Make Ahead

Grandma's Old Fashioned Molasses Cookies

December 16, 2014
3 Ratings
  • Makes A lot o' cookies (depending on cookie cutters)
Author Notes

These are not the molasses cookies you are thinking of. They are a rolled dough cookie that stay tender after baking. They are a family favorite passed down from my great grandmother, Anna Schwartz nee Schmidt, so they are likely German in origin. This is the one recipe I really won't tinker with. My dad's mother handed the recipe down with a couple of omissions, so when my mom first made them they didn't taste quite right. My mom sleuthed the full recipe out by watching my grandma make them -- grandma used half lard instead of all Crisco and used coffee instead of water. The other big key to these cookies is using the strongest blackstrap molasses you can find. Grandma would get hers at a local co-op. I find Plantation to be the best variety for making the cookies taste "right". Fair warning: If you're not a fan of molasses flavor, you will not be a fan of these cookies. —hardlikearmour

What You'll Need
  • 1/2 cup vegetable shortening
  • 1/2 cup lard
  • 1 cup brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 3/4 cup blackstrap molasses
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup coffee
  • 2 tablespoons white vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus additional if needed
  1. Cream the vegetable shortening, lard, and brown sugar in a large bowl until light and fluffy. Mix in the rest of the wet ingredients.
  2. Whisk dry ingredients together in a medium bowl, then gradually mix in to the wet ingredients (about a third at a time). The dough should be slightly stiff, so add up to an additional 1/2 cup of flour if needed. Chill for several hours.
  3. Preheat the oven to 350º F, with racks in the upper and lower middle positions. Roll out the dough on lightly floured surface or between 2 layers of parchment to 1/4-inch thickness. The less flour you use for rolling, the more tender the cookies will be.
  4. Cut into desired shapes and transfer to cookie sheets. Bake for 10-12 minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack. Sprinkle with sugar while warm or allow to cool and frost with American buttercream or royal icing as desired. (My grandma would top some with sugar, and some with frosting. We would commonly decorate them as a family for Christmas.)

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • mrslarkin
  • Bevi
  • lapadia
  • aargersi
  • hardlikearmour
I am an amateur baker and cake decorator. I enjoy cooking, as well as eating and feeding others. I live in the beautiful Pacific Northwest with my husband and our menagerie. I enjoy outdoor activities including hiking, mushroom hunting, tide pooling, beach combing, and snowboarding.

12 Reviews

mrslarkin December 17, 2014
These are right up my alley. Thanks for sharing, Sara. You look a lot like your great grandma. Who else is in the photo?
lapadia December 17, 2014
I'm thinking you look a lot like the lady sitting down on the left; yes, who else is in the photo?
hardlikearmour December 18, 2014
The woman is Amelia Schmidt (nee Schwede) and the man is Carl Schmidt who are my great-great-grandparents. Their kids are Anna, Otto, Elsie, Albert, Emil, and Ella.
lapadia December 18, 2014
Thanks, love the photo, wow, GG parents, you are lucky to have it around!
Bevi December 16, 2014
My grandmother, Anna Lutter, did not make many cookies (she specialized in pastries with poppy seed and prune paste fillings) but she did make a molasses cookie with shortening. She used a glass to cut out circles.
hardlikearmour December 17, 2014
I wonder if the recipe is similar?
Bevi December 17, 2014
I remember that they were very spicy to my taste and that she used Crisco. I will ask my mom and dad when I see them in a week if they can remember the recipe.
lapadia December 16, 2014
I love molasses; so lovely to know about your Great Grandma’s “cookie legacy,” thank for sharing.
hardlikearmour December 16, 2014
I'm happy to share! I'm interested to know if other families of German descent have similar recipes.
Sue B. December 2, 2020
My grandmother (Vedesta Rademacher nee Arens) of German made these cookies. My absolute favorite ever. The coffee and the lard are the key to this cookie’s excellent taste and texture.
aargersi December 16, 2014
I love molasses! I will love these cookies!
hardlikearmour December 16, 2014
I'm always afraid that they're an acquired taste (sorta like marmite :-) ), but I think they're delicious.