Gingerbread Cookies Recipe (2024)

By Jennifer Steinhauer

Gingerbread Cookies Recipe (1)

Total Time
About 1 hour, plus chilling
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These traditional cookies came to The Times by way of Jennifer Steinhauer in an article about her grandmother's beloved Christmas cookie recipes. Isabelle Steinhauer would bake between “15 and 20 varieties each season: cream cheese wreaths shot from a cookie press; papery wafers carefully dipped in colored sugar; elaborate cutout cookies of nursery rhyme characters, their eyes fashioned from metallic dragées that the F.D.A. has written off as inedible; all manner of confections with nuts.” There's nothing fancy about these gingerbread cookies, but they are tender, gently spiced (feel free to add more to taste) and completely wonderful with a glass of cold milk. If you don't like using shortening, some readers have had good luck using half solid coconut oil and half softened butter instead.

Featured in: In the Kitchen of Long Ago, With Grandma

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Yield:3 dozen cookies

  • 1cup light brown sugar
  • 1cup light molasses
  • 1cup vegetable shortening
  • 1tablespoon baking soda
  • 1egg, lightly beaten
  • ¼teaspoon salt
  • 2teaspoons baking powder
  • 1tablespoon ground ginger
  • ½teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½teaspoon ground cloves
  • 4 to 4½cups all-purpose flour, more for rolling dough
  • Royal icing and cinnamon candies, for decorating, optional.

Ingredient Substitution Guide

Nutritional analysis per serving (36 servings)

149 calories; 6 grams fat; 1 gram saturated fat; 1 gram trans fat; 2 grams monounsaturated fat; 2 grams polyunsaturated fat; 23 grams carbohydrates; 1 gram dietary fiber; 11 grams sugars; 2 grams protein; 132 milligrams sodium

Note: The information shown is Edamam’s estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.

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Gingerbread Cookies Recipe (2)


  1. Step


    In a small saucepan, combine brown sugar, molasses and shortening. Place over medium-low heat and stir just until mixture is melted and smooth. Remove from heat and mix in baking soda and ¼ cup cold water. Set aside and allow to cool to room temperature.

  2. Add egg, salt, baking powder, ginger, cinnamon and cloves; stir to mix well. Add 4 cups flour and mix well, adding up to ½ cup more if dough seems sticky. Shape into a ball, cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, up to 24 hours.

  3. Step


    Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside. On a lightly floured surface, roll out dough to ¼-inch thickness, and cut into gingerbread boy shapes with a 5-inch-long cookie cutter. Arrange on baking sheets 1½ inches apart, and bake until risen and no longer shiny, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and allow cookies to cool. If desired, decorate with royal icing and cinnamon candies. Store in an airtight container.



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Cooking Notes


Not sure why they don't mention that the small sauce pan is not adequate to handling all these ingredients. When the baking soda is added the resulting reaction creates foaming that immediately rises over the sides of the sauce pan. You definitely need to move to a bigger bowl.


My teen daughter baked these delicious gingerbread cookies following the recipe as written except that we didn't have shortening and didn't want to go out in the pouring rain ... so she substituted 3/8 c coconut oil + 1/2 c butter for the 1 c shortening (per ... worked very well and tasted great!

roll thin!!

Definitely roll thinner than 1/4 inch, these guys really puff up and spread! They’re delicious either way, but the shape gets pretty messed up if you don’t roll thinner.

John Yearwood

I used butter instead of shortening. They were tender and delicious, approaching the quality and texture I still remember from a 1978 bakery on 3rd St in Washington DC (apparently now the Firehook Bakery but I’ve not been there in 40 years). In the next batch I added half a cup of unsweetened apple sauce to try for that remembered apple undertone. It improved the crumb but did not recapture that elusive flavor. My wife, currently in chemo, tolerates these very well. This recipe is a blessing.


200g brown sugar340g molasses113g butter 105g coconut oil480-540g flour


A note to others: I didn't have light brown sugar on hand, so I tried to substitute dark brown instead. The result was a dough that had a brackish and slightly burnt flavor. I couldn't fix it with the addition of white sugar to balance it out, so I decided to scrap it and start over with the right ingredients in hopes of a better outcome!

Karen Schomburg

The small pan does not work as the baking soda bubbles up after adding to fat and molasses.


Used dark brown sugar and non-light molasses (not blackstrap). Cookies turned out very well; made 4 dozen, which was probably due to the cutter sizes I used. Used full 4 1/2 cups of flour for the dough. Going to increase the spices when I make this again because the gingerbread flavor, even with the non-light molasses, was very mild. Might add ground black pepper and/or cardamom to boost the spice, too.


This recipe was great, but I believe that the cook time is too long. I would recommend 7 minutes.


I tripled my ginger because I take "ginger" in gingerbread very very seriously. Other than that this is the most perfect and easy recipe ever!(P.S. It pairs really well with a lemon-y simple icing drizzled on top i.e. fresh lemon juice + confectioners sugar)


This recipe works well. Made gingerbread men as written. 1/4 inch thickness was perfect. Mine were a bit on the small side so 6.5 to 7 minutes at 350F sufficed. Husband and toddler quickly devoured the first batch out of the oven!


I made these, and used butter and blackstrap molasses, as that was what I had on hand. They turned out great! I was worried they'd be bitter from the type of molasses I used, but they were delicious. Thanks to previous reviews, I made sure to use a larger sauce pan, and had no issues with the mixture foaming over when I added the baking soda.


It was my first time making gingerbread so I followed the recipe as written except for incorporating others' helpful suggestions about the shorter baking time. I found 7 minutes was the best baking time although I doubted it at first because the cookies were so puffy and soft when they first came out. The texture ended up perfect once they rested. The flavor is a bit mild compared to some gingerbread so you may want to increase the spices if you like it more tangy. Overall really delicious!


For years I have cooked my good friend's (we are middle aged) grandmother's ginger cookies. So good! perfect consistency and flavor! super easy, so little fuss! yey grandma cookies! One day I noticed 'Inger's' recipe was exactly the same as the one on the Brer Rabbit Molasses bottle. Hahahaha I thought that was so funny. Still the best recipe.

Barbara Braley

For “light molasses” I used 1/4 corn syrup and dark molasses to equal one cup and used butter for the shortening. I used my large mixing bowl and mixer to combine everything. The dough seemed sticky so I added another cup of flour. After 2 hours in the frig, my grandsons could roll the dough out without needing more flour. The thinner cookies were done in 7 minutes, the thicker in 9-10 minutes. With royal icing and sprinkles, the boys were pleased with their cookies for Santa and themselves.


Doubled the spices and used 1 cup butter instead of shortening. Baked for 8 minutes, came out perfectly! Topped with NYT royal icing.

Substituted butter for shortening. Delicious!

I substituted butter instead of shortening and used only two tsps of ginger. The dough I refrigerated for about 24 hours. These gingerbread cookies turned out great with a chewy texture and excellent flavor. Will make this again.


Need to add a little more than 4.5 cups of flour. Dough was still a bit sticky. Lots of flour dusting when making shapes!


Not sure what I did wrong but they turned out extra hard. The only thing i can think of is that i let the dough sit in the fridge for 20hrs before rolling it out but it says in the recipe you can let it rest for up to 24 hrs.Bummer!


Made with regular molasses, all we could taste was molasses, thus we renamed these “Molasses cookies”. No gingerbread flavor at all. Made a good sturdy cookie for building a gingerbread tree.

S Shelley

I halved the baking soda, and added it with the dry ingredients, to keep cookies from rising so much and losing shape. Instead of heating things on the stove, I creamed room temperature butter with brown sugar and then molasses, in a stand mixer. There is no need to heat the molasses, everything will blend together as long as your fat of choice is soft (butter or shortening at room temperature). Rolled thin, these were delicious, lightly crunchy and full of flavor!

Jodi in Denver

Prep was easy but agree you ether need a large pan or transfer to another bowl before adding soda. I halved the recipe and luckily averted overflow disaster. Also, I’d just like to suggest an edit: “cut into gingerbread boy shapes”. I know we all know we can use any shape but putting “gingerbread boy” in there is out dated and unnecessary. Reminds me of a friend who used to have a “Gingerbread women in pants” cookie decorating party as a fun sweet protest.


Cooked these for 8 minutes on two baking sheets and they came out perfect! My home smells amazing. Personally I prefer the mildness of the spice. Definitely going to be my go-to recipe for years to come.


This definitely calls for more flour than the recipe. And chill much longer. I had to trash the dough because it was impossible to cut---too sticky even after 5 cups of flour and 4 hours in the fridge.


Used 2.5 T ginger, 2.5 t cinnamon, 1.5 t cardamom, 1/2 t nutmeg, 1/2 t cloves, made with butter. Added spices, salt, baking powder to cooled sugar-molasses mixture before stirring in 5C flour. Still needed quite a bit of flour for rolling out.


I replaced half the shortening with a frozen (thawed) mashed overripe banana and half with vegetable oil for a slightly healthier version. The dough didn’t form a ball, but stiffened considerably with an overnight chill and rolled out and baked great. I think the spices covered up any banana flavor but my partner swears he could taste it a little (I ruined the experiment by telling him there was banana in it before he tasted). I also used regular molasses because who the heck has light??

Snappy, not soft

Was looking for a gingerbread recipe that was soft, not snappy. These are not it. Roll thin because they puff up huge. Baked for 7-8min instead of 10. I didn’t love them, but everyone who had them thought they were great


Agree with others to use a medium size saucepan because the addition of baking soda causes much foaming. I also added a bit more ginger and half a teaspoon of ground cardamom. No electric mixer is needed, you can use a spatula or mixing spoon. Keep in mind these cookies are not particularly sweet which works well if you plan to frost them.


can you use butter instead of shortening?

Ariah M

7 minutes was perfect for these. I was worried at how much they puffed up, but they set a bit as they cool. I added extra spices as a lot of commenters suggested, and also used a large pot instead of small to avoid any mess from the reaction w the baking soda. I used small cutters, maybe 2 inches, and it made 90 cookies. I’m freezing the majority to bake the day before gifting and I’m thinking they’ll keep their shape even better.

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Gingerbread Cookies Recipe (2024)
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