Very Ginger Cookies Recipe

One should always be careful what one writes about on one’s blog, for one never knows what hungry demons one might unleash as one mulls over edible memories from one’s past.

After I wrote about shortbread last week and listed some of the things we liked to buy at Marks & Spencer’s, I could not get their stem ginger biscuits out of my mind. These cookies were tough little things to bite into, but they crumbled in your mouth and ignited such a delicious blaze of ginger flavor that they were plenty worth having a dental brace or two come loose in the process.

Unable to find a copycat recipe or even a list of ingredients to replicate the original, I just improvised on the theme and, putting an extraordinary amount of faith in my baking instincts, assembled a cookie dough using both fresh and crystallized ginger for flavor, unrefined cane sugar and cane syrup for sweetness, and rolled spelt for a nicely raggedy texture.

To say that I was pleased with the results of my tinkering would be a bit of an understatement, and this was all in all a very good thing since I accidently produced three dozen cookies — much more than I usually make at once. Lightly chewy in the center and crisp around the edges when fresh out of the oven, they crisped up further, just as I’d hoped they would, in the tin box I left them in.

This makes them ideal companions to a cup of tea (dunk dunk), and they were quite well received when I served them with a pear compote at the end our very fall-oriented dinner party the next evening, after a main course of roasted duckling (baked à la Poulet de Muriel, but with an orange instead of a lemon), glazed carrots, and brise de châtaigne.

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Very Ginger Cookies Recipe

Prep Time: 45 minutes

Cook Time: 12 minutes

Total Time: 57 minutes

Makes three dozen.

Very Ginger Cookies Recipe


  • 120 grams (1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon) butter (I use demi-sel butter; if you prefer to use unsalted, add a fat pinch of fleur de sel or kosher salt)
  • 180 grams (1 cup minus 2 tablespoons) unrefined cane sugar
  • 1 thumb-sized knob of fresh ginger (about 20 grams)
  • 1 egg
  • 60 ml (1/4 cup) cane syrup (substitute black treacle, golden syrup, mild-flavored molasses, or honey)
  • 200 grams (1 2/3 cups) all-purpose flour
  • 100 grams (1 cup) rolled spelt (not pre-cooked; flocons d'épeautre in French; substitute any other kind of old-fashioned rolled grain, such as rolled oats)
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 80 grams candied ginger, diced finely (about 1/3 cup when diced)


  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F) and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Cream together the butter and sugar in the bowl of a food processor. Peel the fresh ginger and grate it finely over the bowl. Add the egg and cane syrup, and mix thoroughly.
  3. In a medium mixing-bowl, toss together the flour, spelt, baking soda, and candied ginger. Add to the wet ingredients and mix until just combined. The dough will be soft. (You can prepare it up to a day in advance: cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate.)
  4. Scoop out portions of dough (about the size of an unshelled walnut), shape roughly into a ball with two spoons, and plop onto the prepared baking sheet, leaving a 5-centimeter (2-inch) margin between them; the cookies will spread as they bake.
  5. Slip into the oven and bake for 12 minutes, until set but not too dark around the edges. Let rest for 40 seconds, lift from the baking sheet with a thin spatula, and transfer to a rack to cool completely.

This post was first published in November 2006 and updated in July 2016.

  • mags

    These sound wonderful! I can’t wait to try them. So far I’ve made your chocolate coconut cake and the orange ginger cake. These are going to be my next attempt.

    I was wondering though, if you have a good recipe for simple yellow cake? I seem to have lost my ability to make a moist yellow cake (They are never buttery enough) and need a great recipe. If you have one, please share, I’d be very grateful!

  • Elegant Sniff

    These look good. The very best British ginger biscuits are by Borders – covered in really good dark chocolate!

    That said, I might be tempted to make my own using your recipe coated in dark chocolate :)

  • Donna

    Hi Clotilde – I made a similar cookie using the Chez Panisse gingersnap recipe. I added fresh ginger and candied ginger along with the powdered ginger that the recipe calls for. It really popped up the fire in the cookie and my friends and family raved about them!

    I only felt a little guilty messing about with Alice Waters’ recipe!

  • Mags – I’m not sure what a yellow cake is, but my favorite moist, simple cake is the gâteau au yaourt.

    Elegant Sniff – Will definitely have to try the chocolate dipping!

    Donna – Oh wow, I had completely forgotten about the Chez Panisse gingersnaps! To tell you the truth, I personally preferred this new recipe: the flavor was much more alive (due to the fresh and candied ginger no doubt, as you yourself added) and the texture stood the test of time better.

  • Very ginger – I like it! I love ginger in food when it is used right.

  • I see you’re with me on ‘dunking your biscuits in tea’ camp! ;-)

  • haapi

    These sound lovely. Do you think flocons d’avoine would make a good substitute for the spelt? Many thanks.

  • Joanna

    Mags: Anything on the Eggbeater site is a pretty sure bet. This is a great recipe for Yellow Cake.

    Clotilde: I make the Chez Panisse gingersnaps from your site regularly and can’t wait to try these, which you say are even better! I heart gingersnaps!

    Congratulations on the C+Z mention in the November Marie Claire. Nice!

  • Beth

    These look great, Clotilde. My favorite ginger snap recipe is Claudia Fleming’s, from her book The Last Course: The Desserts of Gramercy Tavern, which easily tops my list of inspiring dessert cookbooks. Are you familiar with Fleming’s work? If not, I’m tickled to be able to introduce you to this book–I really think you’d love it. Her ginger snaps are very small and thin and crisp (quite different, no doubt, from Marks & Spencer’s) with a complex and haunting spiciness. They include white pepper, which seems to me a stroke of genius. And they’re topped with demarara sugar for a toothsome crunchiness. I’ve given them as Christmas gifts several times and they’re always received with effusive enthusiasm.

    Mags: I recommend the “Rich and Tender Yellow Cake” in The Best Recipe cookbook (by the editors of Cook’s Illustrated Magazine). Especially with a ganache filling between the layers and ganache glaze on top….

  • I *heart* your blog…and ginger cookies, too. Sounds delicious!

  • Sarah

    Clotilde, you read my mind! I picked up the holiday cookie issue of Cuisine at Home and inside is a recipe for Triple Ginger cookies with lemon icing. They’re made with molasses, ground, fresh, and candied ginger then rolled in demarra sugar. They’re this coming weekend’s project.

  • mmm…crystalized ginger :D

  • Wendy Hutton

    Although I live in Asia, I cannot buy candied ginger (which Asians don’t eat). However, I make my own using fresh ginger and it’s great. If anyone wants the recipe for this, send me an email.

  • Looks like ur on a memorable trip to England as far as your recipes go:)
    I’m however afraid of trying cookies again, coz the last time i made some they became too hard and therefore inedible.
    Any particular tips(apart from those given in this recipe) to keep the cookies soft and chewy?

  • These sound lovely–the spelt is an interesting touch. It’s hard to go wrong with candied ginger!

    If you ever want to “cheat,” Trader Joe’s sells a very nice three-ginger cookie. One of the few cookies I’ll actually buy rather than make myself.

  • Paul Egan

    And if anyone wants to ‘cheat’ in Paris a lot of the Asian stores by the Gare de Nord sell Gingersnap biscuits (mostly British brands too!)

    My fav are to be found at VT Cash et Carry on the rue Cail.

  • I want to do more baking, but I’ve realized I need better equipment if I’m going to make better stuff.

    What do you guys recommend in terms of:

    -Kitchen Scales
    -Food Processor

    I’d like to not pay too much money (around 50 dollars, preferably less), and I want the food processor to have the option of attaching a dough hook, since I like to bake bread every once in a while. ;)

  • Dawnie

    Has anyone tried Island Bakery Organics Chocolate Gingers? From the Isle of Mull in Scotland. They have a huge chunk of crystallised stem ginger on top and the organic chocolate is gorgeous.

  • Oh, these look fantastic-I’m craving them even though I’m stuffing a wonderful molasses cookie I just made off Trader Joe’s is a great place for cheap crystallized ginger. And re the Gramercy Park Tavern cookbook-I’ve made the Gramercy Park Gingerbread (it has Guiness in it) a couple of times-the recipe is also on Epicurious-and it’s so amazingly good. I love to have the excuse of the holidays to allow me to bake all day long.

  • Haapi – Absolutely, flocons d’avoine would be a good substitute. Flocons of anything in fact — except perhaps for flocons de neige.

    Beth and Sara – Thanks for the Gramercy Park Tavern cookbook recommendation, I’ll definitely check it out.

    Wendy – Would love to see that candied ginger recipe! I’ll shoot you an email.

    Casey – There can be several explanations for hard cookies: they may have been overbaked, or perhaps they didn’t have enough butter/oil in them, or perhaps you overworked the dough. What sort of container had you kept the cookies in?

    Virginia, Paul, and Dawnie – Thanks for the recommendations!

    Rosangela – Perhaps your question would be better if posted on the C&Z forums? It would elicit more advice there.

  • Hi clotilde,
    I generally keep my cookies in glass jars which are mostly air tight. However, now that u ve pointed it out. I might have overworked the dough. I’ll try it correctly next time. Thanks a lot.

  • Though i love using ginger in everyday cooking, i cant bring myself to use candied ginger in baking! maybe its time i start using it!:)

  • Ginger cookies with tea sounds good to me, yummy!

  • Hi Clotilde

    They taste really good!
    1- I forgot the egg: they’re really crunchy.
    2- I don’t grate ginger anymore, I use a garlich crusher.

  • What a great idea to use spelt, these look delicious and perfect for the holidays!

  • Victoria

    I have a question about the ratios. You say that 180 grams is 1 cup minus 2 Tbsp and 100 grams is 1 cup. Is it supposed to be two cups minus 2 Tbsp of sugar? Math makes my head hurt. Also, by unrefined sugar do you mean turbinado (sugar in the raw, as it’s some times called?)

    Can’t wait to try these!

  • Victoria – Different ingredients have a different weight for the same volume (1 cup sugar is 200 grams, but 1 cup rolled spelt is 100 grams) so you can follow the measurements as written. And yes, turbinado sugar will be great!

  • Wendy- you should post your recipe for the homemade candied ginger here!!!
    I love baking with ginger! These look great! Can’t wait to try them! Clotilde, I tried your shortbreads last week and they were yummy!

  • Nicole

    Clotilde! Checking in with LaCoquette, I routed to C&Z for the very first time this morning (jaw dropping).. Ma chere, you offer a world that is as delicious and playful as it is luxuriously blissful. Congrats on your success! ; )

  • Erin

    These are delicious! I am a total ginger nut and love a cookie that bites back. I have decided that they will star in my Holiday baskets this year.

  • Daniel

    Yes! The recipe for candied ginger posted here, please!

  • juliana

    i made a batch and they taste delicious, but did not spread like yours did. i used molasses instead of cane syrup, and oat bran flakes instead of spelt (best i could find without leaving my neighborhood). any thoughts? craving that crispy thin cookie!

  • Marika Ujvari

    Please send Wendi Hutton’s recipe for
    candid ginger.

    Marika in Colorado

  • Bill

    Here’s one recipe for candied ginger:

    Crystallized Ginger

    To make crystallized ginger, start with a fresh, healthy, plump looking knob of ginger root. The skin should be smooth and free of wrinkles. It should feel firm, not spongy. Peel the skin and then thinly slice.

    Precise measurements are not needed, so adjust depending on how much ginger you have and what size pot you use.

    Cook the prepped ginger at as very gentle simmer for 1 hour in enough simple syrup (a mixture of equal parts granulated sugar and water, boiled 1-2 minutes) to cover the ginger slices, stirring occasionally.

    After an hour, strain the ginger and dredge it in granulated sugar to coat. Transfer to a rack or wax paper to dry and cool. Store, tightly wrapped, in a cool dark place.

  • berkeley girl

    This is possibly the best recipe from your blog that I’ve ever tried (and I’ve tried many!). Used honey and a little molasses b/c it’s what I had on hand, rolled oats, and the cookies spread out a lot. I think I had to bake them for a little longer until they were the color of golden brown sugar and let them sit on the baking sheet while I removed them from the wax paper in order to achieve the crispiness that I wanted. They even improved on the second day to that perfectly chewey oatmeal cookie texture (neither too crumbly nor too tender). A nice gingery bite, stronger on the first day, but I wouldn’t have minded it even stronger, will have to try the spice additions from the Chez Panisse recipe (perhaps forgetting the grated ginger until after I mixed it all together was a factor). (Btw, candied ginger is found in many Asian countries and in Asian stores in the US, particularly around the lunar new year in Jan or Feb.)

    -berkeley girl

  • berkeley girl

    i notice you use unrefined sugar a lot. what is the effect using unrefined sugar, as opposed to normal white or brown, on these cookies? or in baked goods in general?

  • Kat

    Ginger cookies….mmmmmm. Looks very yummy. Wish I had the time to actually make em.

  • Victoria

    I finally made these cookies last night. It took a while to hunt down the candied ginger. I guess the holidays wiped out the stock at Whole Food for a bit. I couldn’t find the spelt either, but bought spelt flour. I mixed that (50g) with the AP flour (150g) and that worked out well. I used old fashioned rolled oats instead of the spelt. I used molasses and the turbinado sugar as suggested and kept to the measurements. It’s really easy to measure out on a scale and I might just do that all the time now.

    In any case, these are so, very, very good. My boyfriend pointed out that there are few really good cookies and this is definitely one of them! They are on my permanent cookie list now.

  • Jo

    I made these last night and they taste great and have a good chew, but I’m wondering if anyone else had this promblem: The spelt flakes are really tough and feel un-cooked in my mouth and teeth. And yes, I used rolled and not whole spelt. I feel they overwhelm and mask the goodness of the cookie. Is it just me (and my spelt)?

  • Tommy

    I tried Bill’s recipe for candied ginger and it worked great. For my second batch I extended the cooking to 2 hr to produce a somewhat less spicy product. Very tasty!

  • Abstract Duck

    These are quite simply the most delicious cookies I’ve ever had in my life! Thanks so much for posting the recipe :)

  • Darren

    This is a great recipe, thanks for sharing it.

  • Deanne

    I have been looking for a recipe just like this since our market stopped carrying my favorite Beth’s triple ginger snaps. I found them recently while on a local excursion but the price had gone up a LOT. Looking forward to making these.

  • Missy

    I have baked a batch of ginger biscuits using your recipe but they turned out to be more soft and chewy than crispy. Even the edges are not crisp. I tried putting them in the fridge to ‘harden’ them but it does not seem to work. What can I do?

  • Missy – From your description, it sounds like the cookies may have been underbaked. That would explain the softness. I would try putting them back in the oven for 4-5 minutes at 180°C (350°F).

  • Hi Clotilde! I’ve got a question. I’ve made this cookies twice, using molasses and rolled oats (couldn’t find rolled spelt here in the States). My cookies are yummy, but they look nothing like the thin cookies in your photo, and I would prefer them that way. As they are, they are roundish and lumpy – not a bad texture, but not what I’m looking for either. Do you have any ideas as to why they’re turning out this way?

    By the way, I wrote a little piece about your matcha shortbread cookies in my & my boyfriend’s blog, if you’d like to read it. Thank you for so much inspiration!

    • Hello Lakshmi! If your cookies don’t spread, it may be because the dough has a bit too much flour. How did you measure your flour — by weight or volume? The weight measurement is usually more accurate. If you don’t have a scale and you’re measuring by volume, try using a bit less next time. Hope that helps!

      • Hi Clotilde! I measured out my flour with a measuring cup, and I think your comment makes sense, as the consistency of the dough wasn’t as soft as your recipe implied it would be. Do you think just 1 cup would be sufficient? thanks!

        • I don’t think your measurement would be that far off — I’d suggest trying 1 1/3 cups.

          • Good news! I was having a similar issue with your perfect chocolate chip cookies recipe, and I reduced the flour a bit when I made them last week for my boyfriend’s birthday: they turned out perfectly. I’m sure this is the solution to the ginger cookies too. Thanks!

          • You’re very welcome. Happy baking!

  • Annemette

    Hi Clotilde
    I found your site searching for something completely different, and have been reading for hours since, searching through your archive!
    It is an amazing site, I just moved to Paris, and your site gives me a great introduction to my new city!
    and I just made these cookies and they’re amazing! I have been searching for a recipe like this for years : )
    Thank you from your new Danish fan

    • Thanks, Annemette, and welcome!

  • Abigail Slater

    I made these last night and they absolutely blew me away! Can’t wait to have my family try them.

    • Oh I’m so pleased, thank you Abigail. I hope they share your enthusiasm!

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