Gingerbread Men

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Sweet, lightly spiced, crunchy gingerbread men biscuits. Shaped like little people and enjoyed by generations.

Gingerbread men recipe from Baking with Granny. Easy ginger biscuits, finished with icing and sweeties.

It’s funny because growing up, I never really associate Gingerbread Men with Christmas. Granny always had a Gingerbread Man cutter, as well as a Gingerbread Women one too. And one of my favourite cook books she had featured a recipe for Gingerbread people – I can still remember the 80s-esque photo that accompanied the recipe. But these were never festive, instead they were simply classes as “recipes for children.”

You never saw a colourful gingerbread man either. They simply had currants baked on for eyes and buttons. Icing faces, a rainbow of smarties, and “gumdrop buttons” didn’t come until later…

As I got older, gingerbread men suddenly became synonymous with Shrek. Again, not very festive. Now though…now gingerbread men seem to have their moment of fame every time Christmas rolls around.

I’m not mad about it! I love me a little biscuit man. In fact, I’ve just bought myself a Christmas jumper that is covered in gingerbread men.

Recipe for gingerbread men and women from Baking with Granny. Little biscuit people, with a lightly spiced ginger flavour and crunchy texture.

When it comes to the texture of gingerbread biscuits, this is where opinion appears to be divided. For me, I want my gingerbread men to have a bit of bite, a bit of crunch. Not enough to break your teeth but enough to make it clear he’s more of a cookie than a cake.

However in researching different gingerbread men recipes, it became clear that the majority of recipes opt for a softer finish; more chewy and almost cake-like.

If that’s more your thing, no judgement. In fact, I love and can recommend Sally’s Baking Recipes Gingerbread Cookies if you are looking for a gingerbread man on the softer side. You won’t find a soft biscuit person here though…here, we like our gingerbread biscuits with some bite!

Gingerbread biscuits recipe. Crunchy gingerbread cookie, perfect for gingerbread men.

Ingredients:

Butter or Margarine
As these gingerbread biscuits are loaded with flavour from the ginger & cinnamon – not to mention the sweetness of the sugar and golden syrup – the choice of butter or margarine purely comes down to personal preference, as neither will really enhance or effect the overall taste. I like margarine as a way to omit the dairy (making these vegan gingerbread men) and because it is less expensive.
If using margarine, just be sure to use a block margarine, as opposed to a spreadable one. The latter will change the over all texture of your biscuits due to having a higher water content.

Soft Light Brown Sugar
A light brown sugar helps give these gingerbread men that recognisable golden hue. You can swap out the sugar for an alternative, like caster sugar, but you will find their colour changes, as does their level of sweetness. Personally, I think the light brown sugar is a must.

Golden Syrup
A real favourite here in the UK! If you’re unfamiliar with Golden Syrup, our guide Golden Syrup – Ingredient 101 is a great place to start. As with most recipes that include Golden Syrup, I recommend not substituting it, as there’s really nothing else out there that will give that distinctively warming flavour. You can easily find Golden Syrup to purchase online, however if you aren’t able to do this my recommendation would simply be to omit it from this recipe. It’s really just there to compliment the flavours and give some extra crunch whilst baking – your biscuits can still be successful without it.

Plain Flour
Only a small amount of raising agent is used in this recipe for gingerbread biscuits. These aren’t you soft, squidgy, nearly cake-like gingerbread men…these are crunchy, with a bit of snap when you break them gingerbread men. Simple plain flour helps us achieve that texture.

Bicarbonate of Soda
A little bicarb is added to your gingerbread dough. Not much but just enough to cause a slight reaction with the heat in the oven. This helps achieve a more even bake and texture in your biscuits, and prevent them edging from having a nice bite, to breaking your teeth!

Ground Ginger
A key ingredient, you could say! I like a really obvious ginger taste in my biscuits, so I tend to use heaped teaspoons. If you prefer your ginger a bit more subtle, dial it back a bit, even down to one teaspoon.

Ground Cinnamon
Not something you get in every gingerbread men recipe but something I consider an essential. Cinnamon just adds another dimension to the flavours in these biscuits, complimenting both the ginger and sweetness perfectly.

What is Golden Syrup?

Golden Syrup is a popular baking ingredient in the UK… But what is it? Where can you get it? And what can you use as a substitute?

My in-depth Golden Syrup Guide has all the answers to your questions!

Gingerbread man cookie, finished with white water icing and chocolate smarties for buttons.

Granny's Top Tips

• When mixing your dough, it may seem like it is going to be a bit dry, once you’ve added the flour. Don’t worry! Once you get your hands in to help mix, the warmth from your hands will help the butter/margarine soften more and help bring everything together.

• This gingerbread men recipe is a no-chill dough. As soon as you’ve rolled and cut your dough, you can go ahead and bake it. If however you are working in a warm kitchen, or making them in the heat of summer, you can chill your dough before baking, if you feel it needs it.

• The baking time of your gingerbread men will change, depending on the size of your gingerbread men. I cannot stress this enough! The bigger the gingerbread man, the longer you need to bake them. Same goes for if you are using a small gingerbread man cutter – you’ll need to bake them for less time. The times given in the recipe are for the middle size in a set of 3 gingerbread men cutters. I would always recommend checking your biscuits at around 10 minutes, and then adjusting your baking times from there.

Vegan gingerbread men recipe from Baking with Granny. The recipe can easily transform your gingerbread people to completely vegan, by simply using a dairy-free margarine.
Gingerbread biscuits recipe. Crunchy gingerbread cookie, perfect for gingerbread men.

Gingerbread Men

Sweet, lightly spiced, crunchy biscuits. Shaped like little people and enjoyed by generations.
5 from 5 votes
PRINT RECIPE
Course: Dessert, Snack
Cuisine: American, British, Scottish
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Servings: 10 biscuits

Ingredients

To Decorate:

Instructions

  • Pre-heat your oven to 170°c (150°c for fan assisted ovens or Gas Mark 3/4) and line a couple of baking sheets with greaseproof paper. Set aside.
  • In a large bowl, cream together your butter/margarine and sugar, until light (in texture - the colour will remain darker due to the brown sugar) and fluffy. Add your golden syrup and stir through to combine.
  • Sift in your flour, bicarbonate of soda, ginger and cinnamon. Mix your dry and wet ingredients together to make a stiff dough - you will probably need to use your hands!
  • Gently knead the dough together, before rolling with a rolling pin on a well floured surface, to around 0.5-1cm thick. Using your gingerbread man cutter, cut your people from the dough and transfer to your pre-lined baking sheets, leaving a little space between them. Knead together any off-cut before re-rolling the dough, until you have used it all and cut all your gingerbread people. Depending on the size of your cutter, you should get between 10-20.
  • Bake your gingerbread biscuits in your pre-heated oven for 10-15 minutes. The smaller your people, the less time they will take to bake, and vice-versa.
    When they are golden and dry looking, remove from the oven to cool. Be careful not to overbake your biscuits - this can happen quickly due to the presence of golden syrup in the dough.
  • Once completely cool, you can decorate your gingerbread men. Mix the icing sugar with a little boiling water, add it a teaspoon at a time until you have the desired consistency. You can use a piping bag for accuracy, or simply drizzle it in place. Finish with sweeties, such as smarties, jelly tots or chocolate chips.
Tried this recipe?Tag @bakingwithgranny or use the hashtag #bakingwithgranny!

Free-from & Vegan

Gluten-free: In theory, a straight swap to gluten-free flour should work with this recipe. I haven’t tried and tested this though so can’t say for sure. For a fool-proof Gluten-free Gingerbread Men recipe, Becky Excell have you covered.

Nut-free: There’s no nuts used in this gingerbread biscuit recipe. Just be sure to double check your ingredients individual for any hidden allergens.

Egg-free: No eggs are used in this recipe, making them eggless gingerbread men. Just be sure to check your ingredients individually if serving to someone with an egg allergy.

Dairy-free: Simply use a dairy-free margarine to make this gingerbread men recipe dairy-free.

Vegan: You can easily make these Vegan Gingerbread Men. Simply use a dairy-free margarine, and opt for gelatine-free and dairy-free sweeties to decorate.

Gingerbread Men recipe from Baking with Granny.

8 Responses

  1. 5 stars
    I’m taking the gingerbread (xmas trees) to my family,so they haven’t had the.taste test.If they’re as good as they look I’d better bake more!

  2. 5 stars
    I just made these and they’re fantastic. I’ve been looking for a crunchy gingerbread men recipe for a while, and it seems that we’re in the minority for liking them that way! This recipe gives a really strong flavour, too, so even if you don’t decorate the cookies they don’t taste “boring”. Not to mention that it’s super quick because of the lack of fridge time. Thanks so much for sharing.

    1. Hi Michelle. I haven’t tried freezing the dough so couldn’t say for sure. It can however be kept in the fridge for a few days, if required. Hope that helps!

  3. 5 stars
    Just made these. Super tasty. We prefer the ones I did a little thinner but that’s just us. Really easy to do and made some into trees too. How is best to store them? Tuppawears?

  4. The recipe is missing wet ingredient(s). Had to add an egg as it was like dust. Came out v sticky but nice once cooked.

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Hi! I'm Amy

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Hello, I’m Amy, the voice-behind and creator-of Baking with Granny.

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