Ina Garten’s ginger cookies can be made traditionally or you can make these cookies in a healthier way. This recipe also has a vegan option. Seriously the best ginger cookies ever!
I make these chewy gingerbread cookies throughout the year, but nobody wants ginger cookies in July, so here they are now. They’re one of my favorite cookies ever.
Crystallized ginger is really expensive here, so when I went back to Texas the last time (2015!), I brought back over six pounds of the stuff just so that I could make loads of these cookies.
If you dislike crystallized ginger, use chocolate chips! Or chunks. Or try these milder Whole Wheat Gingerbread Men which call for just a bit of ground ginger.
I know this person who ate one of my cookies, and now every time I see her, I get asked when I’m making chewy gingerbread cookies again.
And that is seriously the only thing this person ever says to me. I’m not exaggerating. “Hello, when are you making ginger cookies? Can I have? Gingerbread cookies? When are they coming?”
As Ina Garten would say, “One of the great gifts that you can give people is to cook for them.” So let’s get to it.
- All-purpose or whole wheat flour
- Ground cinnamon + cloves + nutmeg + ginger
- Baking soda
- Brown sugar
- Molasses – no sub for this
- Egg – you can also use a chia egg for a vegan option!
- Crystallized ginger – optional
- Raw sugar – for rolling the cookies
- Orange zest – optional
How to make these ginger cookies:
- Mix flour, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, ginger and salt.
- Beat sugar, olive oil, molasses.
- Add egg and beat for another minute, scrape sides of the bowl, and continue to beat.
- Slowly add dry ingredients and mix on medium.
- Add the crystallized ginger and mix until combined.
- Roll cookie dough into balls and slightly flatten with your fingers.
- Press each cookie in sugar with orange zest.
- Place them on a lined baking sheet and bake.
- Take them out when they’re crackly.
- Let cookies cool on baking sheet for 2 minutes and transfer to wire rack.
Remember, if they’re not crackly, they’re not ready! As long as you rolled them in sugar, that is.
You can store the cookies in an airtight container for up to 5 days.
These cookies freeze great, too. So you can make them today and be ahead of the game for the holidays.
If you want to make the original Ina Garten ginger cookie recipe, it’s down below. But I’ve also included some options to make them a bit healthier, should you want to do that.
I followed the original recipe the first time and kept adding more and more whole wheat until they were 100% whole wheat. And they taste just the same.
And the same thing with olive oil and less sugar. These healthier ginger cookies are seriously just as amazing as the original!
You can use all-purpose flour, but I find that the result tastes exactly the same with whole wheat flour. Under all the spice, you can’t taste a difference.
100% whole wheat cookies that actually taste good?! Yes, please!
You can use regular whole wheat or white whole wheat. Whole spelt would likely also probably work, but you might need another tablespoon or two, as it’s not as absorbent as wheat.
I used olive oil, but you can’t taste it at all. In the raw dough, you can. Once they’re baked, you can’t.
I always use the regular organic extra-virgin olive oil from Lidl or Aldi. I wouldn’t recommend using a super expensive and flavorful olive oil as you might then taste it in the baked cookies.
The original recipe calls for vegetable oil and you can, of course, use that or any other neutral-tasting oil you’d like.
If you use coconut oil, I’d recommend refined coconut oil so that the coconut flavor of unrefined coconut oil doesn’t do weird things mingling with ginger, cinnamon and other flavors in these molasses cookies.
You’ve got a few options here. You can use brown sugar sugar, like the original recipe calls for, or raw sugar or coconut sugar.
The result is the same, so feel free to use whatever you have.
The texture of these cookies is perfect. They’re crisp on the outsides, but perfectly chewy.
Just the way cookies should be. At least in my opinion. 😉
If you bake them longer than suggested, they do get crisp like a gingersnap.
But you need to keep a close eye on them so that they don’t burn.
Crispy sugar coating
You can, of course, skip the step where you roll the cookies in sugar. I do it because I like the look (it makes them crackle so nicely!), and because I like the crisp sugary coat it creates.
I prefer to use raw sugar when rolling my cookies in sugar, but regular granulated sugar works as well.
Sometimes I add a bit of orange zest to the sugar coating because orange is such a great pair to ginger. I highly recommend it!
Perfect for gift-giving
These healthier ginger cookies are perfect for gift-giving, especially if you add the sugar coating. The sugar coating makes them sturdier, which is a big plus when packing cookies in a little cellphone bag.
I know it’s common to combine different types of cookies in one bag or box, but I would advise against combining very strongly flavored cookies, like these, with other cookies like sugar cookies.
Those other cookies will take a bit of the flavor on from the other cookies if they’re sitting on top of each other in a bag.
You can also use a chia egg for a vegan version. It works great!
I imagine a flax egg would also work, but I haven’t tried it. If you try out another egg sub, please let us know how it goes!
I’ve tried making today’s cookie recipe gluten-free many, many times throughout the years. It doesn’t work using my usual mixes.
I don’t recommend trying! They’re dry and a bit gritty. If you can’t have gluten, these gluten-free gingersnaps look delicious.
For the molasses, I used blackstrap molasses. I’ve only ever used blackstrap molasses in my baking and haven’t ever found the end product bitter. Neither have my taste testers.
But after getting crazy mixed reviews on another recipe where I used blackstrap molasses and said it was okay to use, I’m not going to recommend blackstrap ever again.
So just use the regular stuff! By regular stuff, I mean “light” molasses, which is what you always find at the grocery store. Brands like Grandma’s and Crosby’s are light molasses.
Definitely buy that kind unless you’re positive you like blackstrap molasses. The original Ina Garten ginger cookies recipe called for the regular stuff, so you’ll be fine using that.
Other easy Christmas treats:
- These Italian Almond Cookies are the quintessential Christmas cookie. They’re surprisingly quick and easy with 5 ingredients and they’re simply terrific. Naturally grain-free, gluten-free and dairy-free.
- Instant Pot Hot Chocolate is perfect for holiday gatherings. It’s super easy and stress-free and kept warm until your guests arrive.
- These Cranberry Shortbread Bars are filled with tart cranberry sauce and make a beautiful seasonal dessert or even for a fruity breakfast bar!
- These Goat Cheese Balls make perfect appetizers. They’re super quick and easy, made with dried cranberries and pecans. But they can be made nut-free.
- And of course, everyone wants a white Christmas. Now you can have it in a fancy glass with this White Christmas Cocktail. It’s super quick and fun and made with white chocolate to look like snow.
- I love this Wassail Recipe with Alcohol! You can make this punch in a slow cooker or on the stove-top. It’s easy and made with fruit juices, spice and spirits. It’s a traditional drink to toast to good health and ring in cheer!
That’s it! Which holiday cookie is your favorite? If you try the healthier version (or the regular version!) of Ina Garten’s Ginger Cookies, leave a comment below and let me know how they turned out! If you post to social media, be sure to tag #fooddoodles recipes so I can easily find them!
- 2 1/4 cups (292 grams) all-purpose flour or whole wheat flour
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cloves
- 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup (200 grams) brown sugar or 2/3 cup (133 grams) for a less sweet version
- 1/4 cup (60ml) oil*
- 1/3 cup (117 grams) molasses**
- 1 large (50 grams, out of shell) egg or 1 chia egg*** for vegan
- 1 1/4 cups (170 grams) chopped crystallized ginger, optional
- raw sugar for rolling the cookies
- orange zest from two oranges optional
- Preheat the oven to 350 °F (175 °C).
- In a large bowl, mix the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, ginger, and salt. Set aside.
- With an electric mixer, beat the sugar, oil, and molasses at medium speed for 1 minute.
- Add the egg, and beat for 1 minute on low. Scrape the sides of the bowl and then beat for another minute.
- Slowly add the dry ingredients and mix on medium for 2 minutes.
- Add the crystallized ginger and mix until combined.
- Roll each cookie into a 1 3/4-inch ball and flatten them slightly with your fingers.
- Press each side of the cookie in sugar, which has been mixed with the orange zest, if using, and place them on a Silpat or a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
- Bake for 13-15 minutes. As soon as they’re crackly, I take them out. If they’re not crackly, they’re not ready.
- Cool the cookies on the sheets for 1 to 2 minutes, then transfer to wire racks to cool completely.
- Keep in an airtight container for up to 5 days. They freeze great.