Favorite Chewy Ginger Cookies

stacked chewy ginger molasses cookies

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 cookie on a white board

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.

a stack of chewy molasses cookies

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 irresistible 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.)

chewy ginger cookies cooling on a rack

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!

Making ginger molasses cookie batter

What you’ll need:

  • butter ~ unsalted, at room temperature
  • granulated sugar ~ some for the dough and some for rolling
  • egg
  • molasses ~ this is what gives these cookies their character. Molasses should be a pantry staple in any baker’s kitchen
  • flour
  • baking soda
  • cinnamon, ginger, cloves, nutmeg, allspice
molasses cookies ready to bake on a baking sheet

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.
molasses cookies cooling on a rack

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.

golden chewy molasses ginger cookie sprinkled with sugar

Classic holiday cookies from the archives

a stack of ginger cookies
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3.61 from 204 votes

Chewy Ginger Cookies

Chewy Ginger Cookies are the ultimate fall and holiday cookie, full of warm spices and molasses, they’re crisp on the outside and nice and chewy inside.  They’re so easy to make and your whole house will smell amazing.
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 12 minutes
Yield 24 cookies
Author Sue Moran

Equipment

  • 1 1/4 inch cookie scoop (optional)

Ingredients

wet ingredients

  • 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)

dry ingredients

  • 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

Instructions

  • 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.

Cook’s notes

  • 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.
The nutritional information for recipes on this site is provided as a courtesy and although theviewfromgreatisland.com tries to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures are only estimates.
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More reasons to keep a jar of molasses in your pantry!

Soft Glazed Gingerbread Cookies

a stack of soft glazed gingerbread cookies

Glazed Gingerbread Bundt Cake

Glazed Gingerbread Bundt Cake, partially sliced

 


 

Homemade Gingerbread Ice Cream

Homemade gingerbread ice cream being scooped out of a tub

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


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190 Comments

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  • Reply
    Marge
    October 4, 2019 at 4:44 pm

    You said for a puffier cookie to use 2/14 cup of flour, did you mean 2 1/4?

    • Reply
      Sue
      October 4, 2019 at 5:50 pm

      Yes Marge, I fixed that typo thanks!

  • Reply
    Gam Johnson
    January 18, 2019 at 4:16 pm

    5 stars
    So soft. The ginger cookies are awesome!! I made these cookies an hour age and OMG!! I substituted Splenda for the sugar and added fresh ginger(I LOVE IT) in addition to the powdered ginger and all was well. I used Splenda because I knew I wanted to eat two with my coffee. LOL

    • Reply
      Sue
      January 18, 2019 at 4:20 pm

      Smart thinking Gam!

  • Reply
    kimberly Hale
    January 14, 2019 at 9:57 am

    Can I bake these completely in advance and freeze them until needed? Not just freeze the dough, but freeze the cooked cookie?
    Thanks

    • Reply
      Sue
      January 14, 2019 at 10:06 am

      Yes, sure. When I freeze baked cookies I like to wrap them first, then put them into a zip lock freezer bag for extra protection.

  • Reply
    Terry C.
    December 28, 2018 at 1:42 am

    5 stars
    Hi Sue,

    I tried the cookies again after going to the store for the brand name flour. I am convinced my failures 3 times that night was due to the cheaper flour. I mad a new batch of dough with the brand name and they were like they had been 5 times successfully before, thank goodness!! Don’t sub on the flour bakers! Gold Medal All Purpose is what I went back to and won’t try to skimp again. I got 3 orders for 3 dozen each after that so it had to be the flour to get the flat chewy deliciousness in these ginger cookies. Lesson learned and I am making 2 more batches for New Years. ??

    Thank you Sue. Such an amazing cookie. Everyone just raves about them!!

    Terry

    • Reply
      Sue
      December 28, 2018 at 7:58 am

      Hooray! I do love Gold Medal flour!

  • Reply
    Nancy
    December 22, 2018 at 1:25 pm

    5 stars
    I was SO delighted to find your recipie. 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!

    • Reply
      Sue
      December 24, 2018 at 9:17 am

      Thanks Nancy, I can just picture you smiling and chomping on these cookies ~ happy holidays!

  • Reply
    Meredith
    December 17, 2018 at 12:02 pm

    Hello
    The recipe calls for cloves? Is that whole cloves?

    • Reply
      Sue
      December 17, 2018 at 12:03 pm

      That’s ground cloves Meredith.

  • Reply
    Trena
    December 17, 2018 at 8:42 am

    5 stars
    I’ve made these for a few years now as slice cookies and they do awesome. My kids rarely like gingerbread cookies and they always go quick.

    • Reply
      Sue
      December 17, 2018 at 8:45 am

      Oh what a great idea, I’ve never thought to do that, do you chill the log of dough, and how long?

  • Reply
    Terry C.
    December 16, 2018 at 4:05 pm

    5 stars
    Hi Sue,

    I have made these amazing ginger cookies about 5 times this month and today for some reason they puffed up and stayed that way. I am do disappointed because this is the first time they haven’t looked exactly like your photos.

    My butter was a bit colder than usual but still mixed up fine to a creamy consistency before I added the egg and molasses. Could that be it? Could I have creamed too long? My ingredients are all fresh.

    Any idea on what happened?

    Thanks,

    Terry

    • Reply
      Sue
      December 16, 2018 at 4:14 pm

      Gosh, that’s strange, since you’ve made them before and they did flatten. All I can think of is making sure your dough is room temperature, no chilling before baking, and making sure your oven is at the correct temperature. I have found that different baking sheets can make a difference, too. It’s possible your colder butter did make a difference, cookies are super finicky!

      • Reply
        Terry C.
        December 16, 2018 at 6:06 pm

        Thank you for getting back to me so quickly. I am trying another batch. Butter was softer. In reference to the pans, same ones I always use and I put them on parchment paper every time and oven is and 350 for exactly 10 minutes. Fingers crossed I have success with these. They are for a Christmas office party in the morning!

        I will let you know how these go…I am doing a trial run with just 2 cookies ?

        Terry

      • Reply
        Terry C
        December 16, 2018 at 6:13 pm

        Ugh! Same thing happened again. I am so confused. Five times they were perfect and now they are puffy and cakey. I don’t like them nearly as much. Maybe a different brand of flour I don’t usually buy is at fault. I have a friend at church and that is what she said when she bought cheaper flour.

        Guess I will go back to my standard Gold Medal brand. I made thumbprint cookies too with the off brand and they are little pancakes! Why couldn’t the ginger cookies be pancakes? I would be happy then…ha ha

        Goodnight Sue. Merry Christmas ?

        • Reply
          Sue
          December 16, 2018 at 7:09 pm

          Oh man, how frustrating. Let me know if you do figure out that it was the flour ~ that would fit with what I’m observing with cookies in general ~ every little detail can have a big impact, even the type of flour or butter you use. Sleep well, Terry, you’ve earned it 🙂

          • Karie
            December 19, 2018 at 1:17 pm

            This same thing has happened to me. I found this recipe a few years back and they were instant family favorites. Nice, flat and chewy. But I have made them three times this year and they have been very cakey and do not spread at all. It’s so frustrating because I don’t remember changing anything from the first time around! Only thing I could think of was that I used a slip mat this year and had used parchment previously, but now I see in the photos that you used a slip mat. Planning to make them again this week and hoping that they will be flat.

          • Sue
            December 19, 2018 at 1:42 pm

            OK I figured out the issue! Some years back I think I was getting comments on how much the cookies spread, so at some point I adjusted the flour to 2 and 1/4 cups. It was originally 2 cups flour. If you go back to that your cookies should be flat! I’ve updated the recipe to include both choices.

      • Reply
        Sue
        December 19, 2018 at 1:46 pm

        The mystery is solved Terry, I’ve updated the recipe to clarify ~ some years back I increased the flour by 1/4 cup, and that’s why people are getting puffier cookies. I’ve now given a choice of amounts in the ingredient list, according to how you like your ginger cookies. Hope this helps!

  • Reply
    FS
    December 16, 2018 at 11:37 am

    My dough was much stickier than what appears to be the case in the video, so forming balls was a bit of a challenge? Butter too soft? Any other troubleshooting feedback?

    • Reply
      Sue
      December 16, 2018 at 11:59 am

      When that happens you can just add a bit more flour until the dough feels right to you FS, it’s not an exact science and your ingredients could have been slightly different from mine, so go ahead and adjust a bit. Although the dough should be fairly soft!

    • Reply
      Terry C.
      May 21, 2019 at 8:56 pm

      5 stars
      Hi Sue! I made them today, not Christmas yet but my mom requested them for her birthday in May! She fell in love with this recipe so I thought I would surprise her and she should received them on her day. She will be 87 years young! Anyway I am pleased to announce they turned out amazing and I sure do appreciate you researching the problem I was having last Christmas with them being cakey. Will still stick to my Gold Medal flour though. Thanks again for this recipe! You have made my sweet mom, and me, very happy ?

      • Reply
        Sue
        May 21, 2019 at 9:20 pm

        Love this comment Terry, my dad and mom are in their late 80s and I know how wonderful it is when we can please our parents with anything home cooked, from the heart 🙂

  • Reply
    Cris
    December 15, 2018 at 1:58 pm

    I’ve made these cookies a few times and they are always a hit. I wanted to know what you do to get them to spread out so thin like in the pictures? Mine are always thicker than that.

    • Reply
      Sue
      December 15, 2018 at 2:23 pm

      It’s so funny Cris because my daughter makes these all the time, and hers don’t spread either, and neither of us can figure out what the cause is. I’m guessing that it might have to do with the baking pan, or the oven temperature. I have tried to make mine ‘puffy’ and I simply can’t! You might try making sure your butter is truly soft, and make sure your dough is room temperature, too. Hope this helps! If I get a more definitive answer on this I’ll let you know 🙂

      • Reply
        Sue
        December 19, 2018 at 1:48 pm

        Cris I did some sleuthing a figured out the spreading issue, I had increased the flour by 1/4 cups a while back, and that’s what changed. I’ve now updated the recipe, so if you do 2 cups flour, your cookies should spread.

        • Reply
          Renee
          October 23, 2019 at 7:56 pm

          Silpat baking mats or any silicone mat, like you show in the photo, will make your cookies spread more than parchment paper. Could be more than the flour issue in some cases. It can really make a difference when baking cookies. 🙂

          • Sue
            October 23, 2019 at 7:59 pm

            Thanks Renee, good point.

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