These old fashioned molasses cookies are incredibly addictive, and they stay soft for days! Make this spiced cookie recipe for the holidays.
When fall arrives and the temperatures get colder, my desire to bake skyrockets. I love this time of year, and I love the holidays, but I always lament the jarring reduction of daylight and warm weather. Nothing soothes my soul against dark skies quite like fresh-baked cookies.
These fragrant, spiced ginger molasses cookies are like a ray of sunshine that’s been infused with the best warming spices of the season. I (barely) adapted this recipe from the January / February 2002 issue of Cook’s Illustrated Magazine, because I knew they’d get it right. They did; their spiced cookie recipe is perfect. T
The soft, chewy treats were gone within hours (thanks, neighbors!)
Ingredients for Old Fashioned Molasses Cookies
- White granulated sugar – If you have demerara sugar, try using that for tossing the portioned cookie dough before baking. I wouldn’t run out and purchase it just to make this recipe, but it has a nice caramel flavor that works very well with molasses cookies.
- All-purpose flour– Feel free to use an all-purpose gluten free flour if you need to. I haven’t tested it, but a 1:1 blend should work well.
- Baking soda – Be sure to test your baking soda for freshness before you start making this recipe. It’s a bummer to learn the hard way… when your cookies don’t rise!
- Spices – You’ll need several ground spices. I like to buy fresh bottles at the beginning of every baking season. You’ll want ground cinnamon, ginger, cloves, allspice, and black pepper.
- Butter – I like to use salted butter for baking but unsalted is fine too. If you’ll be using unsalted, you may want to add a pinch of salt to the cookie dough.
- Dark brown sugar – Do you know that brown sugar is simply white granulated sugar with molasses added to it? Dark brown sugar has more than the light variety.
- Egg yolk
- Vanilla extract
- Molasses (light or dark) – Keep in mind that using a dark molasses will give a darker color and richer flavor to the cookies.
How to Make Soft Ginger Molasses Cookies
Making the cookie dough is really simple. It’s just a basic creaming method.
Step 1: Cream the butter and sugar.
Whisk the dry ingredients together and set aside. In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar together for a few minutes until pale and fluffy.
Step 2: Add egg, molasses, and dry Ingredients.
Add the egg yolk and vanilla and mix until combined, then add the molasses. Scrape down the bowl a couple times along the way to make sure the ingredients near the bottom are evenly combined.
Add the dry ingredients and mix until just combined, then give a final stir to make sure no dry ingredients are hiding at the bottom of the mixer. The cookie dough will be very soft!
Step 3: Toss Cookie Dough in Sugar
If you’ve ever made my snickerdoodle cookies, the next step will look a bit familiar. Using a tablespoon cookie scoop or measuring spoon, portion out the dough, a few cookies at a time. Use your hands to roll the cookies into balls, then drop into a bowl with sugar and swirl/toss to coal.
The dough will be very soft, so use a light hand. Place the sugar-coated cookie dough on a parchment-lined sheet pan, around 2 inches apart.
Step 4: Bake the old fashioned molasses cookies!
No need to chill the dough first. Bake one sheet at a time on the center rack, rotating the pan halfway through. The cookies should still look a little raw between the cracks when you remove them from the oven. This will ensure chewy, soft molasses cookies!
Step 5: Transfer to a Cooling Rack
Let the cookies cool on the sheet pan for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire cooling rack. You should technically let them cool to room temperature before enjoying, but we all know that won’t happen.
You will see there’s a difference between the texture of the warm versus fully cooled molasses cookies. They’ll be incredibly soft right out of the oven, but they’ll develop more of a chewy texture once cooled.
- Don’t chill the dough. I almost always chill cookie dough before baking, but I don’t recommend doing so here. You’ll get more of those signature cracks if the dough is room temperature. I think the molasses helps keep the dough from spreading too much in the oven.
- Bake single batches at a time. The cracks in the cookies are also why you want to cook one sheet pan at a time. If you’re in a hurry and don’t care about crinkles, you can bake both sheets at once using the upper and lower third shelves.
- Use pre-cut parchment. I buy parchment sheets that are cut to fit my sheet pans perfectly. They’re so much better than the parchment rolls from the grocery store because they lie flat.
Other Cookie Recipes
If you like these old fashioned molasses cookies, check out my full recipe archive for more cookies and bars to make!
Soft Old Fashioned Molasses Cookies
- 11 1/4 ounces all-purpose flour (2 1/4 cups using Scoop & Sweep Method)
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
- 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 6 ounces unsalted butter, cubed and at room temperature
- 2 1/2 ounces dark brown sugar (about 1/3 cup packed)
- 2 1/2 ounces granulated sugar (about 1/3 cup), plus 1/2 cup for dipping
- 1 large egg yolk
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup molasses, light or dark
- Place an oven rack in the center position and preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
- In a medium-sized bowl, whisk the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, allspice, pepper, and salt until evenly combined.
- In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter, brown sugar, and 1/3 cup granulated sugar on medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, around 3 minutes. Reduce the speed to medium-low, then add the yolk and vanilla. Increase speed to medium and mix for 20-30 seconds until evenly combined. Scrape down the bottom and sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Reduce the speed to medium-low and add the molasses, mixing until fully incorporated, about 20 seconds. Again, scrape the bowl with a spatula.
- Turn the speed down to the lowest setting, then add the flour mixture and beat until just incorporated, around 30 seconds, scraping the sides and bottom of the bowl once. Give the dough a final stir to ensure that no pockets of flour remain at the bottom.
- Place the remaining 1/2 cup granulated sugar in bowl or shallow dish. Using a tablespoon-sized measuring scoop (or a measuring spoon), portion the dough and use your hands to roll into balls. Drop the dough balls into the sugar bowl, swirling to coat evenly. Place the cookie dough onto the prepared baking sheets spaced about 2 inches apart.
- Bake one sheet at a time until cookies are browned, puffy, cracking, and the edges have begun to set but the centers are still soft, around 11 minutes, rotating the baking sheet after 5 minutes. The cookies might look raw between the cracks when they’re ready. Do not overbake! Don’t bake both sheets at once or chill the dough first; you’ll get less of those signature cracks.
- Cool cookies for 5 minutes, then use a spatula to transfer them to a cooling rack; cool cookies to room temperature, then serve. Molasses cookies can be stored at room temperature in airtight container or zipper-lock plastic bag for up to 5 days.
Please read my full post for additional recipe notes, tips, and serving suggestions!
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