Soft-bake Molasses Cookies

12 Days of Cookies: Day 11

This is a tried and true cookie recipe you will want to pull out every year for your holiday baking. The cookies end up soft and chewy with a sweet and slightly spicy flavor; they also crackle beautifully. With a few tips these cookies will come out perfect every time.

There are two very important ingredients in molasses cookies: molasses (surprise, right?) and brown sugar. It’s very important to use the right kinds to ensure great flavor and the iconic molasses cookie coloring. For the molasses you will want to look for full flavored or dark – not light or blackstrap. The light molasses won’t carry enough flavor through and the blackstrap will be far too bitter. I like to use the Brer Rabbit Full Flavor Molasses, but you can use whatever brand you like as long as it’s dark. For the brown sugar you will want to use dark brown sugar. You can use light but the dark helps deepen the flavor and adds just a touch more moisture.

Can you use butter instead of shortening? For a short answer: yes. I think you might be a bit disappointed if you do, though. The molasses is really the start flavor here and when you add the butter to it it creates more of a slightly caramel flavor. I also feel that the butter hardens these whereas the shortening helps keep them airy and chewy. The shortening will also help these rise better as it has a higher melting point and will create airy pockets in the dough while baking.

You will want to refrigerate this dough for minimally two hours; however, the longer the better. I like to mix this together and then let it set up overnight. The fat needs time to setup and you want the dough to have time to absorb all the moisture. This will help keep these soft. Also, after baking you will want to get these off the baking pans as quickly as possible to stop the baking process. I like to let them sit for two or three minutes so they slightly harden before transferring to cooling racks.


  • 1 cup shortening
  • 1 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • 1 egg
  • 1 t vanilla extract
  • 1 t fresh grated ginger
  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 2 t baking soda
  • 1 t cinnamon
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar (set aside)


  1. Cream together shortening, brown sugar, molasses, egg, vanilla and ginger until smooth.
  2. In a separate bowl sift together flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt.
  3. Slowly add dry ingredients to wet mixture scraping down the sides of the bowl often.
  4. Once well mixed, cover and refrigerate dough for at least two hours (overnight preferred).
  5. Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit and line a baking pan with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper.
  6. Roll chilled dough into 1 1/2 tablespoon sized balls and roll in granulated sugar.
  7. Place on baking pan approximately three inches apart.
  8. Bake cookies for 13-15 minutes or until deep cracks form and the edges start to slightly brown.
  9. Remove cookies from baking pans after slightly cooling and transfer to cooling racks.
  10. Store in an airtight container for up to one week or place in freezer.

This recipe yields approximately four dozen cookies depending upon size.

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