Cape Breton Molasses Biscuits

Servings: 24 serving(s)

Prep time: 15 minutes

Total time: 33 minutes

Cooking time: 18 minutes

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Cape Breton Molasses Biscuits are old fashioned, not-too-sweet, thick-cut molasses cookies. 

Cape Breton Molasses Biscuits: an old fashioned, not-too-sweet, thick-cut molasses cookie.

A little while ago, writer and photographer Kelly Neil wrote a lovely piece in the Halifax Chronicle Herald about two Cape Breton grandmothers. As you may have guessed (or assumed) an East Coast article about grandmothers is bound to include memories of fresh baking and time around the table.

As an added treat, this article included an old fashioned recipe for molasses biscuits, a not-too-sweet, thick cut soft molasses cookie.

Cape Breton Molasses Biscuits: an old fashioned, not-too-sweet, thick-cut molasses cookie.

The recipe is very similar to our recipe for Katie’s Fat Molasses Cookies, Lassy Buns and Pubnico Molasses Cookies. It shows how recipes can travel from place to place, gathering new stories over time.

My version below includes a couple of slight modifications to the original recipe as it was printed in the paper. I replaced the shortening with butter and doubled the amount of ginger.

The dough is quite soft but resist the urge to add too much extra flour when you’re rolling or patting them out.

Reader tips:

  • Refrigerate the dough overnight if you find it too soft.
  • Use a cookie scoop instead of rolling and cutting the dough. Flatten the dough with a fork before baking.


Cape Breton molasses biscuits are good served with butter, peanut butter or a slice of cheese.


Cape Breton Molasses Biscuits Recipe

Makes about 2 dozen biscuits (using a 2 ½” round cookie cutter)


  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 egg, room temperature
  • 1 cup Crosby’s Fancy Molasses
  • 1/2 cup milk soured with 1 Tbsp. vinegar*
  • 4 1/2 cups flour, spooned in
  • 2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. cloves
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 ½ tsp. ginger

*To sour the milk: Add 1 Tbsp. vinegar to ½ cup measuring cup and fill with milk. Let sit 5 minutes until it curdles.


  1. Preheat oven to 350º F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In a large bowl cream the butter and sugar.
  3. Beat in the egg, then the molasses and milk.
  4. In a separate bowl whisk the flour, baking soda, salt and spices.
  5. Stir dry into the wet mixture in two additions (don’t over mix).
  6. Scrape dough onto a lightly floured surface and roll ½” thick.
  7. Cut into rounds and prick with a fork.
  8. Bake 16-18 minutes, until the tops just bounce back.
  9. Let cool on the pan.

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31 thoughts on “Cape Breton Molasses Biscuits

  1. Dorcas says:

    I have been looking for a receipt like this. I am originally from NB and my Mom use to make these cookies. She never did use a written receipt and we foolishly never did write it out.

    1. Bridget Oland says:

      Hi Dorcas, So glad you discovered the recipe. I hope the cookies are just like your mom’s.

    2. N.stafford says:

      Yes, my moms molasses cookies were the best as well. She was from NB and baked these all the time when
      I was small. No recipe just threw them together. They always came out the same. Perfect.

  2. Catherine says:

    Thanks Bridget for modifying this recipe!
    I copied it from the Cape Breton Post but I didn’t want to use shortening. I wasn’t sure how or if I could substitute butter. It’s as though you read my mind!

  3. nancy lavigne says:

    Please send me the free cookbook that you advertise on the molasses containers.
    My eyes are too far gone for email recipes. Thank you. I love molasses and use it a lot.
    please send to me at

    Nancy Lavigne
    2811 – 67 Ave.
    Lloydminster AB
    T9V 3H6

    1. Bridget Oland says:

      Hi Nancy, We’ll get a copy in the mail to you this month.

  4. Colleen Withrow says:

    My Mother made these cookies, but would have collected bacon fat and added with the butter. These cookies were a staple in our home because my Father loved these treasures and would have for lunch or dinner dessert. My Grandmother made the crisp ginger version, also very tasty.

    1. Bridget Oland says:

      Hi Colleen, I love your story. I’d use bacon fat for the recipe if I had it on hand!

  5. shirley bergen says:

    I have enjoyed baking more since getting your helpful hints like ‘use eggs at room temp.” Why? When I baked the Cape Breton biscuits I was shocked at how much sugar so I halved it. I ran out of molasses so I used 2 oz molasses and 6 oz corn syrup. My family was happy because they do not like the taste of molasses as much as I do. I also skipped spices except ginger. It was still a sharp snappy biscuit – not too sweet.

    1. Bridget Oland says:

      Hi Shirley, Thanks so much for your message. I love the idea of reducing the sugar in that recipe — great suggestion.

  6. Barb Morrison says:

    Hi, I saw that nice article about the 2 grandmothers in the Herald and I actually saved the recipe. But of course, I want to try this one for Cape Breton Molasses Biscuits. I haven’t had a recipe from here fail yet! Being a born & bred Cape Bretoner you caught my eye with this post. I’m not sure if they are the same thing we called Fat Archies – similar for sure. Thank you!! :-)

  7. Caron. Harker says:

    Hello. Bridget. Love these recipes here. My new best brownie is yours !

  8. Sheila champion says:

    I found 4 1/2 cups was not enough had to keep adding flour so I could handle it. The taste was there

    1. Bridget Oland says:

      Hi Sheila, Yes, the dough is so soft. I often use a dough scraper to manage it without adding extra flour.

  9. Hi,
    Not sure whether the free cookbook is still available, but if it is,I sure would appreciate this from you!
    Planning on making The Cape Breton Molasses Biscuits Recipe today.
    I do enjoy baking. My favourite Hobby.

    1. Bridget Oland says:

      Hi Cecilia, We’d be happy to mail you a copy of our printed cookbook. Just email me at with your mailing address.

  10. Glenda Livingstone says:

    I have made the Healthy Gingerbread muffins & Blueberry Oat Muffins. Delicious! I’ve shared them with friends & they loved them. I would love to receive a copy of your free.recope book. I always have Crosby Molasses in my house. So good on homemade bread toasted.

  11. Marjorie Green says:

    Please send me a recipe book if possible. I will be 83 in May and still make everything from scratch and we also do all our own canning.
    I find the on line cookbooks has printing too small and the computer does not stay open long enough.
    Thank you

    1. Bridget Oland says:

      Hi Marjorie, We’d be happy to mail you a copy of our cookbook.

  12. Lynda MacAulay says:

    Good morning. I made these biscuits and added 2 tablespoons of fresh grated ginger. My favourite spice. I split them when cooked, browned the cut sides in a dry frying pan and added fresh ginger butter. Divine. Going to try them with buttermilk later today. My Mom used to make these when we were kids and a a big sticky raisin on top. Then they were called cookies. We hailed from the North Side of PEI and always used lots of molasses. Love using your recipes. Thank you

    1. Bridget Oland says:

      Hi Lynda, Fresh ginger butter sounds like something I’d enjoy. Is it as simple as it sounds (fresh grated ginger whipped into butter?)

  13. Lise says:

    I needed some comfort food so when I saw the link to this recipe in your recent email I knew it was time to bake! These biscuits are delicious. For an extra special treat we had with a bit of butter and some cheddar cheese.
    I didn’t roll out the dough – instead I used a cookie scoop and flattened to 1/2″ with a fork (and a little flour). Thanks for another great recipe.

    1. Bridget Oland says:

      A cookie scoop — great suggestion, and so easy. I’ll add that to the recipe.

  14. Terry Prentice says:

    I. Found this way too soft and sticky to roll out a 1/2 inch thick. Did one tray anyway, then put the dough into the refrigerator overnight. Worked way better and the cookies were thicker. Actually made three dozen with a 2-1/2 inch cutter.

    1. Bridget Oland says:

      Hi Terry, Yes, it’s a very soft dough. Great suggestion to put the dough in the fridge overnight. I’ll add that to the recipe. Thank you!

  15. Kendra says:

    My mother in law made these a lot. We called them fat Archie’s! I’m so glad I wrote out her recipe years ago! I love them with a bit of butter and a cup of tea! 😋

    1. Bridget Oland says:

      Hi Kendra, I love that cookie name. I have also heard them referred to as Cry Baby Cookies!

  16. Valerie Ann MacKenzie says:

    Hi Bridget:

    Many thanks for the recipe on the Grandmother from Cape Breton Molasses cookies. Our grandmother here at Piper’s Cove made the very best molasses cookies and she always had a batch made whenever we came to visit. Plus she was cooking on the wood stove! There were no electric stoves back then!
    Once again, many thanks and have only super nice days.

    1. Bridget Oland says:

      Hi Valerie Ann, Such a great story! Thanks for sharing it.

  17. Sheila Brett/McKinnon says:

    I’m so excited to try these two recipes. I have been searching for years to try and find one like my Great Grama, MacGillivary/MacGillvray (she spelled it one way and my great grandfather spelled it another, lol) made when I was a child in the 1960s. She was from Sydney Cape Breton and was well into her 80s/90s then. Gram did everything from memory. She cooked with a coal stove. Her cookies/biscuits were so thick, you would slice them and put butter on. I sure hope these are similar!

    1. Bridget Oland says:

      Hi Sheila, That’s a wonderful story (especially the bit about the spelling). I hope that one of these recipes matched those that you remember.

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