Old-Fashioned Gingerbread People

homemade gingerbread people, gingerbread men, gingerbread women, cookies, how to make gingerbread, gingerbread santa
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Makes 18 or more gingerbread people, depending on the size.
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Have you ever wondered how to make gingerbread cookies? Look no further! We have a traditional gingerbread recipe that will knock your socks off and make a delightful addition to your Christmas cookie platter.

This recipe for “Old-Fashioned Gingerbread People” makes a large batch because, well, frankly, anything this delicious deserves to be made in bulk. Mix up a batch before your next holiday party and decorate the cookies together to get in the holiday spirit.

Gingerbread men and gingerbread women make perfect presents for the youngsters on your holiday gift list. A few well-placed bits of candy or nuts for eyes and a nose will give your creations delightful personalities. Pack each finished person in a clear cellophane bag tied off with ribbon. 

Enjoy our 10 Best Cookie Recipes.

5 to 5-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, at room temperature
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 large egg, at room temperature
1 cup molasses
1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
assorted candies, pine nuts, and sliced almonds for decoration
  1. Sift 5 cups of flour with baking soda, salt, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves into a large bowl. Whisk well, to mix. Set aside. 
  2. Using an electric mixer, beat butter until creamy, gradually adding brown sugar. Beat in egg. Add molasses and beat on medium speed for 2 minutes, until fluffy. Blend in vanilla. 
  3. Using a wooden spoon, stir the dry ingredients into the creamed mixture 1 cup at a time, blending until smooth after each addition. If, after adding all of the flour, the dough still feels a little sticky, stir in another 1/4 to 1/2 cup of flour. 
  4. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. Divide into thirds, then place each portion in the center of a 1-gallon plastic storage bag. Using your palms, flatten the dough into disks about 3/4-inch thick. Seal and refrigerate overnight.
  5. The next day, remove dough from the refrigerator an hour before you plan to start baking. Roll the dough, while in the bag, to about half of its existing thickness. Return the dough to the fridge for an hour.
  6. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly butter several large baking sheets or line them with parchment paper. 
  7. Remove dough from the bag. Working on a sheet of floured waxed paper or parchment paper, roll the dough, one portion at a time, until it is slightly less than 1/4-inch thick. 
  8. Use gingerbread people cutters to cut the dough. (Remove the scraps, press them together into a dough ball, and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before rolling again.) 
  9. Using a spatula, transfer the gingerbread shapes to the baking sheets, leaving about 1 inch in between. 
  10. Press candy and pine nuts into the dough to make eyes and a nose. Use the sliced almonds for the mouth and buttons. 
  11. Bake one sheet at a time on the center oven rack for 12 to 13 minutes. Cool on the baking sheet for 2 minutes, then transfer to a rack to cool.

Gingerbread Making Tips

  • Plan to work this dough when your kitchen is the coolest: The dough will be easier to handle.
  • If the dough gets too soft when you’re rolling or handling it, simply slide it, waxed paper and all, onto a baking sheet and refrigerate for 15 to 20 minutes before proceeding.
  • Press cinnamon red hots into the still-very-warm shapes to add facial features, buttons, belts, or other accessories. Use a thin ribbon of frosting for scarves or belts.
About The Author

Jennifer Keating

Jennifer is the Digital Editor at The Old Farmer’s Almanac. She is an active equestrian and spends much of her free time at the barn. When she’s not riding, she loves caring for her collection of house plants, baking, and playing in her gardens. Read More from Jennifer Keating