometer to ensure your oven temperature? Are you using a dark cookie pan? Are you greasing the pan vs using parchment? Any of these things could cause the cookies to come out dark or burn.

      Reply

  50. Goma on November 12, 2012 at 6:12 am

    These are the best soft gingerbread people cookies that I have ever tasted. I made them with my 3 year old granddaughter and because they were soooo good, we are making them again this week. Thank you for sharing this great recipe.

    Reply

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