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Gluten Free Molasses Cookies | Soft and Chewy

Gluten Free Molasses Cookies | Soft and Chewy

These soft and chewy gluten free molasses cookies are perfect for lunchboxes or to enjoy with a cup of hot cider.

Molasses cookies arranged on cake plate

Remember Archway Cookies? Those white, plastic-covered packages, 4 or 5 stacks of perfectly round, perfectly soft cookies. A wee bit darker on the outside, soft and pale on the inside, with just the right amount of spice to make them taste just like fall feels.

My gluten free son remembers none of this, since he’s been eating a gluten free diet for as long as he can remember. But I remember them, and I want him to enjoy something just like them. And maybe you miss them, too?

Fingers flattening mounds of molasses cookie dough

What gives these cookies their texture?

Typically, soft and chewy cookies get their texture from a fair amount of butter, but these gluten free molasses cookies have only 4 tablespoons of butter in the whole batch. Their texture, instead, comes in part from what gives them a lot of their flavor (and their name): molasses.

When you bake with brown sugar instead of granulated sugar, you typically get a softer cookie. But that’s because brown sugar isn’t unrefined white sugar.

Brown sugar is granulated sugar with molasses added to it. Here, we use 3/4 cup of granulated sugar, and add 1/4 cup (or 4 tablespoons) molasses to the recipe. It gives the cookies tons of texture and flavor.

Baked molasses cookies on white paper on tray

How to handle this very soft cookie dough

Since this cookie dough has so much molasses, it tends to be relatively sticky. I like to portion it with a #50 ice cream scoop, but it’s sticky enough that it can be challenging to get all of the dough off the scoop mechanism.

If you’re having trouble scooping the dough or removing the portions from your scoop, try chilling the dough a bit. You do want it to be room temperature when the baking sheet goes into the oven, though, so let it warm up at room temperature a bit before baking.

Once the portions are on the baking sheet, moisten your hands to roll each portion into a ball, then flatten it into a disk. The moisture will create a barrier between your hands and dough, and keep it from sticking.

Molasses cookies in a tall stack

Ingredients and substitutions

Dairy

The dairy in these cookies comes only from the 4 tablespoons of butter. If you are dairy-free, I’d recommend trying to replace the butter with vegan butter like Miyoko’s Kitchen or Melt brand.

I don’t recommend using Earth Balance buttery sticks in place of butter, since they contain too much moisture. The cookies are already soft and spread just the right amount. More moisture would lead to more spread, in an unpleasant way.

Eggs

There are two whole eggs in this recipe, and they are a very important part of the texture and structure. You could try replacing each with one “chia egg” (1 tablespoon ground white chia seeds + 1 tablespoon lukewarm water, mixed and allowed to gel), but I’m not super optimistic.

 
Molasses Cookies raw on tray, baked on tray, and arranged on a cake plate

Like this recipe?

Prep time: Cook time: Yield: 18 to 24 cookies, depending on size

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups (210 g) all purpose gluten free flour (I used Better Batter)

3/4 teaspoon xanthan gum (omit if your blend already contains it)

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/8 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

1/4 teaspoon ground allspice

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

3/4 cup (150 g) granulated sugar

4 tablespoons (56 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature

4 tablespoons (84 g) unsulphured molasses

2 eggs (100 g, weighed out of shell) at room temperature, beaten

Directions

  • Preheat your oven to 325°F. Line rimmed baking sheets with unbleached parchment paper and set them aside.

  • In a large bowl, place the flour, xanthan gum, baking soda, salt, ground cloves, ground ginger, ground allspice, ground cinnamon and granulated sugar, and whisk to combine well. Add the butter, molasses, and eggs, mixing to combine after each addition. The dough will come together and be thick but soft.

  • Divide the dough into 18 to 24 parts with a spoon or small ice cream scoop, depending on how large you’d like the cookies. They’ll spread at least 1-inch during baking. With moistened hands, roll each portion of dough into a ball, and place on the prepared baking sheets about 2 inches apart. With wet fingers, flatten the balls of dough into disks about 1/4 inch thick.

  • Place the baking sheet in the center of the preheated oven and bake until golden brown around the edges, light brown on top and mostly firm on the top to the touch (about 10 minutes). Allow the cookies to cool completely on the baking sheet before serving. They will be fragile when warm, but will become firm once cool.

  • Originally published on the blog in 2012. Recipe unchanged; most text and photos new.

Love,
Nicole

  • Holly
    September 10, 2020 at 1:14 PM

    Nicole, I couldn’t reply directly to your comment again but regarding your info on sugar, you’re absolutely right! My studies for years have involved these type of things. The reason we lean towards sweeteners such as coconut sugar, maple sugar/syrup and honey is because they do offer some minerals and a few health benefits rather than just being what I call “dead food” like the white foods. Additionally, my husband is type one insulin-dependent diabetic but he loves sweets so he’ll have one every now and then and the lesser processed sugars affect his blood sugar way less than more processed ones such as agave or refined sugars.

    I was so excited to see you start making Paleo recipes a while ago! We love so many of them but I think the chocolate chip scones might be our favorite. So many goodies, so little time. Thanks again for the feedback and these cookies are magnificent straight from the freezer too! I put them in there so I would stop eating them #EpicFail 🤣

  • Holly
    September 8, 2020 at 9:23 PM

    I can’t reply to your comment..there must be something going on on my end. Anyway, thanks for getting back to me Nicole. I just made these they are SO GOOD.! They have the perfect amount of chew and a little bit of crunch around the edges and I love how balanced the spices are and the amount of sweetness is spot on! These are definitely my new favorite. I had to bring out my limited supply of granulated sugar for this one but it was worth it. I can’t stop eating them!

    • Nicole Hunn
      September 10, 2020 at 9:13 AM

      So glad it was worthwhile, Holly, to use the granulated sugar. For what it’s worth, for the most part sugar is sugar to your body. Unrefined sugars might have added nutrients, but I don’t consider them to be truly healthy. Not that cookies have to be healthy, and not that you asked! Oh, and not that I’m a nutritionist… Just my 2¢. :)

  • Holly
    September 8, 2020 at 9:35 AM

    Hi Nicole, I left a comment on here but it disappeared 🤔 oh well. I’ll try again…have you ever used granulated maple sugar in place of white sugar ? I buy an organic brand and it’s not quite as dry as white sugar but not as wet as brown sugar. I much prefer the mild sweetnesss of it over coconut sugar which is more for subbing brown sugar IMO. Sadly, we can’t really tolerate much white sugar. You always offer great subs for other things but not for sugar and I know white sugar tenderizers recipes as well as sweetens them so I’m not hopeful but I thought I would ask. I’ve made most of your Paleo recipes on here (YUM!) but I want to make these cookies! Thanks in advance.

    • Nicole Hunn
      September 8, 2020 at 1:32 PM

      Hi, Holly, I wouldn’t use that in place of anything other than coconut palm sugar. I wish I had better news!

  • Linda E
    September 7, 2020 at 5:48 PM

    Hi Nicole,
    My husband thanks you so much! One of his favorite cookies, I can’t wait to make these for him. Next comes, sugar and chocolate chip for his list! It is going to be a hot and humid week here in NH, so will wait a couple of weeks! Have a great week!

    • Nicole Hunn
      September 7, 2020 at 6:35 PM

      It seems like it’s a husband favorite, Linda! I hope the weather breaks soon. The dog days of summer can be pretty brutal!

  • Gaye
    September 6, 2020 at 10:44 PM

    Thank you, my husband loves these!

    • Nicole Hunn
      September 7, 2020 at 9:54 AM

      You’re very welcome, Gaye. So does mine. :)

  • Deanna
    September 6, 2020 at 4:53 PM

    These are the cookies I miss! I loved these and all the other recipes I have seen make them crispy. Thanks for these! Next on my baking list!

    • Nicole Hunn
      September 7, 2020 at 9:54 AM

      You’re so welcome, Deanna! I consider crispy cookies and soft/chewy cookies to be entirely separate entities. I usually try to have recipe for each version!

  • Rose Sinclair
    August 30, 2020 at 4:23 PM

    I used one flax egg and 2 tbsp Aquafaba and golden Crisco for the butter to make them vegan and they turned out great!

    • Nicole Hunn
      August 30, 2020 at 4:59 PM

      I’m so glad to know that, Rose! It’s always so helpful when readers post their substitution experiences, since I can only make recommendations but can’t try every possible sub. Thank you for sharing!

  • Rachel
    August 29, 2020 at 2:09 AM

    You’ve done it again Nicole. These are great. Used your “mock” better batter flour blend (can’t buy it in Australia). Mixed dry then wet ingredients in thermomix speed 4. Perfect and delicious!

    • Nicole Hunn
      August 29, 2020 at 1:36 PM

      I created the “mock” Better Batter blend specifically for people like you in other countries who couldn’t buy Better Batter. I’m thrilled that you’re using it, and that you enjoyed the cookies, Rachel!

  • Pamela G
    September 24, 2012 at 11:21 AM

    Nicole….you are my hero….Molly the GF dog LOVES these.  She started by coming in the house, nose in the air.  The cookies were cooling on a rack on the table.  She proceeded to go to the table (which is nose high for her) and sniff. She immediately sat down, looked at me, looked at the cookies…looked at me again and grumbled a little like “Mom? Can I has one?” :)  Scott had a handful and a huge glass of milk later on and said they’re perfect..thanks!!!

    • gfshoestring
      September 25, 2012 at 1:54 PM

      Pam, that is the most pampered gluten-free dog in history. If she tells my 2 dogs how well she is treated, they’ll revolt!
      xoxo Nicole

  • Jenn
    September 20, 2012 at 1:58 PM

    I was in a meeting yesterday when I saw the e-mail with these cookies and I actually said “Swet!” outloud…not ver y professional…but oh well :)  I made the cookies last night, and although the texture was not right to make into a ball ( I spooned the batter onto the cookie sheet and made the circle shape with the back of the spoon) the cookies cmae out amazing and the perfect texture.  I think I only have 3 cookies left!
    Thanks again for an amazing recipe.
    Keep Smilin
    Jenn

    • gfshoestring
      September 20, 2012 at 2:08 PM

      Sounds professional to me, Jenn! Then again, my profession is cookies. ;)
      Since you are the second person to say she has had trouble rolling the dough into balls, I modified the recipe a bit to indicate that it is best to roll the portioned dough with very, very hands, and that if you are unable to roll it, it will only affect the shape of the cookie, but not the quality in any other way. And a small ice cream scoop can help make rounds, too. Glad you enjoyed them!
      xoxo Nicole

  • September 19, 2012 at 8:13 PM

    Oh, this looks nice and easy! I’m all over it. Thanks for all the fun nostalgia recipes.

    In other news, my girl’s been in school just over a week and already 2 in class birthday parties. I made your awesome yellow cupcakes (first cookbook) yesterday thinking I could freeze the rest… There is only one left :) I gave one to her teacher because I wanted her to taste how great homemade GF can be.
    -Dana

    • gfshoestring
      September 19, 2012 at 8:16 PM

      Love it, Dana! Oh, we’ve had a million birthdays already, too. I can’t say I exactly look forward to those in-class birthdays. :/ Well done, spreading the good-not-just-good-for-GF message to her teacher!
      xoxo Nicole

    • Jenn
      September 20, 2012 at 2:00 PM

      I did the same thing with my son and it has been a lifesaver, espically since I tend to not find out about the party until the night before.

      • September 20, 2012 at 7:37 PM

        Hi Jenn, last minute notice can be hard! I’m working on getting a class birthday list so I can have more time to prepare. My daughter really wants to have the same looking cupcake as her pals, so in a perfect world I’d have choc and vanilla reserves in my freezer. But my husband often sneaks them for dessert!
        -Dana

  • Michelle
    September 19, 2012 at 7:51 PM

    I am making these as we speak and the mixture is more like a batter versus a dough.  There is no way it can be “rolled’ as your recipe calls for.  Its also not even close to the same color.  I’m just going to use a cookie scoop and see what happens since the mixture is kind of loose.

    • gfshoestring
      September 19, 2012 at 8:14 PM

      Hi, Michelle, I can see that you are frustrated that the recipe is not turning out as you had hoped. It is a very soft dough, but it is a tested recipe and works when made precisely as written. I would suggest measuring your ingredients by weight instead of by volume for greater precision.
      Nicole

      • Michelle
        September 19, 2012 at 9:34 PM

         The taste is ok but they just ran together.  I did weight my ingredients and I’m sorry to say this isn’t the first time I’ve had an inconsistent result with your recipe.  Guess its just not for me.

        • gfshoestring
          September 20, 2012 at 7:54 AM

          Michelle – let’s go over how you prepared the recipe because if you used the ingredients listed in the recipe the dough would be sticky, but would roll, especially with wet hands. It is very frustrating when a recipe doesn’t work, but please know they are not published unless they are tested. Tested means that the recipe can be repeated successfully if the exact same ingredients listed in the recipe are used and the instructions are followed exactly as written. If other ingredients are substituted and recipe instructions are changed then it really is an entirely different recipe altogether and may not work at all. For example, when cookies run together it is often due to the substitution of nondairy butter, which has significantly more moisture than butter. Let me know if I can help at all. Nicole

        • MaryCatherine
          September 23, 2012 at 2:41 PM

          Maybe you’re using a really tricky flour blend Michelle? I can never get my hands on Better Batter, and I’m allergic to several things common in flour blends (chickpea/garbanzo beans, soy flour), so I’m really limited. I’ve had great luck with Bob’s Red Mill, but everything goes to hell when I try King Arthur GF flour or anything else. Small changes can make a huge difference! I’ve had more consistent results with your recipes Nicole than with ANY other cookbooks, websites, etc. so stick with it Michelle, the results are really worth it!

        • gfshoestring
          September 24, 2012 at 8:29 AM

          Thank you so much for weighing in, MaryCatherine! I’m so glad you have been able to find what works for you. So much of it is, as you say, about the flour. :)
          xoxo Nicole

      • Michelle
        September 20, 2012 at 1:34 AM

         The taste is ok but they just ran together.  I did weight my ingredients and I’m sorry to say this isn’t the first time I’ve had an inconsistent result with your recipe.  Guess its just not for me.

    • Pamela G
      September 26, 2012 at 12:18 PM

      I used a cookie scoop….and then flattened the ‘balls’ with the wet bottom of metal measuring cup – dipped between every cookie -time saver. They weren’t as perfect as Nicole’s..but they are YUMMO….MY dough didn’t seem roll-able at all either. I’ve made them twice, and both batches came out a much thicker cake batter consistancy.

  • Heather :) :) :)
    September 19, 2012 at 3:10 PM

    These remind me a bit of the oatmeal molasses cookies that my grandmother would make. We’d have them every afternoon with some nice chamomile tea ;) :) Thanks for the recipe. Love and hugs from the ocean shores of CAlifornia, Heather ;)

  • Rebecca Blackman
    September 19, 2012 at 1:17 PM

    Uh oh…I already spilled the beans.  I sometimes go on for days on how much work you put into recipes so the rest of us can munch our way into culinary heaven. Neither my extended family nor my co-workers avoid the goodies I bring to share since they cannot tell the difference.  Everyone loves them!  And  now  next week they will be Molasses Cookies!

    • gfshoestring
      September 19, 2012 at 8:17 PM

      Oh that is so kind, Rebecca, that not only do I not mind but I’m terribly flattered. :) Thank you for your kind support!
      xoxo Nicole

  • kclark
    September 19, 2012 at 12:22 PM

    I won’t spill the beans that you are a romantic but I am in love! You have been on a serious nostalgic roll lately and I am so happy!  I am making the Chocolate Pop Tarts this weekend.  You know who will be so happy.  And these cookies? Come on!!! I couldn’t be happier.  

    • gfshoestring
      September 19, 2012 at 8:18 PM

      I think there’s something about back-to-school, not to mention the start of crisper Fall weather, that sends me back! Oh, I know who alright … ;)
      xoxo Nikki

  • Pamela G
    September 19, 2012 at 10:38 AM

    Nicole…think you nailed this one. My grams recipe didn’t turn out the way I wanted it to, but didn’t have the patience to fuss with it. You have…. thank you!!! :)

    • gfshoestring
      September 19, 2012 at 8:21 PM

      Fussing with it is all I do, Pam. Leave it to me! ;)
      xoxo Nicole

  • Linda Stoddard
    September 19, 2012 at 10:33 AM

    o-boy-o-boy! Love those molasses cookies–I’m guessing hubby is happy with these–if I recall correctly one of your posts (gingerbread?) prompted his first comment ever–or something silly like that. Anyway, with Autumn heading in and cooler temps, this is the perfect time to make these! Thanks, Nicole xoxLinda

    • gfshoestring
      September 19, 2012 at 8:20 PM

      I think you’re right, Linda! Great memory. :)
      I’m all over those cooler temps. Oh how I love baking season!
      xoxo N

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