This gingerbread wreath is an adorable, edible centerpiece that is equally fun to eat as it is to make. Gently spiced gingerbread cookies provide the perfect tasty foundations for a festive dessert your family and friends will never forget.
Don’t let the internet fool you, behind all wholesome gingerbread houses there’s usually a tantrum or ten. They’re deceivingly difficult to construct with the end result not usually worth the mess or family arguments. Enter the gingerbread wreath. Here to save Christmas and the holiday season, it’s an unforgettable festive dessert that’s far more simple but equally striking as its four-walled counterpart.
Alongside being the perfect edible activity to tire out little ones on Christmas Eve, it also provides a sweet centerpiece for Christmas day. Not only is it robust enough to hang indoors, but this gingerbread wreath tastes as good as it looks. Thanks to a blend of festive spices including cinnamon, ginger, and clove this irresistible gingerbread pairs perfectly with a Christmas champagne or a Boozy eggnog shake for a tempting after-dinner treat.
Best of all it can be completely customized depending on your skill, time and budget. Keep the cookies uniform or play around with various festive shapes such as angels, stars, or snowflakes. For convenience, I’ve used the same sugar glaze to decorate the gingerbread cookies and hold the wreath together. Let the kids get creative with the decorating or keep it minimalist for an elegant look.
This recipe makes 32 cookies, so it’s ideal for making more than one gingerbread wreath – one to keep and one to share. That’s if you can resist a nibble when no one is watching!
WHY WE LOVE THIS GINGERBREAD COOKIE WREATH
- Fun to make – The festivities are all about making memories with loved ones so what better way to celebrate than decorating and devouring delicious gingerbread together? Not to mention you get to skip the stress of constructing a gingerbread house!
- Straightforward Recipe – While I love the frills and fun of festive desserts, no one wants a shopping list as long as the naughty list. With fuss-free ingredients (the majority of which are pantry staples) and straightforward instructions, even those with the most basic baking skills can nail this recipe.
- Decorative and delicious – The festive flavors of the gingerbread are as impressive as the design, making it both a centerpiece and sweet treat.
- Crowd-pleasing cookies – This recipe allows for a gingerbread wreath plus approximately 32 cookies, perfect for sharing this beautiful creation with family and friends. Gently spiced with soft centers and crisp edges these gingerbread cookies will be snapped off and snapped up super quick!
For the Gingerbread
- granulated sugar
- salted butter, at room temp
- large egg
- all purpose flour
- baking soda
- ground ginger
- ground cloves
- ground cinnamon
For the Royal Icing
- egg whites
- powdered sugar
- Small chocolate balls/smarties or similar for the Gingerbread Men ‘buttons’
SUBSTITUTIONS AND ADDITIONS
- Festive flavor – I’ve used a mix of ground cloves, cinnamon and ginger for the perfect gingerbread blend but feel free to omit or add any extra festive faves such as allspice, nutmeg, vanilla extract, or orange zest.
- Chocolate gingerbread – What’s more delicious than gingerbread at Christmas? Gingerbread AND chocolate at Christmas! Split your cookie dough batch in two and add cocoa powder to half. Then alternate the chocolate and traditional gingerbread cookies for an eye-catching monochrome wreath.
- Molasses substitute - If you need to substitute the molasses you can use maple syrup, treacle, or golden syrup. You may need to experiment with various amounts or a combination of each depending on your tastes.
- Dough variations – If you’re not a gingerbread fan, you can use alternative cookie dough. As long as it bakes robust, crisp cookies so you can construct a wreath. Avoid crumbly cookie dough or any chunky ingredients as you want dough that bakes smooth and evenly. For example, shortbread or sugar cookies.
- Change shapes – Although I kept my gingerbread men uniform, you could decorate each one as a member of your family for added fun. Alternatively, use whatever cookie cutters you have to hand such as gingerbread Christmas trees, snowflakes or even add a few stained glass stars to your wreath. If you’re using a variety of shapes, be sure to bake cookies that are the same size together. Otherwise, smaller cookies risk burning in the time it takes for any larger cookies to bake.
- Gingerbread Ornament- Make a small whole using a small round tip to cut a whole before baking. The tie a string in the whole of the decorated cookies and use them as tree ornaments for a festive touch.
- Change the icing colors- turn the white icing into your favorite colors to add more decoration to the gingerbread men. We like to use gel food colors.
RECOMMENDED TOOLS TO MAKE THIS RECIPE
- 10cm Gingerbread Man shaped cookie cutters
- at least 2 large baking sheets lined with parchment paper
- rolling pin
- parchment paper for rolling
- piping bag or ziplock bag
- Ribbon, to decorate
HOW TO MAKE THIS GINGERBREAD WREATH RECIPE
Once you have tried this gingerbread wreath recipe, it’ll soon become a tasty tradition you can whip up every year. First form a dough by mixing the wet and dry ingredients. Then it’s a case of cutting, baking and decorating. Easy yet effective – exactly what you need when you’re knee deep in the chaos of Christmas.
1. Put the sugar, butter, molasses and egg into a large mixing bowl. Use a handheld electric mixer to thoroughly combine until any lumps of butter have been dispersed.
2. Sift in the flour, baking soda, ginger, cloves and cinnamon and mix on a low speed until the dough starts to cling together leaving the sides of the bowl clean. PRO TIP: It’s important to sift the dry ingredients as this helps aeration. This means your dry ingredients will incorporate easier into the wet for the perfect dough.
3. Use your hands to bring the dough into a ball. Lightly flour a surface and turn the dough out onto it. Knead very briefly until smooth then divide dough into two balls of dough.
4. Flatten each ball into a disc shape, then wrap it in plastic wrap and put it in the refrigerator for 1 hour. PRO TIP:Don’t forget to flatten as the dough will chill faster if it’s a disc shape. Once chilled, it’ll also be easier to roll and work with if it’s a disc instead of a ball.
5. Preheat the oven to 350 F. Line two baking trays with parchment paper.
6. Remove the chilled half of dough from the fridge. Roll out one of the discs between two sheets of parchment paper to a thickness of about 1cm. Alternatively, roll out on a lightly floured surface.
7. Leaving the rolled-out dough on the parchment, use a dinner plate (ours was 26cm) as a template for a circle or draw 11-inch circle onto the dough. Using a sharp knife, cut around the edge of the plate and remove the excess dough. You will be left with a circle.
8. Add a smaller plate (ours was 15cm) to the center of the dough circle. Cut around the smaller plate then remove the dough from the center. This will leave you with a ring of dough.
9. Slide the parchment paper with the ring of dough onto a baking sheet.
10. Roll out the rest of the dough between sheets of parchment. Cut out your cookies using Gingerbread Man cookie cutters. You will need at least 10 Gingerbread Men to make up the wreath. PRO TIP: To avoid your cookie cutter or knife sticking, coat it in flour. Don’t worry, any flour spots on your cookie dough will bake off.
11. Gently transfer the cut out cookies onto the lined baking sheet, spacing them around 1cm apart. PRO TIP: You may need to work in batches to give your cookies enough space on each tray.
12. Put both baking sheets in the oven for 10 minutes or until the cookies are lightly golden brown.
13. Remove from the oven and immediately transfer cookies to a wire rack to cool.
Make the Royal Icing:
14. Put the egg whites into a large bowl and whisk until frothy. Add the powdered sugar a cup at a time and vigorously beat until smooth.
15. At this point you will need to check the consistency of the icing. It should easily flow in a thick ribbon from a spatula when picked up and have the consistency of toothpaste. PRO TIP: The icing needs to be really thick to act as a mortar for the cookie wreath but thinner for decorating the cookies. If it’s a little thick add more egg whites (or cold water) a tablespoon at a time. Continue to beat until it reaches the desired consistency
16. Transfer the Royal Icing to a piping bag fitted with a small piping tip then snip the very end off with a pair of scissors.
17. When the cookies have cooled you can decorate them. Use the images for inspiration or create your own gingerbread family. PRO TIP: Royal icing dries very quickly, so try to keep it covered and work quickly when possible.
To assemble the wreath:
18. Add small dabs of frosting to the underneath of a Gingerbread Man cookie and gently press it onto the wreath. Repeat with the remaining cookies working your way around the wreath.
19. Tie a thick festive ribbon at the top of the wreath and display it as a holiday centerpiece.
20. When you can’t resist any longer, snap off the gingerbread men and enjoy!
- Cookie sizes – The gingerbread man cookie cutter I used was 10cm which meant I required 10 cookies to fit around the wreath. The size of the cookies doesn’t matter as this recipe makes a large batch (approx.32 cookies) so regardless of the cookie cutter you use make sure you have enough to fit around the wreath.
- Make Snowflake Cookies- Change up your cookie cutter shapes to make different kinds of wreaths.
- Chill time – Although you could use this dough immediately, I wouldn’t recommend it as it may be too soft and go sticky. Chill time makes it easier to handle and firms up the dough a little to avoid spreading once baking.
- Bake time – I recommend you bake for 10 minutes as this will yield a crunchier cookie that is more robust for wreath making. If you prefer a softer cookie, bake for 8 minutes, but take care during assembly in case the cookies break.
- Icing tips - There is enough Royal Icing to decorate all the cookies and to use as ‘glue’ for the wreath assembly. Use pasteurized eggs for the Royal Icing as they are safe to eat raw. I would caution you against any form of raw egg if you are pregnant.
- Keep it light - While I love getting creative with the gingerbread men décor, if you’re too heavy-handed with the icing you risk crushing the cookie. Also, make sure to also use small candies that won’t fall off easily or add too much weight to your wreath.
- The Gingerbread will soften over time so if you’re not consuming it right away, store it in an airtight container. The gingerbread cookies will keep for at least a week.
- Gingerbread dough can be frozen for up to three months. To freeze, form a disc with the dough, cover it tightly with plastic wrap then place it in the freezer inside a freezer-safe bag.
- When you’re ready to make your wreath, remove the dough from the freezer and leave to defrost in the fridge until it is soft enough to roll out.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Can I actually hang this gingerbread wreath?
Of course! You can hang this gingerbread wreath but I’d keep it indoors otherwise nature or neighbors may take a nibble. I’d also recommend using a thick ribbon to help distribute the weight rather than wool or thin wire which may slice through. Note, if you hang a gingerbread wreath for a prolonged time it will eventually break due to the heat and moisture of the air.
Do I have to chill gingerbread dough?
Although it adds a little time to this recipe and technically you could skip it, the chill time is worth it. It will make cutting out the cookies easier and ensure they won’t spread on the baking sheet. While the dough chills, you should too – a cranberry mimosa or two will help the time pass quicker.
How can you make gingerbread men without cookie cutters?
No cookie cutters? No problem! Make your own templates instead. You can either draw your shape freehand onto baking paper or print out a shape and trace it onto baking paper. Angels, Christmas trees, snowflakes, stars, or gingerbread men are all perfect for this wreath, or feel free to get creative. Cut around your shape with a pair of scissors then place this paper template onto your rolled gingerbread dough. Use a sharp knife to cut around the edges to form your cookie.
Can you use a different frosting?
Royal icing is the best option as it acts like an edible "glue" that will hold your wreath together. It can also be colored easily with food color for decorating and will harden once dry. I would avoid using buttercream or another frosting as these won’t set hard and your gingerbread will go soft and fall apart. If you don't plan on eating this creation, you can use hot glue to glue the men onto the wreath.
OTHER RECIPES YOU MAY ENJOY
- Gingerbread house cake
- Chocolate Rice Krispie Gingerbread men
- Christmas wreath marshmallow treats
- Grinch fudge
This gingerbread wreath is an adorable, edible centerpiece that is equally fun to eat as it is to make.
- For the Gingerbread
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- ¾ cup salted butter at room temp
- 1 large egg
- ¾ cup dark molasses
- 3.5 cups all purpose flour
- 2 tsps baking soda
- 2.5 tsps ground ginger
- ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- For the Royal Icing
- ¼ cup egg whites plus a little extra if needed • 3 cups powdered sugar
- To decorate
- Small chocolate balls/smarties or similar for the Gingerbread Men ‘buttons’
Put the sugar, butter, molasses and egg into a large mixing bowl. Use a handheld electric mixer to thoroughly combine until any lumps of butter have been dispersed.
Sift in the flour, baking soda, ginger, cloves and cinnamon and mix on a low speed until the dough starts to cling together leaving the sides of the bowl clean.
Use your hands to bring the dough into a ball. Lightly flour a surface and turn the dough out on to it. Knead very briefly until smooth then divide into two balls of dough. Flatten each ball of dough into a disc shape then wrap in plastic wrap and put in the refrigerator for 1 hour.
Preheat the oven to 350F. Line two baking trays with parchment paper.
Remove the chilled dough from the fridge. Roll out one of the discs between two sheets of parchment paper to a thickness of about 1cm.
Leaving the rolled out dough on the parchment, use a dinner plate (ours was 26cm) as a template for a circle. Cut around the edge of the plate with a sharp knife and remove the excess dough. You will be left with a circle.
Add a smaller plate (ours was 15cm) to the center of the circle of dough. Cut around the smaller plate then remove the dough from the center. This will leave you with a ring of dough. 8. Slide the parchment paper with the ring of dough onto a baking sheet.
Roll out the rest of the dough between sheets of parchment. Use the Gingerbread Man cookie cutters to cut shapes from the dough. You will need at least 10 Gingerbread Men to make up the wreath.
Gently transfer the cut out cookies on to the lined baking sheet. You may need to work in batches.
Put both baking sheets in the oven for 10 minutes or until the cookies are lightly browned.
Remove from the oven and immediately transfer to a wire rack to cool.
Make the Royal Icing: Put the egg whites into a mixing bowl and whisk until frothy. Add the powdered sugar a cup at a time and vigorously beat until smooth.
At this point you will need to check the consistency of the icing. It should easily flow in a thick ribbon from a spatula when picked up and the consistency of toothpaste. If it’s looking a bit thick add more egg whites (or cold water) a tablespoon at a time. Continue to beat until it reaches the desired consistency.
Transfer the Royal Icing to a piping bag then snip the very end off with a pair of scissors.
When the cookies have cooled you can decorate them. (Use the images for inspiration.)
To assemble the wreath: Add a small amount of Royal Icing to the underneath of a Gingerbread Man cookie and gently press it onto the wreath. Repeat with the remainingcookies working your way around the wreath.
Tie the ribbon onto the wreath and display it as holiday centerpiece. Enjoy!
• These wonderfully versatile Gingerbread Cookies are a tasty and robust cookie choice for a beautiful Gingerbread Wreath. The dough is easy to make and will not spread in the oven. The gingerbread cookies are delicately crunchy and gently spiced - perfect for the festive season!
• The ground cloves add a complex flavor dimension to the gingerbread. If you are not a fan of cloves you can substitute it with ground ginger.
• This is a large batch of dough that will make the wreath surround plus plentiful cookies. You might have some leftover as depending on the size, they may not all fit on the wreath.
• We used a 10cm Gingerbread Man cookie cutter. If you don’t have this exact size it doesn’t matter. Ensure you cut enough cookies to fit around the wreath.
• Once you’ve made the dough you can use it straight away, however, it will be softer and not as easy to handle so that’s why we recommend chilling the dough for a short time before cutting out the shapes.
• The dough will hardly spread during baking so you can fit quite a few cookies on the baking sheet. Leave about 1cm in-between.
• We recommend you bake for 10 minutes which will yield a crunchier cookie that is more robust for wreath making. For a softer cookie bake for 8 minutes but take care during assembly in case the cookies break.
• There is enough Royal Icing to decorate all the cookies and to use as ‘glue’ for the wreath assembly.
• Use pasteurized eggs (for the Royal Icing) as they are safe to eat raw. We would caution you against any form of raw egg if you are pregnant.
• Storage: The Gingerbread will soften over time. If you’re not consuming right away we recommend you store in an airtight container where the cookies will keep for at least a week. Gingerbread dough can be frozen for up to one month.