Nana’s Molasses Cookies Recipe

molasses cookies

I loved my Nana.  She was strong and steady.  She was practical and smart.  She played a mean game of Scrabble.  And boy, did she hate to cook (a fact I didn’t learn until years after she died).

Nonetheless, she was amazing at it.  She made great pot pie (I’ve adapted her chicken pot pie to a vegetable version here: Vegetable Pot Pie Recipe).   My grandpa was a farmer, and Nana was always canning something.  Her creamed potatoes were to die for, and we ate her blackeyed peas like they were going out of style.

When I would go spend summers with my Nana and Papa, there was usually a canister of these cookies on the kitchen counter.  She made them in the tiny oven of their white porcelain 1930s Chambers gas range.


Nana & me - Nana's Molasses Cookies Recipe -

Today I make them in my modern-home-standard-issue electric oven using  her old recipe.  I take a bite and find myself right back at that kitchen table, squared off against a robust gray-haired lady bent on my ultimate Scrabble destruction.  

Miss you, Nana.

Nana's Molasses Cookies

Prep Time30 minutes
Active Time12 minutes
Total Time1 hour 42 minutes
Course: Desserts
Cuisine: Vegetarian
Yield: 30 cookies


  • 3/4 cup shortening
  • 1 cup unrefined sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • 1 1/4 cups unbleached flour
  • 3/4 cup white-wheat flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves


  • Cream together shortening and sugar.
  • Add egg and molasses. Beat well.
  • Combine flours, baking soda, salt and spices in a separate bowl.
  • Add half of dry ingredients to molasses mixture and mix well. Add remaining dry ingredients; mix well.
  • Chill dough for 1 hour.
  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  • Spray cookie sheet with nonstick cooking spray or line with parchment paper.
  • Roll dough into 1-inch balls. Roll each ball in sugar.
  • Place sugar-coated balls on prepared baking sheet.
  • Bake for 10-12 minutes, until cookies are puffed and golden brown.
  • Remove from oven and allow cookies to set on cookie sheet for 2 minutes before removing to a rack to cool completely.
  • Store in a tightly covered container.
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