These soft and chewy gingerbread cookie bars are so easy to make—no mixer, no dough chilling, and no dough rolling required! They’re delicious plain, or topped with spiced cream cheese frosting. Skip the cookie cutters and make gingerbread bars instead!
When you need a big batch of cookies but are pressed for time, cookie bars are the way to go. This recipe makes a generously sized 9×13-inch pan of soft, chewy gingerbread cookie bars, perfect for sharing, especially at the holidays.
If you love the holiday-favorite flavors of warm spice and molasses, like you enjoy in gingerbread cookies and crisp molasses cookies, you’ll find those same cozy flavors here; but the texture is oh-so soft and chewy—like a gingerbread version of a brownie!
Why You’ll Love These Gingerbread Cookie Bars
- Cookie bars are super soft and chewy, not cakey
- Packed with that nostalgic molasses and spice flavor associated with the holidays
- Makes a large pan to serve a crowd
- No mixer, no dough chilling, no dough rolling—no fuss!
- Quicker and easier to make than many cookie recipes
- Can add white chocolate chips or butterscotch chips for texture variety
- Top with a layer of cinnamon-spiced cream cheese frosting
Unlike these soft molasses cookies or traditional gingerbread cookies, there’s no dough chilling, no rolling dough into individual balls or rolling out dough to cut into shapes (and then re-rolling), and no baking in batches. The only waiting you’ll have to suffer through is for the pan to cool for 1 hour before you cut them into bars. (I’m sorry!)
Simple Ingredients, No Mixer
Like with these favorite chewy chocolate chip cookies, using melted butter makes for the softest, chewiest bar cookies. I usually like to use melted butter in bar recipes like homemade brownies and blondies because the bars taste chewy, not cakey. I tested this recipe with creamed softened butter, and the baked result ended up looking more like a puffy sheet cake.
Here’s everything else you need for these gingerbread cookie bars:
- Flour: All-purpose flour is the base of this recipe.
- Baking Soda: Baking soda helps these bars rise as they bake, and we use a good amount of it to stand up to the heavy melted butter and molasses.
- A Generous Amount of Spices: Ginger, cinnamon, cloves, allspice, and nutmeg; plus, a pinch of black pepper—the same secret ingredient I always add to pumpkin pie!
- Salt: Salt adds flavor and balances the sweetness.
- Sugar: Use a mix of brown sugar and white granulated sugar.
- Molasses: Use unsulphured; blackstrap is too bitter for these.
- Egg: An egg binds everything together.
- Vanilla Extract: For flavor.
White Chocolate Chips (Optional): If you love white chocolate chip molasses cookies, feel free to add some white chocolate chips to these bars, too. Fold them in as the last step in making the dough, just like we do with chocolate chip cookie bars. Butterscotch chips are also a delicious addition!
Have I Mentioned No Dough Chilling?
Just melt, mix, press, and bake!
The dough will be slick from the melted butter, but should be easy enough to spread/press into the pan. Pat it down as best you can. It may seem like it isn’t enough dough, and the layer will be thin. But the bars rise as they bake.
Success Tip: Line the pan with parchment paper, leaving some overhang. Once the bars are cooled and frosted, simply lift the whole thing out using the parchment overhang. Set it onto a cutting board and slice. Easy!
Bake just until the top is set, and avoid over-baking. Cool the bars for at least 1 hour inside the pan before frosting and/or slicing.
Top With Spiced Cream Cheese Frosting
These gingerbread cookie bars are fabulous on their own, but then again, a little frosting is always a good idea. My favorite cream cheese frosting is far from basic; it’s incredibly creamy, silky smooth, and has that subtle tang to it. We’re scaling it down, and also kicking the flavor up a notch by adding pinches of some of the spices used in the cookie bars. The result is similar to the spiced cream cheese frosting on these pumpkin bars.
And, of course, some sprinkles are the perfect festive accessory on top. I used gingerbread cookie-shaped sprinkles, something like these, and some Christmas-colored nonpareils. Here’s a 4-pack of Christmas sprinkles, and I really love these snowflake sprinkles, too. Lots of options!
If you’re not planning to frost these gingerbread cookie bars, I recommend sprinkling the top with coarse sugar or festive colored sugar sprinkles before baking. Because a little sparkle is always welcome at the holidays!
You could even top with a sprinkling of chopped crystallized ginger, like we do for these chocolate ginger sparkle cookies.
Sally’s Cookie Palooza
These soft and chewy gingerbread cookie bars are so easy to make—no mixer, no dough chilling, no cookie cutters, and no dough rolling required! They’re delicious plain, or topped with spiced cream cheese frosting. Careful not to over-bake these; they’ll still feel and look quite soft on top, but the bars set as they cool.
Spiced Cream Cheese Frosting
- Preheat the oven to 350°F (177°C). Adjust oven rack to the center rack position. Line the bottom and sides of a 9×13-inch metal or glass baking pan with parchment paper, leaving an overhang on the sides to easily lift the bars out of the pan. Set aside.
- Whisk the flour, baking soda, ginger, cinnamon, allspice, cloves, nutmeg, pepper, and salt together in a large bowl. Set aside.
- In a medium bowl, whisk the melted butter, brown sugar, granulated sugar, and molasses together until no lumps remain. Whisk in the egg and vanilla. Pour this into the flour mixture and mix together with a large spoon or rubber spatula. Be sure to mix until no lumps of flour remain. The dough will be very thick and shiny.
- Transfer dough to the prepared baking pan and press/smooth into an even layer. It may not seem like enough dough, and it will be a thin layer; that’s ok.
- Bake for 23–26 minutes or until the top is set, but still look quite soft, and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out mostly clean with a few moist (not wet) crumbs. Do not over-bake. Bars puff up in the oven, but settle as they cool.
- Allow the bars to cool in the pan set on a wire rack for at least 1 hour.
- Make the frosting: In a large bowl using a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a whisk or paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese and butter together on medium speed until smooth and creamy, about 2 minutes. Add confectioners’ sugar, ginger, cinnamon, and allspice, and vanilla extract. Beat on low speed for 30 seconds, then switch to high speed and beat for 2 minutes. Taste. Add a pinch of salt if desired.
- Spread the frosting on the cooled bars. Top with sprinkles, if desired. To help set the frosting, refrigerate for 30 minutes before slicing and serving. This makes cutting easier and less messy. Use the overhanging parchment to lift the bars out of the pan, and cut into squares.
- Cover leftover bars tightly and store in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. If you skipped the frosting, cover and store plain gingerbread cookie bars at room temperature for up to 3 days, or in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.
- Make Ahead & Freezing Instructions: You can make the cookie dough and chill it in the refrigerator for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 3 months. Allow to come to room temperature and continue with step 4. Baked and cooled cookie bars, with or without frosting, freeze well for up to 3 months. Thaw bars overnight in the refrigerator and bring to room temperature before serving.
- Special Tools (affiliate links): 9×13-inch Glass Baking Pan or Metal Baking Pan | Parchment Paper | Glass Mixing Bowls | Whisk | Silicone Spatula | Cooling Rack | Electric Mixer (Handheld or Stand) | Gingerbread Cookie-Shaped Sprinkles | Christmas 4-pack Sprinkles
- Can I Halve the Recipe? Yes, you can halve the recipe for an 8-inch or thinner 9-inch batch of bars. The bake time is about the same, but begin checking for doneness at 22 minutes. It can be difficult to halve an egg accurately, so I do recommend making the original 9×13-inch batch, and you can freeze extras.
- Butter: Avoid letting the melted butter cool for too long, otherwise your dough will be crumbly instead of soft (and your cookie bars can end up cakey). As soon as it’s melted, stir in the sugars and molasses as instructed in step 3.
- Molasses: I use and recommend unsulphured or dark molasses. (I like Grandma’s brand. The kind I use is labeled “original” molasses.) Blackstrap molasses is extremely bitter and not ideal in this recipe.
- Cream Cheese in Frosting: Use brick cream cheese, not the spreadable kind that comes in a tub.
Keywords: gingerbread cookie bars