Spicy Molasses Cookies

spicy molasses cookies

As a kid, I didn’t like molasses flavored cookies. I’d crinkle my little nose at gingerbread men and reach for a snickerdoodle instead. I’ve changed my ways this year and finally learned to like—no, to love—the bittersweet flavor of molasses. Molasses retains some of the trace minerals found in the sugar cane plant, like iron and calcium, so it’s a sweetener worth learning to like.

These cookies deliver a serious kick in the mouth, with a strong molasses flavor and lots of warm spices, including a dash of freshly ground black pepper. Simmering the spices with the butter lends a delightful complexity and makes the cookies extraordinary. These cookies are not for kids, mind you, but for true molasses fans.

I’ve been posting more dessert recipes than usual this month but promise that come January, we can detox with greens and satisfying soups. So if you’re not quite fed up with holiday sweets yet, I suggest making a batch of these spicy treats this weekend. One batch yields only about 16 cookies, and they freeze well, so you can savor them over the next couple of cold months if you’d like. I find that one of these spicy cookies is the perfect companion my afternoon cup of coffee.

whole wheat molasses cookies recipe


whole wheat molasses cookie dough

whole wheat molasses cookie recipe

Spicy Molasses Cookies
5.0 from 3 reviews
Recipe type: Cookie
  • 4 tablespoons raw (turbinado) sugar, divided
  • ¾ cup whole wheat pastry flour or whole wheat flour
  • ⅓ cup whole wheat flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ⅛ teaspoon salt
  • 6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter
  • ¾ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¾ teaspoon ground ginger
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
  • ⅛ teaspoon ground allspice
  • ⅛ teaspoon ground pepper (a couple of twists’ worth)
  • ¼ cup light or dark molasses
  • 3 tablespoons dark brown sugar or Muscovado sugar
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  1. With an oven rack in the middle position, preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Pour 1 tablespoon of raw sugar into a small, shallow dish for rolling.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flours, baking soda and salt.
  4. In a small saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Stir in the cinnamon, ginger, cloves, allspice and pepper. Cook until fragrant, about 1 to 2 minutes.
  5. Transfer the butter mixture to a large bowl and let cool slightly.
  6. Whisk the remaining 3 tablespoons raw sugar, brown sugar, egg yolk, vanilla and molasses into the melted butter mixture. Stir in the flour mixture until combined.
  7. Use a cookie dough scoop or spoons to scoop out about one tablespoon of dough at a time. Lightly shape into a ball and dunk half the cookie into the small bowl of raw sugar. Place each cookie on the baking sheet, sugar side up, leaving a couple of inches around each cookie.
  8. Bake the cookies until the edges are set but the centers are still soft, puffy and underdone, which will take 9 to 12 minutes.
  9. Let the cookies cool on the baking sheet for ten minutes, then serve warm or transfer to a cooling rack.
  • Adapted from The America's Test Kitchen Healthy Family Cookbook.
  • Note that you can temper the intensity of the molasses by choosing a lighter molasses and going with light brown sugar; the darker the better, in my opinion.
  • For flatter, less puffy cookies like you see in my gingersnap and pumpkin ice cream sandwiches, use 1 cup + 2 teaspoons white whole wheat (or regular whole wheat) flour in place of the whole wheat pastry/whole wheat flours indicated in the recipe.


  1. Grace says

    Oh my…where to begin? I love ginger. I love eating sweet treats with really strong, black coffee, especially baked goods with such a strong spicy flavor (ie pumpkin). I was lucky enough to get not just one of these little bad boys when I visited Kathryne, but a whole baggie!

    These are just awesome! Strong, spicy, and bold. All the ginger kick of a ginger snap, without the snap! No, these soft cookies do not snap at all, they have the perfect texture, very moist and soft. And they do freeze very well! The ones I had came out of the freezer. I took one out of the bag, put it on my dash, and by the time I had run into the coffee shop and back out to my car that lil treat was unthawed and perfect!

    I have a bag of ginger snaps that I love to snack on when I make my morning coffee on the weekends. These totally trump those!

    I had enough of these “grown-up cookies” to share with my mom over coffee (with many ohhs and ahhhs), and I even saved two and brought them all the way back to minneapolis for my beau! Now I need to make my own! Thanks Kathryne!

  2. says

    I love molasses cookies! These look especially good and how interesting that you cook the butter and the spices. And I love that they’re whole grain. Molasses is kind of magical in that it kills all the not-so-tasty whole grain taste, at least for me, so I’m sure these are amazing. :)

    • says

      You’re exactly right, Erin. I don’t think a person could possibly tell that these cookies are made with whole grains! Molasses covers up any trace of whole wheat flavor, though I don’t usually notice much of that flavor when I use whole wheat pastry flour.

  3. says

    Superb post..and so delicious.I love the way you made it and shared this beautiful recipe with us.I just can’t wait and going to show my mom and ask her to prepare it.I think it will be very easy to carry it on the tours so that your traveling will be more exciting.

  4. Kelsey says

    I just made this soup. Wow. It is so wonderful! I love it. In the last week I’ve also made your spicy molasses cookies, pecan butter and orange and cranberry steel-cut outs. I am so hooked on your blog I cannot stop! All so so so yummy, and introducing me to new foods (like steel-cut oats and farro) that I have never had before and am so in love with. Thanks!

    • says

      I’m so happy to hear that you enjoy my recipes! I have a few more in the works now, can’t wait to share them with you. Thanks for taking the time to comment, Kelsey!

  5. Kelsey says

    Yup. Officially my favourite food blog now. I can’t stop cooking your stuff. I’ve made these cookies three times now, love them. Everyone I make them for, loves them. Thank goodness for you totally spicing up my kitchen life :) Your recipes are amazing. Don’t stop :D

    • says

      Thank you so much, Kelsey! I really love hearing from visitors who have tried my recipes and I’m delighted you enjoy them! I’ll keep ’em coming. :)

  6. kari says

    i made these last night… oh my they are soooo good. i love all the spices you used – especially the twists of black pepper it adds so much. i crushed some up and added them to a persimmon frozen yogurt recipe. LOVE!!!

  7. Elizabeth says

    I live in Austin, so while the calendar says fall, here it still feels like summer. That being said, I was getting into the fall spirit last weekend and decided to make these cookies. Amazing! It was so easy and they came out great. Also they did really well in the freezer – I made them on Sunday and pulled them out on Friday to share with my fellow grad student friends who couldn’t stop gobbling them up. Thanks for another great recipe! Looking forward to the next

  8. Chelsea Fine Art says

    I made the cookies , they were amazing! I will be making them again and am adding them to my favorites. They were soft and fluffy. I used 3/4 cup white flour and 1/4 Barley Flour,(Barley Flour is sooo much better than Whole Wheat). I probably would mix it up in the future.Thanks

  9. Brent says

    Call me a piggy, but these cookies are INCREDIBLE if you take two of them, along with your coconut whipped cream from the toasted oatmeal recipe, and make a pseudo whoopie-pie with toasted coconut flakes around the outside. mmmmmmmm….

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