This gingersnap cookie recipe delivers the crunch factor and bold spices you expect. Using baking soda ensures crackly tops and super crisp treats, while molasses, cinnamon, cloves, pepper, and fresh ginger provide the robust flavor.
Gingersnap cookies are tiny edible bursts of holiday magic. Browned butter and molasses provide a dark hue and deep caramelized notes. To add some unsuspecting flavor, robust dried and fresh spices are added to the batter. Cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and a blend of peppers makes the taste buds tingle.
To create the ultimate snappy texture, the moisture is reduced and plenty of baking soda is used. This recipe has a wonderful crunch, perfect for dipping into hot cups of cocoa. Each batch makes dozens of mini cookies to stash away for later or sharing in a cookie exchange.
The benefits of browning butter
Making browned butter for these ginger snaps adds a delicious toffee flavor. By gradually heating the fat it toasts the milk solids and creates a nutty aroma.
The process also removes some of the natural excess moisture in the butter and makes the cookie dough less wet. This is important because the cookies should be drier and crunchy throughout, not have chewy centers.
Baking soda helps the crunch factor
Instead of a soft and chewy texture like soft molasses cookies, these have a snap! Baking soda helps give the cookies a slight lift, but also the higher levels develop a stronger crunch, similar to crackers.
The activity of the leavening agent creates veiny cracks on the surface, allowing moisture to more efficiently escape. Baking at moderately low temperatures of 300ºF (149ºC) for at least 20 minutes ensures even drying, without the cookies getting burnt. During the cool down, they will harden even more.
The spice flavors
The molasses and brown sugar complement the caramel flavors of the browned butter, which is made more interesting with spices. Using a generous amount of dried ground spices like cinnamon, ginger, and cloves add warm winter flavors. However, including freshly minced ginger, black pepper, and a pinch of cayenne pepper really punches up the taste and adds tingle.
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Bloom the spices
Add the dried spices directly to the warmed browned butter. You will immediately smell the pungent aromas emerge as they gently heat in the oil. The rise in temperature releases fat-soluble flavor compounds that are enhanced in the warmed fat. This creates a more flavorful cookie even before you bake them.
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- 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- 12 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 tablespoons ground ginger
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- Pinch cayenne pepper
- 1 ¼ cups dark brown sugar, packed
- ¼ cup unsulphured molasses
- 2 tablespoon finely grated fresh ginger
- 1 large egg, plus 1 egg yolk
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- Set the oven rack to the center position. Preheat to 300ºF (149ºC).
- Line three baking sheets with parchment paper.
- In a medium bowl whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt.
- In a 10-inch skillet (do not use nonstick or you won’t be able to see the browning) heat butter over medium heat. Once melted, reduce the heat to medium-low, swirl the skillet frequently until the butter solids begin to brown, about 4 to 5 minutes.
- Quickly transfer the browned butter to a large bowl.
- Add ground ginger, cinnamon, cloves, black pepper, and cayenne to the butter, whisk to combine. Cool slightly for 2 minutes.
- Add brown sugar, molasses, and fresh ginger to the butter mixture, whisk to combine.
- Add egg plus egg yolk, whisk to combine.
- Add flour to butter mixture and stir with a spatula until just combined.
- Tightly cover and refrigerate the dough until firm, 45 to 60 minutes.
- Roll the cookie dough into 2 teaspoon-sized (12g) balls, about 1-inch in size.
- Add granulated sugar into a shallow bowl and roll the cookies in sugar to coat.
- Evenly space the cookies 2-inches apart, about 20 per cookie sheet.
- Bake 1 sheet at a time until the edges are just beginning to darken, 20 to 22 minutes, rotating halfway through baking.
- Transfer the cookies still sitting on the parchment paper to a wire rack to cool completely. The cookies will harden more as they cool.
- Store gingersnap cookies at room temperature in an airtight container for up to 7 days. Freeze for up to one month, then defrost before eating.
- Recipe adapted from America’s Test Kitchen, The Perfect Cookie.
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