Our family recipe for classic molasses cookies. These crinkly, soft and chewy cookies are full of cozy, nostalgic, holiday flavor from ginger, cinnamon, cloves, and of course, rich molasses. They’re a must-bake every Christmas, and are perfect for sharing or gifting.

The very best chewy molasses cookies via forkknifeswoon.com | Molasses cookies on parchment paper.

The Best Chewy Molasses Cookies

For Christmas many years ago, my Grandma gave me a copy of a family cookbook that several of my second cousins had put together, highlighting favorite dishes that have been passed down over the generations.

The recipes are mostly traditional, for things like fluffy buttermilk biscuits, the perfect turkey giblet gravy, and split pea soup (with a ham hock thrown in for good measure), and tell a story not only of great Southern food, but of memories and love shared around our family tables.

These chewy, flavorful ginger molasses cookies were in there too, and come from my great-great Aunt Marie – a woman who, every morning, woke up early to make those aforementioned biscuits from scratch. Yes, really.

These instantly became some of my very favorite Christmas cookies, and I’ve made them multiple times every holiday season since. They’re wonderfully soft and chewy, sweet and generously spiced, full of cozy, nostalgic flavors, and I hope you’ll love them too.

The very best chewy molasses cookies via forkknifeswoon.com | Molasses cookies on a baking rack.

About Our Family Molasses Cookie Recipe

For years – and dozens of batches later – I believed that this was an original family recipe. As it turns out, they actually trace back to a recipe printed on the side of Brer Rabbit molasses bottles from at least as early as the 1940s (and likely earlier), and originally called Molasses Sugar Cookies.

And, the majority of molasses cookie recipes on the internet – also called chewy ginger cookies or gingerbread cookies – follow this same formula. The original recipe called for melted shortening instead of butter, and while that ingredient may have largely fallen out of favor, the rest of the recipe remains mostly unchanged. Sometimes with minor tweaks, like creaming the butter or adding some measure of brown sugar. But generally, the ingredients, measurements, and ratios are the same.

And it’s not in fact, the original creation of my great-great Aunt. The true origin doesn’t seem to be mentioned often, and maybe this comes down to many of us having the same “secret family recipe”, passed down with attribution lost to history, dropping off with each smudged recipe card.

No matter the source – and I do still claim these cookies as part of our family’s recipe heritage – these are wonderfully delicious and nostalgic cookies, with just a couple of modern tweaks.

The very best chewy molasses cookies via forkknifeswoon.com | Molasses cookies on parchment paper.
The very best chewy molasses cookies via forkknifeswoon.com | Molasses cookies stacked in a cookie tin on a white linen background.

Why You’ll Love These Molasses Cookies

There’s a reason versions of this ginger molasses cookie recipe have endured, and been shared far and wide.

Though they’re unassuming little cookies, and maybe even look boring compared to more sprinkled and frosted varieties this time of year, they more than make up for it with a winning, chewy texture and tons of flavor, thanks to dark, sweet molasses, fresh ginger, and warming spices.

They’re crowd-pleasing, can be made in advance, and are great for gifting since they’re sturdy, easily packable, and last longer than other more delicate varieties (actually getting better the next day or two).

I’ve tinkered with the original recipe a little bit, enhancing a few ingredients, adjusting the recipe to gram measurements, and gotten really detailed and particular with little tricks for perfect molasses cookies, every time. But all the classic flavors are intact, and my version of the recipe stays very true to its delicious beginnings.

And while you can gussy up their sparkly, crackled tops with a dip in dark chocolate and a sprinkling of holiday nonpareils, I actually love these spicy molasses cookies best plain – especially the second day, when they become impossibly and wonderfully chewy, sweeter, and even more intense – perhaps alongside a cozy cup of tea or cocoa. Happy baking!!

The very best chewy molasses cookies via forkknifeswoon.com | Molasses cookies on a baking rack.

If you bake regularly, I bet you have all these ingredients in your pantry right now (with maybe just a special trip to the store for molasses and possibly fresh ginger). Here’s what you’ll need to make them:

  • butter: we’ll start with a stick and a half of melted butter, for richness and an extra chewy texture.
  • sugar: granulated sugar adds sweetness and gives these cookies their crackly tops. For even more sparkle, you can roll the dough balls in a coarse organic or sanding sugar.
  • molasses: of course! Molasses adds moisture and gives these namesake cookies their classic and distinct flavor. I recommend using Brer Rabbit molasses if you can find it, but any unsulphered (regular) molasses will work!
  • egg: to bind everything together you’ll need one large egg.
  • vanilla: a teaspoon of vanilla extract is not in the original recipe, but I add it to just about all my baked goods, and love it here too.
  • flour: all-purpose flour forms the base of these cookies. I highly recommend weighing your flour (and other ingredients) to achieve the best, most consistent chewy texture!
  • baking soda: 2 teaspoons may seem like a lot, but it’s just what you’ll need for the perfect balance of lift and spread.
  • salt: fine sea salt helps to bring out all the other flavors.
  • gingerbread spices: ginger (both fresh and ground), cinnamon, and cloves add warming spice, and the traditional gingerbread flavors to these chewy cookies. I like lots of spice, but you can easily adjust to your own taste.

For all the exact ingredients and measurements, see the recipe below.

The very best chewy molasses cookies via forkknifeswoon.com | Molasses cookies on a baking rack.

How to Make Molasses Cookies

These are pretty simple cookies to make, but there are some key steps that ensure perfect molasses cookies every time. Be sure to check out my best practices, below, too.

  1. Gather all of your ingredients while you melt the butter and let it cool.
  2. Whisk together the dry ingredients in a medium bowl.
  3. Mix together the wet ingredients until light and creamy, then mix in the flour mixture until a thick dough forms.
  4. Refrigerate for a couple of hours to let the dough rest and chill thoroughly. Portion into tablespoon-sized balls. Chill again.
  5. Roll each cookie dough ball in sugar, and bake in batches until golden and crackly. Let cool a bit then devour!

For full instructions and notes, see the recipe card below.

The very best chewy molasses cookies via forkknifeswoon.com | Molasses cookies on parchment paper.

Tips & Tricks for the Best Molasses Cookies

  • Measure your flour by weight. A baking scale is a super useful investment, and this is a recipe where it really pays off. See below, what a difference even a couple of tablespoons of flour can make.
  • Use a cookie scoop to equally portion your cookie dough so they bake evenly. You should end up with about 32-34 cookies.
  • When in doubt, chill your dough again for a few minutes before baking. I like to portion out all of my dough balls first, pop them on a cookie sheet in the refrigerator, and bake them off in batches (8 per half sheet pan fits perfectly).
  • Make sure your oven is running at the right temperature. Too hot and your cookies will melt and spread into pancakes, too cool and you’ll have chunkier, crack-free cookies. An oven thermometer is great for this!
  • Bake one cookie sheet at a time on the middle oven rack. It takes a little longer, but I find I get the best results this way.
  • It’s better to err on the side of being slightly under-baked, as the cookies will continue to bake and settle once they come out of the oven and cool.
  • You can use a silicone baking mat (such as a Silpat), but I prefer using natural parchment paper sheets.
  • If your cookies are looking a little wonky, and you’d like them to be perfectly round (they’ll taste delicious either way), give the edges a gentle scoot and shimmy with a 4 or 5-inch round biscuit cutter as soon as they come out of the oven.
The very best chewy molasses cookies via forkknifeswoon.com | Molasses cookies on a baking rack.

A Note on Measuring Your Flour

When I adapted the original recipe to grams, I experimented quite a bit with how much flour to use. Eventually I settled on 2-3/8 cups (or 285g). And as you can see in the photo below, even a couple of tablespoons of flour can affect the results quite a bit, and underscores why a baking scale is a baker’s best friend.

The cookies on the left might look fine, but they have a cakier texture and muted flavor. The cookies on the right are suuuper chewy and tasty, but were finicky to work with and many of them spread too quickly in the oven. The center cookies are what we’re aiming for: perfectly chewy with cracks and dimples along the top, and all that classic, molasses cookie flavor.

The very best chewy molasses cookies via forkknifeswoon.com | Three different molasses cookie recipes, using different amounts of flour, on a marble counter.
Which type of molasses to use?

I highly recommend using Brer Rabbit full flavor molasses if possible, which I find creates the best flavor and texture. You can also use more readily available Grandma’s molasses (a slightly more mild, unsulphered molasses) or Wholesome organic molasses. The latter is a blackstrap molasses, and has a deeper, more bitter and intense flavor as well as darker color to it.

Can you use a hand mixer?

Sure! I find a stand up mixer easier, but originally, these cookies would have been mixed by hand or with a hand mixer.

How to store:

Keep extra cookies in an airtight container at room temperature for 4-5 days. The cookies will get more chewy and moist over time. You can even add a piece of bread or a sliced apple for even more moisture.

If you make these ginger molasses cookies, be sure to tag me on Instagram with the hashtag #forkknifeswoon and leave a comment and rating below letting me know how you liked them! ★★★★★ Star ratings are especially helpful because they help others find my recipes too. xo, Laura

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The very best chewy molasses cookies via forkknifeswoon.com | Molasses cookies on parchment paper.

Aunt Marie’s Chewy Molasses Cookies

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  • Author: Laura Bolton – Fork Knife Swoon
  • Prep Time: 30
  • Cook Time: 30
  • Total Time: 30 mins
  • Yield: 3234 Cookies 1x
  • Category: Baking, Dessert
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American
  • Diet: Vegetarian

Description

Our family recipe for classic molasses cookies. These crinkly, soft and chewy cookies are full of cozy, nostalgic, holiday flavor from ginger, cinnamon, cloves, and rich molasses. They’re a must-bake every Christmas, and are perfect for sharing or gifting.


Ingredients

Scale
  • 3/4 cups (11/2 sticks or 170g) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 1 cup (198g) granulated sugar, plus more for rolling ¹
  • 1/4 cup (60g) molasses ²
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tsp fresh ginger, crushed or finely minced ³
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 23/8 cups (285g) all-purpose flour ⁴
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/2 tsp fine-grain sea salt

Instructions

Make the cookie dough

  1. Melt the butter in a small saucepan over low heat (or in the microwave). Set aside to cool. The melted butter should still be liquid but not too warm.
  2. Meanwhile, in a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and salt until completely combined. Set aside.
  3. Add the melted butter to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, along with the sugar, molasses, and egg. Mix on medium speed until completely combined and slightly lightened in color, about a minute.
  4. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl with a spatula to make sure all of the molasses is incorporated. Mix in the ginger and vanilla until combined.
  5. Turn the mixer down to low-speed, and add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients, a quarter cup or so at a time, until just combined. It will be thick. Place the cookie dough in the refrigerator for at least an hour or until completely chilled.

Bake the cookies

  1. When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 375°F. Line a couple of large baking sheets with parchment paper. Set aside.
  2. Add about 1/2 cup of granulated or raw sugar to a shallow bowl. Set aside.
  3. Use a small cookie scoop to scoop the dough into 1-inch/tablespoon sized portions. Gently roll into balls. Place the cookie dough balls on one of the prepared baking sheets, leaving enough space so that they don’t touch each other. You should have around 32-34 dough balls.
  4. Place in the fridge to chill for at least 10 minutes.
  5. Take out 8-10 dough balls (however many will comfortably fit on your sheet pan, spaced about 2 inches apart). Place them in the sugar bowl and gently roll to generously and completely coat.
  6. Place the dough balls on your prepared baking sheet about 2-inches apart.
  7. Bake for 7-9 minutes on the middle rack, until the tops are golden brown and cracks have begun to form around the edges. The very center and spaces between the cracks may appear undone, that’s okay.
  8. Remove from the oven and let cool for 5 minutes on the baking sheet, then transfer to a wire baking rack to cool completely.
  9. Repeat in batches with the remaining dough balls. When the cookies are cool to room-temperature, transfer to an airtight container to keep them moist and chewy. Enjoy!!

Notes

¹ For more sparkle and some added crunch, use organic cane sugar or a sanding sugar for rolling the cookie dough balls.

² My favorite molasses for these cookies is Brer Rabbit Full Flavor Molasses. You can also use Grandma’s Molasses (60g) for a more mild flavor or Wholesome Organic Molasses (80g) for a more intense blackstrap molasses taste.

³ I’m quite sure that when my family first made this recipe decades ago they only used ground ginger, but I love incorporating both fresh and ground here. You can grate/mince your own or simply grab a jar of the fresh stuff. If you like a generous amount of spice, follow the recipe as written, or for a more mild ginger flavor, use just 1/4 tsp ground ginger instead.

⁴ I would highly encourage you to weigh your flour for the most consistent results. If you are measuring just by volume (spooning and leveling method), you may find you only need 2-1/4 cups flour.

Note: Be sure to read my tips and best practices above!

This recipe was originally published in 2012 and then again in 2016. The recipe has been slightly updated (and improved!), and extensive notes have been added to ensure that you’re successful!