Copycat Starbucks Gingerbread ~ skip the trip to the pricey coffee shop and make your own moist and perfectly spiced frosted gingerbread.

A moist spicy gingerbread loaded with cream cheese frosting

I got a sudden craving for Starbucks Gingerbread the other day, but I was way too busy to stand on one of their famous lines, and anyway, it’s been pouring buckets here in California, and I just blow-dried my hair… so there was no way I was going out in that.  I wish they’d get that whole drone thing figured out soon, it would really help.  But you probably already figured out that this story has a happy ending  My copycat version is divine.  It’s everything you dream of in a gingerbread, plus a heaping layer of cream cheese frosting.   I say copycat, but in truth, it’s much much better than anything you could buy.  The spicing is fresh and rich, the cake itself is extra moist, and the top heavy load of frosting makes it decadent and a little quirky.  Definitely not mass produced.  And it gets even better after a night in the fridge, so it’s pretty perfect for Christmas morning.

Putting the cream cheese frosting on the gingerbread

This recipe has been floating around the Internet for some time, and it’s really very good.   It has a similar texture to my SPICED APPLE CAKE, probably because both recipes rely on fruit puree to create an extra moist crumb.   The spice cake uses apple butter, and this recipe calls for applesauce, but I didn’t have any, and because of all that rain, I raided my cabinets for an alternative.  I came up with a can of pears, which I drained and pureed in my little food processor…I think it was an inspired choice.

Gingerbread Loaf with Cream Cheese Frosting

The frosting needs no introduction.  It’s a classic cream cheese, dusted with some freshly grated nutmeg.  Have I sung the praises of fresh nutmeg enough?  I probably have, but I’ll do it again in case some of you are new ;)  I ONLY buy whole nutmeg, never the ground stuff.  I use a simple microplane grater to shave off just what I need.  The flavor and the scent is out of this world.  Taste it in your mind’s eye…I know you can.

Gingerbread Loaf with Cream Cheese Frosting

You will love this, I have no doubt.  Make it with confidence for company.  It’s that good.  One warning — I don’t think this would be ideal to wrap and give as a gift because all that cream cheese frosting stays relatively soft.  I think it would get messed up, just saying.   But that’s just all the more reason to treat yourself.

Copy Cat Starbucks Gingerbread

Copy Cat Starbucks Gingerbread


  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg, room temperature
  • 1 cup applesauce (or pear sauce, or apple butter) I used a 15 oz can of pears, drained and pureed
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp ground ginger
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
    cream cheese frosting
  • 8 oz cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 1/2 - 3 cups confectioner's sugar


  1. Set oven to 350F
  2. Spray a 9x5 loaf pan lightly with cooking spray, and then, if you like, line it with parchment paper leaving the ends long so you can lift it out when it's cool.
  3. Cream the butter and the sugar until fluffy. Beat in the vanilla and the egg.
  4. Blend in the applesauce.
  5. Sift together the flour, baking soda, salt, and spices and then add it to the bowl slowly. When everything is incorporated, turn the batter into your pan and smooth it out.
  6. Bake for about 55 minutes, or until it is risen and a toothpick comes out clean. Loaf pans and ovens can vary greatly, use your common sense to tell you when your cake is done. Check it early.
  7. Let cool completely on a rack before frosting.
  8. To make the frosting, beat the cream cheese with the vanilla and then add 2 1/2 cups of the sugar and beat until smooth and creamy. Add a little more sugar if it's not as thick as you like.
  9. Spread a thick layer of the frosting over the gingerbread. Dust with freshly grated nutmeg.


This recipe makes ALOT of could probably get away with halving it if you don't care for such a decadently thick layer. My recipe is adapted from The Restaurant Recipe Blog

Better than Starbuck's Gingerbread Loaf

OMG just looking at that photo makes me want to make another loaf!

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36 Responses to Copycat Starbucks Gingerbread

  1. Sherry Casper says:

    Two Questions:
    1.) What is crystalline ginger? And how would you sub into the cake part?
    2.) how would you sub in the molasses? what would you take out…or how much would you put in.

    • Sue says:

      Crystalline ginger is candied ginger, Sherry. You can put it in the cake if you like, or scatter it on top. I haven’t made this with molasses so I think you’d have to experiment. You might try replacing some of the applesauce for starters, maybe 1/4 cup.

  2. Phyllis says:

    What can I use in place of applesauce and pear.maybe buttermilk?

  3. Joan Walter says:

    Starbucks uses crystalized ginger. I have not found any counterfeit recipe that makes it that way.

    • Sue says:

      I didn’t use that because I personally don’t like it, but I think you could add it in to this recipe, either in the cake part, or as a garnish on top.

  4. Holly says:

    This looks so good, but Im wondering how did you get it so dark without molasses or brown sugar? Is it dark from the cloves? Just wondering becasue I love starbucks version but would love to try making my own. Thanks!

    • Sue says:

      You know, several people have asked that, and I think it must have been the spices…cloves are very dark and do color a batter. I may try a variation of this with molasses, though.

  5. Jeff Hurst says:

    Made this, but with an orange glaze instead of the frosting, for a charity bake sale. Everybody loved it but one comment summed it up perfectly. Emily said “That’s the best ginger cake I have ever tasted”. I couldn’t agree more. Thanks for this recipe, I love it. I’ll do the frosting next time.

    • Sue says:

      Oh I’m so glad to hear that Jeff! It’s been a while since I’ve made this one, now you’ve got me craving it. Your orange glaze is an interesting variation.

  6. Dawn says:

    Making this right now. Does it have to be refrigerated because of the cream cheese icing? :)

  7. Jacqueline says:

    Can this be made as a cake in a jar like banana bread cake??

  8. Is there really no brown sugar or molasses in this recipe? I thought all gingerbread had one or both items?

  9. Milica says:

    1 1/2 cups flour?

  10. Michael Tomney says:

    this only makes 1 loaf ?

  11. J'Marinde says:

    I clicked on the link to find “these will quickly become your family’s favorite holiday cookies – – they melt in your mouth,” but I cannot find them on the Pinterest link they took me to. Any hints? Thanks.

  12. Gorgeous gingerbread and that frosting is absolute perfection!

  13. Terry Covington says:

    Looks great, and I have to say I made your microwave peanut brittle last night and it’s the best I’ve ever had! You were right, it was very easy as well. I bought raw Spanish peanuts and just roasted them myself before putting them into the brittle. Thank you!

  14. Printing now! I made gingerbread cupcakes for my next post – if I can ever get it written – haha. Love this recipe – and will probably make it for Christmas. Thanks Sue!

  15. Susan says:

    I have to admit I’ve never had Starbucks Gingerbread but this looks wonderful and I’d much rather have homemade than stand in a line any day! Sheesh, I know California has been in a drought but that’s a lot of rain you’ve had.

  16. Gingerbread is my favourite this time of year! I’ve never had Starbuck’s version, but this one looks absolutely delicious. Must bake this up this week to enjoy over the holidays.

  17. Sippitysup says:

    It’s not Christmas til the gingerbread man sings (or serves cake). GREG

  18. Sharon says:

    This will be going to my husband’s work potluck next week after I try one for at home first :) Did you use a standard size can of pears? Thanks for sharing.

  19. Monique says:

    I hate rain and blow dried hair too:)
    Must Pin!

  20. Amy -Hunting Valley, Ohio says:

    Sigh. All I can say, Sue, is that I wish you were my next door neighbor.

  21. Elizabeth says:

    Oh, yum. It’s like Santa’s kitchen over here, Sue. I think I’ll try this Thursday or Friday. We have 3 holiday potlucks this week, and this would be perfect to bring along.

    • Sue says:

      I know you’ll love this Elizabeth, I think I’m going to make it on Christmas Eve for us to have in the morning. Have a wonderful week!

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