Facebook LinkedIn Email Pinterest Twitter Instagram YouTube Icon Navigation Search Icon Main Search Icon Video Play Icon Plus Icon Minus Icon Check Icon Print Icon Note Icon Heart Icon Filled Heart Icon Single Arrow Icon Double Arrow Icon Hamburger Icon TV Icon Close Icon Sorted Hamburger/Search Icon
Recipe

Classic Gingerbread Cookies

Scott Phillips

Yield: Yields about 4 dozen 4-1/4-inch cookies

Classic gingerbread cookies are dense, heavy on the ginger, and usually flavored with molasses. This recipe is traditional, though it’s been refined over the years. The spice mix has been adjusted to boost the pepperiness of the ginger and intensify the cinnamon aroma, and it has just enough nutmeg and cloves to round things out. A mild molasses flavors the cookies and finely grated orange zest adds a layer of complexity.

This recipe calls for a 4-1/4-inch cookie cutter (we used the gingerbread men cookie cutters from annclark.com), but you can use any size; just keep in mind that the baking time and yield will vary.

Ingredients

For the cookies

  • 15-3/4 oz. (3-1/2 cups) unbleached all-purpose flour; more as needed
  • 2-1/2 tsp. ground ginger 
  • 1 tsp. baking soda 
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon 
  • 1/2 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg 
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cloves 
  • 1/4 tsp. table salt 
  • 4 oz. (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, softened 
  • 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar 
  • 1 large egg 
  • 3/4 cup mild molasses 
  • 1 Tbs. finely grated orange zest (from about 1-1/2 large oranges) 

For the royal icing

  • 8 oz. (2 cups) confectioners’ sugar
  • 2 tsp. powdered egg whites  
  • 1/4 tsp. cream of tartar

Nutritional Information

      Nutritional Sample Size (per cookie)
      Calories (kcal) : 100
      Fat Calories (kcal): 20
      Fat (g): 2
      Saturated Fat (g): 1.5
      Polyunsaturated Fat (g): 0
      Monounsaturated Fat (g): .5
      Cholesterol (mg): 10
      Sodium (mg): 45
      Carbohydrates (g): 19
      Fiber (g): 0
      Protein (g): 1

Preparation

Make the cookies

  • In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, ginger, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and salt. In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and brown sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add the egg, mixing until combined, then add the molasses and orange zest and beat on medium speed until smooth, stopping to scrape the bowl as necessary, about 2 minutes. On low speed, slowly add the dry ingredients and mix just until the flour is incorporated, scraping the bowl as necessary, about 2 minutes. The dough will be very stiff and sticky.
  • Scrape the dough onto a lightly floured baking sheet and pat it flat to a 1-inch thickness. Cover with plastic wrap and freeze for at least 1 hour and up to 4 weeks.
  • Position racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven and heat the oven to 350°F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment.
  • Cut the chilled dough into quarters On a well-floured work surface, roll out one piece of dough to 1/8 inch thick (keep the remaining dough in the freezer). If the dough sticks to your work surface, slide an offset spatula under the dough to release it and dust the work surface with more flour.
  • With a 4-1/4-inch cookie cutter, cut out the cookies and use an offset spatula to transfer them to the baking sheets, spacing them at least 1/2 inch apart. Brush off any excess flour.
  • Gather and press the dough scraps together, then roll to 1/8 inch thick, and cut out more shapes. Add any remaining scraps to the next quarter of chilled dough. Continue rolling and cutting until the baking sheets are full.
  • Bake the cookies, rotating and swapping the sheets’ positions halfway through baking, until firm to the touch and the edges are slightly golden, about 10 minutes. Slide the cookies on their parchment onto racks and let cool. Roll out and bake the remaining dough in batches on fresh sheets of parchment.

Make the royal icing

  • In a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment (or in a medium bowl with a hand mixer) mix the confectioners’ sugar, powered egg whites, and cream of tartar on low speed. Increase the speed to medium low and add 3 to 5 Tbs. of water, 1 Tbs. at a time, mixing well and scraping the bowl as necessary, until the mixture is evenly moistened and the whisk leaves small trails that disappear quickly, 2 to 3 minutes. Continue to beat on medium low until the icing is thick, glossy, smooth, and free of lumps, about 5 minutes more.
  • To test for proper consistency, put a dot of icing on the counter with a toothpick. If, when you pull up the toothpick, the icing forms a peak that slowly melts back into the dot, the icing is ready. If the peak stays up, it’s too stiff: Add 1 tsp. of water to the icing, beat to combine, and test again. Repeat if necessary. 

Decorate the cookies

  • Scrape the icing into a pastry bag fitted with a small tip. (You can also use a plastic squeeze bottle or a plastic sandwich bag with a corner trimmed off.) Decorate the cookies as you like and let sit until the icing is completely set, about 40 minutes. 
  • Store baked and decorated cookies in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days. 

Reviews

Rate or Review

Reviews

  • divi2 | 11/19/2016

    This is my all time favorite ginger cookie recipe. They have a nice crip.

  • Kibby | 12/12/2013

    Great taste - I love the hint of orange zest. The dough is easy enough to work with. This is definitely my new go-to gingerbread recipe.

  • Jasmine66 | 12/31/2011

    Excellent - lovely strong flavor.

  • emmiejane | 12/09/2011

    Pretty addictive. The kids had no trouble working with them, and the dough was pretty easy to work with once it was cold enough.

Rate this Recipe

Write a Review

Delicious Dish

Find the inspiration you crave for your love of cooking

Fine Cooking Magazine

Subscribe today
and save up to 44%

Already a subscriber? Log in.

Videos

View All

Moveable Feast Logo

Season 4 Extras

Durham, North Carolina (412)

From rooftop to rain in North Carolina, Moveable Feast host Pete Evans is joined by the Lantern restaurant co-founders and siblings Andrea & Brendan Reusing to create an amazing local…

View all Moveable Feast recipes and video extras

Connect

Follow Fine Cooking on your favorite social networks