Making cut-out cookies is one of my favorite holiday traditions, so I was thrilled to see a recipe in a hundred-year-old home economics textbook for Gingerbread Men.
These delightful molasses and spice cookies are decorated with raisins or currants, and are a little thicker and chewier than some gingerbread cookies. They’d be lovely on a holiday cookie tray.
Here is the original recipe:
The caption under the illustration in the old textbook says, “Some suggestions to please the children.” Today Gingerbread Men often are topped with lots of colorful icing, and very sweet. Would children in 2020 be pleased by Gingerbread Men decorated with only raisins or currants? My gut feeling is that many today wouldn’t fully appreciate this old-time flavorful, healthier option – and would miss the icing. Which is a pity. The Gingerbread Men were wonderful.
Here is the recipe updated for modern cooks:
Gingerbread Men Cookies
1/3 cup shortening
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 cup molasses
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ginger
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 3/4 cups flour
raisins or currants
Preheat oven to 375° F. Put shortening, brown sugar, egg, and molasses in mixing bowl; mix together. Add baking soda, ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon, salt, and flour; stir to combine. Roll to 1/4 inch thickness. (If too sticky to roll, add more flour.) Cut into shapes using a Gingerbread Man cookie cutter. Put on prepared baking sheet. Raisins or currants may be used for eyes, mouth, and buttons. (Cut raisins into several pieces if they are too large.) Bake for 8 – 10 minutes, or until the cookies are set. Remove from oven, allow to cool for 1-2 minutes, then transfer to cooling rack.
37 thoughts on “Traditional Gingerbread Men Cookies”
I’ve never seen an iced gingerbread man. Well, maybe a thin line of icing to indicate a smile, and little dots of black icing to indicate eyes and buttons. But iced? That’s sacrilege!
It’s good to know that not everyone ices gingerbread men.
You won’t find an iced one in a shop here.
I think we’ve identified another difference in foods between the US and the UK. 🙂
They look really good, but I have to say I like icing.
These were tasty and definitely seemed healthier – though I also like icing. 🙂
This sounds perfect. I don’t like crunchy and sugary. Chewy gingerbread is where it’s at.
Chewy is best – though there seems to be lots of variation with some types of gingerbread cookies being quite crisp.
Isn’t the cheweyness/crispness a function of their cooking time?
The thickness of the dough and the amount of baking soda/baking powder also affect the how crisp or chewy the cookies are. This recipe indicates that the dough should be rolled to 1/4 inch thickness, which is thicker than some recipes. And, there is enough leavening in the dough to make the cookies puff up a little when they are baked.
These look delightful! I like chewy!
They were yummy.
Nice recipe. Thanks for your awesome effort.
I was was pleased with how this recipe turned out. The gingerbread men were easy to make, and they were yummy.
Love these little gingerbread men. I like chewy.
The gingerbread men are adorable.
Sweet idea for kids and adults!
This would be a fun recipe to make with a child.
All we ever used growing up were raisins, poked in, before baking. Sometimes bits of candied fruit.
Candied fruit would also work well to decorate the gingerbread men.
Hmm, I shall! I’ve just declined my ususal Christmas plans with my Maryland crew since the Covid vaccine makes a later visit more reasonable. I shall send them some Gingerbread Grandmas. Yes, I shall! Thanks!!!!!!!
I love it! Great idea – I should make some, too, to send to my family.
Back when I was a young mother at home, I would bake over 50 dz cookies and my gingerbread men were dressed to the nines!!
It sounds like so much fun to make these cookies – and brings back warm memories of making gingerbread men with my daugther in past years.
I’d rather have the cookies with currants/raisins than with icing… but then I am no child, lol.
So would I – but then I’m also no child. 🙂
I love making cut-out cookies too, and this recipe looks pretty easy. I’ll have to try it!
It’s a nice cut-out cookie recipe. Everything went smoothly, and I didn’t have any problems with it.
This looks very similar to the Joy of Cooking recipe I always used. I never iced the gingerbread men. Raisins were required. The biggest question was what part to bite off first.
🙂 It’s good to know that this recipe is similar to the one in Joy of Cooking.
Yum! I love naked gingerbread men! My husband hated raisins & currents so I use dried cranberries or bits of dried cherries… I’m going to make cookies next weekend so this is perfect timing!
I think that you’ll like this recipe. Dried cranberries or bits of dried cherries would be a nice alternative to raisins and currants.
How cute are they!xxx
They are cute. I was pleased with how this recipe turned out.
I’ve never thought or heard of using currants or raisins as decorations. I’ve always used royal icing to pipe on faces and buttons. Raisins sound so much easier! I will add that to the mix.