Our Soft and Chewy Gingerbread Cookies are inspired by childhood memories and holiday traditions. We love food that evokes nostalgia, and what’s more of an honor than trying to recreate someone’s recipe that stirs something inside of you? Our gingerbread cutouts come out of the oven with crisp edges and chewy interiors. Over time, the chewy interiors overtake the crisp edges, making each bite delectably chewy.
Table of Contents
Shortening vs Butter in Cookies
We developed this recipe in partnership with Taste of Home and Kitchen Aid (!!) to celebrate the season of mixing and mingling. We committed to developing a gingerbread cookie recipe that was irresistibly soft and chewy. To achieve that ideal texture we rely on both butter and vegetable shortening. The reason for this is because butter contains about 16 percent water while shortening is pure fat. The water in butter evaporates off during baking, which can create a dry cookie.
BUsing more shortening, by weight, than butter, decreases that evaporation. Additionally, shortening has a higher melting point, which means the cookies have more time to rise during baking (instead of spreading out quickly). Because of this, cookies made with vegetable shortening often retain more moisture and are taller, creating an overall thick and chewy cookie.
The only caveat with shortening is that it doesn’t taste nearly as good as butter, which is why we still use a bit of butter in these cookies. We recommend using shortening in cookies, like this recipe, that have big and bold flavors. Avoid using shortening in more delicately flavored cookies like these Margarita Cookies.
Test Kitchen Tips
- The cookie dough is really sticky so we recommend one of two things. First, lightly dust your countertop, rolling pin, and the dough itself with flour before rolling out. After the first few rolls, dust both sides of the dough slab to ensure it isn’t sticking to the counter top.
Alternatively, you can roll the cookies between two sheets of parchment paper. We still recommend dusting the dough lightly with flour before rolling between parchment.
- Make sure all of your ingredients are at room temperature. This is essentially for incorporating the butter, shortening and sugar together!
- If you can, measure all of your ingredients out by weight. Baking by weight, instead of cup measurement is more efficient and reliable.
How to Freeze Gingerbread Cookies
There are two ways you can freeze gingerbread man cookies. First, you can freeze baked gingerbread cookies stored in a resealable zipper-lock bag or airtight container for up to 3 months. When ready to eat, thaw at room temperature for a few hours.
The second way you can freeze these cookies is to freeze the cookie dough. Wrap the cookie dough tightly in plastic wrap then store in the freezer for up to 3 months. Roll the dough out and bake as directed.
More Cookies to Try
- If you love spiced cookies then you’ll love our Chewy Cardamom Cookies!
- Our Hermit Cookies are also heavy on the spice. They’re a traditional New England cookie loaded with dried fruit, candied ginger and butter.
- Our Hazelnut Shortbread with Dark Chocolate is a fan-favorite year over year.
– Baked, unfrosted gingerbread cookies will last up to 2 weeks stored in an airtight container at room temperature.
– Baked and frosted gingerbread cookies will last up to 1 ½ weeks stored in an airtight container at room temperature.
– Baked gingerbread cookies (frosted or unfrosted) will last in the freezer for up to 3 months.
We have not tested this recipe to be gluten-free, so we cannot recommend making that swap. If you try it, we would recommend using Bob’s Red Mill’s Gluten-Free Flour Blend.
Decoration is totally up to you! We love to frost the cookies with our Gingerbread Cookie Icing and then sprinkle some of them with clear, sparkly sprinkles. We also love to use Red Hots (cinnamon candies), though they can be challenging to find. We recommend ordering some from Amazon. Other candy ideas include crushed candy canes and mini Dots.
Soft and Chewy Gingerbread Cookies with Icing
- 3 cup (350g) all-purpose flour
- ¾ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ cup (92g) vegetable shortening
- ¼ cup (58g) unsalted butter, softened
- ¾ cup (170g) packed dark brown sugar
- ½ cup (180g) (125mL) unsulfured molasses
- 1 large egg (50g)
- 1 tablespoon (4g) ground ginger
- 1 tablespoon (5g) ground cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon (2g) ground allspice
- ½ teaspoon (1g) ground cloves
- ½ teaspoon Morton kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- 3 cups (280g) confectioners’ sugar
- 2 teaspoons light corn syrup
- 1 teaspoon pure orange extract
- pinch kosher salt
- Clear sparky sprinkles or pearl sugar
- Red hot candies
- In a medium bowl, whisk together flour and baking soda.
- In a stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, beat shortening and butter on medium–high speed until smooth, about 30 seconds. Add sugar, molasses, egg, ginger, cinnamon, allspice, cloves, and salt. Beat on medium until combined, scraping bowl as needed, about 1 minute. Beat in vinegar. With mixer on medium, add flour in three increments and beat until combined.
- Divide dough in half and transfer to large sheets of plastic. Form each portion into a flat disk and wrap tightly in plastic; chill in freezer for at least 1 hour or up to 1 month.
- Heat oven to 350ºF (176ºC) with rack set in middle position. Line 2 rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper.
- Working with 1 rectangle at a time, cut rectangle in half, rewrap other half in plastic and place back in freezer.
- Lightly dust counter and dough with flour. Roll dough to ¼-inch thickness (flipping dough and adding flour as needed to keep it from sticking to counter). Cut out cookies using a 3- to 4-inch cookie cutter. Peel away scraps and space 6 cookies, about 1 inch apart, on one prepared baking sheet.
- Bake until edges of cookies are set and centers are slightly puffed, 8–10 minutes, rotating halfway through.
- Cool cookies on sheets 5 minutes; transfer to wire rack to cool completely.
- Repeat rolling, cutting and baking with remaining dough and dough scraps. Keeping dough chilled between batches and allowing sheets to cool completely before placing dough cut outs on sheets.
- In a medium bowl combine confectioners’ sugar, corn syrup, extract and 3 tablespoons water using a fork. Switch to a whisk and mix, adding additional water by teaspoon as needed, until icing is smooth and ribbon-like. Icing should hold a ribbon shape for a few seconds. Season with salt to taste.
- Transfer to a piping bag and use as desired.
- Once cookies have cooled completely, decorate as desired with Cookie Icing, sprinkles and red hots, if using.
- Let sit at room temperature to allow icing to set before storing in airtight containers for up to 1 week.