24 Molasses Recipes, From Expected Classics to Sweet Surprises

Empty those sticky jars of molasses for pfeffernuse, gingerbread, and pudding.

December 20, 2021
Photo by Kristen Miglore

Molasses is an ingredient that keeps on giving. No matter how carefully you think you've scraped out the jar, try turning it upright and returning a day later—you'll see yet another 1/4 cup has accumulated. It's endless breadsticks, molasses-edition. Here, we’re embracing it in two dozen different recipes. Most of these recipes satisfy one’s sweet tooth in the form of cakey sandwich cookies, Bundt cakes, and bars, but the holidays are all about giving, so we’re also delivering a few savory recipes that may catch you by surprise.

1. Ginger Spiced Dark Molasses Sugar Cookies

“These cookies are spicy, sweet and rich with molasses. Take care not to overbake the cookie and you will have a chewy center that will melt in your mouth. For added spice and bite, add diced candied ginger to the batter,” writes recipe developer TasteFood.

Ginger Spiced Dark Molasses Sugar Cookies

2. Gingerbread Cookies

Before we get into the recipes that make you say, “I didn’t know I could use molasses for that,” we have to talk about gingerbread cookies. You know them and you love them, but Ella Quittner has developed this recipe using a bevy of spices that she says offer “maximum coziness.”

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Gingerbread Cookies

3. The Gingeriest Gingerbread

What does it take to create what food editor Emma Laperruque has dubbed the gingeriest gingerbread? One cup of really strong ginger beer (the good kind), two tablespoons of freshly grated ginger, and ¼ cup of ground ginger. That should do the trick, right?

The Gingeriest Gingerbread

4. Triple-Ginger Chocolate Chunk Cookies

When I worked for Martha Stewart, these chocolate-ginger cookies from former food editor Susan Spungen were the stuff of legend. They’re like the very best chocolate chunk cookie and the very best gingerbread cookie all rolled up into one sugar-coated treat.

Triple-Ginger Chocolate Chunk Cookies

5. Gooey Gingerbread S’mores Bars

Missing the smoky-sweet flavor of the beloved summertime campfire treat? The base is a classic gingerbread bar, topped with chocolate and marshmallows, which melt as the bars bake in the oven.

Gooey Gingerbread S'mores Bars

6. Rose Levy Beranbaum's Molasses Sugar Butter Cookies

The queen of cookies (and really, all things baking), these molasses cookies from Rose Levy Beranbaum have the perfect texture: a little chewy and a little crunchy, with plenty of nutty spiced flavor to boot. 

Molasses Sugar Butter Cookies

7. Demon Cake

Our editors call this “a dense, heavily spiced, gingered cake, sweetened with dark, treacly molasses and apples. Not for the faint of heart (though the title could tell you as much); serious ginger and gingerbread lovers will rejoice, however.”

Demon Cake With Molasses

8. Extra Oat-y Oatmeal Cream Pies

The reason why we love molasses so much is that it delivers both good flavor and great texture; these sandwich cookies are proof of its magic.

Extra Oat-y Oatmeal Cream Pies

9. Gluten-Free Carrot Cake

The first ingredient will make you do a double-take: mayonnaise. Trust us (and trust recipe developer Kristina Vanni), it works, producing a denser, moister crumb. 

Gluten-Free Carrot Cake

10. Fresh Ginger Cake From Sylvia Thompson

Light molasses and four warm ground spices—white pepper, cloves, nutmeg, and ginger—deliver festive flavor in every bite of this sponge-like cake.

Fresh Ginger Cake

11. Kim-Joy's Ginger, Pecan, & Salted Caramel Cake

“The ginger flavor of this cake comes from both ground ginger and stem ginger, so there is a strong ginger undercurrent, and as a bonus you occasionally get a burst from a chunk of stem ginger. The pecans and salted caramel complement it perfectly—you will definitely want to go back for seconds,” writes recipe developer and Great British Bake-Off alum Kim-Joy.

Ginger, Pecan, & Salted Caramel Cake

12. Cornmeal Molasses Rolls

Upgrade the bread basket at dinner any night of the week with these richer, sweeter rolls.

Cornmeal Molasses Rolls

13. Grandma Bohlmann's Pfeffernusse

So many people havea recipe that reminds them of their grandmother’s cooking. For me, it’s corn casserole and chocolate layer cake, but for recipe developer Mary Beth, it’s these bite-sized spice cookies.

Grandma Bohlmann's Pfeffernusse

14. Monkey (Ginger)Bread

Not too sweet and not too spicy, this cake can totally be enjoyed early in the morning with a cup of coffee. In fact, it was voted your all-time favorite holiday breakfast recipe. 

Monkey (Ginger)Bread

15. 5-Ingredient Molasses Cookie

It quite literally doesn't get easier than this gluten-free cookie recipe.

5-Ingredient Molasses Cookies

16. Star Anise Milk

You only need three ingredients—whole milk, molasses, and star anise—to make a cup of this warming milk that’s touted for its anti-inflammatory benefits.

Star Anise Milk

17. Brandy Snaps

These fragile-filled cookies are perfect for wrapping up and handing out during the holiday season, due in part to their molasses and ginger dough.

Brandy Snaps

18. Wet Bottom Shoofly Pie

I have had a 15-year-long love affair with shoofly pie since I first tried it on a family trip to Lancaster County. I only eat it occasionally but when I do, it’s my favorite type of pie. I don’t know why I don’t eat it more frequently, but this recipe is about to change that for me.

Wet Bottom Shoofly Pie

19. Blackbird's Bread

Four and Twenty Blackbirds is a Brooklyn-based pie shop known for their (you guessed it!) pies. Salted Caramel Apple and Chess Pie top the list of their ridiculously popular flavors, but one underrated treat is this nutty molasses quick bread, which we got the recipe for.

Blackbird's Bread

20. Salty Butterscotch Whoopie Pies

A little bit of molasses is used for the soft cookie part of these whoopie pies—and then a little bit more is used for the salty, creamy filling because, why not?

Salty Butterscotch Whoopie Pies

21. Vegan Dark Chocolate-Gingerbread Thumbprint Cookies

Who knew that Karlie Kloss—supermodel, entrepreneur, philanthropist, and champion of STEM programs for young girls—was also a superstar baker? These gingerbread cookies, filled with lightly sweetened chocolate ganache, are inspired by her popular recipe.

Vegan Dark Chocolate-Gingerbread Thumbprint Cookies

22. Gingerbread Ice Cream

If you have a hard time wrapping your head around a scoop of the cool treat during one of the coldest months of the year, this festive gingery ice cream should help. 

Gingerbread Ice Cream

23. ​​3-Tiered Gingerbread Bundt Cake With Eggnog Glaze & Candied Cranberries

For an absolute showstopper Christmas dessert, look no further than this soft and spiced gingerbread pound cake dripping with an eggnog glaze and sprinkled with tart candied cranberries.

Gingerbread Bundt Cake

24. Peanut Butter Cream Pie

You wouldn’t think of peanut butter and molasses as a natural pairing but hey, opposites attract. Just ¼ cup is mixed in with the peanut butter cream filling.

Peanut Butter Cream Pie

What is your favorite molasses recipe during the holidays? Let us know in the comments below!

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See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Steve
  • jane.coombs88
  • lavagal
I used to work at Food52. I'm probably the person who picked all of the cookie dough out of the cookie dough ice cream.


Steve December 20, 2021

Recipe By: Wilhelmina (Minnie) Peterson


Wilhelmina (Minnie) Peterson was my wife's grandmother. Her family immigrated to New Sweden, Texas in the 1880's. On "bread day" as a young girl, and later as a mother and grandmother, she baked this rich, molassas-based brown bread for the family's needs for the coming week. Minnie passed the recipe down to her daughters. It became a traditional recipe, especially at family gatherings.

But the tradition is at risk. I've converted the recipe for baking in an automatic bread machine. I'm hoping that converting the recipe to a bread machine recipe may allow the current generation to keep the tradition of this bread alive in the family.


5 ounce wt milk, (1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons)
4 ounce wt water, (1/2 cup)
16 ounce wt bread flour, (3 3/4 cups)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1.7 ounce wt sugar, (1/4 cup)
4 ounce wt molasses, (1/3 cup), (recommended: Grandma's original)
1 tablespoon butter, cut into small pieces to aid mixing
2 teaspoons bread machine yeast


1. Set bread machine pan on a scale and use tare to allow measuring of each ingredient by weight directly into the pan. (except salt, sugar, yeast, and butter, measured by volume) Distribute ingredients in bread machine pan in the order given.

2. Set bread machine to Home Made bread cycle (set program per Notes) and light crust. Start bread machine

3. When the machine beeps for additions, use a rubber spatula to scrape down any stuff from the pan sides so that everything gets incorporated into the dough.


Cycle details for Zojirushi BBCC-V20:

=-= Home Made =-=
Preheat 20
Knead 20
Rise 1 45
Stir Down 30 sec.
Rise 2 20
Stir Down 30 sec.
Rise 3 1:00
Bake 42
Keep Warm 1:00

Original recipe:

This is an old Central Texas Swedish family recipe. Four generations, that I know of.

Grandma Minnie Peterson's Swedish Brown Bread

2 cups Milk
1-3/4 cup Water
2 tsps Salt
1 cup Sugar
2 tbsp Crisco
3/4 cup Grandma's Yellow Label Molasses (Unsulphured, Mild Flavor)
1/2 cup Grandma's Green Label Molasses (Robust Flavor) (Very dark. Harder to find. All Yellow is OK)
1-1/2 pkgs Dry Yeast
5 lbs less 3 cups General Purpose Flour

Mix well above ingredients (excluding yeast and flour) and bring to a boil. Let cool until lukewarm.
Dissolve yeast and a drop of molasses (or 1 tsp sugar) in 1/4 cup warm water and add to liquid.
Using a large mixing spoon, gradually add flour.
Put on a floured board and knead well with greased hands. Knead until the dough does not stick to your hands.
Place dough in a large bowl and grease top. Cover and set in a warm place to rise until it doubles in size (about 45 minutes, I think).
Put on a lightly floured board and knead well again.
Divide the dough into 8 equal parts. Knead each loaf well. Place in a greased bread pan. (Use 2 or 3 for a larger pan.) Grease top of loaves and cover. Let rise until it doubles in size (again about 45 minutes, I think).
Bake 45 minutes at 350 deg or until bread springs back when touched by fingers.
When done, remove from pan and brush top with a sugar water mixture. Cover with a cup towel until cool.
jane.coombs88 January 11, 2015 baked beans?
lavagal December 27, 2014
I like to put molasses in my Quick Cincinnati Chili. It really gives it depth.