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Gingerbread Men Recipe

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  • Prep 1 hr 30 min
  • Total 2 hr 40 min
  • Servings 120
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You know the holiday season has begun when your house is filled with the sweet, spicy scent of gingerbread cookies. They are festive, quick and easy to make, and are a fun activity for the whole family.

Nothing welcomes both the young and young at heart into the kitchen like these charming treats, but have you ever wondered where gingerbread men got their start?

Food historians believe that gingerbread first originated in Greece around 2400 BC. China developed a gingerbread recipe during the 10th century and by the late Middle Ages, Europeans had developed their own version of gingerbread. However, it wasn't until the 16th century that the now classic shape of a gingerbread man entered the picture. Queen Elizabeth I, known for delighting her guests with creative confections, is credited with creating the first gingerbread men. She ordered her royal bakers to make them in the likeness of her prominent guests, setting the stage for these legendary cookies' association with the festive season.

Ever since the Elizabethan era, gingerbread men have become a beloved Christmas tradition. They’re fun to decorate, delicious to eat, and a creative way to gather friends and family together. Whether you like yours with crispy edges and soft centers, or delightfully crunchy, our Gingerbread Men Cookies are sure to fit the bill.

Need other ideas? Take a peek into our Christmas Cookie Headquarters.

Updated Jul 3, 2024
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How To Make Gingerbread Men Cookies

These crispy gingerbread men cookies are iconic in looks and taste and provide a blank canvas, ready for all sorts of festive artwork.

Making them from scratch helps to ensure they have all the bold flavors you love. Refer to the recipe for all the specifics, but generally, here’s how you make gingerbread men.

Make the Dough

In a large mixing bowl, combine the wet ingredients, then add in the dry ingredients and mix until a soft dough forms.

Chill the Dough

Once the dough is made, you’ll want to chill it in the refrigerator for 1 hour . Rolling out and cutting the dough is much easier when it’s cold.

Roll Out, Cut and Bake

Roll the chilled dough out to 1/8” thick (2 stacked quarters) and cut out with cookie cutters. Place each of your newly formed men onto an ungreased baking sheet. Decorate with candy or currants, as desired, and bake. Using an ungreased baking sheet prevents the cookies from spreading out too much in the baking process.

Pipe on the Frosting

Decorate the completely cooled cookies with frosting, as desired.

Gingerbread Men Decorating Ideas

Once the cookies are baked and cooled, the real fun begins! Here are some fun gingerbread men decorating ideas.

Currants or assorted candies of your choosing are great gingerbread men decorations and can be pressed into the cookie dough cut outs before baking. They are perfect for making eyes, noses or buttons, but use your imagination. How to decorate gingerbread men is entirely up to you and the sky’s the limit!

For more intricate designs, look for very small candies or use individual sprinkles, placed on the unbaked cookies with clean tweezers.

Colored sugar can be sprinkled onto the unbaked cookies for festive, but simple design.

Use Betty Crocker™ Creamy White Rich & Creamy Frosting in a piping bag to outline the cookies to make faces, bows, buttons, and more. Add a few drops of food coloring gel to the frosting, if desired. For a different style of frosting, try our recipe for Royal Icing which hardens as it dries.

Want to pipe your cookies but don’t have a piping bag? Not to worry. Here’s how to decorate your gingerbread cookies without a piping bag. You can use a resealable plastic bag filled with frosting. Once filled and the frosting is pushed into one bottom corner, use a pair of scissors to snip off the edge.

Of course, these decorating ideas can apply to other types of cookies. Take a look at some of our other cookie recipes to expand your decorating options.

How to Store Gingerbread Men So They Last Longer

If stored correctly, your gingerbread men cookies will keep at room temperature for up to 3 days. Store them in flat-bottomed plastic containers with airtight lids. Line the bottom of each container with waxed paper or plastic wrap, to help keep your cookies fresh, and they are all set for safekeeping!

Keep in mind that if your cookies are frosted, they become soft as you store them. So, if a crispy texture is important to you, consider frosting the cookies as you need them.

Cookies kept in an airtight container in the refrigerator can last for up to 2 weeks.

Perhaps the best way to store cookies and ensure they come out fresh and tasty is to freeze them. Unbaked frozen cookie dough will keep for up to 3 months in the freezer. Frozen baked cookies will keep for up to 2 months.

Try Other Gingerbread Recipes We Love

How do you make soft gingerbread cookies? A little less flour and a lot more brown sugar gives you a less crispy and chewier gingerbread cookie. So, if you like a softer cookie, with more chew, try our Best-Ever Chewy Gingerbread Cookies.

Heading to a cookie exchange party and need to march in with an army of gingerbread men? Or will gingerbread men be your go-to hostess gift this holiday season? Try this extra-large batch recipe of Gingerbread Cutout Cookies.

If you love the taste of gingerbread, but don’t have the time or interest in decorating a big batch of cookies, why not get your gingerbread fix in bar form? These Gingerbread Cookie Bars are here to save the day. With a spicy, sweet cookie base topped with a dreamy cream cheese frosting, these bars are sure to become your new family favorite.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 3 tablespoons molasses
  • 2 tablespoons water or milk
  • 1 egg
  • 3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • Currants or assorted candies, if desired
  • Colored sugar or additional sugar, if desired
  • 1/2 tub (16 oz) Betty Crocker™ Rich & Creamy Vanilla Frosting, if desired

Steps

  • 1
    In large bowl, beat granulated sugar, butter and molasses with electric mixer on medium speed, or mix with spoon, until well mixed. Beat in water and egg until blended.
  • 2
    Stir in flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, salt, cardamom and cloves. Cover and refrigerate about 1 hour or until firm.
  • 3
    Heat oven to 350°F. Roll 1/3 of dough at a time on floured surface to 1/8-inch thickness. (Keep remaining dough refrigerated until ready to roll.) Cut with floured 2 1/2-inch gingerbread boy or girl cookie cutters. On ungreased cookie sheets, place cutouts 1 inch apart.
  • 4
    Decorate with currants or candies; sprinkle with colored sugar, if desired.
  • 5
    Bake 6 to 7 minutes or until set. Remove from cookie sheet to cooling rack; cool.
  • 6
    If desired, spoon frosting into decorating bag fitted with round tip. Pipe frosting on cookies. Decorate with currants or assorted candies.

Tips from the Betty Crocker Kitchens

  • tip 1
    We bet you’re wondering if you actually need to chill the dough for an hour in the fridge, and the answer is…yes! Chilling your dough before rolling it out will make rolling and cutting much easier and less messy—which is particularly important if you have little hands helping.
  • tip 2
    Try decorating a Christmas gingerbread man with a piping bag, or sprinkle on red and green sugar for a festive look. Tiny candies work well for eyes or as buttons.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Do You Make Gingerbread Cookies Spicier?

Want to get all the flavor you can out of your gingerbread cookies? Make sure your spices are fresh and stored correctly.

If your bottle of ground cloves or ginger has been in your pantry for years, it’s time for a change.

Ground spices should not be kept for more than a year. If they have lost their potency in terms of smell and if their color has faded, you won’t get a ton of oomph out of them when it comes to baked goods.

Make sure you write the date on your spices when you buy them. The best gift you can give yourself is to use fresh and flavorful spices that will bring out the best in your baked goods.

Can You Freeze Gingerbread?

Freezing these Gingerbread Men is easy to do and means you will always have fresh tasting holiday cookies on hand for gifts or simply to enjoy whenever you need a taste of the holidays.

For the absolute freshest flavor, freeze your cookie dough unbaked, then bake when needed. Here’s how:

To freeze cookie dough cutouts, place them in a single layer on a waxed paper-lined cookie sheet. Cover and freeze for 20 to 30 minutes or until firm. Then quickly transfer to an airtight container and line each layer of raw cookies with waxed paper. To thaw cookie dough cutouts, immediately transfer frozen shapes to baking sheet. Let stand 15 minutes to thaw. Then, bake as the recipe directs. Frozen cookie cutouts will keep for 3 months in the freezer.

Baked cookies can also be frozen in airtight containers, in between layers of wax or parchment paper and kept in the freezer for up to 2 months. Let thaw at room temperature. Frosted cookies don’t freeze as well. The condensation that occurs during the thawing process can result in frosting that runs or bleeds onto the cookies. For that reason, it’s best to freeze the cookies unfrosted and decorate after they have been thawed out.

How Will I know the Cookies Are Fully Cooked?

When your cookie dough is already a dark brown going into the oven, it can be hard to know when they have cooked enough and are ready to come out.

Because cookies recipes typically tell you your cookies are done when lightly browned, Gingerbread Men can provide an extra level of difficulty, as it can be impossible to tell when the cookie is lightly browned.

For this reason, look for these cookies to be puffy all over and set around the edges.

They may seem too soft when you first remove them from the oven, but they will become firmer as they cool on a cooling rack.

Nutrition

40 Calories, 1 1/2g Total Fat, 0g Protein, 6g Total Carbohydrate, 3g Sugars

Nutrition Facts

Serving Size: 1 Cookie
Calories
40
Calories from Fat
15
Total Fat
1 1/2g
2%
Saturated Fat
1g
5%
Trans Fat
0g
Cholesterol
5mg
2%
Sodium
45mg
2%
Potassium
15mg
0%
Total Carbohydrate
6g
2%
Dietary Fiber
0g
0%
Sugars
3g
Protein
0g
% Daily Value*:
Vitamin A
0%
0%
Vitamin C
0%
0%
Calcium
0%
0%
Iron
0%
0%
Exchanges:
0 Starch; 0 Fruit; 1/2 Other Carbohydrate; 0 Skim Milk; 0 Low-Fat Milk; 0 Milk; 0 Vegetable; 0 Very Lean Meat; 0 Lean Meat; 0 High-Fat Meat; 1/2 Fat;
Carbohydrate Choice
1/2
*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet.
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