Learn how to make crystallized ginger cookies with this easy icebox cookie recipe. Use the slice-and-bake method to easily cut out and bake lots of cookies quickly.
Ingredients to make cookies with crystallized ginger
If you want to make icebox cookies with crystallized ginger, the easiest way would be to make a vanilla slice-and-bake cookie dough and mix in chopped crystallized ginger. Here are the ingredients that you will need:
- butter, preferably unsalted butter because you will add salt to the dough, but if you have salted, it will work. Just adjust the salt in the recipe accordingly, otherwise your cookies may be too salty
- granulated sugar though brown sugar could also work here and would add a mild caramel/molasses flavour. Brown sugar may also lead to a slightly chewier cookie
- vanilla extract adds vanilla flavour to the cookies. You could use artificial vanilla extract, but use about half the amount since it may be more potent.
- all-purpose flour is needed to bind all the ingredients together and give the cookies structure, contributing to the chewiness of the cookies as well. If you don't use enough flour, your cookies may spread too much as they bake
- salt is really important to balance out the sweet flavour. Don't skip it. I like to use Diamond Crystal fine kosher salt, but table salt will work, though the cookies will be saltier and you may want to halve the salt in that case.
- milk is added instead of eggs to bind the ingredients of the cookie dough together. It also helps lighten the crumb of the cookies.
- crystallized ginger is the secret to the best ginger cookies because it adds a ton of potent ginger flavour to really bring it up a notch.
The secret to make icebox cookies more interesting
Instead of just shaping the cookie dough into a log and leaving edges as is, you can roll the logs of cookie dough in so many different ingredients to jazz up the classic icebox cookies and make your slice-and-bake cookies really special.
For this recipe, we roll the logs of cookie dough in turbinado. The beauty of using turbinado sugar is that it's coarse and it doesn't melt. Turbinado sugar adds a crunchy texture to the edges of the .
For coating the logs of cookie dough, you have many options that go beyond turbinado. You can also try:
- shredded coconut
- cinnamon sugar
- finely chopped nuts
Consider the recipe you are making and the flavours involved before you decide which coating to use. My go-to is turbinado because it's pretty neutral in flavour, but adds a lot of crunch.
I prefer to roll the logs of cookie dough in the topping before chilling so that the toppings stick easily. Otherwise, you may have to brush the logs of dough with an egg white or some milk too help the toppings adhere.
Tips for perfect icebox cookies
Icebox cookies get their name because the cookie dough is chilled and stored in the freezer (icebox) or refrigerator until you are ready to bake. Some will slice-and-bake the cookies from frozen.
I tend to store the cookie dough in the fridge because usually I'm making the dough the day before I want to bake them. Freeze the dough for longer storage (if you want to make the cookie dough more than 1 week ahead of time).
To keep the cookies round, make sure to rotate the log as it chills until hard. Some will recommend chilling the logs of cookie dough inside of a tube, like an empty cardboard tube insert from a rolle of paper towel. I don't think this is necessary, but feel free to try this trick!
When you slice the cookie dough into rounds, it's important to make sure the dough is cold enough so that the butter is hard. Otherwise, the pressure of cutting will distort the shape of the cookies.
As you slice the log, rotate the dough every few cuts so that the sides are pressed evenly. This is a secret to baking round icebox cookies.
Chopped crystallized ginger is a really great ingredient to flavour this recipe, but feel free to use any of your favourite candied fruits or even dried cranberries or dried cherries. And if you love fruitcake, try these fruitcake cookies.
You can also vary the extract, or add a little almond extract (⅛–¼ teapoon) to the cookie dough to add almond flavour.
The holidays are hectic. Slice-and-bake cookies (also known as icebox cookies) are one way to keep up the baking without adding to the madness of your schedule. You can make the cookie dough several days before you bake them and even freeze it. Then defrost in the fridge overnight before slicing and baking, or even slice from frozen.
Easy crystallized ginger cookies
- In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugar. Add in the vanilla and salt and continue beating the mixture until it is smooth, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed with a spatula.
- Mix in the flour at low speed to form a dry crumbly mixture, then mix in the milk to bind the ingredients into an even cookie dough. Mix in the chopped crystallized ginger.
- Divide the dough in two and roll each half into a log of about 1.5 inches in diameter. Roll each log in turbinado (if using) to coat it evenly all around. Wrap with plastic wrap and chill overnight.
- Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Working with 1 log of dough at a time, slice the crystallized ginger cookies fairly thin. Stagger the sliced cookies on a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake them until the edges are golden, about 15 minutes or so. Let cool a couple of minutes before transferring to a rack to cool completely.