These Easy Gingerbread Cookies are our go-to holiday cookie recipe. They are SO super simple to make with the kids and they are delicious for the whole family to share. (They also happen to be free from eggs and nuts, so more kiddos can enjoy them!)

healthy gingerbread cookies on round plate

Easy Gingerbread Cookies

If there’s one thing that I’ve learned as a parent, it’s that iced cookies go first. And these cookies are an easy option to make with the kids. When thinking about this recipe, I wanted to make it as simple as possible, but also ensure that it has the classic gingerbread flavor.

This way, it’s actually feasible to make this with little kids AND the flavor is worth the effort.

I know how much a short ingredient list can matter when baking with kids—because they aren’t always the most patient!—the dough is incredibly simple to mix up.

You don’t even need a mixer to make these healthy cookies since you can simply use your hands to combine the dough.

(We also love our Gingerbread Muffins for similar flavors.)

Healthy Gingerbread Cookies

These cookies have mellow, not to spicy flavor, but still taste like classic gingerbread. We love to make these around the holidays as part of our must-make Christmas Cookies.

The simple icing on top gives ample opportunities for the kids to get in on the decorating action and you can make it as simple or elaborate as you (and they) like.

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Ingredients You Need

You don’t need any electric cooking tools to make these Gingerbread Men Cookies—just a bowl and clean hands! Here’s a look at the ingredients you’ll need:

  • White whole-wheat flour: Or you can use half all-purpose and half whole-wheat flour. The mix keeps the texture light and tender.
  • Baking powder: This helps the cookies rise just enough.
  • Cinnamon, ground ginger, allspice: This spice combination gives the classic gingerbread flavor, without being overpowering.
  • Salt: A little salt ensures that the flavors come through and that the cookies aren’t bland.
  • Maple syrup: This adds both moisture and sweetness.
  • Molasses: This is key for classic gingerbread flavor.
  • Milk: I use whole milk, but any type of milk will work here.
  • Butter: I like to use unsalted butter in baking so I can control the salt. You’ll want this to be at room temperature so it’s easy to work with.
  • Sprinkles, raisins, chocolate chips as desired for decorating.

Ingredient Substitutions

  • Use half whole-wheat and half all purpose flour instead of the white whole wheat. Or just one or the other, but know you may need a smidge more milk if you use all whole wheat.
  • If you don’t have maple syrup, you can use honey. (Avoid honey for kids under age 1.)
  • Dairy-free: Use nondairy milk and vegan butter or coconut oil.
  • If you don’t have molasses, you can use honey. It won’t have the same gingerbread flavor though.

Step-by-Step Instructions

Here’s a look at the process involved in making this easy gingerbread. Scroll down to the bottom of this post for the full information.

how to make easy gingerbread cookies in grid of four steps.
  1. Place all ingredients into a bowl.
  2. Use a spoon and/or a clean hand to mix together to form a dough by gently stirring and mixing. Make a flattened disc of dough. 
  3. Roll out the dough 
  4. Cut out the dough with a cookie cutter. You can lightly flour the cookie cutter if they are sticking at all.
cut out gingerbread cookies on parchment lined pan.

Transfer the cookie cutouts to the prepared baking sheets. Bake and let cool. Add icing if desired.

TIP: You can make these the day before you want to serve them if you prefer and store them in an airtight container in at room temperature.

Frequently Asked Questions

What do these Gingerbread Cookies taste like?

These cookies are not super sweet, but they for sure taste like a treat from the hint of maple syrup, molasses, and spices. And they have a crisp, buttery texture that is delicious.

What kind of icing do you use on these cookies?

For the icing, you can either stir together powdered sugar and milk or use softened cream cheese and honey. Add food coloring (like this natural set from McCormick) and decorations as you and your kids like.

We’ve done raisins for buttons, sliced almonds for mouths, chocolate chips, and sprinkles!

Can I make Gingerbread Cookies ahead of time?

You can make the dough the night before or a few hours in advance and store it in the fridge wrapped in plastic wrap. It will need to sit at room temperature for about an hour to soften up, or you can remove it from the plastic, put it onto a plate, and microwave for 5-10 seconds. You can also put the dough in the freezer, just allow it to thaw at room temperature for 24 hours or so.

What makes them easy?

You don’t have to use any electric mixers to make these and the dough is really easy to work with. It doesn’t get tough if the kids play with it a bit either, which is a big plus.

icing gingerbread cookies with a piping bag

Best Tips for Baking with Kids

Here are some tips to make baking with kids easier. Breaking the process of making these cookies into a few steps is a great way to get the kids involved and avoid having anyone get too overwhelmed. You can make the dough ahead and have it ready.

You can bake the cookies and just let the kids help ice them. Either way, have your ingredients ready, a work space set up where it’s okay to make a mess, and have the kids wash their hands before they get started.

iced gingerbread cookies

How to Store

Store baked and cooled cookies in an airtight container at room temperature for up to a week.

To make ahead, you can make the dough the night before or a few hours in advance and store it in the fridge wrapped in plastic wrap. It will need to sit at room temperature for about an hour to soften up, or you can remove it from the plastic, put it onto a plate, and microwave for 5-10 seconds. 

Best Tips for Success

  • Use white whole wheat flour or half all-purpose and half whole-wheat.
  • If the dough seems a little too dry once you’ve incorporated the liquid and butter into the flour, you can add another tablespoon of milk but go easy on the liquid as more will make the dough stickier. It’s ready when it holds together when you try to form it into a ball.
  • Refrigerate the dough briefly to help prevent sticking if desired.
  • Roll out the dough between parchment to prevent sticking. Do this for sure if you skipped chilling the dough.
  • Gluten-free: Use this gluten-free flour from King Arthur and add 1 tablespoon ground flaxseed to the dough.
  • Dairy free: Use melted and slightly cooled coconut oil instead of butter and plain unsweetened nondairy milk.

I’d love to hear your feedback on this recipe if you try it with your kids, so please comment below!

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healthy gingerbread cookies on round plate

Easy Gingerbread Cookies

Flavorful, whole-wheat gingerbread with just a hint of natural sweetness. These are a perfect holiday cookie to make with the kids. Double the batch to make more.
5 from 71 votes
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 9 minutes
Total Time 39 minutes
Cuisine American
Course Dessert
Calories 124kcal
Servings 8 (Makes about 2 dozen small cookies)

Ingredients

  • 1 cup white whole-wheat flour (or half all-purpose and half whole-wheat flour)
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground ginger
  • ¼ teaspoon allspice (or ground cloves)
  • teaspoon salt
  • ¼ cup unsalted butter (softened at room temperature)
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon molasses
  • sprinkles, raisins, chocolate chips, icing (optional)
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Instructions

  • Place all ingredients into a bowl and use your hand to mix together to form a dough. You’ll want to be gentle but thorough to incorporate the butter into the dough. (If the dough seems a little too dry once you’ve incorporated the liquid and butter into the flour, you can add another tablespoon of milk but go easy on the liquid as more will make the dough stickier. It’s ready when it holds together when you try to form it into a ball.)
  • Make a flattened disc of dough. Optional: Wrap in plastic. Refrigerate for about 10 minutes. This will make the dough a little less sticky for rolling out, but it works okay to skip this step too if the kids don’t want to wait. 
  • Preheat the oven to 375°F and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
  • Roll the dough ¼-inch thick between two pieces of parchment or plastic wrap. (You can do it on a lightly floured surface, but I always find this easier. You’ll want to use parchment paper if you skipped chilling the dough so it doesn’t stick.)
  • Cut out the dough with a cookie cutter and transfer to the prepared baking sheets. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, until lightly browned around the edges. (Keep an eye on them after 8 minutes since the edges can brown fast. 9 minutes was perfect in my oven.)
  • Remove from the oven, let cool on the baking sheet for a minute, and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
  • Use a small butter knife or clean paintbrush to spread on the icing or pipe on as desired. If adding sprinkles or other decorations, add them to the iced cookies right away before it dries.

Video

Notes

  • Royal Icing: Stir together ½ cup powdered sugar with a few drops of milk, adding more of either as needed to make a thick icing. Spread on cookies or put into a ziptop bag, seal, and snip one edge off to make a little piping bag for the kids.
  • Cream Cheese Icing: Stir together 4 ounces cream cheese, softened, with 1-2 tablespoons honey until spreadable or pipeable. You can put some into a ziptop bag, seal it and snip one edge off to make a little piping bag for the kids. Add on raisins or chocolate chips as you like!
  • Make-Ahead: You can make the dough the night before or a few hours in advance and store it in the fridge wrapped in plastic wrap. It will need to sit at room temperature for about an hour to soften up, or you can remove it from the plastic, put it onto a plate, and microwave for 5-10 seconds. 
  • To make these sweeter, add 2 tablespoons granulated sugar to the dough.
  • Use white whole wheat flour or half all-purpose and half whole-wheat.
  • If the dough seems a little too dry once you’ve incorporated the liquid and butter into the flour, you can add another tablespoon of milk but go easy on the liquid as more will make the dough stickier. It’s ready when it holds together when you try to form it into a ball.
  • Refrigerate the dough briefly to help prevent sticking if desired.
  • Roll out the dough between parchment to prevent sticking. Do this for sure if you skipped chilling the dough.
  • Gluten-free: Use this gluten-free flour from King Arthur and add 1 tablespoon ground flaxseed to the dough.
  • Dairy free: Use melted and slightly cooled coconut oil instead of butter and plain unsweetened nondairy milk.

Nutrition

Serving: 3cookies, Calories: 124kcal, Carbohydrates: 16g, Protein: 2g, Fat: 6g, Saturated Fat: 4g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g, Monounsaturated Fat: 2g, Trans Fat: 1g, Cholesterol: 16mg, Sodium: 67mg, Potassium: 72mg, Fiber: 2g, Sugar: 5g, Vitamin A: 184IU, Vitamin C: 1mg, Calcium: 43mg, Iron: 1mg
Tried this recipe?Rate in the comments and tag @yummytoddlerfood on IG!

This post was first published November 2018.

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Comments

  1. 5 stars
    This recipe was a home run for us! Perfect amount of dough for toddlers to enjoy the process but not too many cookies left to make when they lose interest. This recipe isn’t too sweet, perfect with the addition of icing/sprinkles, etc…also love the molasses
    Dough comes together easily and doesn’t get tough when they help roll (and reroll), easy to work with. I can’t believe I waited so long to try it. Thanks Amy! Happy holidays

  2. 5 stars
    So easy, fast and delicious! I think this is the easiest cut out cookie recipe I’ve ever made. Kids had so much fun! Thank you!!

  3. Can’t wait to try these! Can the dough be made ahead of time? If so, how should I store it?
    Was thinking of making it a day ahead and leaving it in fridge overnight
    Thanks!

  4. 5 stars
    I love these so much because they really are easy!! Also since they’re egg-free already and I didn’t have to use a substitute for my child’s allergy. I actually made the dough a day or two before being able to roll them out and bake and they stayed soft! I did add extra spice and would probably add even more next time! (My spices aren’t expired I just like to have more.) Thanks!

  5. 5 stars
    Tried this recipe for the first time for my Choir Council meeting and they liked them! I was a bit worried because I had never made these types of cookies AND I had never tried a gingerbread cookie ever so I had no idea how they were supposed to taste. I was surprised because I expected them to be way sweater but I think they were great! I made some homemade icing too and decorated them too. They are a bit dry but thats probably my bad.

  6. 5 stars
    This is my go-to recipe for gingerbread men! So soft and perfectly sweet. I don’t have ginger powder so I chop ginger up finely (or you can grate it) and boil that in the syrup and molasses. I don’t have the measurements for how much ginger I put but I enjoy the extra kick from the spice.

  7. 5 stars
    Oh my goodness, where has this recipe been all my life?! So easy for this type of cookie and I love that it’s whole grain naturally sweetened and a small batch so that we’re not inundated with cookies (but of course I can double it if I want to be)!

  8. 5 stars
    Tasty cookies…but not super ginger-bready in my opinion. Definitely soft enough for my toddler though, so that was good. Perhaps I’ll just up the molasses and ginger?

  9. 5 stars
    Hi, are these soft enough for my 1.5yo who has no molars yet? She has good chewing skills and can handle pancakes, rice, pasta, shredded chicken….

  10. 5 stars
    So it’s April and yesterday my son asked to make gingerbread cookies. This morning he put on a Christmas shirt. So what better activity on a rainy morning than make these?? They were SO easy and so delicious! Just lightly sweet with a wonderful texture. I think next time I may increase each spice a bit, but orherwise they were perfect. We used the powdered sugar icing option, which was the perfect compliment. Thanks!!

  11. 5 stars
    Absolutely perfect. And I can’t bake. Followed the directions exactly and ended up with soft lightly sweet cookies enjoyed by both 1.5 year old and my husband.