The Best Molasses Spice Cookies - soft, chewy, crispy edges. cooks illustrated

Molasses Spice Cookies

Molasses Spice Cookies. If any single food item can define a season, it has to be this mixture of molasses and spices that heralds in late fall to early winter. Warm, earthy, just a bit soft and chewy, these Molasses Spice Cookies are perfection. If I do say so myself! And I do! 🙂

The Best Molasses Spice Cookies - soft, chewy, crispy edges. cooks illustrated

The Best Molasses Spice Cookies – soft, chewy, crispy edges.


Long ago I dumped an old Molasses Spice Cookies recipe for this one and have never looked back. Luckily, I always write the source of recipes on my cards so I know this came from “American Classics” by Cook’s Illustrated, not Grandma or Great Aunt Edith or any other family member. No matter, Molasses Spice Cookies area family recipe now!

About Molasses Spice Cookies:

I think you’ll love Molasses Spice Cookies as much as our family does. The signature cracks in Molasses Spice Cookies are charming but don’t confuse them with the much crispier Gingersnap. I do have a recipe for Gingersnaps, too, though if that’s your jam. In Molasses Spice Cookies, there is just a bit of crispness on the outside edges that gives way to a rich, chewy interior. The blend of spices hits all the key flavor notes without being overwhelming. If you haven’t made these cookies for a while, try this recipe.

I sometimes get a bit fancier and add a few M&M’s – they’re really fun in these cookies. (Nab them from your kid’s Halloween candy if you’re making them in the fall. Did I just say that “out loud?”) Some people like to add raisins, either the dark or the golden. I may also roll them from time to time in sanding sugar rather than plain old granulated for a little more sparkle.

Other cooks sometimes dip half the cookie into a chocolate or white chocolate mixture and sometimes add sprinkles. I have a hard time getting behind that, preferring the classic. It’s a little like putting a tutu on a bulldog – admittedly they are not a “pretty” cookie; they’re just what they are. I do see this recipe sometimes glazed with 1 cup of powdered sugar mixed with 3 tablespoons of rum, drizzled over the cooled cookies. That I have been meaning to try! Let them stand for 15 minutes before serving.

But just as is, they’re still a humble, frugal way to put sweets on the table using pantry ingredients. I’ve heard that Molasses Spice Cookies were a favorite of many pioneer women that came before us, a way to brighten up the long, dark winter months when there was very little to get by on.

Gingersnap Cookies - perfect for the Holiday.

Gingersnap Cookies – perfect for the Holiday.

Making Molasses Spice Cookies:

If you think you’d like to make these cookies often, measure out the spices into several small dishes while you’re at it and then place the extra concoction of spices into Ziploc bags. You’re ready to go for the next time. I generally make the balls, roll in sugar, place on a baking sheet, covered and refrigerate them, then reroll and bake the next day. Something magical happens with an overnight rest and the double rolling in sugar.

The cookie dough freezes well, too. Freeze the sugared balls then gang them together in a Ziploc. Reroll in sugar and bake from the frozen state – you’ll need about a minute longer cooking time.

And do use a scoop if you can – having the cookies all the same size ensures each will be done at the same time – and the bake time is critical to get just the right texture. I had to scoop twice for each cookie because I only had a tablespoon scoop, and they came out to a perfect 1 1/2″ ball – so I’m assuming a two-tablespoon scoop is just right.

Spray or oil your measuring cup and the molasses will slide out easily (make sure to thoroughly clean the top of the molasses bottle or you may never get it open again!) and dip your clean hands into sugar before rolling to help prevent the dough from sticking to your hands. And have fun – little hands make the best “rollers” and kids love this job!

The Best Molasses Spice Cookies - soft, chewy, crispy edges. cooks illustrated

The Best Molasses Spice Cookies – soft, chewy, crispy edges.

Saving Money on Molasses Spice Cookies:

As far as the most bang for your buck, this is THE time of the year to stock up on baking goods and specials. Anywhere from pre-Thanksgiving all the way to Christmas, there will be specials and plenty of coupons, if you use them on baking items. See my list of Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years Savings. There may be some minor sales around Valentines on baking goods, but the next big sale will be Easter.

Whenever I bring anything into the house that contains flour, it goes right into my freezer for three days; that eliminates the possibility of any little peskies coming into the house along with the bag of flour or the flour related item.

I rarely, if ever, see Molasses on sale. It’s not super pricey though and once you have a bottle of Molasses, it will keep literally for years in your cupboard. Just make sure that there is no sticky residue on the top of the bottle or the lid or the lid will stick so tightly you’ll never get it open again.

The Best Molasses Spice Cookies - soft, chewy, crispy edges. cooks illustrated

The Best Molasses Spice Cookies – soft, chewy, crispy edges.


Molasses Spice Cookies

  • Author: Cook's Illustrated
  • Total Time: 45 minutes
  • Yield: 22 to 24 cookies 1x
  • Category: Desserts
  • Cuisine: American


  • 2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 ½ tsp ground ginger
  • ½ tsp ground cloves
  • ¼ tsp allspice
  • ¼ tsp pepper
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 12 tbsp butter, softened (see note)
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • ½ cup molasses
  • 1/2  cup sugar for rolling


Preheat oven to 375 degrees F and adjust rack to middle. You’ll need to bake one cookie sheet at a time to get the best “crackling.” Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper. Place about 1/2 cup sugar in a shallow container.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, allspice, pepper, and salt. Set aside.

In a large bowl of a standing mixer, using a paddle attachment, beat the butter with the brown sugar and the 1/3 cup of granulated sugar on medium-high until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. If using a hand mixer, beat a bit longer.

Reduce to low and beat in the egg yolk and vanilla until combined. Beat in the molasses until fully incorporated, scraping down as needed. With mixer on low, slowly add the flour mixture until almost fully combined, about 20 seconds. Finish by hand. The dough will be very soft.

Working with enough dough at a time to make about four balls, roll into 1 1/4 to 1 1/2″ in diameter balls. Place in sugar. Toss to coat. (Optional: Reform into ball shape and gently reroll in sugar.) Transfer to parchment lined sheets, leaving  2 inches between them. The cookies have a lot of “spread” in the oven. Repeat with remaining dough.

Bake one sheet at a time until cookies are beginning to set around edges and tops are cracked but still puffy and beginning to crack, about 10 minutes. Rotate sheet halfway through. The cookies will seem underdone in the center, and the inside of the cookie will appear raw in the cracked areas. This is how you want them – do not overbake – they will continue to cook once removed from the oven.

Cool on baking sheet for five minutes and then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.


  • The right temperature for the butter is pretty important to this recipe. I remove from the fridge the night before and set out at a cool room temperature. Butter should be able to bend without cracking or smooshing. See photo below.
  • You’ll have extra sugar which should be discarded if not sifted and used in another recipe immediately. Having rolled the raw cookie dough in the sugar, it is not safe to store. Be stingy with the amount if using an expensive sugar like a sanding sugar. It’s better to have to add more sugar to the container than waste excess.

Keywords: Cook's Illustrated, Cookies, Desserts, Family Recipe, Freezes Well, molasses

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Today, I’ll be linking up to Throwback Thursday No 15,  Thanksgiving Edition, of which I am now (Yay!) a cohost! Stop over and see all the great recipes and party ideas (Push the little blue rectangle) and check out the other co-hosts, too: Quinn of Dad Whats for Dinner & Alli of Tornadough who started it all and Meaghan from 4 Sons are Us. Hope to see ya there!

I’m also dropping by to Angie’s Fiesta Friday no. 94! I’ve already seen some of the great recipes featured there this week! Wow! Thank you, Angie, for putting on this extravaganza! Also thanks to the co-hosts, Judi @ cookingwithauntjuju and Stef @ The Kiwi Fruit!

I’ll bring this by to Freedom Fridays, too, hosted by Love Bakes Good Cake (that’s so true, isn’t it?) She’s teamed up with My Turn for us and With a Blast to bring you the best “no rules” party around!

I’ll also be linking to Saucy Saturdays No 20 – a food and craft link party extraordinaire!!

Molasses Spice Cookies, perfect for the season! They're crispy, chewy deliciousness and they are downright addictive. The recipe is adapted from Cooks Illustrated so you know it's gotta be the best! #MolassesSpiceCookies #ChristmasCookies #MolassesCookies


Molasses Spice Cookies

36 thoughts on “Molasses Spice Cookies

  1. I just love the taste of molasses cookies.My favorite is ginger molasses cookies. These look super-delicious! I have been looking for a good recipe. Can I skip the egg in this recipe?

    • I think that would affect the chewiness factor – I haven’t worked much with vegan or eggless recipes at all, although I do a lot of vegetarian or “meatless” meals.

      I have heard that some people use a little applesauce in recipes like this, instead of the egg, so maybe that would help. I think it would be a great taste with the molasses/ginger flavors…

  2. Pingback: Molasses Spice Cookies | Marina's Kitchen

  3. Oh, I love molasses cookies, I’ve tried not many recipes and this sounds interesting! 🙂 The only question- any idea how long can I keep the jar with molasses after opening?

        • The cupboard is just fine, and no use in taking up any fridge space – it is pretty thick, sticky stuff so the fridge would just make that worse. The only issue I’ve ever had is that it is so sticky you want to be sure the cap and top of the bottle are clean or you’ll never get the cap back off if you aren’t careful. It’s always fun to find a way to use up some of those bottles and jars we cooks always seem to have, huh! And this is a great way to do that~

  4. I have been thinking about trying a few new recipes to switch up our holiday cookie routine. These look like a great candidate! I love their simple look. I enjoy decorating a few cookies, but can only do so many at a time!

    • I know what you mean! It’s a good idea to throw a few simple ones in amongst the more complicated ones. Personally, I always think I’ll roll out and decorate sugar cookies and am constantly ripping pages out of magazines for ideas and then it gets so hectic near the holidays it all goes by the wayside….

  5. Thank you for the recipe!! You are so great! I know I’m going to love these old-fashioned cookies. Loving all the tips & hints, too. You are just so great! But you already know that 🙂 🙂 <3<3

  6. So many names for these ginger and spice and molasses cookies that it’s confusing. I have a great gingerbread cookie recipe for cutting actual gingerbread out of. It’s an improvement of the previous version which I used to cut out, bake and assemble a 3-D Xmas tree out of which was slanted towards a solid structure rather than flavour. I may give these a try though between the rugelach, macarons and some sort of Xmas fruit cake, I haven’t really decided. Especially as I’m baking for just myself. 🙂

    • I know what you mean about the “structural” gingerbread – I had so much fun making little houses with the kids when they were young but it just didn’t taste as good as the cookie gingerbread.

  7. These look just like ones my nana used to make for us when we were kids. Except I think hers had a few dents where they had been pressed lightly with a fork. Yummy food memories are just flooding back to me right now. Thanks for bringing this to the FF party! 🙂

    • Thanks, Judi – they’re all some of my favorite flavors! I haven’t ever done much cookie recipe posting here – but this year, I think I’ll dust off a few of my favorites! More to come?….Happy FF.

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