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Gingerbread Cookies with red, green, and white icing topped with holiday sprinkles on white marble

Holiday Gingerbread Cookies

  • Author: Aberdeen
  • Total Time: 4 hours 10 minutes
  • Yield: Makes about 24 4-inch cookies 1x


Spread some festive cheer this season with a fresh batch of delicious gingerbread cookies! With soft centers, crispy edges, and homemade icing, they make for the perfect gift for your loved ones. Enjoy them with a cup of hot cocoa or as a sweet treat after a holiday meal!


Units Scale

For the Cookies

  • 3 1/4 cup all-purpose, unbleached flour + extra for dusting
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon ground ginger
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground clove
  • 3/4 cups unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons dark brown sugar, packed
  • 1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons unsulfured molasses*
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg, room temperature

For the Icing

  • 4 cups powdered sugar (no need to sift)
  • 1 tablespoon light corn syrup (this gives the icing shine!)
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 2 tablespoons skim milk (I used 1%), room temperature
  • 1/4 cup water, room temperature
  • One to two drops food dye as desired for coloring


Make the Dough

  1. In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, salt, pepper, ginger, cinnamon, allspice, and clove until completely combined. Set aside.
  2. In a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter on a medium speed until light and fluffy, about 1 minutes.
  3. Add the brown sugar and molasses. Beat on a medium speed until smooth and creamy, about 2 minutes.
  4. Add in the egg, and the vanilla extract. Beat on a medium speed until completely combined, about 1 minute.
  5. Turn the mixer onto a low speed. Add the dry flour mixture into the bowl and mix until a soft dough forms that can be made into a ball with your hands. If it's too sticky to roll into a ball, add another a little more flour about a teaspoon at a time. You don't want to add too much!
  6. Divide the dough half and form into two discs. Wrap each disc tightly in plastic wrap and place in the fridge. Chill for a minimum of 3 hours up to overnight, until firm.

Roll Out and Bake

  1. Preheat oven to 350˚F.  Prepare a baking sheet (or two) with a silpat or parchment paper.
  2. Generously dust a surface with flour along with your hands and your rolling pin. Remove one disc from the fridge and unwrap.
  3. Roll the dough out until it's about 1/4 inch thick. It may stick and crumble. This is fine! Rotate and flip the dough as you go to help with tearing, adding more flour as needed to help with any sticking.
  4. Cut out the dough as desired with cookie cutters. Place cut cookies on the prepared baking sheet about 1 inch apart. They won't spread much but this helps with even baking. Reroll the scraps of dough and cut out as desired. Repeat with the remaining disc until all the dough is used.
  5. Place the loaded baking sheet on the middle rack in the preheated oven. Bake for 9 to 10 minutes until just set and the edges are just starting to crisp up.
    • For 1 to 2 inch cookies - Bake for 7 - 8 minutes
    • For 2 to 4 inch cookies - Bake for 8 - 9 minutes
    • For 4 to 5 inch cookies - Bake for 9 - 10 minutes
  6. Remove from heat and let cool for 5 minutes. Once cool enough to handle, remove cookies from the baking sheet and place on a wire rack. Let cool completely before icing and decorating.

Decorate the Cookies

  1. While the cookings are cooling, make the icing. In a standing mixer or by hand in a large mixing bowl, whisk together powdered sugar, salt, light corn syrup, vanilla extract, and milk. It will be very thick. Scrape down the sides and along the bottom as needed.
  2. Add the water 1 tablespoon at a time, whisking between each addition. Continue scraping down the sides and along the bottom as needed. When you lift the whisk and allow the icing to drizzle back into the bowl, it will leave a little ribbon on top that then dissolves back into the mix after a couple seconds. This means it's the right consistency!
  3. Time to decorate:
    • For coloring: mix a few spoonfuls of icing in a small bowl with one to two drops of food coloring in whatever color you desire.
    • Use a squeeze bottle, piping bag, frosting spatula, or just dip the cookies in the icing as desired for decorating.
    • Top with ALL the sprinkles, sanding sugar, candy canes, you name it. Make sure to do so quickly before the icing sets!
  4. Allow the cookies to set (about 24 hours at room temperature or 3 to 4 hours in the fridge) before stacking. If not gifting, feel free to eat right away! Store in airtight containers up to 1 week.


Do not use blackstrap or full flavor molasses. I like to use Grandma's Brand molasses for sweetness, lightness, and mild flavor.

To store: Place baked and decorated cookies in an airtight container and keep at room temperature for up to 1 week.

For freezing before baking: Freeze the dough discs (Make the Dough - Step 6). Tightly wrap them in cling wrap and freeze up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator before rolling out and continuing with the recipe.

For freezing after baking (before or after decorating): After baking and cooling your gingerbread cookies, freeze them in a single layer on a baking sheet for an hour before transferring them to an airtight container or resealable freezer bag. They can last in the freezer up to 3 months.

When ready to eat, remove from the freezer and let thaw at room temperature to avoid sogginess. I prefer to freeze them without adding icing although you can if you wish - first, let the icing harden, and then freeze.

  • Prep Time: 1 hour
  • Chilling Time: 3 hours to Overnight
  • Cook Time: 10 minutes
  • Category: Cookies
  • Method: Baking

Keywords: gingerbread, cookies, icing, decorating, baking, christmas, holiday