These Soft & Chewy Molasses Cookies are a year-round classic that deserve special attention at Christmas time. Mildly spiced, richly flavored from the molasses and brown sugar, and generously sprinkled with granulated sugar for a touch of sparkle, this classic molasses cookie recipe belongs in your dessert arsenal.
Molasses Cookies Recipe
I have always loved any type of gingery, molasses-y cookie. Whether it's crispy gingersnaps, soft & chewy gingerbread men cookies, or oversized Joe Froggers, these warmly spiced robust molasses-based cookie recipes just speak to me and always have.
They are just as delicious in the summer as they are in winter.
Keep scrolling to the bottom of this post for info on a KitchenAid giveaway I'm currently doing with some blogging friends. But in the meantime, enjoy the pictures and this post. And go make some cookies!
When our oldest daughter was born, I remember making molasses cookies in the kitchen of her birth family's home.
Paul and I got to go to Texas to meet Clara's birthmom about a month and a half before Clara was born, and then I spent almost a month there waiting for her to arrive.
We thought labor was imminent so I flew out and then she decided to be overdue and breech. (Those sorts of things never do go as planned, do they?).
And then we had to wait for ICPC clearance to leave the state after her birth. ICPC is an adoption thing where paperwork has to clear before you can transport a child across state lines in an adoption situation - the link is worth a read if you or anyone you know is considering out-of-state adoption.
Most of that time was spent with her birth family, who took us in and showed us love the likes of which will forever be imprinted on my heart.
I can't remember specifically which visit it was - the first or the second - that we made molasses cookies, but I know we made them in their kitchen and they tasted like home.
These old fashioned soft molasses cookies always taste like home, even if you didn't grow up with them. It's one of the magic things about them.
What do molasses cookies taste like?
I like my molasses cookies soft and sugary. So not only do I roll them in sugar before baking, but then I underbake them intentionally so they stay super soft and sprinkle the crinkly tops with extra granulated sugar so they sparkle and have an extra sweet crunch when you bite into them.
The flavor of these soft molasses ginger cookies comes from a combination of ground cinnamon and ginger, as well as the rich, full flavor of molasses of course.
I use dark molasses, not light or blackstrap molasses, for these old fashioned soft molasses cookies.
Soft Molasses Cookies Recipe ingredients
- Salted butter - I use salted butter in almost all of my baking.
- Brown sugar - For a deep, rich flavor that supports the molasses base.
- Molasses - I usual regular unsulphured molasses, not blackstrap molasses. I typically use Grandma’s brand, but Brer Rabbit is good too.
- Egg - One large egg helps bind the dough together and results in chewier cookies.
- Vanilla extract - Rounds out the other flavors. You don’t usually taste this flavor, but it adds complexity and depth to most baked goods.
- All-purpose flour - I use regular unbleached all-purpose flour for tender cookies.
- Baking soda - This is our leavening agent that helps the cookies spread and puff slightly.
- Spices - A combination of ground ginger, ground cinnamon and ground cloves makes for the best molasses spice cookies.
- Salt - So the cookies are overly sweet or bland.
- Granulated sugar or coarse sanding sugar - For rolling the cookies in to give them a sparkly crunch.
How to Make Molasses Cookies
These cookies are so basic that most of you bakers out there will hardly need these steps, but I'm going to give them anyway because it just shows how simple and easy these soft and chewy molasses cookies are to make, especially using a stand mixer like my trusty KitchenAid.
- Beat the butter until light and creamy (oh a minute or so) using the paddle attachment on your stand mixer. Then add the brown sugar and beat again until fluffy and light.
- Beat in the molasses, egg, and vanilla until combined.
- Add the flour, baking soda, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, and salt, mixing until combined and scraping the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed to make sure it mixes up evenly.
- Chill the dough for an hour (or more - it really does help since the molasses makes this a very soft dough), then roll it into small balls and roll those in granulated sugar.
- Bake just until the cookies are just starting to crack on top and are barely done and evenly looking slightly wet and underdone coming out of the oven. If they look totally done, they are for sure going to harden up as they cool and that's not what we're going for with these SOFT and CHEWY molasses cookies!
- Transfer the cookies to a wire rack to cool after a minute or two and sprinkle them with a little extra granulated sugar.
Favorite ways to eat Chewy Molasses Cookies
These soft and chewy molasses cookies are perfection with a cup of cold milk (kids, take note for Santa this year).
Or sandwich two of them with ice cream between them (a scoop of strawberry ice cream between two molasses cookies is incredible although basically any flavor is amazing with them) or use eggnog buttercream frosting for an out of this world super soft sandwich cookie that practically grabs you by the shoulders and screams CHRISTMAS!!! at you.
How to store Soft Molasses Cookies
- Once cooled, store your molasses cookies in an airtight container at room temperature for 4-5 days or in the fridge for up to 1 week. The cookies can also be frozen in a freezer-safe airtight container for up to 3 months. Thaw on the counter at room temperature for a few hours before serving or warm them in the microwave for a few seconds and they will taste almost just like they did when they came out of the oven!
- You can also store the cookie dough in the fridge for up to 3 days before baking if you prefer to bake them fresh in batches as needed. Or shape the cookie dough into balls and freeze on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper for 1-2 hours. When frozen, transfer the balls of cookie dough to a freezer-safe ziploc bag and freeze for up to 2 months. You can bake them directly from frozen by just adding an extra 1-2 minutes to the bake time.
Molasses Cookie Recipe FAQs
Molasses does a few things in cookies that give them their classic taste and texture. Molasses has a rich, robust, and slightly bitter flavor that adds depth and complexity. But it is also a syrupy liquid that adds moisture to the cookie dough, creating a softer and chewier texture and preventing the cookies from becoming too dry or crumbly. It also adds sweetness so you need less sugar, and for those of you into the science of baking, molasses interacts somewhat with the baking soda thanks to molasses' slightly acidic nature to provide leavening, which helps cookies rise and become softer.
I prefer dark molasses for cookies because it has a stronger, more robust flavor and a darker color than light molasses. I also prefer its richer, slightly bitter flavor with a more pronounced molasses taste. I do not recommend using blackstrap molasses which has a very intense, slightly bitter flavor and is less sweet than light or dark molasses.
If you find that your molasses cookies are bitter, chances are you used blackstrap molasses, which has a stronger, more bitter taste. Another possible culprit could be not using quite enough sugar to balance out the molasses flavor.
The main reason for molasses cookies getting hard is because they were baked too long. With darker color cookies like these it can be difficult to tell when they are done if you rely on typical doneness indicators like the cookies turning golden brown around the edges. Instead, make sure your oven temperature is accurate and bake for the recommended time. The cookies should not look shiny on top and should have some cracks but you will want them to be soft and slightly underdone when you remove them from the oven. They will continue to set up on the cookie sheet while they cool.
I prefer dark molasses in these cookies so that the molasses flavor can take center stage. Light molasses is sweeter and has a milder flavor compared to dark molasses and is often used in baking when a subtle molasses flavor is desired. It's a good choice for recipes where you want the molasses flavor to complement other ingredients without overpowering them, but because we are trying to highlight molasses in this recipe, dark is best.
More Classic Christmas Cookies Recipes (Because You Can Never Have Enough!)
- Mexican Wedding Cookies
- Peanut Butter Blossoms
- Double Chocolate Crinkle Cookies
- Toffee Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies
- Christmas Pinwheel Cookies
- Hazelnut Lingonberry Linzer Cookies
- Chocolate Peppermint Blossoms
- Double Chocolate Crinkle Cookies
Did you make this recipe?
Let me know what you thought with a comment and rating below. You can also take a picture and tag me on Instagram @houseofnasheats or share it on the Pinterest pin so I can see.
Soft and Chewy Molasses Cookies
- 1 cup butter room temperature
- ¾ cup brown sugar packed
- ⅓ cup dark molasses
- 1 egg room temperature
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
- 1 ½ teaspoons baking soda
- 1 ½ teaspoons ground ginger
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon cloves
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ cup granulated sugar for rolling
- In the large bowl of a stand mixer, beat the butter on medium-high speed for 1 minute until creamy. Add the brown sugar and beat until light and fluffy.
- Add the molasses, egg, and vanilla and beat well, scraping the sides of the bowl.
- Whisk the flour, baking soda, ginger, cinnamon and salt together in a bowl, then add to the butter and molasses mixture on low speed, mixing until combined. Cover the dough with plastic wrap and chill for at least 1 hour, or up to 3 days.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Roll the dough into balls, about 1 ½-inch in diameter, then roll in the extra sugar and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet.
- Bake for 10-12 minutes, just until the cookies begin to crack slightly on top. Remove from oven and cool completely on wire racks. Sprinkle with additional granulated sugar for extra sparkle, if desired.