Yield: 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 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!
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 and can easily throw off a recipe. 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 powdered 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.
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. I highly recommend splurging a little and using European style butter here for the best flavor.
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: shortbread gingerbread cookies
Here are the steps to follow to make these cookies. You can find the complete recipe (which is printable!) at the end of this blog post.
1.Beat the butter and sugar. Beat the softened butter with the dark brown sugar and molasses just until fully combined.
2. Add in the dry ingredients. Add in the flour, salt, and gingerbread spices. Mix together until a cohesive dough forms. You want to be careful to not overmix here, as it could make the cookies super tough.
3. Roll out the dough. Lightly flour a clean working surface and place your cookie dough on top of it. Lightly flour the top of the dough as well. Use a rolling pin to roll out the dough until it’s about 1/4″ thick.
4. Cut out your gingerbread men. I used a 1 1/2″ gingerbread man cutter, which is on the smaller side. Cut out your gingerbread men, 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!
5. Freeze the cookies. Transfer all of the cookies to the lined baking sheet, and place them in the freezer for 10 minutes to firm up.
6. Bake. Evenly space the cookies out on the cookie sheet, leaving at least 1/2″ between each cookie. Bake for 8 minutes.
7. Make the frosting. 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.
8. Make the ganache. 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!
9. Serve and enjoy!
Shortbread Gingerbread Cookies Q & A
Can I double this recipe?
- Of course! 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 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.
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, and here’s an article about why I use a kitchen scale, and why you should too!
A note on oven temperature
Ovens vary and fluctuate in temperature. For example, I always have to set my oven to 330°F if I want it to bake at 350°F. 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.
Shortbread gingerbread cookies troubleshooting
The butter and sugar won’t mix
- If it’s a little difficult to mix the sugar in with the butter, it’s likely that your butter is still too cold. I recommend
The dough is too sticky
- If the dough is 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.
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.
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
Shortbread Gingerbread Dough
- 113 g unsalted butter room temperature (½ c.)
- 50 g dark brown sugar (¼ c.)
- 1 tbsp. molasses
- 160 g all purpose flour (1 ⅓ c.)
- ¼ tsp. salt
- ¼ tsp. ground ginger
- ¼ tsp. ground cinnamon
- ¼ 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.
- 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!