Classic German gingerbread is made for the Christmas holidays, and often made and decorated in holiday shapes, the favorite being the Gingerbread Man. This is the type of cookie most often left for Santa with a glass of milk in America, or a small glass of sweet sherry in Britain. The cookies may be made in a wide variety of shapes and decorated in simple or complex ways.  The flavor is soothingly spicy, but comforting and evokes the taste of the season.
German Gingerbread Cookies
Here’s a little tip about royal icing.  If you want to decorate your gingerbread cookies with fancy colorful decorations, such as bows, bow ties, fancy eyes or other things take a small portion and add any food coloring but off-set the amount of liquid by the amount of the coloring or you’ll end up with very wet icing.  Pipe the icing into shapes desired on a sheet of waxed paper or baker’s parchment.  Allow to dry completely, at least 20 minutes and then you can ‘glue’ the decoration on with some of the plain icing.  These decorations may be very fancy, but will be a bit crunchy.

German Gingerbread Cookies
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Recipe type: Baked Goods
Cuisine: German
Serves: 1 batch
  • 3/4 Cup soft butter
  • 1/2 Cup brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoon ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 egg
  • 3/4 Cup molasses
  • 3 Cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
Royal Icing
  • 1 1/2 Cups Confectioner's (powdered) sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon milk (almond, rice, soy, regular whole)
  • 2 teaspoons light corn syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla or almond extract
  1. Mix all ingredients together well.
To make simple round cookies
  1. Make balls of dough the size of walnuts, and place them on a greased cookie sheet 3-4" apart.
  2. Flatten with a glass dipped in sugar.
To make other shapes
  1. Roll out cold dough to 1/4-inch thick for cookie shapes. Cut with cookie cutters. If dough is sticky, add flour.
  1. Bake at 325 degrees F for 6 to 8 minutes. Or, if you like, refrigerate overnight before baking.
  2. Decorate with royal icing or some other dry icing. We don't recommend buttercream frosting as it makes the cookies soggy.
Royal Icing
  1. Add confectioner's sugar and milk to a clean bowl Blend with a handheld mixer until it is mostly lump free. Add corn syrup and extract and continue to blend until smooth for about 45 seconds to 1 minute.
  2. If it's too thick, add water by the drop (a little goes a long way). If it's too thin, add more confectioner's sugar.
Once the cookies are cooled, use Royal Icing and candies to decorate these. Often, the decorated cookies are given as gifts, or hung on the Christmas Tree as edible decoration.

Royal Icing should somewhat hold it shape for a count of 10. This will make a perfect consistency for cookies and gingerbread house decorating. To test, scoop up some icing with a spoon and let it drizzle into the bowl. You should be able to see where you drizzled the icing for a count of 10... if it combines too quickly with the other icing it will spread out too much when decorating. Adjust accordingly.

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