These gingerbread man sugar cookies are the perfect gingerbread themed treat for those who don’t actually like gingerbread. Decorated with royal icing and made with sugar cookies, these are a nice and chewy cookie.
Tis the season for gingerbread cookies!
Except these are decorated gingerbread man sugar cookies, which both makes them something different and something to offer to people who don’t necessarily want your standard gingerbread cookies.
You can get creative with decorating them, but we use royal icing to turn them brown and be able to add their adorable outlines and details.
In this gingerbread cookie tutorial, I’ll show you how to make gingerbread cookies, how to make the dough for gingerbread cookies and how to decorate gingerbread cookies with royal icing.
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Tips for Making Gingerbread Man Cookies
Making gingerbread cookies is super easy even if you’re a beginner, but there are a couple of things you should know about making them to not go off the rails.
Firstly, when you follow the sugar cookie dough recipe, follow it to the letter.
Baking is a science, and you need to make sure you measure your ingredients correctly (weighing is the best)and chill as instructed.
Chilling the dough prevents it from spreading in the oven, as you don’t want gingerbread man blobs, but gingerbread man cookies with crisp edges!
The other thing to keep in mind is that when you go to cut out the gingerbread cookies, try to be gentle and not tug on the gingerbread men too much as it can misshape the dough so they will bake wonkily, but you wouldn’t necessarily know it until you bake it.
Must-Have Baking Tools (seriously)
- Silicone baking mats – I use this brand and my cookies slide right off without burning!
- a cookie scoop – get this one. It makes the perfect rounded cookies every time!
- silicone spatula – try this set. It’s the best way to get the most out of your dough and batters
- rolling pin guides – I use this one. Genius way to roll your dough out evenly!
What Dough Do I Use to Make Gingerbread Man Cookies?
Make your gingerbread man cookies using this cut-out sugar cookie recipe.
I really love this one because I find that my cookies always come out with no spread and are even in the oven.
You don’t want to just use any cookie recipe with this one, as the point is to make sure that your cookies have clean edges and remain the shape that you cut them out at.
This recipe uses both granulated sugar and some powdered sugar, which gives the cookie a chewier base and a bit softer than straight granulated sugar.
How to Make Royal Icing for Gingerbread Man Cookies
Making royal icing is really easy.
Use this royal icing recipe, which uses meringue powder, vanilla extract, water, and vanilla extract.
I like to use meringue powder instead of egg whites as it’s easier to store and it’s safe for pregnant women to eat.
Keep mixing the royal icing until you get the kind of “peaks” you want.
There are different types of royal icing you can make depending on what you’re doing with it.
If you want to make outline icing or icing to make leaves or flowers that need to hold their shape, you’ll want to beat the icing until you have “stiff” peaks that don’t move much.
For the flood, you’ll want medium peaks which means that the icing will hold a slight peak, but folds over and then disappears back into the icing.
The great thing about royal icing is that you can always adjust it by adding more water or powdered sugar, so all is not lost if you don’t get it right at first – just scrape off the cookie and keep trying.
Tips for Using Royal Icing
When using royal icing, it’s important to go slow at first if you’re a beginner.
Make sure that your piping bag is closed at the end so you can create a sort of tension within the bag to make the icing come out smoother and then put your tip about an inch above the cookie and let the icing drop down.
You don’t want to have the tip right next to the cookie, even though that sometimes seems to make the most sense intuitively.
You’ll have less control, I promise!
When you “outline” the cookie, that means to draw an outline on it.
When you “flood” the cookie, that means to fill in the outline with icing, which will then settle down and be that smooth base we love on royal icing.
You should also know that you need to be careful about letting things dry, as if you try to pipe details onto a wet cookie base, it will soak into the existing icing and be messy and not defined.
There is a “wet on wet” decorating technique that you can use, but this should be on purpose, not because you got impatient!
Must-Have Decorating Tools
- Piping bags – I use and love these ones
- Gel food coloring – much better than liquid food coloring
- Meringue powder – I use this kind for my royal icing
- Scribe – for awesome detail and clean up
How to Decorate Gingerbread Man Cookies with Royal Icing
To start decorating your sugar gingerbread man cookies, outline the entire gingerbread man with brown icing and then immediately flood the entire cookie with brown icing.
Give the cookie a bit of a shake to get the royal icing to settle, and then let dry for a couple of hours.
Then, use white icing to create the icing outline on the cookie, particularly with doing the squiggly line to mark the arms and legs like a traditional gingerbread man.
Use white icing to make the eyes and mouth, and choose another color to do 3 dots for buttons.
Finally, do two triangles touching at the point to make the bow, and add an edible silver pearl if you want to add a bowtie.
You can also just keep it to the three buttons, or you can do any other decorating ideas that you want!
Decorated Gingerbread Man Sugar Cookies
These decorated gingerbread man sugar cookies are perfect for people who don't like gingerbread but want that festive holiday feel with sugar cookie dough and royal icing.
- 24 cookies using cut-out sugar cookie dough
- 1 batch of royal icing, separated in the colors you want to decorate
- Bake the gingerbread man cookies using the sugar cut-out cookie recipe
- Make a batch of royal icing using the royal icing recipe
- Separate out the royal icing into as many colors as you want to decorate with and put into piping bags
- Outline the gingerbread man in brown
- Immediately flood the cookie in brown
- Let it dry 2 to 3 hours and then use white icing to outline the cookie and create squiggles around his arms and legs.
- Pipe on two eyes and a mouth.
- Pipe on 3 buttons or use M&Ms for buttons.
- Let dry for 12 hours
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