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Countdown to Christmas 2020: Gingerbread Cookies

Baked Gingerbread Persons ready for decoration on floured wooden table

Note: We’re offering a wide variety of take-and-bake cookies plus special ready-to-eat breads via the San Juan Islands Food Hub this holiday season. Create the perfect cookie tray at home or send them to friends and family! If you miss the Food Hub deadline to order, call us directly at (360) 378-3587 to place orders until December 18 for pickup December 21-26 or order by December 25 for pickup December 28-January 2.

Whenever I think of Christmas treats, gingerbread cookies come to mind first. Their spice, their molasses flavor, and their charm are irresistible. Gingerbread cookies have my heart. My daughters and I love to have Christmas music playing while baking and decorating these cookies! Although the ingredients and method are similar across recipes, over many years of Christmas cookie baking, I have tweaked mine to include more molasses and have increased the amount of spice (cinnamon, ginger, and cloves). This is a gingerbread cookie with a lot of flavor!

Ingredients for Cookies

  • 10 Tbsp (2/3 cup; 145g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 3/4 c (150g) packed dark brown sugar
  • 2/3 c (200g) molasses
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 1/2 c (437g) all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 Tbsp ground ginger
  • 1 Tbsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves

Ingredients for Icing

  • 1½ c sifted powdered sugar
  • 2 Tbsp milk or water

Instructions for Cookies

In a large bowl using a hand-held mixer or stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter for 2 minutes at medium speed. Add the brown sugar and molasses and beat at medium high speed until combined and creamy. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed. Beat in egg and vanilla on high speed for 2 minutes. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, ginger, cinnamon, allspice, and cloves until evenly combined. On low speed, slowly mix in dry ingredients until incorporated. Divide dough in half, pat each into a disc, and wrap tightly in plastic wrap. Chill for at least 3 hours and up to 3 days.

When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350°F. Line two or three large baking sheets with parchment.

Remove one disc of chilled cookie dough from the refrigerator. Generously flour your work surface, as well as your hands and the rolling pin. Roll out the disc until it’s 1/4-inch thick. Cut into shapes. Place the cutout cookies onto a lined baking sheet about 1 inch apart. The cookies won’t really spread, but you want to make sure they have enough room to breathe. They are gingerbread people, after all!

Re-roll dough scraps until all the dough is shaped. Repeat with remaining disc of dough.

Bake cookies for 8 minutes then rotate baking sheets and continue baking an additional 5 minutes.

Allow cookies to cool for 5 minutes on the baking sheet. Transfer to cooling rack. Cool completely before decorating.

Tips for Making Gingerbread Cookies

Divide the dough: Why are you doing this? The cookie dough chills faster when there is less volume. Plus, it is just easier to work with smaller portions when rolling and shaping.

Flatten and Chill the dough: The dough is sticky once it’s all beaten together. Chilled for at least 3 hours. Give yourself enough time in the kitchen or make the cookie dough and chill it overnight. You want your cookie dough firm so the cookies hold their shape, and you want your cookie dough manageable so you can work with it. You won’t have either unless you have chilled cookie dough! And it is easier to roll out the chilled cookie dough when it is already flattened into a disc shape

Flour everything: The cookie dough may become sticky as you work with it and it warms up. Don’t be afraid to add more flour to the work surface. The flour spots on top of your shaped cookie dough will bake off.

Instructions for Icing

Whisk together your powdered sugar with milk or water until incorporated. You can then scrape your icing into a pastry bag or even use a Ziplock bag. Lining a drinking glass with the bag to hold it upright is a useful kitchen trick. Then just squeeze the icing down towards a corner, seal the bag, and snip off a tiny corner until the icing comes out at the width you like for decorating.

Time to Decorate Your Cookies!

There is no wrong way to decorate a gingerbread person, so gather any nearby little helpers and have some fun! Give your gingerbread people outfits, silly faces, and create holiday memories.

Want more cookies? A special cookie delivery comes daily at the Tucker House Inn & Harrison House Suites! We’ll also be selling Gingerbread Cookie Kits on the San Juan Islands Food Hub this season. All you have to do is bake and decorate!

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