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Gingerbread Men Cookie Recipe

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Our classic gingerbread cookie recipe just got cuter! These perfect Holiday season snacks can’t wait to hang out with your hot cocoa.

Ingredients for gingerbread cookie recipe Mug hugger gingerbread man hanging on a red cup by a candy cane.

We’re making spirits bright with the best gingerbread cookies, and adding an adorable twist that turns a classic into Christmas magic! 

I’ve been baking these traditional easy gingerbread cookies for a long time and guests always gobble them up in minutes. This year I got inspired and turned them into mug ornaments, and wow, these adorable little guys and gals turned into the stars of the season!

The Wilton gingerbread man cookie cutter – as well as the gingerbread girl cookie cutter – were both incredibly easy to use and would make a cute stocking stuffer or Secret Santa gift. 

These classic Christmas cookies with a twist totally steal the show at a holiday party or cookie exchange. In a Christmas crunch, go ahead and follow the quick steps to make regular gingerbread cookies. Then, if you want Insta-worthy holy wows or ultimate festive little party pals, add the foil and extra piece of dough to make these adorable mug ornaments for the crowd.

Candy cane you believe how adorable these turned out? Pin this cute Christmas image to your favorites board on Pinterest, then come back anytime to make these gorgeous goodies yourself!


Should gingerbread men be soft or crunchy?
For gingerbread men, you want the texture right in between. They should be slightly soft when you take them out of the oven, then set them so they’re stable, but definitely not crunchy. If your gingerbread people cookie cutters are smaller than ours, try baking them for a little less time. Then of course, if they’re bigger, bake your cookies slightly longer.

What are gingerbread man cookies made from?
A classic gingerbread recipe without any variations or substitutions contains flour, baking soda, brown sugar, molasses, butter, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and salt.

Why did my gingerbread men turn out hard?
There are a few reasons gingerbread men cookies turn out hard. You may have used too much flour to begin with, or absorbed too much flour when you rolled them out. We roll out ours between sheets of plastic wrap to avoid using a floured surface.

You also could have applied too much pressure when rolling them out, or rolled them too thinly. Easy does it! Try using a rolling pin with adjustable rings to get the perfect thickness.

Too much molasses may also cause cookies to harden. If this was your problem, allowing them to sit in an airtight container for a few days can soften them up.

8 decorated gingerbread men on a wilton decorating mat with food tweezers and candy canes

How far in advance can I make gingerbread cookies?
We love that gingerbread cookies have a long shelf life! The undecorated cookies should keep well for 2 or 3 weeks, and the decorated cookies typically keep well for a week.

How do I keep cookie cutters clean?
Follow the care instructions closely for copper cookie cutters and tin-plated steel cookie cutters. Usually, you’ll want to use lukewarm soapy water and dry immediately. 

Gingerbread Cookie Recipe

Supplies for your gingerbread people:

Ingredients for the best gingerbread cookie recipe:

bowl of flour, 4 bowls of seasons, bowl of cubed butter, candy canes, a bowl of brown sugar, and an eg on a countertop

For the gingerbread cookie dough: 

  • 1 egg, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1/2 cup molasses
  • 3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

For decorating the baked cookies: 

witlon sprinkles and cookie icing on a white countertop with a tri fold cookie sheet and undecorated gingerbread men

Instructions for the best gingerbread cookies

If you’d like to see the video showing how we made these (because pictures/video are worth a thousand words) please check out our reel at https://www.instagram.com/sheshared

1. In a medium bowl or a stand mixer, cream together butter and brown sugar for 2 minutes on medium speed, until it is fluffy and light. Add the egg and mix for 20 seconds, fully incorporating it into the butter/sugar batter. Scrape down the bowl.

2. Add molasses and mix for one minute.

creamed butter and brown sugar in a glass bowl with mixing beaters and molasses for gingerbread cookie recipe

3. Sift the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and nutmeg, then add to the butter mixture. Mix the wet ingredients and dry ingredients on low speed until well combined.

glass bowl with beaters and flour mixture on top of creamed suagar and butter

Hint: If you have it, use a paddle attachment. The dough should be crumbly.

crumbled cookie mixture in a glass bowl

4. Divide the dough and place half of the cookie dough on a sheet of plastic wrap or in a freezer bag. Repeat with the other half of the dough and chill for one hour in the refrigerator.

Hint: I sometimes pop my baking sheet in the refrigerator ahead of time to be extra sure the dough won’t spread out and lose its shape. 

5. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. If you are using a convection oven, preheat it to 325 degrees.

How to make them into cute mug ornaments:

6. To make the candy cane placeholder, cut a 1 1/2-inch strip of aluminum foil. Roll it up end to end and scrunch it tight. It should be about the circumference of your mini candy cane. Make 24 of these placeholders. 

aluminum foil strips being rolled into placeholders on a white counter

7. Place a sheet of precut parchment paper on the counter. Place the first half of the chilled dough onto the parchment paper and cover with a second sheet. This will prevent the dough from sticking to the counter and/or your rolling pin.

rolling pin on top of cookie dough between two pieces of parchment paper

8. Roll the dough out to 1/4 inch thickness. We used the Wilton fondant rolling pin because the rings on the side make getting to your desired thickness so easy!

gingerbread cookie recipe cookie dough being cut into gingerbread men and women, with green cookie cutters in the background.

9. Cut out your gingerbread men and women with your cookie cutter. Place on a parchment-lined cookie sheet. If you’re using new Christmas cookie cutters, make sure to hand wash them in warm water before you use them! For a copper cookie cutter, towel dry immediately after rinsing.

10. Roll out some dough scraps and cut them into strips roughly the width of your cookie cutter’s arm with a pizza cutter. Place the cookie cutter’s arm on one side of the strip to get the right side of the bent arm.

green cookie cutter and cookie dough

11. Place the rolled tin foil over the area where your candy cane will sit, being careful not to place it over the gingerbread man’s face. Cover with the strip of added dough arm. *piece of dough

gingerbread men on a cookie sheet

12. Bake for 9-12 minutes, depending on the size of your cookie cutter. Our Wilton gingerbread man is 3 1/2 inches tall (9 mm) and we baked it for exactly 10 minutes.

Once they are out of the oven

13. Remove the cookies from the oven VERY CAREFULLY, and remove the tin foil placeholder while the cookies are still hot. Transfer the cookies to the edge of a cooling rack. (The trifold Wilton cooling rack is perfect because it provides 3 times the cooling space without taking up additional counter space)

gingerbread men on a cooling rack

14. Place the candy can in the hole left by the aluminum foil with the hook facing backward. This is the part that will hang onto your mug. As the cookie cools, the dough will form around the candy cane and conform to its shape.

15. Using a piping bag or squeeze bottle, decorate your gingerbread men and women with icing, frosting, and candy.

decorated gingerbread man with frosting and sprinkles in the background

Store in an airtight container for up to a week.

Insider Tips & Tricks

  • For best results and quality cuts, don’t skip the chilling of the dough! Room-temperature butter in the dough will melt quickly and cause the cookies to lose their shape. 
  • We use the Wilton fondant rolling pin to maintain a consistent thickness. The rubber rings prop up the pin and distributes pressure evenly so you can control how thick your dough is and avoid lumpy bumpies. 
  • Leave a 1/4 inch space and use the other side of the arm to cut out the oval that will be placed over your rolled foil.
  • If your candy cane is slipping out of the hole left by your foil placeholder, add some icing to the inside of the hole between the cookie and the candy cane. Let the icing dry completely, essentially gluing the candy cane in place.
  • Make sure the hole is not too small, because you can’t really go back and fix it without damaging your cookies.
  • By rolling the dough between two sheets of parchment paper, you negate the need for placing the dough on a lightly floured surface. Less mess! Added flour could make your cookies tough. 
  • This gingerbread cookie dough works perfectly for making gingerbread houses as well!
10 gingerbread men on a white counter

Substitutions and variations:

  • Use a bit of orange zest to give your gingerbread men cookies a citrusy taste (and, boy, will your house smell amazing!).
  • If you want to minimize your salt intake, use unsalted butter and add just a pinch of salt to cut the sweetness. 
  • Add a splash of vanilla extract to your dough for a little more depth of flavor.
  • Use any of your favorite cookie cutters with our best gingerbread cookie recipe. This dough would make great snowflake bases, and you could use royal icing to make the design on each one.

This perfect cookie delivers melt-in-the-mouth satisfaction and all the nostalgic flavors of the holiday season! Turning them into mug ornaments may just be my best Christmas inspiration yet.

I just love how these easy gingerbread cookies only require a few extra steps to become real showstoppers! And I hope you’ll love showing them off and spreading extra Christmas cheer and smiles this year. You can use them with any Christmas holiday tradition beverages and create wonderful experiences.

Can I get an amen for these cute gingerbread men? We’d love your support with a five-star rating and a share on socials! And don’t forget to pin the pretty pic to your favorites board on Pinterest!

Need more cookie ideas? Check out our No Bake Cookies, Chocolate Chip Walnut Cookies, and Cookie Monster Cookies.

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