Making Easy Gingerbread Cookies with Kids

Boy rolling out cookie dough

Gingerbread cookies are one of the simplest types of cookies to bake, and one of the most fun to decorate and eat. Whether you and your kids are seasoned bakers in the kitchen, or this is the first time you've attempted to bake with your kids, give this recipe a try. It's sure to be a hit with the whole family.

Easy Gingerbread Cookie Recipe

Gingerbread cookies are ideal as an easy kids' recipe because they are nearly impossible to get wrong. The dough is easy to roll and can be cut into shapes at room temperature. The baked cookies are less fragile than most ginger and sugar cookies, which makes them ideal for decorating. Scraps of the dough can also be re-rolled several times with good results.

Ingredients for Gingerbread Cookies

  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup light molasses
  • 1 cup shortening
  • 2/3 cup very hot water
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 8 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
  • Extra flour

Instructions for Making Ginger Cookies

  1. Preheat oven to 350° Fahrenheit.
  2. Measure out the sugar, shortening, hot water and molasses. Have your child carefully pour the sugar, shortening and molasses into the bowl; an adult should pour the hot water.
  3. Use a wooden spoon to thoroughly cream sugar, shortening, water and molasses. Once the bulk has been combined, turn the final mixing over to your child until well-incorporated.
  4. Let cool slightly and blend the eggs into the mixture.
  5. Measure out the remaining dry ingredients and have your child pour them into the bowl and combine well with a fork.
  6. Have your child add scoops of the dry ingredients to the wet mixture and blend thoroughly. (Because this dough is thick and the volume is large, hand blending is recommended. Kids with well-washed hands may enjoy helping with dough mixing.)
  7. You may chill dough or use it immediately. (If you chill the dough, let it sit at room temperature for about half an hour before use or it will be too stiff to easily roll.)
  8. Take a 4-5 inch diameter ball of dough and place on a well-floured board.
  9. Have your child roll the dough to approximately 1/4-inch thickness.
  10. Have your child cut the dough with various shapes and sizes of cookie cutters.
  11. Bake cut-out cookies on a greased cookie sheet for seven to eight minutes at 350° Fahrenheit.
  12. Cool cookies slightly before removing from cookie sheet.
  13. Place on a metal rack to continue cooling.

Recipe for Cookie Icing

Part of the fun of gingerbread cookies is decorating them once they are cool. This easy-to-spread icing can be piped, or spread onto the cookies for your kids to enjoy. Make the icing ahead of time, while the cookies are baking. Chill the frosting while the cookies cool to have it at the perfect decorating temperature.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup confectioner's sugar
  • 1/4 cup of milk
  • Several colors of food coloring

Instructions

  1. Assist your child in sifting the sugar into a bowl.
  2. Slowly pour in the milk, a little at a time, while your child stirs. Stop pouring the milk when the sugar is completely incorporated and the mixture is pliable and smooth, but not runny. If it becomes too loose, add more sugar.
  3. Divide the icing into as many bowls as you would like there to be colors. Add a few drops of tasteless, icing food coloring to each bowl and have your child mix the colors in until completely blended.

Decorating Tips

Gingerbread cookies are the perfect treat for any time of year, but they work particularly well with the flavors of fall and winter and make an excellent winter or fall activity. Try cutting your cookies into the shapes of leaves, gingerbread men and stars before baking. The following methods can be used individually or together to decorate the cookies and create some fun and tempting treats.

  • Spread a single color of icing over a cookie using a butter knife.
  • Place a small amount of icing in a pastry bag fitted with a small head and outline the shape of the cookie, as well as interior decoration such as leaf veins, or gingerbread men features.
  • Use a toothpick to apply the icing in various shapes and patterns.
  • Once the icing begins to harden, drag a toothpick, fork or other item through the icing to make indents and designs.
  • Place small pieces of candy in the wet icing, such as gumdrops, M&M's or Red Hots.

Creative and Delicious

Not only is cooking a fun, creative activity that can help develop math skills, but it can also help build a child's confidence. Gingerbread cookies are simple to make, which can help children gain a sense of accomplishment. No matter how simple a recipe, always supervise your children during cooking and baking. Use the opportunity of baking together to have fun with your children and to learn new skills at the same time. Of course, you'll also have a delicious dessert after completing this activity, which only adds to the fun.

Making Easy Gingerbread Cookies with Kids