I went to make these wonderful traditional Christmas cookies the other day and thought “I’ll just pull the recipe up on the blog instead of looking for my hardcopy notes,” but when I poked the blog, it wasn’t there! I was rather shocked, actually, as I could’ve sworn I shared these last Christmas season, but apparently not. How sad! I did not mean to deprive you of these for a whole year. They’re quite tasty, and very fun. Since sugar cookies are almost impossible to make without refined white sugar (I mean really, what’s the point? They’re called SUGAR cookies, for goodness sake–they have butter, enough flour to hold them together, and sugar. Oh, and vanilla if you’re feeling fancy, and maybe an egg. Maybe.), these are the go-to “I want to use cookie cutters!” cookies at our house. Our daughter, who is just over 1 1/2, now thinks cookie cutters are the BEST THING EV-AR! She helped me cut these out (the tiny stars are pretty much all hers, as that cookie cutter fits right in her hand, but she did help me with the bigger ones too) and had a grand old time doing it. She was helping! Like a big girl! At the counter! And did I mention, COOKING? WITH MOMMY? Oh yes, a tradition has been born. We’ll be making them again before Christmas, but I figured we should share the joy.

These are, in my opinion, best with frosting. Sean likes them almost as well without it, but I really prefer them frosted. The frosting recipe I’m sharing here can be pretty fluid, but it will dry into a nice, hard, stack-able decorated cookie if you leave it for a while, I promise. The lack of dry sugar in the recipe just makes it take a good bit longer than powdered sugar frostings. I decorated these in the late evening and just left them overnight on the counter, and it was nice and solidified by morning (it may well have finished drying before 8 am, I just wasn’t downstairs to check!). They stored very well stacked in a tupperware after the frosting dried.

For the pretty decorations I used several things: dyed Truvia “sprinkles” (I mention these in my King’s Cake post from last epiphany), coconut, and dried fruits. I’ve come to the conclusion that dried fruits need to be used sparingly, but sprinkles and coconut don’t. I’m going to experiment with dyeing some of the coconut next time, for variety (all you do is put it in a plastic bag, add a couple of drops of coloring and toss it a lot until it’s distributed). As a note, the coconut is a DELICIOUS flavor addition–I might have to put some on all of them next time, it goes so well with the cookie and frosting tastes. I’ll note how to make the “sprinkles” at the bottom of the post, so you don’t have to look it up on the other post if you don’t want to :D.

Oh, one last thing. This may look like a lot of molassess–it’s certainly more than I normally use in one recipe, but this makes a lot of cookies, so the molasses is distributed through a lot of flour and has never caused Sean any problems.

Natural Sugar Gingerbread Cookies


  • 5 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 3/8 tsp cloves (this is 1/4 + 1/8 for easy measuring, and yes, it matters not to just round up to 1/2 a tsp)
  • 2 tsp dried ground ginger
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup molasses
  • 1 TBS vinegar
  • 1 egg

For Decoration:

  • Truvia
  • Shredded or Flaked Unsweetened Coconut
  • Dried fruits
  • Food coloring


1. Put all of the dry ingredients in a large bowl (I use my stand mixer) and mix lightly.

2. In a saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter, then add the honey, molasses and vinegar. Heat while stirring until it’s thoroughly bubbly. Remove it from the heat and let cool some.

3. Once cooled such that you can touch it, add it to the dry mixture. Add the beaten egg and mix thoroughly. You should get a sticky dough (there is, after all, a lot of honey and molasses in it!). Once it is well combined into one big lump, cover the bowl with saran wrap (it can be a bit loose) and put it in the fridge. Chill for at least two hours. It can be left overnight, but that will make it very stiff dough. Workable, but less so than if you’d worked it later the same day.

4. When the dough is chilled, shape it into a log and cut it into eight pieces (this gives you littler portions that are MUCH easier to roll out. Sometimes I just do four pieces, it depends on my counter size and patience :D). At this point you should also preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.

5. Roll it out one piece at a time to between 1/4″ and 1/8″ for chewy cookies (definitely our household preference). You can go as thin as 1/16″ if you want your cookies thin and crispy, but we don’t really like them that way. You will get a lot more out of a batch, though! The important thing is to roll your dough just about the same thickness all the was across, as otherwise your cookies won’t cook evenly and you may burn some before others are finished.

6. You can now cut them out, either with cookie cutters or free-hand with a knife (we use cookie cutters :D). This is a great place for kids to help, even really little ones. Move them carefully from the counter to the cookie sheet with a spatula. Continue doing this until the first cookie sheet is full. You can space them quite closely as them don’t expand side to side much at all, just puff up.

7. Bake for 10-15 minutes, watching carefully to pull them as soon as they are lightly browned (this may be a bit difficult to see as the cookies are brown, but you can tell). You can keep rolling and cutting to fill the next tray as the first bakes as long as you remember to set a timer to check the baking ones! We usually do it on a two tray rotation, so tray 1 bakes as we fill tray 2, then refill tray 1 and tray 2 bakes etc.

8. When they’re done remove them from the cookie sheet to a cooling rack. While they are cooling, make the frosting and decorations (see separate directions below). Once they’re cool, decorate as desired (or not at all, if you like them plain), let the decorations dry, then store in tupperware or tins and enjoy! We actually prefer these the next day when the flavors have blended more, but they’re also good immediately.

Powdered Milk Frosting


  • 1/4 cup softened butter
  • 1/4 cup real maple syrup
  • 1-3 TBS milk, as needed
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 cup non-instant dried milk powder (this needs to be extremely finely ground, like the consistency of art sand, not the granular stuff you find in the cheap boxes at the grocery store. I get mine at Whole Foods.)


1. Cream together the butter and maple syrup. I use my mixer with the whisk attachment.

2. Once combined, beat in the milk (use the smaller amount first and add more if needed later) and vanilla. Add the dry milk powder and continue beating until well combined.

3. Add a little more liquid milk if you want the frosting thinner/smoother, or a little more dry milk powder if it is already too liquidy. Bear in mind that it will never be as stiff as traditional frosting, and that too much dry milk powder can make it grainy. Use immediately to frost the cookies!

To Make Sprinkles:

Take 1 TBS of Truvia and one drop of food coloring and mush them around in a small bowl until the Truvia has taken all the color and it’s pretty evenly colored. It has to be Truvia or a near-identical copycat off-brand, for the sugar-like crystalline consistency. You can probably add one more drop of coloring for a darker shade, but not much more because too much liquid will cause it to start dissolving instead of just soaking up the color. Use to decorate the baked good of your choice :D.