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National Gingerbread Cookie Day – Enjoy a Gingerbread Cookie Recipe

Did you know that gingerbread cookies have their own national day? Keep reading for more about National Gingerbread Cookie Day and get a gingerbread cookie recipe to share.

Gingerbread has been around for centuries, and has evolved and changed over the years.

National Gingerbread Cookie Day celebrates this tasty treat with a sweet flavor, and the history of gingerbread is rich and interesting. 

National days of the year are a great way to celebrate odd and unusual foods, animals and items that you come into contact with throughout the year.

Four gingerbread men cookies on a wooden board with a text overlay reading "National Gingerbread Cookie Day".

To learn more, be sure to check out this national day’s guide to discover some fun days to celebrate these special days.

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What is National Gingerbread Cookie Day?

National Gingerbread Cookie Day is a holiday that falls annually on November 21st, celebrating gingerbread cookies.

Three gingerbread cookies arranged on a table with fir branches and cinnamon sticks.

Though gingerbread goes as far back as ancient Greek and Egyptian civilizations, what we think of as gingerbread today was brought to Europe by Armenian monk, Gregory of Nicopolis in 992 CE.

Gingerbread cookies didn’t come into our history until the 16th century when Queen Elizabeth I created gingerbread men cookies to resemble her suitors, guests, and visiting dignitaries.

Her guests were very impressed with her cookies, and they became very popular in England. 

They also became a superstitious way to attract a husband. Unmarried English women would have gingerbread “husbands” made to attract potential husbands.

These cookies would be made in the image of the husbands these women hoped to attract, and eaten to bring them good luck.

If you’re interested in more baked goods influenced by the Queen of England, make sure you check out our post on the history of hot cross buns.

Hot cross buns are a traditional Easter bread that have a history filled with folklore and superstitious beliefs. Like gingerbread cookies, hot cross buns also have their own national day

Fun facts about gingerbread cookies

Brush up on your knowledge of gingerbread cookies with these fun facts. Some may surprise you!

Four gingerbread cookies and a candy cane in a pink mug in front of a backdrop of Christmas tree branches.

  • In the 16th century, Queen Elizabeth I created the first gingerbread men cookies.
  • Single women in England ate gingerbread “husbands” (cookies modeled in the image of the husband they hoped to find) for good luck. It was thought that eating a gingerbread “husband” would lead to finding a real one!
  • In the 1600s, Nuremberg, Germany was named the gingerbread capital of the world. Today, it still remains the gingerbread capital of the world.
  • A Swedish tradition says that you can make a wish on a gingerbread wishing cookie. Make a wish and place the cookie in the palm of your left hand. Press down on the center with you right thumb, and if it breaks into three pieces, and you eat them without saying a word, your wish it said to come true!
  • In 1875 a folk tale called The Gingerbread Man (and also The Gingerbread Boy) was written and published in the St. Nicholas Magazine.
  • Historically, only special gingerbread bakers were allowed to make gingerbread year round as it was a sacred practice. The only times people who were not a part of a special gingerbread baking guild could bake gingerbread was during Christmas and Easter.
  • There are many different gingerbread cookie recipes, including one from George Washington’s mother, Mary Ball Washington.
  • There are three national days that have to do with gingerbread, National Gingerbread Day, National Gingerbread Cookie Day and National Gingerbread House Day.

How to celebrate National Gingerbread Cookie Day

Would you like to celebrate National Gingerbread Cookie Day in a special way? Try one of these ideas.

A closeup shot of a gingerbread cookie on a wooden table next to a rolling pin, ginger candies, star anise and a red ribbon.

  • Host a gingerbread cookie exchange! Bake a bunch of gingerbread cookies and have your friends over to help you celebrate – They’ll be happy to decorate the cookies with you if they get to sample some of the gingerbread.
  • Turn back time and read a copy of the 1875 the Gingerbread Man (also called the Gingerbread Boy) folk story.
  • Try Mary Ball Washington’s recipe for gingerbread cookies (linked above in the fun facts section.) In addition to being George Washington’s mother, she has a very tasty gingerbread cookie recipe.
  • Put a plate of gingerbread cookies out for Santa on Christmas Eve. Also, don’t forget to check out our posts with Santa’s address and the official Santa phone number so you and your kids can give him your wishlist. Don’t forget to check out which one of Santa’s lists you on too.
  • Take a trip to Nuremberg, Germany and try a lebkuchen (gingerbread cookie).
  • Make gingerbread garland now, so you can use it to decorate your Christmas tree!
  • Look for the word “gingerbread” in our free Christmas word search and Christmas word scramble
  • Spread the word on social media using the hashtag #NationalGingerbreadCookieDay. Here is a tweet to get you started:
Is one of your favorite things about fall the fact that gingerbread is all around? If so, National Gingerbread Cookie Day is for you! Learn more at Always the Holidays about #NationalGingerbreadCookieDay. 😍 🍁 Click To Tweet

Of course, the best way to celebrate National Gingerbread Cookie Day is to make some gingerbread cookies. Check out the recipe in the card at the bottom of this post.

Homemade gingerbread cookies arranged in a circle with a text overlay reading "Homemade Gingerbread Cookie Recipe".

More national days in November

There are close to 2000 national days in the year and over 150 of them are celebrated in November. To see them all, have a look at this post to discover more about the national days in November.

Like National Gingerbread Cookie Day, there’s food days to be celebrated. There’s also drink days, and days dedicated to people, places, animals, or items you may come into contact with. 

If you’re interested in more food and drink days this month, make sure view the full list of November food holidays.

There’s even monthly observances to be celebrated. For example, one of the observances of November is National Gratitude Month!

An overhead shot of a batch of iced gingerbread cookies.

Be sure to also check out these national days this November:

Pin this post on National Gingerbread Cookie Day for later

Would you like a reminder of this post for National Gingerbread Cookie Day? Just pin this image to one of your holiday boards on Pinterest so that you can easily find it later.

You can also watch our YouTube video about the national food holidays of November for more food related national days.

Snowflake shaped gingerbread cookies on a table next to Christmas spices with a text overlay that reads "National Gingerbread Cookie Day".

Yield: 24 cookies

Easy Gingerbread Cookie Recipe

Easy Gingerbread Cookie Recipe

This recipe for gingerbread cookies is easy and fun! Just top them with icing and they're ready to serve!

They are great treats to bring to a Christmas party, or a National Gingerbread Cookie Day party!

Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Additional Time 2 hours
Total Time 2 hours 40 minutes


  • 3 cups all purpose flour (360 grams)
  • 1/4 tablespoon salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 tablespoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar (142 grams)
  • 1 egg
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup molasses (170 grams)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest or orange zest (finely grated)
  • powdered sugar for topping the cookies (optional)
  • icing for topping the cookies (optional)


  1. In a bowl, combine your dry ingredients together and set to the side (flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, cloves, and ginger).
  2. In a stand mixer, or large bowl, beat the brown sugar, egg and butter together.
  3. Add the molasses, vanilla and lemon/orange zest.
  4. Take your bowl of dry ingredients, and add slowly to the mixture (a little bit at a time, then mix, then add more).*
  5. Divide the dough into to equal portions, and roll into balls.
  6. Let them sit at room temperate for about 2 hours.**
  7. Preheat the oven to 375° F.
  8. Line a cookie sheet with silicone baking mats or parchment paper.
  9. Place the dough on a lightly floured surface.
  10. Lightly flour the top of the dough and a rolling pin.***
  11. Roll the dough so it's 1/4" thick.
  12. Use cookie cutters to cut the dough (there are lots of fun shaped cookies, but the gingerbread men shaped ones are my favorite!).
  13. When putting the cookies on the cookie sheet, make sure to space them about 1 1/2 inches apart.
  14. Bake for 7-10 minutes.****
  15. Allow the cookies to cool slightly, until they can be transferred to a cooling rack.
  16. Once on the cookies are on the cooling rack, let them cool completely.
  17. When your cookies are completely cool you can decorate them however you like! Powdered sugar and icing are popular and tasty toppings.


*Adding the dry ingredients slowly, then mixing will yield a smoother, and less clumpy dough.

**If you're going to make the dough ahead of time, that's ok! It can be refrigerated for up to 4 days. Make sure when you're ready to make the recipe that you bring it back to room temperature.

***If you find the dough is sticking to the rolling pin or your rolling surface, add a little more flour and it will prevent this.

****If you bake them closer to 7 minutes, they'll be softer, and if you bake them closer to 10 minutes they'll be a little more crisp.

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Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 169Total Fat: 4gSaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 2gCholesterol: 15mgSodium: 155mgCarbohydrates: 31gFiber: 1gSugar: 18gProtein: 2g

Nutritional information is approximate due to natural variation in ingredients and the cook-at-home nature of our meals.

Jess author photoAbout the author

Since graduating from The University of North Carolina at Greensboro, Jess has been living and working in Los Angeles, CA. She is a freelance writer, specializing in content related to fashion, food and drink and film industry topics. Find out more about Jess here.

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