Old Virginia Gingerbread Cookie Recipe (2024)

Old Virginia Gingerbread Cookies

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Old Virginia Gingerbread Cookies are adapted from the many recipes that I came across when I lived in Colonial Williamsburg. Some ingredients in these recipes are interesting, but I wanted easy, and I wanted to use butter. Simply searching out what ingredient does what helped me make a recipe that turned out spicy and easy enough to roll and cut, or just pinch off into balls which baked wonderfully round and delicious.

It’s my rule not to taste cookie dough once the flour is added, but I couldn’t help it, and you’ll see why when you start to put this together. They were perfect. If you roll and cut, the flour on top will give you an old-fashioned cookie look, or you can sprinkle with powdered sugar.

As you mix things together, the gingerbread may look like it doesn’t have enough flour to pick up and roll, but try it. In this photo, I had not added any more flour.

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The dough should not stick to your fingers, however, it will be soft. Pinch some dough off and you’ll see that you can roll it. If it’s too sticky add a tablespoon more of flour. Try again.

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Old Virginia Gingerbread Cookies

Butter: I used unsalted, but I would assume that salted is fine also. Make sure your butter is softened. I do this for about 10 seconds, twice, in the microwave.

Sugar:I debated whether or not I should try brown sugar in this. Since brown sugar has molasses and this recipe has plenty of that, I opted for white sugar. I normally use a combination of both.

Spices:While it may be tempting to use a pre-made gingerbread spice, this recipe really comes alive with the separate combinations of ginger, clove, cinnamon, and nutmeg.

Soda and Powder: I used a combination of these as I wasn’t sure about the rising. 1 tsp. of baking powder to 2 tsp. of baking soda ended up being perfect to the rise I wanted. You can reduce the baking powder to 1/2 tsp. if desired.

Flour: I used unbleached, all-purpose. If you roll the cookies out to cut, you’ll need to have a well-floured surface as the dough is very soft.

Make the scoops bigger for BIG gingerbread cookies that your little ones will sparkle over!

Milk: I used 1/2-1/2. You can use evaporated milk.

Molasses: I used unsulfured. Any good brand works. I used Golden Barrel, Blackstrap.

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Roll the dough into 1 1/2″ balls and press flat onto a parchment-lined or silicone lined cookie sheet. Press the gingerbread dough into a flat circle.

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Bake 8-10 minutes. I did a touch test after 8 minutes to see if there was spring back on the cookie. You’ll want to take them out at 8 minutes if they spring back. They smelled wonderful! The whole house smelled like gingerbread. The cookies are crisp on the edges, but soft and chewy on the inside.

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Enjoy! This has become my favorite gingerbread cookie recipe!


Yield: 70 Cookies

Old Virginia Gingerbread Cookies

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Old Virginia Gingerbread Cookies is a recipe I adapted from the time I lived in Williamsburg, VA. This recipe is a large batch, easily cut in half if desired.

Prep Time20 minutes

Cook Time10 minutes

Total Time30 minutes


  • 8 c. unbleached flour
  • 3 tsp. ground ginger
  • 2 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. ground cloves
  • 1 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 2 tsp. baking soda
  • 2 c. butter
  • 1 1/2 c. brown sugar
  • 1/2 c. white sugar
  • 1/2 c. cream or milk
  • 1 1/4 c. black unsulphured molasses
  • Powdered sugar for sprinkling


  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Prepare cookie sheets with parchment or silicone liner.
  2. Whisk flour, spices, salt, baking soda and baking powder together in a separate bowl. Set aside.
  3. Cream butter and sugar together.
  4. Add the molasses and milk. Cream again.
  5. Add the flour mixture in parts, mixing after each addition.
  6. The dough should be soft but not stick to your fingers. If it's too sticky, mix 1 TBSP more of flour until it's easier to handle, but be careful or you'll have dry dough. I'm at high altitude, and 8 cups was perfect.
  7. Pinch off a 1 1/2" ball, roll and press flat with two fingers.
  8. Bake between 8-10 minutes, testing after 8 minutes.
  9. Sprinkle with powdered sugar.
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Old Virginia Gingerbread Cookie Recipe (7)


On Joyous Home, you’ll find everything from food to handiwork, homeschooling to grace-filled living. Along with my daughter, Jessica, we love publishing and blogging about homemaking. We are children of Christ, and imperfect wives and homemakers. We’re happy you’re here!

Old Virginia Gingerbread Cookie Recipe (2024)


Should gingerbread cookies be hard or soft? ›

Should gingerbread cookies be hard or soft? Soft gingerbread biscuits are ideal. They ought to be flexible. However, they should still be somewhat elastic, and if you hold them too firmly because you're so excited to eat them, you might even be able to leave your fingerprints on the cookie!

What is the difference between gingerbread and ginger cookies? ›

Gingersnaps vs. Gingerbread. The main differences between gingerbread and gingersnaps are that ginger snaps bake for a longer period of time to get their crispiness–and gingerbread cookies are a little chewier (and almost always rolled out into different shapes like gingerbread men and other holiday figures).

Why are my ginger cookies so hard? ›

“There are some gingerbread recipes that are hard right after baking and need to sit for a few days to soften. Molasses and honey hardens gingerbread, but as the sugar absorbs moisture, it will get softer.”

What is the dark history of gingerbread? ›

​Superstitions about gingerbread flourished in the 17th century. Witches supposedly made gingerbread figures, ate them, and thereby caused the death of their enemies. Dutch magistrates went so far as to declare baking or eating molded cookies illegal.

What are the three types of gingerbread? ›

The three distinct types of gingerbread are brown gingerbread, wafer-based gingerbread and honey gingerbread.

What type of molasses for gingerbread cookies? ›

Dark Molasses

How to use it: It can generally be used in place of light molasses and is what gives gingerbread cookies their distinct color and flavor.

How important is molasses in gingerbread cookies? ›

From light to blackstrap, sulfured to unsulfured, the large variety of molasses options can be confusing. And one type will make your treats "frankly inedible." Molasses is the essential ingredient in gingerbread cookies, providing the chewy texture and almost burnt sugar flavor that characterizes the treat.

What are gingerbread men called now? ›

Some bakeries are now calling gingerbread men by the gender neutral term “gingerbread people.” Do you agree with the change? I couldn't care less if they called them “gingerbread cookies.” Originally Answered: Some Bakeries are now calling Gingerbread men by the gender fluid title Gingerbread people.

What is Victorian gingerbread? ›

gingerbread, in architecture and design, elaborately detailed embellishment, either lavish or superfluous. Although the term is occasionally applied to highly detailed and decorative styles, it is more often applied specifically to the work of American designers of the late 1860s and '70s.

Why don't my ginger cookies crackle on the top? ›

Not enough leavening (it needs to be strong enough to crack the top once it's set) Using a single-acting baking powder (double acting gives extra rise when it gets heated) Not creaming the fat long enough (creaming cuts little air pockets into the fat, which means the leavening has to do less work)

What ingredient makes cookies harder? ›

Baking powder

Baking powder contains sodium bicarbonate and acidic salts. The reaction of these two ingredients results in a cookie that is soft and thick, but slightly harder.

Why was gingerbread illegal? ›

A fear that gingerbread men could be the agents of the devil also spread throughout Europe. In 1607, the superstitious magistrates of Delft in the Netherlands made it illegal to either bake or eat any of these molded and spiced cookies. This was also a time of religious upheaval.

What country invented gingerbread? ›

According to Rhonda Massingham Hart's Making Gingerbread Houses, the first known recipe for gingerbread came from Greece in 2400 BC.

What is the fairy tale about gingerbread? ›

In the 1875 St. Nicholas tale, a childless old woman bakes a gingerbread man, who leaps from her oven and runs away. The woman and her husband give chase, but are unable to catch him. The gingerbread man then outruns several farm workers, farm men, and farm animals.

Is gingerbread supposed to be hard? ›

Gingerbread biscuits can be hard or soft, so if you want to make decorations, you'll need a recipe that will set hard and be very dry. The drier the biscuit is, the longer the icing will keep its original colour and stay hard. If the biscuits are soft, the icing will start to suck up moisture and colour over time.

Should cookies be hard or soft? ›

You can take a bite or break off a piece. Either way, when you taste it, you'll know for certain if it's done. A cookie that's fully done shouldn't be doughy, nor should it be overly crunchy (unless you're making a really crunchy type of cookie). It should be soft, crumbly, and perfect when freshly baked.

Do gingerbread cookies harden as they cool? ›

Gingerbread Cookies are done when they are set and begin to brown slightly at the edges. They will harden further as they cool, so avoid overbaking so you don't end up with hard, crunchy gingerbread! Underbake slightly to achieve soft, slightly chewy gingerbread cookies.

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