Grandma Marion’s Molasses Bars (Hermit Bars)

These are my Grandma Marion's Molasses Bars, also known as hermit bars. Chewy, delicious sweet bars for the molasses lovers!

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These soft and chewy hermit bars are an old-fashioned favorite, and they’re very popular in our house! Made with molasses, cinnamon, and raisins, this recipe is a delicious combination of sweet, spicy, crispy, and chewy all at once. These irresistible hermit bars also keep FOREVER, but they’re pretty hard to resist, so I doubt they’ll last very long!

These molasses bars are made by baking a “log” of dough that’s cut into bars, much the same as biscotti (p.s. you’ll LOVE my Christmas biscotti!). This is what gives the hermit bars their crisp edges and deliciously chewy center.

You can also make them in a square pan if you prefer so that they look more like brownies. It won’t make any difference to the taste so it’s totally up to you. Like one of my favorite expressions says… it’s what’s on the inside that counts!

slices of soft and chewy Molasses Bars (Hermit Bars) in a wooden cutting board, a cup of raisins and cinnamon stick on background

Why Are They Called “Hermit Bars”?

Hermit bars originated in New England in the 1800s when they were given out to sailors heading away to faraway lands. Once the bars were placed tins, they’d last for months and still be as good as the day they were made. They likely even tasted better over time as the spices developed. I wouldn’t know personally, though, because there’s no way I could make a batch lasts more than a week without them getting gobbled up!

Molasses Bars (Hermit Bars) ingredients in a chopping board on a dark wood background

How to Make Grandma Marion’s Molasses Bars (Hermit Bars)

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 °F.
  2. Cream the sugar and margarine, add in the eggs and beat.
  3. Mix in the molasses.
  4. Whisk the dry ingredients together.
  5. Combine the wet and dry and mix well.
  6. Add the raisins.
  7. Divide the dough in two and make three long rolls from each half on a cookie sheet.
  8. Built them up as high as possible and fit width-wise across the baking sheet for a thicker, chewier bar.
  9. Bake in the oven at 375 F for about 15 minutes until the edges are cooked and the middle is still a little underdone.
  10. Once fully cooled, slice into 8-10 squares.

Some Yummy Variations to Try!

The traditional hermit bars recipe uses raisins but you can add dried cranberries, dried currants, or golden raisins instead. Even use all 3 if you like!

whole Molasses Bars (Hermit Bars) on round oven rack and sliced Molasses Bars (Hermit Bars) on wooden cutting board, cup of raisins and cinnamon sticks on side

Molasses Bars

These are my Grandma Marion's Molasses Bars, also known as hermit bars. Chewy, delicious sweet bars for the molasses lovers!
4.94 from 31 votes
Prep Time
30 minutes
Cook Time
13 minutes
Karlynn Johnston


  • 1 1/2 cups of white sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup and 2 tablespoons of margarine or butter
  • 2 small eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups of raisins
  • 1/2 cup of molasses
  • 3 1/4 cups of flour
  • 2 teaspoons rounded baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • dash of allspice


  • Kick the tires and light the fires to 375 °F.
  • Cream the sugars and the margarine together. Add in your two eggs and beat in completely.
  • Add in the molasses to the margarine/sugar mix and mix in thoroughly.
  • Whisk together the dry ingredients.
  • Combine the wet and dry and mix well.Then add in your raisins.
  • Divide the dough into two pieces, and from each half form three long rolls on a cookie sheet.
  • Build them up as high as you can and they fit across a baking sheet, width-wise. When you build them up, you get a thicker, chewier bar.
  • Bake them in the oven at 375 for 13-15 minutes, and do not over/under bake. This from my grandma’s instructions. So they need to be baked until the edges are cooked and the middle slightly still underdone.
  • Slice them across into about 8-10 squares when they are fully cooled, needless to say, this recipe makes a large amount, you can end up with 40-60 of the little bars!

Nutrition Information

Serving: 30g, Calories: 198kcal, Carbohydrates: 34g, Protein: 2g, Fat: 6g, Saturated Fat: 1g, Cholesterol: 10mg, Sodium: 123mg, Potassium: 202mg, Sugar: 17g, Vitamin A: 285IU, Vitamin C: 0.4mg, Calcium: 38mg, Iron: 1.2mg

All calories and info are based on a third party calculator and are only an estimate. Actual nutritional info will vary with brands used, your measuring methods, portion sizes and more.

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These are my Grandma Marion's Molasses Bars, also known as hermit bars. Chewy, delicious sweet bars for the molasses lovers!

Karlynn Johnston

I’m a busy mom of two, wife & cookbook author who loves creating fast, fresh meals for my little family on the Canadian prairies. Karlynn Facts: I'm allergic to broccoli. I've never met a cocktail that I didn't like. I would rather burn down my house than clean it. Most of all, I love helping YOU get dinner ready because there's nothing more important than connecting with our loved ones around the dinner table!

Learn more about me

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Reader Interactions

Comments & Recipe Tips Share a tip or comment!

  1. Deb Kuhnen says

    I made these today and they are AMAZING!!! They’re a little sweet, but with a strong cup of coffee, they’re perfect. I didn’t build mine up quite as high as yours, so they’re a tiny bit flatter, but that makes no difference to the taste and texture. They’re crisp on the outside and chewy on the inside and have a lovely molasses flavour. Also, I used butter and it worked just fine for me.
    Thanks so much for sharing your recipe. I will definitely make these again!5 stars

    • Karlynn Johnston says

      I’m so glad that you found one of my hidden favorite recipes! These remind me so much of my Grandma!

  2. Wanda says

    Just made these to go in Christmas treat bags for gifts. Oh my! If I don’t stop eating them I’ll have to make more. Remind me of my dad who loved molasses. So good! Thanks for the recipe.

  3. Susan C says

    The best recipe. Followed your recipe, used butter and they turned out perfectly. Just made my second batch and have it stored in refrigerator. Thank you for sharing your recipe.

  4. Julie Scriver says

    I was coming back from Salmon Arm (BC) and stopped in Armstrong at the grocery store there. They have a bakery in the store and I spied these bar cookies there! They were just as I remember them! Soft and chewy! My store bought cookies are all gone, but your recipe just popped up! Now I will have to make them. Thank you Karlynn!5 stars

  5. Christoph says

    When it was ready to form on the cookie sheet, though it mound, it looked as if it would flatten quickly due to too much butter and sugar, it did. I let it bake 13, then 15, then 18, finally took out at 20 min as the outside started firming. Let rest till cooled. Cut into and the small center still not done. Taste is too sweet too. I will do again and cut butter to 1/2 cup, white sugar 1/2 cup, add 2 tbsp of honey, 1/4 cup molasses, and then add dry ingredients until consistency of oatmeal raisin batter that give chewy, cooked center. Thanks for the base.

  6. Deb says

    I’m not sure if it is because I used butter flavor crisco, (didn’t have enough butter. The first batch were like soup. Greasy. I tried again and same thing and so greasy.

  7. Gail says

    Thank you for putting the nutritional information! I have a child with diabetes and it saves me time to see the carbs. Most people don’t include the list and that makes these difficult.5 stars

  8. Myra says

    Oh, the weather outside is Frightful (raining) OMG from my childhood. I have been trying to find this recipe for years Molasses Bars. The only place that you could get these bars during the 50’s & 60’s were at the Bakery in a grocery store called Mayfair. You made my Holiday. Everyone is getting this Christmas. I knew there was a good reason for turning on my laptop this morning. Blessed be.5 stars

  9. ROBERT LYNCH says

    Absolutely LOVELY cookies. 5 stars.

    My substitutions:

    1 cup white sugar (c.f. 1-1/2 cup)
    1 cup dark brown sugar (c.f. 1/2 cup)
    1 cup butter + 2 TBSP olive oil
    1 cup raisins (cf. 1-1/2)
    1 cup apricots, finely chopped
    0 tsp allspice (didn’t have)

    Texture nice and soft, chewy. Once the (really big, really hungry) kids discovered them, the whole batch was wiped out. In an evening.

    This — in my humble opinion — is a MUST REPEAT recipe.
    Love it.
    Just what I was looking for.

    IN THE FUTURE — I intend to “up” the molasses, to use a dark black blackstrap molasses too, and to increase the flour by 20% or so. Just a wee bit stiffer. I also intend to double the apricots, or maybe even triple them. No limits.5 stars

    • Annie Hillan says

      Oh! With apricots! I always stay true to a recipe the first time, then create variations as needed or desired. The will most definitely be an apricots version!!

  10. Laura says

    Thank you so much for this recipe!! I’ve been looking for this for years but never knew what they were called.5 stars

  11. Hailey says

    I made these today and substituted 1 cup flour with 1 cup whole wheat flour and I added 1 cup cinnamon chips. They are wonderful!

    5 stars

  12. Kate says

    I’m not so sure you can substitute butter for margarine in this recipe. I just tried it with butter; the dough was really sticky and the logs ran together. I’m sure they’re going to be quite tasty, even if they’re not very pretty.

  13. Maven says

    I’ve a similar recipe, called hermit bars. I swap the raisins for dried cherries (allergy issues), add chocolate chunks and I do use butter. No problems.

    If you cut into them, and see they’re still too gooey, lay out the slices and bake for a few more minutes, like biscotti.

    5 stars

  14. Jennifer Jo says

    These look great. I’m on a molasses kick and I have pounds and pounds of raisins in the freezer….

    5 stars

  15. Joanne says

    I love the taste of molasses. It has such a rustic complex flavor. These bars look amazing!

    5 stars

  16. Megan says

    What a great photo-these look absolutely delicious! I bet the flavors in these bars are just wonderful-I’ll definitely be adding quite a bit of allspice, my family loves the stuff! Thanks so much for sharing this recipe, I can’t wait to try it 🙂

    5 stars

  17. Carrie says

    I just made these and they were delicious! Mine did not look like this, however. Mine were a bit darker, and all ran together like a big ole pan of brownies. I made some changes, so if anyone is looking for a variation here’s what i did. Still DELICIOUS.

    Used 2 large eggs instead of 2 small ones, used sucanat instead of brown sugar, used raw sugar instead of white granulated.

    Thanks for the recipe!

    5 stars

  18. Karlee says

    Yummy!!! I will have to try these one someday!

    Now who eats all your baking!!?? I rarely bake because I eat it all!

    • Karlynn says

      LOL! These were for Dad, and I kept them frozen in a bag in the freezer for him. I also bake for the teachers at school on some Thursdays for their meeting, I take baking into work almost weekly to feed all the university girls I work with (that whole mother thing, I can’t help it) and then Mike once in a while to work. Then the kids parties at school coming up, it’s honestly never ending!

  19. Laura Flowers says

    Yay! Cookie recipes long treasured by families are so special. Thank-you for sharing. I’ll be making these!


    • Gaberial says

      The flavor is amazing, I used margin but it was so wet it was literally soup, so I added flour until it resembled the dough in the picture and it was closer to 5-6 cups of flour. Flavor is amazing but definitely too wet.3 stars

  20. MT says

    Can I use butter? Would I need to make any adjustments? Thanks!

    • Karlynn says

      Butter and margarine generally have the same water/fat content, but I hesitate to say yes for sure because I have never used it. This is a recipe from the days when butter wasn’t affordable OR available, thus built on a margarine base. I notice most of my old recipes are margarine and it must be the affordability of it. But these ARE in essence, a cookie, and cookies are almost always interchangeable with butter/margarine to suit tastes. Let me know if you try and what the results are, I am curious!

  21. Shan says

    Okay, question…if you slice them after baking and they’re slightly underdone in the center…I guess I don’t see how you’re gonna have a nice crusty top like the ones in your picture? Unless those are just the end pieces. And if they’re slightly underdone in the middle, isn’t that gonna make a bit of a mess when you slice them? They look amazing, and I love me some molasses and spice yumminess. But I really like to get it mapped out in my head before trying a new recipe, and I’m just not seeing this, I guess.

    • Karlynn says

      If you compare them to a cookie that you slightly underbake, thus the inside is still a little soft, yet the outside is crisped up, does that help? Those are actually all middle pieces, since the ends aren’t as pretty. By building the dough up tall like shown in one of the steps, the outside cooks faster than the inside. They aren’t supposed to be liquidy inside by any means, just that underdone that you want for chewy cookies. And you do wait until they are fully cooled to slice! I hope that helps you picture it a little better…you don’t want to over bake because you lose the chewiness, So you look for a crisp outside, and a slightly underdone inside. I haven’t screwed them up yet, and I am not a wondercook, so don’t be scared to try them! Err on the side of overcooking so they aren’t raw, perhaps.

  22. Claire says

    I happen to have all the ingredients, AND my grandmother was also named Marion. It must be fate.

  23. Darlene says

    Great! Now I have to bake this afternoon! 🙂 Thanks A Bunch!! 😉

4.94 from 31 votes (18 ratings without comment)

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