Get ready for cookie season with Small Batch Gingerbread Cookies made without shortening and decorated with an eggless royal icing! Plus learn tips and tricks on how to make rolling out cookie dough stress free this holiday.
Happy December! The tree is decorated (although the cat keeps knocking branches down), Christmas music is being played nonstop, and I keep having to dig my car out of the snow (ugh).
All I have left is Christmas shopping and of course baking all the cookies.
Once Thanksgiving is over, it’s on for gingerbread everything. Gingerbread is often synonymous with the Christmas season, and these Small Batch Gingerbread Cookies are no exception.
Gingerbread cookies can be hit or miss, but this recipe will be your go-to Christmas recipe from now on. They have a bit of a snap to them but are also slightly chewy so you don’t break your teeth.
The dough is made using all butter because not everyone keeps shortening on hand. Plus all butter tastes better.
Ready to start baking yet?
And if you’re including gingerbread men on your cookie tray this year, check out my guide on How To Make The Best Christmas Cookie Tray.
It’s hard to give an exact yield for cut out cookies due to the size of your cookie cutters, but I got about 9 regular sized gingerbread cookies plus 2 tiny cookies (not pictured).
Different sizes also means different baking times. Smaller cookies are done around 8 minutes while the larger cookies are done around 10 minutes.
Check your cookies at 8 minutes then remove any that are done baking while you finish the rest.
How do you roll out cookie dough without sticking?
Nothing is more frustrating than having your cookie dough stick to everything before you can bake them. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve wanted to cry over this.
The key to keep the dough from sticking is making sure it doesn’t get warm. One trick is to roll out the dough between two sheets of plastic wrap before you chill it.
First: it’s much easier to roll out room temperature dough than cold dough. If you’re rolling out cold dough, you have to wait for the dough to warm up. Warm dough = unhappy baker.
Second: Pre-rolling the dough means less time working with the dough.
The more time you spend on the dough, the more likely it’ll get warm and stick to everything. You’re working against the clock, so the faster you can cut out cookies, the better.
If your dough is ready to cut straight from the fridge, you’ll waste no time cutting out your cookies with ease.
Since we’re working with a small batch of cookie dough, I was able to slide the dough onto a dinner plate before refrigerating. Then I cut the cookies out directly on the plate.
That way if your dough does get warm while you’re cutting, you can slide the plate back into the fridge.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve needed to put dough in the fridge, only to have it stick to my counter with no easy way of transferring to the fridge.
How do you keep gingerbread cookies from spreading in the oven?
Ever cut out beautifully shaped cookies, only to have them turn into blobs after baking? That’s because they spread too much when baking, losing their distinctive shapes.
The key to keep your gingerbread cookies from spreading is keeping the dough cold (notice the theme here?).
I highly recommend popping them into your freezer while your oven preheats, about 15-20 minutes.
By the time your oven is ready, they should be cold enough to prevent spreading.
How do you make royal icing without eggs?
Traditionally, royal icing is made with egg whites or meringue powder. However, I didn’t want to deal with raw egg whites nor buy an ingredient I’d only use 1-2 times a year.
That’s why I chose to make a small batch of eggless royal icing using powdered sugar, milk, and corn syrup.
The corn syrup adds a bit of a shine as well as makes the icing a little smoother to pipe.
However, if corn syrup isn’t available (or you don’t feel like buying a bottle for a tiny amount), you can leave it out.
The icing should be super thick. In fact, you’ll be really tempted to add more milk. Don’t.
If you do, the icing will spread while you’re trying to pipe details. Your dots and squiggles will become puddles.
If you do accidentally add too much liquid, add about 1 tablespoon of powdered sugar at a time until the icing thickens up again.
Although the royal icing will harden, it is a bit fragile so you don’t want to stack the cookies. Otherwise, the icing will get squashed.
How do you store gingerbread cookies?
Gingerbread cookies can last 1-2 weeks, so the best way to store them is in an airtight container on the counter.
Because the royal icing is fragile, you may not want to stack them.
More Gingerbread Recipes
- 1 cup + 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 cup (2 ounces or 4 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 1 egg yolk
- 2 tablespoons molasses
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup powdered sugar, sifted
- 1 tablespoon milk
- 1 tablespoon corn syrup
- 1/8 teaspoon vanilla extract
- In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, cloves, and salt.
- In another large bowl, beat together the butter and sugar until light and creamy, about 1-2 minutes.
- Beat in the egg yolk, molasses, and vanilla (it may look curdled - keep going).
- Gradually beat in the flour mixture until a dough forms.
- Gather the dough and transfer to a sheet of plastic wrap. Top with a second sheet of plastic wrap. Roll out the dough until 1/4 inch thick. Refrigerate at least 1 hour or until cold.
- Once cold, cut out shapes with a floured cookie cutter and place on a cookie tray. Gather up the scraps and repeat until dough is gone. If the dough sticks too much, refrigerate until cold.
- Freeze the cookie tray for at least 15 minutes while you preheat the oven to 350F.
- Bake 8-10 minutes or until the edges are firm. Cool for 5 minutes then transfer to a wire rack to finish cooling completely.
- For the icing: In a large mixing bowl, beat together powdered sugar, milk, corn syrup and vanilla until smooth. It should be on the thick side. If it's too runny, add 1 tablespoon powdered sugar at a time until thick again.
- Transfer to a plastic sandwich bag, snip off the corner, and pipe onto cooled cookies. Let harden before serving. Store in a single layer in an airtight container for up to 1 week.