Easy Gingerbread Cookies with Royal Icing ~ it’s that time of year and nothing gets me in the mood quicker than baking up a batch of gingerbread cookies. This gingerbread cookie recipe is the best I’ve found, it’s easy to work with, and delicious!
Did you see my round up of the 30 BEST GINGERBREAD COOKIES the other day?
All I wanted to do after finishing it up was get in the kitchen and bake! I start off every holiday season with a new copper cookie cutter for my collection. Last year it was a vintage tree shape, and this year’s acquisition is this cute lumbering polar bear. I love him because he gives me an excuse to make big, fat, two handed cookies!
This year’s cookie cutter comes from The Fussy Pup, I love their sturdy copper cutters, they come in lots of fun shapes, including my polar bear, and all sorts of dog and cat breeds, of course. One of my favorite gifts to give ‘fur parents’ during the holidays is a batch of cookies (along with the cookie cutter) matched to the recipient’s pet.
I’m in love with this easy gingerbread cookie recipe ~ the dough mixes up easily, and most importantly it rolls out effortlessly.
I’m always amazed at how, even after reforming the dough multiple times to cut out my bears, the dough stays supple ~ I can’t tell my first bear from my last, and that’s pretty amazing.
The dough has just the right amount of spice and molasses to make for a nice dark color and a soft chewy texture. The spices and molasses are the key to gingerbread, so don’t skimp, and if you’re out of something, get to the store! (Yes, you really do need the cloves.)
The minute my dry ingredients hit the wet, I was enveloped in the aura of Christmas. Those scent memories can’t be beat.
Even after chilling overnight the dough was still pliable and rolled out easily. Have I mentioned that I love it?
I like to cut my cookies on the thick side, at least 1/4 inch, for a couple of reasons ~ when they have a little heft they’re sturdier and easier to remove from the cookie cutter to the baking sheet without any accidental amputations. And they cook up firm on the outside but soft and chewy inside. Yum.
How to make the best royal icing
- I use egg white powder (sometimes called meringue powder) which eliminates any worry about raw eggs. You should be able to find it in your supermarket’s baking aisle.
- You can adjust the thickness of the icing by adding more powdered sugar or more water as necessary to get it just right. If the icing dribbles off the cookie, it’s too thin. If it doesn’t spread out flat and even, it’s too thick.
- It tastes great as is, but you can add flavoring if you like, vanilla, almond, or peppermint work well.
- I spoon it into squeeze bottles for easy outlining, but you can use a plastic baggie with a hole snipped in the corner, or just a small spreading knife.
Icing these bears took a little practice, and let’s just say I have endless respect for Martha Stewart and all the other fancy cookie decorators out there, but in the end we had a herd of respectable polar bears without too much struggle…
TIP: It’s very easy to lose the integrity of the cookie shape with the wrong frosting technique. It helps to outline your cookie just inside the outer edge, so that the shape of the gingerbread is clear. Otherwise a polar bear can easily morph into an anteater, weasel, or worse, trust me.
And of course you can always eat, or give, these cookies sans decoration, they are delicious as is.
Easy Gingerbread Cookies with Royal Icing
- 4 1/2 cups all purpose flour
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 Tbsp ground ginger
- 1 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
- 2 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp cloves
- 1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
- 3/4 cup (1 and a half sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 3/4 cups light brown sugar, packed
- 1 large egg, at room temperature
- 1 cup unsulphured molasses
- 1/4 cup meringue powder
- 1/2 cup cold water
- 4 cups confectioner's sugar, sifted
- Whisk dry ingredients to blend.
- Cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
- Beat in egg and molasses and mix until smooth.
- Gradually add the dry ingredients while mixing on low, and mix until the dough comes together.
- Turn out onto a floured surface and knead the dough a couple of times until it becomes smooth. Divide in two and form into disks. Wrap in plastic and chill for at least 3 hours, or overnight.
- Preheat oven to 350F
- Roll the dough out on a floured surface to about 1/4 inch. Cut out your cookies and place on a parchment or silpat line baking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes, rotating the tray halfway through if your oven cooks unevenly. Let the cookies cool on the baking sheet for a few minutes before moving them to a cooling rack.
- To make the royal icing, put the egg white powder and water in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat until soft peaks form. Then add the sifted sugar gradually and beat until the frosting is spreadable and glossy. If the frosting gets too thick you can add a bit of cream, milk, or water to thin.
- Spoon some of the frosting into a squeeze bottle, pastry bag, or baggie if you would like to pipe it around the outline of each cookie. Otherwise you can spread the frosting with a spreading knife. You will have more frosting than you need with this recipe, but if may come in handy if you are decorating with a group. Note: you can make the frosting up to an hour or so ahead, just keep covered with plastic.
- Decorate your cookies with sprinkles, etc, while the icing is still wet. It will harden as it dries.
Make it your own ~
- Use a classic sugar cookie dough if you prefer, I recommend my HOLIDAY SUGAR COOKIES dough.
Don’t forget to pin these Easy Gingerbread Cookies with Royal Icing!
Questions and Reviews
Would this ship well? These are the best!!!
These are fantastic! They remind me of a mix between gingerbread cookies and molasses cookies.
Do these freeze well?
Yes, beautifully. You can freeze them unfrosted for best results, but royal iced cookies can be frozen with care.
Wonderful. Thank you!
I was wondering if you knew the metric measurements for the butter? In Australia, our butter mostly comes in 250g and 500g blocks. I wouldn’t even know what one stick was in grams lol.
Also, how would you rate this recipes suitability for a gingerbread house?
Hi Meegan, our stick of butter is 113 grams. And yes, this recipe would work for a gingerbread house.
I am a little confused on the royal icing.
If I use egg whites instead of meringue powder, do I still add the water?
Thank you ?
No, the water is just to hydrate the meringue powder.
I hope These turn out well- they are chilling at the moment and look delicious, but at first the dough was wayyy to dry so I added in some water. Also, they were very bitter so I also had to add in a lot more sugar. I don’t know if I did the ratios wrong or what, but when I tasted the sugar it was very not sweet sugar ???? I don’t know how that’s possible…
Hey Mitra ~ the dough wasn’t dry at all for me, were you sure to measure your flour by fluffing first, then scooping and leveling the cup measure? If you scoop directly into a bag or canister you can get compacted flour that is more than called for. Traditional gingerbread has a sharp spicy flavor, and molasses is slightly bitter, so you might be tasting that. The sweet frosting complements the cookies well.
I too collect cookie cutters – big, small ,copper, tin …..
Do these cookies stay soft. Mine doesn’t even if I undertake. My kids want just gingerbread every year for Xmas.
These do stay soft, depending on how thick you cut them and how long you bake them, of course.
I have greatly enjoyed your site for over a year and thank you for it. My question is about the 1 tablespoon of unsweetened cocoa. Is the cocoa in the recipe to make the bears darker? I have not seen that ingredient in any other gingerbread cookie recipe. I really want a recipe that I call roll out and is not hard to work with for gingerbread people. Do you put the cocoa in for all gingerbread cookies that you make? Our grandchildren are coming from NYC and San Diego and I want to surprise them with good ginger cookies, we’ve had some literal clunkers. I was raised in Santa Ana and we are so sorry to see all of the fires, best to you and all families in the fire areas.
The cocoa darkens the flour and adds a little depth to the flavor, but if you don’t have it you can leave it out. This recipe is perfect for gingerbread men, it’s very easy to work with, and not too spicy for kids.
Thanks for your kind words, Jan, and have a wonderful holiday with the grandkids ~ happy baking!
I LOVE LOVE LOVED the idea of polar bear cookies, so I not only had to make this recipe, but had to go buy a bear cookie cutter! I loved working with the dough. It was also the first time I’ve used a flooding type of icing, but once I got it to the right consistency, I only had to practice doing a nice outline job. I think the last 3 cookies were probably the best. 😉 I was a bit worried that the icing would be super sweet, but as the cookie itself isn’t overly sweet, it compliments them nicely. I put them up on my blog and you’re credited in the recipe and the content. http://cookingislikelove.com/wp/gingerbread-cookies/
You did a fabulous job with them Rose, I’ll share on facebook!
They look lovely! I wish you would put weights in – especially for baking – it puts me off a recipe when it doesn’t have weights as I know I’ll probably do the cup measurements of flour wrong and my baking endeavours will disappoint.