• Cathy Lundblad, From Scratch Baking

Holiday Traditions Made of Gingerbread


Traditions are what the holidays are made of.

Whether it’s getting a fresh tree, driving around to view Christmas lights or deciding who will stay up to “catch” Santa in action, it’s the little things that we will remember and treasure.

And baking is no exception, especially when gingerbread cookies are involved!

Baking with family this time of year, every year, is a great way to build memories. Don’t worry about messes – they can be cleaned. Seeing your little ones covered in flour or licking the bowl makes for a great photo opportunity that you can look back on and remember always. I’ve always baked with my mom during the holidays. She has the BEST gingerbread recipe! It’s not Christmas if we don’t have these cookies.


Who Doesn’t LOVE Gingerbread?

Just like pumpkin symbolizes fall for me, gingerbread triggers the holiday spirit within me. I love all things gingerbread...from cakes, to coffee and, of course, to those gingerbread cookies. After all, it’s part of our holiday tradition!


Traditions are what we always look forward to during the holiday season, and I think this year is no exception. Traditions are what will “get us through” to make our unique celebrations stand out in the most positive way imaginable. Who knows, you might just find that what you do this year will become a new holiday tradition for your family in the years to come.


Cookie Baking Tips

After having made this recipe for some time, here are a few tips I’ve learned that will help make things easier.

  1. Do not substitute the maple syrup with pancake syrup or double the molasses and omit the syrup altogether. Use real maple syrup. Trust me on this.

  2. Be sure to scrape down the bowl often. You want to be sure all the ingredients really are incorporated. Also be sure to add the flour slowly. I use a small scoop to add more flour to the bowl.

  3. Wrap small amounts of dough in saran wrap and flatten it out with a rolling pin. This will make it much easier to roll out the dough once it is chilled. Also, be sure to chill the dough for a couple of hours to make it easier to work with.

  4. After cutting the dough into your desired shapes, chill the cutouts on a cookie sheet in the refrigerator while the oven preheats. This will help the cookie hold it’s shape while baking.

  5. And finally, make sure to have FUN! Cookies don't need to be decorated perfectly to be enjoyed. They just need everyone to get in on the fun!

Gingerbread Cookie Recipe

  • ½ cup (1 stick) butter, softened

  • ½ cup brown sugar, packed

  • ¼ cup molasses

  • ¼ cup maple syrup (no substitutes)

  • 1 egg

  • 2-½ cup all-purpose flour

  • 1 tablespoon ground ginger

  • ¾ tsp baking soda

  • ½ tsp cinnamon

  • ½ tsp clove

  • ¼ tsp salt


  1. Mix together flour, ginger, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves and salt in a small bowl; set aside.

  2. Using a mixer with the paddle attachment (hand mixer works fine too), beat butter for one minute to soften up a bit. Then, add the sugar and beat until light and fluffy. Scrape the bowl to make sure all the butter and sugar is incorporated.

  3. Add the molasses, maple syrup and egg. Mix together. Scrape bowl to make sure everything is incorporated.

  4. Set your mixer to a low speed and gradually add in the flour/spice mixture. Mix until everything is incorporated.

  5. Wrap dough in plastic wrap in “flattened discs” and refrigerate for a few hours or overnight. *TIP: wrap a small amount of dough in saran wrap. Cover and roll with a rolling pin to flatten the dough out a little bit. This will make it easier to roll out once the dough is chilled vs one large “ball” of dough.

  6. After your dough is chilled, lightly flour your work surface and roll out your dough to at least a 1/8” thickness. You can roll out thicker for a chewier cookie but keep in mind that baking times may need to be adjusted. Cut into various shapes.

  7. Refrigerate cut shapes for about 10 minutes (or while your oven preheats) to help prevent the dough from spreading while baking.

  8. Place cut cookies 1-2” apart on a cookie sheet. Bake in a 375 degree oven for 8 minutes for a softer cookie OR 10 minutes for a slightly sturdier cookie. Cool on the cookie sheet for about 2 minutes before moving to a cooling rack.

  9. Once fully cooled, decorate using flat icing, royal icing or buttercream frosting, adding sprinkles, candies or colored sugars as desired.


Choose Your Icing!


Flat icing, royal icing or even buttercream frosting, gingerbread goes great with whatever you pair it with! Flat icing (powdered sugar with water or milk) is the easiest to make and, if you’re patient enough to let them dry overnight, will harden up nicely on the cookie.


Royal icing is similar to flat icing, but can be tricky if you’ve never used it. And, like flat icing, the cookies are going to need time to dry overnight. Buttercream allows you to eat the cookies right away and might be easier for little ones to work with.


No matter which icing you choose, be sure to have plenty of sprinkles, candies and colored sugar on hand for decorating!


Holiday Breakfast Traditions

What do you make for your holiday breakfast? After we dig into a few of the gingerbread cookies on Christmas morning, we make Chocolate Chip Pancakes for breakfast. In all honesty, we make these pancakes quite often! You can jazz it up for the holidays with some eggnog or a dash of cinnamon. Happy baking!


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Cathy Lundblad is a Guest Columnist for ©Families on the Fox™


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