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German Gingerbread Cookies

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Gingerbread cookies are a Christmas must have! These one have a nice buttery cookie base and all of the spices are likely to already be in your spice cabinet. They will make converts of those who don’t think they like these spicy little fellas!

gingerbread man cookies and gingerbread rudolph the red nose reindeer cookies.

These German gingerbread cookies are perfect for cutting out into shapes and decorating.  We love them at Christmas time, but they are really fabulous any time of the year. 

Cut them into gingerbread men and decorate them with royal icing for an extra special treat.

They have just the right mix of spice and sweet and a wonderful texture as well. Make a batch and see for yourself!

Let me tell you the story about how two paths converged to make these cookies.  First, when I was searching for cookie cutters to make the cinnamon brown sugar cookies for Ro’s baby shower I found a goat cookie cutter in MiMi’s cutters.

My father-in-law loves gingerbread cookies and he has recently become a goat farmer, so I just knew I had to make him gingerbread goats! My cousin had the cutest moose cookie cutter that just needed to be made too.

German gingerbread cookie men decorated with white royal icing on cooling rack.

On the other hand, we were at my aunt and uncle’s for dinner the other night when my cousin Emily came home for Christmas break.  She said she wanted to bake some gingerbread cookies as she loved them and it was Christmas.

We left that night with a plan to bake cookies together while she was home from school.  Sometimes things are just meant to be!

Little did I know the next morning I would wake up in a cookie baking mood.  So I gave her a call and went to making the dough!

Gingerbread man cookies cooling on wire rack.

MiMi came to help bake cookies too. We had a great time baking gingerbread and sugar cookies and peanut butter roll out cookies too!

We ended up with a lot of sweet creations and a lot of giggles.  We had the best time rolling, cutting and baking away.

They both came back the next day to help decorate them with royal icing.  It was so much fun to bake and decorate with them!

Christmas shaped gingerbread cookies decorated with royal icing.

I started using this recipe after a massive gingerbread cookie recipe search last year.  I went through what seemed like hundreds of recipes before I settled on making this one.

I liked that it is a butter recipe.  I don’t prefer to cook with shortening when I can avoid it.

I don’t mind if you do, I just tend not to as it is my preference to use butter.  In actuality, I do use shortening sometimes myself.

plate of german gingerbread cookies cut into men, moose, trees and goats frosted with royal icing.

Especially if I need to make frosting during the summer.  For cookie dough, however, I tend to like to stick to butter as much as possible.

It also didn’t cause for any exotic ingredients I would only use once. A lot of gingerbread recipes use mace and that just isn’t something I would use for anything else.

After a few tweaks, we settled on this recipe. I was very happy with the way the cookies turned out.

I am sure you will be too.  They are the perfect combination of spice and sweet.

They are sturdy but have a nice soft chew.  Even people who didn’t think they liked gingerbread loved these cookies and went back for more!

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between lebkuchen and gingerbread?

While both are spicy cookies with a lot of the same flavors, lebkuchen uses honey while gingerbread uses molasses.

Where did gingerbread houses originate?

The tradition of decorating gingerbread houses began in Germany in the early 1800s.

More Great Christmas Cookie Recipes

If you like your cookies with a bit of spice, try making soft molasses spice cookies. They have similar flavors, but in a chewier drop cookie form.

Chocolate crinkle cookies are another popular option for the holidays. They have crisp edges and soft centers with a powdered sugar finish.

Check out the full collection of cookie recipes for more tasty ideas. Feel free to tell me about your favorite cookies in the comments below.

gingerbread man cookies and gingerbread rudolph the red nose reindeer cookies.

German Gingerbread Cookies

Servings: 60 Cookies
Author: Carlee
Gingerbread cookies are a Christmas must have! These one have a nice buttery cookie base and all of the spices are likely to already be in your spice cabinet. They will make converts of those who don’t think they like these spicy little fellas!
4.85 from 33 ratings
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Additional Time 4 hours
Total Time 4 hours 40 minutes



  • cups all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • teaspoons ground cloves
  • 1 teaspoon grated nutmeg
  • 1 cup unsalted butter softened
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup molasses
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract


  • In a medium bowl, mix together flour, baking soda, salt and spices.
    5½ cups all purpose flour, 1 teaspoon baking soda, 1 teaspoon salt, 3 teaspoons ground cinnamon, 2 teaspoon ground ginger, 1½ teaspoons ground cloves, 1 teaspoon grated nutmeg
  • In your mixer bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until the mixture is light and fluffy.
    1 cup unsalted butter, 1 cup granulated sugar
  • Add the molasses, egg and vanilla. Beat until uniform.
    1 cup molasses, 1 large egg, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Add in the dry ingredients about 1/3 at a time, stirring until just combined between additions.
  • Once dough comes together, wrap tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 4 hours but up to 2 days.
  • Preheat oven to 350°F.
  • Working with about 1/3 of the dough at a time, roll on a floured surface to about 1/8-inch thick. Cut into desired shapes and place on cookies sheet.
  • Bake for about 8 minutes. Let cool on cookie sheets for a couple of minutes, then remove to cooling racks to cool completely.
  • Use royal icing to decorate and enjoy!


Serving: 1cookieCalories: 100kcalCarbohydrates: 16gProtein: 1gFat: 3gSaturated Fat: 2gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 11mgSodium: 88mgSugar: 8g

Nutritional Disclaimer

“Cooking With Carlee” is not a dietitian or nutritionist, and any nutritional information shared is an estimate. If calorie count and other nutritional values are important to you, we recommend running the ingredients through whichever online nutritional calculator you prefer. Calories and other nutritional values can vary quite a bit depending on which brands were used.

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4.85 from 33 votes (31 ratings without comment)
Recipe Rating


Wednesday 13th of December 2023

These turned out so well! I used gluten free flour and country crock plant based butter. They are delicious and baked well with great flavor! Thanks for sharing!!


Wednesday 13th of December 2023

I am so glad you liked them!

Katherine Dietz

Friday 16th of December 2022

Are these cookies soft? Thanks Katherine


Friday 16th of December 2022

They are sort of in between. They don't snap like a gingersnap, but they also aren't cakey. I'm sorry, I'm sure that doesn't feel like a helpful answer but I'm not sure how to describe the texture.


Tuesday 5th of December 2017

very pretty! Gingerbread is a favorite of mine! yummo!


Thursday 7th of December 2017

Thank you! We have already baked up a batch this year too!


Saturday 10th of December 2016

So cute!


Saturday 10th of December 2016

Thank you!


Thursday 8th of December 2016

Hi Carlee, I don't know how you do it! There must be a constant bakefest going on in your house. These gingerbread cookies do sound good! And I'm sure your Father-In-Law loved the giant cookies (there is no reason why gingerbread men (and women can't keep little gingerbread goats, as long as they look after them).

I am actually quite excited as my husband is building more cupboards in my kitchen which is going to double the amount of work surface I have. Perfect for baking!



Friday 9th of December 2016

There is always a dusting of flour and sugar on the counter, that is for sure! And the gingerbread boys and girls need to get their goats' milk from somewhere, right?! That will be awesome, there is never quite enough counter space!