Does ginger snap cookies have a lot of sugar?

Ginger snap cookies are a classic holiday cookie that is enjoyed by many during the winter season. With their signature gingery flavor and crunchy texture, it’s easy to see why they are a popular treat. However, with sugar being a main ingredient, some people wonder just how much sugar is actually in ginger snaps. Here is a quick look at whether or not ginger snaps have a lot of sugar.

The Main Ingredients in Ginger Snap Cookies

Ginger snap cookies are made with just a handful of main ingredients. These typically include:

  • Flour – The base of most ginger snap recipes is all-purpose flour, which provides structure.
  • Baking soda – Baking soda helps ginger snaps attain their signature crispy texture.
  • Ground ginger – Ground ginger gives the cookies their distinctly gingery flavor.
  • Cinnamon – Cinnamon complements the ginger, adding warmth.
  • Molasses – Molasses gives ginger snaps their brown color and contributes to their complex, slightly bitter flavor.
  • Sugar – Sugar, in the form of white granulated sugar, brown sugar, or a combination, sweetens the cookies.
  • Butter – Butter provides richness and moisture.

As you can see, sugar is indeed one of the main components of traditional ginger snap cookies. The exact amount can vary a bit between recipes, but sugar generally makes up a significant portion of the ingredient list.

How Much Sugar is in Ginger Snap Cookies?

To get a more precise idea of how much sugar ginger snaps contain, let’s look at the sugar content in a typical recipe:

Example Ginger Snap Cookie Recipe

  • 2 1/4 cups (280g) all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup (170g) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup (200g) granulated white sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/4 cup (85g) molasses
  • 1/4 cup (50g) sugar for coating

This recipe makes around 30 (2-inch) ginger snap cookies. If we do some math based on the ingredient amounts:

  • The recipe calls for 1 cup (200g) of granulated white sugar. With 200g total and 30 cookies, that comes out to about 6.7g of sugar per cookie.
  • There is also 1/4 cup (85g) of molasses, which contains some natural sugars. So that contributes about 2.8g of sugar per cookie.
  • Then the coating sugar adds around 1.7g more sugar per cookie.

Totaling it up, each ginger snap cookie from this recipe contains approximately 11.2g of sugar.

How Does This Compare to Other Cookies?

To put that 11.2g per cookie into context, here’s how it compares to the sugar content in some other popular cookie varieties:

Cookie Type Sugar per Cookie (g)
Ginger snap 11.2
Chocolate chip 10.7
Oatmeal raisin 10.3
Peanut butter 8.7
Shortbread 6.3

Ginger snaps have a bit more sugar than chocolate chip and oatmeal raisin cookies and significantly more than shortbread. So they do lean towards the higher sugar end compared to other popular cookie types.

Daily Sugar Recommendations

To really gauge whether 11.2g of sugar is considered high or low, it helps to look at it relative to daily sugar intake recommendations.

The American Heart Association recommends the following maximum daily sugar intake amounts:

  • Men: 36g (9 teaspoons)
  • Women: 25g (6 teaspoons)
  • Children: 12g to 20g (3-5 teaspoons) depending on their age

So one ginger snap cookie provides about 31% of a grown man’s recommended daily sugar intake. For a woman, one cookie is 45% of her daily recommended limit. And for a child, a single ginger snap could contain 75% to 100% of their total daily advised sugar allowance.


Given the significant amount of sugar in a single serving, ginger snaps would fall on the higher end of the spectrum for sugar content compared to other cookies and recommended daily sugar limits. One or two ginger snaps could fit into a healthy diet, but consuming them regularly or in high quantities could mean excess sugar intake.

Some tips for reducing sugar if enjoying ginger snaps:

  • Make a smaller batch of mini ginger snaps instead of full-sized ones
  • Use half the white sugar and sub some brown sugar or honey
  • Cut the coating sugar amount in half or omit it

Overall, ginger snaps do tend to be high in sugar, especially compared to other cookies. But with some modifications, you can still enjoy their spicy flavor and crisp bite while limiting sugar intake.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why do ginger snap cookies have so much sugar?

Ginger snaps have a significant amount of sugar for a few reasons:

  • Sugar balances out the strong ginger flavor. Without enough sweetener, the gingery spice would overpower the cookies.
  • Sugar attracts moisture, preventing the cookies from drying out. This maintains their signature crispy, snap-able texture.
  • Sugar facilitates spread in the oven, leading to the characteristic slightly cracked look.
  • Brown sugar contributes complex caramelized notes that complement the molasses.

Are ginger snap cookies healthy?

Ginger snaps do contain a good amount of sugar, however they can still be enjoyed in moderation as part of a balanced diet. Some potential health benefits of ginger snaps include:

  • Ginger provides anti-inflammatory properties.
  • They contain fiber from the whole wheat flour.
  • Molasses offers iron, calcium, and potassium.
  • The sugar gives an energy boost.

Overall, ginger snaps make for an occasional treat. Eating them in large quantities daily is not recommended due to the high sugar content.

What are some low sugar ginger snap cookie alternatives?

Here are some ways to make ginger snap cookies healthier with less sugar:

  • Swap 1/2 the white sugar for brown sugar or honey to reduce the sucrose content.
  • Use just a light sprinkling of sugar for coating rather than 1/4 cup.
  • Replace some of the flour with almond flour or oats for more nutrients.
  • Add nuts like walnuts or pecans to bring the sugar ratio down.
  • Make the cookies smaller in diameter to reduce the sugar per serving.

Can I make sugar free ginger snap cookies?

Yes, it is possible to make ginger snap cookies without sugar, though the texture may be a bit different. Some sugar substitutes to use include:

  • Artificial sweeteners like stevia or Splenda
  • Sugar alcohols like xylitol or erythritol
  • Applesauce or mashed ripe banana for natural sweetness
  • Sugar-free syrups like maple or coconut nectar

Be sure to adjust any other liquids in the recipe to account for moisture from sugar replacements. The cookies will spread less and be more dense without real sugar.

Tips for Making Ginger Snap Cookies

Here are some helpful tips for baking perfect ginger snap cookies at home:

  • Rest the dough. Chilling dough for at least 2 hours allows flavors to develop.
  • Roll balls first. Shaping into balls before coating in sugar yields the iconic cracked shape.
  • Use fresh spices. Old ground ginger won’t be as pungent and flavorful.
  • Press lightly. These cookies don’t spread much, so don’t flatten them too thin.
  • Watch closely. Ginger snaps go from baked to burnt quickly, so set a timer.
  • Cool completely. Letting the cookies cool on the baking sheet allows them to crisp up.
  • Store in an airtight container. This prevents moisture from softening the cookies.

With the right techniques and ingredients, you can make bakery-quality ginger snaps at home loaded with that signature gingery zing.

Common Add-Ins and Variations

While traditional ginger snaps call for simple ingredients, there are many fun ways to add your own twist:

  • Chocolate chunks – Semisweet or white chocolate chunks add pops of rich sweetness.
  • Candied ginger – Diced candied ginger boosts both texture and flavor.
  • Lemon zest – Bright citrus zest enhances the ginger and spices.
  • Crushed candy canes – Candy cane pieces make them extra festive for Christmas.
  • Mocha drizzle – Melted dark chocolate and instant coffee drizzled over the cookies adds sophistication.
  • Toasted nuts – Pecans or walnuts lend crunch and nutty undertones.

Feel free to customize ginger snaps to your liking with different add-ins. Just keep in mind extra mix-ins will alter the nutrition facts, including sugar content.

In Conclusion

Ginger snap cookies do contain a significant amount of sugar, ranging from 8-12 grams per cookie depending on the recipe. In comparison to other popular cookie varieties, ginger snaps fall on the higher end for sugar content.

One or two ginger snaps can be enjoyed as an occasional treat. However, the sugar content adds up quickly if consuming them in high quantities. Following daily sugar intake recommendations is advised when incorporating ginger snaps into your diet.

With some simple tweaks and smart portioning, ginger snaps can still be a tasty addition to the holiday cookie platter. Just be mindful of the sugar in each serving.

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