Chocolate Gingerbread Men are a sweet twist on classic Christmas cookies. Sugar and spiced cookie dough with ginger, cocoa powder, molasses, and brown sugar.
Original Gingerbread Cookies get a Chocolate Cookie upgrade and are made into adorable Christmas characters perfect for Santa, his little helpers, or as holiday gifts. Check out more Cookie Recipes perfect for baking on Christmas Eve!
Making cookies on Christmas Eve is one of those traditions you can find all over the world. Holiday baking with kids gets even more special on the most magical night of the year. Gingerbread Men are one of the iconic Christmas Eve cookies to leave on a cookie platter for St. Nick.
As great as a classic Gingerbread recipe is, it’s time for this kid-friendly upgrade. This is a gingerbread cookie that has something for everyone. Rich dark cocoa powder for the chocolate lovers, warm spices for the gingerbread lovers, and soft, chewy texture for cookie lovers everywhere. It’s also an adorable addition to any holiday cookie tray.
If you’ve never tried chocolate and gingerbread spices together, you are in for a real treat. This Chocolate Gingerbread Cookie tastes like you’ve dipped ginger snaps in hot chocolate. Decorate these sweet and perfectly spiced cookies with Chocolate Royal Icing (below) for even more cocoa goodness!
Making these adorable little Chocolate Gingerbread Men is a fun family activity during the holidays. Kids will love dressing up their gingerbread cookies with frosting and little candy bits. Have a cookie decorating party and let friends and family customize their own baked cookie cutouts. Use all kinds of cookie cutters, these can be Chocolate Gingerbread stars, circus animals, a candy cane cookie, or whatever your kids like best!
Leave these Chocolate Gingerbread Men out for Santa with some homemade Hot Chocolate topped with Whipped Cream. Of course, your little Christmas helpers are going to have to sample the cocoa and cookies too! Gingerbread Cookies also make great holiday gifts wrapped in tissue paper in a festive box.
How to Make Chocolate Gingerbread Men
- Dry Ingredients: In a medium bowl, combine flour, cocoa, baking powder, salt, ginger, cinnamon, allspice, cloves, and nutmeg and set aside.
- Wet Ingredients: In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream butter on medium speed for about 1-2 minutes. Always use unsalted butter when baking so you can control the amount of salt in the recipe. Add brown sugar and molasses and mix until combined, then add egg and vanilla and mix until fully combined. Add dry ingredients and mix just until incorporated.
- Chill: The dough will be sticky and thick. Give it a few kneads by hand and divide in half. Form discs and wrap up tightly in plastic wrap. Chill for at least 3 hours (or up to 3 days).
- Roll and Cut: On a well-floured surface roll out dough discs into a ¼ inch thickness. Cut out cookies with a 4 or 6 inch gingerbread man cookie cutter and place on the prepared baking sheets with about 1 inch space in between. Dip your cutter into flour before using to keep the cookies from sticking to it.
- Bake: Bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees on cookie sheets with parchment paper. Bake one baking tray of cookies at a time for 8-11 minutes, the cookies should just lose their sheen and edges set slightly. Allow cooling on the baking sheet for 5 minutes then transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely. Decorate with royal icing or other frosting of your choice.
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Frequently Asked Questions
You don’t want to over bake Gingerbread Men, or they will be extra hard and crunchy. Remove them from the oven when the edges are slightly set and they appear dry. They will set more as they cool.
When giving cookies as a gift, you want to bake them as fresh as possible before wrapping and gifting (see the tips below on preparing the dough in advance). Make sure they are cooled completely, and package them in tissue paper to keep them from cracking. If your gift box or tin is not air tight, wrap the entire box in a clear plastic bag and tie with a decorative ribbon. Then your gift wrap also serves to help keep the cookies fresh!
For soft, chewy cookies you want to handle the dough as little as possible. Once the flour mixture is incorporated, stop mixing. It’s also helpful to use sharp cookie cutters so that you can move quickly to keep the dough from being handled too much or warming up as you work.
This dough needs to be chilled for at least 3 hours, unless you want Gingerbread Men that look like they got steamrolled. Since the butter becomes softened when mixing the dough, you want it to completely chill again so that your cookies will bake without spreading.
To make Gingerbread House pieces, leave out the baking powder in this recipe and bake a few minutes longer. Roll the dough into sheets and use a sharp knife or pizza cutter with a ruler to cut out the walls and roof of your house.
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Key Ingredients in Chocolate Gingerbread Men
Most of the ingredients for these cute cookies are already in your pantry. There are a few things that bring an extra special flavor to this wintery recipe.
- Spices: Classic mixed spices of ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves, and allspice add a warm and festive flavor to the Chocolate Gingerbread Men. The gingerbread spices meld together as the dough chills. Make sure your spices are fresh for the holiday baking season by replacing anything that is older than six months.
- Cocoa: Use Dutch process cocoa powder, rather than regular unsweetened cocoa powder. Dutch process cocoa has a darker, rich hue and more smooth, mellow flavor. The gingerbread and chocolate flavor combination works perfectly for these delicious cookies.
- Molasses: Light molasses is going to be sweeter than dark molasses. You should never use cooking or blackstrap molasses for baking – it’s really bitter!
Can you make Chocolate Gingerbread Men ahead?
Chocolate Gingerbread Men dough can be frozen for about 3 months or kept in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. To freeze, form cookie dough into a log shape and wrap tightly in plastic wrap, then place in a freezer bag. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator to roll shapes or just slice straight from frozen dough for round cookies.
Variations on Chocolate Gingerbread Men
- Espresso: Sift 2 tablespoons of instant espresso powder into your cocoa powder. Not only does espresso add a delicious bitterness, it enhances the richness of the chocolate.
- Decorations: Take your Chocolate Gingerbread dough scraps and use mini cookie cutters to make gingerbread decorations for cakes and cupcakes. Bake for about 4-6 minutes, depending on how tiny the cookie cutters are.
- Chocolate: For a simple decoration, drizzle Chocolate Gingerbread Men with melted white chocolate, dark chocolate, or Chocolate Ganache.
- Frosting: For an easy, spreadable decoration use Sugar Cookie Frosting. This is great for kids since they can press candies into the frosting and they won’t fall off.
Royal Icing for Chocolate Gingerbread Men
- Ingredients: 1 pound powdered sugar, ⅓ Dutch-processed cocoa powder, 7 tablespoons warm water, 3 tablespoons meringue powder (powdered egg whites).
- Sift powdered sugar, cocoa powder, and meringue powder together in a bowl.
- Slowly stir in water until you get the consistency of royal icing used for piping (thick enough to outline but not gloopy).
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How to Store Chocolate Gingerbread Men
- Serve: Chocolate Gingerbread Men will stay good at room temperature for up to 1 week.
- Store: Refrigerating Gingerbread will harden your cookies, so leave them on the counter for 30 minutes to soften. Store in an airtight container for about 1 to 1 ½ weeks.
- Freeze: Freeze undecorated Gingerbread Men cookies for up to 3 months. Cool completely before storing in a freezer bag.
- 3 cups flour
- 1/4 cup Dutch-processed cocoa powder
- 1 1/4 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 2 tsp ground ginger
- 2 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp allspice
- 1/8 tsp ground cloves
- 1/4 tsp nutmeg
- 2/3 cup butter
- 3/4 cup brown sugar
- 2/3 cup molasses
- 1 large egg
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Royal Icing, Frosting, Decorative Sprinkles, Candies, etc.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper & set aside.
- In a medium bowl, combine flour, cocoa, baking powder, salt, ginger, cinnamon, allspice, cloves, and nutmeg. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, with a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat butter on medium speed until creamy, for about 1-2 minutes.
- Add brown sugar and molasses and mix until combined.
- Add egg and vanilla and mix until fully combined.
- Add dry ingredients and mix just until incorporated.
- The dough will be sticky and thick. Give it a few kneads by hand and divide in half. Form discs and wrap up tightly in plastic wrap.
- Chill for at least 3 hours (or up to 3 days).
- On a well-floured surface roll out dough discs into a ¼ inch thickness.
- Cut out cookies with a 4 or 6 inch gingerbread men cookie cutter and place on the prepared baking sheets with about 1 inch space in between.
- Bake one baking sheet of cookies at a time for 8-11 minutes, the cookies should just lose their sheen and edges set slightly.
- Allow cooling on the baking sheet for 5 minutes then transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely.
- Decorate with royal icing or other frosting of your choice.