Learn how to make the best ginger cookies with this easy recipe. These ginger-flavoured molasses cookies are made with ground ginger and crystallized ginger, which gives them a bold ginger flavour. They have chewy edges, a soft middle, and a slightly crackled finish. Soft ginger cookies are very popular at bake sales and are a must-make on fall baking lists.
Ginger Cookies Versus Gingersnaps Versus Gingerbread
These ginger cookies are not to be confused with gingersnaps, which are thin brittle cookies sweetened with molasses and flavoured with ginger, according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary. While both are made from the same ingredients and have the same flavour profile, the texture is different: ginger cookies are thicker and softer than gingersnaps.
Gingerbread cookies are also made from essentially the same ingredients. With gingerbread, recipes may include other warm spices in the dough, often heavy on cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves. These are spices we associate with Christmas holidays as a rule. Gingerbread cookie dough can be rolled out and cut using cookie cutters to make festive gingerbread cutout cookies, or shaped into a log for slice-and-bake gingerbread cookies.
What Ginger Cookies Are Made Of
If you want to make ginger cookies, you will need the following ingredients:
- butter, preferably unsalted butter because you will add salt to the dough, but if you have salted it, it will work. Just adjust the salt in the recipe accordingly otherwise, your cookies may be too salty
- sugar, both granulated brown sugar work here and we are using both to add texture and a little molasses flavour. Brown sugar may also lead to a slightly thicker cookie that is softer
- molasses, specifically Fancy molasses or baking molasses. Do not use blackstrap molasses, which is too bitter for this recipe
- large egg, don't use smaller eggs because your cookie dough may be too dry and your cookies won't spread enough but don't use extra large eggs because they could cause the cookie dough to puff too much as it bakes, leading to a more cakey cookie
- all-purpose flour is needed to bind all the ingredients together and give the cookies structure, contributing to the chewiness of the cookies as well. If you don't use enough flour, your cookies may spread too much as they bake
- baking soda is a base (alkaline) and contributes to that signature cracked finish that we expect of the best ginger cookies. You need baking soda for the cookies to spread properly and to crack. Do not use baking powder. Read up on baking soda vs baking powder if you are unsure
- ground ginger and cinnamon are added to the dough to make these cookies very flavourful
- salt is really important to balance out the sweet molasses flavour. Please don't skip it. I like to use Diamond Crystal fine kosher salt, but table salt will work, though the cookies will be saltier and you may want to halve the salt in that case
- crystallized ginger is the secret to the best ginger cookies because they add a ton of potent ginger flavour to really bring it up a notch.
See recipe card for exact quantities and details.
Substitutions and Variations
- Ginger: To make cookies with the boldest ginger flavour, we are incorporating ground and crystallized ginger in this recipe. Dried ginger gives the dough a mild flavour, while chopped crystallized ginger adds pops of intense ginger flavour. Try it and you'll be amazed at how great the flavour is when you combine both types of ginger. Don't use fresh ginger! It's not the same.
- Molasses: In this recipe, we are baking with Fancy molasses (which you can find on Amazon), which is sometimes called baking molasses or original molasses in the US (available on Amazon). Mild molasses also works. Another option worth exploring would be black Treacle, which I used in these soft gingerbread cookies. Lyle's Black Treacle is very popular in Great Britain and it's used to bake instead of molasses. You can also order it on Amazon.
Do not use blackstrap molasses. Blackstrap molasses is very dark and has a more bitter taste, whereas Fancy molasses has a milder taste that is more suited for Christmas cookies.
Hint: If you've never seen crystallized ginger in your grocery store, you may find it at bulk stores or scoop shops. It's sold sliced or already cubed. You can also order it from Amazon.
How To Make Soft Ginger Cookies
With this recipe, you are making drop cookies. You can make the dough and bake them on the same day!
Step 1: Combine the butter, sugars, and molasses in your mixer bowl (image 1) and cream them together until fluffy before adding the egg (image 2). Mix the ingredients well until smooth and light (image 3).
Step 2: In a separate bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients (image 4), then add them to your mixer bowl (image 5) and mix the dough until thick and the flour has mostly disappeared. Stir in the chopped crystallized ginger (image 6).
Step 3: Portion out the dough into even scoops using a ¾ ounce disher. You may chill the scooped cookie dough for 30 minutes to 1 hour until firm before rolling in granulated sugar (image 7).
Step 4: Place the sugar-coated ginger cookie dough balls on a half sheet pan, spacing them out, approximately 8 scoops per sheet to allow for air flow (image 8). Bake until the edges are set and beginning to brown slightly (image 9).
These ginger cookies have a soft texture. To ensure this, you will use slightly less flour than other drop cookies (these soft ginger cookies have 30 grams (¼ cup) less flour than these ginger cookies with white chocolate and 63 grams (½ cup) less flour than these molasses cookies) and also make sure to avoid overbaking them. Bake them just until the edges are set.
Store ginger cookies in an airtight container for up to 1 week. To maintain the soft texture, you can use the same tricks you would use to keep brown sugar soft: add a marshmallow, a piece of bread, or a brown sugar keeper made of terracotta.
Please note that this recipe does not include fresh ginger because fresh ginger has a lot of water, making it difficult to incorporate into cookie dough. Fresh ginger is better suited for cooking recipes or infusing it into panna cotta, puddings, and custards.
These ginger cookies with crystallized ginger are soft and flavourful and make a great cookie during the fall and winter months. For a thicker, chewier version, try this version of ginger cookies with white chocolate! If you struggle with cookies that are too thin and flat, read about the reasons cookies spread and remember, sometimes chilling the cookie dough for just 30 minutes can make a world of difference!
More Drop Cookie Recipes to Try
Everybody loves drop cookies: they are easy to make and are a blank canvas for creative fun plays on flavour and unusual ingredients. Here are a few more drop cookie recipe to try:
If you tried this ginger cookie recipe (or any other recipe on my website), please leave a ⭐ star rating and let me know how it went in the comments below. I love hearing from you!
- 280 grams bleached all-purpose flour
- 10 mL baking soda
- 10 mL ground ginger
- 5 mL ground cinnamon
- 2.5 mL Diamond Crystal fine kosher salt
- 170 grams unsalted butter room temperature
- 100 grams granulated sugar plus extra for rolling
- 100 grams light brown sugar
- 60 mL Fancy molasses
- 1 large egg(s) room temperature
- 5 mL pure vanilla extract
- ½ cup chopped crystallized ginger
- Preheat the oven to 375 °F (190 °C). Prepare a couple of baking sheets by lining them with parchment paper.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, ground ginger, cinnamon, and salt. Set them aside for later.
- In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter, the granulated sugar, and the brown sugar.
- Add the egg, and then the molasses, being sure to scrape down the bowl as needed and mixing well between each addition. Mix in the vanilla.
- With the mixer on low, slowly add the whisked dry ingredients, then the chopped crystallized ginger.
- Form the dough into 1–1.5 inch balls (roughly 26 to 28 equal scoops).
- Place them on the prepared baking sheets and lightly press a few extra pieces of chopped crystallized ginger into each ball (don’t squish too much!). If the dough is too soft to roll into smooth balls, chill the portioned dough on the parchment-lined baking sheets for 30 minutes to an hour (or even overnight if you have time).
- Roll the portioned out cookie dough in granulated sugar to coat it on all sides. Then place 8 scoops per sheet pan.
- Bake the cookies for about 12 minutes or until they just start to crack. Let them cool for a couple minutes before transferring them to a wire rack.