This simple gingerbread cookie recipe is our very favorite gingerbread cookie to make. They’re SO EASY!
We have perfectly spiced dough, cut super-easily into tree shapes with a knife. After they’re baked and cooled, they finish up in a snap with quick lines of simple lemony icing and a sprinkle of coarse sugar for sparkle.
Before these cookies came along, my Christmas cookie repertoire was a little heavy-handed on the chocolate. I know massive amounts of chocolate are generally a very, very good thing … but Christmas cookie platters need variety! Pine bark (chocolate and caramel), double chocolate salted peanut bark (duh), secret kiss cookies (hidden chocolate) … the chocolate can get a little tiresome, no?
But I like making what I like. And I like chocolate.
I usually break it up with some Dolly Parton sugar cookies, but one year, I decided to try this recipe that I saw in the back of a Martha Stewart Everyday Food magazine. They were cute, they were festive, they were not chocolate. Score!
And as it turns out, these simple gingerbread trees are just as tasty as chocolate, but, of course, in their own way (nothing is like chocolate, after all).
I just love the spiciness of the gingerbread countered by the hit of lemony glaze. It’s a totally addicting combination.
Psst: They’re not only tasty and easy, they’re also pretty cute too.
Super Simple Gingerbread Tree Cookies
- 1 cup 2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature*
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1 large egg
- 1/4 cup molasses (not blackstrap)
- 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1/2 teaspoon fine-grain sea salt
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- 2 tablespoons fresh-squeezed lemon juice
- Coarse sugar for sanding (I like Demerara)
- In a stand mixer or a large bowl (with a hand mixer), beat together the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy, about three minutes.
- Add the egg and molasses and beat until blended, scraping down sides as necessary.
- To a separate medium bowl, add the flour, baking soda, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, and salt. Mix together.
- Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and beat just until combined.
- Press the dough together and form into a disc. Wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for an hour, or up to three days.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Remove disc from fridge and cut into fourths.
- Roll each piece about 1/4 inch thick. You may need to let the dough warm up just a bit, and, depending on your surface, you may need some additional flour to prevent sticking.
- With a knife or cookie cutter, cut the dough into simple triangle tree shapes (see pic above for reference).
- Bake on an ungreased cookie sheet for 8-10 minutes, until they're firm and just starting to get golden at edges. Remove from oven and let cool for about 5 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
- Make the glaze: mix together the powdered sugar and lemon juice. It will seem very thick at first but should thin out into a thick drizzle-able consistency. If it does not thin enough, add a bit more lemon juice until the right consistency.
- Drizzle the glaze over the cookies. I place the icing in a Ziploc bag, cut the corner off, and drizzle lines of icing over the cookies that way. Easy peasy.
- Immediately sprinkle on a little sugar before the icing hardens.
- Let sit until icing hardens before storing or assembling on cookie plates. Cookies keep up to one week in an airtight container.
Originally published December 19, 2010. Updated December 11, 2017.