Chewy Frosted Gingerbread Cookies

Happy Holidays, everybody! I know that this is the most hectic time of year, but thankfully, I have the day off, so I’m doing quite well! Sorry to rub it in. My brothers just left the other day, so Kramer and I are back to normal, staying at home and trying to keep warm! It was great having them here, though. Visitors always make us get out of the house and enjoy the city that we live in. Since I work in Midtown Manhattan, it’s all to easy to want to curl up in my apartment like a hermit and avoid the city on the evenings and weekends, especially this time of year. I have to walk through Rockefeller Center every day to get to the subway, and with the tree up, it takes a while to make my way through the enormous crowd. Anyway, I wanted to tell you about my time with my brothers! We did just about everything, I can’t even remember it all. We went to the Top of The Rock because the doormen in my building can get us free tickets, so we had a great view of Manhattan at night. We went to The Guggenheim, which Kramer and I had never done before and we really enjoyed it. I love the building itself, as I’m sure everyone does. We stopped by The Jewish Museum after The Guggenheim, because they have a really cool Houdini exhibit at the moment. I loved it, it might be one of my favorite museums now. We also made sure to eat lots of the great food that New York has to offer! We stopped by the Waffles and Dinges stand at the Union Square Christmas Market for some waffles with gingerbread spread (otherwise known as Spekuloos), ate at Le Barricou, brunched at Traif, got great Chinese food at Wo-Hop, checked out the new Little Cheese Pub, and more! I’m sad that they’re gone, and I hope that they can come back out in early June when it is beautiful here in New York and sweltering in Phoenix, where they live.

Now, everybody needs a good gingerbread cookie recipe, but until now, I really didn’t have one. I’m always worried about cut-out cookies are going to be too hard. I don’t like crispy cookies and I can’t understand why anybody does. If I want something crispy, I’ll get fried food or some brittle. Otherwise, I want my baked goods to be soft, chewy, and tender. That’s why I made these chewy gingerbread cookies. They are absolutely perfect, in my opinion, and I don’t think I’ll ever need to worry about finding a better recipe. I don’t mean to toot my own horn, but I got more compliments on this gingerbread recipe than anything else that I have brought into the office. The reason that they are shaped like owls is because of all of the owl art in my company’s offices, and I wanted to celebrate the hard work everyone’s done this year with themed cookies! I added some crystallized ginger to these, as well, and while it’s not completely necessary, it adds an element of surprise and makes the gingerbread really pop. This was my first time decorating sugar cookies with real royal icing, too, and believe me, it was a learning experience. I didn’t have any meringue or egg white powder, which is what most recipes call for, but I found a European version that uses egg whites, since apparently egg white powder isn’t readily available in most of Europe. The frosting was perfect and hardened enough for me to try flooding a few of these cookies (although they weren’t as even as I’d like – that’s why we practice, though, right?). It was a lot of fun to make these, and even more fun to eat them! I froze a bunch for Kramer and I to enjoy throughout the holidays, and they really do freeze wonderfully, staying chewy even after having been frozen for a week. If you are looking for the perfect chewy gingerbread cookie that you can roll out and cut into shapes, then this, my friends, is the cookie for you.

Chewy Frosted Gingerbread Cookies
Your cookie ingredients.

Chewy Frosted Gingerbread Cookies
Beat your butter until light and fluffy, then add in the sugar and beat for another 3 minutes.

Chewy Frosted Gingerbread Cookies
Add in the molasses, beat until well combined, then add in the egg, and beat until well combined.

Chewy Frosted Gingerbread Cookies
Combine your flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and nutmeg.

Chewy Frosted Gingerbread Cookies
Gradually add in the flour mixture until well combined, scraping down the sides of the bowl as you go.

Chewy Frosted Gingerbread Cookies
Mince your ginger and fold it into the batter.

Chewy Frosted Gingerbread Cookies
Wrap your dough in plastic wrap and chill for at least 2 hours in the fridge.

Chewy Frosted Gingerbread Cookies
After your dough has been chilled, pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees F and generously flour your work surface, your rolling pin, and your hands. Roll out half of your dough to about 1/2 inch thick, then cut out into shapes and place on a greased and/or lined baking sheet.

Chewy Frosted Gingerbread Cookies
I did gingerbread men and gingerbread owls.

Chewy Frosted Gingerbread Cookies
Bake at 350 degrees F for 8-10 minutes.

Chewy Frosted Gingerbread Cookies
Allow to cool completely before frosting.

Chewy Frosted Gingerbread Cookies
Beat together your egg whites, lemon juice, and clear vanilla extract (if using), then add in the powdered sugar a cup at a time until you have your desired consistency.

Chewy Frosted Gingerbread Cookies
These were the first cookies I ever frosted and flooded. Not bad for my first time!

Chewy Frosted Gingerbread Cookies
And these were my owls! It took me about an hour to frost all of these and the gingerbread men, not counting a few “testers” (AKA mistakes).

Chewy Frosted Gingerbread Cookies
These truly are the best gingerbread cookies I’ve ever tasted; chewy and full of flavor. Happy Holidays!

Chewy Frosted Gingerbread Cookies
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 30-35 cookies
Gingerbread Cookies
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup molasses
  • 1 egg, room temperature
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 1½ teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1½ teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground cloves
  • ¾ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • ¼ tablespoons crystallized ginger, minced (don't pack the ginger into, a light or "barely there" ¼ cup is sufficient)
Royal Icing
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • clear vanilla extract (optional - available at most crafting/baking shops)
  • 5-7 cups confectioners sugar
  • water, as necessary
Gingerbread Cookies
  1. Beat the butter until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add in the sugar and beat for another 3 minutes. Add in the molasses and beat until well combined. Beat in the egg until combined.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and nutmeg. Whisk until combined, then gradually add the flour mixture to the butter mixture, a bit at a time, mixing until well combined. Be sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl as you work.
  3. Mince the ginger and fold it into the dough. Carefully wrap the dough in plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for at least 2 hours. The dough is pretty sticky at this point, so I found it easiest to lay out a sheet of plastic wrap and dump the dough directly onto that from the bowl instead of handling it too much with my hands.
  4. After the dough has chilled, preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Generously flour your work surface, then take half of your dough and place it down. Generously flour your hands and your rolling pin, then roll the dough out to your desired thickness (mine was about half an inch thick). Carefully move the cookies to a lined and/or greased baking sheet (I used foil and sprayed it with Pam), and bake for 8-10 minutes, until the cookies have risen (I like to err on the side of caution and take them out when they seem just barely done, as they will keep cooking on the hot baking sheet for a few minutes after I have removed them from the oven). Allow to cool completely before moving to another surface to decorate. Makes 30-35 cookies.
Royal Icing
  1. Using a mixer, beat together the egg whites, lemon juice, and vanilla (if using) for a few minutes until frothy. Add in 1 cup of powdered sugar at a time, beating at medium-high speed, until the icing forms stiff peaks (you may not need all of your powdered sugar). I think I used about 5 or 6 cups of powdered sugar. If your icing gets too stiff, just add in some water and beat until you have your desired consistency. If your icing is not firm enough, add more powdered sugar. When your icing has stiff peaks, it is ready to pipe and can be used to outline your cookies. Makes enough icing to frost about 30-35 cookies.
  2. If you want to "flood" your cookies, outline them and allow the icing to harden. Then, place some of your icing in another bowl and add water, whisking until you have a more liquid consistency. You WILL need a squeeze bottle or something similar to put the flooding icing in, then squeeze it inside the lines of the cookies and spread it out a bit with a toothpick to make it even. Allow to dry for at least 2 hours before topping with additional decorations.


25 Responses

  1. Alicia says:

    I generally don’t like cutout cookies for the same reasons you mentioned – I also prefer chewy, tender baked goods to crispy. I think I might give this a whirl!

    Also, I love the owls, they are SO cute. Great job decorating!

    • Sydney says:

      @Alicia: Thank you very much! I appreciate it.

      @Megan: Thank you! Your penguins are adorable!

      @Mom: I’m happy that she’s going to get a computer, finally!

      @Meghan: Thank you, you do the same!

  2. Megan says:

    Cute! Love the owls. I made penguin ones and posted them today! We must have the same dose of Christmas spirit. :)

  3. Mom says:

    Oh, thats why you did the owls. I have to give this recipe to Gramma. She asked me if you had a gingerbread recipe. She is going to take computer lessons in January, can you believe it! The cookies are adorable!

  4. Meghan says:

    These are SO cute!!!! Such a great idea to use the brown of the cookie to give the owl color! Happy Holidays! :)

  5. Juliana says:

    These baked up beautifully, and remained wonderfully soft. They also retained their shape rather than spread out a lot, even when the dough wasn’t totally chilled. The most common complaint has been that they’re too mild, though, and I’m in agreement; do you think adding some more of the spices, and maybe some black pepper (I have a tea that utilizes pepper in addition to all the spices in the cookies), would liven them up a little?

    Even with the very subtle flavor, they made a lovely canvas for the royal icing!

    • Sydney says:

      @Juliana: I’m happy to hear that you made them and that you enjoyed them as much as I did! I think that adding more spices would definitely be delicious – I was making them for a large group, so I didn’t want them to be too spiced, but if you like that, go for it. Black pepper would really add a kick to them. Let me know how they turn out!

      @Janet: That’s interesting that you use olive oil – I’ll have to give that a try!

      @Wei-Wei: My thoughts exactly.

  6. Janet says:

    Good Morning! These are adorable! I also make a chewy gingerbread cookie….but wanted to let you know that the last time I made it, I used olive oil instead of butter and they turned out amazing! Since trying your olive oil chocolate chip cookie recipe, my son doesn’t want them with butter any more so I have been using the olive oil to replace butter in a lot more of my recipes….and, wow… really makes cookies so much richer and chewy. Yum! Merry Christmas! : )

  7. Wei-Wei says:

    CHEWY cookies? Perfect! I generally dislike frosted cookies because they’re so hard, but if they’re chewy then… I’ll definitely try them.

  8. Sandra Bauer says:

    A delightful, mouthwatering, fun “walk-thru” of the birthing of your gingerbread cookies. Thanks for sharing.

  9. Silvia says:

    Oh, yum! Chewy is the best way to do cookies! Hm, I might even have the ingredients on hand. Will take a look after posting this message.

    Also, your wedding anniversary has either recently happened or is about to, correct?


    Let us know if you have developed any special anniversary recipes!

    • Sydney says:

      Silvia: It is, actually, January 2nd! That’s amazing that you remember! :) We might treat ourselves to a meal out, but we’ll see and I’ll certainly keep you updated!

  10. I love your gingerbread owls (known as tecolote in Spanish). And I love your attention to detail — the feathers, beak and cute eyes. Almost too cute to eat.


  11. Kate says:

    This looks absurdly delicious. And I’m with you on the not-liking-crispy-cookies thing. Soft and chewy all the way. Thanks for the recipe!

  12. Juliana says:

    I ended up not adding black pepper, but I did tweak the recipe in the smallest of ways. Now I stop leveling off the measuring spoons when I add the spices, and I increased the crystalized ginger from 1/4 c. to 1/2 c. Then once they’re baked and the royal icing has set (I like the European version WAY better than the meringue powder version), I put them in a sealed ziplock bag in a cabinet, to age for two to three days.

    Oh. my. god. You’re absolutely right that I will never need to look for another gingerbread recipe, though I may add that pepper some day just for kicks. The result isn’t too spicy with the modification I made, but it’s definitely a more robust flavor that brings out the richness of the molasses (an entire CUP of molasses, I think I love you). I made a batch of the new ones a week ago, and I’m just finishing them — they’ve been stored in a ziplock, and they are still soft and chewy and utterly delicious. Seriously, THE perfect ginger cookie. I wonder if I could do dropped cookies with turbinado sugar, if I didn’t chill it for rolling, and heated the cookie sheet a bit so they’d spread more.

    And the aging makes ALL the difference in the world, I don’t know why I didn’t think of it before! Every time I make quickbread-type gingerbread, I wrap it up and let it age so that all of the spices can mature.

  13. JanetMoh says:

    Slight typo in the recipe – first you say 1/4 tbs of the crystallized ginger then say scant 1/4 cup. I figured out you mean 1/4 c from the photos. I’m chilling my dought right now – can’t wait!

  14. Sarah says:

    Just made these for New Years Eve (using the animal cookie cutters from Ikea… surprisingly adorable). They were a big hit. Thanks for the recipe!

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