20 Gingerbread Decorating Ideas That Are (Almost) Too Cute to Eat
Make gingerbread decorating a tradition in your home with these fun ideas! Our Test Kitchen shares plenty of designs, from simple silhouettes to elaborate (and silly!) characters.
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One of the greatest joys of making gingerbread cookies (besides the spiced flavor that just screams holiday), is putting your unique stamp on these cutouts. Gingerbread decorating can be elaborate, simple, showered in sprinkles or simply dusted with confectioners’ sugar. Whichever way you do it, the results will be delicious.
Classic Gingerbread Men
When you think of gingerbread decorating, you think of the classic man-shaped cutout cookie topped with simple white, red and green icing. This technique is classic and simple. Just stir up a batch of easy royal icing (it’s our Test Kitchen’s favorite frosting for decorating cutout cookies), add it to a piping bag fitted with a small round tip and pipe away!
You can use small candies and sprinkles to add more detail. It’s Christmastime, so go crazy with the extras!
Invite an abominable snowman to your holiday gathering with this creative gingerbread decorating idea. To achieve the furry texture, place white sprinkles over white frosting before piping blue frosting onto the face, hands and feet. Don’t forget to finish these yeti cookies with the candy equivalent of googly eyes: eyeball sprinkles.
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For an even easier shortcut, try these gingerbread house cookie cutters with all the details outlined for you!
You can use that same classic gingerbread man shape to make all sorts of other cookies. This snowman is topped with a baisc royal icing. Once the white layer is dry, pipe on a carrot nose, twig arms and boots.
With a molasses-rich dough, these gingerbread cookies are the perfect shade for Santa’s reindeer. Use a bit of basic royal icing to outline these cookies and add a fluffy white tail and antlers. Don’t forget to add a red nose to one of the cookies!
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We know that royal icing is the standard for topping cutout cookies, but gingerbread decorating can be done with fondant too! To decorate these snowflake cookies, pipe on a base of royal icing. Then use cookie cutters to cut out thinly rolled fondant to create delicate snowflake shapes.
You can add some dazzle by sprinkling on a bit of sanding sugar or luster dust to make these cookies sparkle.
Keep your gingerbread cookies cozy by adding cute PJ decorations. Start by piping the outline of the pajamas and then filling the center (this technique is called flooding). You can pipe more detailed decorations or even a design over the top once that base layer is dry.
If you are looking for healthy cookie recipes, check out these gluten-free gingerbread cookies.
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Food Pen Postcards
Love highly decorative cookies but don’t have the time (or patience) to stir up batch after batch of icing? Snag yourself a package of food pens!
After you frost a simple rectangular cookie, wait for the icing to dry. From there, you can draw on all sorts of fun holiday scenes with these markers to make gingerbread postcards. This is also a less messy technique to try out with the littlest bakers.
Decorating goes way beyond icing. You can add a furry texture to cookies by scratching the tines of a fork into the dough before baking.
Finish decorating these teddies with a bit of frosting and mini chocolate chips for the eyes (round sprinkles work, too!). The ears here are M&M’s candies that are stuck to a basic gingerbread man shape with a bit of icing.
Want a gingerbread centerpiece but don’t want to construct a gingerbread house? You can do it by transforming your go-to Christmas cookie into a towering tree. To do this, cut out cookies with graduated shapes—you can use stars, snowflakes or a similar geometric shape. Stack these cookies from largest to smallest to form a tree shape.
For added height, add a few small round cookies between the star-shaped layers. Finish with a dusting of confectioners’ sugar (this sugar duster is a holiday essential at Taste of Home) or a bit of icing piped on the edges to look like frost.
Sweater Weather Gingerbread Man
Have your gingerbread people don festive sweaters! Use a wet-on-wet royal icing decorating technique to create the stitching detail at the bottom, cuffs and neck of the sweater. To do this, pipe on the base color, then pip on dots of a contrasting color. Drag a toothpick through these dots to make a design.
You can also add sprinkles and sugar to make these shirts extra festive.
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Embossed Rolling Pin
If frosting really isn’t your style but you still want your cookies to have some panache, try an embossed rolling pin. These rolling pins are fun addition to your holiday repertoire. Just roll out your favorite gingerbread dough, then roll one of these decorative rolling pins over the top.
Use any shape cookie cutter to cut out shapes and bake. Serve the cookies as they are or with a dusting of confectioners’ sugar. Try it out with these Dutch Speculaas cookies.
Buddy the Elf, what’s your favorite cookie? It has to be gingerbread with a cookie like this!
To make an Elf-inspired gingerbread man, dye your icings in all the vibrant colors (gel food coloring will help you get the vividness you need). Pipe one color on at a time, allowing each section to dry before moving on to the next.
And before you leave the kitchen, we recommend making this Buddy the Elf chocolate bark!
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When it comes to gingerbread decorating, not every cookie needs to be over the top. For this design, use a basic snowflake cookie cutter and then pipe lines and dots across the top for a perfectly pretty gingerbread snowflake. If you want to add a bit of shimmer, shake on some sanding sugar or silvery sprinkles.
We all know that Mele Kalikimaka is the thing to say on a bright, Hawaiian Christmas day. If you want to extend that feeling to your cookie platter, you can with these hula girl cookies! Start with some easy gingerbread cutouts.
For the gingerbread decorating, use icing to pipe on a face, grass skirt and the straps of a coconut bra. Finish it off with a gumdrop top and plenty of candy flowers. You could even add a lei with some floral sprinkles.
Go beyond ugly sweater parties and decorate your go-to cutout recipe in this over-the-top style. These ugly sweater cookies start with a sweater-shaped cookie cutter, then get layer after layer of decoration. These treats are a fun way to pull out all the stops (and a good excuse to use every holiday sprinkle in your baking arsenal).
No need for a fancy cookie cutter to make this cheerful chick. Use a classic gingerbread man shape. Then use royal icing to pipe the bird’s face and belly, then its black tuxedo and then the yellow feet.
Finish the gingerbread decorating by adding gumdrop earmuffs and piping on a fun expression. For the earmuff headband, use sour straws or thin licorice. So cute!
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Cuddly Gingerbread People
A basic gingerbread cookie cutter is so versatile. You can use this simple shape and still have your cookies pop! Before baking, place a teddy bear graham cracker or Chex cereal square onto the cookie, then fold the arms over to hold these extras.
Though it won’t actually crack any nuts, this regal nutcracker decoration is too cute to pass up. The finishing touch is the cookie’s hat, which is made from a rolled, cut and iced Starburst candy.
For more ideas, check out our comprehensive Christmas cookie baking guide.
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Make a Scene
You can make a statement with highly decorated or simple gingerbread cutouts when you assemble a gingerbread snow globe. To make this wintry wonderland, fill a large-mouthed jar with sugar. Then nestle your favorite cutouts inside. It’s easy and makes a great edible centerpiece.