Gingerbread Layer Cake

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This Gingerbread Layer Cake is made with three tender, moist cake layers bursting with gingerbread flavor and is filled and frosted with a smooth molasses cream cheese frosting! It’s full warm, cozy spices and is sure to become a new holiday favorite!

The Best Gingerbread Cake Recipe

This gingerbread cake recipe is the perfect cake for the holidays! There’s no doubt in my mind that it is going to earn a prominent place in your holiday dessert recipes. Here’s why:

  • Texture. This cake is so wonderfully tender and moist. When you add the smooth cream cheese frosting, it makes the perfect combination.
  • Serious gingerbread flavor. This dessert is loaded with all sorts of warming spices such as ginger, cinnamon, and cloves. In combination with the molasses in the cake batter as well as the frosting, there’s no missing the sweet nostalgia of gingerbread flavor.
  • Perfect for the holidays. There’s just something about gingerbread that screams “Christmas” and this cake does it so well. It’s the perfect addition to your holiday dessert table.
Gingerbread layer cake on a cake stand garnished with gingerbread men and sugared cranberries.

What You’ll Need

Here’s what you’ll need to make this recipe for gingerbread cake. Be sure to scroll to the recipe card below for precise measurements.

Ingredients for gingerbread layer cake.

Gingerbread Cake

  • All-purpose flour – Be sure to measure it properly, preferably with a food scale. Too much flour is the most common culprit to a dry cake.
  • Baking powder and baking soda – I used both to get the perfect rise and texture.
  • Spices – Ground ginger, ground cinnamon, ground nutmeg, ground allspice, and ground cloves.
  • Salt – This amplifies the flavors in the cake.
  • Unsalted butter – The butter should be at room temperature. Otherwise, it won’t cream properly with the sugars and vanilla.
  • Granulate sugar and brown sugar – The use of brown sugar in addition to granulated sugar brings an added depth of flavor to the cake layers along with extra moisture.
  • Vanilla extract
  • Eggs – Room-temperature eggs will mix more smoothly and easily into the batter. Be sure to use large eggs, not medium or extra large.
  • Sour cream – This helps add extra moisture and a tender texture. In a pinch, greek yogurt would work fine.
  • Buttermilk – This also adds moisture and helps give a lovely tender cake. It’s best if the buttermilk is at room temperature.
  • Molasses – Be sure to use unsulphered molasses, NOT blackstrap molasses.

Molasses Cream Cheese Frosting

  • Cream cheese – Start with room-temperature cream cheese. Cream cheese that is too cold willy give you a lumpy frosting. Be sure to use full fat brick-style cream cheese.
  • Butter – The butter should be at room temperature. If it is too cold, your frosting will likely turn out lumpy.
  • Powdered sugar – To add volume to your frosting and get it a good consistency for decorating. Feel free to reduce it, if desired. Just keep in mind that adjustments change the consistency of the frosting.
  • Vanilla extract
  • Molasses – Again, be sure to use unsulphered molasses, NOT blackstrap molasses.
  • Garnish – I used gingerbread men and sugared cranberries. You don’t have to but I think it adds a nice, festive spin.

How to Make Gingerbread Layer Cake

Here’s a simplified overview of how to make this moist, tender, Christmas-y gingerbread cake. Don’t forget to scroll to the recipe card below for more thorough instructions.

For the Cake Layers

  • Prep. Preheat the oven to 350°F, line the bottom of three 8-inch cake pans with parchment paper, and grease the sides.
  • Combine the dry ingredients. Whisk together the flour, baking powder baking soda, spices, and salt.
  • Creaming. Cream together the butter, sugars, and vanilla until light and fluffy, and then mix in the eggs, one at a time.
  • Add eggs and sour cream. Add the eggs one at a time. Then add the sour cream and mix until well combined. The mixture may look curdled.
  • Put it all together. Mix half of the dry ingredients into the batter and then slowly mix in the milk followed by the molasses. Mix in the remaining dry ingredients.
  • Bake. Divide the batter between the cake pans and bake for 20-25 minutes.
  • Cool. Allow the cakes to cool in their pans for a few minutes before transferring them to wire racks to cool completely.

Make Frosting and Assemble

  • Make the frosting. Mix together the cream cheese and butter until smooth and then mix in half of the powdered sugar followed by the vanilla and molasses and, finally, the rest of the powdered sugar.
  • Build the cake. Remove the domes from the tops of the cakes and place a cake layer on a serving plate. Spread 1 cup of frosting over the top. Repeat with the second cake layer placed directly on top. Finish with the final cake layer and frost the outside of the cake.
  • Decorate. Use the remaining frosting to pipe a border around the top edge of the cake and garnish with gingerbread men cookies and sugared cranberries.
Gingerbread layer cake garnished with gingerbread men and sugared cranberries.

Tips for The Best Gingerbread Cake

This cake really is simple to make. Just make sure to follow these simple tips and tricks. You’ll have the best gingerbread cake you’ve ever tasted on the table in no time.

  • Don’t skimp on creaming. When creaming together the butter, sugars, and vanilla, do so until the mixture has lightened significantly in color and become fluffy. This process incorporates air into the batter, which helps ensure that your cake doesn’t turn out overly dense.
  • Don’t over measure your flour. I highly recommend using a food scale. If not, check out my post on how to properly measure your flour, to be sure you don’t over measure and end up with a dry cake.
  • Don’t over-mix. Once you add the dry ingredients to the batter, it is important not to over mix as this can cause the glutens in the flour to overdevelop, which will leave you with a tough, dense cake.
  • Scrape down the sides of the bowl. This is particularly important for this cake as the molasses loves to stick to the bowl and, by doing so, escape the batter. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula as you add and mix in ingredients.
  • Let it cool. Allow the cake layers to cool completely before stacking and frosting. If the cake is still warm, the frosting will slide right off.
  • Keep frosting thick. Cream cheese frosting is notoriously tough to frost with because it’s naturally thinner than buttercream. I tend to thicken mine up with the powdered sugar, but if you aren’t a fan of using that much sugar, you can reduce it. I would just recommend reducing the amount of all the ingredients by the same percentage, so that you still have a frosting that is thick enough to not slide off of your cake or allow your cake layers to slide around. So basically, you make the same frosting, just less of it.
A slice of gingerbread cake with a bite taken out of it.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between gingerbread and gingerbread cake?

Gingerbread is typically a single layer cake and is often served without frosting. Instead, a bit of whipped cream or powdered sugar may be used. It can be a bit darker and denser.

What cookies did you use to decorate to decorate the cake?

I used Pepperidge Farms gingerman cookies. You could also make some homemade gingerbread cookies.

How do you make sugared cranberries?

Add 1/2 a cup of sugar and 1/2 cup of water to a saucepan and heat until sugar is completely dissolved. Pour simple syrup into a heatproof bowl and allow to cool for about 10 minutes. Add cranberries and stir to coat. Refrigerate cranberries for at least an hour, or overnight. Remove cranberries from syrup and roll in sugar. Set cranberries aside to dry for a hour or so, then use them.

Can you make this gluten free?

I have only tried this cake with all purpose flour, but I imagine you could make it with gluten free flour. Please let me know if you try it!

How to Store Leftovers

  • Refrigerator. Seal the gingerbread cake in an airtight cake carrier or wrap it in a couple of layers of plastic wrap (I like using toothpicks to prop the plastic away from the decorations). Alternatively, arrange slices in a single layer in an airtight container. You can keep it in the fridge for up to 4 days.
  • Freezer. Pop the cake in the freezer for a couple of hours to firm up and then wrap it in a couple of layers of plastic wrap. If you already sliced it, arrange the slices in a single layer in an airtight container. You can keep it in the freezer for up to 3 months. Allow it to thaw in the fridge before enjoying.

More Gingerbread Desserts

‘Tis the season for gingerbread and boy oh boy do I have some truly fabulous recipes for you. Here there are. Let me know which is your favorite.

This recipe was updated November 29, 2023. Download this PDF for the original recipe.

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A slice of gingerbread layer cake on a plate.

Moist Gingerbread Layer Cake

  • Author: Life, Love and Sugar
  • Prep Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour 35 minutes
  • Yield: 12-14 Slices
  • Category: Dessert
  • Method: Oven
  • Cuisine: American


This Gingerbread Layer Cake is made with three tender, moist cake layers bursting with gingerbread flavor and is filled and frosted with a smooth molasses cream cheese frosting! It’s full warm, cozy spices and is sure to become a new holiday favorite!


Gingerbread Cake

  • 2 3/4 cups (358g) all-purpose flour (measured properly)
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 1/2 tbsp ground ginger
  • 4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp ground allspice
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup (168g) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 3/4 cup (168g) packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup (104g) sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 4 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup (58g) sour cream, room temperature
  • 1 cup (240ml) molasses
  • 1 cup (240ml) buttermilk, room temperature

Molasses Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 16 ounces (452g) cream cheese, room temperature
  • 3/4 cup (172g) butter, room temperature
  • 10 cups (1150g) powdered sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 ½ tbsp molasses
  • Gingerbread men, optional
  • Sugared cranberries, optional


For the Cakes:

  1. Prepare three 8-inch cake pans with parchment paper circles in the bottom and grease the sides. Preheat oven to 350°F (176°C).
  2. Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, spices and salt in a medium sized bowl and set aside.
  3. Add the butter, sugars and vanilla extract to a large mixer bowl and beat together until light in color and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes. Do not skimp on the creaming time.
  4. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing until mostly combined after each. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed to be sure all ingredients are well incorporated. Add the sour cream and mix until well combined. Mixture may look curdled, that’s ok.
  5. Add half of the dry ingredients to the batter and mix until mostly combined.
  6. Slowly add the milk and mix until well combined. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed to be sure all ingredients are well incorporated.
  7. Add the molasses and mix until well combined. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed to be sure all ingredients are well incorporated.
  8. Add the remaining dry ingredients and mix until well combined and smooth. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed to be sure all ingredients are well incorporated. Do not over mix the batter.
  9. Divide the batter evenly between the cakes pans and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out with a few crumbs.
  10. Remove the cakes from the oven and allow to cool for about 2-3 minutes, then remove to cooling racks to cool completely.

Make Frosting and Assemble:

  1. To make the cream cheese frosting, add the cream cheese and butter to a large mixer bowl and mix until well combined and smooth.
  2. Add about half of the powdered sugar and mix until well combined and smooth.
  3. Add the vanilla extract and molasses and mix until well combined and smooth.
  4. Add the remaining powdered sugar and mix until well combined and smooth.
  5. To build the cake, first use a large serrated knife to remove the domes from the tops of the cakes so they are flat, if needed. Place the first cake layer on a serving plate or on a cardboard cake circle. Spread about 1 cup of frosting on top of the cake layer. Add the second layer of cake and another cup of frosting.
  6. Top the cake with the third layer and frost the top and outside of the cake with the remaining cream cheese frosting.
  7. Use the remaining frosting to pipe a border around the top edge of the cake. I used Ateco tip 847. Add gingerbread men cookies and sugared cranberries, if using.
  8. Store cake in an air-tight container in the fridge. Serve at room temperature. Best if eaten within 3-4 days.


  • Serving Size: 1 Slice
  • Calories: 738
  • Sugar: 102.1 g
  • Sodium: 360.3 mg
  • Fat: 22.7 g
  • Carbohydrates: 128.2 g
  • Protein: 8.4 g
  • Cholesterol: 85.5 mg


Share a Comment

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  1. Betty A N Devine

    I live at a high altitude – 6300 feet – how should I alter the recipe so it will cook properly here at home?

  2. Jennifer

    Hello Lindsay, this was the most delicious and moist cake for the Christmas season! It looks great too. I will say that the frosting, while tasty, turned out a bit soupy because of all the cream cheese. I ended up adding 8 ounces of melted and cooled white chocolate to stiffen it enough to pipe. I’m looking forward to making the gingerbread cookies now. Is there any worry about them becoming soggy when attached to the buttercream? I was thinking to possibly coat the backs with candy melts to avoid that. Thank you again for all your wonderful recipes that you share with us!

    1. Lindsay

      I’m glad you enjoyed the cake! The frosting shouldn’t be soupy. Did you add the full amount of powdered sugar? I know sometimes people like to reduce that, but it thickens up the frosting and adds volume. If you did use the full amount, then your butter and/or cream cheese may have been too warm.

      The gingerbread cookies don’t use buttercream. They use a simple icing and it’s just a small bit on each cookie, unless you choose to use something else. I haven’t fully frosted them with buttercream before, but I’d think they’d be fine.

    1. Lindsay

      I didn’t test it that way, but it should be fine. I would try baking it at 325 degrees. Not sure of the exact time. Maybe 25-35 minutes or so?

  3. Denice

    when I printed out the recipe it printed completely different then is listed above. the gingerbread cake ingredients started with unsalted butter, it says 1 1/2 tsp baking powder. I don’t know if anyone else had this problem. I just copied the recipe from above and wrote it out.

    1. Lindsay

      Did you hit the print button in the recipe card, or did you download the PDF of the old version of this recipe?

  4. Lynn Legere

    I really want to make this cake, it sounds wonderful. However, very busy around the time I would want to have it ready. Could I make the cake layers & freeze them snugly & then defrost & ice?

    1. Lauren

      I would love to try this recipe in my grandmas vintage gingerbread house mold. Do you have recommendations for making this work re: bake time and temp?

  5. Carmen

    I made this and filled it with brown butter cream cheese frosting, and frosted it with toasted homemade marshmallow creme. It is fantastic! A big hit! Thank you for all your amazing recipes.

  6. Courtney

    Merry Christmas!! We are looking to make treats for our birthday party for Jesus. This is absolutely beautiful and I’ve loved every cake of yours that I’ve made, but I don’t think it will work for the kids to help 🙂 Could this be adapted to cupcakes without changes to the mix of ingredients?

  7. Brendan

    Just made this for Christmas and it came out great.  We had the wrong sized pans so the 3 layers probably should’ve been 2 (should have read the comments first) but other than that it was a hit.  Next time I’ll make them as cupcakes with the frosting in the center and on top.  That was the best part in everyone’s opinion. 

  8. Kathryn Dombrowski

    Thanks for the recipe, it came out fantastic. The entire family wolfed down their slices. It was similar to a carrot cake I made last year, but the flavor was fantastic. I garnished it with handmade mini gingerbread men around the side and it was super cute. 

    1. Lindsay

      It is correct and it is a good bit. It’s a traditional decorators buttercream, which is what I like to work with. If you prefer less frosting, you can definitely reduce the amount of powdered sugar.

      1. Rioghna

        ahh ok.. thanks!! I did it with less and it was kinda runny but tasted really good.. my friends were taking it out the bowl 😉

  9. Sarah

    HI Lindsay! I was just wondering what your opinion would be as to whether this recipe would work in a single 9 x 13in pan? I’m currently living away from home and don’t have access to all my baking tins.

    1. Lindsay

      I haven’t tried it in a 9 x 13 pan, so it’s hard to say for sure. I would think it might turn out a little more dense but otherwise it should be fine.

      1. Ashling Laue

        Hi sorry for jumping on this post im in ireland and couldn’t find molasses so used black treacle is this right?

  10. Penny

    Hi Lindsay – I too made a different recipe and the cake fell in the middle. Question – I have a lot candied ginger i would like to get rid of. Do you think adding like 1/4 – 1/2 cup would be ok? I’ve had the ginger for a couple of months and don’t want it go bad!

    1. Lindsay

      I don’t think the candied ginger would be to my liking, just because it would be fairly chewy in a cake I think. But if that’s something you’d like, you could certainly try it. Alternatively, you could leave it out of the cake itself and use it to decorate the cake.

  11. Belinda Bean

    I am just baked the cakes and they did not rise and are only about 2cm high each. I followed the directions and used 8inch cake finds. Do you have any suggestions as to why the didn’t rise much? 

    1. Lindsay

      The most common issue people have is not fully creaming the butter and sugar. You could even set a timer for three or four minutes to make sure you’ve done it long enough. It adds air and structure to the cake that helps it rise. If your cake didn’t rise it all, that very well could be the problem. Aside from that you may want to check that your baking powder is still good. You also want to be sure not to you over mix the batter after adding the flour.

  12. Michelle O

    Have you tried making cupcakes with this recipe? Or can you suggest the baking time and temperature of the oven. Thanks

    1. Lindsay

      I don’t think I’ve actually made cupcakes before, but it should be fine. I’d try baking for 15-17 minutes. Same oven temperature.

      1. Debbie Eckstein

        i just made cupcakes. mini ones 12 mins, regular ones 18mins. my house smells wonderful. Love all of your recipes and have made a few. first time making this one and i can’t wait to try them. they’re just cooling now! Thanks for all of your great recipes!

  13. Amber

    Excited to be making this cake today… trial fun for the family gathering this weekend!!!   We did opt for a gluten-free version but so far the kitchen SMELLS DELICIOUS!!!   

    Thank you for the recipe + Merry Christmas!

      1. Alex

        Hi Lindsay,

        For the brown sugar, does it matter if I use dark or light? I was thinking of using dark since I’m looking for a darker color.



    1. Marilyn

      Hi Lindsay, love your recipes! Does it matter if you use blackstrap or fancy molasses for this cake?Thank you.

  14. Renee Kelly

    Your last comment: Cake is best when well covered for 2-3 days. Does this mean you recommend allowing it to age 2-3 days before serving, or to serve it within 2-3 days of baking?

  15. My.i.on.het

    This looks oh soo delicious! I found the perfect gingerbread men recipe last year…and this year this might just be my new ‘gingerbread’ treat. Thanks for sharing.

  16. Linda

    I’m crazy for gingerbread so this gets my taste buds going.  If my cake were to turn out as beautiful as yours, I don’t know that I’d want to cut it!

  17. Suzy-q

    Oh, boy! I can’t wait to make this cake. It’s calling my name! Warm spices and cream cheese frosting is a hit! Thank you for the wonderful recipes. Best wishes!!!

  18. DeShonda

    This cake looks super yummy… I just pinned the gingerbread cupcake recipe and cannot wait to try both!! I totally trust your recipes and always look here first! Do you think this would work in a bundt pan or as mini bundt cakes?

    1. Lindsay

      I hope you enjoy them! I didn’t try as a bundt and I’m never really sure about the transition. Sometimes it ends up much denser. But you could definitely try it.

  19. Christine Quigley

    Dear Lindsay,

             I just made a gingerbread layer cake, different recipe and the layers all fell in the middle. I live outside Denver and didn’t adjust the recipe for altitude, but I hardly ever do, and I’ve lived here for 38 yrs.

             Do you recommend that i DO adjust this recipe? I don’t want to repeat disaster. ( well, in truth, in wasn’t a disaster per se, it still tasted wonderful..) One possible cause was I used buttermilk in the other recipe, and yours calls for plain milk. I think possibly the acid in the buttermilk reacted too much with the baking soda, creating this huge ‘bubble’ in the middle of the layers, as I sadly watched it deflate…:-(

             Want to try this! Let me know your thoughts..

    1. Lindsay

      I really don’t know too much about high altitude baking, but I do know that people typically do make adjustments. Probably wouldn’t be a bad idea.

  20. Kelly | Maverick Baking

    WOW. This cake looks simple compared to some of your others but SO pretty! Adoring the addition of the rosemary, it looks really nice and adds such a great contrasting flavour in cakes and cookies. Pinning for later!

  21. Deborah Behney

    I just want to say this ….. you are simply wonderful! I am so thankful and grateful
    that I came upon your website. You bring me much joy. Thank you, and I wish
    you and your family a beautiful Christmas and many blessings in the New Year!

  22. Charity

    Yay!! I’ve been waiting and hoping you would make a gingerbread cake!! I’ve seen many on Pinterest but knew I could completely trust your recipe to be awesome! Will be baking this soon, just need to stock up on cream cheese now!! Thank you! Love all your recipes, they are my go-to tried and trues! EVERY time I make your cakes or cupcakes people rave over them!!

    1. Lindsay

      I’m so glad you enjoy the recipes! I’ve definitely been needing a gingerbread cake on here – I hope you love it!

About Lindsay

I'm a wife and a mom to twin boys and a baby girl! And I've got a serious sweets addiction! Bring on the treats!

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“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” Matthew 11:28-29