Gluten-Free Cocoa Molasses Cookies: dunking into milk and memories

It was easy to divi up the Christmas cookies in my family when I was younger. My brother gorged himself on the chocolate chip, while my dad snuck the snickerdoodles and butter cookies (the ones my mom would curse as she struggled to get the dough out of the press in anything more comprehensible than a blob) to his room.

I was a little less impulsive than dad, but would still anxiously await the day when mom would make her ginger molasses cookies- a recipe from an old bed and breakfast they had stumbled upon on one year while in Maine. They were bendy-chewy and stuck to your teeth just right.

I loved everything about them; the fact that they tasted like Christmas with all of the spices and the signature cracks on top. I would use these lines to break them up before drowning each bite in cream-topped milk.

The best thing, though? I was the only one in my family who truly loved and appreciated these treats. They were my cookies and I didn’t have to share them.

I know it sounds like more of a selfish ritual rather than a seasonal tradition, but the smell of these baking embodied the holidays for me each year; I’d have them all to myself while decorating the tree.

I was inspired to develop a gluten-free molasses cookie recipe to include the all-time favorite love, chocolate. It’s not in the spotlight focus, but lends a subtle depth to the flavor of the molasses. Shall we make these cookies a little early this year? You don’t have to twist my arm!

Start with your dry ingredients. In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together 1 3/4 cups King Arthur Gluten-Free Multi-Purpose Flour, 4 tablespoons cocoa, 1 teaspoon baking soda, 1 teaspoon baking powder, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon,  1/2 teaspoon ginger, 3/4 teaspoon cloves, and 3/4 teaspoon xanthan gum. Set this mixture aside.

Cream 3/4 cup butter and 3/4 cups brown sugar until the mixture is light and fluffy making sure to scrape the sides of the bowl.

Just a friendly tip I learned: when measuring something sticky such as corn syrup, molasses or honey, give your measuring vessel a light spray with oil.  The measured amount will come out easily without scraping- more simple AND accurate!

It’s just like me to go a hair over the line. Not so accurate.

Add the egg and 1/3 cup molasses at a low-medium speed, scraping the bowl between and after additions.

Stir in dry ingredients until just combined- scrape any remaining flour from the sides and stir into the dough. Cover and refrigerate the dough for an hour at least, or overnight for optimum results. Gluten-free cookie doughs benefit from a long, cold rest to allow the xanthan gum to fully hydrate and provide the best possible texture when the cookies are baked.

Drop dough by tablespoon sized scoops onto a parchment-lined baking sheet and

roll the tops of each ball in granulated or sparkling sugar. Bake at 350°F for 8-10 minutes and cool on a rack. Please privilege yourself to eat one when it is still warm. Milk is always welcome but not necessary.

This is molasses cookie chewy-crater-crunchy-sugar perfection. Whether you need to be gluten-free or not, this cocoa version could find it’s way into your collection. Uggh, I’m rhyming. That’s a rap …I mean, wrap.

Please read, bake and review our recipe for Gluten-free Cocoa Molasses Cookies.

Print just the recipe.

Amy Trage

Amy Trage is a native of Vermont where she spent much of her childhood skiing and training for the equestrian event circuit. With a strong desire to pursue food writing, Amy took her English degree from Saint Anselm College to the New England Culinary Institute ...


  1. sc Sue

    Thank you Irene. Another question…She said she uses I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter or Smart Balance rather than stick oleo. Will that change the recipe? She never bakes so she’s no help.

    The “butters” or spreads you cited are not usually used in baking – check their packaging to be absolutely certain. Irene@KAF

  2. SC Sue

    I have a friend with celiac disease visiting soon. Of course I want to bake for her. Can I make up cookie dough, freeze it as unbaked drop cookies, and bake it at a later date? Your help will be much appreciated.

    As long as you’re using a GF recipe, this should be a great time saver to make the dough, scoop the cookies and freeze. Happy Baking! Irene@KAF

  3. sherrybaer

    I can’t wait to try these! Definitely will make them for Christmas. Amy, I need a gluten free Biscotti recipe. I have a regular four one with anise seeds that I loved to dunk in milk, but can’t do that anymore! Please let me know if you have one. Thanks!
    Hi Sherry!!!! So great to see you here, I hope all is well with you. Unfortunately we don’t have a GF biscotti recipe at this time, but I am going to add it to my “to do” list right away! Thanks so much for the suggestion. In the meantime, I think you could give this recipe a try. Big hugs and many blessings to you and your family! ~Amy

  4. AnneMarie

    I played with this recipe to make it a normal GLUTEN cookie. I have a hankerin for those classic molasses cocoa cookies that come in a red bag/box, but are IMPOSSIBLE to find, especially where I live. To make a normal GLUTEN cookie I did the following: same amount of flour, just all purpose flour. NO Xanthum gum. I left out the clove. Halved the amount of salt, added one egg PLUS one yolk, and half the amount of molasses. Everything else is the same. I chilled the dough for two hours and used a cookie scoop to make balls. I rolled the balls is white sugar and lightly smashed them with the bottom of a glass (about half inch thick), then baked at 350′ for 12 min. The cookies MUST cool to set. 🙂

    Wow! Thanks for sharing this! I love that you came up with a way to make them with regular flour. Thanks for sharing! -Kim@KAF

  5. Michael Ford

    I made these and they are wonderful. I made ice cream cookie sandwiches using pumpkin ice cream with one batch and kept the other for sending home with friends on Thanksgiving. The ice cream cookie sandwiches are delicious, my kids have eaten half of them already. Thank you for a great recipe.

  6. KarenMorrow

    This sounds great. I am GF and these cookies (along with all the others in the GF Cookie Swap newsletter) are going on my to bake list. These cookies, with dairy free pumpkin ice-cream and I don’t think I’ll feel like I’m missing anything!

  7. HHH8

    Can I substitute vegetable shortening for the butter? My nephew is dairy-free as well as gluten-free.

    That should work, though the cookies may not spread as much. You could also try using margarine.-Jon


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