Molasses Sugar Cookies

October 16, 2015
6 Ratings
Photo by Posie Harwood
  • Makes 18 cookies
Author Notes

A version of this recipe appears on the back of the jars of Grandma's and Brer Rabbit molasses, and for good reason. These chewy, crinkly, spiced sugar cookies are the perfect showcase for what molasses can do. Like brown sugar, molasses gives a firm chewiness to cookies and adds a rich, caramelized sweetness. I love all the warm spices, too—they are excellent for cold weather. —Posie (Harwood) Brien

What You'll Need
  • 3/4 cup butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup molasses (not blackstrap!)
  • 1 egg
  • 2 1/4 cups flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon (I use Saigon cinnamon)
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • turbinado sugar, for coating
  1. In a large bowl or stand mixer, cream the butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy. Add the molasses and egg and beat until incorporated, stopping to scrape down the bowl now and then.
  2. Add the rest of the ingredients except for the turbinado sugar and mix until just incorporated. Put the dough in the refrigerator and chill for at least 30 minutes.
  3. A bit before you're ready to bake, preheat the oven to 375° F. Scoop the dough in tablespoon-sized balls, and roll each one in sugar, then place on a parchment-lined sheet (you need the parchment; they will stick!). Leave at least 2 inches between each cookie.
  4. Bake for 8 to 12 minutes. Remove from the oven when the cookies are golden brown all over (the edges will be considerably darker but that's okay as long as they aren't burnt). Let cool on the sheet until firm enough to move to a baking rack to finish cooling.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Paula
  • saramarsh
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    Kathryn Benson
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  • Supper With Michelle - Michelle Braxton
    Supper With Michelle - Michelle Braxton

25 Reviews

Paula March 24, 2018
I haven't made these, but I had a thought that I haven't seen mentioned. It's obvious to me that the cookies in the photo puffed up during baking, but then fell once they were taken out of the oven. That's what creates those ridges around the edges. So I'm thinking under baking them slightly should produce the same results, and give the chewy texture. The cakey texture results from baking them fully.
Kindra October 25, 2017
I made these cookies (with the adjustment of 1 3/4 C. flour) and they came out beautifully! (Flat, instead of cakey, and delicious.) My family loves them, and when we took an extra batch to a neighborhood gathering, they were a hit!
saramarsh December 12, 2016
Has anyone mad this recipe recently? I'm looking through the comments and while everyone can agree they're delicious, there seems to be an unresolved debate on the butter, flour, and baking soda amounts and whether they're flat and chewy or puffy..I'd like to make a cookie like this, but am wondering about the outcome.
Amaliya K. December 22, 2016
I just tried these. Not flat like the picture and I followed the recipe exactly. Definitely something up with the measurements because the dough isn't wet enough to flatten. Chilling it didn't help I think.
Anna December 30, 2015
I made these cookies a month ago and they came out flat and nicely chewy a la the picture. I made them today and they came out puffed and cakey. You need to somehow change this recipe
Kathryn B. December 29, 2015
After reading through the comments, it seems very clear that this recipe needs to be deleted, reworked completely and then reposted.
A. December 27, 2015
Also, check your flour. I was using and All Purpose flour, which most of the time has baking soda in it. I tried the recipe again this time with 2 sticks of butter, no baking soda, and 2 eggs and it came out like the picture.
A. December 27, 2015
Correction: I got this recipe mixed up with a chocolate chip recipe I had on hand.
This recipe calls for 2 sticks of butter to make it spread!! Sorry about that.
A. December 27, 2015
I made these cookies the other day and they came out very delicious but very "cakey"! They did not look anything like the picture above! After experimenting a few times because I am a science teacher, I decided to read the comments below for clues in order to remedy the problem. And there it was. If Posie used 1 1/2 sticks of butter as she stated below, then 1 1/2 sticks of butter DO NOT equal 3/4 cups (at least not with Land O Lakes)!! In fact, 1 1/2 sticks of butter equals 1 1/4 cups of butter! The problem is the butter. You need a whole lot more butter than the recipe above calls for, then, and only then, will the cookies spread out!!!!
Miriam E. December 12, 2015
I made these cookies today and based upon the comments I decided to reduce the all purpose flour from 2 1/4 cups to 1 3/4 cups so that the cookies would flatten out. Unfortunately that did not work, my cookies flattened out but not to the point of resembling the photo. I am thinking if I should use a full cup of butter and still keep the flour at 1 3/4 cups.
Supper W. December 10, 2015
I made these this past weekend and they were delicious! I added a little bit of rolled oats and raisins just for kicks and they awesome. So thanks!
Olyvia F. November 25, 2015
I just made an attempt at these cookies tonight. They turned out absolutely delicious, however they did come out to be very 'puffy'. Unfortunately I didn't read the comment before making them or else I would've added less flour. It seems like that was probably the problem. On top of that, I overcooked them as well, so my final product resembled more of a hard tea cookie. The flavor is very pleasing. I substituted the turbinado sugar with maple flakes and that was very nice as well.
AntoniaJames November 6, 2015
I'm really fascinated by this recipe and especially the photo. I was surprised to see so little baking soda; I've used the original Brer Rabbit and Grandma's recipes since I was a child. The recipes in my files call for 2 teaspoons. I made them using the original Brer Rabbit recipe, and found that I could taste the baking soda a bit.
Did you see the Hotline discussion about molasses cookies last month (or perhaps it was in September)? After a bit of back and forth, I decided to do a test of the old Brer Rabbit recipe, one batch with butter and the other with non-hydrogenated shortening. Back in the 60's, a lot of recipes that now use butter called for shortening. We always used shortening in them.
In any event, I posted the results here:

The ones made with butter tasted, well, more buttery, but some of our taste testers liked the shortening ones better, because you can taste the spices more distinctly. The butter ones spread out a lot. Some people like that, some people don't.

Also, did you know that the original recipes do not call for flattening out the dough balls? You just put them on the tray and the cookies always flattened themselves out nicely. How cakey vs. crisp they were depended largely on how long you left them in the oven. A minute or two really made a difference. I must have made 50 batches of those cookies by the time I left for college.
Posie (. November 7, 2015
So interesting! Thanks for the thoughts -- you're right that the original recipes call for more baking soda, but I also found I could taste it, so I adjusted down. I've only ever used butter, but I've definitely had wildly different results and I'm thinking it really does have to be all about the baking time and oven temp. I'm becoming a little obsessed with the topic (ha!) after all these interesting comments, so I am going to keep tinkering and try to be more scientific about my tests. More to come!
JulieQC December 1, 2015
Same here!
Sippity S. October 26, 2015
I read this thread of comments and decided to make this recipe myself. I made it EXACTLY as written and my cookies came out delicious, but ball-shaped and cakey. I think there's a typo and the granulated sugar should be brown sugar (as in the original Grandma's recipe). In general cookies baked with brown sugar will contain more moisture, which will also result in a more chewy cookie than cookies made with granulated sugar.
Posie (. October 26, 2015
Actually, the granulated sugar is correct! Well, you CAN make them with brown sugar, but it's not necessary to make them chewy. I do think that using 1/2 teaspoon baking soda and slightly less flour is the way to go. I'd even go so far as to try 1 3/4 cups flour if yours are still cakey. Let me know how it goes! (I'm about to go try a batch with 1 3/4 cups flour...)
Claire H. October 26, 2015
Hmm, mine did't come out flat and chewy . They came out tall and kind of cakey - yummy and moist for sure, but not at all like the picture..I only had blackstrap molasses, and used it - unsure of why I should avoid it. Was this where I made my mistake? I used to make a cookie a lot like this growing up with my mom, it was the molasses cookie recipe from the Silver Palette cookbook - they came out just like the pic above and were so gooey and chewy and addictive!
Posie (. October 26, 2015
Blackstrap molasses is significantly more bitter, which is why you don't often bake with it. Okay I've done some more tinkering -- this recipe is trickier than I thought! -- and I think if you try it with only 1/2 teaspoon baking soda and no baking powder that should help make them chewier and flatter. Also, you can try baking them at 350 and sometimes a lower baking temp can change the texture. Good luck!
pistolwink October 20, 2015
These were great! I realized only after starting the recipe that I only had blackstrap molasses, so I substituted sorghum for the molasses (and reduced the sugar slightly, since sorghum is sweeter than molasses). Still turned out really well!
To ensure a soft and chewy cookie, I shaped the dough into "eggs" and cooked them at a slightly lower temperature.
SCalabretta October 20, 2015
1 cup=4.5oz, not grams. Looking forward to trying these!
DianneV October 19, 2015
The recipe calls for butter. I did chill it. Are sure its not a 3/4 lb of butter?
Posie (. October 19, 2015
Yep definitely 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks). If you make them again, I'd try taking the flour down to 2 cups and weighing it -- cookies can be finicky things and that should help them be less puffy/cakey!
DianneV October 18, 2015
These did not become flat and crispy
Posie (. October 18, 2015
Hm, let's see. Could be a few things. Did you use butter not margarine? And also I'd recommend weighing your flour (a cup should be 4.5 grams) because even slightly too much flour can change the texture. Chilling the dough will help too! Hope they work if you try again!