Perfectly spiced gingerbread bars topped with fluffy cream cheese frosting are soft, chewy, and an irresistible treat. Make these for your next holiday get together or cookie tray and watch them disappear!
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When the hustle and bustle of the holiday season sets in and I don’t have time to cut out gingerbread man cookies, these delicious gingerbread bars with cream cheese frosting come to the rescue!
The cookie base is soft and chewy with warm spices. Then combined with luscious cream cheese frosting, these holiday bars become out-of-this-world delicious!
Gingerbread cookie bars are a twist on my favorite pumpkin bars with cream cheese frosting, they are so easy to make and a crowd-pleaser.
I love to decorate them with festive sprinkles and include them on a Christmas dessert board. No one can resist them!
Why This Recipe Works
- Easy to make: Gingerbread bars have the same great taste as cut-out cookies but without the hassle!
- Flavorful: The perfect amount of ginger and molasses make these a favorite for both kids and adults alike.
- Serves a crowd: This recipe for gingerbread bars with cream cheese frosting is one of the best holiday desserts, perfect for December cookie trays or gifting to neighbors!
Find the full printable recipe with specific measurements below.
- Baking staples: All-purpose flour, egg, baking soda. It’s important to measure your flour correctly. I always say if you don’t have a kitchen scale, it’s crucial to at least use the spoon and level method. Also, make sure your baking soda hasn’t expired, otherwise, it won’t give your bars the rise you want!
- Softened unsalted butter: Salt amounts can vary from brand to brand and unsalted butter allows the flavor of the recipe to shine. Follow these tips on how to soften butter, if you have forgotten to take it out ahead of time.
- Light brown sugar: Light brown is best as dark brown sugar has nearly twice the amount of molasses and may overpower the gingerbread bars.
- Molasses: Light, unsulfured molasses has a sweeter, mild flavor and is a good choice for baking. You can also use dark molasses. The one I’d try and avoid is blackstrap molasses as it is very intense.
- Spices: Classic gingerbread flavors of cinnamon, ginger, and cloves. You’ll notice I don’t use nutmeg, but by all means, you can if you’d like.
- Frosting: Cream cheese, butter, powdered sugar, and vanilla. Sweet, tangy, and creamy!
While I love gingerbread bars with cream cheese frosting, you could add variety with these other icing flavors or even just use a simple cream cheese glaze, instead!
How to Make Gingerbread Bars
The best thing about gingerbread cookie bars with cream cheese frosting is that there is no cutting into shapes and then baking. You get the same holiday flavor but bars are so much easier!
- Combine dry ingredients: Measure flour then add it to a medium bowl along with baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, and cloves. Whisk the flour mixture to combine and remove any lumps.
- Make cookie bar base: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream together butter and sugar, then egg, and finally molasses. If you don’t have a stand mixer, you can use a large mixing bowl with an electric mixer. Fold in dry ingredients then cover with plastic wrap and chill for 10 to 15 minutes.
- Bake: Press the dough into a 9×13-inch baking dish evenly with the palm of your hand. Bake it for 17 minutes, or until a toothpick comes clean. Remove from the oven and let cool completely.
- Frost: Once the gingerbread bars have cooled, spread frosting evenly over the top. You can use a spatula or an offset spatula for this. It doesn’t need to be professional looking, it’s too delicious for that!
- Timesaver. Make the cream cheese frosting while the gingerbread bars are cooling, then store it in the refrigerator until it is time to use.
- Don’t overbake. Remove gingerbread bars when the toothpick comes out clean! The darker color may give the appearance that they are not done, but overbaking will lead to dry bars.
- White chocolate glaze. Skip the frosting and drizzle with melted white chocolate as I do in ginger molasses cookies.
- Line the pan with parchment paper. Sometimes it’s easier to remove the entire slab of dough from the pan to frost and slice. It’s up to you, but having parchment lining with the edges high enough for lifting, can make things easier.
- Toppings: Add some fun decoration for an even more festive feel! Holiday sprinkles, crushed gingersnaps, mini marshmallows or even a dusting of cinnamon and sugar are great.
5 star review
“The cream cheese frosting with the gingerbread is a heavenly combination! Adding these to my annual Christmas baking list. They were quick and easy to make. Ate this last batch way too fast!”Abby
Unsulphured molasses, also known as cooking molasses is the most common kind found in the baking aisle of grocery stores. It’s gooey, dark, and sticky.
Typically a spice blend will contain additional spices like allspice or black pepper. I have not tested the gingerbread bars with a spice blend, but if you try let us know in the comments.
Unfortunately not. This dough is more of a brownie consistency and it will not roll correctly to be made into cut-out cookies.
Depending on the size of your sheet pan, you may need to double the gingerbread bars recipe and baking time will most likely increase. So, yes! This would be a great idea for serving a larger crowd.
These cookie bars with cream cheese frosting will stay fresh in an airtight container for up to 3 days in the refrigerator. I actually find them more flavorful on the second day!
To freeze, place sliced gingerbread bars on a pan and freeze for 1 hour. This helps to solidify them, so they don’t stick together when kept frozen.
Once frozen, you can stack it in a freezer container or ziploc bag and freeze it for up to 3 months. Thaw in the fridge overnight or for a few hours on the counter.
Perfect for a make-ahead Christmas treat!
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- ¾ cup unsalted butter , softened
- 1 cup light brown sugar , packed
- 1 large large egg
- ¼ cup molasses
- 2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- ½ teaspoon ground cloves
- ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
Cream cheese frosting
- 4 ounces cream cheese
- ¼ cup butter
- 1 ½ cups powdered sugar , more as needed
- ½ teaspoon vanilla
- Preheat the oven to 375°F. Line a 9×13-inch baking dish with parchment paper.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar 1 minute, or until fluffy. Add in the egg and beat until smooth. Mix in the molasses combined.
- In a medium bowl, sift or whisk the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, cloves. Mix into the butter mixture with a spoon just until combined. Be careful not to overmix. Cover and chill 10 to 15 minutes.
- Press into baking dish evenly with the palm of your hand. Bake 15-17 minutes, or until a toothpick comes clean. Be careful not to over bake. Remove from oven and let cool completely.
Cream cheese frosting
- In a medium bowl, mix the butter and cream cheese with an electric mixer 2 minutes, or until creamy. Mix in the powdered sugar and vanilla until smooth. Add more powdered sugar, if desired.
- Once the bars have cooled, spread frosting evenly over the top. Slice when ready to serve.
Nutrition provided is an estimate. It will vary based on specific ingredients used.
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