Can't catch me

The Best Soft & Chewy Gingerbread Cookie Recipe, Ever

I've been making these easy gingerbread cut-out cookies every Christmas for a decade and they never fail.

Gingerbread cookies seem like a great idea. They make your house smell nice, they remind you of Christmas carols, they’re truly a classic Christmas cookie. But, half the time, when you reach for one at a party or at the store, you end up with a gingerbread man that’s crisp instead of tender and soft — a total let-down. Or, as Paul Hollywood would say — all style, no substance. Cute in theory, but who wants to eat that? Maybe it’s that gingerbread men are supposed to snap, but I’ve always liked my cookies chewy, and gingerbread men are no exception. As a fan of all things cookie, baking spices and Christmas-y, I spent years longing for a soft, chewy gingerbread recipe that produced a cookie I’d actually want to eat.

Then, sometime around 2010, on some random food blog that’s probably long since defunct, I stumbled across a gingerbread cookie recipe claiming to be soft and chewy. I was in graduate school at the time, and didn’t have kids, so I had the kind of free time on my hands that meant I could go ahead and make whatever recipe I stumbled across basically whenever I wanted to. Youth is wasted on the young, but with plenty of skepticism, I decided to give the recipe a shot.

I’d been burned by gingerbread cookie recipes before. Some gingerbread cookies claim to be soft and chewy — bloggers and recipe developers throw these sacred cookie words around all willy-nilly, I’ve learned — but, in fact, have crisp edges, or become tough or crisp within a day. Still, I had glimmers of hope. Dark with molasses and smelling like my sugar plummiest holiday dreams, the dough came together quickly and easily. Too easily, I mumbled to myself, keeping my expectations low. While it chilled, I walked over to Economy Candy and loaded up on treats to decorate with. I figured that even though the cookies would probably not be the truly soft and tender ones I longed for, I could at least make them look extra-festive.

Friends, who knew that being so wrong could taste so right. The gingerbread people — and stars and Christmas trees — that dough yielded were indeed soft! They were truly chewy. And not only did they come out of the oven that way, they stayed soft and chewy for days and days (in a well-sealed container). Many moves, a wedding, and two kids later, I still return to this perfect gingerbread cookie recipe every December. We don’t make them to give away, though you could do that and I bet people would be thrilled. I just make a big batch to nibble on — and put in lunches and have for breakfast — all month long.

Tips for making these gingerbread cookies turn out beautifully, every time

This recipe is truly easy. If you’ve ever made cookies before, the steps will probably be familiar, but here are a few things that I’ve learned over time that might help:

  • My kids are little and tend to struggle with the 2-hour chill time, so I like to make the dough after they’re in bed, so the next day we can just do the rolling and decorating together.
  • Though the recipe yields about 24 small gingerbread men, they go fast (and are fun to give away) so it’s a great idea to double the recipe.
  • When it’s time to roll out the dough, it’ll be tough when it first comes out of the fridge, but will soften quickly. Don’t be afraid to use lots of flour when rolling, to prevent sticking.
  • They really do bake quickly, so keep an eye on them in the oven. I usually set a timer for 6 minutes.
  • You know this, but make sure those spices are fresh. If your baking spices are from last Christmas, toss them and buy new ones. If you’re pinched for cash — and who isn’t — this is me telling you that it’s OK to swap 3 teaspoons of pumpkin pie spice for the spices in this recipe, and that way you only have to buy one spice jar instead of four.

Soft & Chewy Gingerbread Cookies


  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup molasses
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tsp cloves
  • 1 tsp ginger


  1. In an electric stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugar.
  2. Beat in in the molasses and egg yolk until they’re evenly mixed in.
  3. Sift together all the dry ingredients, and add them to the mixer. Mix on low just until the dough is combined, taking care not to over-mix.
  4. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap, or place it a sealed container and chill it in the fridge for at least two hours, or up to three days.
  5. When you’re ready to bake the cookies, preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  6. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or silicone baking mat, like a Silpat.
  7. Generously flour a clean work surface — like your countertops or kitchen table — as well as the rolling pin. Take the dough out of the fridge and unwrap it.
  8. Roll the dough out on the floured surfact to no thinner than 1/4-inch thickness. The dough may be stiff at first, but it will soften quickly as you roll.
  9. Use cookie cutters to cut the dough into whatever shapes you like, and place them onto a baking sheet about an inch apart.
  10. Bake for 5-7 minutes. I usually set the timer for 6 minutes, and pull them when they look just-done.
  11. Let the cookies rest on the baking sheet for about one minute, then use a spatula to transfer them to a cooling rack.
  12. Once they’re cool, decorate however you’d like to. Any of these cookie frostings and icings would work well.