If you’re craving a soft and chewy cookie with a spicy hit of ginger, make these gluten free molasses cookies! They are great for the holidays, but easy enough to make that you’ll want to bake them year-round.
They freeze well and can easily be made dairy free. Need I say more?
Gingerbread, molasses cookies & gingersnaps
Welcome to Molasses Cookies 101: the lesson where we break down the difference between gingerbread, molasses cookies and gingersnaps.
- What’s the difference between gluten free gingerbread and molasses cookies? They both have similar ingredients, but the doughs are used differently. Gingerbread cookies are rolled thinly, while molasses cookies have a softer and fluffier texture when baked. Gingerbread is shaped with a cookie cutter, but these molasses cookies are placed onto a baking sheet into balls.
- What’s the difference between gluten free molasses cookies and gingersnaps? The difference between these two comes down to texture: molasses cookies are soft and chewy, while gingersnaps are harder and crisper. Take this gluten free molasses cookies recipe, bake them for much longer until crisp, and you’ve got yourself a gingersnap!
Let’s make some molasses cookies together! Here are the ingredients you’ll need:
- Brown sugar: either light or dark will do. Wondering what the difference is? Check out this post.
- Unsalted butter: softened (not melted) to give the cookies their soft texture and buttery taste.
- Molasses: it’s naturally gluten free, but always check the product packaging for any gluten ingredients or warnings.
- Vanilla extract
- Gluten free flour: I use a homemade blend of tapioca starch, white rice flour, and sorghum flour. Feel free to use any blends, but keep in mind that your baked goods may not turn out the same.
- Xanthan gum: omit you’re using a different blend which already includes it.
- Baking soda
- Granulated sugar: for rolling the cookies before baking. Turbinado sugar gives the cookies a great look and texture.
Dairy free version
This is to all the gluten free, dairy free people out there - you can still make delicious gluten free dairy free molasses cookies!
All you need to do is substitute the unsalted butter for a dairy free alternative (like Earth Balance). That’s it! The remaining ingredients in the recipe are dairy free.
Super simple switch for all you amazing dairy free foodies.
How to make the cookies
The dough for these molasses cookies is so soft and sticky - it needs to be refrigerated for at least an hour before baking.
To make the cookie dough, cream together the unsalted butter and sugar, then add in the molasses, egg and vanilla extract. In a separate bowl, mix together the gluten free flour, xanthan gum, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, and salt. Add the wet ingredients into the bowl containing the dry ingredients and mix well.
Wrap the dough in plastic (or use an airtight container) and refrigerate for an hour (or overnight). After chilling, use heaped tablespoons of dough and roll them into balls. Roll the cookie dough balls in a bit of granulated sugar, then place on a parchment lined baking sheet.
Bake the cookies at 350°F for about 10-12 minutes until the top of each cookie sets and starts to crackle. Cool on a wire rack.
All about the cookie dough
Using molasses in any recipe can get, well, sticky. The dough for these gluten free molasses cookies is no different.
In order to make the cookie dough “rollable,” it needs to chill in the fridge for at least an hour in order to set. This is typical of most doughs using molasses - it won’t roll out when it’s a soft sticky mess. You can even leave the dough in the fridge overnight and bake the cookies the next day!
If the dough gets too sticky while forming the cookies, place it back into the fridge to chill. The heat from your hands may start to melt the butter, so if you can’t roll the dough into balls without making a huge mess - it needs to chill for a bit longer.
This gluten free molasses cookie recipe also spreads while baking, so make sure to leave ample room between each on the baking sheet. (Unless you want to end up with one giant cookie.)
Tips for making this recipe
Here’s everything you need to know to make this recipe a success:
- Use softened butter, not melted. Melted butter will thin out your cookie dough and lead to flatter, crispier molasses cookies. If that’s your jam - have at it! But if you want a soft, chewy texture use softened butter every time. Leave it out on the counter to warm up, or microwave for a few seconds to soften.
- Don’t skip the chill time. Molasses makes a sticky mess, which you don’t want when rolling the cookie dough into balls. (Believe me, I tried it during recipe testing - it wasn’t pretty). A minimum of 1 hour in the fridge is essential for this recipe.
- Use raw sugar for rolling. Turbinado sugar is great for finishing off these cookies, since it’s a coarser and the sugar crystals are visible after baking. If you only have white granulated sugar, it will still work. Sprinkle a bit of extra sugar on the cookies halfway through the baking time to make it visible.
- You can store the dough as either one large ball, or individually rolled cookies.
- Store cookie dough in the fridge overnight and bake cookies the next day.
- For longer term storage, place the prepared dough into a freezer-safe bag or airtight container and freeze for up to a month. Defrost on the counter (or in the fridge overnight) prior to baking.
- Store fully baked cookies in an airtight container at room temperature for 3-4 days. (I couldn’t test beyond this because everyone in my house keeps eating them!!)
- For longer term storage, freeze fully cooled cookies in a freezer bag or airtight container for up to a month. Defrost in the fridge overnight, or on the counter.
Gluten Free Molasses Cookies
- ¾ cup (120g) brown sugar, lightly packed
- ¾ cup (170g) unsalted butter, softened
- ¼ cup (80g) molasses
- 1 egg
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 ½ cups (320g) gluten free flour blend (see note below)
- ½ teaspoon (2g) xanthan gum (if using a commercially available gluten free flour blend with xanthan gum, omit this from the recipe)
- 2 teaspoons (11g) baking soda
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ cup granulated sugar for rolling
- In a medium-sized mixing bowl, cream together the brown sugar and the unsalted butter until the mixture lightens and becomes fluffy. You can use a spatula, spoon, or mixer with a paddle attachment.
- Add in the molasses, egg and vanilla extract. Mix to combine.
- In a second medium- to large-sized bowl, mix together the gluten free flour, xanthan gum, baking soda, ground cinnamon, ground ginger, and salt.
- Add the wet ingredients into the bowl containing the dry ingredients and mix until thoroughly combined. The dough should be very soft and sticky.
- Wrap the cookie dough in plastic wrap or place in an airtight container and refrigerate for a minimum of 1 hour.
- After chilling, preheat the oven to 350°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. (You can rotate the same baking sheet between batches, or line several baking sheets.)
- Remove the dough from the fridge and put the granulated sugar into a small bowl.
- Using heaped tablespoons of dough, roll the cookies into balls, then dip into the sugar and coat.
- Place the cookies onto the prepared baking sheet, keeping them about 2 ½ - 3” (6-7.5cm) apart. The molasses cookies will spread while baking - keeping them far apart will ensure they don’t touch.
- Bake cookies for approximately 10-12 minutes, until the cookies set and start to crackle on the top.
- Transfer cookies to a wire baking rack to cool.
- Gluten free flour: I used a blend of 50% white rice flour, 30% tapioca starch, and 20% sorghum flour. You can make your own by following this recipe: Gluten Free Flour Blend (All Purpose). Another blend can be used; however, results may not be the same.
- To make dairy free: substitute the unsalted butter for a dairy free alternative, like Earth Balance.
- Storage (dough): store dough in the fridge overnight and bake as directed, or freeze in an airtight container/bag for up to a month. Option to store the dough as one large ball (and roll after defrosting) or individually rolled cookies.
- Storage (cookies): store fully cooled cookies in an airtight container at room temperature for 3-4 days or in the freezer for up to a month.