These are definitely the BEST gingerbread cookies and it’s bound to be your new go-to recipe! They’re thick, soft, and chewy but hold their shape SO well when baked. It’s an eggless recipe so it’s easy to make vegan as well. I’ve also included a few baking tips to ensure they turn out just right every time!
What makes these the best gingerbread cookies?
I know, “BEST” is a bold word to put in front of any recipe and I don’t take it lightly. But gingerbread cookies are the entire reason why I started baking in the first place, so I made it my mission to create a recipe that’s not only delicious but also consistent.
Growing up, my mom, sister, and I would bake homemade gingerbread cookies every year for Christmas and every year they turned out different! Some were perfectly chewy, while others were a bit tough and dry. So for this recipe, I made it pretty much impossible to have any variation. These cookies bake perfectly thick and chewy every time.
The secret is in the flour. The last cup of flour in this recipe is added gradually at the very end. This way, you can have full control over the consistency of the dough. Depending on where you live or how you measured the flour, the dough could turn out too wet or too dry. This final cup prevents this from happening.
This recipe is also eggless! I always found it odd that gingerbread cookies had eggs considering the amount of molasses in the dough. Molasses helps to create a thick and stable dough. And although it doesn’t emulsify like eggs do, the amount of flour in this dough prevents any sort of separation between the water and oil portions.
Lastly, the dough is rolled before it is chilled. The soft dough is MUCH easier to roll compared to a ball of firm chilled dough. Once rolled, it is then chilled for just 30 minutes before cutting and baking. In other words, this recipe is super quick and easy.
Making gingerbread cookies – what to look for
The one and only trick to perfecting this recipe is in the final stage of making the dough. Luckily it’s very easy to tell when the dough is ready, so here is what you need to know:
- Butter & Sugar – First, the butter and sugars a mixed together. Make sure to fully cream the two together in to a light and fluffy consistency. This takes about 1-2 minutes on medium-high speed. This process whips tiny air holes into the butter, allowing the heat from the oven to freely move through the dough as the gingerbread cookies bake.
- Molasses – No need to get fancy with this recipe. Just basic molasses that you can find at just about any grocery store. I always use Grandma’s brand.
- Dry Ingredients (first batch) – The entire recipe calls for three cups of flour, but the dry ingredient mixture is whisked together with just two of those cups. For these two cups, make sure to spoon the flour into the measuring cup and level it off with a flat edge. Don’t pack it in, shake it down, or scoop directly into the flour bag. Also REALLY whisk the ingredients together so that the spices are well distributed.
- Dry Ingredients (second batch) – When the first batch of dry ingredients are added, pinch a bit of the dough between your fingers. It won’t be too sticky, but you’ll notice it’s very soft and tacky. This is not what we want. So, measure out one final cup of flour and gradually add it to the dough as it’s mixing. You may not need the entire cup, so keep an eye on it. You’re looking for a more play-doh-like consistency. The dough will start to look clumpy but NOT crumbly. If it looks crumbly you went too far. Now to test the dough, press it between your fingers again. It should still be soft but a bit more firm than the first batch, and it will leave your thumb print without any stick.
Rolling gingerbread cookie dough
Most gingerbread cookie recipes require the dough to be wrapped and chilled in one big ball. But then when it comes time to roll it out, it’s firm and hard to roll out.
This actually calls for a very simple solution, and that is to roll the dough and THEN chill it! Revolutionary, I know.
For this recipe, lay a sheet of parchment paper on a large cutting board or anything with a flat surface. Coat the entire surface with a dusting of flour and roll the dough out on the sheet. Roll to about 1/4 inch thickness, which gives the best thick and chewy cookies.
Once rolled, transfer the dough (cutting board and all) into the refrigerator to chill for 30 minutes. This is the perfect window of time to make the icing!
Baking gingerbread cookies
Once chilled, it’s very easy to cut out the cookies without any sort of warping or breaking when transferred to the baking sheet.
Another big plus to this recipe is that the dough barely spreads when baked. Because of this, it’s possible to fit quite a few cookies on one baking sheet.
To tell when they’re ready to be pulled from the oven, look at the surface of each cookie. If it appears lightly puffed, evenly colored, and dull (not wet), they’re ready. Do not wait for the edges to turn a darker color because by that time it’s too late!
Why is there no baking powder or baking soda?
To be quite honest, I just didn’t feel a need for it. Leaveners modify the spread of a cookie, which wasn’t entirely necessary for this recipe. In order to get thick and chewy gingerbread cookies, no amount of lift or spread is required.
Decorating gingerbread cookies
When the cookies are completely cooled, it’s time to decorate. The icing recipe for these cookies is VERY easy to make and also dries firm.
The ingredients are simply powdered sugar, water, vanilla, and corn syrup. Corn syrup is what will provide a skin on the icing, basically turning it into a much easier royal icing.
The right consistency should look like Elmer’s glue, but a bit thicker. When all of the ingredients are mixed together, assess the icing. If it’s too thin, add a tablespoon of powdered sugar. Too thick, add a teaspoon of water. Adding bit by bit allows full control over the icing consistency.
To decorate, small round piping tips work best. For these cookies, I use a No. 2 Wilton piping tip for the white squiggles, eyes, and smile, and a No. 3 tip for the cheeks and buttons. The smaller the piping tip, the easier it is to create detailed designs.
These cookies are also moist enough to where icing isn’t all that necessary and is purely decorative, so another option is to dust the cookies in powdered sugar before baking. Just that hint of sweetness pairs perfectly with the rich molasses flavor.
Can these be made gluten free?
Sadly, I tested these with gluten free flour and it was not pleasant. They appeared to be the exact same, but the texture was all off. The gluten free flour created an odd dry and sandy consistency. I’ll have to work on a separate gluten free gingerbread cookie recipe!
How long do these cookies keep?
Because of how soft and chewy these gingerbread cookies are, they keep for quite some time and continue to get even more moist. Store in an air tight container at room temperature and they’ll keep fresh for up to a week. Store in the refrigerator to keep up to 10-12 days.
Does this recipe work well with other cookie cutters?
Yes! Just about any cookie cutter will work. I even tested it with more detailed and pointy shapes like Christmas trees and it worked great. Just be aware of the size of the cookies, as smaller cookies take less time to bake.
For more Christmas cookie recipes, check out my:
- Soft Molasses Cookies
- Cut Out Sugar Cookies
- Soft and Chewy Sugar Cookies
- Slice and Bake Cookies
- Pistachio and Raspberry Thumbprint Cookies
Make sure to tag me @butternutbakery on Instagram and comment below if you make these gingerbread cookies. To pin this recipe and save it for later, you can use the button on the recipe card or on any of the photos above. Happy baking!