Gingerbread Cookies

Classic recipe for making Christmas cookies, gingerbread people, and gingerbread houses.
Based on a recipe from Betty Crocker's Cookbook, 1983, Golden Press, NY.
Total Time2 hours
Course: Desserts - Cookies
Author: Catherine Christiano


Cookie Dough

  • 1 1/2 cups dark molasses
  • 1 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 2/3 cup cold water
  • 1/3 cup shortening
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 7 cups unbleached flour plus extra for rolling dough

Frosting to Decorate

  • 2 cups confectioner's sugar sifted
  • 2 tablespoons water


  • In the large bowl of a stand mixer add molasses, brown sugar, water, and shortening. Mix until blended.
  • With the mixer running on low, add baking soda, salt, and spices. Add flour one cup at a time, mixing to incorporate after each addition. Mix until uniform, scraping the bowl if necessary. 
  • The dough may be sticky. Cover and keep refrigerated. 
  • Heat oven to 350 F. Gather cookie sheets, cooling racks, a rolling pin, scraper, and cookie cutters. Lightly grease cookie sheets with shortening. Liberally flour a work surface and the rolling pin. 
  • Using about a soft ball-sized portion of dough, roll dough 3/8 inch thick. Thicker dough will yield softer cookies.  Maintain an even thickness while working so cookies bake uniformly. Larger cookies like gingerbread people, will take longer to bake than smaller shapes, so place on separate cookie sheets. Dip cookie cutters in flour before cutting dough. Place about an inch apart on cookie sheet. If desired, press decorations like dried currants or red hots into dough before baking. 
  • Combine dough scraps with new portion from refrigerator and continue working as before, trying not to over work dough.
  • Bake until no indentation remains when touched, 10 to 12 minutes. If baking multiple sheets at once, rotate half way through. Cool on completely on wire rack before decorating with frosting.
  • To decorate, gather a decorator's bag (disposable ones are easiest) and a round tip approximately 1/8 inch in diameter. Using a small bowl and whisk, add just enough water to the sugar until it is neither stiff or runny. If desired, divide in smaller batches, to color with food dye. Spoon into decorator's bag and decorate. Allow to dry before storing cookies.


This makes a very large batch. A standard mixing bowl cannot fit any more, so do not scale up.
Copyright 2024, Catherine Christiano. Website by Catherine Christiano.