Gingerbread Cookies with Royal Icing

I love making place cards that also serve as dessert.

Did I ever tell you about the time I baked an entire collection of Gingerbread Christmas Ornaments, for my tree, iced them with delicate royal icing to look like snowflakes, hung them on our tree with tartan satin ribbons only to find our Golden Retriever, Zack, had eaten half of them overnight and then left us piles of gingerbread scented poo?

True story.

A caution:

Do not bake these and use as Christmas ornaments if you have dogs, cats or small children. While they make gorgeous ornaments- just go ahead and eat them.

What I do love about this recipe is these cookies are study enough to construct a gingerbread house if baked at 325 for 20 minutes , but the cookie will remain chewy in the center if baked the recommended 7-8 minutes. I love to make place cards with these cookies. I go crazy piping names and decorations.

I think I may make snowflakes again this year if I can find the time to do it.

Enjoy this classic Gingerbread cookie recipe. You’ll find none other that is better or more fun to bake with your family.

Maple leaves, pumpkins, and turkeys made for adorable placecards last Thanksgiving
I use gold sanding sugar to make these cookies sparkle

Classic Gingerbread Cookies

  • 4 cups all purpose flour, plus extra for rolling.

  • 1 TBSP ground ginger

  • 1 tsp nutmeg

  • 1/2 tsp white pepper

  • 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon

  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves

  • 1/2 tsp baking soda- make certain it is fresh

  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt

  • 10 TBSP unsalted butter at room temperature

  • 3/4 cup light brown sugar, packed

  • 1 large egg

  • 1/3 cup plus 1 TBSP unsulfured dark molasses

  • For the icing
  • 4 cups powdered sugar, sifted well

  • 3 TBSP meringue powder

  • 9-10 TBSP water

It’s all about the spices

Method-for the cookies

  • To prepare the cookie dough:
    In a large bowl, whisk flour, ginger, nutmeg, white pepper, cinnamon, cloves, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
    In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat butter and brown sugar until well combined, light and fluffy anout 3-4 minutes. You can use a hand mixer as well.
    Beat in the egg and molasses. Scrape so down the sides of the bowl to incorporate all the ingredients.
    On low speed, add in flour and spice mixture. Beat until just combined about 2 minutes. Use a scraper to remove any streaks.
    On a lightly floured surface, remove the dough from the bowl and knead a few times until the dough is pliable. It will be sticky.
    Divide in half and wrap each half with plastic wrap.
    Chill at least 3 hours or up to 3 days.
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees for cookies
    Preheat to 325 for ornaments or gingerbread house building

    Divide the dough into managable sections. Roll out dough onto a lightly floured surface until about 1/4 inch thick. Cut dough into shapes and transfer to a parchment lined baking sheet. Place cookies about 1 inch apart.
    Bake in preheated oven for 7-8 minutes for cookies.
    20 minutes for ornaments or gingerbread house.
    (If making ornaments, be certain to pierce the top of each cookie with a bamboo skewer so you can attach a hanger. )
    Cool cookies on the pans for five minutes. Then cool completely before icing- about 20-30 minutes.
  • See royal icing instructions below
  • Baking notes- keep the dough very cold when cutting out your shapes. If the dough gets too sticky, transfer it back into the fridge for a few minutes to firm. If it is a warm day, I set my AC to 71 degrees which really helps the dough stay cool.

The dough comes together quickly, so make in the evening and chill overnight
Divide in quarters, chill the rest while rolling out each section
It’s messy, but so much fun. Cold stone counters really help when rolling out dough.
I have a collection of beautiful copper cookie cutters
Use the back of a knife to make the viens in the leaves
Do not attempt royal icing without sifting your powdered sugar


  • Combine the sifted sugar and meringue powder in the bowl of a stand mixer. Add in 4 TBSP of cool warm and beat on low until creamy. Add in 4 more TBSP of water.
    Beat on high speed until fluffy. Add in 1-2 TBSP more.
    Note- if your icing seems too thin, beat on high for another minute or two. This whips air into the icing making it thicker. If it appears to be too dry, add in water but just a teaspoon or two at a time.
  • Tint in batches using food gel.
    For icing with a piping bag:
    I use a Wilton tip #1, #3 and #5 for piping. You can also flood your cookies using an offset spatula and then a toothpick to smooth out to the edges. I love simply sprinkling gold or silver sanding sugar on the flooded cookies.
    Buy sanding sugar at The Fresh Market or ” target=”_blank”>HERE.
  • For a stiffer icing, add in more confectioner’s sugar.
I just piped these cookies using a zip top bag with a coupler
Last Christmas, we had a German Market dinner complete with gingerbread, sausages and applesauce. Everyone decorate their own cookie.
Where are my clean up elves?

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