Quick Tips to Make the Best Gingerbread Cookies

"You can't catch me, I'm the gingerbread man!"

overhead view of gingerbread cookie cutouts decorated with white icing
Photo: Meredith

For many holiday bakers, classic gingerbread cookie cutouts are an absolute must for eating and gifting. If gingerbread's your happy place, here are 10 quick tips to help you bake and decorate the most delightful gingerbread cookies.

10 Tips to Make the Best Gingerbread Cookies

  1. To make sticky gingerbread dough easier to work with, chill it for at least 1 hour before rolling it out.
  2. Roll out the dough on a surface that's lightly dusted with flour or a mixture of flour and confectioners' sugar (aka powdered sugar). If the dough isn't too sticky, you can roll it out between sheets of parchment paper.
  3. Keep cookie cutters from sticking to the dough by misting them very lightly with cooking spray or dipping the edges into flour.
  4. If you're cutting out large or intricate shapes, here's how to keep them from stretching or falling apart when you transfer them to a baking sheet: Roll out the dough on parchment paper, cut the shapes, remove the scraps, and slide the whole sheet of parchment paper directly onto the baking sheet.
  5. Let baked gingerbread cookies cool completely before you decorate them.
  6. A simple glaze of confectioners' sugar and milk works well for decorating cookies. Add extracts or citrus zest to enhance the flavor. For smudge-proof icing that dries to a hard finish, use royal icing.
  7. Use liquid or paste food coloring to brighten up icing.
  8. Add decorations (such as colored sugar, shredded coconut, toasted sliced almonds, chocolate and rainbow sprinkles, edible glitter, multicolored nonpareils, button candies, mini semisweet baking bits, and dried currants) before the icing dries. Need decoration inspiration? Here you go!
  9. Let decorated cookies rest flat and uncovered for about 2 hours or until icing firms up.
  10. You can make the cookie dough and freeze it for up to three months. Baked (undecorated) cookies can be stored in the freezer for up to four weeks. Baked and decorated cookies can be stored in airtight containers for up to 2 weeks. Place waxed paper between layers of cookies to prevent them from sticking to each other.

A Taste of History with Your Gingerbread?

Dense, ginger-spiced cookies flavored with molasses or honey date back to the Middle Ages, when intricately carved boards were used as templates to make fanciful shapes. Sold at fairs, these treats became beloved holiday traditions.

Related Gingerbread Cookie Fun

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