‘Tis the season for eating all the cookies!
While I am a self-professed cookie fiend 12 months of the year, December is when I go all in and really embrace it. With the festive season looking a little different from the usual holly and jolly this year, I’ve been baking up a storm for some door-stop cookie box drop-offs.
So, you might be wondering, what cookie do I lean on for the season? Well, it’s of course the humble but mighty ginger molasses cookie. Why? Because it’s a classic—slightly sweet with incredibly warming spices, all baked up to create the ultimate holiday hug in a cookie. After the fun I had with my pumpkin bake-off in the fall, I figured what better time to test five of the best ginger molasses cookies on the internet?
Drumroll, please… it’s time to find out which cookie gets the title of the ULTIMATE ginger molasses cookie recipe for the holidays. Are you ready?
Rules of the Road:
Like the rules I followed for the pumpkin bread challenge, some of the recipes asked for the addition of chocolate as a finisher. To determine which cookie resulted in the best basic ginger molasses cookie, I left the chocolate off to find the best base recipe.
Must Follow the Recipes EXACTLY
As someone who spends a lot of time in the kitchen, I’m used to taking a few liberties and inserting my own interpretations of recipes. However, for the sake of the bake-off, I stuck to the exact directions as written. That meant that even if I disagreed with the method or measurements, I ignored my personal opinions to follow the recipe exactly.
Being home in Texas with my parents and brother has its perks, especially when it comes to a bake-off challenge like this one. I had both my Dad and my brother step in as my second and third blind taste testers to give me their honest and unbiased opinions about which cookie they liked best. When it comes to being critics, both of them take the cake.
My brother is an avid foodie and has a lot of opinions about what makes something taste good and he is not afraid to share those thoughts. I knew his distinct palette would make him being an excellent judge. My Dad, on the other hand, is notoriously known to not share compliments when it comes to food. Whenever we ask him if he likes something, his go-to response is, “it’s okay”. The last recorded compliment was Christmas dinner, 2019, for the homemade gnocchi and tomato basil sauce my brother made in which he said, “this is good”. We literally couldn’t believe he upgraded his ‘okay’ to ‘good’. So, of course, I was curious if he would have any opinions about the cookies I baked.
When it came to judging the cookies, below is the criteria the three of us agreed on:
– Warming spices that add a lot of flavors. We want to just toe the line of spicy, warm, and savory.
– Not too sweet.
– Should be able to taste the molasses.
– All three of us agreed that the perfect ginger molasses cookies have some chew. It should have a little crisp/crunch to add texture, but the chew was the most important thing.
So with our rules and ranking criteria in place, I set out to bake all five recipes and taste my way through the selection. My Dad, brother, and I all agreed, it was really hard to rank these cookies as they all brought something different and special to the table. We would bake and eat any single one of them again, they were seriously all DELICIOUS.
Keep on scrolling to find out which recipe won the bake-off!
#5 Half Baked Harvest Chewy Ginger Molasses Cookie: For the Christmas Decorating Sweet Treat
Pros: The raw sugar on the outside of this cookie adds the ultimate crunch and texture that really makes this special.
Opportunities: Looking for a bit more chew and adjusting of the spice blend.
Am I obsessed with every recipe Tieghan creates? 100%. So I was of course excited when I came across her ginger cookie recipe to add to my test list. This cookie has a couple of things that make it special.
1) It’s literally so easy to make and would be perfect for a last-minute doorstop cookie drop off. The perfect recipe to make with your kids or when the midnight baking craving hits.
2) The crunch. OMG THE CRUNCH. This was the only recipe to roll the cookie dough into raw sugar and let me tell you, it makes a huge difference in the texture. I will be employing this in ginger cookie recipes moving forward.
My dad, brother, and I all had the same feedback though, that we would adjust the spices in this cookie. I am the self-proclaimed queen and lover of cardamom (exhibit A here and exhibit B here), and I was excited that this was the only recipe that used it. However, I thought the cardamom overpowered the rest of the spices and molasses in this cookie, lending a more sweet and floral flavor to it rather than the warming spices I think of like cloves and ginger in a ginger molasses cookie. We also wanted a bit more chew from the cookie itself, even though we all enjoyed the soft middles against the crunchy outside. Will be making this cookie again with a slight adjustment to the spices.
#4 Grandbaby Cakes Ginger Cookie: For the Holiday Cookie Box
Pros: Reminds me of a grandmother’s homemade cookie and the softest texture which is addicting. Could eat 10 of these cookies.
Opportunities: Would punch up the spices a bit for extra flavor.
If you are looking for a cozy hug in a cookie, this is it. The texture here is soft, pillowy, and both my brother and I said we could eat multiple of these cookies in one sitting. This recipe also felt the most like what I would find in cookie boxes from friends’ mom’s and grandmother’s growing up, a bit traditional but a classic that is a crowd-pleaser. The molasses flavor here is also wonderful, like a slight undertone without being overwhelming.
While all three of us loved the softness, we did miss a bit of the chewy factor and would punch up the spices just slightly for a little bit more spice flavor that we were all looking for in a cookie like this. 10/10 would recommend making a double batch because these guys will go fast.
#3 Hummingbird High Cracked Ginger Molasses Cookie: For the Savory Cookie Lover
Pros: Super chewy texture which I absolutely loved, in addition to a nice savory flavor.
Opportunities: Would tone down the cloves a bit for a more subtle flavor.
This recipe caused the most conversation between my Dad, brother, and myself. I felt like I was defending my non-existent child. I absolutely loved this cookie, and for myself, ranked it at #2. I absolutely loved the savory flavor from the cloves and the chew on this one was great. It was also the only recipe to use an egg white instead of a whole egg. I could taste the molasses, and it toed the line of savory and spicy flavor so well. It kind of reminded me of those packaged molasses cookies that are all perfectly cracked and have such a nice warming flavor.
My Dad and my brother, however, are apparently clove-haters and wanted the cloves to be toned down here. They enjoyed the chewy texture otherwise so take note, if you are not a fan of cloves, maybe just tone them down a bit and you’ll be fine. This recipe is going in my repertoire despite the clove haters in my life. I mean that’s fine, more cookies for me!
#2: Broma Bakery Gingerdoodles: For (Maybe) Sharing with Santa
Pros: Balances the sweet and salty flavor perfectly, the texture is also wonderful with a slight crisp on the outside and soft chewiness on the inside.
Opportunities: Would increase the spices just a touch.
I’m not going to lie, I was skeptical here. I was half expecting a snickerdoodle which I mean, I love a snickerdoodle, and any recipe that comes out of Sarah’s kitchen I have been known to eat with gusto—they’re all just that good. But when I lined it up with the rest of the cookies, I was wearing my skeptic hat. And then I had one, and I went back for another. And then an hour later I came back to the cookie box and got another. And then it was 8 pm and I had eaten seven of these cookies. No regrets.
This cookie takes the best parts of a snickerdoodle and adds them to a ginger molasses cookie to elevate it to the next level. The usual cinnamon sugar that you roll the dough in also gets an upgrade with the addition of ground ginger and a pinch of salt. It was literally neck and neck between this cookie and our #1 choice. If this recipe just had a tiny punch more of spice and a touch more chew, it would have been even harder to pick a winner.
This is a new holiday classic for sure, and while Santa would appreciate this, I won’t judge if you eat the whole batch under your kitchen counter yourself. Perhaps I’m speaking from experience…..
#1: Sarah Kieffer’s Ginger Molasses Pan-Banging Cookies: For the ULTIMATE Ginger Molasses Cookie
Pros: TEXTURE, TEXTURE, TEXTURE. Crispy, crunchy edges and chewy middles are literally perfect. Nice caramelized sugar and molasses flavor.
Opportunities: Maybe add a touch more spice or an extra pinch of salt? Maybe?
Remember when I mentioned that my Dad was notoriously hard to get a compliment out of for food? When I asked him which cookie he liked the best, he immediately pointed at this cookie and said it was “really good”. Really good may not sound like a lot, but for my Dad, he might as well have just given an hour-long monologue over why this cookie has saved us all and that it should be titled the greatest cookie ever made.
My brother also had high praise when I talked to him after a text exchange about the cookies, saying it is exactly what you want from a ginger-molasses cookie. I mean should I really be surprised? Sarah Kieffer is basically the queen of cookies. What this cookie does really well is it just absolutely nails the texture game. The ripples from this pan-banging variety create this nice and crispy edge that adds a slightly caramelized sugar flavor to the cookie, and the centers are so incredibly chewy in the best way possible. The molasses adds a nice undertone of flavor and the spices add the touch of warmth that we were all looking for from this cookie.
Honestly, it was hard to add any notes as to what could improve this cookie, if you like lots of spice, maybe bump them up a little bit? This cookie just truly ticked off all the boxes we were looking for, and when you get perfect 10’s across the board from my food critic Dad and brother, you know you’ve got a winner on your hands.
Thank y’all so much for joining me on this journey! It was a tough job to eat all these cookies, but someone has to do it. Which recipe would y’all like to see take on the bake-off next?
Happy holidays and wishing you and yours a cookie-filled season!