These old-fashioned bacon fat cookies made with candied ginger are soft, chewy, spicy, smoky and sweet …oh, my!
The easy recipe makes ginger cookies with amazingly spicy flavor thanks to the inclusion of three kinds of ginger: fresh ginger juice, candied ginger, and dried ginger. I thought the slightly smoky taste of the bacon grease would be a nice compliment to the flavors, and that hunch proved to be right.
To prepare the bacon fat for baking, I poured the cooled grease through a regular wire strainer and let it sit at room temperature for about 20 minutes to allow the particles to settle. Then I re-poured it through a fine-mesh wire strainer into a glass container. I covered and chilled it because I wasn’t going to use it right away, but if you’re going to bake with it right away you can skip that step. (Read more about rendering bacon fat and what to do with bacon grease.)
This recipe has one fussy step, and that’s peeling and grating fresh ginger for the dough. Adding fresh ginger gives the cookies a hint of fresh, spicy flavor that I think pushes this recipe over the top. (You can skip this step if you’re in a hurry. Just eliminate the fresh ginger, with no other modifications needed to the recipe.)
Let’s get started, shall we? Select one or two pieces of ginger at the store that are a total of about 4 inches in length. Look for firm, unblemished ginger. Here’s what I used:
Use a vegetable peeler to remove the outer skin…
…so that it looks like this:
Next, arrange a grater over a plate and grate the ginger using the side of the grater with smaller holes:
When you’re done, you’ll have a little pile of grated ginger like this:
Now, squeeze the ginger with your hands into a measuring cup to extract all of the fresh ginger juice:
If you prefer, you can press the grated ginger on a strainer set over a measuring cup to extract the juice. Compost or discard the remaining ginger fibers, and pour the ginger juice in a large bowl. Now you’re going to add the bacon grease. Since I had refrigerated my strained bacon grease, I removed it from the refrigerator and let it sit at room temperature for an hour to soften. You could also microwave it on low for 30-40 seconds to soften it.
Here’s how it looks:
Add the bacon fat to the bowl along with the softened butter.
Blend it together:
Now mix in the brown sugar, egg and molasses:
In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, powdered ginger, and ground cloves.
Now, finely chop the candied ginger and add it to the flour mixture.
Stir the two mixtures together, cover and refrigerate the dough for 1 hour. Remove from the refrigerator and use a dining teaspoon to roll the dough in 1 1/2-inch balls. Roll in sugar (demerra sugar, sparkling sugar or granulated sugar all work well) if you like, and arrange on a parchment-lined cookie sheet about 2 inches apart.
Bake until cookies are just done and barely starting to brown around the edges, about 10 to 12 minutes. Do not overbake. Sprinkle with a little more sugar if you like, and remove to a wire rack after cookies have cooled for 2 minutes.
Because they contain bacon fat, I suggest storing the cookies in a covered container in the refrigerator. They taste best if they’re eaten within 5 days.
Here’s the easy recipe:
Soft Ginger, Butter and Bacon Fat Cookies
- 1 1- inch by 2-inch piece fresh ginger peeled and finely grated
- 7 tablespoons butter softened
- 1/4 cup rendered strained bacon grease, room temperature
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 1 egg
- 1/4 cup unsulfured molasses or substitute regular molasses
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon powdered ginger
- 3/4 teaspoon powdered cloves
- 1/2 cup finely chopped crystallized ginger
- crystal sugar or granulated sugar for sprinkling
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
- In a medium bowl, squeeze the juice from the grated?ginger and compost or discard fibers. Add the butter, bacon grease, brown sugar, egg and molasses and stir until well blended.
- In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger and cloves. Mix the dry ingredients into the butter mixture and stir until well blended. Sprinkle with the chopped crystallized ginger and mix well. Refrigerate, covered, for 1 hour.
- Roll in balls using a dining teaspoon. Roll in crystal sugar or granulated sugar and arrange on the prepared cookie sheet about 2 inches apart.
- Bake until just starting to brown around the edges, about 10 to 12 minutes. Cool on a wire rack. Store cookies in a covered container in the refrigerator. They taste best if they're eaten within 5 days. Makes about 3 dozen.
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