Nothing creates the Christmas mood better than freshly baked Gingerbread men, warm and toasty, popping out of the oven. Here is my recipe for those little brown men which I’ve adapted from several recipes over the years.

I like my gingerbread gingery, not too sweet and crunchy!

“Run, run” Gingerbread man recipe
(makes 2 dozen men, strong and stout)

  • 3 cups of all-purpose flour (organic, unbleached if you can find it)
  • 1 1/4 tablespoon of ground ginger
  • 2 teaspoons of ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon of nutmeg
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon of baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 6 tablespoons of unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup of dark brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup of molasses
  • 3 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon of fresh, finely grated lemon zest
  • If you really like ginger and can find candied ginger, 2 tablespoons of very finely chopped candied ginger will add gourmet flair to this recipe
Combine in a small bowl, flour, ginger, cinnamon, nutmet, baking power, baking soda and salt. Mix these dry ingredients thoroughly.
Next, use a mixer to beat the butter (at room temperature), brown sugar and egg until it is homogeneous. You can also use a hand mixer, but later on, when you incorporate the dry ingredients, it is nice to have the power of a stand mixer.
Turn the mixer to the slowest setting and pour the molasses gradually into the mixture. The recipe calls for 1/2 a cup, I generally add just a tad more because I love the taste of molasses and also to account for the sticky syrup that never seems to want to leave your measuring cup. Speed up the mixer to medium to make sure the mixture becomes homogeneous again.
The zest of a fresh lemon will add a nice zing to this cookie. The best way to make sure you have fresh lemons on hand is to grow a lemon tree in your backyard or porch. There are many things you can substitute in recipes but use real lemon zest and fresh lemon juice when the recipes call for it. There is no substitute that won't impact flavor. Add the vanilla extract. Your kitchen should be smelling mighty fine by now.
Have patients when incorporating the dry ingredients. I turn the mixer to slow, add scoops of the dry ingredients slowly. Then turn the mixture to high at various points in the process to make sure the dry and wet ingredients are thoroughly mixed. Nothing like centrifugal force to spin the dry and wet ingredients together.
When the dry and wet ingredients are mixed, your results should look like this. This was not the most photogenic picture, but I decided I needed to take a shot to show you what your gingerbread should look like. This is the point where I can't resist but take a bit of the cookie dough and eat it. Yum, but don't eat too much or you will not get the yield you need.

Use plastic wrap to wrap the dough. If you find it too hard to handle the entire mixture in one shot, or you doubled or tripled this recipe, split the dough into smaller chunks and wrap it. Set it on the counter.

At this point, go wrap some presents, open some presents, call your loved ones, because you will need to wait at least 2-3 hours for the dough to rest and turn from gingerbread boy dough to gingerbread man dough.

“Run, run, as fast as you can!
You can’t catch me!
I’m the Gingerbread Man!”

It’s been 2-3 hours? Back again? Hi!

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.

Unwrap the dough. Flour a pastry board and gently roll out your gingerbread dough. Do this slowly. At first, you may get some cracks on the surface, but as you work it, these should disappear and you should get a nice smooth gingerbread surface. How thick or thin you roll out the dough is up to you. I generally like to get it to about 1/8 inch.
Gently place each man on a parchment paper lined baking sheet. Leave about 1 inch of space around your cookies.
Don't you love how cute gingerbread men always look on a baking sheet?
Once you have a baking sheet lined with cookies, pop it into the oven. Only place one baking sheet in the oven at a time since the baking process is pretty quick and you will get the most even baking if you do this. You can keep the cookies in the oven anywhere from 7 to 15 minutes. It all depends on if you like your gingerbread a little chewy or crunchy. I keep it in the oven until I see the edges of the cookies turn a darker brown. This is because Clint loves his gingerbread nice and crunchy. You can vary the batches as well. If you are planning to decorate these cookies with icing, I would veer on the side of a harder, crunchy cookie.
Freshly popped out of the oven! I don't know what I love more, eating these cookies or just getting the intial hit of ginger smell as you open the oven door to take these cookies out.

The gingerbread men are now ready to be decorated. Or, if you like your gingerbread plain, stick one of them in some peppermint cookie dough ice cream for a very decadent dessert!

Yes, you do have to “run, run” as fast as you can for one of these Gingerbread men before your family and friends eat them all up.

Loni Stark
Loni Stark is an artist at Atelier Stark, self-professed foodie, and adventure travel seeker who has a lifelong passion for technology’s impact on business and creativity. She collaborates with Clinton Stark on video projects for Atelier Stark Films. It’s been said her laugh can be heard from San Jose all the way up to the Golden Gate Bridge. She makes no claims to super powers, although sushi is definitely her Kryptonite.