The holiday season calls for gingerbread cookies! I'm always looking out for the batch of gingerbread cookies at the end of Christmas lunch (and often I'm the one baking them)!
These gingerbread cookies are soft and chewy but hold their shape well. This deliciously spiced dough is perfect for making gingerbread people or other decorated Christmas cookies!
These cookies also stay fresh for at least two weeks in an airtight container so they make the perfect bake-ahead Christmas gifts.
Ingredients in Gingerbread Cookies
- Butter: I use unsalted butter. You can use salted butter if desired, although it may reduce the sweetness of the cookies.
- Brown sugar: this softer sugar provides chewiness to the cookies and gives them a caramel flavour which is essential to delicious gingerbread.
- Can I use white or caster sugar instead? I do not recommend using white sugar as it will make the cookies tough and crisp.
- Golden syrup: gives the cookies a classic rich and syrupy flavour. You can use an equal amount of light molasses or honey instead.
- Vanilla: use good quality vanilla extract.
- Baking soda: NOT baking powder. Make sure your baking soda is in-date.
- Plain (all-purpose) flour
- Ginger: use fresh ground spices where possible for the best flavour.
- Mixed Spice: US/Canada use gingerbread spice or pumpkin spice
How to make Gingerbread Cookies
This recipe only requires a few simple steps. It's perfect to make with kids over the holidays and wrap up as Christmas gifts.
- Cook together butter, golden syrup, brown sugar and vanilla essence until well combined and bubbling.
- Add baking soda and whisk well. Allow to cool.
- Whisk in the egg yolk.
- Sift over dry ingredients and mix to combine.
- Roll out, cut into shapes and bake.
- Decorate with royal icing.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I freeze gingerbread dough?
Yes, gingerbread dough can be frozen for up to three months. Wrap it tightly in plastic wrap or a freezer bag and thaw it in the refrigerator overnight before using.
What can I use instead of golden syrup?
You can use light molasses, honey or pure maple syrup. Keep in mind that it will change the taste and texture of the gingerbread.
What is Mixed Spice?
Mixed spice is a common spice mix sold in Australia and the UK. US or Canadian readers should use Pumpkin Pie Spice or Gingerbread Spice as a substitute. If you want to make your own mixed spice, follow this recipe by the Daring Gourmet.
Why were my gingerbread tough?
You may have over-worked the gingerbread dough, especially if you are re-rolling the offcuts several times. As a general rule of thumb, the less you roll and fold the dough, the softer the cookies will be.
Why were my gingerbread crispy?
You may have over-cooked the gingerbread. If you know your oven runs hot or has hot spots, adjust the cooking time and temperature accordingly.
Looking to change it up? Try decorating your gingerbread with any of the following:
- Add festive colours to the royal icing, such as red and green for Christmas, or pastel colours for Easter
- Use lollies to create eyes, buttons and bow-ries
- Add edible glitter or shimmer dust to the icing for a sparkly effect
- Use edible markers to draw faces or other designs on the gingerbread men
Storing Gingerbread Cookies
You can keep the decorated gingerbread cookies in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.
For the Gingerbread Cookies
- 125 g (4.5 oz / ½ cup) unsalted butter, roughly chopped
- ½ cup (110 g) brown sugar, packed
- ½ cup (190 g) golden syrup OR light molasses
- ½ teaspoon (3 g) vanilla extract
- ¼ teaspoon (1 g) baking soda / bicarbonate of soda
- 1 large egg yolk (keep the egg white for the icing)
- 2 ½ cups (375 g) plain flour / all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting
- 2 teaspoon (6 g) ground ginger
- 1 teaspoon (3 g) ground cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon (2 g) ground mixed spice
For the Royal Icing
- 1 ½ cups (210 g) icing sugar / powdered sugar
- 1 large egg white
- 1 teaspoon (5 mL) lemon juice
For the Gingerbread Cookies
- Preheat the oven to 160°C / 320°F (fan/convection) or 180°C / 355°F (standard). Grease and line two large baking trays with baking paper.
- In a medium saucepan, combine chopped butter, golden syrup, brown sugar and vanilla essence. Cook over medium heat, whisking continuously, until the butter has completely melted and the ingredients are well combined.
- Continue to cook the mixture, whisking occasionally, until bubbles begin to form at the very edges of the saucepan. Immediately turn off heat. Add the baking soda and whisk until the mixture is pale and frothy.
- Scrape the mixture into a large mixing bowl. Allow to cool for 15 minutes.
- Whisk in the egg yolk until well combined. Sift over flour, ginger, cinnamon and mixed spice and stir together until a soft dough forms.
- Lay out a large sheet of baking paper (parchment paper) and sprinkle with flour. Turn dough out onto the floured sheet (if dough is too soft to work with, cover and refrigerate for 30-60 minutes). Sprinkle the top of the dough lightly with flour and roll out with a heavy rolling pin to 6 mm (¼ inch) thick.
- Cut out cookies in desired shapes (making sure they are a similar size so they will bake evenly) and place evenly spaced on the prepared baking trays. Gently push remaining dough back together and repeat rolling and cutting until all the dough is used up.
- Bake for 10 minutes or until very lightly browned around the edges and the centres of the cookies have puffed up. Do not overbake. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
For the Royal Icing
- Sift the icing sugar into a medium bowl.
- In a separate medium bowl, whisk together the egg white and lemon juice until frothy. Add half of the sifted icing sugar and whisk in until well combined. Continue to whisk in 1 tablespoon of icing sugar at a time until the royal icing is very thick (you may not need all of the sugar). If you lift up your whisk, the icing should hold stiff peaks on the end of your whisk and not immediately stream back down into the bowl.
- Fill a piping bag (or zip-loc bag with the corner snipped off) with the royal icing and pipe decorations as desired. The royal icing will set completely firm in 30 minutes.
- Please note that my recipes are measured in metric cups and spoons which are larger than US cups and spoons. Most recipes will be fine if measured in US cups and spoons, but please use the weight (grams) measurement for the most accurate result.
- You can keep the decorated gingerbread cookies in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.
Substitutions & Tips
- Golden syrup: golden syrup is similar to molasses but has a distinct acidic tang and very thick texture. You can substitute golden syrup with the same amount of light molasses or black treacle if necessary. You can also use the same amount of honey, however this will give the cookies a 'lighter' flavour compared to golden syrup.
- What does the egg white do in the Royal Icing? Is it safe? The egg white is an important binding agent which gives the icing it's thickness and allows the icing to set very hard. Make sure to use pasteurised eggs. Keep in mind that the ratio of sugar will preserve the egg white and stabilise it at room temperature. So you can enjoy your gingerbread cookies with peace of mind!
- Why are my cookies hard and tough? If your cookies are tough and crumbly, it most likely means you have overbaked them in the oven. Try reducing cooking time by a couple of minutes. If your cookies are tough, you may have over-worked the dough. Repeatedly re-rolling and stirring the dough will cause the cookies to come out tough. Don't over-stir the dough. When re-rolling, just gently push the dough back together before rolling it out again.
Nutrition Information:Serving Size: 1 Cookie (No Icing)
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 115Total Fat: 4.6gSaturated Fat: 2.7gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 1.5gCholesterol: 18.9mgSodium: 25.4mgCarbohydrates: 17gFiber: 0.5gSugar: 9.4gProtein: 1.3g