Soft and Chewy Molasses Sugar Cookie Recipe
These are one of my absolute favorite cookies. A soft, chewy molasses sugar cookie that tastes like happiness. If I only make one cookie for Christmas, this is it.
Of course, you can make these molasses sugar cookies all year round. The holiday season has no claim on their soul. Just a good old, non-denominational, all-season cookie that you can bring to potlucks and parties alike.
Delusions of Cookie Grandeur
Sometimes I think I want to be that person who makes all of the cutout cookies and decorates them magnificently.
- I have no desire to spend that much time making cookies.
- I don’t always like the recipes that make good cutout cookies.
- It feels like you have to make 8 million cookies to make the process feel worthwhile.
- Proper decorating icing is not even tasty. Rude.
- Annnd, the whole process is a giant mess. It is FAR too many steps for my ADHD brain to remain interested. Overwhelm is inevitable.
I would much prefer someone to invite me to THEIR house to decorate cookies, so I can play without the chaos being in my space. I am happy to help clean up and do dishes, because fair is fair.
When I am the baker, I really appreciate simple recipes. Make batter. Plunk some blobs on a pan and bake. Done. Hence, I have a “roll every ball in sugar” OPTION for this recipe…which I never use.
How molasses is made
In writing this recipe, I realized that I don’t know that much about molasses. I know it is a byproduct of making sugar. Brown sugar naturally contains molasses, while white sugar has had all of the molasses separated out.
I know that it is insanely sticky and viscous. It takes forever to start pouring and then absolutely refuses to ever stop because “it just has to bring one more friend” in an infinite string that will end up dripping on the cap threads, which will subsequently glue the cap shut, and you’ll have to run it under hot water or microwave it to ever regain access to your molasses. Molasses is a delicious pain in the butt.
(My mom used to tell me I was as “slow as molasses in the wintertime” when I was getting ready. She was not wrong. Also, I get it from her.)
The Dark and Sticky Story of Molasses
Basically, I know something about how to cook with molasses and vaguely what it is, but not much else. So I googled the history and origins of molasses and got sucked into an internet vortex. Down the rabbit hole we go!
I won’t try to share everything because that might be a book instead of an article, but here are some things that I learned:
- Cooking molasses is made by boiling down cane sugar. The molasses used to feed animals is made by boiling down beet sugar.
- Molasses health benefits are exaggerated. Yes, there’s iron and potassium in it, but consuming sugar by the teaspoon is not the best way to get your daily quotas.
- It’s called treacle in the UK, which immediately reminded me of the treacle tarts mentioned in Alice in Wonderland. (Immediately follows the White Rabbit down a tangential rabbit hole. “Oh my ears and whiskers!”)
- Molasses has a dark history as part of the triangle slave trade. New England sold rum in west Africa in exchange for human lives; those enslaved people were used as currency to buy molasses in the West Indies; that molasses was shipped to New England to make rum. Self-sustaining horror.
Take as long as you need to absorb that.
Tips for the Perfect Cookie
If you want to be fancy, keep one half cup of sugar aside and roll your cookie balls in it before you flatten them with a fork. It looks really pretty. Your hands will be filthy. I usually just mix the sugar into the dough. It tastes the same and takes far less time.
Fancy molasses is the easiest to find in the store, but I actually prefer the stronger flavor and darker color of cooking molasses if you can find it.
Since the molasses flavor is strong, white flour, whole wheat flour, and whole grain spelt flour will all taste equally delicious. I recommend taking the opportunity to get the bonus fiber and nutrition of a whole grain flour.
While you can certainly mix up this recipe by hand, I recommend an electric mixer. A hand mixer or a stand mixer will work equally well. When you start adding the flour, the dough thickens and becomes sticky, so switching from regular beaters to dough hooks will make your life much easier.
I technically have a dough mixing “blade” for my food processor, but I have never actually tried it. If you use one, let me know how it works. I’m curious!
The KEY to getting a chewy molasses sugar cookie
The cold dough is critical to ending up with cookies rather than crispy puddles. I have occasionally taken too long to make the cookies, and the dough starts to get soft and sticky. As an easy precaution, I like to put the cookies on the pans and then put the pans in the fridge while the oven preheats.
How long does it take for sugar cookies to cool completely?
Give them at least about 5 minutes to cool, to serve fresh and warm with a tall glass of milk or a hot beverage of your choice. If you will be serving them later, allow the cookies to cool completely on a wire rack, about 20-30 minutes.
How do you store soft chewy cookies?
You can store molasses sugar cookies on the counter or in a cold room for 4-5 days (if they last that long). Keep them in a container with a bit of airflow to let any humidity escape (I leave one corner of my cookie container unsealed).
If you will have them around longer or just want them off your cupboard, you can store them in the fridge in an airtight container.
They freeze well if you want to keep some for later or prefer to do your holiday baking in advance.
Mealtime conversation starters
Be the uniqueness of who you are and the people around you. As you eat your meal, here is a question to start a fun and interesting conversation.
When you are down, what makes you feel better?
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Soft and Chewy Molasses Sugar Cookies
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- hand mixer or stand mixer
- spoon from your silverware drawer
- Parchment paper or silicone baking mat
- ¾ cup unsalted butter softened
- 1 cup sugar *optionally divided
- ¼ cup molasses
- 1 egg
- 2 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- ½ tsp ground cloves
- ¼ tsp ground ginger
- ½ tsp salt
- 2 cups whole wheat flour or sub spelt flour
- Cream the butter and sugar together. *If you want to roll your cookie balls in sugar, keep ½ cup of sugar aside.*
- Beat in the egg and the molasses.
- Add dry ingredients and mix to combine.
- Chill the dough in the refrigerator for at least 20 min.
- Preheat oven to 350°F
- Take rounded teaspoons of the dough and roll them gently into balls. *If you are rolling in sugar, do that now.*
- Place the cookie balls onto a greased or lined cookie sheet and flatten slightly with a fork. Allow a bit of spreading space between the cookies.
- Bake for 8-10 min until the edges of the cookies start to brown.
- Cool completely on a wire rack before putting them away.
Hand Size Portions
Some handy advice: You can use your hands to practice calorie control without weighing and measuring.
Using hand position size is an alternative way to decide how much to eat visually. It gives you a way to quickly estimate what's on your plate, using the size of your hand as an alternative to counting macros (which generally has you weighing and reading nutrition labels to count protein, carbohydrates, and fat).
To learn more, read How to Get Started with Hand Portion Sizes.
Health Ninja Jeanette Marcotte is a health coach and professional geologist, who is obsessed with helping fellow professional women reclaim their time and energy by weaving healthy choices into their daily lives.
When she is not coaching or looking at rocks, you can find her hanging out in her garden with her dog, collecting new hobbies, and/or reading far too many books at once.
Find other articles written by Jeanette on her coach profile. Hang around for mindset strategies and micro-habits that will transform your health & confidence so that you feel like a Health Ninja, too!