In all my years of baking, I have not once baked real gingerbread nor made any gingerbread people. But my children love most of the gingerbread man book variations out there. So this year when Melina said, “Can we make some real gingerbread people?” I said yes.

I would have scoured the internet for a good recipe, but as luck would have it—and it’s not always on my side—I subbed for a first grade teacher on the day that we read and discussed many gingerbread stories. We even went over the basic recipe for how to make gingerbread people cutouts, and therefore, when I saw the recipe sitting on the teacher’s desk, I snapped a picture of it.

This recipe is easy, and the cookies come out with a nice gingery bite to them. Underbake them if you prefer soft ginger cookies. And while I might be a little late with the recipe for your holiday cookies, go ahead and bookmark for next year.

2 cups flour, plus more for use when rolling out dough
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 tablespoon ground ginger
1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1/3 cup packed dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 egg
1/3 cup unsulfured molasses

1. In a bowl, mix the flour, baking soda, spices, and salt with a whisk.

2. In a second bowl, beat the softened butter and brown sugar with an electric mixer on low until smooth. Add in the vanilla, egg, and molasses and mix on low. Then add in the dry ingredients, mixing on low until a dough forms.

3. Sprinkle some flour on a sheet of plastic wrap, then put the dough on the floured wrap and wrap it up. Refrigerate for three hours.

4. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

5. Divide the dough in half. Rewrap one half and put it in the refrigerator. Place the other half on floured wax paper and roll it out until it’s about 1/4-inch thick. (This is very thin; for our second batch, we didn’t roll it as thin, as was our preference.) Use as much flour as necessary to prevent sticking.

6. Freeze the flat dough on the wax paper for 20 minutes. Repeat step 5 with the second half of the dough.

7. Use cookie cutters to cut out shapes and place cookies on ungreased baking sheets.

8. Add sugar or sprinkles as desired, and bake until the edges just begin to darken, which will depend on your cookie. Our smallest cookie took only five minutes to bake. Our largest was close to eight minutes.

9. Cool on baking sheets and decorate as desired.

Image of gingerbread cookies by Publicdomainpictures at

Leave a Comment