Gingerbread Cookie Foxes with Traditional Royal Icing

With warm spices, dark molasses, and only a handful of simple ingredients, these delightful gingerbread cookie foxes are chewy on the outside and soft on the inside. A bit of traditional royal icing adds the right amount of sweetness and a beautiful, easily accomplished decoration.

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I’ve finally found it.

The perfect gingerbread.

Years of experimentation. Numerous recipes from varied sources. All nice, but just not good enough to become a new staple. Every year I’d try again, each time with a new recipe in hand. But this year – This year I think I found my ideal gingerbread cookie recipe.

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With warm spices, dark molasses, and only a handful of ingredients, these gingerbread cookie foxes are a classic addition to any cookie platter. #holidays #cookies #winter #gingerbread |
A piles of gingerbread cookie foxes, with two pretty ones

Gingerbread Cookie Foxes

Adapted from Mark Bittman’s gingerbread men recipe from How to Bake Everything, my newest gingerbread cookies are chewy on the outside and soft on the inside. They have just the right amount of spice – not just cinnamon, but nutmeg and plenty of clove as well. The gingerbread dough is even easy to work with. It’s not too sticky or soft, making it exactly right for rolling out flat and using a cookie cutter for fun animal shapes (like these foxes).

This is the recipe I’m using from here on out.

A trio of gingerbread cookie foxes.

A Fox By Any Other Name

Did you know a group of foxes is called a “skulk”? It’s very evocative of their slinking, sneaking movements, although it seems rather sinister for such a beautiful animal. But the fox always gets a bit of a bad rep in English folklore. Stealing into chicken coups, full of tricks and dark cunning, the fox is usually cast as the villain. At least in Japanese folklore, the kitsune (a fox-spirit deity) has magical powers and is described as beautiful in human form, even if she is still a trickster.

My love of the fox now readily apparent to you all (if not known already), I found these incredible cookie cutters for my gingerbread cookie foxes. With some simple homemade royal icing as decoration, I think they make the prettiest little Arctic Foxes, don’t you? Far too adorable to be anyone’s enemy.

Then again, perhaps that’s the trickster speaking.

Looking for more spicy gingerbread ideas? I’m loving the look of these chocolate gingerbread cookies, and these honey gingerbread cookies are a lighter, delightful take that I made last year to great success. 

A pile of gingerbread cookies with multicolor sprinkles.

Gingerbread Cookie Foxes

With warm spices, dark molasses, and only a handful of ingredients, these gingerbread cookie foxes are a classic addition to any cookie platter. 
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Chill Dough 15 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Servings 40 cookies



  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup molasses
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 3 cups flour (plus some for rolling out dough)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon ground ginger
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

Royal Icing

  • 3 egg whites
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt


Make the gingerbread:

  • In the bowl of a standing mixer, cream together butter, molasses, and both kinds of sugar. Beat for 5-10 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl occasionally, until light and fluffy.
  • In a separate bowl, whisk together the remaining dry ingredients. With the mixer on low, add the flour mixture a half cup at a time until completely combined. 
  • Dump the dough out onto a floured surface and shape it into two disks. Wrap each in plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for at least 15 minutes up to overnight.

Bake the Cookies:

  • When ready to bake the cookies, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and line two baking sheets with parchment paper. 
  • On a clean, floured surface, roll out the gingerbread dough to about 1/8th inch thick. Cut the dough into fox (or any other shapes you prefer) with cookie cutters and transfer to the parchment lined baking sheets, leaving at least an inch between cookies.
  • Bake for 8-10 minutes, until the center of the cookies puffs up. Allow to cool on the trays for 5 minutes, and then transfer to cooling racks. The cookies should be room temperature (or cooler) before applying any icing (chill in the fridge if necessary).

Applying the Royal Icing:

  • To make the icing, beat together the egg whites, salt, and vanilla until frothy (about 8 minutes). Turn the mixer to low, and slowly add the powedered sugar until combined. Increase the speed to medium-high and whip the mixture until glossy, stiff peaks form (about 7 minutes).  Transfer the icing to a piping bag with a small decorating tip.
  • Pipe the icing onto the cooled cookies. If you wish to add sprinkles, do so quickly – the royal icing will harden quickly!


Alternate Icing Options:
As you see above. this recipe uses raw egg whites in the icing. If you are pregnant, have a compromised immune system, or are otherwise wary of using this ingredient, feel free to make substitutions.
Another way to ice these gingerbread cookie foxes is with a thin powdered sugar glaze and a smattering of various sprinkles. While less defined as the royal icing, this method is a little quicker (and simpler) if you prefer, and does not use raw egg whites.  Mix together two cups powdered sugar with two tablespoons milk. Add more liquid or more sugar until you have a viscous consistency that can coat the back of a spoon easily. Dip the front of your gingerbread cookies into the glaze and top with sprinkles of your choosing.
Keyword cinnamon, cookie, gingerbread, holiday, molasses
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