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Whole-grain rye molasses cookies are chewy and rich with deep flavor

(Scott Suchman for The Washington Post/food styling by Lisa Cherkasky for The Washington Post)
Rye Molasses Cookies
Active time:40 mins
Total time:8 hours 40 mins
Servings:Makes 16 large cookies
Active time:40 mins
Total time:8 hours 40 mins
Servings:Makes 16 large cookies

The previous version of the recipe listed an incorrect volume and sticks for the butter.

When I was growing up, my mom had a parade of cookies steadily marching out of the oven over the holidays. My favorites were her gooey-sweet chocolate crinkle cookies. As I grew into motherhood myself, I wanted to make something for my daughter that had the same charm, but with freshly milled whole-grain flour. These rye molasses cookies check those boxes: chewy and rich with a crunchy exterior. Best of all, the rye flour adds a depth of flavor, balancing out the malty molasses. You might find these irresistible even if you don’t consider yourself a sweets lover.

Rye flour is a great option for folks looking for a grain gentle on their digestive system while still being intensely flavorful and, at times, even better than the white stuff. Rye is a delightfully starchy and sweet flour with hints of green or black tea. I love to pair coriander with rye flour, but try clove or nutmeg to find what spice blend suits you.

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I find the charm of ’90s coffee shop cookies the size of a small dinner plate irresistible, so these cookies are portioned to a large scoop. Feel free to scale them down, per the instructions below.

Rye Molasses Cookies

If you’d like a smaller cookie, reduce the dough portions to 40 grams and cut the bake time by 5 minutes.

Make Ahead: The prepared dough needs to be covered and refrigerated overnight, and up to 48 hours, before baking. Portioned and shaped dough balls may be stored in the freezer for up to 2 months. After you have shaped the balls, transfer them on a baking sheet to the freezer. Once they’re solid, pack into an airtight container or bag and freeze until ready to use, adding more baking time as needed.

Storage: Store at room temperature in an airtight container for up to 4 days, or freeze for up to 2 months.

Where to Buy: Rye flour and unbleached organic raw cane sugar are available online or at well-stocked supermarkets.

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  • 5 cups (530 grams) whole or dark rye flour
  • 3 tablespoons (20 grams) ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine salt
  • 1 1/2 cups (340 grams) unbleached organic raw cane sugar, such as Florida Crystals or Field Day brands (may substitute granulated sugar)
  • 24 tablespoons (3 sticks/340 grams) unsalted butter, softened
  • Scant 1/2 cup (160 grams) molasses (do not use blackstrap)
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 cup (200 grams) turbinado sugar, for rolling

Step 1

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, ginger, baking soda, cinnamon, coriander and salt until combined.

Step 2

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or using a large bowl and a hand mixer, beat the sugar and butter together on medium-high speed until the mixture is uniform and pale yellow and its texture is light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Stop and scrape down the bowl using a flexible spatula, and bring the mixture back to the center of the bowl.

Step 3

Add the molasses and mix on medium-high until the mixture is an even, light brown color, stopping to scrape down the bowl as necessary.

Step 4

Add the eggs, one at a time, and mix on medium until each is fully incorporated; the mixture should be ultralight and silky.

Step 5

Add the flour mixture in three additions, starting the mixer on low and gradually increasing to medium, until there are no visible patches of dry flour. Stop to scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed to get the flour fully incorporated, 3 to 4 times.

Step 6

Using a flexible spatula, transfer the cookie dough to a clean, airtight container, cover and refrigerate for at least 8 hours and up to 2 days.

Step 7

Position racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees. Line two large, rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper. Place the turbinado sugar in a small bowl.

Step 8

Remove the cookie dough from the fridge and let it warm until pliable and easily molded into a ball in the palm of your hand, 10 to 15 minutes.

Step 9

Using a spoon or No. 30 disher, scoop the dough into approximately 2 1/2-tablespoon (80-gram) portions, gently shaping them into a ball. (It’s okay if they’re a little misshapen and look like river rocks — the cragginess will create texture when the cookies bake.) As you work, roll the dough balls in the turbinado sugar to thoroughly coat, pressing the sugar gently into the dough. Transfer to the prepared baking sheets, 6 per pan, leaving at least 2 inches in between the balls.

Step 10

Bake the two sheets for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the cookies have spread, puffed a little on the top and are deeply browned and firm on the edges with a soft and slightly paler but dry center, rotating from front to back and top to bottom halfway through. Let the cookies cool on the sheet for about 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Repeat with the remaining dough, using a baking sheet that has cooled completely.

Nutrition Information

Per cookie

Calories: 407; Total Fat: 19 g; Saturated Fat: 11 g; Cholesterol: 69 mg; Sodium: 169 mg; Carbohydrates: 59 g; Dietary Fiber: 8 g; Sugar: 34 g; Protein: 6 g

This analysis is an estimate based on available ingredients and this preparation. It should not substitute for a dietitian’s or nutritionist’s advice.

From baker and instructor Tara Jensen, author of “Flour Power” (Clarkson Potter, 2022).

Tested by Becky Krystal; email questions to

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