If you have been looking for the best mix of sugar cookies + pumpkin pie, these pumpkin cookies are your answer. They will satisfy all of your pumpkin spice cravings in one soft sugar cookie.
Pumpkin Spice Everything
Tis the season for everything pumpkin spice and I have one BIG gripe with the whole business. People assume that pumpkin spice means pumpkin and they are NOT the same thing.
The spice mix is a simple blend of cinnamon, allspice, ginger, cloves and nutmeg. Flavors and aromas that make you want to cuddle up by the fire and read a book. But the spice does not mean that pumpkin has anything to do with it.
I have a few recipes that use the iconic pumpkin pie spice blend without coveted pumpkin, but not many. And that is why I didn’t just simply add the seasoning to plain sugar cookies.
Nope, I made a pumpkin cookie first and then added the seasoning to really brighten those flavors. In case you didn’t know, plain pumpkin puree is actually pretty bland.
But is does help to make the softest cookies ever! Cookies that taste like a dainty little pumpkin pie.
The list is pretty standard as far as cookies go with the exception of the puree and spice blend. Feel free to use store bought or easily make your own.
- Flour– Provides structure to your cookies.
- Baking powder– A leavening agent.
- Kosher salt- Brightens other flavors, use a coarse salt and never iodized, which can lead to cookies tasting metallic.
- Pumpkin pie spice– Adds that classic fall aroma and taste!
- Unsalted butter– You can use salted but omit additional salt
- Sugar– These are sugar cookies.
- Light brown sugar– Adds a bit of molasses flavor.
- Egg- Creates structure and stability.
- Pumpkin puree– Adds flavor, moisture and color.
- Vanilla extract- Adds flavor. You can also substitute almond.
- Topping: Sugar, spice and everything nice!
How to Make Pumpkin Cookies
This process is also pretty standard, but I have a few tips for making the softest, fluffiest and best cookies ever.
First, don’t skip on sifting together your dry ingredients. This helps them distribute evenly so you don’t end up with a single pocket of salt or one cookie that seems to bake higher than the others. It also prevents you from overmixing.
Second, whip the butter and whip it good! Whipping butter introduces air to make them light and fluffy, but overmixing after you’ve creamed together the sugar and butter can make your cookies dry, so do it in the beginning.
Add vanilla and pumpkin for a smooth batter.
Add the rest of the dry ingredients, being careful to not over blend.
Chill for a few hours so the dough isn’t too loose when baking. If it is too warm, the cookies will fall to little flat pancakes. Keep dough in the fridge between rolling.
Roll dough into balls- not too small and not too big- and then roll in the sugar spice mix like you would for Snickerdoodles. I like to line my insulated baking sheets with parchment paper to prevent sticking and for easy clean up.
Bake and remove right before they look done. Tops will crack slightly and look a little shiny. Do not wait until you see browning on the bottom. Overcooking is the #1 reason for dry cookies.
Allow to cool on the baking sheet for 2-3 minutes just so they harden slightly and then remove them to a wire rack. This allows them cool evenly. Leaving them on a hot cookie sheet will continue cooking until the cookie sheet cools, which can be quite a while.
Glaze or Not To Glaze
A lot of pumpkin cookies use a glaze but I don’t find it necessary. Should you want one, omit the sugar and spice rolling and just bake the balls.
Whisk together 3 cups powdered sugar with 3 tablespoons milk and 1/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice. Drizzle over cooled cookies and allow to set.
These cookies also taste great with a nice cream cheese frosting.
Storage & Freezing
Store pumpkin sugar cookies at room temperature in an airtight container. Like most cookies, they are best within 1-2 days of baking, but will be good for up to 7.
After 2 days, try microwaving them for 10 seconds to reheat the butter and make them soft again.
These cookies are freezer friendly up to 3 months. Defrost at room temperature.
More recipes that use pumpkin:
Insulated Cookie Sheet– Insulated cookie sheets allow hot air to circulate around the entire cookie, resulting in even baking.
Stand Mixer- While this is an investment, I can guarantee you will use it more than you realize and will never regret the decision.
Measuring Utensils– While I like to eyeball it, most folks prefer to measure. Suit yourself 🙂
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Soft Pumpkin Sugar Cookies
Pumpkin Sugar Cookies:
- In a medium mixing bowl, sift together dry ingredients including flour, salt and pumpkin pie spice.
- In a large mixing bowl or stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together butter, sugar and light brown sugar. When blended, light and creamy, add egg, vanilla and pumpkin.
- Gradually add dry mixture to wet until fully combined.
- Cover bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for a minimum of 2 hours.
- After dough has chilled, preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- In a small bowl, mix topping ingredients, sugar and pumpkin pie spice.
- With clean hands, roll dough into 1 1/2 inch balls. Dough might be sticky and not roll well, have no fear, just plop it into the sugar and coat.
- Place onto a parchment paper or silmat lined cookie sheet about 2 inches apart.
- Dip the flat bottom of a pint glass into the sugar and flatten each ball until approximately 1/4 inch thick.
- Bake for 13-15 minutes or until cookie tops start to crack. Do not wait until cookies brown, they will be overdone.
- Allow to cool on cookie sheet for at least 5 minutes before carefully transferring to a cooling rack using a spatula.
- If you’ve tried this recipe, please come back and leave a comment to let us know how it went and if you made any modifications!