A holiday classic: Gingersnaps

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The other day, a reader on our  community site, The Baking Circle, asked about old-fashioned cookie recipes. She writes as follows:

“My dad, who is 83, has been asking me to bake cookies that are a bit old fashioned. Like HIS MOTHER use to bake. Now… anyone have old recipes for cookies?”

What’s the first thing that springs to mind when you hear the words “old-fashioned cookie”?

Depends on how old you are, right?

Gen-X and Gen-Y probably think Oreos, or Chips Ahoy. Or maybe Fig Newtons, the ultimate “old fogy” cookie in the supermarket aisle.

We older folks (read: Boomers. Get over it! We’re “older folks”) are more likely to think of something homemade.

Me, I get a mental picture of big, solid sugar cookies. And peanut butter criss-crosses. And soft molasses cookies, big enough to cover the palm of your hand.

And gingersnaps.

But not just any gingersnap. No, the “boxed cookie” gingersnap – a pale thing, barely two bites big – just doesn’t cut it.

I like my gingersnaps thick and crunchy, with a fissured, sugar/crackly top. Big enough to last through a cup of tea, or a glass of lemonade (gingersnaps and lemonade being one of summer’s signature pleasures).

In other words, I like my gingersnaps homemade.

Boomer or not, if you’re looking for a classic old-fashioned cookie, one that’s absolutely perfect for the holidays — you’ve found it.

Let’s make Gingersnaps.

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Lightly grease (or line with parchment) two baking sheets.

Put the following in a bowl:

3/4 cup vegetable shortening*
1 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking soda

*Can you substitute butter for the vegetable shortening? Yes; but the cookies will be soft, not crisp.

Beat until smooth.

Add 1 large egg (I know, it’s not showing; I didn’t add it yet), and 1/3 cup molasses.

Beat until smooth. Add the following:

2 1/3 cups (9 3/4 ounces) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1 to 2 teaspoons ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Beat until smooth and stiff.

Make coating by combining 1/4 cup sugar and 1 teaspoon cinnamon. Ordinarily I’d use our Cinnamon-Sugar Plus, a delightful mixture of superfine sugar and Vietnamese cinnamon. But for these particular cookies, I want crunch – the crunch of regular granulated sugar, hand-mixed with Vietnamese cinnamon.

Place the coating in a shallow pan or dish. Drop the dough in 1″ balls into the cinnamon-sugar mixture; a teaspoon cookie scoop is perfect here.

Roll the balls in the sugar to coat.

Transfer them to the prepared baking sheets, leaving at least 1 1/2″ between them; they’ll spread as they bake.

It’s always good to bake a test batch first. You’ll usually have a few cookies, the scrapings from the bottom of the bowl, that just don’t fit onto that second or third baking sheet; don’t try to crowd them on. Instead, bake those leftovers first.

A test batch tells you two things: whether your baking time yields the degree of crispness you like…

…and whether the cookies are the right distance apart. Some of these, as you can see, were too close together.

Bake the cookies for 11 minutes, for cookies that are crisp around the edges, and “bendy” in the center. Bake for 13 minutes, for cookies that are crisp/crunchy all the way through.

I like cookies that are crisp all the way through – see the “13” on the parchment? 13 minutes. And DUH, I still didn’t leave enough space between them!

Oh well… if you’re like me and always try to crowd too many cookies onto a pan, and they run together, take a knife and cut them apart while they’re still hot.

Remove the cookies from the oven, and cool right on the pan, or on a rack. Cool completely, then store tightly wrapped, at room temperature.

Enjoy an old-fashioned cup of tea with your old-fashioned cookie…

Read, rate, and review (please) our recipe for Gingersnaps.

PJ Hamel
About

PJ Hamel was born in Wisconsin, grew up in New England, and graduated from Brown University. She was a journalist in Massachusetts and Maine before joining the King Arthur Flour Company in 1990, where she's been ever since. Author or co-author of three King Arthur ...

comments

  1. stanville

    Mom used to make them with bacon fat…yum, yum! Didn’t think it sounded too good, but one bite convinced me.

    Stanville, baking with bacon fat is all the rage right now. What goes around… PJH

    Reply
  2. Jessica

    These do look good!

    Gingersnaps were never my thing (crunchy cookies just never did it for me) but their German cousin which I will butcher the spelling of: Pfeffernuisse cookies ROCK.

    I’ve never tried to make them and noticed they’re increasingly harder to find at the store every year at Christmastime but they are my absolute favorite cookie!

    Jessica, we’ll have to add them to our list of Holiday Traditions, to feature next year in our email series. Thanks for the suggestion! And you were REALLY close with the spelling – Pfeffernüsse. PJH

    Reply
    1. beingjennifer

      Jessica,
      Aldi’s has the Pfeffernusse cookies with almonds, if you want to buy them. I got some for my mom. She used to get them all the time, but I haven’t seen them much lately either. Hope you can find them. I love the windmill shape!

  3. vibeguy

    FUH-reaky! I was JUST thinking about gingersnaps 20 minutes ago, and then this showed up in my RSS Reader.

    I’m going to try making them with clarified butter. Maybe right now!

    Great minds, Vibeguy… hope you’ve already enjoyed a few by the time you read this! PJH

    Reply
  4. paulamelton

    Oh, yum! I will be trying these. But as a definite Gen Xer, I just have to say I do not think of Oreos as old-fashioned. The big, soft molasses cookies, though, definitely. For years I tried to make them just like my mother’s and kept failing, until I realized you have to use shortening instead of butter (butter makes them crispy). Luckily I discovered Earth Balance, all natural and trans-fat free. Great for pie crust too.

    Nice to have trans-fat-free shortening, isn’t it, Paula? So – would you think Archway, or homemade? I’m guessing you might be on the high side of Gen-X…? (Don’t tell, none of my business! :) ) – PJH

    Reply
  5. Jill

    Hi-
    This looks terrific. What are the consequences of omitting the egg? We have an egg allergy around here.
    Thanks.

    Truthfully, Jill, I’ve never made them without the egg. I’d guess, judging by what eggs bring to the party, they’ll be slightly more crumbly and a bit harder… I don’t think lack of egg is a deal-breaker, though. Go for it – and let us know how they turn out. PJH

    Reply
    1. PJ Hamel , post author

      This may yield a chewier, rather than crisper cookie, but it should work just fine:
      Flax gel egg replacer: For 1 large egg, use 2 tablespoons flax meal (the more finely ground, the better) blended with 3 tablespoons cold water. Let for 10 minutes to thicken before blending into cookie recipe, in place of each egg. PJH

  6. Aimee S

    I love gingersnaps…I have all the ingredients and plan on making these tomorrow! Yum, thanks for the recipe!

    Enjoy, Aimee- PJH

    Reply
  7. Santiago

    Thanks for the recipe! Definitely going to try this one.
    Could you please indicate the weight equivalence for the ingredients?

    Santiago, whenever you want to see weights in these blogs, click on the recipe link at the end; it’ll take you to the recipe online. Click “weight” at the top of the list of ingredients, and you’ll see everything in weight instead of volume. You can toggle back to volume at will. Here’s the Gingersnaps recipe. Hope this helps – PJH

    Reply
  8. Sue

    Gingersnaps are one of my Hubby’s favorite cookies. I have to make a double batch every time so everyone else can have a few. I will make a batch in the am just because I’m looking for a good soft molasses cookie for my Mom. She is 83. Every recipe I try is not just quite what she is looking for.

    Your mom probably has wonderful memories of gingersnaps from her mom or grandma. Keep trying, Sue – there’s nothing so gratifying as finally hitting on a recipe that makes your mom say, “THAT’S the one!” :) PJH

    Reply
    1. Janice S

      Your comment reminded me of a true story.

      My aunt remarried in her late 50s. Her husband had a particular cookie he loved that his mother used to make. My aunt tried and tried to make them the way his mother did, but he’d always say, “They’re good, but not like Mother’s.”

      One day she put a batch in the oven and went out to the mailbox. On the way back, the neighbor stopped her and they chatted a bit. When my aunt got back to the kitchen she was greeted by the smell of scortched cookies. Well, she thought, I’ll give them to him anyway since mine are never good enough. It’ll serve him right! He came in a while later, picked up one of the cookies, took a bite and said, “AHHHHHHH! Just like Mother used to make!”

    2. PJ Hamel , post author

      Janice, isn’t it the truth? It’s often not that what “mom used to make” is so good – but simply that she made it. Thanks for sharing this story; made me smile first thing in the morning. :) PJH

  9. angela25

    These look sooo yummy, as soon as I saw the blog post I began craving them! If I were to substitute unsalted butter for the margarine would I need to add more salt, or is the salt amount in the recipe enough?

    Angela, shortening is the fat of choice here. I wouldn’t recommend margarine; but if you substitute unsalted butter, no need to adjust the salt, as shortening doesn’t have any salt. PJH

    Reply
  10. hmcveigh

    Can these be mixed then frozen? If so, what is the adjusted baking time?

    Hi – We addressed just this question in our FREEZE blog from last year. Surprisingly, the time adjustment isn’t too significant. I found that cookie dough that needs to be chilled first bakes the same either frozen or chilled. For this dough, where you don’t chill it first, I’d imagine the baking time might be an extra minute or so. Bake one first, as a test. Good luck – PJH

    Reply
    1. emccann

      Actually, this recipe is pretty darn close to my Grandma’s “Molasses Crinkles” recipe which,
      thankfully I will never lose as it’s in the old red 1950 Betty Crocker Picture Cookbook ( and any
      reprint of it you are lucky enough to find ! ) There’s a few tiny ‘tweaks’ from that recipe to this
      one with the spices and molasses, plus it uses brown sugar instead of white in the actual mix.
      The reason I wanted to add a note here is because the original recipe does indeed call for the
      dough to be chilled before baking. If I’m in a hurry to get cookies made I, too have omitted this
      step and the cookies will be just as delicious, but… the other trick the recipe says to : ” Sprinkle
      each “cooky” with 2 or 3 drops of water to produce a crackled surface ” = Molasses * crinkles * !
      They have been, and I think will always will be our family’s absolute favorite *g* Thanks so much
      for sharing this great recipe ! Now if I can just find a proper recipe for another spicy favorite ”
      Hermits ” that the bakery used to make ( and it also might be that “bar cookie” the relative spoke
      of above ) my own father, and myself, as well ) would be very happy. Anyone know of one ?

  11. shofur4two

    Hi PJ,
    What about the idea of posting a calendar online with recipe links for each day. That way your blog has a month by month look so that people can find the new ones easily, but can also reference the ones that they liked but did not have time to make right away. I call it my “to be made pile” similar to the To be read pile but instead of books (which I also have) recipes to make as time allows.
    Another idea from a fan of yours.
    Judy

    Thanks for the suggestion, Judy – I’m all for organization, not that I do it that well… Where would you see the calendar living? On the blog page, or on the community, or…? Just asking, because they’re all on different platforms (kingarthurflour.com, the blog, and the community), and some are easier to change/add to. I’d like to see it on the community, personally; and I think it might be do-able there. We shall see… PJH

    Reply
  12. vibeguy

    So, I made them. I saw the post at 4:05 PM and I had one sheet out of the oven already at 5:05. ZOMG. SO good.

    I commented with what I did on the recipe posting itself. In essence, brown butter, add spices, add butter to sugar-molasses mixture, beat to cool down some, add eggs, flour/salt/leavening. Proceed as directed. I also amped the ginger and added some white pepper.

    The sauteed spice thing really works to bloom spices. The texture was ideal – possibly the crispest cookie I’ve ever turned out at home without using baker’s ammonia. Which I think I’ll try next time, given the thin cross-section of this cookie. The finished cookies came out looking *exactly* like the ones on the beauty shot. Using a #70 scoop, I got 50 cookies per batch. A note that the cookies will still turn out perfectly round even if your blobs are irregular might have saved me some time on the first 40 cookies or so, as I tried to make perfectly spherical balls when in reality just making equal-mass pseudo-hemispherical blobs is all that matters.

    I’m starting to become completely convinced that the magic of Crisco is simply that it is anhydrous; in systems with sufficient sugar and protein (ie, cookies) , the differences in the fat structure itself just don’t matter.

    Awesome post for today, though – it was perfect weather for a cookie like this!

    You’re right, and I hadn’t thought of heating the spices to bring out their flavor – did you cook the spices with the butter, or just add them once it was browned? Also, yes, baker’s ammonia would be ideal here. And “equal-mass pseudo-hemispherical blobs” – LOVE it. Thanks for waking my brain up first thing this morning! PJH

    Reply
  13. csrockwell

    Oh. This is making me miss the gingersnaps my grandma used to make before she passed. These would always pop up around the holidays – along with a short, fat glass filled with cold milk for dunking.

    Now I need a glass of milk! :) PJH

    Reply
  14. strumpet

    Wow, it’s almost the same recipe that I have for my favorite cookie: my mom’s Molasses Crinkles – the only difference being that hers calls for 1 cup of brown sugar, instead of 1 cup of white sugar. Love the idea of cinnamon sugar instead of of rolling in plain sugar!

    These basic recipes just keep reappearing, often with tiny tweaks. I think it’s the sign of a great recipe – staying power. Enjoy – PJH

    Reply
  15. Lynn T

    OMG I love gingersnaps and make them every year! The first year of my neighbor’s cookie swap I ended up making two batches. The first was devoured by my son and the second went to the swap. I totally agree, must use shortening for a good crispy cookie.

    I may have to bake a batch up this week!

    ‘Tis the season for gingersnaps, Lynn… :) PJH

    Reply
  16. sandylee6

    My 89 year old mother in law makes molassas cookies – so that translates to old fashioned for me – they are surprisingly good – compared to the new fangled cookies. What’s old is new again!

    And good cookies are a joy forever! PJH

    Reply
  17. Mindy

    I’m intrigued by the idea of using bacon fat – if I use butter (I prefer softer cookies), how would I adjust and add the bacon fat? ‘cuz I gotta go make some of these right now!!!
    HI Mindy,
    We haven’t tried the bacon fat version here in the kitchen. Stanville and others, any hints for Mindy?? Thanks!
    ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  18. dixondale

    I’m confused now – will using shortening make the cookies CRISPY or SOFT? Some commentors say butter makes them crispy, but others (and you) say shortening. I’m just a novice at baking anything, so sorry if this is dumb!

    NOT DUMB! Never. We’re all learning from one another all the time. Speaking of, a great place to learn is at our online community, where people are asking and answering questions all the time. My experience is that shortening yields crispier cookies, because it’s 100% fat; butter includes milk solids, which tend to “temper” the crispness. That’s my opinion, and I’m stickin’ to it! :) PJH

    Reply
  19. Mindy

    I’m intrigued by the idea of using bacon fat – if I use butter (I prefer softer cookies), how would I adjust and add the bacon fat? ‘cuz I gotta go make some of these right now!!!

    Use bacon fat in place of the butter, cutting it back a bit – I’d say substitute 2/3 cup solid bacon fat for 3/4 cup of the shortening. PJH

    Reply
  20. fran16250

    I just tried Archway molasses cookies and they were just OK. Can I make these into molasses cookies by backing off the spices? I’d leave in the cinnamon but omit the ginger and cloves as I really don’t care for them. I like the idea another blogger mentioned of using brown sugar instead of white.
    What is this “community” you speak of?
    Has anyone ever been able to replicate a recipe for Pepperidge Farms Bordeaux? Or can you suggest a similar recipe? I love the crsipy texture and delicate flavor.

    Fran, our Crystal Diamonds replicate Bordeaux cookies very closely in flavor, though not in looks. Yes, you can back off the spices; or you can make our Soft Molasses Cookies, leaving out the raisins if you like, and the ginger and cloves. And, check out our community – it’s hopping! PJH

    Reply
  21. Mindy

    Thank you for the adjustment – I apologize for the double (or triple) comment submission – I thought that I was doing something wrong – I should have realized there would be a delay between submitting and publication/answering! This is the best blog – wonderfully helpful! I feel like I’m standing in the kitchen with my mother when I read all the useful and practical information. Now to go fry enough bacon to make that substitution (darn, I’ll have to eat bacon!).

    No prob, Mindy – we should make it clear that it takes awhile to get the comments through the whole process… I’ll be really interested to hear how these cookies taste using bacon fat! PJH

    Reply
  22. becanco

    Reading this at work (lunch break) so I can’t comment on the recipe other than it sounds good.

    BUT…

    I do like the idea of a “Newly Posted Recipes” link or page.

    Reply
  23. milkwithknives

    Boom! Two in a row! I’m making your cheese pull apart bread for my Christmas party, and now these, too! I was trying to decide between gingerbread cake and gingersnap cookies, and here you come again. I generally cut back on the butter/fat stated in any cookie recipe, as I hate any hint of greasiness. I think this makes them a bit softer initially, but they don’t STAY soft as long. I think. My husband can eat his weight in cookies so they rarely hang around long enough for me to test.

    I, too, grew up with homemade cookies (thanks, mom!), and don’t think I even realized people bought grocery store cookies or cookie dough until I was a teenager. My husb was quite bewildered the first time I made cookies for him and used my mixer instead of cutting open a package of Pillsbury. So I’m a big fan of old recipes. I made your apple slab pie for Halloween with great joy and success, and I’m looking forward to taking a run at these cookies soon. Thanks so much.

    I LOVE your holiday series, by the way.

    And thanks so much for your enthusiasm – and your participation on the community, too… PJH

    Reply
  24. vibeguy

    PJH: I added the spices just as the butter was at the hazelnut-brown shade, and then dropped the temp on the induction hob to 210 and toasted the spices until fragrant. I’d say about two minutes or so?

    Back to the Doughboy’s artery-spackle, AKA Crisco.

    The milk solids in the butter can’t be all that significant to baking performance though, at least in these cookies. I took the liberty of doing the recipe as baker’s percentages (based on a double batch to get better mass equivalents on the spices, math done in grams):

    With shortening:

    flour 100.0
    spices 2.6
    molasses 41.0
    egg white 9.0
    egg yolk 7.2
    baking soda 3.6
    salt 0.9
    sugar 71.8
    shortening 50.0

    With butter:
    flour 100.0
    spices 2.6
    molasses 41.0
    egg white 9.0
    egg yolk 7.2
    baking soda 3.6
    salt 0.9
    sugar 71.8
    butter
    butterfat 49.2
    water 11.1
    milk solids 1.2

    As they used to say about Olympia beer, “It’s the water!”. Assuming egg yolks are 50% water, whites are 90% water, you’d be looking at a hydration level in the shortening version of 11.5%, and fully 22.6% in a version made with softened butter.

    That water is going three places; one, it’s participating in gluten matrix development, two, it’s hydrating starches to form gels and three, it’s binding to the molasses and white sugar. It’s no *wonder* it doesn’t bake out, even with the thin cross section.

    If I were super-motivated, I’d test this hypothesis by adding back 30g of water and 3 grams of Baker’s Special dry milk to the shortening-based version, but 1) eww, I’d have to bake with shortening and 2) I’m not the one with the test kitchen. ;0)

    Tell Susan the one with the pink Mohawk is at it again!

    E

    Thanks, VG- passing this along to Susan! :) PJH

    Reply
  25. amazonium

    Yum, yum, yum…Since you mentioned using bacon fat, I have a container of ‘leaf’ lard that I made to use in pie crusts and was wondering what else I could use it for- now I know!! Also, how do you like the beater/wiper blade on your mixer?? I have a Kitchenaid and was thinking of getting a blade like that before the holiday baking season begins- does it do a good job actually swiping the sides??
    As always, y’all rock!

    June

    June, it does do a great job. Just be aware KitchenAid says they’ll void your warranty if you use it; though Cook’s Illustrated tested, and said it’s less wear and tear on the mixer using the silicone blade than the KA blade, as it takes much longer for the KA blade to do its work… PJH

    Reply
  26. Margy

    Could this be adapted as a slice and bake? I like to make all my Christmas cookie dough ahead of time and freeze, then have a massive cookie baking day. I would like to be able to freeze these in a roll that I could then slice and top with coarse demerara or pearl sugar and bake. Would there be too much spread using the recipe as is?

    Yes, it should be just fine as a slice-and-bake, Margy – go for it! Enjoy – PJH

    Reply
  27. cmbruhn

    Looks really yummy. I add chopped ginger to the dough for a chewy intense bite. Please consider making a printer friendly version of the recipe and photos. Thanks. CMB

    Reply
  28. stanville

    CMB–click on gingersnaps where it says “let’s make gingersnaps” at the beginning of the recipe. That will take you to the recipe, which is printable, and you can choose measurements by either volume or weight.

    Reply
  29. vibeguy

    PJH: I added the spices just as the butter was at the hazelnut-brown shade, and then dropped the temp on the induction hob to 210 and toasted the spices until fragrant. I’d say about two minutes or so?

    Back to the Doughboy’s artery-spackle, AKA Crisco.

    The milk solids in the butter can’t be all that significant to baking performance though, at least in these cookies. I took the liberty of doing the recipe as baker’s percentages (based on a double batch to get better mass equivalents on the spices, math done in grams):

    With shortening:

    flour 100.0
    spices 2.6
    molasses 41.0
    egg white 9.0
    egg yolk 7.2
    baking soda 3.6
    salt 0.9
    sugar 71.8
    shortening 50.0

    With butter:
    flour 100.0
    spices 2.6
    molasses 41.0
    egg white 9.0
    egg yolk 7.2
    baking soda 3.6
    salt 0.9
    sugar 71.8
    butter
    butterfat 49.2
    water 11.1
    milk solids 1.2

    As they used to say about Olympia beer, “It’s the water!”. Assuming egg yolks are 50% water, whites are 90% water, you’d be looking at a hydration level in the shortening version of 11.5%, and fully 22.6% in a version made with softened butter.

    That water is going three places; one, it’s participating in gluten matrix development, two, it’s hydrating starches to form gels and three, it’s binding to the molasses and white sugar. It’s no *wonder* it doesn’t bake out, even with the thin cross section.

    If I were super-motivated, I’d test this hypothesis by adding back 30g of water and/or 3 grams of Baker’s Special dry milk to the shortening-based version, but 1) eww, I’d have to bake with shortening and 2) I’m not the one with the test kitchen. ;0)

    Tell Susan the one with the pink Mohawk is at it again!

    E

    Reply
  30. LeeB

    We have a Giant Ginger Cookie recipe in our family’s holiday tradition recipe box that makes palm-sized chewy ginger cookies and I haven’t made them in many years simply because the recipe says “to make these cookies chewy you have to use Crisco, using butter will make them crispy” – We don’t do hydrogenated fat anymore at our house. But now I’m confused. I love gingersnaps, so do the kids, and we miss our giant ginger cookies. I’m wondering if coconut oil would work? That’s solid fat all the way through. And then thinking about the bacon grease posting – I rendered my own lard from a friend’s organic milk-fed hogs and have three quarts of that in the frig now. Do you think that would work?
    I suppose I just need to try it and then get back with you. :)

    Yup, exactly right, Lee – I’ve used neither lard nor bacon fat nor coconut oil in these cookies, so it would all be guessing. I’d think the coconut oil would be pretty much like Crisco; and I’d think the lard and bacon grease would be pretty close to 100% fat, too, so they’d probably work the same? Just not sure… PJH

    Reply
  31. vibeguy

    Coconut oil has been really disappointing for me in cookies. It’s got such a low melt point that it leaves a sheen on your lips and fingers that is distinctly “greasy” rather than “rich”. It’s awesome in whoopie pie filling, though.

    Thanks for the info. – I’ve never baked with coconut oil… Good to get some real-life experience here. PJH

    Reply
  32. Tonia

    Oh, and I have a recipe for Pfeffernuse that I got from my German grandmother if you folks at King Arthur would like to see it.
    Sure Tonia,
    Send it along to bakers@kingarthurflour.com and they’ll make sure it gets passed along to the good kitchen folk. ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  33. Jenn

    Just sent our Mom’s recipe for “Molasses cookies” to my sister this morning because she couldn’t find her copy. I make them for the holidays every year and it’s definitely one of our favorites!

    Reply
  34. Renee Shannon

    The follow is our favorite at Christmas.

    Pfeffernüsse
    (peppernuts)
    .
    Ingredients;
    ½ lb. butter
    ½ C. sugar
    2 Tablspoons Molases
    1 Tablespoon pure vanilla extrract
    2 ¾ C. flour
    1 C. walnuts or almonds (ground in nut grinder or food processor)
    ½ C. candied orange peel
    1 lemon rind, grated, plus the juice
    2 tsp. cinnamon
    ½ tsp. cloves
    1 tsp. freshly ground pepper (optional)
    1 tsp. Cardamom
    Glaze
    1 cup powdered sugar
    2 Tablespoons lemon juice
    1 /2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

    Measure out the spices.
    Cream the butter and sugar and molasses
    Add the nuts, flour, spices, orange peel and lemon zest, and form into a dough. If it doesn’t feel very firm add a bit more flour. It isn’t a stiff dough but it should hold together. Now let the dough sit in the fridge overnight.
    The next day bring out the dough and pre-heat the oven to 300 -325 degrees. ( If your oven tends to run hot keep it to 300)
    Now I make little balls about 3/4 inch in diameter. They will expand
    so give them so space. I have them on a parchment paper here, but if you don’t have a parchment just grease your baking sheet.
    Here they are ready to bake. Put in the oven and set the timer for 15 minutes.
    After 15 minutes take out the cookies and let them sit for a minute.
    Carefully lift up the bottom and check to see if it is lightly browned.
    You just want these cookies to set but not get too dark. They will
    get hard.
    To make the icing measure out 2 cups of powdered sugar and place in mixing bowl. Add 1/4 cup lemon juice. Also a 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla
    Whip till smooth. It may not look like you have enough liquid but it just takes a little time to absorb it.
    Dip the top of the cookie only, in the icing like so and place it on the baking sheet. Do this while the cookie is still warm. If they have cooled to much warm a bit in the oven for 1 minute.
    Continue with all of the cookies and let the icing set.
    An alternative is to just roll the pfeffernüsse in powdered sugar.

    Reply
  35. Jane Dough

    I made a batch of these last night since this is one of my mom’s favorites and she is visiting this weekend. (I tried the recipe as is and the shortening yielded a very crisp cookie.) My husband and son don’t care for Gingersnaps, so I asked if they would run some over to a few of our neighbors to enjoy. They were half way back down the street, when one elderly neighbor yelled from her porch, “These are the BEST I’ve ever had!” After hearing that they both came in and decided to try one. Then they both had seconds! Can’t wait to see what Mom thinks . . . .

    Reply
  36. plvannest

    Just finished baking a batch of these, and am struggling not to eat every one of them right now! Delicious. Baked mine for 12 minutes (couldn’t decide between 11 or 12 minutes) and they have the most delicate crunch. Another great one from KA.

    Only changes I made were that I upped the ginger to 1 tablespoon as I like extra spice and added 1/4 teaspoon fine ground black pepper as I like a bit of bite.

    This is definitely a keeper!

    Reply
  37. susaninmidlo

    Made these yesterday for last night’s dinner guest. Easy, easy recipe. I added small size candied ginger bits for a variation, and they added the occasional ‘bite’ to the bites. Guests raved over them and took some home. Good thing I held a few back for me! These will be a definite addition to the holiday rotation.

    Reply
  38. Anna

    Made a batch of these today using butter……..one of the best cookies I ever made!!! Pretty sure I ate half the batch!!!

    Reply
  39. LeeB

    @vibeguy – you are right about coconut oil sometimes being too greasy for baking – that’s what happened when I used it for crackers. However I LOVE brownies made with coconut oil. Probably the coconut/chocolate combination of flavors is the reason.
    It is good to read that others have made these cookies successfully with butter. I think that is what I will try. My parents are coming for Thanksgiving and are both gingersnap-aholics. :)

    Reply
  40. diane armstrong-mexico

    hard to get powdered ginger–what about finely chopped preserved (in sugar) gingerroot? the fat/oil comments are wonderful. i get four grades of butter here–local stuff that has no flavour at all, stuff from the north which seems to have a lot of water, new zealand, and french with a very high butterfat content, which i now use for everything. i now understand why the differences in cooking results. a BIG thank you. coconut oil, produced locally, never solidfies, even in fridge. it has very little flavour. i use it in place of cooking oil and sometimes in salad with raspberry vinegar. rendered porkfat(for frying) is available everywhere and i am excited to try it with some Xmas cookies
    incidentally, i now have a supermarket that carries KAF. it flies off the shelf. i pay about 10 dollars american equivalent for a bag of KAF bread flour. my 9-year-old grandaughter, who loves cooking, is getting a bag for christmas.
    aqain, a million thanks for all the info in this blog

    Reply
  41. Mary Beth

    I just made these gingersnap cookies on my second night home from school on winter break–they are the PERFECT batch of cookies for my gingersnap-loving family! Gingery, buttery, molasses-y… I cooked the first batch for 11 minutes and they were absolutely perfect, soft in the center with that gingery crunch toward the edges. My mom repeatedly praised them and called them “absolutely luscious!” Five stars from here in cold and snowy Michigan!

    Hooray, Mary Beth! Glad we could help get your vacation off to a good start. Hope your finals went well – enjoy your holiday! PJH

    Reply
  42. plvannest

    I should get some of the mini diced ginger ths week (if the UPS man can make it up the hill!) Was wondering how much of it I should add to these to give them just a little spark every other bite or so.

    (Oh, and this is one of the recipes I have marked ALWAYS DOUBLE. If the recipe isn’t doubled, they disappear before they’ve cooled!)

    Here’s what I do – start mixing it in, and when it looks like enough – stop! :) PJH

    Reply
  43. Ruhina Hashmi

    Hullo..
    I just made them and they are disastrous .. not the recipe’s fault, probably me.. I forgot all about the sugar.. didn’t have molasses, so added brown sugar instead. The sweetness is not a problem. The color is lighter but that too is not bad. The problem is, the taste, bite of soda is too strong. And they haven’t flattened out, rather are small hills.. with a crumbly mixture inside, instead of being a cookie. So, apart from the sugar and molasses – what else could have gone wrong here? Why the crumbly stuff and no spreading? Please guide me here.. Thanks!
    Oh no! I am so sorry these didn’t work out. Because you didn’t have the correct amount of sugar, the cookies were not able to spread properly and did not have the right amount of moisture, which led to the crumbly texture. Try this again when you have the right ingredients, and I’m sure you will reach success. ~Amy

    Also, since you used brown sugar instead of molasses, your cookies were less acidic – which is what led to the baking soda’s “bite,” as all of the soda wasn’t neutralized by acid. Well, lesson learned – you never know quite what’ll happen when you substitute ingredients… ;) PJH

    Reply
  44. Ruhina

    Thanks folks :) Just one more bit of help – I don’t get molasses here. I LOVE ginger cookies.. do you have any other here? What could I substitute for molasses? Thanks a ton!
    Dark corn syrup, maple syrup and brown sugar are all adequate substitutes for molasses. Use 1 1/2 cups of brown sugar for each cup of molasses. Here is a link to all of our ginger cookie-type recipes. I hope you enjoy them! ~Amy

    Reply
  45. nancyapoet

    I REALLY like the ginger taste (from cookies remembered from when we lived on Cape Cod) and have been trying to replicate them ever since (they were bakery-bought). Does anyone use grated ginger in addition to the ground spice? I also add the crystallized ginger bits.

    I also going to try out the black pepper as an ingredient — I am the type to go to the ends of the earth to “recover’ the cookie taste I remember from the Cape!

    Where on the Cape, Nancy? Maybe we can track down a specific recipe… I’m sure the fresh ginger would add zing, but I doubt that’s what they were using at the bakery. Might just be the pepper, as that’s an old New England addition… PJH

    Reply
  46. nancyapoet

    The bake shop was in Falmouth — the center itself, across from the Library. I do not remember its name. They also made excellent chicken pot pies –this was not the Centerville bakery made famous by Oprah although their pies are excellent too. Should have a Falmouth address. I would so love the recipe!

    Nancy, check out Pies a la mode – they specialize in chicken pot pies, and do offer molasses cookies. 352 Main St., Falmouth library is at 300 Main St. What do you think? PJH

    Reply
  47. nancyapoet

    That’s the place! We were just sitting around the kitchen table, my husband, me, my daughter whom I am visiting, talking about the chicken pot pies from there and my daughter was wishing for the recipe for the cookies. I had done a search and all I turned up were several other bakeries in town, so you are a genius for coming up with it. Hope you can wheedle the recipe out of them as I have never had a better molasses cookie — just the right consistency. Little crystalized bits of ginger in it.
    PS.: Would this be good in a box like the chocolate chip cookies?

    Nancy, I’ll see what I can do, for sure – have to make the trip to Falmouth sometime for a taste test. Not sure what you’re asking, “would this be good in a box” – you mean the gingersnaps? Yes, absolutely. Enjoy – PJH

    Reply
  48. nancyapoet

    Yes, that’s it! Field trip!

    What I meant about a box was I wondered if it would be possible for King Arthur Flour to make it into a mix like the chocolate chip cookies are and sell it as a mix in the box.
    I’ll place your request on our customer wish list! Thank you! ~Amy

    Reply
    1. BEA MOORE

      Made a few adjustments…a little butter in place of some of the shortening, and replaced part of the ap flour with whole wheat. I added some turbinado to the topping for added crunch. Abbsolutely scrumptious!

  49. Jim Gatteys

    I want the crunch of store-bought ginger snaps but the flavor of homemade. My mom made this recipe and I do also but it just doesn’t have the same crunch as store ginger snaps. I’m not sure what to change to try and achieve that texture. Any ideas?

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      I would suggest a relatively simple fix; sometimes baking cookies a few minutes longer will produce a crisper product. Give that a try and see how it works for you! Jon@KAF

  50. deb zemek

    okay, before I make these can you tell me – does the shortening make them crisp or soft? I keep seeing first crisp then soft then…I always thought shortening made them crispy. I need a crispy gingersnap for my mom so I will try them with shortening but I’m getting confused! (okay that IS easy to do this time of year…) :)

    thanks!

    Reply
    1. PJ Hamel , post author

      Deb, in my experience, shortening makes cookies crisp/crunchy, since it’s a higher percentage of ft, which tends to make thin things crisp ; butter makes them softer. Enjoy! PJH

  51. Pauline

    a friend gave me her family recipe for gingersnaps and one of the ingredients was crystalized ginger (which can be difficult to find at the markets)..rather than the ground. Do you think that it makes that big of a difference with the ground ginger? Haven’t made them in years, but they are a fav…

    thanks,

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Crystallized ginger bits are like little candies in the cookies. They are nice in cookies if you can find them. Might fine gingersnaps may be made without crystallized ginger, though.~Jaydl@kAF

  52. Michelle McCrillis

    One thing I add to my gingersnaps that really seems to make them “snap” is cardamom. My recipe calls for two teaspoons of ginger, so I use half ginger, half cardamom and my *kids* (the oldest is 41) can’t get enough of them.

    Reply
  53. Chit

    Hi PJH

    I have been reading all the comments and your replies. Just want to let you know you sound to me such a gracious kind person! Something in you seems endearing.

    By the way would you know what the outcome if I use vegetable oil instead of lard or butter….am more on the healthier ingredients!

    Thank you.
    Chit

    Reply
    1. PJ Hamel , post author

      Oh, Chit, aren’t you sweet? Thanks so much for those kind words. I think vegetable oil will yield a nice, crisp/crunchy cookie, since it’s 100% fat like shortening. Let us know how they come out, OK? Enjoy – PJH

  54. beingjennifer

    Thank you for this recipe, PJ!! I need to make these cookies this year!! My hubby and my dad both love gingerSNAPS. I like both the crunchy and soft ones. I just call the soft ones molasses spice cookies. I mean, if there’s no snap they’re not gingersnaps. :) And I never knew that the shortening/butter content is what makes a cookie crunchy or soft. I love learning new things!

    Reply
    1. PJ Hamel , post author

      Jennifer, I’m ALWAYS learning new things – I have a great job! And I’m with you, I’m a huge fan of gingersnaps. Now I want to go make some but it’s way past my bedtime, alas. Thankfully, there’s always tomorrow when it comes to baking. Enjoy – PJH

  55. marita

    I have been making this recipe for about a year. It is the best! I found that weighing the flour gives consistent results. I make it for my dad who is going on 95 and loves cookies. Everyone loves it and asks for the recipe.

    Reply
    1. PJ Hamel , post author

      Marita, it’s true – weighing ingredients definitely gives great results, and saves you cleanup of measuring cups, too. Glad your dad is still enjoying his ‘snaps! PJH

  56. Wendy

    I just made a double batch of these ginger cookies except my recipe calls for vegetable oil instead of shortening…good for my family as we avoid hydrogenated fats. The oil makes good cookies and I think it’s easier to work than shortening. Can’t wait to try them with cardamom.

    Reply
    1. PJ Hamel , post author

      Cardamom sounds like the perfect holiday touch, Wendy – thanks for sharing that suggestion. PJH

  57. Julie

    The cookies were delicious, but after they cooled they became too hard. Is there anything I can do to soften them up a bit? I read somewhere that putting a slice of apple in the tin would do the trick. Although they don’t look it, I must have overbaked them.
    Thank you.

    Reply
    1. PJ Hamel , post author

      Yes, Julie, a slice of apple or a slice of bread in a closed container with the cookies should help soften them up. Move the apple or bread around occasionally, and change it up every couple of days – if the cookies last that long. :) PJH

  58. Callee

    Tried making snowball cookies this weekend but they spread too much. Any suggestions for keeping them in small balls?

    Reply
    1. PJ Hamel , post author

      Callee, did you follow our snowball cookie recipe exactly, including using King Arthur Flour? If you used the recipe, but used a different flour, then next time add a couple of tablespoons of flour, since the flour you used was probably lower protein. If you used a different recipe, it’s hard to say what might have happened, since we can’t see your recipe… Call our hotline for further help, OK? 855-371-2253. PJH

  59. jeanio

    Oh where did I go so wrong! My cookies didn’t spread but they did crack. At 11 minutes they burned, at 9 minutes they were browned on the bottom and kind of raw in the middle. A total fail! But the little bits I could taste sure held a lot of promise… if I can only get it right.

    Reply
    1. PJ Hamel , post author

      Hi – sounds like you might have been a bit heavy-handed with the flour. Did you measure using a cup (rather than weighing)? If so, please check out our How to Measure Flour page; good all-around info. for all your baking. Also, you might want to check your oven temperature with an independent (oven) thermometer, if you don’t already use one; the temperature dials on ovens are notoriously inaccurate. Better luck next time! :) PJH

    1. PJ Hamel , post author

      Yes, Meg – the cookies probably won’t be as crisp, but they’ll be very tasty. Good luck – PJH

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