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Homemade soft molasses cookies with crackly tops are super chewy and perfectly spiced. They stay seriously soft for days– if they last that long– and are always a holiday favorite.

molasses cookies

Molasses cookies have always been my top choice because they bring me right back to my childhood. I grew up helping my mom bake them. After rolling the dough in the sugar and watching them bake through the little oven window, my sweet reward was biting into a warm cookie fresh from the oven. In addition to the nostalgia, the soft texture paired with cozy molasses puts them above any other cookie.

Sorry chocolate chip cookies, you don’t even compare.

stack of soft molasses cookies

Molasses Cookie Comparison

Since they’re a favorite, I have plenty gingersnap/molasses cookie recipes on my website and in my cookbooks. Most stem from the same-ish recipe with the exception of the crisp variety. Let’s review what makes each undeniably delicious:

  • Soft White Chocolate Chip Molasses Cookies: Studded with white chocolate chips, these cookies are lusciously soft and mega chewy. You’ll love the combination of cozy spices and white chocolate.
  • Caramel Molasses Cookies: We’re combining molasses and caramel in this crinkly-topped cookie.
  • Soft Gingersnap Molasses Cookies: These extra soft cookies are fat and fluffy!
  • Ginger Pistachio Cookies: I add salty pistachios to my mom’s classic recipe. These ginger molasses cookies are soft, salty, sweet, and spiced. Find this recipe in Sally’s Cookie Addiction cookbook.
  • Crisp Molasses Cookies: Another favorite! These are extra crisp. If you’re looking for a crunchy molasses cookie, this one’s for you– they actually snap when you break them!

If I had to chose, I would always reach for my mom’s recipe that lives in Sally’s Baking Addiction cookbook. Nothing compares to mom’s.

molasses cookie dough in a glass bowl

What Makes These Molasses Cookies Different?

Another molasses cookie recipe? Yes! These cookies are different from my other varieties and here’s why– they’re soft, crackly, and chewier than all the rest. I used my traditional soft gingersnap molasses cookies recipe as a starting point (the cute puffy ones!). My goal was to produce a flatter, chewier cookie with the same amount of softness. To accomplish this, I used the same ingredients but slightly altered the ratios:

  • Flour: I reduced the flour considerably to yield a flatter cookie.
  • Baking Soda: To avoid a super flat and overly greasy cookie, I increased the baking soda. Need that lift!
  • Spices: Same amount. This careful blend of ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves is exactly what every molasses cookie needs!
  • Butter, Brown Sugar, Egg, + Vanilla: Same amounts. Brown sugar is what helps produce the softest molasses cookie ever. (In fact, it’s the first thing I changed when making my crisp molasses cookies.)
  • Molasses: Too much liquid in a cookie dough will cause cookies to over-spread. I reduced the molasses by 1 Tablespoon to prevent this from happening. 1/4 cup of molasses still provides the cookies with all the delicious molasses flavor you crave in a Christmas cookie.

Mission accomplished. These cookies are mega chewy, mega soft, and mega crackly!

jar of molasses

Which Molasses Do I Use?

There are varying intensities of molasses on store shelves from lighter molasses to blackstrap molasses. Go for a dark molasses, also sold as “robust” molasses. Blackstrap molasses can be quite intense– I don’t bake with it too often.

I’m not working with any of these companies, but I prefer either Grandma’s brand, Brer Rabbit brand, or Wholesome! brand. Wholesome’s organic molasses is super dark, so it will make your cookies a little darker. Look how dark it makes my spiced gingerbread loaf. As opposed to the same recipe as a cake (moist gingerbread snack cake) made with Grandma’s brand. What a difference in color!

rolling a molasses cookie dough ball into a bowl of granulated sugar

molasses cookie dough balls rolled in granulated sugar on a baking sheet

How to Make Soft Molasses Cookies

  1. Whisk the dry ingredients together.
  2. Combine the wet ingredients together.
  3. Mix the wet and dry ingredients together.
  4. Chill cookie dough. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
  5. Roll cookie dough into balls. Use about 1 Tablespoon of dough per cookie.
  6. Generously roll each cookie dough ball in granulated sugar. For sparkle, of course!
  7. Bake. The cookies will puff up as they bake then gently sink back down. This is what creates those familiar crinkles and crackles we love. If your cookies aren’t cracking, gently bang the cookie sheet on the counter 2-3x which will help those warm cookies spread and crack on top. See recipe direction #5.

This is a wonderful make-ahead recipe because the cookies stay seriously soft for days (if they last that long!).

molasses cookies

molasses cookies on a black plate

More Christmas Cookie Recipes

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molasses cookies

Seriously Soft Molasses Cookies

  • Author: Sally
  • Prep Time: 1 hour, 45 minutes
  • Cook Time: 12 minutes
  • Total Time: 2 hours
  • Yield: 30-32 cookies 1x
  • Category: Cookies
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American

Description

These seriously soft molasses cookies are the most tender and chewy gingersnap cookies around!


Ingredients

Scale
  • 2 and 1/4 cups (281g) all-purpose flour (spoon & leveled)
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1 and 1/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup (170g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 1/2 cup (100g) packed light or dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup (50g) granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup (60ml) unsulphured or dark molasses
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Rolling

  • 1/3 cup (67g) granulated or coarse sugar, for rolling

Instructions

  1. Whisk the flour, baking soda, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and salt together until combined. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl using a hand-held or stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter and both sugars together on high speed until creamy and combined, about 2 minutes. Add the molasses and beat until combined. Then add the egg and vanilla extract and beat until combined, about 1 minute. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed.
  3. On low speed, slowly mix the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until combined. The cookie dough will be slightly sticky. Cover dough tightly with aluminum foil or plastic wrap and chill for 1 hour and up to 2-3 days.
  4. Preheat oven to 350°F (177°C). Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats. (Always recommended for cookies.) Set aside.
  5. Remove cookie dough from the refrigerator. If the cookie dough chilled longer than 2 hours, let it sit at room temperature for at least 30 minutes. The cookies may not spread in the oven if the dough is that cold. Roll cookie dough, 1 Tablespoon each, into balls. Roll each in granulated sugar and arrange 3 inches apart on the baking sheets. Bake for 11-12 minutes or until edges appear set. If the tops aren’t appearing cracked as pictured, remove the baking sheet from the oven and gently bang it on the counter 2-3x. This will help those warm cookies spread out and crack on top. Return to the oven for 1 additional minute.
  6. Remove from the oven and allow cookies to cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
  7. Cookies will stay fresh covered at room temperature for 1 week.

Notes

  1. Make Ahead Instructions: You can make the cookie dough and chill it in the refrigerator for up to 2-3 days. Baked cookies freeze well for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator and bring to room temperature, if desired, before serving. Unbaked cookie dough balls (before rolling in sugar) will freeze well for up to 3 months. Let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes, pre-heat the oven, then roll in granulated sugar. Bake as directed. Click here for my tips and tricks on freezing cookie dough.
  2. Special Tools: KitchenAid Stand Mixer, Molasses, Silpat Baking Mat, Cookie Sheet, and Cooling Rack
  3. Be sure to check out my top 5 cookie baking tips AND these are my 10 must-have cookie baking tools.

Keywords: soft molasses cookies, molasses cookies

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Reader Questions and Reviews

  1. Silly question. Can you roll the dough balls first and then chill them (basically reversing steps 4 and 5 above), or does it work better if the dough is chilled before balling?

    1. We find the dough to be too sticky to roll first, but feel free to give it a try!

      1. I used Namaste gluten-free flour and Earth Balance dairy-free buttery sticks for this recipe, and they came out great! Since gluten-free flour behaves differently than regular flour, I followed the recipe using the measurements in grams (so like 1 cup = 138g of Namaste flour). The cookies puffed up and weren’t flat like yours, but I’ll adjust the recipe next time with less flour. The flavor was perfect though! Thanks for the great recipe!!

    1. Hi Idalia, we haven’t tested these cookies with any butter substitutes. You might try a plant-based butter instead, but we’re unsure of the results. Let us know if you give anything a try!

    2. Our daughter was lactose intolerant and for years I used Fleischmann’s Unsalted Margarine sticks which is lactose free, if you can find them. Margarine changes the texture and may cause more spreading. Make sure you chill the dough for at least several hours and closely watch baking time.

    1. Hi Ingrid, baked or unbaked cookies will freeze well for up to three months. See recipe notes for details!

    1. Hi Tanfa, we always recommend using parchment or a silicone baking sheet for best results. An unlined sheet will work in a pinch.

  2. Why didnt my cookies spread 🙁 ?
    They are like puffed balls, but tastes amazing thank you

    1. Hi Naomi, when cookies aren’t spreading, it usually means that there’s too much dry ingredient (flour) soaking up all the liquid. Spooning and leveling (or measuring by weight, if possible) is the best way to ensure consistent results. For more, see “What to do if my cookies AREN’T spreading?” under #2 in our post 5 Cookie Baking Tips to Improve your Next Batch. Hope this helps for next time!

  3. THANK YOU – THANK YOU – THANK YOU!!! I dreamt about these cookies last night and now, like a godsend, you have the recipe!

  4. I was so excited about this recipe but ended up very disappointed. I weighed and measured my ingredients exactly and followed all the instructions (put finished dough in the fridge for only one hour and then let sit out on the counter for a bit) and unfortunately they came out nothing like yours are pictured. The dough was obviously too stiff and they did not crackle or spread. After the first pan flopped I even tried pushing the rolled balls down with a spoon, dropping the pan a few times on the counter after baking, etc. No luck. They taste great but look very unimpressive. Maybe next time I won’t put them in the fridge at all after mixing.

  5. These cookies were absolutely delicious. The spices were so present in the cookie that at the last bite you have a ginger spice left in your mouth. My husband and I will be adding this delicious cookie to our cookie platter for Christmas!

  6. STOP looking at other recipes – this one is THE BEST! I made exactly as written and thought they were incredible. Sooo delish! Already wishing I doubled the recipe!

  7. I tried making this recipe twice and both times the cookies turned out so thin and flat. What did I do wrong?

  8. These cookies turned out amazing, thank you!
    When I want to make something special, I always visit here first! …all of your recipes turn out as advertised and I very much appreciate your tips along the way

    1. Thank you so much for making and trusting our recipes, Michelle! So glad you loved these cookies – they’re a favorite.

  9. i was wondering if, after freezing/refrigerating, these cookies could be cut with cookie cutters and hold their shape. These cookies are moist but I was wondering if the cold will keep them together enough. Thanks!!

    1. Hi Elaine, we don’t recommend this dough for use with cookie cutters as it will still spread too much and won’t hold shape. You might enjoy our gingerbread recipe instead!

  10. I used Namaste gluten-free flour and Earth Balance dairy-free buttery sticks for this recipe, and they came out great! Since gluten-free flour behaves differently than regular flour, I followed the recipe using the measurements in grams (so like 1 cup = 138g of Namaste flour). The cookies puffed up and weren’t flat like yours, but I’ll adjust the recipe next time with less flour. The flavor was perfect though! Thanks for the great recipe!!

  11. Came across your UTUBE video…tried your molasses recipe …it was excellent… I tried making biscotti with it , which means double baked …it’s even better !!! especially if you like to dip your cookie in milk coffee or tea

  12. I never comment on recipes, but this is the best cookie recipe I’ve ever used. The turn out was literally exactly what I had expected from the photos and description. They taste just like I remember from my grandmother.

    1. Hi Charles, we’re so glad you enjoyed these cookies and that they remind you of your grandmother’s cookies. Thank you so much for giving them a try!

  13. I want to add 1/4 cup of minced candied ginger. Do you think it will ruin the recipe? Thank you! I have made these cookies before and they come out excellent!

    1. Hi Jill! That shouldn’t be a problem at all – let us know how they go!

    1. Hi Jen! How did you measure the flour? Make sure to spoon and level (instead of scooping) to avoid packing in too much flour into your measuring cups. You can read more about properly measuring baking ingredients in this post.

  14. Way too much baking soda, they are more like mini cakes than chewy cookies. The flavor is good, but just not what I was looking for.

  15. This recipie is absolutely delicious! I made both a regular version with all purpose and then tried with gluten free and they both came out wonderfully soft with a bit of crunch on the bottom. I love recipies that I can make GF. I do recommend weighing your ingredients instead of going by cups, as the cookies flatten out a bit better that way.

  16. Hi, I was given some blackstrap
    molasses and wonder how I could use it in this recipe. I don’t think I’ve ever baked with molasses at all but from what I’ve read, the blackstrap is healthier but doesn’t taste as nice as the regular kind. What would you suggest?
    *By the way, both my mother and I made your pumpkin pie at our respective Thanksgivings this year withsome berry picky eaters at each gathering, and absolutely crushed it! The recipe is now in my “clutch” file. Thank you 🙂

    1. Hi Brooklyn, blackstrap molasses is very dark and usually pretty bitter in baked goods, so we tend not to use it. However, you can use it the same way as you would unsulphered dark molasses, knowing that the molasses taste will be much stronger in the end. If you’re unsure of how you’ll like it, we’d recommend waiting until you can use unsulphered dark molasses instead. Let us know if you give these a try, and we’re so glad to hear the pumpkin pie was a hit!

  17. So good! I sometimes find these recipes use too much spice but this is the PERFECT amount. So yummy with morning coffee. Thought I had more molasses than I did so I had to sub in half honey & it worked beautifully. Definitely a keeper!

  18. I made these cookies for a friend of my boyfriend who said these are his favorite cookies. Never having eaten one before or made them, I thought, hmmm molasses cookies don’t sound that great, but they aren’t for me anyway so I found your recipe and made them. I figured I would be sending him all of the cookies, it was Christmas time and we send cookies out to friends. Once I made them the smell was amazing and we all tried one. Well, these are now my favorite cookies and my entire family’s favorite cookies. And sorry Trey, you didn’t get your cookies at Christmas time because we ate all of them!

  19. I love baking, and am good at it. I do not like baking cookies. However, my book club decided to have a cookie exchange at our Christmas party meeting today. I made 5 dozen of these little beauties last evening and they are so dang good! They’re easy, which is a plus, and they come out of the oven perfect in every way! Thanks for this recipe – they will be my go-to cookies from now on!

  20. I love the recipes on your site and this one was no different. Very tasty! I rolled mine in plain sugar mixed with red and green colored sugar sprinkles for an extra colorful holiday sparkle!! Will make again 🙂

  21. Ok, so I’ve made these four times now and I have never managed to get them flat or chewy. My first two rounds I followed the directions 100%, and they came out puffy, with a dense but airy texture. I tried pressing them flat and that did make them flat, but never chewy. I’ve now tried the recipe but I replaced one batch with Miyoko’s faux butter and another batch with earth balance, hoping to get the chewy texture…..nope. (Note, yes I’m measuring properly and I live only about 500ft elevation, so Im not sure what is happening).

    I will say, though, that even though they aren’t chewy (at least for me) they are hands down the BEST molasses spice cookies ever. I’m happy to keep trying variations because they are so delicious. The spice blend is perfection. Despite other comments, even though they don’t flatten or spread, they still get a beautiful crackle top.

    My next try will be to cut some flour and see where that gets me.

  22. The photos here look like molasses crinkles, but my cookies didn’t flatten or crinkle. I checked this one against the Betty Crocker recipe (I remember making them when I was a kid with my mom’s ancient BC cookbook) and I’m wondering if it’s the butter and no shortening that caused it. They taste fine, just wasn’t what I expected.

    1. Hi Tamera! When cookies aren’t spreading, it usually means that there’s too much dry ingredient (flour) soaking up all the liquid. When measuring flour, use the spoon & level method. Do not scoop the flour out of the container/bag. Doing so leaves you with excess flour in the cookie dough.
      If you are ever in the middle of baking a batch and the cookies still aren’t spreading, remove them from the oven, and use a spoon to slightly flatten them out before returning them to the oven.

  23. These were fantastic! They were soft and turned out so pretty. Ive made a few of your recipes and they never disappoint 🙂

  24. Dear Sally, I would love to add some chopped roasted Pecans to this recipe.
    What ratio do you think could work for this recipe without compromising the spread?
    Thank you for your suggestion!

  25. Tasted good…but the tops hardly crackled AT ALL for me :/ Followed the recipe exactly.

  26. I usually don’t write reviews but I am so disappointed in this recipe. I’ve made this recipe twice now by accident. The first time was about a year ago and when I had a taste for molasses cookies. I didn’t like this recipe at all but I’ve made other recipes from this site at they were great. Again, this week I was looking for a good molasses cookie recipe and based on the reviews I thought this would be a great recipe. As soon as I tasted them I realized I made the same recipe that I didn’t like a year ago.
    Anyone reading this take heed:
    These cookies are very cake-like. They aren’t chewy like you expect from a traditional molasses cookie. Also, and this is the worst part – if you have a keen sense of taste you will taste the baking soda behind the other flavors. Baking soda needs an acidic component to neutralize it. Baking soda in cookies is usually just a small amount for this reason and the real leavening comes from baking powder.
    I suspect the other reviewers aren’t tasting the baking soda because it is covered up by the strong spices.

    1. In researching this online, molasses and brown sugar will neutralize baking soda but the ratio needs to be correct. It takes 1 cup of molasses or brown sugar to neutralize 1 tsp baking soda. This recipe is 3/4 cup total molasses and brown sugar to 1-1/2 tsp baking powder. I think this recipe needs to be revised.

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