Gingerbread Cookies that Don’t Spread in the Oven
Making gingerbread cookies this holiday? This is the recipe for you! These cookies have a wonderfully traditional molasses and spice flavor, a tender texture that’s not too hard, and the dough is a dream to work with. No spreading in the oven! Keep your cute shapes and neat edges.
*This post originally published on November 28, 2015. I thought it was due for an update, so I’ve tweaked the recipe slightly. Now I love the taste even more! I’ve also added some tips for success, and an easy video tutorial in the recipe card. I hope you love these gingerbread cookies just as much as my family and I do!*
It’s about time I’m posting this recipe! I’ve got THE best vanilla and chocolate cutout cookie recipes on this site, but an equally good gingerbread cookie recipe has been glaringly absent for far too long.
Honestly, I hadn’t found one that I really loved. Sure, I put this up last year, but that was more about the decoration than the cookie recipe itself. The cookie recipe itself? It’s not bad. But I like this one much better!
GINGERBREAD COOKIE RECIPE
I based these gingerbread cookies off of this recipe, which I also mentioned above. The dough is so easy to work with- not the least bit crumbly or messy. You don’t have to sprinkle your work surface with flour, which also cuts down on mess, but more importantly, it keeps the cookies tender. And best of all? They hold their shape like a boss.
Look at that! It’s exactly the same coming out of the oven as it was going in. There’s nothing more disappointing than spending all kinds of time and taking all sorts of care to roll out cookie dough, cut out all the prettiest shapes, and bake them, just to have them spread out in the oven and completely lose their shape. I made gingerbread boys and girls here, but I have some other cookie cutters that have sharper angles and more intricate shapes. This recipe bakes up with just as sharp and neat of an edge as you could ever want.
TIPS FOR BAKING GINGERBREAD COOKIES
- Leave Out the Leavening: Now, you may notice that these gingerbread cookies contain no leavening of any kind. If you think about the purpose of baking powder in a recipe, it’s to help things puff up and spread out (hello!?), and be light and fluffy. Light and fluffy is great in a muffin or a pancake, but we are talking cookies, here, people. They are meant to have a little bite to them. Perhaps they are a little bit heavier, but in this instance, you kinda want that. Odds are, you are either shipping your cookies or delivering them by car, and if they are too light and delicate, they’re more likely to break. So, this is going to give you a more durable cookie, and I promise you, they are still every bit as delicious.
- The Magic Ingredient: Cornstarch. Cornstarch in cookies is pure witchcraft. It makes the dough SUCH a pleasure to work with! It is NOT sticky at all, nor is it crumbly. It just stays right where you want it. And those edges! SO clean and perfect! It’s like magic!
- Make Parchment Your Bestie: Definitely try rolling your dough between two layers of parchment paper. It is absolutely no-muss no-fuss! Between the silky, UNcrumbly texture of this dough, and the parchment thing, you barely even need to wipe your countertops after making these cookies! **No bench flour!** (Which, by the way, can also make a tougher, less tender cookie.) I also line my baking sheets with it, and besides keeping things from sticking, it keeps the pans cleaner too! Bake the cookies on parchment, then lay them on the same sheets to dry after decorating, so each sheet gets double duty. Here are the baking sheets I use, and here is where I order my parchment.
- Crank Up the Oven Temperature: Finally, you may notice that I recommend baking the cookies at a higher temperature, for a shorter time. This allows the cookie to “set up” more quickly, and hold it’s shape during baking.
WHAT DO THESE GINGERBREAD COOKIES TASTE LIKE?
The flavor of these gingerbread cookies is really warm and deep. The brown sugar and molasses are noticeable, but not overpowering. And they’re loaded with traditional holiday spice. Cinnamon, clove, and of course ginger! But the texture is really what I love most. I’ve bitten into some gingerbread cookies that are so hard you could break a tooth. These aren’t like that. They aren’t exactly soft (if you want soft, try these soft ginger cookies), but they’re not hard either. There’s a little bit of crunch but it’s really tender, almost like shortbread.
No more gingerbread puddles! Try this easy gingerbread cookie recipe- you’ll love the deep molasses flavor, warm holiday spice, and tender texture. They’re perfect for decorating, and taste even better when topped with royal icing. I think you’ll love them, and I hope they become a yearly tradition!
Frequently asked questions:
Can this dough be made ahead?
You can make this dough ahead and keep it in the refrigerator for a day or so, but if you do, you may want to add less flour because the dough will become drier as it sits. If you find your dough has become too dry and crumbly to work with, it can be moistened back up with a few drops of heavy cream.
How long will these cookies last?
The shelf life on these cookies is about the same as any other homemade cookie recipe. If you keep them tightly wrapped so they don’t dry out or become stale, they should last for at least a week or two at room temperature.
Can the cookies be frozen?
Again, wrap the cookies tightly so they don’t become dry. They should last in the freezer for several months. I would recommend freezing them un-iced, as the freeze/thaw process could cause your icing colors to run.
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- 1 cup (227 g) unsalted butter, (2 sticks), softened slightly but still cool
- 1 cup (220 g) dark brown sugar, (tightly packed)
- 2/3 cup (168.5 ml) molasses
- 2 eggs,, large
- 1/3 cup (42.67 g) cornstarch
- 2 1/2 teaspoons (2.5 teaspoons) ground cinnamon
- 2 teaspoons ground ginger
- 3/4 teaspoon (0.75 teaspoon ) kosher salt
- 1/8 teaspoon (0.13 teaspoon) ground cloves
- 4 cups (500 g) all-purpose flour, (you may need as much as 5 cups)
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F, and line baking sheets with parchment paper.
- Place the butter and brown sugar in a large mixing bowl, and cream together until smooth.
- Scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl with a silicone spatula, add the molasses, and mix until combined.
- Beat in the eggs, one at a time, scraping the bottom and sides of the bowl after each addition.
- Add the cornstarch, cinnamon, ginger, salt, and cloves, and mix on medium-low speed until combined.
- Add about 2/3 of the flour, then mix on low speed until incorporated (the dough will look very dry and crumbly at first, but will come together after a minute or so).
- Add in the remaining flour, a little at a time, until the dough forms a ball and comes cleanly away from the sides of the bowl. (If the dough still seems sticky, add up to an additional 1 cup of flour, until it is smooth and easier to handle.)
- Roll out the dough to a thickness of 3/8-inch (rolling pin rings help to achieve an even and exact thickness) between 2 sheets of parchment paper, and cut shapes with cookie cutters.
- Transfer shapes to the prepared baking sheets, and bake for 10 to 14 minutes, or until the cookies are set around the edges and just a little softer towards the centers.