Bacon Fat Gingersnaps

Bacon fat gingersnaps. Because everything is better with bacon. Even ginger cookies.

Bacon Fat Gingersnaps Recipe

Bacon fat gingersnaps. Yep. You read that correctly. We’re not certain which we find more incredulous, the sheer brilliance behind bacon fat gingersnaps or the fact that said brilliance was first shared with the world by a fashion reporter. Yup. New York Times fashion critic, Cathy Horyn, broke the story about using bacon drippings with ginger cookies. Although as Horyn’s colleague, New York Times food writer Julia Moskin explains in the book CookFight, unlike a lot of froufrou fashion, these cookies aren’t mere novelty. Not at all. “I feel they are the cookie equivalent of Paris Fashion Week—a modern, edgy take on a classic,” explains Moskin. “The cookies are truly remarkable, with a robust and smoky undertone that sets them apart from other gingersnaps.” Yup. What she said. The bacony goodness that follows is from the recipe found in CookFight, based on a recipe that appeared in the Trinity Episcopal Church Recipe Book (1982 edition) courtesy of a Ms. Nelle Branson. We’ve been mumbling a lot of thanks to Ms. Branson with mouthfuls of these cookies Originally published November 30, 2012.Renee Schettler Rossi

Bacon Fat Gingersnaps Recipe

  • Quick Glance
  • 20 M
  • 45 M
  • Makes 3 1/2 dozen cookies

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup (177 ml) bacon drippings (from 1 to 2 pounds bacon), at room temperature
  • 1 cup (200 g) granulated sugar, plus more for the work surface
  • 1/4 cup (59 ml/85 g) molasses (not blackstrap) or cane syrup
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 cups (250 g) all-purpose flour
  • 1 to 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt (See “David Says” below)
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Directions

  • 1. Toss all of the ingredients in a food processor and pulse until the ingredients clump together and a dough forms. Wrap the dough tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least a few hours and up to 2 days.
  • 2. Preheat the oven to 350°F (176°C). Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
  • 3. Place about 1/4 cup sugar in a shallow bowl. Break off 1-tablespoon chunks of cookie dough (about 17 g) and roll them into balls. Drop them into the sugar, roll to completely coat the dough in sugar, and place them on the baking sheets, spacing them about 2 inches apart. If you prefer crisp cookies, gently flatten the dough; if you prefer chewy cookies, don’t mess with the dough any more.
  • 4. Bake the cookies for 10 to 12 minutes, until dark brown. Let cool on the baking sheets for a few minutes and then transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely. (We usually include storage advice here, but honestly, they didn’t last long enough for us to be able to say how well they keep.)

Chocolate and Crystallized Ginger Variation

  • To make bacon fat gingersnaps gilded with chocolate chunks and crystallized ginger, follow the recipe above and stir in 2/3 cup chopped chocolate or mini chocolate chips and 1/2 cup finely chopped crystallized ginger. (Okay, fine, you can add more or less than these amounts to suit your taste.) We found that these add-ins tend to work better with slightly larger cookies (1 ounces or 28 grams). If making the larger cookies, you’ll need to bake them a little longer, figure 12 to 14 minutes.

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David Says

David Leite caricature

Forgive me while I reach for the nearest credenza because these bacon fat gingersnaps have caused me to go weak in the knees. (Ok, so maybe I exaggerate, but they are freakingly damn good.)

Between us, I wasn't in the mood to bake that afternoon. It was a gorgeous day, and the last thing I wanted to do was heat up the kitchen. But at the urgings of The One, I did. Smart move.

The dough literally comes together in minutes—that is, if you have bacon fat on hand, which I didn't. In my case, it took an additional 20 minutes or so to fry up enough bacon to get the requisite 3/4 cup of bacon fat. (That was just over 1 pound of bacon. What a hardship to have to eat bacon. The things I do for your sake, dear readers.) I refrigerated the dough for 12 hours, just because I was up to my eyeballs in Friday errands. Saturday afternoon, I rolled and dipped the cookies. I flattened them with the bottom of a drinking glass as I wanted the cookies to have a smooth rather than crinkled top.

When I pulled them out of the oven, The One was just coming up form the basement. "It smells like fall!" he shouted and headed for the rack of cooling cookies. He didn't say anything. Well, he couldn't say anything (his mouth was so full) until after his third cookie. Then he managed to utter, "Love 'em!"

Sadly, I only had a nibble. What a bitch of a time to cut sugar from my diet.

A few tips that I think may help when you make these marvelous gems:

1. Choose your bacon carefully. Some cheapo store brands are loaded with salt, which will make the cookies inedible. I used what I believe is an easily available brand for most of you: COSTCO's Kirkland bacon.

2. Taste the bacon fat before adding it to the dough. I know, I know, gross. But hear me out: If the fat is really salty, then add less than the full amount of salt in the recipe. Or add none. My bacon fat was just mildly salty so I added just 1 teaspoon salt instead of the full 1 1/2 teaspoons.

3. My cookies had a mildly smoky flavor. If you want a more pronounced smokiness, make sure you buy a heavily smoked bacon. Or, ahem, make your own bacon.

Recipe Testers Reviews

I admit I’m not a gingersnap kind of girl. For me, there are better cookies just waiting to be eaten. Until now. These bacon fat gingersnaps were some of the best damn cookies I’ve ever had, gingersnap or not. Don’t let the bacon drippings scare you; they just add a slightly smoky and salty bite to an incredibly luscious cookie. I took them to a friend’s house tonight. His response, after he ate one bite, was “Good God, these are the best things I’ve ever eaten.” In light of my new love of gingersnaps, I’ve become a bacon-fat hoarder. I never know when the urge might strike. Soo-ee, here pig, pig, pig.

These bacon fat gingersnaps are some of the best snaps we’ve ever enjoyed. They’re easy to make, although I’d add the dry ingredients to the food processor before adding the bacon fat and molasses. It’s fun to ask your friends what they think the secret ingredient is in the cookie. They’ll be amazed, then ask for another cookie. Plus, your dog will love you more than ever.

I’ve never been much of a baker, but these bacon fat gingersnaps are extremely easy to make and have that gingery “bite” I love. Amazingly, none of us could taste the bacon fat, yet it worked amazingly well. I did use all-purpose gluten-free flour but I didn’t change any of the measurements in the recipe. They spread quite a bit, yet they were still a tad gooey in the middle. Yummm! If I had to choose between the aroma during baking and the taste while devouring them, I’m not certain which was better; all I know is that the cookies didn’t last long in this household.

Comments

  1. LC Baking With Bacon Fat Note: “Why, oh why, has it taken mankind this long to stumble upon baking with bacon fat as an inspired means of repurposing ingredients? And we call ourselves civilized”.

    I am surprised that a website which prides itself on including a large section of Portuguese recipes, has not realised that the Portuguese as a nation having been baking with pork fat and bacon for centuries.Pudim do Abade de Priscos from the Minho region is one fine example.

    1. Rupert, forgive us, we were being playful in the LC Note, as we often are…we do realize that the Portuguese, among others, have frugally and cleverly harnessed bacon drippings in their baking and cooking long before this recipe. My own grandmother, who was German, would keep an empty coffee tin next to the stove and each morning she’d dump in the bacon drippings from the skillet, to be used later that day for fried potatoes or that weekend for something sweet and baked. Our apologies for inadvertently misleading you…

    2. Rupert, let me jump in here, too. Sometimes the humor doesn’t always come across as we wish it would. You’re completely right that the Portuguese have been using bacon drippings for a very long time. The dessert you mentioned is it a supremely good example of that. And one that I have to say I think is fantastic.

  2. Oh my goodness! I just talked about the use of bacon fat with a friend who was speaking of a cherished cookie recipe made with chicken fat. Years ago Martha Stewart featured a recipe for ginger cookies made with bacon fat and that has been a winter cookie must in our family. It certainly does add something, especially if you use peppered bacon as I do. In fact, I saved the fat from making the bacon jam a couple of weeks ago for the cookies. It’s frugal, it’s retro (play some Louis Prima Christmas music while baking), it’s yummy! Can’t wait to try this variation!

    1. Penny, that is what we like to think of as sweet, sweet serendipity. Do let us know what you think of these!

  3. I can’t speak for the Portuguese, but my frugal great-grandmother, a life-long Vermonter, routinely saved her bacon drippings – and used them as the secret ingredient in her famous molasses cookies. Modern maybe – what is old is new again!

  4. Renee, aka Bacon Fat Sister, how lovely to hear about your German grandmother and her coffee can of bacon fat/drippings. I, too, grew up in a similar household–my mother and her three sisters were two generations removed from French-German Alsace, a family that had migrated to The Southern Heartland of Louisville, KY. I think I may have inherited several cans of bacon fat–at any rate, I’ve never been without one. Can’t make cornbread without bacon fat! Can’t make my mother’s mashed potato, onions, celery, and bread turkey dressing without bacon fat! The list goes on…and on. But now here’s a question: for years I used an empty coffee can for the drippings (which, by the way, seem to have a refrigerated shelf life of eternity) until, of course, the good coffee revolution took hold, and bags became the container of choice. I now use empty nut tins (which have a plastic lid), although they lack the sturdiness of the old coffee cans. Am curious: what do you use? And–listen up artisan food makers and butchers: Is packaged bacon fat a possible $$$ item or what?

    1. Hah! Sister Suzanne, lovely to make your acquaintance, I already like you quite a lot! Love your bacon fat heritage, just love it. As for me, I use a glass Anchor Hocking container with a lid. I just found it online, they must’ve discontinued this line because when I stocked up on these they were a fraction of the current price. The lid doesn’t seal around the edges, but if I have an extra large stash of bacon drippings that I intend to tuck in the fridge for a while, I just place a sheet of plastic wrap between the container and the lid to seal out the air and aromas. What do the rest of you use to keep your stash safe? And Suzanne, brilliant call on the artisanal bacon drippings. I’ve visions of heritage bacon fat dancing in my head….

      1. Thanks, Renee! Terrific idea re heavy glass (or Pyrex, a personal fav)–and unlike the old coffee can, there’s the bonus of seeing exactly how much of the precious stuff you have. I’ll search around for something low in dollars and high on capacity. As for our new fat friendship, I’ve been a secret admirer of yours for as long as you’ve been at LC. Your wit and deep culinary knowledge and expertise are rare indeed in an era of “Everyone’s a Food Blogger–No Skills Needed.” Best to David, by the way. The two of you have created The Best of The Food Web, hands down, no contest.

        1. Sister Suzanne, I am at a blushing loss for words. Am quite grateful for your generous and gracious words—all of them. Bow (or ought it be a curtsy?) of gratitude.

  5. I made the bacon cookie recipe from the mid 1990’s Martha Stewart Living issue for my Christmas cookie assortment gift package. I made the mistake of telling my friend of the bacon fat, and she promptly regifted to her unsuspecting office mates. She said they loved them. It was also the last time I made her cookies. It was a lovely recipe and a great story of the resourcefulness of those who lived through World War II. Mele Kalikimaka!

    1. Ann, of course you never made her cookies again after that! Thanks for sharing, do let us know if you give this recipe a whirl, and yes, Mele Kalikimaka!

  6. One last word (promise!) on the bacon fat gingersnaps: Having exhausted my bacon fat supply over Thanksgiving, I cooked a 3/4 pound package of bacon (no nitrates, “all natural”) to get the 3/4 cup of BF for the recipe—the whole package made exactly 3/4 cup, so I’m curious as to why the recipe says 1 1/2 to 2 lbs.) But here was the problem: 1 1/2 teaspoons of kosher salt must be a typo–along with the baking soda for 2 cups of flour–should have used common sense here because resulting cookies were way too salty to eat. (And I’m a salt person!) I used Morton’s kosher salt and the bacon was not particularly salty. Maybe 1/2 teaspoon is more like it? Also, next time I will go for the 10 minute cooking time–even at 12 minutes they do not brown as deeply as the photo but they get too hard. And there will be a next time!

    1. Suzanne, we’ve asked Julia Moskin, the lovely author of the book in which we found this recipe, if she’d kindly respond to your query. In the meantime, if I may, I’d like to simply state that in my experience bacon throws off varying amounts of drippings depending on a zillion factors. Ms. Moskin was probably erring on the side of excess, just to be safe—-after all, can you ever have too much bacon on hand?

    2. I have a thought on the salt issue. Based on information from another website and personal experience, I have found that Morton kosher salt is much saltier than diamond kosher salt. This might explain the difference in results people see when baking recipes. I hope this helps.

      1. pattyk, this is terrifically helpful, thank you. Yes, I believe that may explain quite a lot….

      2. pattyk, thank you so much for your thoughts on the salt issue re: the bacon fat cookies. In fact–I just looked at my salt supply–I did use Morton’s kosher salt, and I am delighted to now know the difference between it and Diamond. I actually (pre your comment) was going to add another note on my “way too salty” post, but as I tend to relentlessly pursue my tasting thoughts (as well as perceived grammatical slips) and thereby undoubtedly drive both Renee and David crazy, I thought I’d just let it go. Your post, however, has reinvigorated my final thoughts, to wit: I loathe kosher salt as a direct food ingredient. The kosher salt I keep on hand I use strictly in brines, requiring a half cup or more of salt. To me, heavily processed kosher salt has an extremely acrid, almost artificial taste. In all other cooking–including recipes calling for “kosher salt”–I usually substitute mineral-rich sea salt (either fine or coarse–like Malden, using half the suggested amount if it is fine, although in the bacon fat cookie recipe I did use Morton Kosher (“What the hell? I have it on hand…”). I suspect the now-ubiquitous use of kosher salt in recipes relates directly to the overwhelming number of chefs’ recipes (as opposed to those of home cooks and cookbook cooks) on the web. Years ago, I did an article for the New York Times on the then-new use of kosher salt in food and all the quoted chefs/culinary school graduates said it was because they salted “by feel,” i.e. picking up the salt by thumb and forefinger which, of course, is easy to do with large-grained kosher salt. And in professional kitchens inexpensive kosher salt is a way to cut costs. My casual theory is that the majority of eaters today have had their tastes formed in restaurants and so kosher salt has become an acceptable part of their palates. Worth a new article, probably.

        1. Suzanne, you don’t drive me crazy, though your sense of humor does crack me up. You know, I recall reading that article of yours in the Times. It was very well done. And I actually agree with you—I never use kosher salt for exactly the reason you site. I buy coarse Celtic salt and when a finer grind is needed simply crush it with a mortar and pestle. Many thanks for elucidating the salty factor and for inspiring this conversation. Can’t wait to hear about your next recipe experience….

          1. Renee, what a lovely virtual friend you are! Although a much better person than I am: the fact that you grind your Celtic salt to a fine state with a mortar and pestle is just, well..awesome! (lazy cook here just uses “fine sea salt” in the big blue cylinder.)

            As for my next LC recipe experience, I hereby pledge to comment on ALL the LC recipes that I try –and there are many, many. I tend not to relate the wonderful “reviews,” but only the niggling ones. That has got to stop. Starting today. As soon as I can hack my way out of the snowy tundra up here, I’m off to buy bananas–that Green Smoothie looks deliciously powerful enough to fuel a driveway plow-out.

            1. Suzanne, terrific! We so appreciate it. The more insights we have into a recipe, the better! (Although I do think it’s human nature not to wax poetic about the lovely in lieu of complaining about what nags at us. What else would gals talk about with their sisters and moms if we couldn’t complain about the thoughtlessness of our still charming and worthwhile men?!) To address your assumption, yes, that green smoothie is a powerhouse, as my mom would say. And as for the salt situation, I’m not at all certain I’m “better,” just too cheap, methinks, to buy a second container of sea salt. That and too cramped in our Manhattan apartment to take space for two things where one will do! Looking forward to your next comment….

  7. I was excited to make this recipe, based on the comments. Unfortunately they turned out way too salty. I think you could add a lot less salt, or even no salt. Also not very sweet, I would consider adding some brown sugar maybe? I’m not good at tweaking recipes, so maybe I’m way off :)

    1. Brigitte, I’m sorry you had a problem with the recipe. We did check with Julia Moskin, the author of this recipe, about the salt, and she said it is correct. (And we checked this against her original recipe in the New York Times, and it’s identical.) A thought: Some bacon can be far saltier than others. For example, many cheap store brands are loaded with salt versus top-quality smoked bacon. I think that could be the problem. Also, 1 cup of sugar to 2 cups of flour is a good ratio, so it could be that the saltiness of the bacon fat (rather than the added salt) masked the sweetness. Did you remember to roll each of the cookies and sugar before bacon? That gives a nice crackly sweetness. I hope this helps a bit.

  8. These cookies are incredible. I made the dough yesterday and let it sit in the fridge overnight. The rolling and dipping in sugar went quickly, and they were perfectly baked at 12 minutes. I couldn’t resist and had one right out of the oven–chewy, sweet, not salty at all. Then I had a few when they were fully cooled, and the cookies crisped up all they way through. There’s a slight smoky flavor from the bacon–not overwhelming. Next time I’ll use heavily smoked bacon for a deeper flavor. We’re making this out go-to autumn cookie this year.

  9. This comment won’t be helpful since I haven’t made this recipe yet. I have celiac (sniff sniff) so I’ll have to give these a go with my gluten-free flour blend. Fingers crossed, because they sound incredible.

    1. Alison, let us know how it goes, please. As you know, often GF flour blends work exceptionally well, especially with crisp cookies. Fingers crossed!

  10. I made a batch to send to my son at college. I rolled them bigger than the recipe called for and got a yield of 25 big cookies. I took David’s suggestion and tasted the bacon fat, and since it was not salty I went ahead and added all 1 1/2 tsp of salt to the dough. Next time I’ll stop at 1 tsp. Otherwise they are great ~ with a good crispy-chew texture, bold ginger flavor and a hit of smoke from the bacon fat. I’ve just sent the cookies off and I have a feeling my son will like the salty-sweet ratio just fine.

  11. I made this recipe today and I know I’ll be making it again. Like The One, I ate 3 right off the cookie sheet and then had a couple more. Mmm, mmm, mmm!

    I don’t have a food processor, so I warmed up the bacon fat a bit so it was gelatinous but still pourable. I put all the dry ingredients into a bowl, mixed them, then used a fork to mix in eggs, molasses, & bacon fat. Pretty easy.

    The salt question: I did what David said and tasted the bacon fat; it was not salty at all, so I used the whole 1.5 tsp of salt. I will confess that I did NOT use kosher salt–even though I’d set it out to use, my hand reached up and grabbed the regular old household saltbox. They were perfect. I don’t want to share!

    1. Patricia, you can come to my house anytime…as long as you have a box of these tucked under your arm. Aren’t the incredible???!! I cured my espresso-maple bacon last week, in prep for Thanksgiving guests. I already have 1 1/2 cups of sweet, smoky bacon fat and counting. Saturday we’ll be making these again with my niece’s three year old. BTW, Happy Thanksgiving!!

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