Yield: 20-40 small shortbread gingerbread cookies // Total Time: 50 min. // Disclaimer: This post includes affiliate links. //

Super easy (and adorable) gingerbread men, made with a buttery shortbread base.

shortbread gingerbread cookies

If you’re looking for some adorable and super easy gingerbread men cookies, you’ve come to the right place! Now — I’m not the biggest fan of roll out cookie dough, simply because it always seems so tedious. However, this shortbread gingerbread cookie dough is seriously so easy to make and rolls out perfectly every time! Plus you can easily make a large batch and freeze the cut out cookie dough for super easy and fresh gingerbread men at any time. Below you’ll find some tips and tricks that I hope are helpful for successfully making these small gingerbread men!

recipe tips

weigh your ingredients

Weighing your ingredients is important for getting the recipe perfect and getting consistent results. Not weighing your ingredients can lead to adding too much or too little of an ingredient which can turn your brownies from rich and fudgy to tough and chewy. If you haven’t already, I highly recommend purchasing a kitchen scale. This one is super cheap and worked well for me when I was starting out!

don’t over-beat the butter

We’re going to beat some softened butter and sugar together at the start of the cookie recipe. Be sure that you are only beating them together until they are cohesive. Over-beating the mixture will incorporate more air into the dough, which will make these cookies more puffy rather than flat.

under bake for perfect cookies

Cookies have a nice habit of looking underdone when in reality it’s the perfect time to pull them out of the oven. They will continue to bake on the hot cookie sheet. These cookies are a bit difficult to tell when they are done because they don’t spread or brown. But, if you are using a small gingerbread color and your oven is at the proper temperature, they will be perfectly cooked at 8 minutes. Essentially, they should still be a little soft if you (carefully!) touch them right out of the oven.

freeze the cookie dough

A great way to keep your shortbread cookies from spreading too much in the oven is to freeze them prior to baking. After cutting out the cookies, transfer them to your lined baking sheet and place them in the freezer for at least 10 minutes before baking.

ingredients and substitutions

For the shortbread gingerbread dough:

All purpose flour: for structure and chewiness.

Salt: to help balance and bring out the sweetness of the cookies

Unsalted butter: for tenderness and flavor. You can use salted butter in place of the unsalted, just be sure to omit the extra salt from the cookies.

Dark brown sugar: for flavor and sweetness. I highly recommend dark brown sugar since it contains more molasses flavor, but light brown sugar will work here as well.

Molasses: it wouldn’t be a classic gingerbread recipe without molasses!

Ground ginger, cinnamon & cloves: for the gingerbread spice.

For the frosting:

Powdered sugar & milk: use your favorite dairy or non dairy milk alternative here (I used oat milk!)

how to make shortbread gingerbread cookies

Here’s a little look into the process of making these cookies. The full recipe can be found at the bottom of this blog post!

  • Combine the butter, brown sugar, and molasses until *just* combined. You don’t want to beat the mixture for too long, because that will add air into the dough which will make the cookies puff up.
  • Add in the dry ingredients and mix until combined.
  • Roll out the dough on a clean, floured surface.
  • Stamp out your gingerbread men then freeze them for 10 minutes. Bake, serve, and enjoy!

shortbread gingerbread cookies q&a

can I double this recipe?

Of course! You could even cut it in 1/2, 1/4, etc. I used a small gingerbread man cookie cutter so if you are looking for a lot of larger ones, I definitely recommend scaling up the recipe. I even more strongly recommend measuring by weight if you are going to double the recipe for the best results.

can I make these cookies ahead of time?

You can definitely make the shortbread cookie dough ahead of time! Simply roll out the dough, stamp it, and when it’s time to place them in the freezer, you can just leave them like that overnight. If you want to make the dough even further in advance, transfer the cookies to an airtight container in the freezer once they have frozen on the baking sheet.

how should I store these shortbread gingerbread cookies?

These cookies will last pretty well in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week. They also will keep well frozen in an airtight container (unfrosted) for up to 3 months.

help! the dough is too sticky

If the dough is way too sticky, it’s because there isn’t enough flour in it. Add in 1 tbsp. of flour until you’re able to form a cohesive dough that isn’t sticky.

help! the dough is breaking apart

This dough isn’t particularly hydrated since we don’t want the cookies to spread in the oven. However, if it’s easily flaking apart then you may have added too much flour into the dough. It’s super easy to add too much flour if you are using cup measurements, which is why I’m always (annoyingly) recommending using grams. You can add 1 tsp. of water into the dough at a time until it just comes together.

why do you measure in grams?

My recipes are all written in grams because it is the most accurate way to bake. When you use a kitchen scale, you ensure that your baked goods turn out as close to the written recipe as possible. Plus, the cleanup is way easier when using a scale! I will provide standard cup measurements but please note that I have not tested the recipe using cup measurements and therefore can not guarantee your recipe will come out how mine did. Here is my favorite kitchen scale.

a note on oven temperature

Ovens vary and fluctuate in temperature and aren’t always at the temperature they claim to be. If you love to bake like I do, I highly recommend getting an oven thermometer. They are super helpful for letting you know when your oven might be lying to you! I use this one.

tools and ingredients

You can find all my favorite tools and ingredients that I use on my Amazon Storefront page, here!

did you make these shortbread gingerbread cookies?

If you made these shortbread gingerbread cookies I would love to see them and know your thoughts! Please leave a comment and review down below, and tag me on Instagram @freshbeanbakery. If you have any questions about the recipe I will gladly do my best to answer them in the comments below!

Shortbread Gingerbread Cookies

5 from 1 vote
Super easy gingerbread men made with a shortbread base!
Prep Time30 minutes
Cook Time8 minutes
Chilling Time 10 minutes
Total Time50 minutes


Shortbread Gingerbread Dough

  • 113 g unsalted butter room temperature (½ c.)
  • 50 g dark brown sugar (¼ c.)
  • 2 tbsp. molasses
  • 180 g all purpose flour (1 ½ c.)
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • ½ tsp. ground ginger
  • ½ tsp. ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp. ground cloves


  • 160 g powdered sugar (1 ⅓ c.)
  • 1 – 2 tbsp. milk


Shortbread Gingerbread Dough

  • Beat the softened butter with the dark brown sugar and molasses just until fully combined.
  • Add in the flour, salt, and gingerbread spices. Mix together until a cohesive dough forms.
  • Lightly flour a clean working surface and place your cookie dough on top of it, then lightly flour the top of the cookie dough. Use a rolling pin to roll out the dough until it's about 1/4" thick.
  • Cut out your gingerbread men (I used a 1.5" cookie cutter), then re-roll out the dough and cut out as many more as you can. Repeat this process 1 more time. You should end up with ~40 small gingerbread men, less if you are using a larger cutter!
  • Transfer all of the cookies to the lined baking sheet, and place them in the freezer for 10 minutes to firm up.
  • Preheat the oven to 350°F / 175°C.
  • Evenly space the cookies out on the cookie sheet, leaving at least 1/2" between each cookie. Bake for 8 minutes. (If using a larger cookie cutter, bake for 10 minutes)


  • In a small bowl, add the powdered sugar. Mix in 1/2 tbsp. of milk at a time, until you have a super thick but pipeable frosting.
  • Transfer the frosting to a piping bag fitted with a small round tip (I used Wilton #3) Pipe the frosting on to each gingerbread man however you desire!
  • Serve and enjoy!


I’ve removed the servings from this recipe because it will vary with how big your cookie cutter is! You can expect to get at least 20 (medium) gingerbread cookies from this, and up to 40 (mini) gingerbread cookies.

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