“Are ginger snaps and gingerbread cookies the same thing?” is a common question that many have when it comes to these two popular holiday treats.
In this post, I cover the key differences between ginger snaps and gingerbread cookies, from their ingredients to how to make them and the story behind each.
No. Ginger snaps and gingerbread cookies aren’t the same thing.
While both cookies contain ginger and share some similar ingredients, they are different in their flavors, and each has distinct characteristics.
Ginger snaps are typically thin and crispy with a strong ginger flavor. They’re made with molasses, butter, flour, sugar, brown sugar, and some spices, including ginger, cloves, and cinnamon.
You have to leave them to become firm and crunchy while baking, and they usually have a dark color as they have molasses in them.
In this section, I’ll tell you the best way to make ginger snaps.
- ½ a cup of sugar (to roll the dough balls in)
- 1 tsp. of cinnamon
- 2 tsp. of ground ginger
- 2 tsp of baking soda
- 2 ⅓ cups of flour
- An egg
- ⅓ a cup of light molasses
- A cup of sugar
- 6 tbsp. of unsalted butter (room temperature)
- 6 tbsp. of shortening
- Mix cream shortening, sugar, and butter in a large bowl. Then, add the egg and molasses and beat the mixture until well combined.
- In another mixing bowl, whisk the dry ingredients. Then add the butter and continue whisking.
- After that, cover the dough and leave it to chill in the fridge for at least an hour, or you can leave it overnight.
- When you take it out, roll the dough into balls, and then roll the ball in sugar.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit, and then place the cookies 2 inches apart before baking for around 11 minutes. If you want the crispiness to go all the way to the center, bake for 13 minutes.
Ginger snaps originated in Europe during the Middle Ages. They’re now also known as ginger nuts or ginger biscuits. They were served with tea or coffee.
The first recorded recipe for ginger snaps dates back to the 15th century in Germany, where a gingerbread guild controlled production.
Over time, ginger snaps have spread throughout Europe and found their way to America with their tastiness and crunchiness.
Its first mention there was around 1805, according to John Mariani in “The Dictionary of American Food & Drink.” However, cooks were mentioning gingerbread long before that.
Yes! You can freeze ginger snaps after baking them for up to 3 months. If you’re going to freeze before baking, place the dough on a baking sheet after you roll it into balls. Freeze the dough for 4 to 6 hours before you take it out and roll the dough balls in sugar.
Leave around 2 inches between them when you line them up on the baking sheet. This way, you ensure that they don’t stick together after baking.
Finally, leave the cookies to bake for 2 minutes longer. In other words, bake them for about 13 to 15 minutes to ensure you cook them all the way through.
Gingerbread cookies, on the other hand, are soft and have a cake-like texture. They also include ginger, molasses, flour, and spices. Yet they taste sweeter than ginger snaps and are commonly decorated with candies, icing, frosting, and other toppings.
Let me share with you how to make mouth-watering gingerbread cookies!
- A tsp. of pure vanilla extract
- A large egg
- ⅔ a cup of dark molasses
- ¾ a cup of brown sugar (light or dark)
- ⅔ a cup of unsalted butter
- ½ a tsp. of ground cloves
- ½ a tsp. of ground allspice
- ½ tbsp. of cinnamon
- A tbsp. of ground ginger
- ½ tsp. of salt
- A tsp. of baking soda
- 3 and ½ cups of all-purpose flour
- Start by whisking flour, baking soda, salt, cloves, allspice, cinnamon, and ginger in a large bowl.
- In another, use a hand mixer to beat the butter for a minute. Use medium speed and wait until the butter is smooth and creamy. Alternatively, you can use a stand mixer with a paddle attachment.
- Once the butter is creamy, add the brown sugar and molasses and continue beating the mix on medium-high speed until you get the same creamy texture again.
- After that, add the egg and vanilla and beat the mix on high speed for 2 minutes. Then, add the flour to the wet ingredients and beat everything on low speed.
- Once the dough is thick and somewhat sticky, split it in half and place each half on a piece of plastic wrap.
- Wrap each half snugly and pat it down into a disc shape. Then, leave it to chill in the fridge for at least 3 hours, and you can leave it for up to 3 days! For gingerbread cookies, chilling is an essential part of the process.
- When it’s time to bake, preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and line two or three baking sheets with either parchment paper or silicone baking mats.
- Take out a disc of the chilled cookie dough from the fridge and generously flour the rolling pin, the work surface, and your hands.
- Roll the disc until you get a ¼-inch thickness, then cut it into shapes.
- Place the shapes 1 inch apart on the baking sheets and bake them for 10 minutes.
Gingerbread cookies are even older than snaps! The first mention of gingerbread cookies goes back to ancient Greece, where they emerged for medicinal purposes.
Gingerbread was also popular in Europe, especially in England in the 11th century. Europeans typically shaped them into special designs and used them for decorations.
Yes, you can. After letting them cool down after baking, place them in an airtight container or a freezer-safe bag.
Make sure to separate the cookies with parchment paper or wax paper so they don’t end up sticking together.
No, gingerbread cookies aren’t typically considered drop cookies. Drop cookies are the type that enables you to scoop the dough and simply drop it onto a baking sheet—hence, the name.
However, gingerbread cookies require rolling into a flat shape of a specific thickness, and then cutting into that flat shape with a cookie cutter.
Whether you prefer gingerbread cookies for their sweetness or ginger snaps for their crunchiness, both cookies are excellent choices to celebrate the holiday.
So, what are you waiting for? Go ahead and try one of those ginger recipes and prepare something sweet for the holiday!
Sarah is the founder of Baking Kneads, LLC, a blog sharing guides, tips, and recipes for those learning how to bake. Growing up as the daughter of a baker, she spent much of her childhood learning the basics in a local bakery.