Nov 18


Simple Cardinal Gingerbread Cookies

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So the holiday season is just around the corner (or here, depending on your view), and I’m noticing ideas for cookie designs springing up everywhere, especially on Pinterest. It’s making me excited about making so many cookies… I’m pretty sure I won’t be able to get to all of them this year, but I had to start with this adorable Martha Stewart tag from her Christmas line (From The TomKat Studio’s shop ~ Thanks, Kim!).

The sweet cardinal, suitable for holiday or any time, really, is so easy to make.

The cookie cutter is from here, and I used my go-to gingerbread recipe. I’ve posted it before, but have shared it below for you as well.

It’s a great recipe which holds it’s shape nicely, and these tips help make sure they don’t spread during baking. One thing I noticed after making this batch, is that the coarse brown sugar I used this time is actually noticeable in the cookie after it’s baked. Still delicious, but I think I’ll stick to the finer brown sugar from here on in.

If you’d like to make these cookies, here’s a little how-to for you:


How to Decorate Cardinal Cookies:

What You’ll Need:

Decorating Steps:

For the steps below, you’ll need to outline and flood your cookie with the icing. Here is a video on how to do that. For detailed decorating tips, this tutorial may be helpful for you.

1. Using a #2 piping tip, outline and flood your cookie base with the red icing. Leave room for the cardinal’s beak. Let the base dry for a few hours.

2. Pipe the light burgundy wing and the brown beak, using #2 piping tips. Let dry for a few hours.

3. Using a #2 piping tip, add the black strip of icing and let dry for at least 15 minutes.

4. Add a black icing dot for the eye, using a #2 tip and let it dry.

Serve and enjoy!

I’ll share photos of making the holly cookies soon.

{Above photo from Instagram} Are you on Instagram btw? It’s become one of my favorite places to chat with others and share photos.  Once restricted to only iPhone users, it’s available for Blackberries now too! Hope to see you there and happy decorating!



Gingerbread Cookie Recipe


  • 800 g all-purpose flour
  • 250 g unsalted butter
  • 1 cup packed dark-brown sugar
  • 3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 3 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoons ground cloves
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup molasses


  1. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment; mix butter and brown sugar on medium speed until fluffy.
  2. Mix in spices first, then eggs and molasses. Reduce speed to low.
  3. Sift together flour and salt and add to bowl; mix until just combined.
  4. Wrap dough in a disc shape in saran wrap. Let it rest by refrigerating until cold, about 1 hour.
  5. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Roll out dough on a lightly floured work surface or between two sheets of parchment paper to about 1/4-inch thick.
  6. Cut shapes out with cookie cutters and place them approximately 2 inches apart on baking sheets lined with parchment paper.
  7. Refrigerate until firm; at least 15 minutes to 1 hour.
  8. Bake cookies until lightly golden; 12 to 14 minutes. Let cool on sheets on wire racks.

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  1. November 18, 2012 at 8:02 pm | Permalink

    These cookies are stunning! I love this design 🙂

  2. November 18, 2012 at 8:27 pm | Permalink

    My daughter and I have started cookie crafting for fun. We have both followed many blogs and have learned so much from everyone’s tutorials and helpful tips and pictures. We have so much fun spending time together and that is the best part of all, plus people are starting to notice our work. We are slowly trying to get a facebook pace organized. Last night I had four cookie displays set up for a church aution to benefit our children’s club and was able to raise $200 from just a few gingerbread men. Thanks so much for your inspiration and a new found love of cookie decorating that I never knew I had. To think it all started from your baby shower elephant cookie. Happy Holidays to you and yours.

  3. November 18, 2012 at 8:47 pm | Permalink

    I just LOVE these, Marian! Cardinals are my favorite bird (especially at Christmas of course), and gingerbread… yes : ) Thank you for the tutorial!

  4. Natalie
    November 19, 2012 at 12:33 am | Permalink

    Everything you do with cookie and icing is so inspirational and amazing. I wish I would be able to be as creative as you are in future.
    I have one question. Did you use the same gingerbread recipe for making both gingerbread houses
    and ?

  5. November 19, 2012 at 2:59 am | Permalink

    WHat a NICE blogpost to start my Monday morning with, sweetie!!!

    I love the simplicity of the Cardinal cookie!!
    And the tutorial, everyone is now able to follow your instructions to make some sweet, cute cardinal cookies <3

    Wish you a great start into the week, sweetie!!
    xoxo, niner 🙂

  6. November 19, 2012 at 4:56 am | Permalink

    you are incredible!
    bye bye,

  7. Margaret
    November 19, 2012 at 6:05 am | Permalink

    Marian, you’ve helped me SO MUCH! I’ve made sugar cookies for my friends and family for about 40 years—but always iced them with a tinted glaze. Your tutorials have opened up a whole new world for me with pastry bags, tips, flooding and outlining—I even purchased a Kopykake projector recently! It’s all so fun! Thank-you.

  8. November 19, 2012 at 8:25 am | Permalink

    beautiful. What is your secret to dark black royal icing?

  9. November 19, 2012 at 8:34 am | Permalink

    so cute and yummy I really want to try gingerbread cookies this year.

  10. Maria Theresia
    November 19, 2012 at 8:59 am | Permalink

    beautiful work as always!

  11. November 19, 2012 at 9:41 am | Permalink

    I looooove cardinals….and these are the cutest cardinal cookies I’ve EVER seen! Beautiful, Marian!

  12. November 19, 2012 at 9:43 am | Permalink

    WOW! You always make it look so simple!

  13. Kimmie
    November 19, 2012 at 10:46 am | Permalink

    Marian, your cookies as always look perfect. The edges are always so sharp and neat. Perfect again!

  14. November 19, 2012 at 2:20 pm | Permalink

    I love the cardinals … the contrasting color of the holly really makes a statement!

  15. November 19, 2012 at 3:41 pm | Permalink

    Nice cookies! I follow your cute pics on Instagram too 🙂

  16. November 19, 2012 at 7:42 pm | Permalink

    Beautiful work!! I think I have this cookie cutter but didn’t know what it was! Thank you!! 🙂

  17. November 19, 2012 at 10:37 pm | Permalink

    love it…just amazing talent wow

  18. November 19, 2012 at 11:48 pm | Permalink

    So cute! I’m in love with these cookies!!

  19. November 20, 2012 at 10:37 am | Permalink

    Soooo pretty! I just can’t get over how talented you are!

  20. November 20, 2012 at 3:00 pm | Permalink

    Hi Marian!!

    I’m planning to do these cookies this weekend but in Spain we can’t find molasses at regular stores, can I substitute it with something else? or just skip it?


    By the way…lovely cookies!!!!

  21. Cristina
    November 24, 2012 at 12:06 pm | Permalink

    Dear Marian: I thought I read from you that no baking power were recomended on cookies, since they woudn´t conserve their shape. Now I´m rather confused whether to use it or not… but I´m willing to use this spicy-delicious recipe!

  22. Cristina
    November 24, 2012 at 12:07 pm | Permalink

    @ Davinia:
    Dear Davinia: I live in Spain too, Canary Islands. I found “melaza” at Continente stores, into the supermarket.

    Hope I´ve been of help.

  23. marian
    November 24, 2012 at 12:10 pm | Permalink

    Hi @ Cristina: Yes, you’re right! I forgot to put a note about that… If I make these and don’t care about the shape (i.e. just circles), I use the baking powder for a slightly less dense cookie, but if I want the cookies to keep their shape I take it out. So, to make it less confusing, I’ve just edited the recipe to take out the baking powder. Have fun baking!

  24. marian
    November 24, 2012 at 3:47 pm | Permalink

    @ Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar: Thanks!

    Hi @ Rebecca Higginbotham: How wonderful to hear that! I’m so glad I could help in some way!

    My pleasure, @ Heather – Chickabug, thank you!

    Hi @ Natalie: No, the first link I used Teresa Layman’s recipe and the second link is gingerbread recipe of my own.

    You too, @ niner bakes! Thanks for visiting me and leaving me such sweet comments. 🙂

    @ lara, @ Maria Theresia: Sweet thanks! xo

    @ Margaret: How great! I loved reading that. 🙂 Have fun with your projector!

    Hi @ buttercream bakehouse: Here’s a post for you:

    Hope you do, @ Sue @ Cakeballs, cookies and more!

    @ bridget {bake at 350}, @ Maria, @ Kimmie,@ Brenda: Thank youuuu!

    I haven’t seen you there, @ IFeelCook. Leave me a comment on insta if you like so I can find you.xo

    @ Miss Cuit, @ Romina, @ JulieD, @ Kristen: Thanks so much!

  25. Kathleen
    November 24, 2012 at 8:35 pm | Permalink

    Did I ever mention that you are brilliant? I love your cookies and with the directions you give they are actually something I CAN DO!

  26. marian
    November 24, 2012 at 9:30 pm | Permalink

    I hope you have fun doing them, @ Kathleen! 🙂

  27. Lisa Cornely
    November 25, 2012 at 12:36 am | Permalink

    These are absolutely beautiful. Perfect for Christmas.

  28. Cristina
    November 25, 2012 at 3:28 am | Permalink

    marian wrote:

    Hi @ Cristina: Yes, you’re right! I forgot to put a note about that… If I make these and don’t care about the shape (i.e. just circles), I use the baking powder for a slightly less dense cookie, but if I want the cookies to keep their shape I take it out. So, to make it less confusing, I’ve just edited the recipe to take out the baking powder. Have fun baking!

    Thanks a lot!! your answer is very helpful (I can imagine myself in the kitchen wondering were could I have been wrong!!). I´ll have a go with this lovely recipe and I´ll share with you the results.

  29. November 26, 2012 at 10:51 pm | Permalink

    I LOVE cardinals and I LOVE these cookies! They are so amazing, I just had to share them. You are so talented. Thank you for sharing all your creations for those girls like me who need a little help in the kitchen. 🙂

  30. Laura
    December 1, 2012 at 3:22 pm | Permalink

    Deliziosi! Scaldano il cuore…
    Grazie Marian per i preziosi consigli e per la tua grande generosità!
    Un saluto affettuoso dall’Italia e Buone Feste 🙂

  31. Bridie
    December 4, 2012 at 1:21 pm | Permalink

    HELP! I’m planning to make some gingerbread cookies tomorrow as Christmas tree decorations for my family, but I just realised that your recipe uses Cups as measuring quantities… Can you help me out with the weight in grams / ounces or ml / fluid ounces?

    PS. Love the beautiful treats on this site, it always gives me inspiration.



  32. JD
    December 13, 2012 at 7:49 pm | Permalink

    There is someting in the recipe about baking powder. How much do I need for that?

  33. marian
    December 13, 2012 at 9:23 pm | Permalink

    Hi @ Bridie: I’m so sorry, I’m swamped right now and am only now getting to the computer (9:22 pm), I do apologize for not having both measuring options available. 🙁 It’s on my ‘to do’ list!)

  34. marian
    December 13, 2012 at 9:24 pm | Permalink

    Hi @ JD: I now always take the baking powder out because it makes the cookies spread when baked. I’m sorry for confusing you… I forgot to take that out from the recipe instructions when I was copying and pasting from my word file!

  35. Jessica
    December 19, 2012 at 12:55 pm | Permalink

    Hi Marian, LOVE the cardinal! I made them for my cookie swap to rave reviews, but I was wondering how you deal with the awful flavor of non “no taste” food coloring. The burgundy wings were inedible–even my kids asked me to scrape the frosting off. Any suggestions?

    • marian
      November 24, 2014 at 10:06 am | Permalink

      That’s a tough one Jessica! One idea I have is to lightly color the icing and let it deepen overnight (It tends to deepen with time), then add more coloring if needed. You could also perhaps dust the red areas with edible luster dust instead. It doesn’t have a taste but the color won’t be as solid. Hope that helps!

  36. Katie
    November 23, 2014 at 7:00 am | Permalink

    Love this post! Any way you could provide the measurements for butter and flour in cups instead of grams, please? Thanks! 🙂

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