James Beard

Author and Educator

Long a cookie jar favorite, gingersnaps were considered a roll cookie in the nineteenth century. Homemakers nevertheless often dropped them on a greased cookie sheet to bake. Now they may be rolled or chilled and sliced.


  • 1 cup molasses or dark corn syrup
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup butter or lard
  • 4 1/2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 tablespoon ginger
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg (optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon cloves
  • 1/3 cup water


Preheat oven to 375º.

Bring the molasses or corn syrup, sugar, and shortening just to the boil in a saucepan capable of holding 3 quarts. Cool slightly. Add the flour sifted with the salt, soda, and spices. It is necessary, of course, to use the ginger, but the remaining spices may be omitted, if desired. Add the water and stir until well blended.

Chill the dough, and then roll out on a lightly floured board. Cut with a floured cutter into rounds and place on a greased baking sheet or pan. Leave about 1 inch between the cookies. Or form the dough into rolls 1 to 1 1/2 inches in diameter, wrap in wax paper or aluminum foil, and chill or freeze until firm.

Slice with a thin sharp knife into cookies 1/8 to 1/4 inch thick. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, depending upon the size and thickness of the cookies. Remove from the pan while still slightly warm and cool on a rack.


12 servings