Molasses Cookies

James Beard

Author and Educator

Molasses cookies are a standard item for cookie jars in America. Older recipes seldom mention sugar, for these cookies were made with whatever sweet was at hand, and molasses could mean sorghum syrup or cane sugar molasses. The former was often made from sorghum cane grown on the farm and crushed and boiled to make a sweetener that cost little and was readily available. For a finer texture, the sugar and butter or lard were creamed, but for quicker mixing, the butter or lard was heated in the molasses before the remaining ingredients were added.


  • 1/2 cup butter or lard
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 cup molasses, dark or light
  • 4 cups sifted all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon cloves
  • 1 teaspoon ginger


Cream the butter or lard and cream in the sugar; or melt the butter or lard in the molasses (stirring so it will not boil), let cool to room temperature, and add the sugar. Sift the flour with the salt, soda, and spices, and add. Chill the dough if too soft to handle.

Roll out about 1/4 inch thick on a lightly floured board. Cut with a floured cutter (these cookies used to be made very large), place on a greased baking pan or sheet, and bake at 375ºF for 8 to 15 minutes, depending upon the size, until a light brown. Loosen from the pan while still warm, and cool in a single layer on a rack.


Varies according to cookie size