Smoky Cardamom Ginger-Molasses Cookies

November 28, 2014
10 Ratings
  • Makes 2 dozen cookies
Author Notes

If you're looking for a crisp-on-the-outside, chewy-on-the-inside wintery cookie with a little extra something, look no further. Infusing the butter with black cardamom pods takes things to the next level, giving the cookies a hint of savoriness. If you can’t find black cardamom or would rather skip it, reduce the butter by 2 tbsp and add 1/4 tsp of ground cardamom instead. (Recipe adapted from: http://www.gimmesomeoven.com/chewy-ginger-molasses-cookies/) —Carey Nershi

What You'll Need
  • 14 tablespoons butter
  • 5 black cardamom pods
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup bread flour
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 cup sugar (for rolling)
  1. Crack open the cardamom pods and remove seeds. Grind seeds with a mortar and pestle and set aside.
  2. Combine the butter and empty cardamom pods in a small saucepan. Heat on medium-low until the butter has completely melted and begins to foam slightly. Remove from heat, cover, and let stand for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, remove and discard the cardamom pods and transfer the butter to a large mixing bowl. Cover and let the butter cool to room temperature.
  3. Sift together the flours, baking soda, salt, spices, black pepper, and reserved ground cardamom. Add the sugar to the butter and beat until light and fluffy. Beat in the molasses and the egg. Gradually beat in dry ingredients until just combined. Cover and chill in the fridge for at least 2 hours, or up to 2 days.
  4. Preheat oven to 375° F. Line a baking sheet with a silpat or parchment. Fill a small bowl with 1/2 cup of sugar.
  5. Scoop heaping tablespoons of batter, form into balls, and roll in the sugar. Place on a baking sheet two inches apart.
  6. Bake cookies for 8 to 10 minutes (mine were done after 8). Let cool on the baking sheet for 2 minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • sisabelle
  • Cristen Kennedy
    Cristen Kennedy
  • charles
  • Jed N Amy Appell
    Jed N Amy Appell
  • Dona
Lover of simple food and cocktails served with a single giant ice cube. Raised in the NY Schoharie Valley; currently residing in Burlington, VT. Blogger at reclaimingprovincial.com.

32 Reviews

EmMa May 14, 2022
This is one of the best cookie recipes I've ever come across! Friends "who don't like sweets" even eat these by the handful. A huge hit with everyone.

Word to the lazy; while I'm a fan of using whole spices like these cardamom pods, if you're in a hurry just use some ground cardamom (1/4 - 1/2 tsp.) to infuse the butter! This is also a good route to go if you're making it for people who aren't into overpowering spice flavors. I've also used powdered sugar to roll them in, or skipped the rolling-in-sugar step altogether...still delicious!
sisabelle December 22, 2020
Complete disaster for me. No cookie shape at all, just a big blurb on my cookie pan. I have no clue how I can save that left over cookie batter.
charles December 22, 2020
We talked about using them like Little Debbie's Oatmeal Cookies, and making a filling; as the flavor was good.
Cristen K. December 15, 2020
I generally hate gingerbread cookies. I know, I know - everyone seems to love them and I bake them every year for the holidays to give as gifts but I can't stand them. And I don't know what it is! I love all the components but when they get baked together - meh. So I was on a quest to find some that I liked so baking them wouldn't feel like such a chore and wow are these it! I've made them with both the more standard green cardamom and the black cardamom and the black cardamom makes such a difference. Herbal, smoky, delicious! These have a great spice profile, bake up nice and soft, and don't lose their ginger flavor after baking like some gingerbread cookies do. My new go to ginger cookie!
charles December 30, 2019
Like others I made this with green cardamom pods as that was what I already had available. The cookies turned out great and delicious. Found this really easy to make, and they made the kitchen smell amazing. Not the most amazing spiced/molasses cookies I have ever had, but definitely the best I have made. I will be making them again.

For anyone at altitude, the ingredients ratios held up well. They might have been a little flat, but both my significant other and myself felt they were still thick enough.
charles December 22, 2020
This was meant for a different Molasses cookie, this review was an accident, and I cannot figure out how to delete it. I did make this recipe and it was a disaster. Flat cookies with no shape. They tasted okay, but I've seen crepes thicker. The below recipe is the one we liked:

Susan G. December 16, 2019
Question: I've made these twice (in 3 days!), first time around with green cardamom pods, and yesterday after I located some black ones. The first batch were perfect; the second were delicious but strangely cakey and just this side of dry. Can anyone help me figure out what's going on? I'm pretty sure (never absolutely sure) that I added the right amounts of everything else.
Jed N. February 1, 2018
My husband is from a family of Norwegians and we use green cardamom in many of our Christmas and holiday baked goods, so I used what I had on hand and it turned out fabulous - like someone else I cannot keep enough in my cupboard to satisfy my family (having 8 kids, 5 of which are boys, doesn't help either :) )! But they are a great find - will keep churning them out as fast I can. I did reduce the salt a teeny bit (did anyone else's taste a bit salty?) and I used raw sugar to infuse and coat the outside of the cookie and that increased the incredible deliciousness of this cookie! So good...thanks for this recipe!
Erica December 24, 2016
I finally made these with the black cardamom- the seeds in my pods varied from non existent/to very dry/to black and sticky. I ended up measuring out 1 tsp of the ground seeds because they were so strong and medicinal I was afraid to ruin the dough.(That said, the pods that soaked in the butter were so interesting and tasty to me when removing them from the melted butter). My dough was very dry when I took it out of the fridge 12 hrs later, but the cookies rolled into nice balls and are yummy. Flatter than the picture but definitely have some "chewy" in the middle, a bit of the piney cardamom taste, but not off putting. I really want to try these with "regular" green cardamom and see if there's a difference. Very fun experiment. Very tasty cookie.
Sylvia B. December 15, 2016
These are perfect molasses cookies. Not too strongly molasses flavored but just enough. The black cardamom is perfect and I think the addition of black pepper is genius, The only problem with them: I can't seem to make enough at one time to satisfy my family!
Jeanie P. December 12, 2016
These are amazing! Made them with regular cardamom and all purpose flour cause thats what I had on hand. Simply delicious! Thank you for the recipe.
Erica December 3, 2016
After reading this recipe this afternoon, I took a walk to my local spice shop and picked up black cardamom. I am so surprised...it is NOTHING like the green pods and ground powder I am used to. The pods are huge and they smell like pine tar. Am I on the right track? I am imagining that the cookies made with the "typical" cardamom powder and the ones made with the black cardamom have a much different flavor profile. I don't especially like the taste of pine-but don't want to miss out on anything! Will someone please comment on this? Thank you!!!
Carey N. December 3, 2016
Sounds right on! They're dried over an open fire, which gives them a smokey smell/flavor. They're also described as having notes of "resin and camphor," which is definitely where you're picking up the pine tar aspect. You won't get an overwhelming pine-y taste in the cookies; just some subtle smokey and spicy flavors.
judy November 16, 2016
This recipe works great for a refrigerator cookie roll. I like to put together several the week after Thanksgiving, and then I always have cookies on hand for the holidays--slice and bake a few and the rest back into the freezer! roll in nuts, or sprinkles or mini chips or mixed sweet and savory seeds or grated citrus zest before baking. Or cut a little thicker and make a thumbprint and dot with jam or a piece of fig or dried fruit. All kinds of possibilities with good basic refrigerator cookies on hand!
Dona October 21, 2016
Oh my gosh, this is my new favorite cookie!
Douglas B. October 19, 2016
The Loveliest Molasses cookie I have tasted to date. I love that the molasses flavor is light and NOT in your face molasses like many recipes
Ms. M. March 20, 2016
Found myself reaching for the raspberry jam to make sandwiches, and then I remembered why: Martha Stewart Living February 1999's Gingersnap-Raspberry Sandwiches. Thanks for an overdue update!
Emazingrace January 24, 2016
I've been making these cookies at least once a month - it's that good. Over the summer I purchased a large canister of black cardamom pods to use in a other recipes on this site. Now I don't want to use the other recipes - I'm saving them all to make more cookies! Thank you for a great recipe!
Emily L. December 13, 2015
I have been searching for the perfect chewy ginger cookie and this is it! I didn't have black cardamom pods so I used green (and used 7 as someone below commented they'd use more next time), chilled the dough overnight, and popped it in the freezer for 10 minutes after rolling before putting in the oven. Mine were done in about 9 minutes, and weren't as dark as the picture but after they cool and settle for a bit they are! Delicious!
Eunice January 13, 2015
Just finished baking these for the 25 degree weather outside & they are perfect! I followed the recipe except I reduced the butter by 2 Tbsp & used 1/4 ground cardamom instead as I had no pods on hand. They turned out exactly like the picture, without any more flour. I chilled the dough overnight and used a 1.5 Tbsp cookie scoop to portion the dough before rolling them into balls & then into sugar. I then chilled the balls again for about 15 minutes in the freezer, on the cookie sheet, before baking them for 10 minutes. They are delicious and picture perfect!
Karlyn L. December 20, 2016
¼ tsp or tbsp for the cardamom? thanks!
Eunice January 1, 2017
Hey Karlyn, sorry for the late reply! I was just looking through for this recipe again & saw your comment. I honestly don't remember! I made these cookies so long ago & am about to re-make them. It was probably a 1/4 tsp.....but i'll update when I make them!
MandiFran December 31, 2014
Just finished my third batch of these guys. To get the cookies in the picture, I increased the flour by 1/3 cup. The dough needs to be cold, the butter needs to be hard. I kept my hands cold while rolling. After rolling in sugar, I froze them while I cooked dinner. Then I baked them for ten minutes. I wish I could post a picture to show the difference temperature of the dough makes.
natalie December 13, 2020
So when you wait for the butter to get to room temp you mean hard?
MandiFran December 14, 2020
After chilling the dough, I make an effort to keep it as cold as possible while shaping the cookies. I often freeze the cookie balls before baking.
Asmi J. December 22, 2014
These are my new favourite cookies! I didn't have any black cardamoms, so used green ones instead. But still great. Making my second batch with a few more (green) cardamoms this time.
jlriddell December 18, 2014
I just made these and they are delicious, but do not resemble the cookies pictured. They are flat as pancakes. I did not have cake flour and just used all purpose. Does the cake flour make the puff more?
Carey N. December 23, 2014
I have used 100% all-purpose flour as opposed to half bread flour/half AP flour and they turn out great too (just a little less chewy). If they're baking really flat for you, it's possible that the dough wasn't chilled for long enough, or that the dry ingredients were over-mixed into the wet. (I've read that over-mixing can create excess air in the batter and cause cookies to spread when baked.)