Use cookie cutters to make these Crisp Gingerbread Cookies in any shape. The flavor has just the right amount of spice and a subtle sweetness. They go great with chocolate so top them with mini M&Ms before baking or dip the finished cookies in hot cocoa.
This is the first year that I decided to tackle making true cut-out gingerbread cookies with my four-year-olds. It was a huge success! They loved cutting out all of the shapes, and the whole house smelled like sugar and spice. The only thing that would have made it more festive would have been snow falling out the window. (It’s been a very snowy year so far, so we came close!)
Last year we made Chocolate Rice Krispy “Gingerbread” and used a huge variety of toppings. This year, the fun was in cutting out the shapes, so we kept the toppings super simple – just mini M&Ms. Though I made Christmas tree shapes here, you better believe that the kids used every cookie cutter we own.
Thanks to a newfound awareness around cookies after watching too many episodes of the Great British Baking Show, I have discovered this type of crisp gingerbread cookie to be my favorite. The spices are distinct but not overwhelming and the cookies are not too sweet. The gingerbread cookies are thin and crisp and have a satisfying crunch.
What Spices To Use In Gingerbread Cookies
Ground ginger, ground cinnamon, and ground cloves are the most common spices found in gingerbread cookies. Ground ginger should be present in the largest amount, usually a proportion of about 3:1 ground ginger to the other two spices.
Ground nutmeg, allspice, and ground pepper are optional, but can add dimension and depth of flavor to gingerbread cookies. A small amount of lemon zest can also add a fresh citrus note.
How to Freeze Gingerbread Cookies
The best Christmas cookies are the ones that can be made ahead and frozen. Since the most fun comes from decorating the gingerbread cookies, bake them ahead and freeze them without decoration. That way you can just defrost them and decorate them whenever you’d like!
To freeze gingerbread cookies: Prepare and bake the gingerbread cookies according to directions. Allow them to cool completely and then transfer them to a plastic zip-top freezer bag. Seal the bag, gently pressing out as much extra air as possible. Freeze cookies for up to 3 months.
To serve frozen gingerbread cookies: Set cookies out on half sheet pans or wire cooling racks and let come to room temperature. When cool, decorate them with icing and sprinkles!
Tools for making Crisp Gingerbread Cookies
KitchenAid Stand Mixer – Love this thing. Mine’s been making great cookies without fail since 2005.
Half Sheet Pan – A good, sturdy half sheet pan insures evenly baked cookies.
Parchment Paper Sheets – I only recent discovered these, and I’m totally hooked. These sheets are perfectly sized to fit on a half sheet pan (as opposed to rolls of parchment paper that never quite fit). They even have a very faint grid across the surface that helps with keeping an even amount of space between cookies as they bake.
Silpat Non-Stick Baking Mat – If not using parchment to bake cookies, Silpat mats last forever and no cookie will every stick if baked on one of these.
- 3 cups All-Purpose Flour, plus more for dusting
- 1 Tbsp Ground Ginger (sounds like a lot, but 1 Tbsp is what you’ll need)
- 1½ tsp Cinnamon
- 1½ tsp Baking Powder
- ¾ tsp Baking Soda
- ½ tsp Allspice
- ½ tsp Salt
- 6 Tbsp Unsalted Butter, softened
- ¾ cup Dark Brown Sugar
- 1 Large Egg
- ½ cup Molasses
- 2 tsp Pure Vanilla Extract
- Toppings for decorating cookies like icing, sprinkles, or mini M&Ms.
- In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together flour, ground ginger, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, allspice, and salt. Set aside.
- Using a standing mixer or hand mixer, beat butter, sugar, and egg together until smooth.
- Add molasses and vanilla and mix on medium until well blended.
- Add dry ingredients in two increments, mixing on low between each addition, until evenly combined.
- Divide dough in half (this makes it easier to roll out later) and wrap in plastic wrap.
- Refrigerate dough for at least 2 hours and up to 24 hours.
- When ready to bake, heat oven to 350 degrees F.
- Spray a sheet pan with nonstick cooking spray (or use parchment paper or a Silpat Baking Mat).
- Dust a work surface lightly with flour and roll dough out to about ¼ inch thick. (Note: If the dough feels sticky, gently knead a bit more flour into the dough as you work until it easily rolls out.)
- Cut into shapes and transfer to sheet pan.
- If using M&Ms as decoration, press them into the cookies.
- Bake until cookies are set, 10 to 12 minutes. (Note: If the cookies start to darken around the edges, take them out of the oven immediately; that’s a good sign they are done.)
- Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Decorate as you’d like!
Gingerbread cookies freeze well. Bake them as directed and cool completely. Transfer to a zip-top plastic bag and freeze for up to 3 months. Bring to room temperature and then decorate as you’d like.
Just three sisters….and their many dolls.
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