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Rena’s Soft Molasses Cookies

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These soft molasses cookies are filled with the warm holiday flavors of cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and molasses—the rich, earthy flavor pairs perfectly with a cup of coffee or a tall glass of milk.

plate of molasses cookies on a table

As we grow older and have our own children, many of us cherish fond memories of food and family during the holidays. It is so important that the younger generation takes the time to learn these traditions from their elders while they still have the chance. I cannot stress enough how important it is to preserve these customs and pass them on to future generations.

My Aunt Mary didn’t write her recipes down. They were all in her head and, unfortunately, lost when she passed away. I have spent years experimenting with different recipes trying to chase down the flavors of the past. I have come close with some, such as Italian anise cookies and toasted almond biscotti, but most still elude me. If I had spent more time with her while she was here, I would have the memories of learning from her and her recipes to carry on.

If there are written family recipes, please make sure you have copies. Even if you believe someone in the family will carry on the tradition, recipes can be lost, damaged, or altered over time.

Tips for Making Cookies

This is an old-fashioned New England cookie recipe from my husband’s side of the family. His mother, Rena baked an amazing amount of cookies at Christmastime. These soft molasses cookies are his favorite of all the holiday cookies she made.

This cookie dough is very forgiving. In fact, Rena used her recipe as a rough guideline, and added ingredients until the dough felt right. This version is for a drop cookie, but she often added more flour, rolled out the dough, and cut it into shapes with cookie cutters. Here are a few tips before your begin:

  • Let the Butter Warm Up: Creaming softened, room-temperature butter with sugar and molasses is key to achieving a light and fluffy cookie. Chilled butter is too hard to blend, and melted butter doesn’t hold air and may even dissolve the sugar. Be sure to warm your butter and egg to room temperature for about an hour before making your cookies.
  • Chill the Cookie Dough: After mixing the ingredients, pop the dough into the refrigerator to chill for at least an hour before baking. Chilling hardens the butter slightly, preventing the cookies from flattening when baked. Chilling the cookie dough will give you nice round, puffy, cake like cookies.
  • Use a Cookie Scoop: A cookie scoop makes it easy to scoop out the same amount of cookie dough, so your cookies bake evenly.

How to Make Molasses Cookies

You can find the detailed recipe at the bottom of this article, but here are the illustrated steps for making molasses cookies.

Gather Your Ingredients

Before you begin, make sure you have all the ingredients on hand, measured, and ready to go. You’ll need:

  • All-purpose flour: Provides the base structure for the cookies.
  • Baking soda: Contributes to leavening, giving the cookies a light texture.
  • Baking powder: Another leavening agent to help the cookies rise.
  • Kosher salt: Enhances and balances the flavors in the cookies.
  • Ground cinnamon: Adds warmth and a hint of spice to the flavor profile.
  • Ground nutmeg: Brings a warm, slightly sweet, and nutty flavor.
  • Ground allspice: Adds a complex, aromatic note to the spice blend.
  • Ground cloves: Introduces a rich, pungent flavor to the cookies.
  • Molasses: Provides the distinctive deep, rich flavor to the cookies.
  • Unsalted butter (at room temperature): Contributes to the cookie’s texture and flavor.
  • Sugar: Sweetens the cookies and helps create a tender texture. Feel free to swap the granulated sugar with brown sugar for a richer flavor.
  • Egg: Adds structure and moisture to the cookie dough.
  • Water: Helps bind the ingredients together and maintains the dough’s consistency.

Make the Cookie Dough

  1. Combine the dry ingredients: Add the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, and cloves to a medium bowl and whisk to combine. Set aside while you mix your wet ingredients.
  2. Beat the wet ingredients: In a large mixing bowl, cream the softened butter with molasses and sugar with a hand mixer or stand mixer and paddle attachment at high speed until light and fluffy. Add the egg and water, and continue beating until combined.
  3. Add the dry to the wet ingredients: Reduce your mixer to low and gradually add the flour mixture to the butter and sugar mixture a little at a time. Mix well and scrape the sides of the bowl as needed after each addition.
  4. Chill the dough: Once everything is combined, cover and chill the cookie dough in the refrigerator for at least one hour.
Steps for making molasses cookie dough.
1) Dry Ingredients, 2) Wet Ingredients, 3) Combine, and 4) Chill

Shape and Bake the Cookies

When you are ready to bake the cookies, preheat your oven to 375˚F and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

  1. Portion the dough: Remove the cookie dough from the refrigerator. Drop rounded tablespoons of dough 2 inches apart onto the prepared baking sheets using a cookie scoop or spoon.
  2. Flatten the dough balls slightly with wet fingertips.
  3. Bake in the preheated oven until the edges are set, about 8 to 10 minutes.
  4. Cool: Remove the baking sheets from the oven and let the cookies cool briefly, then transfer the cookies to a wire rack to cool. Let the baking sheets cool, and repeat with the next batch until all the cookie dough is used.
Steps for shaping the cookie dough.
5) Portion, 6) Flatten, 7) Bake, and 8) Cool

Allow the cookies cool completely, and then store them in an airtight container for up to a week or freeze them for longer storage, up to 2 months. The recipe makes about 48 cookies.

stack of molasses cookies on a table

plate of molasses cookies on a table
Print Pin
5 from 7 votes

Rena’s Soft Molasses Cookies Recipe

These soft molasses cookies are filled with the warm holiday flavors of cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and molasses—the rich, earthy flavor pairs perfectly with a cup of coffee or a tall glass of milk.
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Keyword molasses cookies
Prep Time 1 hour
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Servings 48 cookies
Calories 112kcal
Author Grow a Good Life



  • Add the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, and cloves to a large mixing bowl and whisk to combine. Set aside.
  • In a large bowl, beat butter, molasses, and sugar with electric mixer on medium speed until fluffy, about 5 minutes. Beat in egg, add water, and mix until well blended.
  • Add the flour mixture a little at a time, and mix until well blended. Cover and chill for at least one hour.
  • Preheat oven to 375°F. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.
  • Drop rounded tablespoons of dough 2 inches apart onto the prepared baking sheets. Flatten balls slightly with wet fingertips. Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until set. Cool cookies on a cooling rack. Makes 48 cookies.


Serving: 2cookies | Calories: 112kcal | Carbohydrates: 21.4g | Protein: 2g | Fat: 2.3g | Saturated Fat: 1.3g | Cholesterol: 12mg | Sodium: 84mg | Potassium: 130mg | Fiber: 0.5g | Sugar: 8g | Calcium: 23mg | Iron: 1mg

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  1. thank you so much for this recipe its so delicious but the only problem that I’m facing is that when i make the balls they are so sticky and if i use my hands the dough sticks on it

    1. Lela, Thank you for your kind words! I’m glad you enjoyed the cookies. To make handling the sticky dough easier, try chilling it first. Once chilled, use a spoon to scoop out a rounded tablespoon of dough and then use a knife to help transfer it to the baking sheet. Wet your fingertips slightly with water before flattening the dough. This should help prevent the dough from sticking to your hands. I hope this helps!

    1. Deborah, Flattening the dough before baking helps the cookies spread and bake evenly and discourages puffing. Using wet fingertips helps to prevent the dough from sticking.

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