Chewy Gingerbread Cookies

Get in the holiday spirit with some spicy, chewy gingerbread cookies! They keep their shape when cut with cookie cutters and they stay soft and delicious! They’re the ultimate Christmas cookies.

Chewy gingerbread men and other cutout cookies arranged on a plate with cookie cutters

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Christmas is in the air!

Slowly but surely I’m breaking out the Christmas decorations — hopefully I’ll be able to really go at it today before I have another work week of never seeing the sun. 

Get in the holiday spirit with some spicy, chewy gingerbread cookies! They keep their shape when cut with cookie cutters and they stay soft and delicious! They're the ultimate Christmas cookies.

But I did put up a really cute table runner and a little treescape thingy in a dome on our dining room table.

And we finally replaced the $25 4-foot pre-lit tree I got about 5 years ago whose lights had burned out after the first year!

Get in the holiday spirit with some spicy, chewy gingerbread cookies! They keep their shape when cut with cookie cutters and they stay soft and delicious! They're the ultimate Christmas cookies.

It looked pretty terrible, restrung with a strand of lights that had a white cord. You could see the cord a mile away against that green tree. Silly me. I accidentally strung the green-corded ones up on the white porch trim, and I was NOT restringing both sets of lights!

Get in the holiday spirit with some spicy, chewy gingerbread cookies! They keep their shape when cut with cookie cutters and they stay soft and delicious! They're the ultimate Christmas cookies.

WELL! This year we got a big tree – 7 feet tall. Pre-lit, and since it’s new the lights actually work! It’s just beautiful. We haven’t decorated it yet but it is gorgeous all on its own, there in the corner of the living room with its white lights glowing in the branches.

Cat and christmas tree

There’s only one problem.

Gray cat hiding in Christmas tree

I was hoping since the cats are a year and a half old now they would be a little more relaxed than they were last year when they were kittens and kind of… leave the tree alone. 

Yeah. Not happening.

Calico cat looking at Christmas tree with white lights

Penny is pretty respectful of the tree, but Pepper is a chewer and a climber. He’s also 12 lbs. 

And while the tree may have been able to withstand Penny’s tiny 6 lb kitten-like weight, a 12-lb cat leaves the tree with a nice gap of bent-down branches all the way around the tree at exactly the height of the back of the chair, which happens to be his entrance point. 

Christmas tree with gap around middle from where cats have been sitting

I would love suggestions on keeping a cat out of a fake Christmas tree if you have any. Right now, I’m armed with a spray bottle, which he couldn’t care less about.

He is the cuddliest, most loving, most mischievous and neurotic cat. Can’t live with ’em, can’t live without ’em. 

Woman with rolling pin in vintage flowered apron, rolling cookie dough between sheets of parchment paper

So apart from decorations, there are a few other things that really make it feel like Christmas time for me. Watching A Christmas Story, drinking eggnog, making zeppole (fried Italian donuts) on Christmas morning, and baking some adorably-shaped chewy gingerbread cookies.

Woman in vintage flowered apron cutting out shapes for chewy gingerbread cookies with cookie cutters

I’ve been making this recipe for years, and since it’s from Cook’s Illustrated (one of the magazines from America’s Test Kitchen) it’s pretty much perfect.

If you’re unfamiliar with America’s Test Kitchen, they basically take a given dish and test the heck out of it until they have it absolutely perfect. More butter, more flour, different technique, different temperature — they identify key issues with a recipe (Lasagna takes too long, buffalo chicken is too greasy or not crispy enough, etc.) and solve them. 

Chewy gingerbread cookies and gingerbread men shapes on baking sheet waiting to be baked

With this one, they have recipes for both crispy and chewy gingerbread cookies, since a lot of people use the crispy ones for ornaments or gingerbread houses. But I just want to eat them, and the chewy ones are just amazing — perfect texture, and full of all those Christmasy spices.

Chewy gingerbread snowflakes in a stack, surrounded by other gingerbread cookies and cookie cutters

And there’s no egg in the dough so you can eat as much of it raw as you want. A big bonus!

Chewy gingerbread cookies arranged on a plate with cookie cutters and Christmas trees in background

They don’t spread out a ton either, so you can still use cookie cutters and decorate them with icing, if you wish. I’ve had a Christmas party for several years with eggnog and cookie decorating, and I’d decorate and eat these chewy gingerbread cookies over crunchy sugar cookies any day!

Closeup of chewy gingerbread stars, snowflake, and men arranged on a plate

Cute cookie cutters are a must. These “ninjabread men” ones are my faves. 

Ninja-shaped chewy gingerbread men, or ninjabread men

I also love these tiny 2″ cookie cutters. You can probably get away with cooking them for 7 minutes instead of 8-11 if you’re using really small cutters, so they will stay chewy.

Overhead view of chewy gingerbread men, gingerbread girls, Christmas trees and snowmen with cookie cutters

I like miniature desserts though – they’re not too much of a commitment if you just want a little something sweet, and you don’t feel too bad having two or three.

The best part, in my opinion, is they’re chewy — and they stay chewy. 

Hands breaking apart chewy gingerbread cookie to show soft texture

Consider giving these chewy gingerbread cookies a try this year – they may just become part of your Christmas tradition too!

Chewy gingerbread cutout cookies on parchment paper with cookie cutters

Chewy cutout gingerbread cookies arranged on a plate
4.46 from 33 votes

Chewy Gingerbread cookies

Get in the holiday spirit with some spicy, chewy gingerbread cookies! They keep their shape when cut with cookie cutters and they stay soft and delicious! They're the ultimate Christmas cookies. From Cooks Illustrated.
Print Recipe
Course: Dessert
Yield: 30 cookies
Prep Time:10 minutes
Cook Time:10 minutes
Total Time:1 hour

Ingredients

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup dark brown sugar packed
  • 1 tbsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 12 tbsp unsalted butter softened slightly and cut into 12 pieces
  • 3/4 cup unsulphured molasses
  • 2 tbsp milk

Instructions

  • In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, salt, and baking soda. Set mixer to stir until ingredients are well-mixed.
  • Stop mixer, add butter, and mix on low until mixture resembles damp sand, about a minute and a half. (If you have a plastic bowl guard that will help keep flour from flying out, it would be a good idea to add that before you turn the mixer on)
  • While mixer is running on low, slowly add the molasses and milk. Spraying your measuring cup with cooking spray before adding the molasses will help it come out smoother and be easier to clean. Turn mixer to medium for about 10 seconds to thoroughly mix dough.
  • Turn out dough onto a piece of parchment paper and pat into a ball. Cut dough into two pieces and roll each piece out to 1/4" thickness between two pieces of parchment paper. Don't roll it too thin or your cookie won't be as chewy!
  • Put dough, in its parchment paper, in the freezer for 15-20 minutes. It is MUCH less sticky and easier to cut after hardening for a bit.
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees and set shelves to upper-middle and lower-middle positions.
  • Remove one sheet of dough from the freezer. Peel parchment off one side of the dough, replace parchment, flip over, and peel off the other side of the parchment. Cut out shapes with a cookie cutter and place cookies about 3/4 inch apart on a parchment-lined baking sheet.
  • Dough will soften quickly so when you finish cutting your shapes in the first piece of dough, re-roll it out between parchment paper again and replace into the freezer while you cut shapes out of the second piece of dough. Dough can be recombined and re-rolled as many times as necessary.
  • You can bake two sheets at a time, if you switch the top and bottom sheets halfway through. Bake for 8-11 minutes or until the centers of the cookies are set and barely retain an imprint when you tough them. Do not overbake.
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54 Comments

  1. 4 stars
    The taste and texture of these cookies is fantastic. The rolling between parchment is a nightmare. Mine slip and slide and it’s so hard to get the dough rolled out. It’s also hard to get the cut shapes out of the cutters, even when the dough is chilled. I love the taste and have had rave reviews, so the effort is worth it, but just know it’s not easy. Also, mine are a bit puffier than the picture, they retain their shape just not perfectly if you are looking for something that stays exactly the same after it is cut.

  2. 5 stars
    I am a gingerbread lover and have baked them from many recipes but this recipe is my favorite, hands down! It consistently makes a wonderful dough, is spiced just right, and has a glorious chewy texture. They also don’t spread when you bake them, so they are perfect for decoratung. YUM!

  3. 5 stars
    Made these last year and they were an immediate success.Recipe was spot on, no problem except they disappeared too quickly. Had no problem with recipe, was perfect. I am 81 and have made many gingerbread cookie recipes but this is the best. Funny thing happened: I found a small container in the freezer from last year, had gotten them out to throw away. Our youngest son, 50 years old, slip by on his way home from work, picked up the cookies and took them with him. He called me later and said that he did not know that I was starting my Christmas baking. Long story short, he said that cookies tasted like they had just been baked. That is how good your recipe is and will be enjoyed for many years to come. Thank you and sorry for being so wordy.

  4. 1 star
    If I could give this 0 stars I would, followed recipe to a T and even froze dough longer after rolling it to 1/4 thickness as directed. The dough was still super sticky and could not even remove extra dough from cookie cutter shapes. Will not be attempting this again.

  5. 5 stars
    I did this recipe with my 3 year old and 2 friends. It was perfect for an afternoon activity for them. Easy and delicious!

  6. I am a gingerbread lover and this is now my favorite gingerbread recipe. I love a chewy recipe but this allows me control over that. I can have a successful thicker chew or thinner crisp with the same good flavor and dense texture. I also love the no mess cleanup with no dusting flour everywhere and the parchment paper trick. I did alter the time to 10-12 minutes to accommodate my thicker batches. Spices were perfect.

  7. 4 stars
    These taste very good. Unfortunately, mine spread so much you couldn’t tell what the shapes were. Not sure what happened. I chilled the dough after rolling as directed and chilled again once they were cut out.

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