Chewy and loaded with flavor, these Old Fashioned Hermit Cookies are a classic New England spice cookie perfect for the holidays. Chewiness and depth of flavor comes from dried fruit, molasses and candied ginger. To counteract the bold spices, drizzle the chewy cookies with a glaze made with orange juice and zest.

What Are Hermit Cookies

Hermit Cookies are a classic New England spice cookie. These old-fashioned cookies are uber chewy from a combination of puréed raisins, brown sugar, and melted butter. Plus, they’re as bold in flavor as they are chewy, featuring candied ginger, warm spices, browned butter, and molasses. Baked in a log, these cookies stay moist and chewy for days and are finished with a sweet citrusy glaze. 

image of stacked spiced molasses cookies on a white plate set on a wood table

Ingredient Notes

Raisins

Feel free to use regular or golden—either work.

Candied Ginger

Look for candied ginger coated in sugar. Do not sure candied ginger sold in syrup.

Flour

We like to make these cookies with white whole wheat flour, but you can also use all-purpose flour.

Molasses

Molasses is an important ingredient in these cookies. Use mild-flavored molasses.

Watch our Web Story on how to make these chewy hermit cookies!

image of stacked spiced molasses cookies on a white plate set on a wood table

Make it Healthy-ish

In addition to raisins, Hermit Cookies are usually packed with brown sugar (1 cup!). Health factor aside, we usually find Hermit Cookies to be too sweet for our taste. Which is one reason we wanted to makeover this classic cookie. 

To make healthier hermit cookies—without sacrificing on flavor or texture—we start by decreasing the added sugar. Significantly. Instead of using one cup of brown sugar, we call for just ⅔ cup. 

To increase the nutritional value, we replace the all-purpose flour with white whole-wheat flour, adding whole grains and fiber. 

The resulting cookie is one that’s far less cloyingly sweet, just as bold in flavor, and equally as chewy as the original. 

Storage Tips

  • Store Hermit Cookies in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week. For longer storage, transfer the container of cookies to the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks
  • For extended storage, layer glazed or un-glazed cookies between pieces of parchment or wax paper. Transfer the layered cookies to zipper-lock freezer bags. Store cookies in the freezer for up to 3 months (allow cookies to thaw at room temperature overnight before eating)

Variations

  • Add old-fashioned oats (in place of some of the flour) to make oatmeal hermit cookies.
  • Swap a portion of the raisins with chopped dates.
  • Add espresso powder for coffee-infused hermit cookies.
  • Skip the glaze on these hermit cookie bars.

Fun fact: National Spicy Hermit Cookie Day is celebrated annually on November 15th!

brown cookie bar with a bite taken out

FAQs

Why are they called hermit cookies?

There isn’t much of a consensus, but it’s believed hermit cookies got their name from sailors who traveled down the Eastern Seaboard. Because hermit cookies keep well, they were often hidden and coveted among the sailors.

Can hermit cookies be frozen?

Yes, absolutely. Hermit cookies are one of the best cookies for freezing because they contain so much moisture. You can freeze them with or without the glaze. They’re also delicious enjoyed right out of the freezer!

How should I store hermit cookies?

Hermit cookies can be stored at room temperature in an airtight container for up to 1 week.
For longer storage, layer them between pieces of parchment paper and place in a resealable zipper-lock bag. Store the cookies in the freezer for up to 6 months.

The Best Chewy Hermit Cookies

4.80 from 5 votes
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Chilling time 1 hour 30 minutes
Total Time 2 hours 20 minutes
Yield 32 cookies
Category Dessert
Cuisine New England
Author Lauren Grant

Description

Chewy, spicy, and bold in flavor, these old-fashioned cookies are a more unique version of chewy molasses cookies. 

Ingredients

  • 1 cup (152g) raisins
  • 3 tablespoons (35g) crystallized ginger, finely chopped (see note)
  • 8 tablespoons (½ cup) unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon ground allspice
  • 2 cups (227g) white whole wheat flour*
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • cup (137g) packed dark brown sugar
  • ½ cup (166g) molasses*
  • 2 large eggs
  • ½ cup (60g) finely chopped walnuts, optional
  • 2 cups + 2 tablespoons confectioners' sugar
  • ¼ cup fresh orange juice
  • 1 heaping teaspoon orange zest

Instructions

  • Process raisins and ginger in food processor until mixture sticks together and only small pieces remain, 10–15 seconds. Transfer mixture to a large bowl.
    minced dried fruit in a food processor
  • Melt butter in small saucepan over medium heat, swirling saucepan occasionally, until nutty brown in color, about 8 minutes. Stir in cinnamon and allspice and cook until fragrant, about 15 seconds. Stir butter mixture into raisin mixture until well combined; let cool completely.
    minced dried fruit in a large bowl with melted butter
  • Whisk flour, baking soda, and salt together in a bowl. 
  • Whisk brown sugar, molasses, and eggs into cooled butter-raisin mixture until incorporated.
    cookie dough in a large glass bowl with a whisk
  • Using a rubber spatula, fold in flour mixture and nuts (dough will be very sticky). Cover bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate until dough is firm, at least 1½ hours or up to 24 hours.
    cookie dough in a large glass bowl with a spatula
  • Adjust oven racks to upper-middle and lower-middle positions and heat oven to 350ºF (176ºC). Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper
  • Transfer dough to a lightly floured surface and divide into quarters. Roll 1 piece of dough into a 10-inch log on lightly floured surface. Transfer log to prepared sheet, brush off any excess flour, and tap ends with a ruler to neatly square (each sheet will contain 2 logs). Repeat with remaining dough.
    dough logs on a baking sheet
  • Bake cookie logs until only a slight indentation remains on edges when touched (center will appear slightly soft), 16–20 minutes, switching and rotating sheets halfway through baking. Let cookies cool on sheets for 5 minutes, then slide cookies, still on parchment, onto wire rack. Let cookies cool completely.
    large baked cookie logs on a parchment-lined baking sheet
  • Whisk together confectioners’ sugar, orange juice, zest and pinch of salt in small bowl until smooth. Drizzle glaze onto cooled cookies and let sit until glaze dries, about 15 minutes.
    large baked cookie logs drizzled with an orange glaze on a parchment-lined baking sheet
  • Cut cookies into 1½-inch bars before serving. 

Notes

Storage: Store hermits in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week. For longer storage, transfer the container of cookies to the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. To freeze, layer cookies between pieces of parchment or wax paper. Transfer the layered cookies to zipper-lock freezer bags. Store cookies in the freezer for up to 3 months (allow cookies to thaw at room temperature overnight before eating)
Flour: you can use 2 cups all purpose flour instead of white whole-wheat flour
Molasses: Mild molasses is best for this recipe (instead of robust or blackstrap).
Ginger: Crystallized (or candied) ginger is available in the spice aisle or the bulk section of most grocery stores. Make sure you use dry crystalized ginger, not ginger in syrup.
This recipe was adapted from America’s Test Kitchen.

Nutrition

Serving: 1cookieCalories: 141kcalCarbohydrates: 23gProtein: 3gFat: 5gSaturated Fat: 2gCholesterol: 22mgSodium: 75mgFiber: 2gSugar: 14g
Like this? Leave a comment below!I love hearing from you and I want to hear how it went with this recipe! Leave a comment and rating below, then share on social media @zestfulkitchen and #zestfulkitchen!
cookie bars with orange glaze arranges on a piece of parchment paper on a wood table

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This recipe article was originally published on December 5, 2020.

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About The Author

Lauren Grant is a professional culinary food scientist, food writer, recipe developer, and food photographer. Lauren is a previous magazine editor and test kitchen developer and has had work published in major national publications including Diabetic Living Magazine, Midwest Living Magazine, Cuisine at Home Magazine, EatingWell.com, AmericasTestKitchen.com, and more.

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