How To Make Gingerbread Men

Gingerbread cookies are one of our favorite holiday traditions. These adorable sweet-and-spiced confections date to the 16th century, when Elizabeth I of England would host elaborate royal dinner parties. Her signature touch was a royal gingerbread maker, who was tasked with creating gingerbread men to look like her guests for the night.

Though the connection between gingerbread men and Christmas is not completely certain, the popularity of gingerbread during the holidays can, at least in part, be attributed to the belief that spices heated you up in the winter. These spiced Gingerbread Men Cookies do, in fact, provide a welcome warmth: from the scent wafting through the kitchen as they bake, to the laughter of your kids as they adorn them with candy and frosting.

Homemade gingerbread cookies do require a bit of planning, because the dough needs to rest in the refrigerator for several hours in order to firm up the fats, making it easier to roll out. However, the recipe itself is easy, and the bake time is less than 10 minutes.

Here’s our favorite recipe for how to make gingerbread cookies:

  • Mix the flour, ginger, cinnamon, baking soda, nutmeg, and salt in a large bowl
  • Beat the butter and brown sugar in another large bowl with an electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy
  • Add the molasses and egg, and beat well
  • Gradually beat in the flour mixture on low speed until well mixed
  • Press the dough into a thick flat disk, and wrap tightly in plastic. Refrigerate for four hours or overnight
  • Once the dough is cool and set, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Roll out the dough to 1/4-inch thickness on a lightly floured work surface
  • Cut the dough into gingerbread men shapes (use at least a five-inch cookie cutter for an easy-to-decorate size). Place them an inch apart on ungreased baking sheets
  • Bake for 8 to 10 minutes or until the edges of the cookies are set and just begin to brown. Cool on baking sheets for a minute or two, then move to wire racks to cool the rest of the way
  • Once the cookies have fully cooled, break out the frosting, icing, candy, and other decorating accoutrements

Homemade baked gingerbread cookies will stay fresh in an airtight container for up to five days.

SHOW TRANSCRIPT

[MUSIC]. Hi, I'm Norman from the Southern Living Test Kitchen. Making gingerbread men is fun, festive, and super easy to do. Now this our Southern Living gingerbread dough that we have for this season. And, we just stuck it in the refrigerator and let it chill. And, now we take it out and put it on the lightly flavored surface, and, roll out the dough. We use a rolling pin, and we'll lightly dust this with flour. Now we roll this to about a quarter of an inch thick. To cut it, I just use a metal cutter, and you can use a plastic one if you find one. And this dough's also great cause you can reshape it, and re-roll it, to make more gingerbread, so all the scraps, you don't have to throw them away. Next, we'll transfer the gingerbread men to a parchment paper lined baking sheet, being sure to space them about two inches or so apart, that way they don't crowd each other when they bake. Now, we'll just slide these into the oven at 350 for about 15 to 18 minutes. Once these come out of the oven, transfer them to a cooling rack, and let them sit out for about thirty minutes, or until they're hardened and cool to the touch. You don't want them hot, cause it will melt the royal icing when you're trying to decorate them. So, I've made some royal icing and filling it into a plastic pastry bag. They're easy to manage, and they're inexpensive enough that you can throw them away. But, if you don't have these, feel free to use a heavy duty zip top freezer bag. If you haven't used a pastry bag in a while, or ever, it's great to go ahead and practice on a piece of parchment paper. That way you can draw out your designs, and get comfortable with the bag, and also work on your artwork a little. So to start, i like to create a border around the outside with it first. A good way to do it is to keep all the filling toward the palm of your hand, and then that way you have enough room to actually squeeze it and it comes out at fairly controlled rate. You just kinda want to let the icing drape. And, if you wanted to color the icing, you can just add a couple drops of your favorite color of food coloring, and have at it. [MUSIC] The most important thing about making gingerbread is to have fun. There's no right or wrong way to do it. You can make these as fun, or as serious as you like. It's great fun for the whole family. And, for more classic holiday recipes, be sure to visit southernliving.com. [MUSIC]

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