I have tried various ginger cookie recipes over the years, for gingersnaps, gingerbread cookies, pfeffernusse, and most recently pepparkakor. I never find the cookies to be spicy enough—I assume, not gingery enough. What can I do to bake a really spicy cookie?

By way of prior research: I am often generous in the measures of the spices; in particular, I often put in more cloves than the recipe calls for. (And when I made candied orange peel for the first time a few years back, I thought that might be part of the solution. Once I tried adding it chopped to the gingerbread cookie recipe above, but the result was equivocal.)

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    Maybe add some crystalized ginger pieces into the recipe? I've also heard of black pepper used in addition to dried ginger to make it spicier. Never tried it though.
    – Billy Kerr
    Dec 4, 2021 at 9:43

8 Answers 8


I often find that fresh ginger tends to lose its freshness over time when heated, and this might happen here. So I suggest ginger powder. Similar to garlic powder, this is a very fine powder made probably from the dried fruit, and surprisingly intense and close to the original. It might be difficult to find; I buy mine at an Egyptian spice dealer. (It's also awesome to put into hot chocolate...)

In addition, you mention an extra dose of cloves. Maybe try reducing that, as cloves tend to have a somewhat numbing effect in the mouth.

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    +1 specifically for cutting back on the cloves. Eugenol (the primary flavor component in cloves) is actually a local anesthetic, and part of the ‘spicy hot’ flavor of ginger (and anything else with capsacinoids in it, such a chilli peppers) is actually inflammation of the mouth/tongue, which the local anesthetic effects of the eugenol rather effectively counteract. Dec 4, 2021 at 22:39
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    Maybe a dumb question, but is the ginger powder you're referring to here different from ground ginger—which for me is a very common spice. (The length of your description makes it seem to me that you're introducing something new or unusual?)
    – adam.baker
    Dec 6, 2021 at 13:22
  • Is ginger powder different from the spice ginger? May be worth clarifying. It seems they'd get easily mixed up if they are different things.
    – stanri
    Dec 6, 2021 at 13:24
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    @phipsgabler Ground (from grind) rather than *grinded or *grounded, and in English would always refer to a dry powder. Mashed up fresh ginger (which you can purchase in a tube to keep in the fridge) could be known as ginger paste or ginger purée or crushed fresh ginger or something like that.
    – dbmag9
    Dec 6, 2021 at 18:36
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    Oh, well... unless that ginger is connected to a grounding electrode :D Dec 6, 2021 at 20:05

Raw Ginger Juice.

Some of the ginger flavour is lost in the cooking process. To get more flavour you can, similar to a lemon drizzle cake, pour some raw ginger juice (liquid from grated ginger) over the cookies after they are cooked. Unfortunately this runs the risk of soggy cookies.

Another option is to add some form of icing that contains raw ginger juice. This prevents sogginess.

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    A friend had a gingersnap recipe that called for dipping them half into white chocolate. You could probably use a royal icing made with ginger juice instead. And maybe then sprinkle with some chopped up candied ginger
    – Joe
    Dec 5, 2021 at 13:08
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    @Joe I can also vouch for making icing with the syrup from stem ginger in syrup. It may not be enough in this case, but if you've used of the ginger in the cookie as well, it's a nice finishing touch
    – Chris H
    Dec 6, 2021 at 14:09

Ginger gets its flavour from many compounds, but primarily gingerols. These are converted by cooking into the less pungent zingerone and other compounds. Separating 'spicy hot' from 'spicy flavour', cooking will inevitably reduce the former. If you really want this kind of heat, I suggest adding a very small amount of chilli flakes.

Since gingerols (like capsacin) are short chain hydrocarbons, they are most soluble in fat. So I suggest you might increase the fat content slightly.

From my experiments trying to up the ginger flavour, one of the problems with ginger cookies can be that the flavour is too 'one note'. That is, even if one makes a really gingery cookie, the ginger hit diminishes quickly with each bite because of palate fatigue. This suggests adding a different form of ginger, e.g. the crystallised ginger suggested in a comment, or a small amount of a different spice, maybe cinammon or mixed spice.

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    “Since gingerols ... are most soluble in fat” – are they, though? Ginger infusion in pure water (“ginger tea”) can be pretty spicy. Gingerol seems to be much better soluble than capsaicin in water. (Both are of course not just short-chain hydrocarbons, though especially capsaicin does have a pretty long hydrocarbon “tail”, more so than gingerol, which may account for this discrepancy.) Dec 4, 2021 at 22:05

Pureed whole fresh root

The farmers market near me in Atlanta had fresh ginger root. I washed one (scrubbed it), pared off some dry outside skin, and put the whole thing in the food processor. Other stuff went in to join it and ultimately it became banana bread. It was good and gingery!

This ginger root had magenta colors and was wetter inside than the brown roots from the grocery but those are wet too. I think a ginger root might be too much for a blender but the food processor was fine with it.


My wife makes incredibly gingery cookies, and what she does is makes a very condensed ginger syrup first. She makes that in very large batches, I'm not sure exactly how much ginger root goes in (a lot!), but she gets out maybe a liter or two of syrup, then freezes it in small 0.5L jars. She then uses that to make the cookies, replacing some of the sugar. Not every cookie recipe can do this, of course, but any that take molasses for sweetener could use this instead of some of the molasses, for example.

The other bonus of this, of course, is that same ginger syrup can make excellent homemade gingerale to have along with the cookies (but it's very spicy, so be cautious!)

Notes from my wife: spicier ginger syrup comes from cutting the ginger more finely before cooking it down, and probably from older ginger (though it may also depend on the ginger quality more).

As far as cookie recipes, use one with less sugar if possible or even replace some of the sugar with applesauce to avoid cutting the spice with sugar. She usually makes a ginger molasses cookie that’s on the chewy side, not a true snap but often mislabeled that in recipes.

  • That sounds very promising. Is there a recipe you could suggest?
    – adam.baker
    Dec 7, 2021 at 6:09

The form of ginger you use matters, see this excellent video on the subject.

My recommendation: use all forms of ginger! Perhaps in this order: Dried, crystallized, and fresh.


When I want to make extra-gingery sweet things, I add stem ginger (the sort sold in jars of syrup). I chop it fairly finely and add it to the mixture. It's in pieces, roughly spherical, about 20mm to 1" in diameter. A couple of those added to a batch that would fill 1-2 baking sheets should do the trick.

This is in addition to ground ginger, of which I normally use a little extra (say 25% more than stated for decently gingery); I also often add some ground mixed spice, 10-25% of the original amount of ginger.

The infused syrup from the stem ginger can be used in place of golden syrup or even honey in the recipe too (or stir it into hot chocolate, but anyway, don't waste it).


Don't forget to add salt!

Salt brings out many flavours, and adding 0.5-1% of the total weight in salt doesn't make it noticeably salty.

It goes for most cakes/cookies, but especially if you want to bring out the spiciness of e.g. gingernuts.

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