Copycat Starbucks Gingerbread

The best gingerbread ever!

Copycat Starbucks Gingerbread ~ skip the trip to the pricey coffee shop and make your own moist and perfectly spiced frosted gingerbread. It’s just right for breakfast, brunch, coffee break or dessert.

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.

Do you love to copy Starbucks as much as I do? Try my other copy cat recipes~

Better than Starbuck's Gingerbread Loaf

Reader Rave ~

“Oh My Goodness – this is truly the BEST Gingerbread I EVER tasted!! This was fabulous. Will be making this again very soon.”  ~  Bee


3.35 from 149 votes

Copy Cat Starbucks Gingerbread

Copycat Starbucks Gingerbread ~ skip the trip to the pricey coffee shop and make your own moist and perfectly spiced frosted gingerbread.  It's just right for breakfast, brunch, coffee break or dessert.
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Author Sue Moran


  • 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


  • Set oven to 350F
  • 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.
  • Cream the butter and the sugar until fluffy. Beat in the vanilla and the egg.
  • Blend in the applesauce.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Let cool completely on a rack before frosting.
  • 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.
  • Spread a thick layer of the frosting over the gingerbread. Dust with freshly grated nutmeg.

Cook's notes

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
The nutritional information for recipes on this site is provided as a courtesy and although tries to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures are only estimates.

Make it your own ~



Thanks for pinning this CopyCat Starbucks Gingerbread Loaf!

Copycat Starbucks Gingerbread ~ skip the trip to the pricey coffee shop and make your own moist and perfectly spiced frosted gingerbread. #copycatrecipe #starbuckscopycat #holidaydessert #cake #quickbread #spicecake #breakfast #ginger #holidaybreakfast #foodgift

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    Leave a Reply

    Please rate this recipe!

  • Reply
    December 3, 2020 at 7:54 am

    3 stars
    I made this recipe and found that it had little flavor of ginger, and could have used something like molassas to give it more flavor.

  • Reply
    November 27, 2019 at 12:33 pm

    This looks and sounds sooooooo yummy, but many of us in my family are gluten-free. Would the texture or ability to rise suffer if I used almond flour? Thanks Sue! LOVE your recipes and your photographs are gorgeous!!

    • Reply
      November 27, 2019 at 12:45 pm

      Hi Mariah ~ I’m not sure just almond flour would have enough structure for this quick bread, I might try a good quality gf baking mix instead. And thanks 🙂

  • Reply
    March 7, 2019 at 7:38 am

    Oh My Goodness – this is truly the BEST Gingerbread I EVER tasted!! This was fabulous. Will be making this again very soon.

    • Reply
      March 7, 2019 at 3:24 pm

      Thanks Bee!

  • Reply
    Mayra Salgado
    December 22, 2018 at 6:05 pm

    This recipe is amazing! I’ve never had the Starbucks version, but this was SO delicious.

  • Reply
    December 20, 2018 at 8:22 pm

    the flavor was good, mine rose beautifully…but i feel like it needed to be richer. Perhaps a little oil 1/4 c ? and some molasses would get me to the dense richness i am craving lol. I also feel like a bit of honey would give some more depth in the flavor. I did use unsweetened applesauce …

  • Reply
    December 1, 2018 at 4:09 pm

    Hi there. I loved the flavours in this – but mine didn’t rise, and actually sank in the middle. Should there have been baking powder in the recipe?

    • Reply
      December 1, 2018 at 4:58 pm

      I’m not sure what might have happened to cause that, is it possible it wasn’t cooked in the middle?

  • Reply
    November 21, 2018 at 4:12 pm

    It says 11/2 cups of flour – don’t understand???

    • Reply
      November 21, 2018 at 4:56 pm

      That’s 1 and 1/2 cups.

  • Reply
    November 20, 2018 at 7:55 am

    For how long do you bake it for? you put the temperature of the oven only.

    • Reply
      November 20, 2018 at 11:41 am

      The recipe says to cook for 55 minutes, Danielle. I always like to take a peek earlier just in case the oven is running hotter than expected.

  • Reply
    Mariadelpilar Anderson
    January 18, 2018 at 9:26 pm

    You are AMAIZING thank you for all the recipes and the effort you do it for us .
    I made The Gingerbread Loaf was Delicious my Family loves and I can’t said is a Copycat because and my opinion is better then Starbucks.
    Thank you .

  • Reply
    December 21, 2017 at 4:03 pm

    Have you ever used some brown sugar or molasses?

    • Reply
      December 21, 2017 at 4:23 pm

      This particular recipe doesn’t call for it, but I think it’s worth experimenting with Mary.

    • Reply
      Auntie Ruthie
      July 14, 2018 at 7:44 pm

      I make one version of gingerbread with Black Strap and dark brown sugar.

  • Reply
    November 27, 2017 at 9:21 am

    This was so delicious! But it didn’t taste like gingerbread to me. And it wasn’t even close to being that rich brown gingerbread color. It looked and tasted more like a spice cake. I’m definitely going to continue to make it even though I didn’t get gingerbread out of it!

    • Reply
      November 27, 2017 at 9:27 am

      Did you use the full amounts of spices, Kristina? They really make a difference, especially the tsp of cloves. You might try adding some molasses next time, substitute a tablespoon for a small amount of the applesauce.

  • Reply
    April 7, 2017 at 3:52 am

    Could I use a bundt pan instead of a loaf pan?

    • Reply
      April 7, 2017 at 7:17 am

      I don’t think there would be enough batter, Sara. I do plan to do a gingerbread bundt cake next fall, so keep an eye out for that. But in the meantime, you’d have to experiment with doubling the recipe. Good luck!

  • Reply
    Sherry Casper
    January 22, 2017 at 2:15 pm

    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.

    • Reply
      January 22, 2017 at 3:27 pm

      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.

  • Reply
    January 13, 2017 at 2:15 pm

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

    • Reply
      January 13, 2017 at 2:21 pm

      I can’t say for sure, because I haven’t tried, but it might work to use buttermilk and maybe some molasses.

  • Reply
    Joan Walter
    November 21, 2016 at 9:13 am

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

    • Reply
      November 21, 2016 at 9:27 am

      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.

    • Reply
      December 14, 2019 at 4:01 pm

      Joan, starbucks uses candied orange peel in their bread, I thought it was ginger at first too. Also, and weirdly, theirs has no actual ginger in it.

  • Reply
    November 20, 2016 at 10:19 pm

    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!

    • Reply
      November 21, 2016 at 7:31 am

      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.

  • Reply
    Jeff Hurst
    November 19, 2016 at 4:20 pm

    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.

    • Reply
      November 19, 2016 at 5:17 pm

      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.

  • Reply
    September 25, 2016 at 11:16 am

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

    • Reply
      September 25, 2016 at 12:58 pm

      It can stay out for a day, but after that I would probably wrap and refrigerate, Dawn.

  • Reply
    August 7, 2016 at 5:24 pm

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

    • Reply
      August 7, 2016 at 5:38 pm

      I honestly don’t know, Jacqueline, but it might be worth a try.

  • Reply
    Jill Chamberlin
    December 9, 2015 at 9:02 pm

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

  • Reply
    December 6, 2015 at 11:41 pm

    1 1/2 cups flour?

    • Reply
      December 7, 2015 at 7:41 am

      Yes Milica.

  • Reply
    Michael Tomney
    August 8, 2015 at 6:58 pm

    this only makes 1 loaf ?

  • Reply
    February 10, 2015 at 3:21 pm

    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.

  • Reply
    December 15, 2014 at 11:01 pm

    Gorgeous gingerbread and that frosting is absolute perfection!

  • Reply
    Terry Covington
    December 15, 2014 at 4:20 pm

    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!

  • Reply
    Tricia @ Saving room for dessert
    December 15, 2014 at 7:19 am

    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!

    • Reply
      December 15, 2014 at 8:16 am

      I think you’ll like it, Tricia, I’m going to make it for my girls when they get here. I look forward to your cupcakes!

  • Reply
    December 14, 2014 at 2:24 pm

    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.

  • Reply
    Jennifer @ Seasons and Suppers
    December 14, 2014 at 1:26 pm

    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.

  • Reply
    December 14, 2014 at 11:27 am

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

    • Reply
      December 14, 2014 at 11:38 am

      So true 🙂 Have a great one, Gregg!

  • Reply
    December 14, 2014 at 11:10 am

    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.

    • Reply
      December 14, 2014 at 11:38 am

      Ooop, no, a 15 oz can, I’ll update that, thanks Sharon!

  • Reply
    December 14, 2014 at 6:01 am

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

    • Reply
      December 14, 2014 at 7:32 am

      Really! And to think I’ve been moaning about how dry it’s been…it never rains, but it pours 😉

  • Reply
    Amy -Hunting Valley, Ohio
    December 14, 2014 at 5:58 am

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

    • Reply
      December 14, 2014 at 7:35 am

      Me too, Amy — I seriously need takers for some of this stuff, this one was dangerous to have around.

  • Reply
    December 14, 2014 at 3:52 am

    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.

    • Reply
      December 14, 2014 at 7:37 am

      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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