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Susquehanna Life

Cooking at Home: Moravian Spice Cookies

Moravian spice cookies originated in the 17th century Colonial American communities of the Moravian Church. The blend of spices and molasses, rolled paper thin, has earned the reputation as the “World's Thinnest Cookie.” The cookie is especially popular around Christmas in communities with a strong Moravian background such as Winston-Salem, North Carolina, and Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, which maintain the two largest Moravian communities in the United States. Think gingerbread meets Christmas cookie.  

Moravian Spice Cookies

Total Time: 2 hours, 30 minutes

Yield: 10 dozen


  • ½ cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
  • ¾ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¾ teaspoon ginger
  • ¾ teaspoon cloves
  • ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
  • ¾ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon allspice
  • 1 cup molasses
  • ½ cup softened unsalted butter
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour


In a medium bowl whisk together sugar, baking soda, salt and spices.

In a medium saucepan heat molasses just to the boiling point but do not boil. 

Stir in softened butter until perfectly smooth. Cool slightly. 

Transfer to the bowl of a stand mixer or use a hand mixer to beat in the sugar mixture. Add a bit of the flour, stirring to combine. As soon as it starts to hold together in a sticky dough, scoop it out onto the well-floured counter. (The flour used in this step is part of the 4 cups total flour.)

Knead in about 3 ½ cups of flour with your hands until the dough holds together. The dough will become very stiff.

Roll into a ball and refrigerate overnight. 

When you are ready to roll out the dough, preheat oven to 375° and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

Cut off a portion of the dough and roll paper-thin on a well-floured surface. Use cookie cutters of your choice, although traditional Moravian cookies are fluted circles. 

Use a small spatula to lift the delicate cookies off the counter. 

Brush off any excess flour and place on lined baking sheet. They don’t spread, so it’s okay to place them less than ½ inch apart.

Bake 4 minutes. Rotate tray, bake 2 more minutes. Cool on baking sheet; stack and repeat.

Store in an airtight container. Share with family, friends, and neighbors.

Recipe from The American Heritage Cookbook, 1964 edition

Susquehanna Life magazine has not tested this recipe and disclaims any responsibility for the outcome of its preparation.

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