at mimi's table Christmas cookies joe carson's ginger cookies

Here’s another good choice for a holiday treat for your cookie plate, to take to a cookie swap, or to give as gifts. Joe Carson’s Ginger Cookie recipe was first published in Midwest Living magazine in 1999. I’ve been making them every Christmas since.

My husband loves the chewy texture. The cookie dough is made with vegetable shortening instead of butter. I normally follow the recipe to the letter, but this year I decided to use 1/2 cup of shortening and 1/4 cup of butter.

I like this recipe, too, because it calls for a couple Tablespoons of molasses. Molasses gives the cookie a rich flavor. They hold well, so if you decided to bake them a couple of days in advance, it’s no problem.

The recipe is easy. This is a family favorite, so I whip up a double batch with my electric mixer. If I don’t bake all the dough, I cover it with plastic wrap and store the leftover in the refrigerator in a container with a tight-fitting lid. That way I can bake up another batch in no time at all.

Joe’s recipe instructs bakers to roll the dough into balls, roll them in sugar, dip them in water, and roll again in sugar before baking. The result is a nicely cracked sugary cookie top. It’s fabulous, but I didn’t like the way the water clumped up the sugar. So, I decided to form the balls, roll all of them in sugar and put them on a cutting board until all the balls got their first coating. Before I put them in the oven, I roll them again for a second sugary coating. They don’t come out as spectacular looking as Joe’s, but it’s quicker and less messy, and the cookies are as delicious.

You may want to try a couple of my other holiday cookie favorites. Cranberry Orange Cookies and Orange Sablé Cookies. Joe Carson’s cookies and these other two make their way onto my cookie plate every Christmas.

Let’s whip up a batch! at mimi's table 2017 christmas wreath

Joe Carson's Ginger Cookies
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
This chewy ginger cookie recipe is from Joe Carson at the Silver Dollar City theme park in Branson, Missouri. It's the best ginger cookie I've ever eaten. Fantastic taste, texture and easy to make.
Recipe type: Cookies
Cuisine: American
Serves: 30 cookies
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • ½ teaspoon ground cloves
  • ¾ cup vegetable shortening, or ½ cup shortening and ¼ cup unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons molasses
  • 1 egg, room temperature
  1. In a stand mixer, beat the shortening (or shortening & butter) for 30 seconds.
  2. Add sugar and beat until fluffy. 1-2 minutes
  3. Add molasses and egg. Beat on medium speed until combined.
  4. Add the baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and salt into the bowl. Mix on low speed just until the spices are incorporated.
  5. Add flour. Mix on slow speed until the dough is well combined.
  6. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for at least one hour.
  7. Use a one-Tablespoon cookie scoop and begin to form the dough into balls. As each one is made, set them on a cutting board until all the dough is gone.
  8. Put ½ cup of granulated sugar in a bowl, and roll the balls, one-by-one, in the sugar, and place them back on the cutting board.
  9. Preheat oven to 350F degrees. Line two half-sheet baking pans with parchment paper. Roll the balls a second time in sugar and place them on the baking pans.
  10. Bake the cookies for 12-15 minutes until they're light brown on the bottoms. Cool the cookies on a wire rack.
Once cooled, you can store the baked cookies in a container with a tight-fitting lid. You can also make a double batch of cookie dough, bake one-half, and save the rest wrapped in plastic wrap in the refrigerator.