Perfect Gingerbread Men

Cover recipe- Food Network Magazine, Perfect Gingerbread Men with Royal Icing: December 2010

The theme of this month’s Food Network Magazine is “123 Fun Holiday Recipes… like these easy gingerbread men.”  It’s certainly a festive, Christmas cover, complete with easy appetizers, no fuss dinners and 50 holiday drink recipes.  One of the best features this month:  100 gifts for food lovers!

When I first started receiving this magazine, I was a little skeptical… I thought they’d just be advertising their shows and pushing products.  I have to say that I really enjoy the magazine.  There’s a visual recipe index at the beginning, which helps me decide immediately if I’m interested in a recipe or not.  They do utilize the Food Network Stars in many of the articles and recipes, but there’s quite a lot of extra stuff in there too.  Love the monthly reader recipe contest at the end of the magazine.

The cover features Perfect Gingerbread Men, and there is a cute section within the magazine- Ten ways to creatively decorate Gingerbread Men and Women. Read on to find out my take how these Gingerbread Men turned out…

Print Print Recipe

Perfect Gingerbread Men with Royal Icing

Yield: 2 to 3 dozen cookies

Prep Time: 30 min + chill time

Cook Time: 10 min


3 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. ground ginger
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
1/4 tsp. ground allspice
6 Tbsp. melted butter
1 Tbsp. melted shortening
2/3 cup light brown sugar
3/4 cup molasses
1 large egg
additional flour for rolling

2 Tbsp. meringue powder
1 lb. powdered sugar
6 Tbsp. water
food coloring, if desired


1.  In a large bowl, sift together dry ingredients- through allspice.  In a separate large bowl, mix butter, shortening, sugar, molasses and egg with an electric mixer.  Beat in flour mixture in two additions.
2.  Divide the dough in half, wrap in plastic and pat to 1/2-inch thick.  Chill 2 hours.
3.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  On a floured surface, roll out each piece of dough to 1/4-inch thick, dusting with flour, if needed.  Cut into 3 to 5-inch gingerbread men and arrange 1-inch apart on parchment paper-lined baking sheets.  Brush off the excess flour and chill 15 minutes.
4.  Bake until cookies are golden around the edges, 10 to 12 minutes.  Transfer to a rack to cool, then decorate.
5.  Prepare icing:  Sift meringue powder and confectioner's sugar into a large bowl.  Beat in water with a mixer until glossy with soft peaks  Tint with food coloring, if desired.
6.  To draw:  Transfer the icing to a resealable plastic bag; snip the tip of one corner.  For dots:  hold the bag at a 90 degree angle.  For outlines, hold it at a 45 degree angle.  Pipe onto the cooled cookies.  To fill:  draw an outline with the icing, then thin the icing with milk or water until it's the consistency of glue and spread inside the outline with a paintbrush.


*Love the plentiful spices in this recipe.
*This was a very simple dough to make and work with.   I skipped the part where it says to put it into a plastic bag and just covered my mixing bowl with plastic wrap and chilled it that way. The dough was very forgiving... and rolled and re-rolled perfectly.
*I made large, medium & small gingerbread men.  11 minutes in the oven was perfect timing for me.
*I've made a lot of Royal Icing in my day... this recipe was a little different than my usual recipe and it worked out just fine. The icing hardened pretty quickly so you have to get decorations on asap.

Source:  Food Network Magazine, December 2010

The results:

Although time consuming, they turned out cute! The cover recipe features a Gingerbread Woman with a marshmallow dress. Snip mini marshmallows in half with scissors; toss in colored sugar (it sticks to the cut side). Attach them to the cookie using royal icing. In the magazine cover photo, the marshmallows are a bit teared and overlapping. I couldn’t quite get mine to do that, but I think it still came out looking rather cute. I love the little flower on top. Kind of a funny side-note… I didn’t have a Gingerbread Woman cookie cutter, so I used paper to trace the outline of the cookie on the cover, then cut that out and used it to trace a Gingerbread Woman from my cookie dough. Oh, the things I’ll do to replicate a cover!

Did this recipe deserve the cover spotlight?

Absolutely!  It’s completely festive for the month of December, and there is a wonderful feature inside on how to creatively decorate Gingerbread Men.  Turns out that they’re also having a contest– design your ultimate gingerbread man and send in a photo to  Your design could appear on their website, and you might win a year-long subscription to the magazine for 10 friends!

Lori is the founder of She's a professional recipe developer and food writer, and she's the author of The Recipe Girl Cookbook (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt: April 2013). Beyond food, Lori enjoys traveling, being outdoors, running, and maybe even singing a little karaoke. The mountains near Lake Tahoe are home for Lori and her husband of 18 years. They have an 12 year-old son who blogs at

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17 Responses to “Nest Egg”

  1. 1

    Sagan — March 10, 2010 @ 1:24 pm

    Mmmm I LOVE eggy in a basket! Or nest egg :) I think this recipe has about a dozen different names. I’d forgotten all about it until this post- I always eat a poached egg on toast but this is equally delicious and fun! I also like to add the cut-out circle to the pan along with the other bread and have that, toasted, with a little butter. Yummy!

  2. 2

    Maria — March 10, 2010 @ 1:25 pm

    Hubs loves these, yes, he is a kid at heart:) Glad you gave it an A-OK:)

  3. 3

    Kasey — March 10, 2010 @ 1:30 pm

    I’ve always called it ‘egg in a whole.’–my husband loves to make it–esp. when we have homemade bread on hand :) The thick, crusty kind makes the best!

  4. 4

    Judy — March 10, 2010 @ 1:46 pm

    Have been eating these my whole life. We called them “egg in a nest” or a “toad in a whole” not sure where that one came from…

  5. 5

    gina — March 10, 2010 @ 2:15 pm

    i love “toad-in-the-hole!” i think it came about as a way to keep the eggs from spreading too much? the bread makes a nice container, similar to the little egg rings they have nowadays.

  6. 6

    noble pig — March 10, 2010 @ 3:02 pm

    I make these all the time and love them!

  7. 7

    LilSis — March 10, 2010 @ 5:15 pm

    I started making these when my son was around two years old. I still do make them occasionally. I love them! But, I also LOVE just about any kind of breakfast food. When I saw the cover of Food Network, it made me want to make them again. For some reason, we always called them “toad in the hole.”

  8. 8

    Cheryl — March 10, 2010 @ 8:18 pm

    When my mother made these she also called them “toad in a hole”. I made them for my girls and they make them for their kids. Fun recipe.

  9. 9

    Erin @ One Particular Kitchen — March 10, 2010 @ 9:24 pm

    I make this all the time! My mama made them and I still love them. I actually cook both sides of the bread because I can’t handle any hint of runny yolks. So good!

  10. 10

    Jenni — March 10, 2010 @ 10:42 pm

    I love these! I never had them until I made them as an adult, but I love them. I mix it up a bit and on occasion will scramble the eggs first and add some cinnamon or vanilla to the egg mixture at times as well. This is a fun easy breakfast!

  11. 11

    Tracey — March 11, 2010 @ 1:05 pm

    I’ve never made this either, but when my issue of FN magazine came in recently it looked so yummy! Glad you enjoyed it :)

  12. 12

    Leah — March 11, 2010 @ 9:03 pm

    My kids call these “egg-in-a-toast”, or” heart-shaped eggs”; it depends on the cookie cutter I use. :-)

  13. 13

    Louise — March 13, 2010 @ 9:03 pm

    “Toad in a hole” here too although, I’m not quite sure why. I’ll have to investigate further. I’ve done this French Toast Style. It’s yummy that way too!!! Thanks for sharing, Lori…

  14. 14

    Rebecca — March 15, 2010 @ 5:04 am

    Humpty Dumpty Eggs! When my mom made this for me as a child, we always used to recite the Humpty-Dumpty- Sat on a Wall nursery rhyme, and when Humpty fell down- I’d break the egg yolk…..

  15. 15

    Sue — March 27, 2010 @ 3:35 pm

    I blogged about the exact same thing the other day… it’s the only way I can make a fried egg! (Your pic turned out much better than mine… haha).

    Great idea for a blog! I love it :)

  16. 16

    Richard — March 29, 2010 @ 8:58 pm

    Okay well i think to get the yolk to show you need fresher eggs!!

    As for toad in the hole i can say with some authority that is a dish of pancake (yorkshire pudding) batter with sausages cooked in.

    This confusion is similar but more sever than the one that says shepherds pie is made with beef!!

  17. 17

    Sheryl G. — May 17, 2010 @ 11:26 am

    I tried this recipe last week – my first “nest” was a little burnt because the pan was too hot. But the ones I did after, turned out perfect. I buttered both sides of the bread before putting it in the pan. May have to try the French Toast style or scramble the egg first – great ideas! I served this with Turkey bacon on the side. Will definitely do this again with my kids. And the holes did not go to waste – I buttered both sides and toasted them for my two year old. She loved them!

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