These chewy molasses cookies have pretty much everything going for them. Easy to make, slightly sweet, sorta chewy, and filled with a blend of traditional holiday spices. The hardest part is having the patience to let them cool.
I adore a big, crinkly, molasses and spice cookie all year round, but especially in the early fall before the holidays come into full swing. I like these cookies heavy on the spice, so scale back if you want something more subtle. These cookies are best when cooled, so try to be patient when they come out of the oven. You’ll be so glad you did. [Editor’s Note: These thin cookies are dense and slightly chewy, in the best sort of way, and start to turn crunchy at the outside.]–Erin Mylroie
*SHOULD I USE BUTTER, SHORTENING, OR OIL?
Your choice of fat in these cookies will significantly impact the flavor and structure of the cookies. While many of our testers greatly preferred the rich flavor of butter, they also found that cookies made with butter or oil tended to spread more than those made with shortening. If making with butter, you may need to chill the dough before rolling.
Chewy Molasses Cookies
- 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
- 1 1/2 sticks (6 oz) unsalted butter softened, or 3/4 cup (178 ml) vegetable oil or 5 ounces (140 g) vegetable shortening*, softened (see * above)
- 1/4 cup unsulfured molasses (do NOT substitute blackstrap molasses)
- 1 large egg
- 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 2 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C). Line 2 or 3 rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper.
- In a large bowl, use a wooden spoon to combine 1 cup of the sugar, the butter, and the molasses. Add the egg and stir well.
☞TESTER TIP: We love the convenience and minimal mess of using only a spoon and a bowl for these cookies, however, you can use a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment for mixing the cookie dough if you prefer.
- Sprinkle the cinnamon, ginger, cloves, cardamom, nutmeg, salt, and baking soda over the dough and stir until well combined. Gently stir in the flour until no streaks of white remain.
- Shape the dough into 1-inch (2 1/2-cm) balls. If the dough seems very wet and sticky, stash it in the fridge for an hour to let it firm a little. Roll the balls in the remaining 1/2 cup sugar and place 3 inches (8 cm) apart on the prepared baking sheets.
☞TESTER TIP: Maybe a reminder to not flatten the dough ball because they flatten a lot during cooking.
- Bake until the cookies are flattened and crinkled, 9 to 12 minutes.
- Let the cookies cool completely on the baking sheets. (Seriously. Resist the temptation to move or eat them while they are hot as they are very delicate.)
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Recipe Testers’ Reviews
If you love a soft, chewy cookie, this one is just terrific. Not overly ambitious to make, the batter mixes together easily and is ready for the oven in short order. With minimal effort, 2 dozen cookies are ready in under 2 hours. The cookies are simple and yet sophisticated in their flavorings.
Happily, the recipe takes advantage of items usually on hand in the pantry. While not too sweet, they would be enjoyed by adults and children alike.
I gently added the flour at the end at very low speed, then fully blended with a rubber spatula.
I was looking forward to testing this recipe as it’s very similar to one I make every Christmas but with the addition of cardamom, which I was curious to taste. I also was interested to see how different fats would react in this recipe as my own uses vegetable shortening, so I did both a version with shortening and with butter to see the results.
While I did slightly prefer the butter version’s flavor, I am thinking that next time I may try a combination of both butter and shortening to see if it might give the best results. Or may consider chilling the dough thoroughly (an hour?) before baking to try and maintain a thicker cookie.
I used Grandma’s Molasses this time but usually use Golden Barrel baking molasses and look forward to trying these again with that brand as it has a stronger molasses taste. All in all this is a wonderful recipe and with a few tweaks may even replace my old one.
We used the chewy molasses cookies for a “cookies for cops” event we hosted and they were very well received and stayed nice and soft even several days later.
I’ve never had visions of sugar plums dancing in my head, but I can tell you I was thinking about how fabulous these chewy molasses cookies were long after I ate them! Once cooled, they were wonderfully crisp outside and chewy on the inside with just the right amount of spice. (After a couple days stored in a sealed container, they lost their initial crispness and remained nice and chewy). They tasted like a cross between a gingersnap and gingerbread cookies. Two of our absolute favorites all rolled up in one cookie!
This recipe is very simple and easy to follow. I opted to use butter for these cookies and unsulphured molasses. You’ll definitely get a good arm workout when mixing this dough by hand, but once the flour is incorporated into the dough, it becomes very soft and I had to use a light hand while rolling the dough balls in sugar so I didn’t smoosh them.
My only complaint about this recipe is that the sugar called for to roll the dough balls was too much! I ended up using 1/4 cup sugar for this step (the dough balls were completely coated in sugar). So next time, I’ll start out with 1/4 cup sugar for this step and just add more, as needed, until all the cookies have been coated.
They do spread and puff up while baking, so you need to give them room on the cookie sheet, and then they deflated into thin 3-inch wide crinkly cookies as they cooled. Each batch baked perfectly at 10 minutes each. They are very fragile once out of the oven, so I left them on the cookie sheet a few minutes to cool before moving them onto a rack so they didn’t tear apart.
These flavorful cookies have definitely won a spot on my holiday cookie trays, but I will be bulking up my arm strength so I can double the recipe. I got 2 dozen large cookies from this batch, and they were gone way too quickly!
These chewy molasses cookies ARE best when they’ve cooled, completely like the introduction to the recipe mentioned. The spice was perfect, just enough to add such a pop of flavor. I really liked how flat they turned out to be and perfectly round. They also all looked identical.
The dough was really nice to roll, not too sticky and held shape perfectly. I was worried at first because they were extra soft and very flat (so do not flatten the balls after rolling them out).
The bake time was 12 minutes. Mine were a bit big, they flattened more than I expected, and were on the thin side. Making a bigger ball would work better and keep it thicker.
I thought maybe they needed more baking time, however, the next day they were amazing.
I was thinking they would be perfect as a cookie for an ice cream sandwich. I will be using this recipe for ice cream sandwiches for sure, they were be delicious.
One of my father’s favorite holiday cookies is a crisp Swedish spice cookie, so this looked interesting to me. I love the smell of warm spices for the holidays, and this one hit the nail on the head. Great flavor and these were one of the easiest cookies I’ve ever made, so it will be added to my holiday baking checklist.
Besides the smell of them baking, the next thing that won me over was the one-bowl preparation and easy cleanup. No mixer required. I used parchment on the cookie sheets, so it was easy cleanup. Fast, simple, and kid-friendly.
Since so many recipes require butter, and that’s pricey, I decided to use corn oil for these. I mixed the dough per instructions (admitting to adding some fresh ground pepper), and the dough looked soft and wet. I got nervous, but pushed on. Using a 1 1/2- inch diameter scoop, I created 8 sugar-coated balls on each sheet. I flattened them slightly and gilded the lily by adding a bit of large-grained sugar for an added bit of sparkle.
After 10 minutes in the oven, they came out flat, perfectly crinkled, and sporting a sparkly center. Exactly what I was hoping for. They need to cool slightly on the sheet as the warm cookies are very soft and fragile. Once they firmed up, I moved on with the remaining dough. I got 24 out of my batch.
These ended up going to a girl’s weekend event and got high praises. Everyone who liked spice cookies loved the texture and the flavor. Creative snackers added a bit of vanilla meringue buttercream to the tops of these and declared that the best way to eat them! You could add large-grain sugar to the top before baking for a prettier finish.
Thank heavens I got 24 rather than 16. These were generous enough to satisfy any sweet tooth. Into the rotation they go!
A wonderfully chewy cookie with a crunchy sugary exterior and warm spices. This is a fantastic recipe to add to your cookie repertoire. Line up your spices and start mixing.
The dough came together quickly and rolled out easily, making a fast and simple cookie to bake. These are perfect for an afternoon snack with a cup of tea, coffee, or a glass of milk. They would also be good made into sandwich cookies with a thin layer of cream cheese icing or a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
I cannot stop eating these! They were meant to be sent to a friend, but we’ve now enjoyed too many and I have to make another batch. The molasses and warm spices are classic fall flavors, and they live in such perfect harmony in this cookie. I can imagine it delighting kids and adults alike.
So my cookies actually turned out quite differently than they were supposed to, but I still really enjoyed them! I think my primary issue was that in making 1-inch balls of dough, I actually got 36 cookies instead of the suggested 16 (a number I forgot about completely until I came to write this review). I feel fairly confident in my ability to estimate a 1-inch ball, but perhaps a weight in addition to the diameter cue would have helped me. Because I made 36 balls of dough, they all baked into each other and were also quite thin.
While they were not soft at all, those on the sheet on the bottom rack were crispy like ginger snaps (and I love ginger snaps!) and the those on the sheet in the middle rack were crispy on the outside, chewy on the inside. They were not what the recipe-writer intended, but I still really loved them. I’m a big fan of spice in baking and thought the flavors were fantastic.
I think if I had made 16 cookies instead of 36, the rest of the process and the results would have fallen in line.
OMG. These chewy molasses cookies are soooo good. I have to admit we ate 4 as they were coming out of the oven. The spice blend is wonderful and we love a soft cookie. These cookies have just the right amount of sweetness, comfort at its best.
I used butter for this recipe but may try shortening or combination next time. I did use a 1-inch cookie scoop so the cookies were uniform in size. We loved these cookies, all gone in 2 days but very easy to make, which will be very soon. I’ve already been asked for the recipe by everyone that has tried the cookie—high praise.
These chewy molasses cookies are exactly the treat I have in mind when I have a cup of coffee or want a little sweet without a full on dessert. The spices smell wonderful (and slightly grown-up) as you’re mixing them. I like the reminder of how truly wonderful freshly ground cardamom is, and for a small amount I willingly grind it by hand. Mixing the dough by hand with a sturdy wooden spoon also removes some teensy guilt that you are making cookies to devour soon (though this makes enough to share, really). Slightly crunchy exterior, chewy interior, and doesn’t shatter (cause you don’t want to miss any morsels).
You can do all the prep in the time it takes to position your oven shelves (plan on two in the middle if your oven isn’t huge) and preheat the oven. I used a deep prep tray for the sugar, and because this dough isn’t chilled, I tried to handle it as little as possible, tossing it from hand to hand in the sugar sandbox to shape and coat. I filled two quarter-sheet pans and a half-sheet, which occupies 2 oven shelves. The cookies on the top shelf had puffed, cracked, and spread at 8 to 9 minutes, the lower tray hadn’t quite yet so I gave them another minute or so, and while those weren’t cracked, they had spread and were showing brown around the edges. Give them plenty of room, and if they run together, gently cleave them with a metal spatula while warm. The cookies DO spread thin (they flatten after they puff up, remaining slightly crunchy on the outside but chewy inside even after being stored 2 to 3 days). What I love is they do not shatter (not a fan of cookies that crack and shatter), but retain a nice exterior even though they are quite thin (1/8 to 3/16 inch thick when cool).
On a warm day, resting the dough in the fridge for 30 minutes would help with the handling and might make them spread a little less.
One of my sheets were picture perfect, cracked, evenly round. The others a little less so, and may have been a little crowded. Recipe makes easily 3 down cookies. They puff then flatten.
My kitchen was warm, so I actually over-softened the butter and had to quickly chill it and restart, which gave me time to organize the ingredients and start over (if we ever get to real chilly fall days that won’t be so much an issue). Try to give these a lot of room – even with 3 sheets (and 32 cookies) they were bumping into each other, so before they completely cooled, I did use a sharp metal spatula to cleave them so they would break apart more gracefully once cooled.
The larger ones (too generous a scoop) spread to 3½-4” diameter, I think the image shows a smaller cookie and less spread, so you might even get 4 dozen, cooked in batches with the dough resting chilled between each batch.
Do not use too large a scoop. If you use a cookie scoop, select one that is no more than 1 inch in diameter, especially if the dough seems very sticky.
Molasses cookies are my favorite. They are an incredibly nostalgic cookie and have all the spices to trigger a rush of memories. I especially liked this recipe because in addition to the usual suspects of ginger, cinnamon, and cloves, it includes cardamom and nutmeg. The addition of the last two really deepens the flavor profile. These cookies have all of the sweet heat that is the trademark of a good molasses cookie.
The chewy molasses cookie recipe was very easy to follow. I prepared the recipe using butter and the cookies really spread during the baking. I ended up with a very thin and chewy cookie. That is not necessarily a bad result.
The suggested choices of butter, shortening or oil may yield a dough with slightly different consistencies. I have seen some recipes which call for a combination of butter and shortening.
The recipe calls for molasses. I used unsulphured molasses, but would also like to try it with Steen’s Cane Syrup. I was introduced to Steen’s through the writing of Laurie Colwin. I use Steen’s when I make her gingerbread and it has a very delicate and sophisticated flavor. I think these cookies would be equally delicious with the subtle flavor of cane syrup. I also noted other recipes include orange zest, vanilla, and a combination of brown and granulated sugar. There is probably no wrong way to make molasses cookies. The only wrong thing would be not to make them.
My husband loved the cookies. I thought the flavor had a million things going on. The cookies were slightly spicy and the flavor was definitely enhanced by the cardamom and nutmeg. Cardamom is one of those spices that just does not get enough respect in comparison to cinnamon and the other heavy hitters. I might also add a little more ginger, but that is reflective of my obsession with ginger. I will definitely make these again. They stay moist and the flavor actually deepens over a few days. The world needs more molasses cookies and these are a good addition. They go very well with a nice cup of tea in the afternoon.
Originally published December 12, 2020
If you make this recipe, snap a photo and hashtag it #LeitesCulinaria. We'd love to see your creations on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.
This is the perfect fall cookie. The spices in these chewy molasses cookies are amazing. The smell of the cinnamon, cloves, and ginger that fill your house while baking are enough of a reason to make, but they are also so delicious. They just keep calling me back to the cookie jar. They have a great texture with soft chewy centers and slightly crisp edges. I will definitely make these again.
I used butter and the flavor is quite prominent in the finished cookie. The dough was very sticky and soft and my cookies were extremely flat as an end result. I loved the taste and texture so much that I didn’t care how flat they were. However, I might try refrigerating the dough before making the balls and rolling in sugar next time I make them.
They were delicious warm but I let them cool on the baking sheets and the cooled cookies were also tasty.