Chewy Ginger Cookies are our family’s official holiday cookie. They’re crisp on the outside, nice and chewy inside, and full of warm spices and molasses. We’ve never met anyone who doesn’t love them.
Chewy ginger molasses cookies are the first thing you should make this holiday season
If you have the urge to do some holiday baking but want something quick and easy, with ingredients you’ve already got in the kitchen, these chewy molasses cookies are the perfect choice. The recipe is a cinch to make, and the whole house smells festive when they’re in the oven.
Everybody gravitates toward these cookies, but what makes them so special? I think it’s a combination of the flavor and texture. And maybe because we only make them this one time of year; they’ve become associated with the warmth and excitement of the holidays.
Chewy ginger cookies make memories…
This recipe comes from our good friend Liz. When my girls were very young she opened up her sunny kitchen to them every December for an afternoon of holiday cookie baking. They made huge messes and baked lots of cookies, but these were the memory makers. They scent the kitchen and are absolutely addictive when eaten warm from the oven. Thanks Liz—not only for giving us a favorite family recipe but for introducing my girls to the joys of baking.
(*update: Liz has since passed away from breast cancer, but we think of her every time we make these cookies.)
The dough for these chewy molasses cookies is a simple affair. No chilling, rolling, or cutting ~ just scoop and bake.
That’s my kind of cookie 🙂 Tossing the little balls of soft dough in sugar gives the cookies a lovely delicate crunch. And by the way this is a recipe that even young kids can help with. Mine used to love to watch through the oven window as they transform from sparkly little balls of dough into flat, crinkly cookies. It only takes 10 minutes!
What you’ll need:
- butter ~ unsalted, at room temperature
- granulated sugar ~ some for the dough and some for rolling
- molasses ~ this is what gives these cookies their character. Molasses should be a pantry staple in any baker’s kitchen
- baking soda
- cinnamon, ginger, cloves, nutmeg, allspice
The secret to chewy ginger cookies is molasses
Molasses is a sweet thick syrup that’s a byproduct of the sugar refining process. The name molasses derives from ancient Greek and Latin roots mel, meaning honey. It’s what gives brown sugar its color and flavor, and it’s one of my favorite ingredients to bake with. Without molasses there would be no gingerbread, and no chewy ginger cookies.
Molasses allows my cookies to spread flat but keep that perfect bendy chewy texture. And thanks to the unique moisture retention properties of molasses, they’ll stay chewy for days. Molasses is the under-appreciated ingredient of the season if you ask me. I always keep a bottle (and a spare) in my cupboard, it’s absolutely essential for holiday baking.
What type of molasses to use for cookies
Much like maple syrup, molasses comes in various forms. Brer Rabbit and Grandma’s are two common brands that I love, and both offer a variety of types of molasses, so read your labels.
- Light molasses is the sweetest and lightest form. It is sometimes called fancy or mild.
- Dark molasses has a darker color and a more robust flavor. That’s what I used for these cookies, but you can feel comfortable interchanging light and dark molasses in your recipes.
- Blackstrap molasses is quite bitter and has a very robust flavor. I avoid it for baking.
- Most molasses on the market today is un-sulfured (molasses was once treated with sulfur dioxide as a preservative, but it’s no longer widely used.)
- If you’re in the UK you’ll use light (golden) or dark (black) treacle instead.
Chewy ginger cookies are a perfect choice for giving, shipping, and freezing
These cookies keep really well thanks to the molasses, and they’re sturdy, too. They make a great choice for giving as a part of a cookie assortment, and for shipping. They freeze well, too, so I guess you could say they’re the perfect cookie 😉 If you love chocolate, try my Chewy Chocolate Ginger Cookies ~ they have the same great flavor and texture, with a hint of chocolate. And if that’s not enough chocolate for you, try my Chewy Chocolate Chip Ginger Cookies. The combination of dark chocolate and gingery spices is one of my favorites.
Classic holiday cookies from the archives
- Cardamom Spritz Cookies
- Perfect Pecan Sandies
- Soft Batch Pumpkin Cookies
- Jam Thumbprint Cookies
- Pfeffernusse Cookies
- Oatmeal Cranberry Cookies
- Glazed Gingerbread Cookies
- Gingerbread Cut Out Cookies with Royal Icing
Chewy Ginger Cookies
- 1 1/4 inch cookie scoop (optional)
- 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter at room temperature
- 1 cup granulated sugar, plus extra for rolling
- 1 large egg, at room temperature
- 1/4 cup molasses (not blackstrap)
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- 2 tsp baking soda
- 1/4 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp powdered ginger
- 1/4 tsp cloves
- 1/4 tsp nutmeg
- 1/4 tsp allspice
- Set the oven to 350F Line baking sheets with parchment paper.
- Cream the butter and sugar until fluffy. I like to do this in a stand mixer, but electric beaters or a wooden spoon will work.
- Add the egg and molasses and blend well.
- Sift or whisk the dry ingredients together and add to the wet. Mix until completely blended.
- Form or scoop balls the size of a small walnut. I like to use a 1 1/4 inch cookie scoop for uniform cookies. Roll each ball in granulated sugar to coat.
- Place on an un-greased or parchment paper lined baking sheet 2" apart.
- Bake for 10-12 minutes, and let cool slightly on the pan before transferring to a rack to cool completely.
notes and variations
- There's no need to chill this dough before baking, but you can certainly make it ahead if you like.
- To freeze the dough I suggest scooping it out onto a baking sheet and freezing until the dough balls are solid. Then put the dough into a zip lock freezer bag. Thaw the dough balls before rolling and baking.
- You can also freeze the baked cookies. Separate layers with waxed paper.
- This recipe makes flat cookies, if you prefer them puffier, use 2 and 1/4 cups flour.
More reasons to keep a jar of molasses in your pantry!
Reader Rave ~
“I was SO delighted to find your recipe. My sister and I love ginger cookies…especially chewy ginger cookies..mmmmmm! These are spot on delicious. Thank you for sharing…we are all smiling as we can’t stop eating them!” ~Nancy