Molasses Spice Cookies

Big and chewy molasses spice cookies! Like gingersnap cookies, but thicker and chewier.

  • Prep time: 20 minutes
  • Cook time: 15 minutes
  • Yield: Makes 18 large cookies


  • 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 molasses


1 Whisk together flour, baking soda, spices: Preheat oven to 375°F. Vigorously whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, allspice in a bowl and set aside.

2 Prepare butter, sugar, and wet ingredients: 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 to wet ingredients: Add dry ingredients and beat at low speed until just combined, about 30 seconds.

4 Make dough balls, roll them in sugar: 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 un-greased cookie sheets, spacing them 1 1/2 to 2 inches apart.

5 Bake: Bake at 375°F 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 .

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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  • Amy clemons

    Yummy cookies,will make again


  • Jen

    Perfect texture and delicious! Suggest reducing molasses to 1/4 cup if your molasses is really dark. I slightly increased ginger and added a tiny bit of pepper. Also suggest putting dough in the fridge for 30 min before rolling as it is sticky. Worked like a charm! Thanks for the recipe!


  • Adrianne

    Amazing! Followed the recipe exactly and the cookies came out perfectly chewy, firm around the edges, wonderfully spiced! Will make these for years to come.


  • Julia

    These are amazing! I never follow recipes exactly when it comes to amounts of spices (I usually like more) but I did with this one just to try it and it was still really, really good. Very easy to make and they get eaten so quickly. I definitely recommend them.


  • Hannah

    These are incredible! Seriously, the texture and taste is perfect, I could not have been happier!
    The only adjustments I made were chilling the dough after mixing since mine was pretty sticky, and adding a bit more salt and vanilla (that’s just based on my personal taste).
    You cannot go wrong with this recipe!


  • Tori

    please answer! There are no molasses where I am And id love to make these. Any way to do a substitution? Thanks♡

    • Elise Bauer

      Hi Tori, since these are molasses cookies, and molasses is the predominant flavor of them, I’m afraid you need molasses to make these cookies. If you want a fall spice cookie, I recommend our Cinnamon Cookies.

  • Sophia

    Awesome holiday cookies! “Tested” out the recipe this week ahead of Thanksgiving and it’s a keeper! Tried to stay by the book for the most part, but realized after adding other spices I was out of cinnamon. Improved with pumpkin pie spice which meant extra clove/ginger flavor and I’m not mad about it! I did add a tiny bit of black pepper for some depth and chilled the dough about 20-30 minutes before rolling in the sugar & baking. Came out delicious and pretty and crinkly. Thanks for this :)


  • ken

    Every year near Halloween I could by those spice cookies in the orange and black boxes. Suddenly, they were no-where to be found. I used this recipe and added just a dash of white pepper … then flattened them as soon as they came out of the oven, so when they cooled, they’d be hard and have that ‘snap’. Excellent!


  • Maurels

    Why did my cookies not form flat?

  • Ellen

    I have made these cookies every year for the last 5 years at Christmas and a few times for other occasions. I think that they are my favorite cookie of all time. I love the taste of all the spices, the aroma while cooking, the texture, and their crinkly looks. They belong in the cookie Hall of Fame!


  • Loette S

    The molasses spice cookies are the best I have had since I was a child. They remind me of my mother’s copy. My grandchildren are my testers and they just loved them. Thanks for the great recipe.

  • Misty

    I saw another commenter ask about her use of black strap possibly making for her darker cookies, but no definitive answer on which you used for your recipe or if they’re actually interchangeable. One is darker and more bitter, the other is more gooey and more like treacle in consistency.

    So, should we use black strap molasses or sorghum molasses for these? Or does it not matter? :)

  • Kaylee

    Turned out great, used 1 Tablespoon sized cookies instead of 2 and got 21 cookies. Rolled them in sugar and colored sprinkles to make them more festive and it worked well.

  • Amanda

    I just made these and they turned out beautifully! I am at 8500 ft., so cookies can be a bit tricky. I cut the baking soda by 1/4 and added an extra 1/4 to 1/3 cup of flour at the end because the dough seemed like it would be too wet and likely spread too much in the oven (a common cookie problem at this altitude). I used light brown sugar because that’s what I had and also blackstrap molasses. They look exactly like the picture and taste so festive! Thank you!

  • Jen

    I loved them last Christmas, so much that this year I’m making a double batch to give to friends. They’re perfect.

  • Jeremey S.

    I made these cookies tonight with the only variation being that I used whole wheat flour instead of all purpose flour. Otherwise I followed the recipe exactly. They came out looking exactly like the picture and tasted absolutely amazing. Soft and chewy and delicious!

  • efmather2006

    I love this recipe, and it’s really popular with my family. Another possible: grate orange peel and mix it with the sugar for rolling (a Cuisinart or mixer may help with this). Orange zest plus molasses spice-yum!

  • Samantha

    Hi Elise,

    I just made these and for some reason my cookies came out looking much darker than yours and didn’t get the pretty little cracks all over the surface. They are chewy and the flavor is good but the presentation is off. Could this be because I used blackstrap molasses? I’m not sure where I went wrong. Thanks for your time!

    Also, I love your website your recipes make up most of my favorite and most complimented dishes!



  • 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!


  • 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!

  • anne

    Can you freeze some of the dough?

    I don’t see why not. ~Elise

  • 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!

  • 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!


  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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!

  • 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.

  • 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!

  • 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.

  • 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 :-)

  • 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.

  • 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!

  • 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.

  • 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!

  • 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.

  • 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!

  • Rachel

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

  • 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!


  • 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

  • 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.

  • crystal

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

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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!

  • karen

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

    Thanks for the great recipe.

  • egourmet

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

  • 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?

    • Elise Bauer

      Hi Amy, well pastry flour tends to be lighter in gluten, which probably helps the whole wheat flour to do well in a recipe like this. The flavor will be more complex with whole wheat pastry flour, but not necessarily better. It depends on what you like.

  • 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!

  • 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