As a New Englander, I hesitate to mess with one of our classic recipes. But a sugar cookie covered in cinnamon sugar is just begging for an autumnal upgrade. It’s not much of a jump to combine snickerdoodles and pumpkin spice, but I wish I had made that leap much sooner.
These pumpkin snickerdoodles are soft with a light chew and loaded with pumpkin flavor. They’re quick and easy to make, with no special equipment or fancy techniques. You can easily double the recipe for a bake sale or cookie swap.
How to Make Pumpkin Spice Snickerdoodles
You can’t just add pumpkin purée to a recipe and expect it to work. Pumpkin contains a lot of water, which can drastically change the texture of baked goods. In the case of cookies, extra liquid makes them cakier.
To counteract this, I made a few changes that aren’t typical of a traditional snickerdoodle recipe. This pumpkin version starts with melted butter instead of creaming softened butter with sugar. I’ve added some brown sugar, which not only complements the pumpkin but also makes a chewier cookie. I also opted for an egg yolk in place of a whole egg.
These changes result in a cookie full of pumpkin flavor that’s still soft and chewy. I left in the cream of tartar, which gives snickerdoodles their characteristic tang. For even more pumpkin flavor, the typical cinnamon and sugar coating is swapped for pumpkin pie spice.
Tips and Tricks
These pumpkin snickerdoodles couldn’t be simpler, but I still have some tips for creating the best texture and heightening their cozy flavor:
- Don’t skip the chilling step. Chilling the dough makes shaping the cookies and coating them in sugar much easier. It also limits how much the cookies spread in the oven.
- For an extra chewy cookie, you can use a paper towel to blot the pumpkin purée and absorb excess water before making the dough.
- To add even more toasty fall flavor, try browning the butter instead of just melting it. Brown butter has an irresistible nutty flavor that pairs beautifully with pumpkin and baking spices.
Make Them Ahead
You can make the cookie dough ahead of time and store it in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
The dough also freezes well for up to 2 months. To freeze, scoop the cookies onto a baking sheet that will fit in your freezer. Place the tray in the freezer until the dough has frozen solid. Transfer the frozen dough to a zip-top freezer bag. To bake from frozen, roll the dough in the spiced sugar and add 1 to 2 minutes to the baking time.
Store pumpkin spice snickerdoodles in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days. Once they are a few days old, I like to revive them by dipping them in my coffee or black tea.
The baked cookies can also be frozen for up to 2 months.
More Pumpkin Desserts
- Homemade Pumpkin Pie
- Basque-Style Pumpkin Cheesecake
- Pumpkin and Coconut Ladoo
- Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins
- Pumpkin Tiramisu
Combine the dry ingredients:
In a medium mixing bowl, start assembling the cookie dough. Whisk together the flour, cream of tartar, pumpkin pie spice, baking soda, and salt.
Combine the wet ingredients:
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the melted butter, pumpkin purée, brown sugar, granulated sugar, egg yolk, and vanilla extract until fully combined and smooth.
Make the batter:
Fold the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients with a wide rubber spatula until just incorporated and no dry streaks of flour remain. At this point, the dough will seem soft.
Cover the bowl and chill the dough in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes. The dough can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Chilling the dough makes it easier to scoop and shape and improves the flavor and texture of the cookies.
Preheat the oven to 350°F.
Arrange racks in the bottom and top third of the oven. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
Make the pumpkin spice sugar mixture:
In a shallow bowl, whisk together the granulated sugar and the pumpkin pie spice.
Shape the cookies:
Use a 1 1/2 tablespoon cookie scoop or a heaping tablespoon to portion the cookie dough. You should get about 24 cookies.
Roll each scoop of cookie dough in the palms of your hand to round out and smooth it. Drop it into the sugar mixture, rolling around to coat.
Evenly space 12 cookies on each baking sheet, about 3 inches apart.
Place a pan on each rack in the oven and bake for 11 to 12 minutes, rotating the pans from top to bottom and back to front halfway through. The edges of the cookies will be set and the tops will look puffed and cracked.
Cool and serve:
Let the cookies cool on the pan for 5 minutes, then transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely.
Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days.
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