Molasses Spice Cookies

Molasses spice cookies are sort of like ginger snaps except bigger and chewy. The recipe for these cookies comes from Cook’s Illustrated’s The Best Recipe cookbook. Here’s a hint on preparation – don’t reduce the amount of sugar, the cookies won’t be chewy if you do (I found this out the hard way and had to make a second batch).

Molasses Spice Cookies Recipe

  • Yield: Makes 18 large cookies.

Preparation time: 30 minutes.

Ingredients

  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons of baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar, packed
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar, plus 1/3 cup for rolling cookies
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup unsulphered molasses

Method

1 Preheat oven to 375°F. Mix together flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, allspice together in a bowl and set aside.

2 Use an electric mixer and beat the butter for 2 minutes. Add the brown sugar, and 1/2 cup granulated sugar and beat until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes with mixer set at medium speed. Add egg, vanilla extract, and molasses. Beat until combined, about 30 seconds. Scrape down sides of bowl with a rubber spatula.

3 Add dry ingredients and beat at low speed until just combined, about 30 seconds.

4 Place remaining 1/3 cup of granulated sugar in a shallow bowl. Working with 2 Tbsp of dough each time, roll dough into 1 3/4 inch balls. Roll balls in sugar and place on ungreased cookie sheets, spacing them 1 1/2 to 2 inches apart.

5 Bake until the outer edges of the cookies begin to set and centers are soft and puffy, about 11 to 13 minutes. Cool cookies on sheets for 2 to 3 minutes before transferring them to cooling racks .

Note: do not overcook. The centers of the cookies should be somewhat soft and spongy when you take them out of the oven, otherwise they will end up hard and dry.

Optional Glaze

When cookies have cooled, lay out over a sheet of wax paper. Sift 1 1/4 cups of confectioner's sugar (powdered sugar) and then whisk with 2 Tbsp of milk until smooth. Dip spoon into glaze and dribble over cookies.

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32 Comments

  1. abby

    I’m not sure what I did wrong. My cookies are very, very flat. Chewy. Tasty. But really flat.

    Sounds like you may have forgotten the baking soda, or substituted too old baking powder. If the cookie is flat, it’s likely because the leavening is absent or not working. ~Elise

  2. Lauren

    My fiance and I made these this evening and they were delicious. Very moist and chewy – just what we were in the mood for! We’ve liked several recipes that we’ve tried from this website. Thanks!

  3. Amy

    My mother’s recipe is a lot like this, and I’ve always loved hers! She just uses whole wheat pastry flour instead of all purpose, and rolls the balls of dough in raw sugar. It gives the cookies a beautiful look and adds very slightly to the texture. What different results might whole wheat pastry flour give from all purpose flour?

  4. egourmet

    These cookies are amazingly good. The flavors blend so well. We tried this recipe and loved it!!

  5. karen

    I just made these and they are absolutely delicious. Moist, chewy, not too molasses-y. Just perfect!

    Thanks for the great recipe.

  6. Jennifer

    Just made these with my son, and they’re so delicious! I mixed brown sugar with the white sugar for rolling the cookies. I also baked one tray at a time and rotated the tray after 5 minutes, just to make sure they were evenly baked. The key is definitely to let them cool on the tray after removal from the oven.

    Great recipe- we’ll definitely use it again and again! Thanks!

  7. Judy

    This recipe is an absolute winner! I made these treats last night to bring in to work; after plating them this morning at the office, I immediately got three requests for the recipe and a “These are way better than Starbucks” comment. These cookies leave a taste in your mouth that makes you want to keep on eating and eating and eating . . .

    Using a tbsp. cookie scoop, I got about four dozen out of the batch, rolling them in Sugar in the Raw and baking for 8 minutes.

    My final product doesn’t look remotely pillowy like the recipe photo; mine were crinkly and flat but tasted delicious! Thank you many times over.

  8. Elizabeth

    I used all whole wheat flour and you would have never known it, they were absolutely perfect! I use whole wheat even when a little is lost, but in this recipe, nothing is lost.

  9. crystal

    I just made these cookies and they are fantastic! I used whole wheat flour and minced ginger which gaze it an extra zing.

  10. Emily

    Does anyone have a clue if these would still be tasty if I used blackstrap molasses? I bought a jar for one recipe that required just a tablespoon a while back and have been searching for ways to use it all up! I even made an extremely short-lived attempt to eat it plain. Any other recipe suggestions using blackstrap molasses would be more than welcome, as well.

    Thanks!

  11. Chris

    Yes you can use Blackstrap Molasses…I did and the cookies were totally awesome!! I love this recipe. The cookies come out chewy with a little surface crunch.

  12. Tricia

    These look amazing. I have two questions. How do you know if your baking powder or baking soda is bad? How long should an opened bottle of molasses last? I can’t wait to make these for Christmas!

    Molasses is basically sugar, and should last a very long time. We’ve never had a jar of molasses go bad. Baking soda lasts a long time too. The real problem area is baking powder which you need to replace every six months. You’ll know its spent when you try to use it for baking and your biscuits, cookies, or muffins turn out flat. ~Elise

  13. Carol

    These just may be my new favorite holiday cookie. The best adjective I can think of to describe these is “comforting.” They are so easy to make, a bit messy, but soooo worth it. I am making holiday goody boxes for gifts this year and these have just made their way into the box! Thank you so much for this unique recipe!

  14. Rachel

    These were great, especially with the glaze, to which I added some grand marnier.

  15. Cat

    These were wonderful cookies. I made them a wee bit smaller and used ww pastry flour as did others. I rolled them in a minced candied ginger and sugar and WOW was that good. Really added a nice bite to the cookies. I loved how they were chewy on the inside and crisp around the edges. Thanks for the great recipe!

  16. Steph

    I’ve made these from the Cook’s Illustrated cookbook and have gotten rave reviews. Their recipe also includes 1/4 tsp. of finely ground black pepper which gives the cookies a nice little bite. Just enough for people to say “What is that?” without being overwhelming.

  17. cait

    Thank you so much! These were great, my husband likes these kind of cookies and I don’t, usually. These are so yummie though! I’ll keep this recipe!

    Thankyou thankyou thankyou!

  18. Sarcy

    Just made these. Normally, the only “real” cookie to me involves chocolate chips. But these are incredible. Slightly crisp outside, tender and chewy inside, with the prettiest crinkles on top. The house smells like Christmas. I used King Arthur White Whole Wheat flour and added a pinch of black pepper.

  19. Christine

    Just made these last night…AMAZING! had to refrigerate the dough a bit b/c it was slightly sticky to work with. the glaze is a nice, subtle touch and makes them look so nice. Can’t wait to give these away as Christmas gifts.

    Thanks for another great recipe!

  20. Memoria

    These were absolutely fantastic! My mom had no interest in even looking at these cookies until I forced a small piece on her. After that, she was just as hooked as I am. If I weren’t so full, I would eat some more right now haha. I’ll be trying out the optional glaze tomorrow.

  21. carol mcgowan

    Loved these cookies but tweaked the recipe a little bit. I used 1/2 cup of a reduced marg, 1/4 cup of soft butter. Cut the spices in half and added 1/2 tea of finely chopped crystalled ginger. I used 1/4 cup of raw sugar, chilling the dough made it easier to handle. Our house smelled like Christmas :-)

  22. caroline morris

    I made these cookies this weekend and not only did my kitchen smell divine, but the cookies came out fabulous. Perfect and chewy and delicious.

  23. Mrs. Duff

    I tried Martha S.’s recipe… this was so much better! You’ve saved my day. Stoked I can make these awsome so easily and in massive batches. Thank you!

  24. joey the baker

    I made these and only added 1 tsp of baking soda. They are great!!!
    they’re really flat but the spices and molasses flavors and aroma is wonderful. They remind me of the spice cookies from Strassburg and Brussels when traveling.

  25. Al

    Just made these — not sure what I did “wrong”, but mine are very fluffy and high. They’re delicious; thanks for another keeper recipe!

  26. Jason

    The original Cook’s Illustrated recipe (from 2002, in the magazine) is different. The variations: 1 teaspoon baking soda, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger, 1/2 teaspoon ground clove, 1/4 teaspoon finely ground black pepper (not even included above), 1/3 cup dark brown sugar, 1/3 cup granulated sugar, 1 large egg yolk (just the yolk!), and 1/2 cup molasses. I have made them from this recipe and they have generally turned out well, and people love them. I have never tried the variation in the cookbook. The caution to take them out when they look underdone is important, less they become thick gingersnap cookies (still taste good though). I’ve had them come out very flat but I don’t know why; maybe the weather or the butter was too warm.

  27. Tarah

    I’ve baked these a lot. This is a delicious, nostalgic cookie, a real crowd pleaser. One thing, however, that I’ve found after baking them several times, is that these cookies are super finicky, and the way they bake seems to be really affected by climate and moisture in the air. I live in Southern California, where it’s constantly cool and dry and lovely, and every time I’ve ever baked them at home, they turn out really pillowy, full crackles, soft and almost cake-like. This is how I like them best. I have family in Wisconsin, however, where the climate is temperate and, especially in the winter, very wet. Every time I’ve baked them there, they still come out delicious, but they’re oddly darker in color and MUCH flatter. Still chewy, but flat. They don’t puff up, and the crackles don’t really open up like I want them to. In the wetter climate, I’ve found that upping the baking temp to about 385 and just keeping an eye on them, even adding an extra tbsp of flour seems to help them puff up a little more.

    On another note, once I didn’t have any dark brown sugar, so I just added three more tablespoons of molasses to the recipe. It worked really well. YUM.

  28. Sonya

    I can’t even begin to tell you how much we LOVED these cookies..serious full on love. They were gone within a day and had everyone asking when I was going to bake them again..which will be very soon :) thank you so much for a keeper of a recipe!

  29. dhoover

    These cookies were great! The only thing I think was missing was a chilling time for the dough. I let mine chill for about 30 minutes to an hour and my cookies turned out just like the picture. I think the dough would have been a sticky mess otherwise and hard to shape. I also think they would have spread a lot instead of puffing up like they are supposed to.

    Great recipe, though! Just sweet enough, just spicy enough. Perfectly moist and chewy, too. All around perfection!

  30. anne

    Can you freeze some of the dough?

    I don’t see why not. ~Elise

  31. Peter Walsh

    For a great punch add a half teaspoon or so of black pepper (I add about 3/4 tsp). It gives the cookies a real bite that lingers and add a little more complexity of flavor. The sweetness of the frosting more than offsets the pepper. These are definitely a winner!

  32. Margarita

    Made these tonight and just had one. So good! A very holiday cookie, just what the doctor ordered! I halved the recipe which I always do when making cookies because there’s not too many cookie eaters in my family… Anyway, I forgot to reduce the amount of molasses but the cookies still turned out great! Soft, and wonderfully spicy… M-m-m!

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