These thick and chewy cutout gingerbread cookies have an intense gingerbread flavor with a delicious and surprising soft chewiness.

Gingerbread is a classic holiday flavor. I love it. But I have to admit I’m not a huge fan of thin and crispy gingerbread cookies. I much prefer gingerbread cookie similar in texture to a really good, soft and chewy sugar cookie.

This recipe fits the bill. These cookies are packed with gingerbread flavor but the texture has a delicious and surprising soft chewiness that is unique for gingerbread and absolutely delicious.

soft gingerbread person cookie on piece of white parchment paper decorated with icing

Making Soft and Chewy Gingerbread Cookies

The dough comes together quickly, but in a bit of an unusual manner. In this recipe the dry ingredients are actually mixed together first:

  • flour
  • brown sugar
  • baking soda
  • cinnamon
  • ginger
  • cloves
  • salt

And then the butter is added and mixed in until there are tiny pieces of butter throughout (similar to pie crust). Once the molasses and milk is mixed in, it comes together like soft gingerbread cookie dough.

There are no eggs in the recipe (it’s not a mistake!). They are egg-free and delicious.

brown sugar, cinnamon, ginger and flour in mixing bowl; adding butter to dry ingredients; adding milk and molasses to dry ingredients; mixed gingerbread cookie dough in glass bowl

Chill the Dough

It is essential to chill the dough so the cookies will hold their shape when baked.

Split the dough in half, roll each piece out about 1/4-inch thick on a piece of parchment paper, and then stack the dough on a baking sheet and refrigerate for a couple hours or freeze for 15-20 minutes.

Cut gingerbread people shapes out of the chilled dough. Or, if you don’t want to go the gingerbread people route, the dough can be cut into circles with a round cookie cutter (or really any other shape).

cutting out gingerbread people with green cookie cutter

Don’t over bake!

The gingerbread cookies only bake for 8-9 minutes, and since we’re going for a soft and chewy cookie here, we definitely don’t want to over bake the cookies!

unbaked and baked gingerbread person cookie on baking sheet

The Best Icing For Decorating Gingerbread Cookies

These soft cutout gingerbread cookies are delicious without any icing or frosting.

But, how can you resist putting a few smiley faces (er, or other funny emoji faces) on a gingerbread person cookie?

I use a simple icing for these gingerbread cookies. Once piped, it sets enough that you can stack a few cookies, but it doesn’t harden as much as royal icing (which is why I like it).

Gingerbread cookie icing: 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar, 1 tablespoon milk, 1 tablespoon corn syrup, a splash of vanilla and a pinch of salt. Whisk until smooth. Add more milk (just a few drops at a time) if the frosting is too thick. It should be thick but still able to be spread or piped.

piping decorations on gingerbread cookie with white icing

The texture of these soft cutout gingerbread cookies is amazing. Soft and chewy, they beat out thin and crispy gingerbread cookies all the way, in my opinion.

They are one of my favorite holiday cookies, and friends and family always rave at how good they are.

I promise they’re worth the mildly bothersome rolling and chilling step. (Maybe it’s just me, but I’m lazy and I hate chilling cookie dough.) Truly, they are one of the best gingerbread cookies ever!

soft and chewy gingerbread cookie broken in half and stacked on two other gingerbread people on wire rack

FAQs for Soft and Chewy Gingerbread Cookies

Do you use salted or unsalted butter for these?

I always use salted butter.

Will these keep if I make them ahead of time?

Yes. They stay soft for several days if kept in a well-covered container. The baked cookies can also be frozen.

What frosting do you use for these?

I use a simple frosting that’s easy to mix together: 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar, 1 tablespoon milk, 1 tablespoon corn syrup, a splash of vanilla and a pinch of salt. Whisk until smooth. Add more milk (just a few drops at a time) if the frosting is too thick. It should be thick but still able to be spread or piped.

Is it normal for my cookies to be really soft?

Yes! These cookies are meant to be soft and chewy, not crisp like a traditional gingerbread cutout cookie.

What kind of molasses do you use? Can I use blackstrap?

I use unsulphured molasses. Blackstrap molasses usually has a darker appearance and a stronger flavor.

There are no eggs in the recipe, is that a mistake?

The recipe is correct – these cookies are egg-free.

several decorated gingerbread people cookies on wire rack

Soft and Chewy Gingerbread Cookies

4.51 stars (419 ratings)

Ingredients

  • 3 cups (426 g) all-purpose flour
  • ¾ cup (159 g) packed dark or light brown sugar
  • ¾ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon ground ginger
  • ½ teaspoon ground cloves
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¾ cup (170 g) butter, softened to room temperature
  • ¾ cup (248 g) unsulphured molasses (not black strap)
  • 2 tablespoons milk

Instructions 

  • With an electric mixer (stand or handheld), stir together the flour, brown sugar, soda, cinnamon, ginger, cloves and salt at low speed until combined, about 30 seconds.
  • Add the butter and mix at medium-low speed until the mixture is sandy and resembles fine meal, 1 to 2 minutes.
  • Add the molasses and milk, and mix on low speed until the dough is evenly combined, 30-45 seconds.
  • Scrape the dough onto a work surface and divide it in half. Working with one portion at a time, roll or press the dough ¼-inch thick between 2 large sheets of parchment paper. Leaving the dough sandwiched between the parchment paper, stack the dough on a baking sheet and freeze until firm, 15 to 20 minutes. (Or refrigerate the dough for 2 hours or overnight.)
  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
  • Remove one dough sheet from the freezer or refrigerator and place on the counter. Peel off the top parchment paper. Using a cookie cutter, cut the dough into gingerbread people (or you can use a round cutter to cut circle cookies). Work quickly; the dough softens and can be harder to work with the longer it's out of the refrigerator.
  • Transfer the shapes to the prepared baking sheets, spacing about an inch apart. You can use a thin metal spatula to help transfer the cookies to the baking sheets. If the dough is sticking and hard to peel up after cutting into shapes, pop the tray back in the refrigerator or freezer.
  • Repeat with the remaining dough until the baking sheets are full. Because flour is not added during rolling, dough scraps can be rolled and cut as many times as necessary.
  • Bake the cookies until just set, about 8 to 9 minutes. Don't overbake! Let the cookies rest on the baking sheets for a few minutes before transferring them to a cooling rack to cool completely.
  • Frost or pipe, as desired (see notes for the frosting recipe I use).
  • Store the gingerbread cookies at room temperature or in the refrigerator in a covered container.

Notes

Icing: I use the following icing to pipe faces/decorations on the cookies: 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar, 1 tablespoon milk, 1 tablespoon corn syrup, a splash of vanilla and a pinch of salt. Whisk until smooth. Add more milk (just a few drops at a time) if the frosting is too thick. It should be thick but still able to be spread or piped. The frosting will set after a few minutes, enough to gently stack a few cookies, but doesn’t harden as much as royal icing. 
Serving: 1 cookie, Calories: 167kcal, Carbohydrates: 27g, Protein: 2g, Fat: 6g, Saturated Fat: 4g, Cholesterol: 15mg, Sodium: 140mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 15g
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Recipe Source: adapted from The New Best Recipe Cookbook by ATK
Recipe originally posted December 2009; updated November 2021 with new photos, recipe updates, etc.

gingerbread cookie men on a cooling rack