Slightly soft and chewy and full of gingerbread flavor, these Gingerbread Cutout Cookies are perfect for decorating during the holidays. Complete with a royal icing recipe that’s perfect for piping these cookies into beautiful designs.
Gingerbread Cutout Cookies
Once the holiday favorite flavor of gingerbread starts to appear on menus you know the holidays are ahead. Perhaps it’s one of the sure signs that say “it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas.” With distinct flavors of cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and molasses you can’t help but fall into a full-on Christmas mood when eating gingerbread anything.
These gingerbread cutout cookies are slightly soft and somewhat chewy, but sturdy enough for decorating. They make the perfect gingerbread man cookies or cookies for holiday cooking decorating parties.
What does Gingerbread taste like?
Gingerbread has a sweet spiciness to it with mixtures of cinnamon, ginger, clove, and nutmeg, combined with the smokey sweet flavor of molasses. It’s distinct smell and taste are linked to the holidays.
Ingredients in Gingerbread Cookies
The two somewhat uncommon ingredients in making these gingerbread cookies are molasses and the meringue powder for the icing, however, they’re both easy to find at your local grocer. The remaining ingredients are mainly pantry staples.
- Unsalted Butter
- Granulated Sugar
- Spices: ginger, cinnamon, ground cloves
- Baking Soda
Royal Icing Ingredients
- Meringue Powder
- Powdered Sugar
How to Make Gingerbread Cutout Cookies
- Make the Dough: Beat the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, then add the egg and molasses. In a separate medium-sides bowl whisk the flour, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, baking soda, and salt. Stir the flour mixture into the butter mixture until fully mixed.
- Chill the Dough: Shape the dough into two discs and cover with plastic wrap. Place in the refrigerator to chill for 1 hour. Remove the dough and let stand at room temperature for 10 minutes.
- Cut Out Cookies: Roll out the dough to 1/4-inch thickness. Use cookie cutters to cut out cookies and place the cookies onto a rimless baking sheet covered with parchment paper. Place the baking sheet in the refrigerator to chill for 20 minutes.
- Bake: Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Bake, one sheet at a time, for 10 to 12 minutes
- Make Icing: Beat the water and meringue powder together until it becomes frothy. Beat in the powdered sugar until the icing mixture becomes glossy.
- Decorate Cookies: Spoon the mixture into a piping bag fitted with a small plain tip. Pipe desired designs onto cookies.
Equipment Needed for Making Gingerbread Cutout Cookies
I’ve listed out everything you’ll need to prepare these cookies. I find it extremely frustrating when I begin a recipe only to find out I’m out of parchment paper or need something else I don’t currently have.
- Rimless Baking Sheets
- Parchment Paper
- Mixing Bowls
- Measuring Cups and Spoons
- Handheld Mixer
- Plastic Wrap
- Wire Racks
- Piping Bag and Tips
Can this dough be used for gingerbread houses?
No, this dough is too soft after it’s baked and would not work well for a gingerbread house.
Can I use shortening instead of butter?
It will work, but I recommend sticking with real butter because it adds so much to the overall flavor of the cookies.
Can I freeze gingerbread cutout cookies?
Yes! In order to freeze the cookies let them cool completely after they’ve baked then place them in an air-tight container or Ziplock freezer bag. Do not add the icing though. The cookies will last up to 6 weeks in the freezer.
Let the cookies thaw at room temperature when you’re ready to add the icing.
Can I make the cookie dough or cookies ahead of time?
The cookie dough can be prepared 2 days before you plan on rolling the cookies out and baking them. Leave the dough wrapped in the disc-like shape in the refrigerator until you’re ready to use it. Let the cookie dough sit at room temperature for 15 minutes before you roll it out.
You can also make the cookies 5 days ahead of time. To store them place them in an air-tight container until you’re ready to decorate them.
Can the Icing be made ahead of time?
I don’t recommend making the icing in advance because it will harden, even if only a little bit. It will be much hard to pipe the cookies if the icing isn’t fresh. This icing is a thicker royal icing that’s good for making those perfect piping lines so you don’t want it too hard, because you won’t be able to use it.
Tips for Making the Best Gingerbread Cookies
- Light or dark unsulphured molasses is the version you want to use. Don’t use blackstrap molasses which is used for savory dishes, not sweet, it’s too bitter for baking.
- Chilling the dough is a key step to making the best cookies. It hardens the dough, which makes it easier to roll out and cut, but also helps keep the cookies from spreading during the baking process.
- Use stainless steel cookie cutters instead of plastic ones. You want your cookie cutters to have a nice fine edge, not a dull one.
- If using an icing back set the bag up with the icing tip and fold the tops of the back over a glass to easily fill the bag without a mess. Squeeze out any excess air.
- 1/3 cup Unsalted Butter softened
- 1 cup Granulated Sugar
- 1 large Egg
- 1/3 cup Unsulphured Molasses
- 2¾ cup All-Purpose Flour
- 1½ teaspoon Ground Ginger
- 1 teaspoon Cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon Ground Cloves
- 1/2 teaspoon Baking Soda
- pinch Salt
- 7½ teaspoons Water
- 4¼ teaspoons Meringue Powder
- 1¾ cup Powdered Sugar
- In a large bowl using a handheld mixer beat the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, about 2 to 3 minutes. Beat in the egg and molasses until just combined.
- In a separate medium-sides bowl whisk the flour, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, baking soda, and salt. Stir the flour mixture into the butter mixture until fully mixed. You can use your hands to knead the dough a little in the bowl folding it over to incorporate all of the dry ingredients.
- Shape the dough into two discs and cover with plastic wrap. Place in the refrigerator to chill for 1 hour. Remove the dough and let stand at room temperature for 10 minutes.
- Cover the discs, one at a time, with parchment paper and roll out the dough to 1/4-inch thickness.
- Use stainless steel cookie cutters to cut out desired cookie shapes and place the cookies onto a rimless baking sheet covered with parchment paper. Leave 1 inch of space between each cookie. Once the cookie sheet is filled up with cutout cookies place the baking sheet in the refrigerator to chill for 20 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Bake, one sheet at a time, for 10 to 12 minutes until the cookies are firm. Let sit on the baking sheet for 2 minutes before removing and placing on a wire rack to finish cooling.
- In a medium-sized bowl beat the water and meringue powder together until it becomes frothy, about 2 minutes.
- Beat in the powdered sugar until the icing mixture becomes glossy, an additional 4 minutes.
- Spoon the mixture into a piping bag fitted with a small plain tip. Pipe desired designs onto cookies and let sit for 20 minutes to harden.