My easy recipe for healthier Chewy Molasses Spice Cookies has all the cozy warmth you expect from this holiday classic but adds a sneaky dose of fiber. Make a batch of my gingery whole wheat molasses crinkle cookies for your cookie exchange this winter — nobody will be the wiser!
When it comes to baking, there are few things I love more than a simple cookie recipe. These tasty molasses ginger spice cookies are always top of my list for the winter holidays. Not only are they filled with warm, cozy flavors, they’re also a snap to make!
All you need are 13 easy-to-find ingredients and about 10 minutes of prep time to get them ready for the oven. As if that weren’t enough to love, my soft spice cookies just so happen to be made with whole grains for an added nutritional boost.
And, since I AM the Oregon Dietitian, I also figured out how to make these tasty refined sugar-free and dairy-free, meaning they’re a sweet treat you can enjoy without any guilt. Happy Holidays, indeed!
What do spice cookies taste like?
If “sugar and spice and everything nice” could be distilled into a cookie, it’d be this one. They’re sweet, spicy, and downright addictive!
With a tender, chewy interior, crunchy sparkling sugar exterior, and deliciously bittersweet molasses flavor punctuated by warming spices like ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves, these wintry delights taste like a hug from Grandma.
Making this updated, healthy version of old-fashioned Christmas crinkle cookies requires mostly pantry ingredients. Here’s what to grab:
- Coconut Sugar – For sweetness *without* using refined sugar.
- Avocado Oil – Using avocado oil instead of butter means you’re replacing a bunch of saturated fat with mono- and polyunsaturated fats, plus a hefty dose of vitamin E.
- Molasses – For chewiness and yummy bittersweet goodness. Oh, and it also has quite a few beneficial nutrients, too!
- Eggs – Let them come to room temperature first to make it easier to mix them into the dough.
- Maple Extract or Vanilla Extract – You can also do a 50/50 split to get the best of both worlds!
- Whole Wheat Pastry Flour – Swapping in whole wheat pastry flour for your typical all-purpose white flour means you’re getting way more nutritional bang for your buck.
- Baking Powder & Baking Soda – For leavening.
- Cinnamon, Dry/Ground Ginger, Nutmeg, & Cloves – You can’t have spice cookies without lots of warming spices!
- Coarse Sugar (Optional) – While this is optional, it adds a lovely bit of sparkle and crunch to these spicy ginger cookies. I suggest reaching for turbinado (a.k.a. sugar in the raw) or demerara varieties which are only very minimally processed.
While I love these spicy, gingery molasses cookies just as they are, there’s always room to make customizations based on your needs. Here are a few easy swaps you can make:
- Coconut Sugar – To keep refined sugars to a minimum, try swapping in sucanat, maple sugar, or grated jaggery or piloncillo instead. Otherwise, light or dark brown sugar will also work.
- Avocado Oil – Any neutral flavored oil will work here, but try to reach for one that has heart-healthy fats. Next to avocado, sunflower oil, peanut oil, or grapeseed oil are probably your best bets.
- Molasses – The closest substitute here is sorghum, but you can also use a dark variety of honey (e.g. buckwheat, dandelion, or manuka honey) which will yield a slightly less bitter result. You can also swap in a 50/50 split of dark corn syrup and maple syrup if you like, but you’ll get both a sweeter flavor and a dose of heavily refined sugar in the mix.
- Eggs – Feel free to swap in your favorite egg replacement (e.g. JUST Eggs or Bob’s Red Mill Egg Replacement Powder). You can also try using 1/4 cup of either mashed banana or no-sugar-added applesauce per egg, but note that you’ll be able to at least faintly taste either option.
- Whole Wheat Pastry Flour – You can also use white whole wheat flour, regular all-purpose flour, or even a gluten-free cup-for-cup flour blend. Note that with AP or GF flour, you’ll miss out on some of the nutritional advantages of using whole wheat flour.
- Cinnamon, Dry/Ground Ginger, Nutmeg, & Cloves – As it turns out, these are pretty much the same spices that go into both pumpkin pie spice and apple pie spice, so feel free to swap in an equal amount of your favorite blend to reduce the number of jars you need to pull from the spice cabinet. If you only have fresh ginger on hand, you can use 2 tablespoons of grated in place of the dry ginger!
- Coarse Sugar (Optional) – Swedish pearl sugar provides a pretty, speckled white exterior and serious crunch. You can also use sanding sugar in any color you please!
How to Make this Spice Cookie Recipe
These German spice cookies are so simple to make! You don’t even need to get out your mixer. Here’s how to whip up a batch:
Step 1: Wet Ingredients & Prep. Preheat the oven. Combine the coconut sugar, avocado oil, molasses, eggs, and maple extract. Set aside.
Step 2: Dry Ingredients. Whisk together the flour, spices, and leavening until combined.
Step 3: Mix Wet & Dry. Slowly fold the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, and mix until well combined.
Step 4: Shape. Form the dough into 1.5 inch balls, then roll in coarse sugar (if using). Place on a lined cookie sheet and flatten slightly.
Step 5: Bake for 13-14 minutes. Allow to cool, then serve!
Tips & FAQ
These deliciously soft molasses spice cookies are like the softer, more complex version of gingersnaps.
It’s so easy! Simply grab a kitchen scale, add your empty mixing bowl, and hit “Tare” to bring the weight to zero. Add your flour until you hit the right measurement. From there, you can hit “tare” again to weigh your next ingredient — no math needed!
Freeze cookie dough balls for on-demand treats! After rolling the cookie dough into balls and rolling them in sugar, freeze them in a single layer on a plate or baking sheet. Once solid, toss them in a zip-top bag or freezer-safe container and freeze for up to 3 months. Whenever the craving for a fresh, warm spice cookie hits, simply bake off as many as you need from frozen, adding a few minutes of bake time as needed.
While these sparkling, soft spice cookies are definitely intended as a treat rather than a meal, you can rest assured that they’re a relatively healthy snack as far as desserts go.
First, since they’re made with whole-grain flour, you’re getting 2 grams of fiber per cookie. While that might not sound like a ton, every little bit helps! Women should aim for 21-25 grams per day, while men should aim for 30-38. Whole wheat flour also ensures you’re getting 3 grams of protein per cookie, which will boost your level of satiety.
Second, replacing butter with heart-healthy avocado oil means that you’re getting a nice dose of monounsaturated fats and omega-3 fatty acids. Some studies have shown that making this swap can lower LDL (“bad”) cholesterol, blood glucose levels, and blood pressure.
Finally, using unrefined sugars means that while you’re still ingesting added sugars, you’re at least getting the benefit of the mineral content they have to offer. Coconut sugar and molasses are also lower on the glycemic index scale than traditional refined sugars, meaning your blood sugar is less likely to spike after having one.
The total nutritional content per serving (including coarse sugar) is:
- Calories: 177 calories
- Total Fat: 5 grams
- Protein: 3 grams
- Sodium: 126 mg
- Carbohydrates: 32 grams
- Fiber: 2 grams
*This nutritional information is an estimate and calculated based on the ingredients used to create the recipe. The nutritional value of your ingredients may differ slightly. Furthermore, this food is not intended to prevent, diagnose, cure, or treat any disease.
This is what I personally paid to make this recipe:
- 1 ¼ cup coconut sugar: $2.40
- ¼ cup avocado oil: $1.10
- ¼ cup molasses: $0.62
- 2 large eggs: $0.59
- 1 ½ tsp maple extract: $1.32
- 2 cups whole wheat pastry flour: $2.26
- 2 tsp cinnamon: $0.08
- 1 ½ tsp baking powder: $0.03
- ½ tsp baking soda: $0.01
- 1 tsp ginger: $0.10
- ½ tsp nutmeg: $0.04
- ¼ tsp cloves: $0.02
The total comes out to be around $8.57 or about $0.57 per cookie!
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Chewy Molasses Spice Cookies
- Preheat the oven to 350°. In a medium mixing bowl, combine the coconut sugar, avocado oil, molasses, eggs, and maple extract. Set aside.
- In a separate mixing bowl, whisk together the whole wheat pastry flour, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves until combined.
- Slowly fold the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, and mix until well combined and you have a uniform ball of cookie dough.
- Form the dough into 1.5 inch balls, then roll in coarse sugar (if using). Place on a lined cookie sheet and flatten slightly.
- Bake in the preheated oven for 13-14 minutes. Allow to cool, then serve!
If you end up making this and loving it, take a photo and tag me on Instagram! I’d love to see your versions of my recipes! And feel free to rate it down below in the comment section. I would really appreciate it!