If you’re looking for a spooky baked good to make this Halloween, then you have to take a stab at these Reddit-famous "murder cookies". No, they are not harmful to eat—nor are they directly related to murder—but the chewy, molasses-like cookies’ backstory is a haunting tale that’s perfect for Halloween night. Go ahead and turn on your oven to 350 F, and we’ll give you the mysterious backstory of these creepily delicious cookies, and our best tips for making them at home.
What Are Murder Cookies?
The story goes like this: Reddit user @NearKilroy was looking into the history of their house after weird things started happening. The poster told TODAY that “things [were] missing from the fridge, things [were] going off the shelves—we thought maybe it was a ghost.” And sure enough, they learned that a murder had taken place at the house in the 1930s. From there, @NearKilroy apparently “fell down a rabbit hole” while researching and discovered that the neighbor at the time was a baker at Cushman’s Bakery. This random detour led them to discover a recipe for Cushman’s scotch cookies, which was once named “recipe of the year.”
When @NearKilroy posted the recipe on Reddit’s Old_Recipes, the scotch cookies quickly gained traction, becoming one of the most popular recipes on the subreddit. The short, slightly mysterious story of the cookies eventually led to readers changing their name from “scotch cookies” to “murder cookies”.
How to Make Murder Cookies
The recipe is as simple as it gets. First, cream together sugar, shortening, and molasses; then beat in egg until combined. Sift together flour, salt, baking soda, cinnamon, and mace (or nutmeg as a substitute) then add to the shortening-sugar mixture with milk and mix to combine (the dough will be sticky). Drop dough by the spoonful on a prepared baking sheet and flatten dough into rounds with the bottom of a glass (floured to prevent sticking). Bake at 350 F for 14 minutes (recipe does not specify temperature or bake time, but commenters suggested this) until just set; do not overbake. See the original recipe here.
My Review of Reddit’s Famous Murder Cookies
The cookies are the quintessential fall treat: dark, spicy, aromatic, and slightly bitter. Underbaking is key to getting the perfect combination of a chewy center and a crisp exterior. The cookies are thick, and depending on how generous your spoonfuls are, one, maybe two, cookies are enough to satisfy your post-dinner sweet tooth. It's no surprise these cookies are so popular—they check off all the boxes for what we want in a fall baked good. Delicious on their own, even better with coffee or a hot toddy, these murderous-by-association cookies are a perfect fit for the year’s scariest night.
My 4 Tips for Making Murder Cookies at Home
- Cream shortening and sugar until light and fluffy. The recipe does not indicate how long to cream shortening and sugar together. Before adding the egg, beat the shortening, sugar, and molasses for 2 minutes until light and fluffy. Properly creaming the shortening and sugar will result in an evenly baked cookie with a lighter, softer texture.
- Flour the bottom of the glass. To avoid a sticky situation, lightly dip the bottom of the glass in a shallow bowl of flour before flattening the cookies. Repeat this as needed between cookies.
- Heat oven to 350°F and bake for 14 minutes. The recipe does not indicate the oven temperature or baking time for the cookies, but commenters suggested 350 F for 14 minutes, which worked well for me. The success in the cookies is underbaking—it ensures that the baked good has a chewy center and slightly crisp exterior. Periodically check your cookies and remove once set.
- Remove cookies from the pan and cool on a wire rack. After baking, let the cookies rest for about 1 minute on the pan, then transfer them to a wire rack to continue cooling. Removing the cookies from the hot pan will prevent them from overbaking and developing a crisper, less chewy texture.