The best hermit cookie bars you’ll find! Similar in taste to a gingerbread cookie, these hermit cookies are soft and chewy and made with ginger, molasses, and raisins.
For those that know me, know that I’m a bigger fan of savory than sweet. So baked goods aren’t usually on my agenda, but I had to share these New England Hermit Cookie Bars that were actually shared with me by my husband! A Boston Massachusetts native, when he was growing up he would find these cookies in a local bakery and purchase them by the bag for a couple of dollars.
How to Make New England Hermit Cookie Bars
Start your hermit cookie bars by greasing your pan. I like to use both crisco and flour to make sure that nothing sticks.
Then take a large mixing bowl and add in the flour to mix your dry ingredients.
To the flour, add in your warm spices of cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves.
Then add the salt, baking soda, and baking powder.
Whisk all of the dry ingredients together, and then set this bowl aside.
Then in the bowl of your stand mixer, add your brown sugar.
Add your softened butter to the brown sugar, and cream them together until fluffy and creamy.
Then pour in your molasses while mixing on low.
Then add in your eggs, and mix until fully incorporated.
With your mixer on low, slowly add your dry ingredients until fully mixed.
Finish by folding in your raisins, weither with a wooden spoon or your mixer on the lowest setting.
Take your dough and spread it evenly on your prepared baking sheet. Toss them in the oven at 350 for roughly 17 minutes.
Let the hermit bars cool, then cut into squares with either a pizza cutter or a knife.
Serve and enjoy your New England Hermit Cookie Bars!
- Swap the raisins. You could use other dried fruits or nuts in place of the raisins.
- Add some chocolate. Plenty of people will throw in some chocolate chips with their hermit cookie bars.
Frequently Asked Questions:
How do you store hermit cookies?
Hermit cookies store well. Up to a week in an airtight container at room temperature and they will still taste great!
Why are hermit cookies called hermits?
Because of it’s longevity, this cookie was often sent with sailors and other travelers as something to eat on longer journeys. So it traveled, as hermits often did.
What’s the easiest way to cut cookie bars?
Use a pizza cutter or knife and cut them into squares (or any shape you prefer).
More Sweet Snacks
- Chocolate Peanut Butter Energy Balls
- Healthy Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies
- Pumpkin Oatmeal Breakfast Cookies
- Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars
- Pumpkin Bars with Cream Cheese Frosting
Did you try this recipe and like it? The next time you make it, snap a picture and share it to your socials! Tag @thelemonbowl and #thelemonbowl so we can admire and share your dish.
Whip up a batch of these soft and chewy hermit cookie bars for your next cookie swap, classroom party, hostess gift, or holiday open house!
No fork required.
New England Hermit Cookie Bars
- 4 cups all purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
- 2 cups brown sugar (packed)
- 1 cup butter (softened – preferably unsalted)
- ⅔ cup molasses
- 2 large eggs
- 2 cups raisins
- Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.
- Grease and flour one standard jelly roll pan (standard cookie sheet) and set aside.
- In a large bowl, whisk together dry ingredients: flour, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, ginger, nutmeg, salt, and cloves.
- With the mixer on medium, beat together brown sugar and butter until light and fluffy. Add in molasses then egg and mix until well combined.
- Reduce mixer speed to low and slowly add in the dry ingredients until just combined.
- Use a spoon to stir in raisins.
- Scrape edges of the bowl with a plastic spatula to get the mixture together in a ball then scrape out onto a cookie sheet.
- Flour hands then carefully press dough into even layer on the floured cookie sheet.
- Bake 17-19 minutes depending on oven. Typically I'll spend half the time on the top rack and the other half on the bottom. Remove from the oven when toothpick comes out clean.
- Let cool completely before slicing into bars.
116 thoughts on “New England Hermit Cookie Bars”
I have been looking for a recipe that is close to the carrot cookies the local grocery store has. They are very like hermit bars but taste like carrot cake. I think your recipe will get me really close.
I will be using half molasses and half Lyle’s Golden Syrup and adding a cup of shredded carrots to the raisins.
Wish me luck!
I’m curious to know how they turn out! Let me know :)
It turned out beautifully. Not exactly like the stores, but still very tasty. I am looking forward to seeing how it tastes tomorrow! As I mentioned before I used half molasses and half Lyle’s Golden Syrup. I also added 1 c. of shredded carrots and 1 c. of coconut. This is definitely going into my repertoire.
I’ll have to see if I can convince Rich to switch it up next time so we can try it ourselves;) Thanks for sharing!
Hmmm…something isn’t right with final amount of this recipe. Let me first say that I like the final result after baking, this makes a very nice cookie. But, the recipe amount/instructions saying to use “one jelly roll pan” and the picture instructions don’t seem to line up. The pictures are showing a jelly roll (not sure which size jelly roll pan was used) with the pan about 1/2 to 2/3 full.
I followed the x1 recipe the first time I made this and easily filled a half sheet pan (which is slightly larger than a jelly roll pan) with more than a 1/2 inch thickness of the dough. Since this was the first time making this recipe I barreled ahead with the bake and after 20 minutes it was very clear that the center was very wet. It took me almost a full 60 minutes to bake this through.
I would suggest halving the recipe or divide the dough into two pans.
I’m sure this is just a mistake in the recipe, I’ve certainly made them myself. Again, the cookies are really nice and I’ll make them again with some adjustments. I just want to help others have success using this recipe.
I use a standard sized cookie sheet, same as you by what you mentioned. The only times I’ve been told people had trouble with this recipe and it taking too long to bake is when they use a cake pan or something smaller than a cookie sheet. I have no idea why it would’ve taken 60 minutes on a standard cookie sheet to bake!
I am looking to make some of these for my 93 year old dad for Father’s Day. I remember my grandmother making these and they were everyone’s favorite. I’ve researched recipes, and this is the only one that calls for a “jelly roll” pan, which is what I remember my Gram using, so I think I’ll try this one, but I also remember that hers were much darker than the ones in these photos. Any thoughts on what would’ve made hers darker in color than these?
Oh thank you so much Cindy. My husband read your comment and it made his day!! Do you think she used a darker molasses?
I just made these with dark brown sugar and blackstrap molasses. They were so dark, everyone thought they were brownies! They were gone in one sitting.
Oh what a great idea!!! Enjoy!
Wow! These bars are wonderfully addictive! I added 1.5 cups of golden raisins and 1 cup of chopped walnuts.
The bars baked beautifully. I will have to say for my oven I would use the bottom shelf only. I followed your directions to start with top shelf and change to the bottom one but it took an additional 7 minutes for it to be fully baked. But it ended well!
Love the additions you made!!! Raisins sound great!
when I was a kid (I’m 75 now) we bought bars just like this at Christmas. I have longed for a recipe that tasted like them, and found it here! Chewy, deep-flavored, ginger and molassesy. Absolutely delicious! Thank you for this gift! This recipe is huge, so I thought I would never eat them all (they freeze perfectly) and gave half to my house cleaner (she loves all the baked goods I give her and she has a toddler who loves them too)! The surviving batch of bars are dwindling fast.
I’m so glad you found this recipe, Ann! I’m so happy you’re spreading the love and sharing them too. :)
Thanks for posting. I’ve made hermit cookies years ago and lost the recipe. Wanted to give you my tip,. I melt butter, sugars and spices together on the stove, then add the golden raisins, simmer 5 minutes. Then I let cool a bit, then process about half. I don’t add nuts, but if I did would add them. After. Just a suggestion.
What a great idea Rose!! Thank you so much!
These are amazing and fun to make. I switched out raisins for chopped walnuts. After placing dough on the baking sheet, I placed a piece of waxed paper stop and shaped the dough with the waxed paper. These are the perfect gingerbread. I froze half of the batch for after Christmas goodness. Easy to make and made the house smell like Christmas morning while baking. Thanks for sharing this recipe. Merry Christmas!
That’s a great idea MJ!!! Merry Christmas!
Made these in a jelly roll pan but they came out delicious but quite thick. Could you let me know the size pan you are using for these? Thank you.
Hmmm they are usually a bit thick. We use a normal jelly roll pan also. Were they not fully cooked in middle? Usually when we spread the dough it doesn’t even fully reach the edges.
I LOVE Hermits. I lived in NH in 1975 and discovered them, quickly falling in love with the taste. Sadly I didn’t get a recipe. I keep searching and searching for what I remember and I came across your recipe today. Since I love molasses, I was excited to find this recipe. I followed your directions exactly except I greased and floured a new shiny 9 x 13 inch cake pan (because I didn’t have a large enough cookie sheet free). Because I used a shiny pan, I dropped the temp to 325 degrees. After 17 mins, the Hermits were still very jiggly so I left them in longer. And they rose probably 2 inches high. I kept checking them and after probably 30 mins, when a toothpick inserted came out clean, I took them out of the oven. I let them set for about 30 mins where they sank just a bit. I was dying to try them, so I cut into the center edge of the pan–and they weren’t done. The first bite was delicious but the second bite was very gooey. I was looking for a very moist, almost cake like texture. In the photo, yours do not look as though they rose at all. So, I put them back in the oven for another half an hour. I haven’t checked them again but I am so very disappointed that I couldn’t get them to work for me! I cannot understand how these could possibly cook in only 17 mins. What do you think I did wrong?
Hi Patricia – These need to be baked in a baking / sheet / cookie pan, not a cake pan. A cake pan is too tall. These are a cookie bar more than a cake so you really need a cookie sheet. Try them again please? I promise you’ll be glad you did!
OMG! I have been looking for a hermit cookie recipe for years!! I’m from Mass and missed these cookies so much. I made a batch to the t and loved it, just not the mess. So next batch I put it in the fridge for an hour and was able to work them out easier. Tasted the same. Thanks for the wonderful trip back to my childhood!!
I’m so glad you enjoyed these and that they took you back to your childhood!!
I love your recipe… It looks so yumm… Is there any possibility to replace eggs in this recipe ? Am looking for a eggless option
Have you tried using a flax egg?
I have been away from New England a long time and had forgotten about these. Hermits used to be a favorite of mine as a kid. I made a test batch last week and this week I made two batches to give away.I am sure my Nashville friends have never had them, but I know they will love them. This recipe is easy and really delicious. The only change I made was that I added some candied ginger too. My husband is from MD and had never had one and he is hooked. Thank you!
I hope your Nashville friends love them as much as our Michigan friends do!! I love that we are spreading the word about Hermits !!! :)
Omgosh, amazing, chewy awesomeness. I used two wooden spoon fulls of fresh ground ginger instead of powder and oh my. Zingy festive yum. Thx for recipe.
Aren’t they just the best?! Merry Christmas!
As New Englanders we became hooked on hermits, these do not disappoint. It’s been my go to recipe for a while now. Just a note of interest, when I make a batch I add TWO cups of raisins and TWO cups of chopped walnuts. Considering chops dates as well in place of some raisins next time. WONDERFUL recipe, thank you.
I’m so glad to hear you enjoy these Nina!!! They remind me of our time living in New England. LOVE the idea of walnuts!!! Dates sound great too.
Thank you for the great recipe. I made these when I was a teenager in a bakery in Wakefield. We made two long bars on a cookies sheet. Then, when you slice the, each cookie would have two baked edges. We also cut then diagonally and sometimes added a simple zigzag of a thin frosting.
Just a technical note: the intermittent sudden rise in volume prompted me to fast forward a few times.
I am so happy you enjoy this Darleena!! I used to live in Stoneham near Wakefield!
Yes!that is how I remember them… they need two edges! Thank you for mentioning this. I am going to try making them using almond and gluten free flour and Splenda brown sugar… as we really try to watch our carbs. Will let you know how they come out!
I forget to mention that it was 1974 when I was making these as a teenager. My boys love them as well as my grandchildren.
Do you use a basic jelly roll pan? How many cookies does this make. It says 64 servings but does not say how many cookies in a serving or what size the cookies are. I’m baking for a cookie exchange and trying to determine if I need 1 batch or two.
64 cookies, about 2 inch squares. We use a basic jelly roll pan. These are super dense and rich! :) You don’t need a lot.
Thank you! Going to bake for our cookie trays this year!
I hope you love them Nancy!
These hermit cookies were delicious and I even shared the recipe with my Maine Farmer neighbor, she loved them. I baked them longer than 19 minutes, more like 25 minutes and left them to cool in the open oven as I like them a bit dryer. Will definitely keep this recipe and add chopped walnuts next time.
I’m so glad you enjoyed them!
Delicious, although the pan required is much larger than the 9″ x 13″ written. (The photo shows something larger.)
My goodness that’s a type-o! You’re correct it’s a cooking sheet – much bigger. Fixed!!
Put dates in mine- delicious!!!
Oooo what a GREAT idea!
I haven’t had these in years. Made the recipe and all the memories came flooding back. These are spot on. Thank you for this great recipe.
A solid five stars! I made the full recipe with only a few changes: added a pinch of mace, sifted dry ingredients instead of whisking them, and used a wooden spoon to mix (no electric mixer). Easy and fast! My husband, Ed, was born in VT in 1937. His mother made hermits, and of course they were his favorite. I was born in New Orleans and had never heard of a hermit cookie. Having tried several different recipes (resulting in several batches of “not-hermits”), I am thrilled to report: I just cut into this pan and gave two squares to my husband. And… success! Ed says I have captured the elusive HERMIT! Thank you so much.
When dough is put on the floured cookie sheet should it be spread out to cover the entire pan?
Yes I like to spread it out but it doesnt need to reach the entire pan!
These are a winner in this household.Just took some out of oven.I slip on a pair of poly gloves like restaurants use,to mix in raisins and spread dough in pan.Its so much easier then working with floured hands.These make great gifts.
I’m so glad you enjoyed them!! Aren’t they just the best?
Can you freeze them?
Yes for sure!!!
Here’s FIVE STARS***** from someone who actually made these! These cookies are fantastic. I made 1/2 the recipe and it almost filled up the entire 9×13 sheet pan (so 1/2 the recipe is still a good amount!). The recipe was super easy to follow, very quick to make and baked perfectly in 17 mins in my oven. The dough wasn’t super sticky to work with so no trouble pushing it out on the pan. I haven’t cut them into bars yet, they’re still cooling, but I did tear off a corner to taste and wow, these are so good. The store nearby adds a vanilla glaze to their hermits, but these are delicious plain. Thank you for a great and quick/easy recipe!
I grew up in the South end of Hartford, CT and hermits were always in the house…Dad always bought them at a local bakery on Franklin Ave. Later in life when my Mom and I lived close by (because Dad had passed on) Mom and I went grocery shopping together and we found hermits at a local Big “Y” and Mom scooped them up….when my son visited from Virginia he absolutely LOVED our hermits and just lately he said that he was not going to visit again without me making those “hermit cookies”(I since have moved to SC where hermits aren’t even heard of and Italian grinders with my homemade peppers)…so here I am searching for a hermit recipe…and VOILA!…i found you!…I will try your recipe and let you know….sounds so good and bring back so many wonderful childhood memories!
Loved this recipe! I grew up in Danvers so I love knowing these came from Saugus/Lynn native! Really nice and moist.
Oh that’s so cool!! Rich used to take me to Hilltop on Route 1 when we were dating. :)
These were great! Best recipe for hermits. Have gone through many others. This’ one of my favorite cookies–from Em’s Bake Shop in Avon Connecticut when I was a kid. Now your recipe is the one I will always use.
LOVE these bars! Flavor is PERFECT!!! Only problem I had was using wrong size pan (my idea of standard jelly roll pan is different) and had to bake way longer than stated. The correct size must be what I consider a large cookie sheet (12×17). Thanks for sharing this great recipe!
Every autumn my grandfather would drive down from NY to FL for a month long visit with all sorts of goodies in his car. One of those goodies was Freihoffer’s Hermit cookies. I don’t think Freihoffer’s exists any more, and I haven’t seen any sort of hermit cookie in YEARS. But I had a hankerin’ and went looking on the internet…
Made these and they brought back so many memories! Even my kid who doesn’t like raisins liked these – they were gone in about 4 days, which says a lot around here. Superb recipe! Thanks so much!