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Holly Jolly Gingersnaps

With all of the delicious offerings at this time of year, gingersnaps are the often overlooked, quiet little cookies. In fact, after an informal poll I learned that a lot of people don't even like ginger cookies! What?! Clearly, these poor people have never had the right kind of ginger cookie.

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I'm talking about the kind that deliciously blends the sweetness of sugar and vanilla with the spicy combination of ginger and cinnamon. Good ginger cookies aren't hard and crumbly, but perfectly firm with a crisp edge and chewy center. They're the ideal dunking cookie because they're small enough to fit into the most delicate tea cup, but sturdy enough to hold up to being jostled in a parcel.

I've been experimenting with this gingersnap recipe for two years now, tweaking everything from the ingredients to the size and baking time, and I have hit upon a blue ribbon winner in these Holly Jolly Gingersnaps. They aren't a true "snap" because they aren't crispy enough to snap in half (unless you over-bake them, which you definitely don't want to do!), but they are tantalizingly crispy at the edges and satisfyingly chewy at the middle.

Where most gingerbread recipes are either too bland or too spicy, these petite cookies are a happy balance of sugar and spice (and everything nice!). The small size makes them perfect for a little snack with tea or coffee, as well as perfectly inviting for little hands. Because, guess what? Kids love these cookies. Seriously. My two very picky sons prefer these cookies to any other cookie I bake, including chocolate chip!

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These gingersnaps also store well. They last up to two weeks in an airtight container (and get chewier as they sit), which makes them perfect for mailing to friends and relatives at a distance. So make a big batch for home and to share from now until the new year!

As my youngest son says, "These cookies taste like Christmas!"

Holly Jolly Gingersnaps

  • Makes


    5 dozen cookies
  • Meal
  • Prep

    12 minutes
  • Cook

    9 minutes
  • Total

    21 minutes


  • 3/4 cup butter flavored shortening
  • 1 cup sugar (plus 1/4 cup for dusting)
  • 1/2 cup molasses
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ginger
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt


  • 1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.

  • 2. Cream together shortening and sugar. Add egg, molasses and vanilla and mix well. 

  • 3. In a separate bowl, sift together dry ingredients and add to molasses mixture. Mix well.

  • 4. Form dough into small 1-inch balls and dip one side of each dough ball in sugar. Place dough balls sugar-side up 2 inches apart on parchment-lined cookie sheets. Do not flatten.

  • 5. Bake cookies 7 to 9 minutes or until lightly browned. 

  • 6. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely and store in an air tight container.

Images by Kristina Wright

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