Golden brown cookies with cracks and sugar sparkle on a white plate that features a green-hatted and green-scarf wearing snowman.

Seattle Ginger Spice Cookies

Karin Kallmaker Cheers & Chocolate, Favorite Things 7 Comments

Why Seattle?

This recipe was stumbled upon by my wife, Maria. She thought it would be a tasty treat for everyone at her brother’s house up in Seattle. Somehow I was the one who ended up making them and DANG they turned out perfectly the first time, so preen for me. Everyone loved them.

Five days later they were getting a little bit dry, but still tasted good, especially dipped in a warm beverage. The ginger kick is there, but it’s not “hot.” The final taste is ginger with other warm spices and the rich goodness of dark sugars mixed with butter.


Taste of Home’s recipe with my scrawly notes. Their how-to video is great!

Even the first time around I adjusted the recipe from Taste of Home. You can see the original above and my random markings made with an S-pen on the PDF. I’m sure the original was good, but I don’t like cloves so I substituted cardamom and a dash of nutmeg. I couldn’t conceive a ginger cookie that doesn’t have any brown sugar. Also, rolling in only sugar is simply adding sugar flavor which is one note on an already sweet cookie. Why not boost that with some salt and cardamom?

I Made an Oops Batch

When I tried the recipe again at home, I proved how important it is to test a recipe before sharing it. Something went off. I mismeasured the flour? My kitchen was too warm? Whatever the cause, the dough was very very sticky to roll in our hands.


They tasted good, but appearance wise, very sad.

The result wasn’t beautiful ginger cookies with a lovely crack and sparkle. They were flat, somewhat like tuiles, and they ran into each other on the cookie sheet. Still very tasty, but most fell apart.

I made a few tweaks to the methodology and added some cautions on how the dough should feel. Get the texture right and it goes really quickly.

Recipe – Seattle Ginger Spice Cookies

Makes about 4 dozen. Easy and quick mix with show-off worthy results.

Advance Prep

Line up to 4 cookie sheet(s) with foil so you can quickly lift them off the sheet for cooling. Also, easy clean up later. Get out egg to come to room temperature. Ditto the butter. However, if your butter is very soft, you may need to chill to dough (see below).

You’ll need two mixing bowls and one shallow plate for rolling the cookies in the sugar mixture.


Getting organized upfront makes completing this recipe go very quickly!


Mise en place works. Get out all the ingredients and group them before you start measuring anything. I measure dry ingredients first so I can reuse those measuring cups and spoons on the wet ingredients.

Dry Ingredients

  • 2-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt – increase to 1 teaspoon if the butter was unsalted
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Dash of ground cloves or nutmeg (1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon somewhere thereabouts)

Wet Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 3/4 cup butter or margarine, softened but still cuttable
  • 1/4 cup molasses, dark or light, it really doesn’t matter
  • 1 egg or 1/4 cup nonfat liquid egg (but not egg whites only)

Coating before Baking

I thought this was unnecessary – it just added more sugar, why? But then I saw that the cookies SPARKLE when they’re done! I think the cardamom adds a dash of citrusy aroma that works great with the ginger, but you could also use cinnamon or nutmeg if that’s your favorite thing with ginger – or a mix of each. Make the recipe your own they way I did!

  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon cardamom
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt


Set the oven to 350 degrees.

The dough is a bit crumbly. Not creamy and smooth. It should NOT stick to your fingers.

If you have one mixing bowl that’s larger, choose that one and cream together the brown sugar, white sugar, and butter (cut the butter into chunks, it’ll go faster). Once the butter is mostly incorporated, add the molasses and egg. Mix well. If your kitchen is warm, put the bowl in the fridge and do the next step.

In a dry mixing bowl combine together the flour, baking soda, salt, ground ginger, cardamom, cinnamon, and clove or nutmeg. You can sift them together or mix with a dry whisk.

Now add the dry mix to the wet, about 1/4 of it at a time, until it’s all mixed.

For the Coating Sugar mixture, use a spoon to combine the sugar, cardamom, and salt in a shallow bowl or plate so it’s evenly incorporated. Like sugar, cardamom is also sparkly, but slightly darker than sugar. I thought together they were extra shiny!

Assess the Texture of the Dough

Wash your hands and then try rolling a ball of dough between your palms. The ball should form quickly and easily, and leave only a residue of butter on your hands. If the dough sticks at all, add 2 tablespoons of flour, mix it up, and test again until it no longer sticks to your hands. Once the texture is right, you’re ready to roll the balls and get to baking.

All lined up with their sparkly coating.

Form 1 to 1-1/2 inch balls by rolling lightly in your hands. (Kids usually love to help with this part, just make sure everyone has washed their hands before handling the dough.) Drop the ball of dough onto the plate of sugar mixture and roll around until coated on all sides. Place on cookie sheets about 2 inches apart.

Bake 11-13 minutes. When they’re done, the cookie should be darker than the color of your ground ginger but not as dark as the ground cinnamon. The top will look uniform in color but dent easily. The edges may take on a caramel, crispy texture, which is dandy. If the temp of cookie dough and oven work together, you’re get lovely cracks that sparkle. Don’t fret if they don’t crack – in my oven the cookies on the top rack crack well, but the lower rack they crack a lot less. Still tasty!

If you’ve used foil, lift the whole batch off the hot cookie sheet for cooling on a kitchen towel or tile counter. Let the cookies cool completely before trying to move them.


Out of the oven! Aren’t they pretty? Not the least bit sad.

I do find it necessary to sample a warm cookie to assess their doneness and overall tastiness before I risk sharing with others. Such sacrifices I make. Know what else will make your quality control self happy? These cherry chocolate chip oatmeal cookies.

FYI, Cookie sheets should be COMPELTELY cool before you use them for another batch.

Variations and Swaps for Fat and Sugar

When I make a recipe for the first time, I usually stick with the full fat, full sugar options. But second time around I’ll start looking for ways to reduce the impact. But let’s face it. These are butter and sugar cookies, and there’s no escaping that.

  • Swap the egg for non-fat egg as I said above. I can’t tell the difference.
  • Sugar swaps for this recipe won’t work. Trust me.
  • Many cake-like baking projects (brownies, coffee cake) work well with a swap of applesauce for oil or butter. But not these cookies, so I don’t recommend it.

The original recipe says that if you leave out the baking soda, you’ll get a crisp gingersnap instead of this softer, cake-like cookie. I haven’t tried it, but someday I will.

For a super ginger fan, you could add finely chopped bits of candied ginger, but I quite like this cookie the way it is.


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