Monday, December 19, 2011

Grandma's Gingerbread Cookies

Most people get gingerbread cookies wrong. They choose cuteness over content and use hard-as-a-rock royal icing or bizarre candies to decorate them. Or they think they must be baked until so firm that they can be used to make a scale model of the Empire State building out of gingerbread. My version tastes like what you always wished gingerbread houses would taste like, but never do. Spiced, but not a ginger slap in the face. Firm, but still chewy. Covered in cinnamon sugar rather than some unidentifiable candy.
My grandma has been baking this recipe for decades and I believe it was originally from an old issue of Woman's Day or a similar magazine. The use of allspice, sour cream, and orange zest set it apart from a lot of gingerbread recipes. The only changes I've made to the recipe are that I use Fage Greek yogurt in place of the sour cream, I coat them in cinnamon sugar (a lot of my family like them with Red Hots instead), and I bake them at a lower temperature for a chewier cookie.

To start this recipe you heat some molasses, cream it together with sugar, and add the spices.
Then you add the sour cream (or Greek yogurt), melted butter, and alternately stir in egg yolks and flour sifted with baking soda.

Once you've added about 4 cups of flour, you'll have a smooth but somewhat mushy dough. You pop it in the fridge for 30 minutes to an hour so that it's easier to roll out and work with. then you roll out the dough to about 1/4 inch thick and cut your cookies. I accidentally added too much flour to this batch, so the dough is a little dry in the next picture.

Then the cookies get dipped in cinnamon sugar. I like a lot of cinnamon so I usually use a 3 to 1 sugar to cinnamon ratio. Since I usually have cinnamon sugar sitting around premixed, I'm not sure how much the recipe uses. The amounts in the recipe below will probably give you more than you need. You can always mix it up as needed: 1 tablespoon of sugar to 1 teaspoon of cinnamon. Yet another reason I love this ratio: it's easy to remember!

The cookies get baked for about 10 minutes (it takes exactly 9 minutes on my oven) on parchment lined cookie sheets. Then I usually let them set up for a minute or two before transferring them to a cooling grid.

Grandma's Gingerbread Cookies
Yields around 4 dozen large cookies


1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons molasses
1 3/4 cups sugar
1/3 cup sour cream (or a good quality unsweetened Greek yogurt)
2/3 cup (a little under 11 tablespoons) butter, melted
1 tablespoon grated orange rind
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cloves
1 teaspoon allspice
1 teaspoon ginger
2 teaspoons cinnamon
4 egg yolks
4 cups flour (plus extra for rolling out)
2 teaspoons baking soda

Cinnamon Sugar
6 tablespoons sugar
6 teaspoons cinnamon


1. Heat the molasses in the microwave and pour into a large mixing bowl. Stir in the sugar.

2. Add everything EXCEPT the egg yolks, flour, and baking soda. Stir until smooth.

3. In another mixing bowl, combine the baking soda and flour. Alternately add the egg yolks and flour mixture to the sugar mixture. Mix until a smooth dough has formed, adding additional flour if necessary.

4. Refrigerate the dough for 30 minutes to an hour.

5. Roll out dough on a well floured surface to 1/4 inch thick. Cut out cookies.

6. On a small plate slightly larger then your largest cookie cutter, combine the cinnamon and sugar. Lay the cookies in the cinnamon sugar, pressing gently. Transfer to parchment lined baking sheets.

7. Bake at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes. Let set up for a minute or two before transferring to a cooling grid.


  1. I made these before Christmas for some friends and family and they came out wonderfully! They took exactly 9 minutes in my oven, too. Thanks for the recipe!

  2. @Larissa. Yay! I love a happy customer.