These are truly the BEST gingerbread cookies! This recipe makes soft and chewy gingerbread cookies full of festive holiday flavor. My simple icing recipe makes it easy to decorate these cookies as snowflakes, Christmas trees, gingerbread men, and more!
It truly is the most wonderful time of the year.
Lights are twinkling. People are merry. Trees are trimmed and stocking are hung.
And then there are CHRISTMAS COOKIES!
When I was growing up, we always made butter (sprtiz) cookies (so tasty and cute!) and molasses cookies (so chewy and delicious!). Most years we made peanut butter cookies, too. So in my mind, these are the classics. Oddly enough, I don't remember ever making gingerbread cookies.
We did always make a homemade gingerbread house, though. The house is constructed from rock hard (but technically edible) gingerbread so that it's sturdy enough to last the whole month of December. This is probably why I've always assumed that gingerbread cookies are hard and crunchy. As a lover of soft, chewy cookies, I've never had much of an interest in gingerbread.
But this year I was in the mood to decorate some Christmas cookies, so I set off to bake a batch of gingerbread in the hopes that I could bake a cookie that was both soft and perfect for decorating.
Oh my gosh these gingerbread cookies! They are perfect! The flavor is incredible and full of holiday spice. The texture is soft and chewy (just the way I like my cookies!), but firm enough that they're perfect for decorating. Plus the icing is super simple to make, and all you need to do is pipe some lines and dots to create these fancy snowflake cookies!
How to Make Gingerbread Snowflake Cookies from Scratch
They make look (and taste) impressive, but these gingerbread cookies are surprisingly simple to bake from scratch. Don't forget to check out the video further down in the post to see exactly how I make and decorate these gingerbread cookies.
- To begin, combine the flour, baking soda, and spices in a large bowl and set it aside.
- Beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Then add the egg and molasses before gradually adding the flour mixture .
- Chill the dough before rolling and cutting the cookies.
- Once chilled, roll out the dough and use snowflake cookie cutters (or any cookie cutters you like) to cut shapes from the rolled out dough.
- Bake the cookies 8 to 10 minutes per sheet, and let them cool completely before decorating.
- To make the icing, whisk together confectioners sugar, milk, and vanilla in a medium-sized bowl until the mixture is smooth. The mixture should slowly drip, but not run, when poured from a spoon. If the mixture is too runny, add a little bit more sugar. If it’s too thick, add a little bit more milk.
- Spoon the icing into a piping bag or a plastic squeeze bottle and pipe the icing onto the cookies to create a snowflake design (or any design you choose!). Creating the snowflake design shown here is as simple as piping straight lines and dots, and you can see how I did it in the video below.
What Kind of Molasses Should I Use for Gingerbread Cookies?
There are several varieties of molasses, so here's a brief breakdown to help ensure you're choosing the best molasses for baking gingerbread cookies.
First, you want to be sure to use sugar cane molasses that's unsulphured. This is what's most widely available in grocery stores, so it will be easy to find!
Second, know that there are three grades of molasses: light, dark, and blackstrap. I recommend dark molasses for baking gingerbread cookies because of its rich flavor, though light molasses will also work if that's your preference. Here's a breakdown of the three grades to help you choose which you prefer.
- Light molasses (often called "mild") has the most mild flavor, lightest color, and is the sweetest, which makes it great for baking. Grandma's Molasses Original and Brer Rabbit Mild Molasses are both light molasses.
- Dark molasses (often called "robust" or "full flavor") has a deeper flavor, darker color, and thicker texture than light molasses, and it is less sweet. This is the molasses that I recommend for baking gingerbread cookies. Grandma's Molasses Robust and Brer Rabbit Full Flavor Molasses are both dark molasses.
- Blackstrap molasses is the darkest in color and thickest of the three types of molasses and has a bitter flavor. I do not recommend using blackstrap molasses to bake gingerbread cookies; it should only be used in recipes that specifically call for this type of molasses.
Can I Make These Cookies in Advance?
Yes, you can definitely make gingerbread cookies in advance and freeze them. While you can freeze decorated cookies, I recommend freezing the cookies before decorating them. Cookies should be completed cooled and packed in an airtight container before freezing for up to 3 months.
You can also make the gingerbread cookie dough in advance and freeze the unrolled dough, wrapped in plastic and sealed in an airtight container, for up to 3 months. Let the dough thaw overnight in the fridge before rolling out and cutting the cookies.
For more information about freezing cookie dough and cookies, check out this post.
How Long Do Gingerbread Cookies Last? (+ Storage Tips)
Baked and decorated gingerbread snowflake cookies can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days. Be careful when stacking decorated cookies; the icing is firm but not rock-solid and may become slightly squished when cookies are stacked.
More Christmas Cookie Recipes to Love
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This post was updated in December 2020 to include additional recipe details.