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Gingerbread Snowflakes

This seven-inch flake, prettier than a gingerbread house or a gingerbread man, is big enough to share -- but who really wants to? Sanding sugar atop piped royal icing gives it an icy sheen.

  • Yield: Makes 16 cookies
Gingerbread Snowflakes

Source: Martha Stewart Living Special Issues, 2005


  • 6 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for work surface
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 1 cup packed dark-brown sugar
  • 4 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cloves
  • 1 teaspoon finely ground pepper
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup unsulfured molasses
  • Royal Icing
  • Fine sanding sugar, for sprinkling


  1. Sift together flour, baking soda, and baking powder into a large bowl. Set aside.

  2. Put butter and brown sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment; mix on medium speed until fluffy. Mix in spices and salt, then eggs and molasses. Reduce speed to low. Add flour mixture; mix until just combined. Divide dough into thirds; wrap each in plastic. Refrigerate until cold, about 1 hour.

  3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Roll out dough on a lightly floured work surface to a 1/4-inch thick. Cut into snowflakes with a 7- inch snowflake-shape cookie cutter. Space 2 inches apart on baking sheets lined with parchment paper, and refrigerate until firm, about 15 minutes.

  4. Bake cookies until crisp but not dark, 12 to 14 minutes. Let cool on sheets on wire racks.

  5. Put icing in a pastry bag fitted with a small plain round tip (such as Ateco #7). Pipe designs on snowflakes; immediately sprinkle with sanding sugar. Let stand 5 minutes; tap off excess sugar. Let icing set completely at room temperature, about 1 hour.

Cook's Note

Store cookies between layers of parchment in an airtight container at room temperature up to 5 days.

Reviews (63)

  • stella_centennial 13 Dec, 2014

    I've been using this recipe for quite a few years. I've also dabbled in other gingerbread recipes each year, but this one remains my favourite. Slight modifications: I sometimes have to use less flour, and I always add a tablespoon of vanilla.

  • lizkelso 8 Dec, 2014

    This has been my go-to gingerbread cookie recipe for years. It is pleasantly spicy, but mild enough for a picky child to enjoy. The royal icing with lemon is a must, as the sweet lemon flavor perfectly sets off the spices in the cookies. The cookies come out hard and have a great "snap" to them when you bite in. They store really well and are not fragile -- excellent for gifting. This recipe makes a really big batch -- enough for several plates to share and one to keep for yourself!

  • kurnia 44 5 Dec, 2014

    Hi, I need help. Can someone guide me as to which royal icing recipe should I use for this gingerbread? I am new to baking and not sure which royal icing recipe to use. Thanks.

  • emileefollett 7 Oct, 2014

    I have made this gingerbread recipe every year for at least 5 years. I double the batch and generally get 80-100 cookies. (The snowflake cutter they used for this must be HUGE.) I cannot tell you how many people have told me that they're not only the best gingerbread they've ever tasted, but maybe their favorite cookies of all time. I also use the royal icing recipe recommended. They turn out beautiful and delicious every time. I call these "my gingerbread cookies," but all props to Martha.

  • rebeccaaj 16 Dec, 2013

    You might try adding 1-1.5 cup flour MORE and refrigerate overnight

  • lcodognotto 15 Dec, 2013

    I used the recipe from the MS Cookies book; but the dough is VERY soft and unmanageable. There is a discrepancy between the book and the online recipe. The book calls for 5.5 cups ap flour and 1.5 cups molasses. Does anyone have any suggestions to save the dough?!

  • skytalon 1 Dec, 2013

    Wonderful recipe! Been using this recipe for christmas gifts for the last 3 years. I usually make these 1 to 3 weeks in advance. After cooling, I packed up in wax papers (3 per fold) and stuffed in a ziplock and put in the freezer. I use a 3.5 " or 4" gingerbread man cookie cutter, so it yields over 50 cookies, I believe.

    Also after you cut it and put on cookie sheet, refrigerate about 10 to 15 minutes so they will keep the shape.

  • esull628 27 Jun, 2013

    They look just like real snowflakes. I'm pretty sure, although I do live in Florida.

  • mbajugi 16 Apr, 2013

    I love this recipe, i have used it for years and has always been a success. I make the spice & salt mixture in 5 x quantities, and then keep it in a jar, and use 45 grams for each portion. I also make the dough and keep it in the freezer for months for when I get the need to bake!

  • c1plas 20 Jan, 2013

    It is my fave and only recipe I will use for rolled recipe. I made a lazy accident, was so busy and couldn't get to baking the dough for 5 days (was in the fridge that long) and I just went ahead and made them. They were awesome, my nephew preferred them that way as it makes the spices meld better. I also experimented with variegated fresh pepper (was the only stuff I had) and it doesn't make a difference, it still tastes great.

  • Rhuvane 14 Dec, 2012

    Why is this recipe different from the one in "Martha Stewart's Cookies" book? It is the same snowflake picture, totally different recipe. Even after freezing the dough once it was rolled out, they were impossible to keep from sticking to the parchment.

  • minminwong 22 Dec, 2011

    Just made these to give away as gifts this year. The recipe made around 20 cookies with a 7-inch cutter and everyone was so impressed with them! I only used half the quantity of the royal icing so would only make half next time. Also make some with red sanding sugar to add a bit of color. It was a lot of work but the results are definitely worth it!

  • dbayhi 22 Dec, 2011

    I have been making this recipe for years. Have used all sized cuttie cutters and use it in my gingerbread house mold. These cookies stand up to humidity and I will never use another recipe. Thanks for another winner, Martha!

  • wkshank62 8 Dec, 2011

    I made this recipe for smaller star-shaped cookies, following the recipe exactly. I had my doubts about the pepper too, but the taste is really good & spicy. To decorate as shown is VERY time consuming (3-4 mins. per cookie?) but this recipe is worth doing if you need some "wow" factor for a gift-box of cookies: you can just put a few on top of the stack and they will class up the gift. I wish I had made a half batch, which would have been plenty for several dozen normal-size cookies.

  • wkshank62 8 Dec, 2011

    I made this recipe for smaller star-shaped cookies, following the recipe exactly. I had my doubts about the pepper too, but the taste is really good & spicy. To decorate as shown is VERY time consuming (3-4 mins. per cookie?) but this recipe is worth doing if you need some "wow" factor for a gift-box of cookies: you can just put a few on top of the stack and they will class up the gift. I wish I had made a half batch, which would have been plenty for several dozen normal-size cookies.

  • LizzieD 8 Dec, 2011

    I made this recipe (Gingerbread Snowflakes) from the M. Stewart Cookies book and I love the taste of them the recipe came out very soft (even after freezing the doughand hard to handle). Looking at this recipe I see that the one in the cookbook is missing or short on some of the ingredients. Is the recipe in the cookbook have errors in it? Does anyone know?

  • JohnNewman 1 Dec, 2011

    Love this Recipe. I stumbled upon these Rice Krispies recipes and videos which takes cooking and makes it a fun


  • vbdrep 27 Nov, 2011

    These are THE BEST Gingerbread Cookies you will ever have! I vary the sizes so not all the cookies are this big. Christmas wouldn't be Christmas without these cookies!

  • ParisBlue383 3 Mar, 2011

    I found a cookie cookie cutter very much like this at Only $5 with shipping included. Very pretty cutter. I gave these cookies for gifts. Everyone loved them!

  • lisajade512 14 Jan, 2011

    I made these cookies during the holiday and its by far the BEST gingerbread I've ever made!! I used a different cookie cutter but they came out chewy and moist! They lasted for 2 weeks and still were soft! BEST recipe

  • rycarda 4 Jan, 2011

    I want to know where I can get this seven inch cookie cutter as can't find one. thanks

  • jessica d nagel 29 Dec, 2010

    I have to admit, I'm not a "spice" lover of any kind (cookie, pie, cake, etc). That being said, I really like this cookie! It's different enough to make people take notice but mainstream enough to satisfy the simple eater. They were chewy with a bit of crunch

  • nuttshaw 23 Dec, 2010

    As with ALL MS Recipes, I followed the directions to the "T", but I found this recipe very dry. The dough was dry, the cookie was dry. The flavor is good...but very dry. Not impressed.

  • audranyc 19 Dec, 2010

    I used various smaller cookie cutters and reduced the baking time to 11 minutes, and they still were a bit too crispy. (Perhaps I cut them too thin.) If you use smaller cookie cutters, you may want to drop the temp down to 325 degrees or shorten baking time. These are tasty cookies but a tiny bit too spicy. Less ginger

  • mobear 18 Dec, 2010

    AMAZING!!!! I made my 1st batch last night and did something wrong, too thin maybe and they weren't so great. Tonight's batch a completely different story! LOVE THEM! Spicy, chewy and just plain delicious! My 3 year old helped and had a blast! WILL make again.

  • treemirea 15 Dec, 2010

    I made these for a cookie swap last year. I HATED gingerbread cookies until I tried this recipe. I sort of was forced into making them since no one else wanted to. My kids (3

  • Queencupcake 15 Dec, 2010

    Where can I buy a snowflake cookie cutter?

  • HeatherDiane17 12 Dec, 2010

    Last comment was cut off - check out Love

  • HeatherDiane17 12 Dec, 2010

    @debbie_french - I haven't tried this recipe myself, but I always make this soft

  • colin_and_annie 12 Dec, 2010

    I've been making these cookies ever since they appeared in MS Holiday Cookies 2005 and they're absolutely amazing!! They keep well, bake up beautifully and taste amazing! I've decorated them with the sanding sugar and royal icing a few times, but it takes a lot of work and they taste just as good decorated simply.

  • myke43 12 Dec, 2010

    To all who question the days given for the kleeping time for cookies...
    My rule is that a cookie properly stored will last until the last cookie is
    eaten. I would not spend the time to make and bake any cookie if
    the cookie is listed to be good for one day !!!

  • debbie_french 9 Dec, 2010

    Are the cookies soft crispy? I am desperately trying to find a decent soft, cutout gingerbread cookie. Thanks!

  • thequeenie 8 Dec, 2010

    okay, so I made these for a cookie swap last year and now they have great expectations from me..............what to make this year?!!

  • Magicpie77 5 Feb, 2010

    these are AMAZING! easy to work with. my first time making gingerbread cookies

  • rebekah kaminski 19 Dec, 2009

    I think this is the most difficult dough have ever worked with but the cookies are delicious. Best gingerbread ever!

  • Sandi344 31 Dec, 2008

    to julialovesmartha go to to search for the coookie cutter.

  • dadsteacup 30 Dec, 2008

    These cookies are Fantastic!!! My favorite part is the way some talented person decorated them.... I can do that!!! and it looks great!! i would never have thought of the beautiful feathery pattern... whew thanks! made me look like i know what i am doing!

  • julialovesmartha 26 Dec, 2008

    I am just discovering this recipe at the last minute. I can't seem to find a place that has 7 inch cookie cutters--would 5 inch be ok?? Please let me know as I plan to do this recipe tomorrow. Thanks!

  • samsgruppie 23 Dec, 2008

    These cookies are amazing! They were a great hit with my class, both children and parents were devouring them. Very easy dough to work with. I''m about to make a second batch..

  • rachel_nyc 22 Dec, 2008

    These cookies are deliciously spicy

  • thmalmed 20 Dec, 2008

    To NinainLondon.
    I live in Norway ( North West ). I baked them last week and they are still fine.
    Today I made a new dough to make a gingerbread house out of.

  • flirtyfloridian 19 Dec, 2008

    do these cookies come out crisp or are they more soft and a bit chewy? i'm still a bit new to baking, what ingredient makes gingerbread cookies a bit softer?

  • clownerella 19 Dec, 2008

    Totally delish! Hard to resist the dough! I made the dough and put it in the fridge for a few days until I had time to roll. Take it out an hour or so before you're ready to work it.

  • shellye27 16 Dec, 2008

    Is it possible to make the dough ahead and freeze it? Do you have to thaw it overnight before rolling out?

  • NinainLondon 14 Dec, 2008

    I have made Martha's gingerbread cookies for 4 years. I always find that they last for 2 weeks plus, particularly if the are iced. Store them in an airtight container in a cool dry place (not the refrigerator) I live in the UK where the winter temperature is cold so it may be different if you live in a hot climate.

  • thmalmed 12 Dec, 2008

    Can I only store them for 5 days? Whats the point of giving away food/cakes/cookies for x mas if they can not be stored for more then 5 days?

    I were thinking of making these tomorrow, but we dont eat them before x mas. Will they then be old? someone help me..

  • firegirl41 22 Feb, 2008

    The best recipe by far for gingerbread. The pepper lingers with the spice and it is delightful. The royal icing was a hit too! the whole deal is labor lntense, so don't rush, the result is well worth it. You don't even need the sanding sugar at the end!

  • borisdag 8 Feb, 2008

    Baked batches of these over the holidays and they were wonderful. It's a tad labor intensive, but totally worth it. Friends and family raved!

  • srsa 20 Dec, 2007

    Sanding sugar is a coarse sugar that looks almost like diamond baguettes. I'm not sure why this recipe refers to "fine" sanding sugar as the term seems contradictory. Wilton sells sanding sugar in various colors under the name "Sparkling Sugar." Another substitute could be Turbinado sugar--just not as much sparkle. If you use superfine sugar, the cookie will be extra sweet (more volume required to cover same area) and will not have the same sparkle as sanding sugar.

  • lwissler 19 Dec, 2007

    2nd try, I have both the SLT and the WS Snow Flake cookie cutters

  • lwissler 19 Dec, 2007

    I have both SLT

  • jjk 18 Dec, 2007

    Williams-Sonoma has the large copper snowflake cookie cutter, but only at the retail store. Sur La Table has a Set of 3 snowflake cookie cutters, but I think it's sold out online. They still have them at the store, but not many.

  • Tawki 17 Dec, 2007

    Where did you buy the copper snowflake cookie cutter? I've tried googling it, but so far each website has been "sold out".

  • tnielson 17 Dec, 2007

    I am interested in knowing where to purchase the large copper snowflake this year. I purchased the smaller snowflakes and enjoyed using them but am interested in getting the larger cutter this year.

  • 77chocolateangel 16 Dec, 2007

    Berry or also known as castor sugat will works well too.

  • rozziegirl 15 Dec, 2007

    Sanding sugar can be purchased from The King Arthur Baking Company.
    Check their web-site for the on-line catalog.

  • DeniseWebb 14 Dec, 2007

    Williams-Sonoma has it; or use superfine sugar, or put regular sugar in a blender.

  • pietzsche 13 Dec, 2007

    Where can I find "sanding sugar"?

  • jamjar_jude 11 Dec, 2007

    Last year I purchased the copper snowflake cookie cutter that was featured on the cover of Martha's special holiday issue (2006). I'm anxious to finally make a batch of the cookies and am glad that one of the comments mentions using lemon in the royal icing. Thanks! (See Royal Icing recipe)

  • mpegm 5 Dec, 2007

    Mom and I had used the same recipe for over 40 years when I tried this last year. I will never go back. It is the perfect gingerbread for any cookie application - people, snowflakes, ornaments. It's spiciness lingers, and it is so easy to work with. Hmmm, think I'll go make a batch now, and roll with the kids tonight!

  • lcheyne03 30 Nov, 2007

    I made these cookies last Christmas and they were delicious! I am getting ready to make them again for a cookie decorating party this year. Martha's sugar cookie recipe is also one of my favorites!

  • tiffanylynn 30 Nov, 2007

    this cookie is the quickest way to the title "Cookie Exchange Queen" But heed the warning, you may be invited to too many. There is such thing as too much of a good thing.

  • paigehambrook 30 Nov, 2007

    i really enjoyed making these cookies. The dough is so easy to work with.

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