Soft, Chewy Gingerbread Boys – My Family Recipe

To me a Christmas without Christmas cookies was no Christmas at all, and the crux of the Christmas cookies was Gingerbread Boys {& Girls!}. They had to be soft and chewy; they had to be my mom’s family recipe; and they had to have raisins.

My Mom's Soft, Chewy Gingerbread Boys recipe! | It just wouldn't be Christmas without them!

To me these Gingerbread Boys were more than just a dessert – they were motivation.

My Mom's Soft, Chewy Gingerbread Boys recipe! | It just wouldn't be Christmas without them!

Let me explain…

Growing up I was a bit obsessive about grades and perfection in general [insert sigh from my family over this gross understatement.] I started studying for my final exams, which were usually the week before Christmas, on Thanksgiving weekend. As soon as the turkey and stuffing were wrapped up, I spread out my books, outlines and notes and began my studying routine. It was serious business.

My Mom's Soft, Chewy Gingerbread Boys recipe! | It just wouldn't be Christmas without them!

The week before exams began my Mom would bake up a huge batch of cookies and at intervals she would come down to the basement where I studied with a plate of Gingerbread Boys.

I never told her but I think she innately knew that these Gingerbread breaks were my sustenance.  They fueled my obsessive studying. They were my light at the end of the tunnel. She never ran out. She was amazing like that.

Back to the Chewy Gingerbread Boys!

Speaking of amazing…these Soft, Chewy Gingerbread Boys are amazing! They are incredibly moist and chewy with the perfect blend of spices and molasses.

They are also ridiculously addicting. Consider yourself warned.

My Mom's Soft, Chewy Gingerbread Boys recipe! | It just wouldn't be Christmas without them!

Let’s take a moment to talk about the raisins. Unlike other cookie decorations, you press the raisins into the dough prior to baking. The gingerbread and raisin flavors combine into something wonderful, which renders all other decorations superfluous.

My Mom's Soft, Chewy Gingerbread Boys recipe! | It just wouldn't be Christmas without them!

You. Have. To. Try. Raisins.

No seriously, it’s not optional.

My Mom's Soft, Chewy Gingerbread Boys recipe! | It just wouldn't be Christmas without them!

I have tried many a chewy gingerbread boys in my time and these top them all.  I don’t know if it’s the raisins, the fabulous chewiness, or the pinch of love that is added to the batter. Perhaps it’s all three.  All I know is that any cookies that can motivate and fuel studying until my eyes refused to focus are cookies worth sharing!

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My Mom's Soft, Chewy Gingerbread Boys recipe! | It just wouldn't be Christmas without them!

Chewy Gingerbread Boys

  • Author: Chef Lindsey Farr


This traditional Christmas cookie recipe makes soft, chewy, perfectly flavored Gingerbread Boys every time! They will soon become your family’s favorite too.



For the Cookies:

  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup molasses
  • 2 tablespoons vinegar (I used white wine vinegar)
  • 5 cups flour
  • 1 ½ teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 tablespoon ginger
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon cloves
  • Raisins for Decoration

For the white icing:

  • 2 cups sifted powdered sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon vanilla
  • whole milk or heavy cream as needed (approximately ¼ – ½ cup)


Preparing the Dough:

  1. Sift together flour and spices. Set aside.
  2. Thoroughly cream butter, sugar, and salt. Stir in egg, molasses and vinegar; beat well.
  3. Stir flour into butter mixture. It is easiest to add the flour in several additions, scraping down the bowl between each one.
  4. Form dough into two balls and chill wrapped in plastic or in a covered mixing bowl over night or at least 5 hours. I have found that 3 hours of chilling time is okay but the dough will not be as easy to roll out without sticking. Overnight will make the rolling and cutting process a breeze!

Rolling the Cookies:

  1. Preheat oven to 375* and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. On a lightly floured surface, roll one ball out to 1/8 inch thick. Cut with cookie cutters and gently place cookies 1 inch apart on prepared baking sheets.
  3. Decorate with raisins.
  4. Bake large gingerbread boys (~5” tall) 6 minutes in preheated oven; bake medium cookies (3-4” tall) 5 minutes; bake small to medium cookies (2-3” tall) 4 minutes but watch them because they could easily over bake; and bake the cute little 1” cookies like my angels only 3 minutes.
  5. Cool 2 minutes on baking sheet and then move to a wire rack to cool completely.
  6. Store for up to two weeks in a sealed plastic bag or a tightly closed container.

Make the Icing

  1. Add powdered sugar into a medium bowl. Add vanilla and 2 tablespoons milk. Stir with a spatula to combine. Continue to add milk several teaspoons at a time until the icing is thickened but still runny enough to drizzle off your spatula.
  2. Spoon icing into a piping bag fitted with a small circle tip or into a plastic baggie with one corner cut off into a tiny hole. Ice as desired.
  3. Note: I like to add more vanilla for flavor but it does tint the icing so it will not be a pure white. You may add less vanilla if you desire a snow-white icing. If you add too much vanilla just sift more powdered sugar into the bowl and add a little bit more milk. Don’t stress too much about the ratios. It will taste sweet no matter what!
  4. If icing thickens too much while standing, add more milk to bring it back to the correct consistency. This icing is very hard to mess up, so no worries!

More Holiday Treats to Make the Season Bright!

Holiday Bark

Salted Chocolate Cherry Pistachio Pecan Holiday Bark Recipe | An easy Christmas treat to share or to keep! It's so delicious you might not want to share!

Cherry Pecan Cookies

These easy Cherry Pecan Cookies are soft, chewy and nutty. A cream cheese sugar cookie is generously flavored with almond extract and rolled in pecans! My favorite Christmas Cookie recipe of all time!

Hungarian Apricot Kolaches

Traditional Hungarian Apricot Kolaches | My Hungarian husband's favorite Christmas Cookie recipe! He says they taste just like his grandma used to make!

 Spiced Apple Cider Cranberry Cupcakes

Spiced Apple Cider Cranberry Cupcakes | Soft, moist apple cider cinnamon cake filled with spiced cranberry compote and topped with a cinnamon cream cheese butter cream! And don't forget the sugared pie crust leaf!

Soft Nutella Chocolate Chip Cookies

Soft Nutella Chocolate Chip Cookies

 Traditional Linzer Cookies 

A recipe for the classic Austrian Raspberry Linzer Cookies | A delightful rolled almond cookie filled with raspberry preserves and dusted with powdered sugar! A new Christmas favorite!


  • Tina
    December 23, 2013 at 11:25 pm

    These gingerbread men are so cute! Almost too cute to eat….almost.

    • Lindsey
      December 24, 2013 at 2:08 pm

      Almost! Until you eat one and then all bets are off!

  • Dina
    December 24, 2013 at 8:55 am

    they look great!

    • Lindsey
      December 24, 2013 at 2:07 pm

      Thank you, Dina!

  • Miss Kim @ behgopa
    December 27, 2013 at 4:01 pm

    Oh I love Gingerbread people. It brings back so many memories…one of those thing that brings back fond memories of childhood. I still (vaguely) remember that one story of that one Gingerbread Man that kept running lol and the first time I ever decorated a Gingerbread Man (in Kindergarten). Ohhh and the Gingerbread Houses. Those were awesome. Gingerbread anything brings out the kid in a lot of us! I love the smell of it baking.

    Did you get my last email btw?

    • Lindsey
      January 3, 2014 at 3:38 pm

      Hey! Gingerbread men are iconic! And yummy. I haven’t quite decided if they would be just as yummy if I baked them throughout the year. Sometimes the anticipation is half the excitement!

      I’ve been on vacation with my family for almost 2 weeks so I’ve been MIA! Sorry! I did get your email and I am going to respond to it when I have enough time to reply with more than just a few lines!

  • Kayle (The Cooking Actress)
    January 1, 2014 at 3:21 pm

    these gingerbread men sound like miracle cookies!

    • Lindsey
      January 2, 2014 at 2:34 pm

      amen to small miracles from the kitchen!

  • Atika
    January 23, 2014 at 9:38 am

    I like gingerbread cookies and love the raisins on these cookies 🙂

    • Lindsey
      January 24, 2014 at 9:34 am

      The raisins are my favorite part!

  • […] (or, as they are also called, Nut Horns) should not be restricted to Christmas to compete with the Gingerbread Boys, Snowballs, or Molasses Spice Cookies. No, no. They are waaay too special for […]

  • […] let the innocuous name fool you: these humble cookies fight with Mom’s Gingerbread Boys for my favorite Christmas cookie. Well, at least since 1992, which is the date that my mom […]

  • Sophie
    December 14, 2015 at 1:49 pm

    I made them & loved every crunchy bite of them!
    Excellent with a cranberry tea too! Yummm!
    they are also fun to make! xxx

  • […] are one of those cookies that I’ve never been thrilled about. I can usually be caught eating the gingerbread, the cherry pecan cookies or chocolate crackles first. But these cookies are soooo much better […]


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