Gingerbread cookies are usually good enough on their own.
Yet, there are times when they feel a bit dry. I’ll also admit that I’ve overdone the spices once or twice before and found the flavor too intense for my liking.
Thankfully, there are a few drinks, purees, toppings, and side dishes that can save the day!
In this post, I’ll share with you my favorite gingerbread cookie pairings. Hopefully, you’ll find something that works well for you.
Generally speaking, gingerbread pairs nicely with soft, rich, and creamy ingredients. In terms of flavor, both sweet and zesty options are on the table.
Here are my top picks:
The most obvious pairing of them all is a dollop of vanilla ice cream. It’s light enough to tone down the spiciness level without dominating the flavor profile.
Pecan praline works well if you want to dial up the sweetness and crunch all in one go.
Some people go the extra mile and make ice cream cookie sandwiches—usually with plain vanilla ice cream, though.
Sure, they can be challenging to prepare, especially if your batch isn’t strong enough to hold up for an hour or so in the freezer. However, the sandwiches are an absolute hit with the kids, so I say they’re worth a shot!
Cream cheese won’t cut through the spiciness like vanilla ice cream would, but it’ll add an unmatched richness.
I tried marrying the flavors two ways:
- Using the cream cheese as a filling for a gingerbread whoopie pie.
- Frosting cookie bars with the cream cheese.
Both were great treats, but I have to say that the whoopie pies looked (and tasted) better. Maybe it’s because they gave the gingerbread spices double the chance to shine.
Either way, you’ll likely want to whip up the cream cheese with softened butter, confectioner’s sugar, and vanilla extract before pairing it with the cookies.
Grab a pan and toss butter-coated apple wedges in there. Then sprinkle sugar on top.
In less than 10 minutes, you’ll have perfectly caramelized wedges to munch on between bites of gingerbread cookies.
You can definitely stop right there, but it won’t hurt to spend a little more time and prepare a homemade sauce to go with your seared apples.
All you need to do is cook apple slices in a saucepan with cider and salt. When they’re all soft, sieve them, return the pulp to the pan, and cook it over low heat with sugar until it forms a thick, puree-like mixture.
Finally, top the cookies with the puree and serve them with the seared wedges.
If you like the idea of pairing syrupy fruits with gingerbread, I highly recommend giving poached pineapple a go.
For best results, get a fresh, extra-sweet pineapple and slice it yourself. Then, heat up water, salt, ginger, vanilla, and a bit of salt in a skillet.
Next, cook the pineapples till they’re tender. You can also add strawberries/cranberries and nuts if you want.
Anyway, you’ll strain the tender fruit pieces and set them aside while you reduce the syrup.
Done? Pop the pineapples and thickened syrup in the fridge to cool down, and then serve everything in a bowl.
Now, get out your cookie plate and enjoy two desserts that balance each other’s texture!
Persimmon is a suitable, sweet (but not overly so) topping for gingerbread.
And the silky puree is super easy to make. You just blend peeled persimmon in a processor.
However, I like taking things to the next level by sneaking some grated orange peel into the puree.
Then, I either use orange-persimmon puree as-is to top the cookies or turn it into a glaze using powdered sugar and fresh orange juice.
I’ve heard of people pairing toast with a lime-pomelo curd, which got me thinking about possibly topping my gingerbread cookies with the same creamy, zesty curd.
Spoiler alert: They do get along well together!
The best part? The curd can last in the fridge for around a month. So, I make a large curd jar and use it for all my cookie batches.
Don’t worry if you don’t make gingerbread that often, though. There are plenty of ways to use up the leftover curd, from making tarts to coating your pancakes.
Strawberry compote goes well with many cookies, and gingerbread is no exception.
The simplest approach here is to use the compote as a spread.
But suppose you had overly crumbly cookies and some time on your hands. In this case, I’d recommend going all out with a no-bake strawberry compote cheesecake.
You’ll use the gingerbread crumbs as the crust and swirl the compote into the cream cheese filling.
The sweet earthiness of chocolate contrasts ginger’s spiciness very well. I think anyone who’s tried a chocolate gingerbread recipe variation will agree.
That said, you don’t have to bake the chocolate into the batter. Just slather the cooled cookies with your favorite ganache and fix up a marvelous gingerbread sandwich.
Alternatively, you can make mini bowls of chocolate mousse and serve them with the cookies.
Chocolate doesn’t float everyone’s boat, but thankfully, there’s another sweet, gooey pairing for your gingerbread cookies: dulce de leche.
While it’s technically possible to serve dulce de leche as a side dessert and eat it with a spoon, most folks use it to top cookies.
The most common approach here is to bake the gingerbread batter thumbprint-style.
Once the cookies are baked and cooled down, you’ll fill each dent with a dollop of caramel-like goodness!
So, we’ve covered how apples (seared wedges and thick sauce) fit like a charm with a plate of gingerbread cookies.
But did you know that you can turn things around to make the apples the star of the show while the gingerbread takes the back seat?
Yup, it’s possible. Just prep an apple pie and use cookie crumbs instead of the typical crust.
If you still haven’t made the cookies, try to merge the two recipes and make an aesthetically pleasing top crust. To do so, lay down the raw gingerbread men (as if they’re holding hands) in rows over the apple filling.
Want something to sip with your festive cookies? Here are five great drink options:
If vanilla ice cream is the most obvious dessert to serve with gingerbread cookies, then a milkshake has to be the perfect drink choice!
Any milkshake would do, but I like spicing mine with ginger, cloves, allspice mix, and maybe even a bit of molasses. This way, I bring out the classic gingerbread flavors.
To match the festive vibes, pair the cookies with a hot mug of wassail.
There are different blends to try. However, apple cider, pineapple juice, and a splash of citrus work well for me.
I also like dropping a cinnamon stick in the cups to add a flavor kick.
Since gingerbread and zesty flavors bring the best out in each other, you can sip lemon tea as you go through a cookie (or two).
But pretty much any packet of tea will do, especially Earl Gray (thanks to the added bergamot).
This one is a bit of a no-brainer, but it still deserves a mention.
After all, coffee and cookies are a match made in heaven, and it rarely matters what sort of cookies you’re talking about!
Maybe you don’t have time to make a ganache or a mousse. If that’s the case, why not fix yourself a cup of hot cocoa real quick?
It’ll still bring along the same divine sweet-and-spicy combo but with much less hassle. Plus, it’s perfect for a chilly evening!
If none of the previous ideas seem tempting enough, you might want to consider altering your recipe altogether.
Here are three of my favorite gingerbread twists:
- Make a hybrid between oatmeal cream pies and gingerbread cookies.
- Stuff the cookies with caramel.
- Add cocoa powder and chocolate chunks to the batter.
If you want to cut through the spiciness, vanilla ice cream is your guy. Of course, chocolate, caramel, and the good old cup of joe won’t let you down, either!
For a dose of fruity freshness, consider persimmon, pineapples, strawberries, or apples.
A final word of advice? Choose a few pairing ideas and rotate between them throughout the holiday season to keep the boredom at bay.
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.