Pumpkin Oatmeal Cookies

These Pumpkin Oatmeal Cookies are a celebration of fall in soft, chewy, cookie form!  They will be the hit at all your Halloween and Thanksgiving get togethers and you will love that they taste even better the next day (AKA stress-free, make ahead cookies)!  These Pumpkin Oatmeal Cookies are unapologetically flavorful, loaded with pumpkin, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and ginger and boast the ideal soft, chewy, rich, and tender texture without being caky.  Dunk the plump morsels in heavenly silky cinnamon cream cheese icing and just try to stop at 5.

Fall is a celebration of everything pumpkin!   If you love pumpkin, don’t miss:  Mom’s Famous Pumpkin Bread which I make every year (fabulous for sharing in mini loaves), Pumpkin Bars with Nutella Cream Cheese Frosting (another must make recipe), Pumpkin Muffins, Pumpkin Bundt Cake, Pumpkin Mini Cheesecakes, soft and fluffy Pumpkin Pancakes and of course these new Pumpkin Oatmeal Cookies! 

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How to make Pumpkin oatmeal cookies video

holding a pumpkin oatmeal cookie with icing

what makes the best pumpkin OATMEAL COOKIES?

I am not exaggerating when I say I could not stop inhaling these Pumpkin Oatmeal Cookies!  They are more delicious than I ever could have imagined. They are everything you love about dense, chewy oatmeal cookies but with cinnamon infused pumpkin: mega soft, mega chewy, super pumpkin-y and super flavorful. With one bite, you’ll be hooked!

Here’s why you’ll love this recipe:

  • Texture:   too often Pumpkin Oatmeal Cookies teeter the line between chewy cookies and cake-like cookies – and fail.  But not these cookies!  These cookies boast a rich, tender texture without tasting cake-like thanks to extra oats and my secret foolproof technique.  If you’re looking for a cakey pumpkin cookie, try these Pumpkin Cookies with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting instead.
  • Flavor:  have you ever sunk your teeth into a pumpkin cookie and it just tasted like…bland pumpkin?   Sad, sad, day.   For this recipe, I was determined to create Pumpkin Oatmeal Cookies that were crave-worthy, and that means loading them with plenty of fragrant, earthy Fall spices of cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and ginger. 
  • Quick and easy:  this cookie recipe doesn’t require you to chill the dough.  Simply mix up your dough in less than 15 minutes, scoop and bake.  Whey the cookies are baking you can whisk together your icing by just creaming all of the ingredients together.
  • Icing:  which brings me to the icing.  The Pumpkin Oatmeal Cookies are stand-alone fabulous, but slather on some Cinnamon Cream Cheese Icing and your taste buds will soar to new heights.  The icing is gloriously silky, boasts cozy spices and bonus, it makes the cookies look so pretty!
  • Versatile:  you can serve the cookies plain, add icing or customize with all sorts of add-ins such as chocolate chips, chopped nuts, raisins, craisins, etc. 
top view of chewy pumpkin oatmeal cookies with icing

The Ingredients

  • Pumpkin: the most important part of this recipe is to use the right pumpkin!  You will need pure pumpkin puree and not pumpkin pie filling.  Pumpkin puree is 100% pure pumpkin (check the label) that has been cooked and pureed without any added sugar or spices.  Libby’s brand is my favorite and what I have used in this recipe.  Libby’s is concentrated and tightly packed without excess water.  You can use another brand but they tend to be looser so take extra care to remove excess moisture or your cookies will be cakier and spread more.
  • Oats: use WHOLE rolled oats and not quick cooking oats.  Quick cooking oats will cook more quickly than rolled oats and retain less of their texture due to the moisture in the pumpkin, resulting in a mushy instead of a chewy cookie.  Old fashioned rolled oats, on the other hand, yield the perfect chewy yet melt-in-your-mouth texture.
  • Nuts:  chopped pecans offer a subtle yet sublime flavor and texture without making the Pumpkin Oatmeal Cookies taste like a “nutty” cookie.  If you don’t add the pecans, then increase the whole rolled oats to 3 cups.
  • Sugar: I use a mixture of brown sugar and granulated sugar to add both sweetness and flavor.  Brown sugar also creates a more tender, moister cookie.
  • All-purpose flour:  is the flour I have tested this recipe with but I’m sure gluten free 1 to 1 baking flour would also work just fine.
  • Baking soda: is a leavening agent that helps add lift and promotes tenderness.  Make sure your baking soda is fresh so it works!
  • Egg: you will need one egg yolk ONLY.   Pumpkin also acts like an egg in cookie dough so it is necessary to remove some of the moisture by not using the egg white.  Too much moisture in your cookie dough will result in a cakey cookie, instead of a chewy cookie. We still need the egg yolk, however, for fat, richness and flavor. 
  • Spices: ground cinnamon, ground ginger, ground nutmeg, and ground cloves add the warm fall flavor.
  • Salt:  enhances all of the flavor. Use good old table salt or twice as much kosher salt. If you’re using salted butter as opposed to unsalted butter, reduce the salt.
  • Vanilla extract: adds a depth of flavor. Use quality extract for the best results.
  • Molasses:  I have tried this recipe with and without molasses and it is 10X better with.  There simply isn’t a replacement for its warm, sweet, smoky, caramel notes.  When purchasing molasses, look for unsulfured molasses and NOT blackstrap molasses.  Unsulfured molasses is the finest quality and only a small amount of sugar has been removed from the first boiling (sugar content around 70%).  Blackstrap, on the other hand, has been boiled further resulting in a thick, bitter, salty sludge with a sugar content of only 45%.  

This pumpkin cookie recipe is extremely versatile.   You can serve the cookies plain or omit the ice and add 1 cup of any of these add-ins or a combination of 1 cup of any of these add-ins:

  • Chocolate chips
  • Chocolate chips with dried cranberries
  • Chocolate chips with raisins
  • White chocolate chips
  • White chocolate chips with dried cranberries
  • Chocolate chips with pecans, walnuts or pumpkin seeds
  • Butterscotch chips
  • Cinnamon chips
a stack of pumpkin oatmeal cookies with pecans

How to Make Oatmeal Pumpkin Cookies

  • Step 1:  Measure spices.  Start off by measuring all of the spices into a large bowl, whatever bowl you’re going to use to mix the dry ingredients.  Remove one teaspoon spices to use later in the icing – double the flavor without double the work!
  • Step 2Whisk dry ingredients together.  To the remaining spices in the bowl, whisk in the flour, baking soda, salt, oatmeal and nuts. 
 showing how to make pumpkin oatmeal cookies by mixing oats, flour, pecans, baking soda in a bowl
  • Step 3:  Cream the butter and sugar. With a stand or handheld mixer, cream the butter and sugars together at medium speed until light and creamy, about 2 minutes.
a collage showing how to make pumpkin oatmeal cookies by creaming butter, granulated sugar and brown sugar
  • Step 4:  Add the wet ingredients.  Add the egg, vanilla, and molasses and mix until combined, then add the pumpkin and mix until incorporated.  
showing how to make pumpkin oatmeal cookies by adding pumpkin puree, vanilla and egg yolk to the mixer
  • Step 5:  Combine wet and dry ingredients.  With the mixer running on low, slowly add the dry ingredients to wet ingredients. The dough will be quite thick and moist as opposed to dry.
showing how to make pumpkin oatmeal cookies by mixing dry ingredients into wet ingredients
  • Step 6 Roll cookies.  Using a 1 ½ tablespoon cookie scoop, scoop the cookie dough and roll it into balls. Place the balls on the cookie sheet about 3 inches apart and gently press down with your hand to slightly flatten each ball of cookie dough.
a collage showing how to make pumpkin oatmeal cookies by rolling cookies and then pressing down on the tops to flatten
  • Step 7:  Bake.  Bake for 11-13 minutes or until the edges of the cookies are lightly browned and the top is set. Remove the cookies from the oven and cool completely on the baking sheet.
showing how to make pumpkin oatmeal cookies by baking cookies on silicone baking mats
top view of pumpkin oatmeal cookies showing how soft and chewy they are
  • Step 8:  Make the icing.  Add the softened butter, cream cheese, powdered sugar, milk and reserved spices to a bowl.  Cream together until smooth. 
showing how to make pumpkin oatmeal cookies by whisking icing ingredient together with a handheld mixer
  • Step 9: Ice the cookies. Dunk the tops of the cookies in the icing and let any excess drip off. Dig in!
showing how to make pumpkin oatmeal cookies by dipping the pumpkin cookies in the icing
pumpkin oatmeal cookies with icing

Tips for Making Chewy Pumpkin Oatmeal Cookies

I’ve experimented, made the mistakes and perfected this recipe and techniques so you don’t have to!  Follow these tips for success and you’ll have the best chewy Pumpkin Oatmeal Cookies every time:

  • Removed as much moisture as you can from the pumpkin puree.  More moisture = cakier cookies, less moisture = denser, chewier cookies.  Before you start making the cookies, begin prepping the pumpkin.  The easiest way I’ve found to remove the excess moisture is to line a plate with a few paper towels, spread one cup pumpkin on top, and let it sit for 15 minutes or so while you begin making the cookies (longer is fine too).  When it’s time to add the pumpkin puree, place some dry paper towels on top of the pumpkin and blot out as much moisture as possible.  The blotted pumpkin should appear drier and easily peel off of the paper towels.
  • Use a cookie scoop for uniform cookies.  Uniform cookies = evenly baked cookies. Plus, this cookie dough is heavy, sticky, and thick, and not dry like some cookie dough.  A cookie scoop makes rolling the moister batter quick and easy.  I have found a 1 ½ tablespoon capacity cookie scoop works best for this recipe.  The cookies are on the thicker side, so the smaller cookie scoop helps them bake more evenly.
  • Slightly flatten the tops of the cookie dough balls.  The compact cookie dough won’t spread much without a little help, so flattening the tops a little first encourages the cookies to spread and helps them bake more evenly.  When pressing the cookies, don’t flatten them completely, just press down on them lightly.  You want a thick mound with a flat top.
  • Don’t grease the pans.  As with virtually all cookie recipes, line your baking sheets with parchment paper or nonstick mats to prevent the cookies from sticking but do NOT use cooking spray or the cookies will spread out too much.
  • Chill cookie dough in between batches.  As you’re waiting to roll out your next batch of cookies, place the dough in the refrigerator.  This will help the dough be less sticky and easier to work with. 
  • Cook just until the edges are golden and the tops are set.  The cookies will be break-apart soft when they come out of the oven but will firm up to the perfect chewy texture as they cool on the baking sheet.  Don’t be tempted to cook the cookies longer or they won’t be as soft and chewy.
  • Feel free to reshape unruly cookies. Even if you roll your dough into perfect balls, you may have a few rogue edges that don’t bake up symmetrical.  If this bothers you, you can use the edge of your spatula to push the edges back into a circle when the cookies are still soft fresh out of the oven.
  • Thin the icing as needed.  The consistency of the icing will ultimately depend on how soft your butter and cream cheese are, so prepare to be flexible.  The icing should be thin enough that you can dip the top of the cookies in the icing and it will drip off without you needing to spread it.  If it’s too thick, simply whisk in additional milk one tablespoon at a time.
  • The icing will thicken upon standing.  The icing contains butter which means it will firm up the longer it sits. This means your icing may be the perfect consistency to start with but may need to be thinned towards the end of icing the cookies. To do so, whisk in additional milk one tablespoon at a time.
  • Pumpkin Oatmeal Cookies are best made ahead.  That should be music to your ears, right?  Similar to banana bread and carrot cake, the cookies taste even better the next day as the spices and molasses meld together.   The cookies will retain their incredibly soft and chewy texture for days. 
a stack of pumpkin oatmeal cookies with icing with a bite out of a cookie

HOW DO I STORE PUMPKIN COOKIES?

  • Pumpkin Cookies with Icing: should be stored in an airtight container in a single layer in the refrigerator for up to one week.  Let the cookies sit at room temperature before serving or microwave for just a couple seconds (they are so much better warmed!).
  • Pumpkin Cookies without Icing:  can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 7 days (if they last that long!).

Make Ahead

You can make the cookie dough, cover and chill it in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.  Allow it to come to room temperature before rolling the cookie dough.

CAN I FREEZE pumpkin OATMEAL COOKIES?

Yes!  These Pumpkin Oatmeal Cookies freeze very well.  You can either freeze the cookies before or after baking.

  • Roll balls per instructions and fit as many as you can on a parchment/nonstick lined baking sheet without touching.
  • Place the baking sheet in the freezer and freeze the balls until the outsides are hard (about 1-2 hours).
  • Transfer the dough balls to a freezer size plastic bag and freeze for up to 3 months.
  • To BAKE:  Place frozen cookie dough balls on a lined baking sheet (8 per sheet) and bake according to instructions without thawing first, adding a couple extra minutes to the cook time.

TO FREEZE BAKED COOKIES

  • Fit as many baked cookies on a parchment/nonstick mat lined baking sheet without touching.
  • Place the baking sheet in the freezer and freeze until solid (about 1 hour).
  • Transfer cookies to a freezer size plastic bag with sheets of parchment in between any layers.  Freeze for up to 3 months.
  • To EAT:  Remove any parchment paper and let the cookies sit at room temperature in a single layer until thawed completely.
up close of a soft and chewy pumpkin cookie on a plate with icing

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a stack of pumpkin oatmeal cookies with icing with a bite out of a cookie

Pumpkin Oatmeal Cookies

These Pumpkin Oatmeal Cookies are a celebration of fall in soft, chewy, cookie form!  They will be the hit at all your Halloween and Thanksgiving get togethers and you will love that they taste even better the next day (AKA stress-free, make-ahead cookies)!  These Pumpkin Oatmeal Cookies are unapologetically flavorful, loaded with pumpkin, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and ginger and boast the ideal soft, chewy, rich, and tender texture without being caky.  Dunk the plump morsels in heavenly silky cinnamon cream cheese icing and just try to stop at 5.
Servings: 46 cookies
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 12 minutes

Ingredients

SPICE MIX

  • 2 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 tsp EACH ground nutmeg, ground cloves
  • 1/2 tsp EACH ground ginger, allspice

DRY INGREDIENTS

  • 2 1/2 cups old-fashioned whole rolled oats
  • 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup chopped pecans (see notes if omitting)*
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

CREAMING INGREDIENTS

  • 1 cup unsalted butter softened to room temperature
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup packed light or dark brown sugar
  • 1 egg YOLK only
  • 2 tablespoons molasses (unsulfured)
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree

SPICED CREAM CHEESE ICING

  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 1/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon reserved Spices (in directions)
  • 2-4 tablespoons milk, plus more as needed

Instructions

Prep Pumpkin

  • Line a plate with paper towels, spread one cup pumpkin on top, and let it sit for 15 minutes or so while you begin making the cookies (longer is fine too). When it’s time to add the pumpkin puree, place some dry paper towels on top of the pumpkin and blot out as much moisture as possible.  The blotted pumpkin should appear drier and easily peel off of the paper towels. (More moisture = cakier cookies, less moisture = denser, chewier cookies.)

Cookies

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats; set aside.
  • In a large bowl (large enough to later hold the Dry Ingredients), whisk together the Spice Mix ingredients. Remove one teaspoon to use later in the icing. To the remaining Spice Mix, whisk in all of the Dry Ingredients; set aside.
  • With a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugars together at medium speed until light and creamy, about 2 minutes.
  • Add egg yolk, vanilla, and molasses, mix until combined, scraping down the sides as needed. Add the pumpkin and mix just until combined. With the mixer running on low, slowly add the Dry Ingredients and mix until combined.
  • Using a 1 ½ tablespoon cookie scoop, scoop the cookie dough and roll into balls. Place the balls on the baking sheet, leaving about 3 inches in between. Gently press down on the cookie balls with your hand to slightly flatten.
  • Bake for 11-13 minutes at 350 degrees F or until the edges of the cookies are lightly browned and the tops are set (mine take exactly 12 minutes). Remove from the oven and allow the cookies to cool completely on the baking sheets.

Spiced Cream Cheese Icing

  • While the cookies are cooling, make the icing (don’t make it too early or it will thicken). Add the softened butter, cream cheese, powdered sugar, 2 tablespoons milk and reserved Spice Mix to a large mixing bowl. Cream together until smooth. Add milk as needed so the icing will drip off of the cookies when dipped without needing to be spread.
  • Dip the tops of the cookies in the icing then transfer the cookies to a flat surface. Dig in!

Video

Notes

*time is per batch and not total baking time.

A few helpful tips

  • *If omitting pecans: increase the oats to 3 cups. 
  • Chill cookie dough in between batches.  As you’re waiting to roll out your next batch of cookies, place the dough in the refrigerator.  This will help the dough be less sticky and easier to work with. 
  • Feel free to reshape unruly cookies. Even if you roll your dough into perfect balls, you may have a few rogue edges that don’t bake up symmetrical.  If this bothers you, you can use the edge of your spatula to push the edges back into a circle when the cookies are still soft fresh out of the oven.
  • The icing will thicken upon standing.  The icing contains butter which means it will firm up the longer it sits. This means your icing may be the perfect consistency to start with but may need to be thinned towards the end of icing the cookies. To do so, whisk in additional milk one tablespoon at a time.
  • Pumpkin Oatmeal Cookies taste better the next day.  That should be music to your ears, right?  Similar to banana bread and carrot cake, the cookies taste even better the next day as the spices and molasses meld together.   The cookies will retain their incredibly soft and chewy texture for the whole 7 days. 
  • Make ahead cookie dough.  You can make the cookie dough, cover and chill it in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.  Allow it to come to room temperature before rolling the cookie dough.

Storage

  • Pumpkin Cookies with Icing: should be stored in an airtight container in a single layer in the refrigerator for up to one week.  Let the cookies sit at room temperature before serving or microwave for just a couple seconds (they are so much better warmed!).
  • Pumpkin Cookies without Icing:  can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 7 days (if they last that long!).
  •  To freeze cookie dough: fit as many cookie dough balls as you can on a parchment/nonstick lined baking sheet without touching. Place the baking sheet in the freezer and freeze the balls until the outsides are hard (about 1-2 hours).  Transfer the dough balls to a freezer size plastic bag and freeze for up to 3 months.  Bake from frozen, adding a couple extra minutes to the cook time.
  •  To freeze cookies:  fit as many cookies (with or without icing) on a parchment/nonstick mat lined baking sheet without touching.  Place the baking sheet in the freezer and freeze until solid (about 1 hour). Transfer cookies to a freezer size plastic bag with sheets of parchment in between any layers.  Freeze for up to 3 months.  When ready to eat, remove any parchment paper and let the cookies sit at room temperature in a single layer until thawed completely.

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2 Comments

  1. MARGIE says

    Can pumpkin pie spice be used and if so, how much?

    Thanks!

    • Jen says

      Hi Margie, I think it should work by keeping the cinnamon the same and using 2 1/2 teaspoons pumpkin spice. I hope that helps!

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