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Chewy, Soft Sourdough Gingerbread Cookies

The tradition of baking sourdough gingerbread cookies is one of our all time favorites. These classic cookies fill the whole house with the irresistible aroma of the holiday season. Ginger spice, warm brown sugar, and gooey molasses are just a few of the delightful flavors packed into these adorable sourdough treats.

decorated sourdough gingerbread men cookies

One of the most satisfying things to do during the Christmas season is to make cherished memories with family members. Whether baking gingerbread cookies or putting together a gingerbread house, these classic holiday traditions nourish both body and soul.

Though this recipe yields a batch of perfectly spiced, chewy cookies, it also provides so much fun and festive cheer for this special time of year. Setting aside the extra time to create a cherished memory and a favorite treat is such a worthy way to show your love to family and friends.

Our children never tire of the opportunity to shape and squish the pliable cookie dough, to shape little Christmas trees and gingerbread men, or to squeeze the sweet royal icing out of the piping bag onto their special creations. It is such a wonderful way for them to use their imaginations and be creative. So, break out the parchment paper, tie on your aprons, and happy baking to you!

decorating sourdough gingerbread men cookies with kids
My kids decorating sourdough gingerbread men cookies.

Why you will love this recipe

  • Use up your sourdough discard: This is another one of those great sourdough discard recipes that allows you to use up some of that extra discard while creating a delicious dessert at the same time. You can also use an active starter if you prefer a milder flavor.
  • Pliable dough: The dough is very forgiving when rolling and reshaping. I let my children help and even their excessively handled cookies turn out surprisingly well.
  • Perfect texture: These sourdough gingerbread cookies are perfectly crisp on the outside and soft and chewy on the inside.
  • Include the whole family: Get the kids or grandkids involved in the kitchen and create some life-long memories.
  • Everyone loves an old-time tradition: Start an annual Christmas tradition and whip up this festive gingerbread cookie recipe every year.
  • Festive flavors and smells: The warm and fragrant spices used in this gingerbread recipe are almost as alluring as the flavor itself. Earthy and sweet cinnamon, spicy and robust ginger, rich and aromatic ground cloves and nutmeg, plus some classic allspice all combine to create the ultimate Christmas flavor.
  • Adorable Christmas decorating: 50% of the fun is eating these sourdough cookies, but the other 50% is the joy of getting to be creative with the decorating. Endless combinations of shapes like gingerbread men, Christmas trees, bells, hearts, and stars, plus the frosting, colors, and toppings make for an exciting and cheerful baking extravaganza.
process shots of making sourdough gingerbread cookie dough

How to Make Sourdough Gingerbread Cookies

Watch us make these delicious sourdough gingerbread cookies!

Let’s go over the steps for this gingerbread cookie recipe so you are prepared and ready to go when it comes time for baking.

Mix up the dry ingredients in a medium bowl

Whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and allspice. Set aside.

Make the gingerbread dough

In the bowl of a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, or in a separate bowl with a hand mixer, cream butter, molasses, and brown sugar by beating on medium speed until it is fluffy and creamy.

Next, add in the sourdough starter, egg, and vanilla. Mix until well combined.

Add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients, and mix on low speed until just combined. The dough will be slightly sticky.

Form 2 discs and wrap

Divide the dough in half, forming two flat discs by patting and shaping with your hands. Wrap the discs individually with plastic wrap.

Chill the dough

This dough will be sticky, so it is absolutely necessary to chill it in the fridge for at least 2 hours, or up to 3 days if you’d like the benefits of long fermentation. I find it most convenient to whip up the dough the day before I’d like to bake the cookies, and then chill in the fridge overnight. That way I have plenty of time the next day to enjoy the rest of the process. Chilling the dough makes working with the dough easier, and it also helps the cookies keep their shape while baking.

I especially recommend an overnight chill if you are going to be involving young children in the shaping step.

Preheat oven

When you are ready to bake the cookies preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line 2 to 3 baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats. Set aside.

Roll out the dough

Remove only 1 disc at a time from the fridge when you are ready to roll out the dough.

Flour your work surface, hands, and rolling pin. If the dough is too hard to roll out let it sit on the counter at room temp for 10-20 minutes before proceeding to roll out.

Roll out the dough to a ¼-inch thickness. It helps to roll the dough from the middle of the disc, rotating the disc as you flatten it out. If cracks develop on the outer edges, use your hands and fingers to pinch the dough back together.

Cut out shapes

Cut out your cookie shapes and place them 1” apart on baking sheets. Repeat the process with the other disc of dough.


Bake in preheated oven for 9-10 minutes, rotating the pan once halfway through the baking time.

Allow the cookies to cool on a cookie sheet and then transfer them to a cooling wire rack to finish cooling completely. Once cooled, decorate the cookies.

Make icing

Mix up the royal icing following the instructions below.

process shots of rolling out sourdough gingerbread men cookies

Royal Icing:

In a stand mixer or in a large bowl with a handheld mixer whisk together powdered sugar, meringue powder, and water.

Beat together on high for 2 minutes.

The icing should drizzle off the whisk in a smooth ribbon within 5-10 seconds. If it is too thick add in more water 1 Tablespoon at a time. If the mixture is too thin add more confectioners sugar.

It takes about 2 hours for the royal icing to dry on the cookies.

royal icing dripping off a handheld mixer whisk

Tips for Making Sourdough Gingerbread Cookies

  • You can use active sourdough starter or sourdough starter discard in this recipe.
  • If the dough feels too sticky, increase the flour ever so slightly until it feels manageable. Be careful not to add too much flour and remember the dough will be easy to work with after chilling.
  • Be sure to chill the dough. It works well to chill the dough overnight and then roll it out and bake the next day. If you want to make these the same day, chill the dough for at least 2 hours.
  • If you’re wondering how to work with the dough and use up the leftover scraps, you can watch my video where I demonstrate the whole gingerbread man cookie-making process step by step, including piping on the royal icing and decorating the cookies.
  • When mixing up the royal icing it’s important to get the right consistency. A great way to tell if you’ve got the right thickness is to watch when you lift the whisk out of the icing, you’ll want to see it drip off the whisk in a continual ribbon within 5 to 10 seconds.
piping royal icing on a sourdough gingerbread cookie

Sourdough Gingerbread Cookie Ingredients

Dry ingredients:

All purpose flour

Baking soda


Spices – ground ginger, ground cinnamon, ground allspice, ground cloves

Wet ingredients:

Unsalted butter – softened

Brown sugar


Sourdough starter – active or discard

Egg – gives structure to the cookies


Optional royal icing:

Confectioners sugar

Meringue powder


a cut out unbaked sourdough gingerbread man cookie dough shape

Tools you will need:

Stand mixer or hand mixer

Measuring cups and spoons

Baking sheets

Parchment paper

Cookies cutters

Piping bag

sourdough gingerbread men cookies on a baking sheet with cookie cutter and rolling pin


Do I have to chill the cookie dough?

Yes! Don’t skip the chilling step in this recipe. You will have much better results this way.

Can I use an unfed starter in this recipe?

Absolutely, you can use unfed sourdough starter or fed starter in this recipe. Using an unfed starter will give a bolder sourdough flavor.

Do I have to frost gingerbread cookies?

Unfrosted, plain gingerbread cookies are super delicious all on their own. If the hustle and bustle of the holiday season has got you feeling a bit worn down, you can totally enjoy these cookies without any extra embellishments.

Can I use this gingerbread recipe to make gingerbread houses?

This dough is not quite sturdy enough for gingerbread houses. Try this great Gingerbread House recipe by Sally’s Baking Addiction. 

Are these cookies hard or soft?

The longer you bake these cookies the harder they will get. Follow my recommended baking times for a perfectly crisp outer layer and a soft, chewy inside.

close up of decorated sourdough gingerbread men cookies

How To Store Sourdough Gingerbread Cookies:

Gingerbread cookie dough can be stored in the fridge, wrapped tightly with plastic wrap for up to three days prior to baking. The longer you chill in the fridge the more depth of flavor the sourdough will impart in the cookies. This longer fermentation process also adds some unique health benefits to the cookies.

The unbaked cookie dough also freezes well. Store double-wrapped in plastic wrap in the freezer for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the fridge, shape, bake, cool, and decorate.

Baked cookies that have been decorated and leftover cookies can be stored at room temperature in an airtight container for up to 1 week.

You can also freeze baked cookies (decorated or not) in a sealed bag or container for up to 3 months.

More Sourdough Favorites From Our Rooted Deep Home

If you make this recipe and love it, It would bless our family if you gave it 5 stars! Tag me on Instagram @rooteddeephome with your tasty creation.

Yield: 24 Cookies

Sourdough Gingerbread Cookies

Sourdough Gingerbread Cookies

Perfect for the holiday season, these sourdough gingerbread cookies are soft and chewy inside and perfectly crisp outside. Packed with the festive spices of Christmas, like ginger and allspice, these gingerbread men cookies will fill your home with the nostalgic smells of Christmas time.

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Additional Time 2 hours
Total Time 2 hours 25 minutes


  • 4 cups all purpose flour (spooned and leveled)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 Tablespoon ground ginger
  • 1 Tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 10 Tablespoon unsalted softened butter
  • 1 cup packed light or dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup sourdough starter (both discard or active will work)
  • 2/3 cup Molasses (not blackstrap) Grandma's brand is great
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • Optional: Royal Icing (see notes for ingredients)


  1. In a medium bowl, whisk flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, allspice, and cloves. Set aside.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer or a large bowl with a handheld mixer, cream the butter, brown sugar, and molasses together by beating on medium speed until combined and creamy. Scrape down sides as needed. Next, beat in the sourdough starter, egg, and vanilla. Mex on high speed for 2 minutes.
  3. Add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients and beat on low until just combined. This dough can be quite sticky and thick, but it will become more manageable after chilling.
  4. Divide the dough in half and place each portion onto a large sheet of plastic wrap. Use your hands to shape each piece of dough into a disc shape, then wrap it with plastic and chill in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours. I find overnight chilling to work best.
  5. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line 2 to 3 large baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats. Set aside.
  6. Remove 1 disc of gingerbread cookie dough from the fridge at a time. Flour your work surface, hands, and rolling pin. Roll out the dough until it is 1/4-inch thick. Start in the center of the dough and roll out away from the center, rotating as you go. You may need to pick up the dough and re-flour the surface underneath. Mend any cracked edges by pressing and re-shaping the dough. If the dough is too stiff from chilling, leave it sit at room temperature for 10-15 minutes and then try again. Re-roll any leftover dough scraps until you have used up all the dough. Place cut-out dough shapes 1 inch apart on prepared baking sheets. Repeat with the other disc of dough.
  7. Bake cookies for about 9-10 minutes. Rotate midway to ensure even baking.
  8. Allow cookies to cool on the sheet for 5 minutes and then transfer them to a wire rack to finish cooling. Once completely cool, decorate the cookies.
  9. Sourdough gingerbread cookies will stay fresh covered at room temperature for up to 1 week.


Royal Icing:

  • 4 cups confectioners' sugar
  • 3 Tablespoons meringue powder
  • 10 Tablespoons water (room temp)
  • optional: gel food coloring

Using a stand mixer or handheld mixer beat ingredients together in a large bowl for 2 minutes. When you lift the whisk out of the bowl the icing should drizzle into the bowl in a smooth continuous ribbon in about 5 to 10 seconds. If the consistency is too thick add more water 1 Tablespoon at a time. If too thin, add more confectioners' sugar.

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