These flavorful chewy molasses cookies are nothing like what you've had in the past. Perfectly balanced flavors meet in an irresistibly chewy cookie that is perfect for dunking!
Why you'll love it
These cookies are soft, chewy, and delightfully flavorful. They are my favorite holiday cookie recipes that remind me of the kind of cookies we used to buy when I was a child. It comes from the book, The Perfect Cookie by America's Test Kitchen, who I adore and worked with in the past. I trust the science behind their cookies and know you can too. These cookies have been tested repeatedly to ensure they will have the perfect texture and balance of flavors.
Molasses cookies vs gingersnaps
There are a lot of similar holiday cookies that have simple, but important differences that make each one uniquely delicious. What makes these cookies special and different from other cookies like gingersnaps or soft ginger cookies is the lighter hand and better balance of spices. There is still a slightly larger amount of ground ginger, but it is not prominent enough to consider it any variation of a ginger cookie. There is also plenty of molasses and brown sugar to give them their signature flavor and chewy texture.
- Flour - For the best results use all-purpose flour, unbleached if possible. White whole wheat flour is also good if you'd like them to be a little more wholesome.
- Spices - We use a special blend of cinnamon, ginger, cloves, allspice, and black pepper to create a deliciously warming cookie with a subtle kick.
- Butter - The best way to make sure your cookies are the perfect texture, you need to start with your base, which in the case of cookies is the butter. You want softened butter that is just at room temperature.
- Molasses - The star flavor in these cookies is the molasses. You can use light or dark molasses. I like the Grandma's brand. I highly recommend staying away from blackstrap molasses which can be too intense and bitter.
- Sugar - We use a mix of granulated and brown sugar to give us both an enhanced molasses flavor and perfectly chewy cookies.
- Egg - Instead of using a whole egg, we only need an egg yolk for light binding and adding richness.
How to make
- Preheat your oven and line your ungreased cookie sheet with parchment paper. Set aside.
- Mix together the dry ingredients into a medium bowl and set aside.
- Add the butter to a the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment (or a large bowl if using a hand mixer). Add the brown and white sugar and beat on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 4 - 5 minutes.
- Add in the egg yolk, vanilla, and dark or light molasses. Beat for another 3 - 4 minutes.
- Stir the flour mixture into the wet ingredients and mix on low speed until just incorporated.
- Add granulated sugar into a separate bowl and use a cookie scoop to portion out the dough. Roll into a ball (you may need to lightly wet your hands with water) and then roll into the sugar.
- Place the rolled dough balls onto your prepared baking sheets. Bake for about 10 - 11 minutes and let the cookie rest on your sheet pan for a few minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
Expert baking tips
Take care to measure your flour correctly. The most common mistake made in baking is accidentally adding too much flour. You should fluff your flour and then spoon it into your measuring cup then sweep off the excess. For the most consistent results, you can use a kitchen scale and use the recipe card below to convert the recipe into metric measurements.
Use an adjustable liquid measuring cup. This is the easiest way to accurately measure thick and/or sticky liquids like molasses and ensure you can get every last drop you need without making a mess.
Chill your dough. This recipe makes a great batch of dough that you can bake off immediately, but by letting it chill a few hours, preferably overnight, you develop a lot more flavor. It also makes it easier for baking it along with other cookies during the holiday season when you are doing cookie exchanges. You can prep the dough ahead of time to bake later.
If you love the original recipe of these old fashioned molasses cookies, but want to try and mix things up a bit, here are some ideas.
- Fold in white chocolate chips to add in a bit of creaminess and sweetness.
- Use a teaspoon of fresh ginger to add a heavier ginger note.
- Use turbinado sugar instead of granulated sugar to add a bigger crunch to the outside texture.
- Add in a teaspoon of orange zest to the dough to add more dimension.
- Replace the regular butter with brown butter to give the cookies more depth and a light caramelized note.
- Drizzle the cookies with a simple glaze or one infused with warm spices.
These homemade molasses cookies stay soft and chewy for days if you store them properly.
Keep your baked cookies in an airtight container for up to a week at room temperature. If kept in an airtight container, they can last in the freezer for up to a month.
You can store unbaked molasses cookie dough for longer than overnight, if desired. It will last up to three days in an airtight container in the refrigerator. It is also possible to portion out the dough using a cookie scoop and leaving the dough to freeze on an ungreased baking sheet for an hour before transferring to an airtight container for up to a month.
Molasses can have a slightly different consistency from brand to brand. If it feels too soft to shape dough into balls, chilling may be required. If it feels too thick, you can flatten the balls slightly to help with spreading and for next time add a whole large egg.
Make sure the container you store them in is truly air tight. You can also try adding a slice of bread to the container to give you even softer cookies.
The most important way to ensure you get the best results is to make sure you are correctly measuring your ingredients, particularly the flour. You should fluff up the flour and then spoon it into your measuring cup then sweep of the excess. If you want to make sure you get consistent results, you can convert the recipe to metric and use a kitchen scale.
Chewy Molasses Cookies
- 2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 ½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1 ½ teaspoon ground ginger
- ½ teaspoon ground cloves
- ¼ teaspoon allspice
- ¼ teaspoon ground pepper
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 12 tablespoons 1 ½ sticks unsalted butter, [softened], but still slightly cool
- ⅓ cup granulated sugar plus ½ cup for rolling
- ⅓ cup brown sugar
- 1 large egg yolk room temperature
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ½ cup dark or light molasses
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment papers or baking mats.
- In a medium bowl, mix together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, allspice, pepper, and salt together. Set aside.
- In a mixer, add the butter, ⅓ cup of granulated sugar, and brown sugar together. Beat until light and fluffy, about three to four minutes.
- Add in the egg yolk and vanilla and beat for an additional minute before adding the molasses and beating for another two minutes, or until everything is one single color. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed.
- Pour in the flour mixture and mix until everything is just incorporated and there are no streaks of flour.
- Add the remaining granulated sugar in a small bowl.
- Dampen your hands and portion out two tablespoons of dough. Roll the dough between your damp hands to form a ball, then roll the ball in the sugar until completely coated. Repeat with all of the dough.
- Place the balls of cookie dough two inches apart on your baking sheets.
- Bake the cookies one baking sheet at a time for about 11 minutes, or until the cookies have begun to set at the edges, but are still puffy in the centers and still look underdone in the middles.
- Allow the cookies to cool on the baking sheet for five minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
- Store in an airtight container for up to a week.