Gingerbread Cookies with Apple Cider Icing

Gingerbread Cookies with Apple Cider Icing are a festive holiday favorite!  The classic gingerbread cookie gets an upgrade with royal icing flavored with apple cider.  This small batch of cookies yield a perfectly tender cookie with delicious molasses and spice flavor.

Holiday gingerbread cookies with royal icing

Holiday Gingerbread Cookies

More Christmas cookies to celebrate the holidays!  Gingerbread cookies are the epitome of holiday baking – right up there next to the sugar cookie.  And, we’ve made these gingerbread cookies before.  I’ve been testing the recipe since Halloween with my Gingerbread Halloween Skeleton Cookies And to be honest, I haven’t changed a thing since that recipe.

These Gingerbread Cookies with Apple Cider Icing have all of the flavors you expect (and want) in a classic gingerbread cookie:

  • Molasses
  • Ginger 
  • Cinnamon
  • Cloves
  • Nutmeg
  • And brown sugar, for good measure

So, they have the flavor, but what about the texture?  There are tons of recipes out there for gingerbread cookies – soft, crispy, soft and crispy, construction worthy, tender – you name it.  A lot of bakers put their own stamp and preference on the gingerbread cookie.

This small batch of gingerbread cookies is what I call tender.  They are a cross between soft and crispy.  They easily break in half, but aren’t as snappy as a gingerbread snap.  And they are soft, but not like a soft and chewy cookie.  Are they sturdy enough to build a gingerbread house?  I probably wouldn’t, but you could certainly try!

A platter of gingerbread house cookies with apple cider icing

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Small Batch Of Gingerbread Cookies

Is it really a small batch when you can get a dozen cookies out of it?  I say yes.  But this comes with a disclaimer:  since these are cut-out cookies, the number of cookies you get from the batch is entirely dependent on how thick you roll your dough, and what size cookie cutters you use.

The small batch works great for a holiday cookie swap, or cookie gift box.   You can supplement this small batch of cookies with more Christmas cookies for a delicious variety in your Cookie Gift Boxes:

Royal Icing With Apple Cider

Truth time – I had a gallon of apple cider in the fridge that was nearing expiration, so I needed a use for it.  Enter the apple cider flavored royal icing.

If you want a little pizazz to your royal icing, I would recommend trying it in the icing.  It brings a nice tart sweetness and complements the spices in the cookie.  However, if you want a true classic royal icing, you can swap the juice with milk or water.

Now, I need to go figure out what to do with the rest of the apple cider …

What You Need To Make A Small Batch Of Gingerbread Cookies

These cookies come together pretty easily.  

Ingredients

  • Molasses – Unsulphured!  I use Grandma’s Molasses
  • Light brown sugar – because there is already a lot of molasses flavor in the cookies, I opted to use light brown sugar.  Also helps with the texture of the cookie.
  • Butter
  • Egg yolk
  • Vanilla extract
  • All-purpose flour
  • Salt
  • Baking soda
  • Ground spices – Ginger, Cinnamon, Nutmeg, and Cloves

Baking Equipment

  • Baking sheets – my go-to baking sheets are from Nordic Ware.  I have every size and for small batch cookies I always use the half-sheet.
  • Parchment paper 
  • Cooling rack – another Nordic Ware find.  And it is the perfect size for the baking sheet.
  • Cookie cutters – your choice for shape and size.  
Gingerbread holiday houses

Tips For Making Gingerbread Cookies With Apple Cider Icing

  1. Use unsulphured molasses – there are a few varieties and strengths of molasses, and I recommend unsulphured.  It is common in baking and offers a balanced flavor.
  2. Light brown sugar – I used light because dark brown sugar has a more pronounced molasses flavor.  We already have enough molasses in the cookies.
  3. Chill the dough – in my opinion, any cut-out dough should be chilled to keep the shape.  I like the chill the dough before rolling and chill the cut-out cookies before baking.  The cookies won’t spread as much.
  4. Use metal cookie cutters – I have used plastic cookie cutters and found they don’t cut as sharply, and the dough can stick to them.  This is purely my preference though.
  5. Size and quantity – the number of cookies you get from your batch will depend on how thick you roll your dough, and your cookie cutter shapes and sizes.  I like to roll my dough at least a 1/4 inch thick.
  6. Decorate cooled cookies – let the cookies cool completely before decorating so the icing doesn’t melt.
  7. Store the cookies – these cookies store well in a covered container (Tupperware) at room temp for a few days – before they start getting too hard.

I’m just loving all these Christmas cookies!

More Easy Christmas Baking Recipes

Big and small gingerbread house cookies
Holiday gingerbread cookies with royal icing
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Gingerbread Cookies with Apple Cider Icing

Gingerbread Cookies with Apple Cider Icing are a festive holiday favorite!  The classic gingerbread cookie gets an upgrade with royal icing flavored with apple cider.  This small batch of cookies yield a perfectly tender cookie with delicious molasses and spice flavor.
Prep10 mins
Cook10 mins
Chill Time1 hr
Total1 hr 20 mins
Servings: 1 Dozen (see notes)
Author: Erin | Butter and Bliss

Ingredients

Gingerbread Cookies

  • 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 cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 3 tablespoons light brown sugar
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 3 tablespoons molasses, unsulphured
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Apple Cider Royal Icing

  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 1-2 teaspoons apple cider (see Instructions) - or any kind of milk
  • 1/8 teaspoon vanilla extract

Instructions

  • In a small mixing bowl, add the butter and brown sugar. Use a hand held mixer and beat on medium speed until smooth and creamy. Add in the egg yolk, molasses, and vanilla extract. Continue to beat until the yolk and molasses are mixed in well. The batter may look a little curdled – which is ok.
  • Sprinkle, or sift, the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, ginger, and salt over the top of the wet ingredients. Mix on low speed until not dry streaks remain.
  • Pour the dough onto a piece of plastic wrap and gently form into a disc. Cover the dough tightly in the plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
  • Preheat the oven to 350o degrees and adjust the oven rack to the middle position. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
  • Remove the dough from the fridge and place on a lightly floured work surface. Roll the chilled dough to 1/4 inch thickness. If you want thicker cookies, don't roll the dough so thin.
  • Use a cookie cutter to cut out your shapes, and place the cookies at least 2 inches apart on the baking sheet. Re-roll any scraps to cut into more cookies. I don't recommend re-rolling the dough more than twice.
  • I recommend baking one baking sheet of cookies at a time. While the first batch is baking, refrigerate the other baking sheet of cookies. If the cookies feel as though they got too warm while rolling and cutting, place both baking sheets in the refrigerator to cool for about 10 minutes.
  • Bake the cookies for 8-10 minutes, or until the edges are set. If you want crispier cookies, bake for a couple minutes longer. Cool the cookies on the baking sheet set on a wire cooling rack for 10 minutes. Then transfer the cookies to the cooling rack to cool completely.
  • Once the cookies are cool, make the royal icing and decorate the cookies!

Royal Icing

  • In a small mixing bowl, add the powdered sugar, vanilla extract, and 1 teaspoon of apple cider. If you want a more pronounced apple cider flavor, reduce 1 cup of apple cider to a 1/4 cup by simmering the juice over medium heat in a saucepan for 15-25 minutes. Add a teaspoon of cider at a time get your desired consistency. The apple cider is totally OPTIONAL.
  • If you prefer plain royal icing, use 1-2 teaspoons of milk (any kind) instead. Whisk together until the powdered sugar is moist. Add a teaspoon of milk at a time to get to your desired icing/decorating consistency.
  • Depending on how you choose to decorate your cookies, you may need more icing. You can double the ingredient amounts as needed.

Notes

  • The number of cookies in your batch will depend on how thick you roll out your cookie dough, and the size of your cookie cutters.
  • I recommend refrigerating the cut-out cookies before baking.  This helps them not spread too much.
  • I also recommend baking one baking sheet of cookies at a time.  For an even bake and not having to worry about rotating baking sheets in the middle of baking.
  • For a crispier cookie, bake for 1-2 more minutes.
  • The apple cider in the icing is optional.  You can use milk if you prefer.
  • If you choose to use the apple cider and want a more pronounced apple cider flavor, reduce 1 cup of apple cider to a 1/4 cup by simmering the juice over medium heat in a saucepan for 15-25 minutes.
  • Depending on how you choose to decorate your cookies, you may need more icing. You can double the ingredient amounts as needed.
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
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