Old-fashioned Gingerbread Woodland Cookies are thick and spicy, soft and chewy, and remind us of fun in the Minnesota Northwoods! Our family-favorite recipe for gingerbread cookie cutouts, whether it’s gingerbread people, gingerbread snowflakes or gingerbread woodland animals, these are so much fun to bake and decorate together, and just get more perfect over time!
WE LOVE THIS EASY GINGERBREAD RECIPE!
I'm always amazed at how easily this gingerbread dough mixes up easily, rolls out effortlessly, and stays easy to work with after cutting out and re-rolling the cookie dough.
The gingerbread dough has just the right amount of spices and molasses to make a beautiful dark color and a soft chewy texture. Spices and molasses are the key to gingerbread - and every single spice makes these perfect - ginger, cinnamon, cloves and freshly grated nutmeg.
MY EASY COOKIE ROLLING TRICK...
We’re rolling the cookie dough out BEFORE chilling it, which isn’t typical for most gingerbread cookie recipes – but this is a great trick! The dough is so much easier to roll out before it’s chilled.
After rolling, stack the pieces, with parchment paper between the two and a single piece of parchment paper on top, onto a baking sheet and refrigerate for at least 2 hours and up to overnight. Chilling is mandatory for this cookie dough, so that the cookies will keep their shape when baked. And even after chilling overnight, the dough will still be pliable and roll out easily.
Make sure to dip your cookie cutters in flour before cutting - it will help your cookies release easier!
THICK & CHEWY COOKIES? YES, PLEASE!
I like to cut both my old-fashioned gingerbread and sugar cookies on the thick side - 1/4 inch works best! Thicker cookies are sturdier and easier to remove from cookie cutters and on to your baking sheets without any problems. Being a little bit thicker, they bake up firm on the outside but still soft and chewy inside - the PERFECT old-fashioned gingerbread cookie!
EASY ROYAL ICING...
3 and 1/2 cups (437g) all-purpose flour (sifted, spooned & leveled)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon ground ginger
1 Tablespoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
10 Tablespoons (2/3 cup) unsalted butter (softened to room temperature)
3/4 cup (150g) packed light or dark brown sugar
2/3 cup (200g) molasses (I use Grandma's Molasses brand)
1 large egg (room temperature)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
EASY ROYAL ICING:
4 cups powdered sugar
3 tablespoons Wilton Meringue Powder
10-12 tablespoons water (room temperature)
1 teaspoon corn syrup
AmeriColor Soft Gel Food Coloring (strongly recommended!)
FOR DECORATING: Holiday Sprinkles and Sparkling Sugar (both optional)
HOW I MAKE THESE:
YIELD: Makes 24 (four-inch) cookies.
NOTES: These cookies will stay fresh in an air-tight container at room temperature for up to 3 days or in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.
MAKE AHEAD TIP: Plain baked cookies freeze well up to 1 month. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator before decorating.
TO KEEP THESE COOKIES SOFT: I keep a slice of sandwich bread in the container to keep the cookies soft – replace every day or so, as soon as the slice of bread dries out. It’s a sweet little trick! These cookies will stay fresh in an air-tight container at room temperature for up to one week.
Originally published December 2012, revised & reposted December 2020
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