Nanna’s Gingerbread Gone Wrong

In the recent Gingerbread versus Sugar Cookie battle, the Sugar Cookie won. The above cookies were both cut with the same donkey cookie cutter. You know, the donkey that Mary rode to Bethlehem on.

Both recipes were from my mom, recipes that mom made all the time when I was a kid. Both recipes that have worked in the past. However, the gingerbread could not hold its shape. See?

It seems my cookie baking was full of comedy. Hershey kisses melted. Snowball sugar melted. Gingerbread? Melted.

These tasted fine, but they sure weren’t pretty. While I was able to salvage my melted Hershey Kisses cookies, these were irreparable.

Got Gingerbread?

Any ideas on what went wrong? Do YOU have a gingerbread recipe that works?

Don’t forget to check out The 12 Days of Christmas Cookies.

Read Newer Post
Read Older Post


  1. It looks like your gingerbread needs to be refrigerated before you pop it in the oven. Try cutting your shapes, then place your cookie sheet in the fridge for 15 minutes before baking. I hope it works!

  2. hello

    i have a great gingerbread recipe that I use all the time. i made a video of it, and put it on my website, i love to make it all the time 🙂
    Thanks 🙂

    hope you enjoy 🙂

  3. Sorry, no advice, but I love the buffalo looking donkey in the first picture! 🙂

  4. This is the only recipe that I can get to hold it’s shape.

    I’m glad it’s not just me!

  5. Try putting your dough in the fridge for 15 minutes after you cut them into shapes. Also, try lowering the baking temp by 25 degrees. I think your oven may be too hot.

  6. LOL! I’ve got no advice, but am so very sympathetic. My day was filled with cookie dough travails. Butter that wouldn’t soften, dough that was too soft, chilled and then too stiff, Ragged edges on cookies that aren’t supposed to be ragged! Ugh.

  7. Maybe the dough was too wet? Too much butter and not enough levening?

  8. That looks to me like there wasn’t enough flour. Did you maybe measure that wrong? Or did you accidentally add too much butter/shortening?

  9. Do you have an oven thermometer? We got one because we were having trouble with some things not turning out the way they should and we found that our oven’s temperature varied a lot. Perhaps the sugar dough is able to cook correctly at various temperatures but the gingerbread is more sensitive to temperature variation. I don’t know for sure, but it could be a possibility.

  10. This has happened to me!

    Possible Culprits:
    -Butter was too soft (this happened this year with my chocolate chip cookies)
    -Silpat or other nonstick surface (my sugar cookies one year did this when I used nonstick foil)
    -Rolled/cut out cookie dough should be refigerated

  11. How old is your baking pwdr/soda? On a side note, this won’t help with the cut-out cookie issue, but our family recently tried a chocolate ginger cookie that was quite tasty. It’s nut and egg free so I thought I’d share it with you. Also, I think it would be just as good w/o the cholocate.

  12. Jessica,

    I have to say for the very first time I am extremely encouraged by your blog!
    I have been reading for over four years, I was getting the idea that you never have mistakes, or bad days for that matter.
    So many things you show and do look perfect compared to what I normally do which would be these oddly shaped gingerbread cookies. In fact so much so I gave up shapes long ago on cookies and went completely to round balls off of spoons which my grandmother taught me. Her method for making 37 diffrent types of cookies at the holidays was they were all rectangles or circles. Ony shapes she made.

  13. I was told by my sister-in-law (who worked in quality control for a big cookie bouquet company) that if your butter is too soft the cookies will spread too much. I made gingerbread cookies last year and they turned out great. We had fun, but we’ve had TONS of cookie mishaps, too! Thanks for keepin’ it real.

  14. Oh, I’m sorry! I have had that happen a few times, too. You just need a little more flour and try refrigerating before baking, with the cookies cut out on the cookie sheet. For an hour or two. Hope that helps!

  15. Our no-fail recipe is from the – ahem – side of the Betty Crocker Gingerbread Cake and Cookie mix box. Yep, that’s our secret. It has never let us down. 😉

  16. I’ve had this happen with oatmeal cookies and it’s so frustrating! Here’s my go-to gingerbread recipe (also egg- and nut-free):
    I’m hoping to make a batch soon!

  17. This can happen if you melt the butter/margarine in the microwave, instead of letting it soften on the counter. It can also happen when there isn’t enough flour.

    I have had issues with recipes from my Mom because we live at different altitudes. She lives in mountains and I live at sea level. It really has affected some of my recipes, so I either adjusted them according to advice on the internet, or found new altitude appropriate recipes. Hope things go better!

  18. Well, maybe you can change the story from a Donkey to a Bison. 🙂

  19. Was your baking soda or baking powder a bit older? I invest in new boxes occasionally, and it makes a huge difference. I, too, have had some cookies completely lose their shape.

  20. There was a post yesterday at bakeat350.blogspot.con with a great gingerbread recipe! I’m baking them today! I think the trick is freezing your cut out shapes for 30 minutes before baking to prevent spreading. Bake At 350 is an excellent resource for all baking. I am hooked on her sugar cookies and decorating tips. 🙂

    Happy baking!

  21. Buffalo. Definately a Buffalo. (C’mon, they were on the ark, weren’t they!?) No worries. You are still loved.

  22. Maybe it was baking soda used instead of baking powder. Just an idea.

  23. Hi, I’m Hallee the Homemaker’s Hubby. If you have a good stand mixer, try this recipe.

    I promise it is the best gingerbread cookie ever.

    God Bless,

  24. AllieZirkle says:

    So so soooo funny! I love this post. The donkey photos are just hysterical.

    To me, your oven is a tad too hot and your batter melted too quickly. If you assemble on a silpat and place in the fridge for 20 minutes, just place the silpat back on the room temp pan and cook. I’d try the fridge trick before messing with the oven temp.

Thanks so much for participating in this conversation about "a mom's life."

This is a place where moms can be themselves. Remember that each mother's path looks a little different. Please keep your comments respectful and kind. Reasonable minds will disagree in a nice way.

So let's talk about it, using "our big girl words."

Share Your Thoughts