December is here and pumpkin spice has been pushed back farther in the cabinet to make way for gingerbread spices and the ingredients to make our favorite Christmas and holiday sweets and cookies. This is an easy gingerbread cookie recipe adapted from a cookie passed down from my grandmother. I think it originally was maybe a molasses shortbread recipe (no eggs), but we have always used it as one of our favorite roll out cookies at Christmas. I’m sure it could be used to make shortbread cookies similar to our shortbread recipe. We generally make the gingerbread molasses shortbread recipe into gingerbread men and women (because this was what my family did when I was a kid), but I frequently make it into reindeer with red noses. And my kids like trying out all the cookie cutters. I think the snowflake shape was most popular this year.
We’ve teamed up with some other talented bloggers to collaborate on a list of fun Christmas goodies.
See the list at the bottom of our post for the links to these other delicious treats!
This is the first year we made this easy gingerbread cookie recipe when my kids actually helped roll out, cut, and decorate our cookies. I’m not going to lie, it got a little crazy (and messy). However, I think we all enjoyed it. Since this gingerbread cookie recipe contains no eggs and I used a vegan alternative recipe for the royal icing, it was a kid-friendly cooking activity. You try telling kids not to eat the dough because it has raw eggs. And really, who am I kidding? They learned to eat the cookie dough from watching me.
Now that I know it can be done, cookie making and decorating will go on the yearly Christmas activity list! Plus, I figured out a few ways to make it go smoother. The dough needs to be made 1-2 hours ahead and chilled. You can also make it several days ahead of time. Or make the cookies and freeze them to thaw and decorate closer to Christmas. I think it’s really all about finding what works for you, figuring out some time saving or sanity saving tips, and then just “rolling” with it.
Tips for making and decorating cookies with kids:
- make the dough ahead of time and chill in small manageable squares that can be rolled out more easily (I used to refrigerate one large clump of dough)
- have several batches prepped and put dough back in fridge if you’ve rolled it out more than 2-3 times because it gets sticky and clumps on the rolling pin
- before announcing it’s time to make the cookies have all the cutters and rolling pins set out ahead with flour for sprinkling on surfaces and squares mats, trays, or parchment for kids to roll out on
- make decorating easier and buy store bought frosting and premade candies or mini chocolate chips for decorating already baked cookies (my kids just dotted frosting in spots as “glue” and stuck their preferred candy on for eyes, buttons, etc.)
- for younger kids let them help with the cookie cutter and some of the decorating and skip all the rest–it’s not worth the hassle if no one is enjoying it
If you are looking for more technical tips, King Arthur flour has a great cookie decorating resource page.
Finally, on to the easy gingerbread cookie recipe:
Christmas Cookies, clockwise from top left:
- Holiday White Chocolate Mini Popcorn Balls (Gloria – Homemade and Yummy)
- Gingerbread Cookies (Melissa – My Wife Can Cook)
- No Bake Chocolate Cranberry Cookies (Kirsten – Treat Yourself Sweeter)
- No-Bake Cinnamon Peanut Butter Cranberry Cookies (Arlene – Flour on My Face)
- Gluten-Free Spiced Cookie Brittle (Sarah – The Fit Cookie)
- Macadamia Date Roll Cookies (Veena – Veena Azmanov)