Light Spice Holiday Cookies

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Hands-on time:
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Yield: Yield: 3 to 4 dozen 2 1/2" to 3" cookies

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Ah, it's cookie decorating time. Break out the cutters, and your favorite cutout cookie recipe. Can't decide whether you want to make sugar cookies or gingerbread? These golden cookies are fence-sitters, combining the spicy taste of gingerbread without its dark color and assertive flavor. Just a hint of molasses gives them beautiful color and a mild, pleasing taste.

Light Spice Holiday Cookies

star rating (20) rate this recipe »
Hands-on time:
Baking time:
Total time:
Yield: Yield: 3 to 4 dozen 2 1/2" to 3" cookies
Published: 11/30/2010


  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup vegetable shortening
  • 3/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice or ground cloves
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 tablespoons molasses
  • 3 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch


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1) In a medium-sized bowl, beat together the butter, shortening, sugars, baking powder, spices, and salt until light and fluffy.

2) Add the egg and molasses, and beat well.

3) Mix about half of the flour into the butter mixture. When well combined, add the cornstarch and the remaining flour.

4) Divide the dough in half, flattening each half slightly to make a disk. Smooth the edges by rolling the disk along a lightly floured work surface. Wrap in plastic, and refrigerate for 1 hour (or longer), for easiest rolling.

5) Preheat the oven to 350°F.

6) Take one piece of dough out of the refrigerator, and flour a clean work surface, and the dough.

7) Roll it out as thin or thick as you like. For slightly less crisp cookies, roll it out more thickly. We like to roll these cookies 1/8" to 1/4"inch thick. Use flour under and on top of the dough to keep it from sticking to the table or rolling pin.

8) Alternatively, place the dough on parchment, and put a sheet of plastic wrap or another piece of parchment over it as you roll, pulling the plastic or parchment to eliminate wrinkles as necessary when rolling; this will keep dough from sticking without the need for additional flour.

9) Transfer the cookies to ungreased or parchment-lined baking sheets.

10) Bake them just until they're slightly brown around the edges, or until they feel firm, about 10 to 12 minutes.

11) Remove the cookies from the oven, and let them cool on the baking sheet for several minutes, or until they're set. Transfer them to a rack to cool completely. Repeat with the remaining dough.

Yield: 3 to 4 dozen 2 1/2" to 3" cookies.


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  • star rating 02/22/2015
  • mrmoran from KAF Community
  • Off-the-charts on flavor. Dough was quite challenging to roll. Even well-chilled, it softened quickly, and I'm afraid I'm not as fast as I need to be. I see some speed trials in my future -- I'm eager to make these cookies again and perfect (or, at least, improve) my technique!
  • star rating 12/12/2013
  • Sandi from Frederick, MD
  • My family and friends beg for this recipe! I think it's a great cross between a sugar cookie and gingerbread cookie. I find it light tasting.crispy, and super easy to use any shape cutters. I even made mustache cookies, which were a huge hit! This is now my "go to" gingerbread recipe!
  • star rating 12/11/2013
  • barbsjemms from KAF Community
  • I had leftover fresh ginger root that I grated and then doubled to account for the extra moisture. I also used unrefined coconut oil instead of shortening and the consistency of the dough and texture of the cookie came out perfectly. I wouldn't try to roll these out without parchment. There's a slight tendency for the dough to crack or crumble when it is very cold. The parchment made it easy. The only complaint I have is the same as with all cut outs...the time investment for how long the cookies hang around!
  • star rating 11/25/2013
  • the cookie queen from cupertino, california
  • Very good flavor, but the dough didn't come together (was like a bowl of sand). I suspect that using the organic vegetable shortening made of palm oil wasn't a good idea (too hard). After sprinkling in some water & skipping the chilling step, I cut them out & baked them. They're crispy and taste nice. Will try again using conventional shortening.
    It's true that changing ingredients will change the texture of these cookies. We're glad you turned the bowl of sand into edible cookies! Happy Baking - Irene@KAF
  • star rating 11/20/2013
  • NC Baker from KAF Community
  • This will be my new go-to spice cookie recipe - so much more flavor than the old bland sugar recipe I've used for years! I made the dough yesterday and rolled it out today, and had a bit of a hard time at first with the rolling out; I think because it uses butter and shortening it had a more shortbready, sandy consistency than my old recipe and it kind of crumbled apart at the edges. Once I let it warm up a bit though and kept lightly flouring the dough and rolling pin, I got the hang of it and rolled gently and it worked wonderfully - and the flavor, WOW! Spicy, sweet, hint of molasses - perfect! Thanks again, KAF, for a wonderful new favorite to add to the recipe box!
  • star rating 02/04/2013
  • Sue from Connecticut
  • We used this recipe for our Christmas spice cookie this year, and it fast became a family favorite! The texture is perfect for decorating. If rolled out to about an eighth inch thick they are crispy and sturdy, but not tough at all. The flavor is rich and warmly spicy, but not overpowering. I recommend rolling them out and baking them on parchment paper as recommended by other reviewers. This makes them easy to handle and even the most intricate shapes stay true. For Valentine's Day I will be baking them in heart shapes. Needed an excuse to make the recipe again!
  • star rating 12/26/2012
  • Dorie from washington, dc
  • I've been on a quest for the perfect gingerbread men cookies recipe for my kids -- and finally have found it! These are easy to make and are so LIGHT. It must be the corn starch. I was out of corn starch so used potato starch. The texture really shines through with these and they aren't too spicy but have enough spice flavor to make these very satisfying. MAKE THESE!
  • star rating 12/16/2012
  • treemanjake from KAF Community
  • These are great cookies. There are enough warm spices to get me in the holiday mood but not enough to overwhelm. My kids (3 and 6) liked them a lot too. I usually like chewy cookies but I actually preferred these on the thinner, more crispy side. I also like that they are fairly sturdy cookies so that my kids can decorate them without the frustration of them breaking apart in their hands. I'm making another batch right now!
  • star rating 11/23/2012
  • Daphne from Singappre
  • These are delicious! My son loves them and could chomp on them all day. We increase the spices and for decorating, omit the baking powder. The dough is not overpowered by molasses like regular gingerbread cookie recipes, and is easy to handle too - which means it has to be returned to the fridge less often and cutting out goes faster.
  • star rating 08/06/2012
  • Shefali from KAF Community
  • I am new to baking. I have been cooking since college, but only started baking about a month ago - so far only cookies, though this weekend I am going to branch out and bake a cake for my husband's birthday. If it doesn't turn out, well, there is always ice cream.... :) Anyway, the first batch of cookies I made was a disaster and the 2nd batch only so-so. Then I found your website, and since then... every time I make cookies, people rave and want the recipe and request a few to take home and then their husbands email me asking for some and... I only make the recipes that have 4 or 5 stars and I read all the comments and your tips so I can learn from others and so far that has worked really well for me. As someone who is new to this, access to a community is a huge blessing. Anyway, these particular cookies (light spice) are my Mom's FAVORITES. She told her best friend she never realized what a great baker her daughter was! My Mom loves these cookies, and so now I make sure she always has enough so she can have one with her afternoon tea. The one modification I made to the recipe - I added a small amount (1/4 teaspoon) of ground cardamom and I add an extra 1/2 teaspoon of both the ginger and the cinnamon.
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