Pumpkin Snickerdoodles

These Pumpkin Snickerdoodles are thick, super soft and chewy (not cakey!), loaded with pumpkin flavor and warm cozy Fall spices!

These Snickerdoodle Pumpkin Cookies are the perfect sweet, buttery, pumpkiny, cinnamon-dusted crinkly-topped Fall cookie!  They will be the hit at all of your Halloween and Thanksgiving get togethers and they taste even better the next day (AKA stress-free, make ahead cookies)!  These Pumpkin Snickerdoodles are a celebration of fall made with real pumpkin and loaded with brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and ginger. They’re finished off with a coating of cinnamon and sugar that bakes into the signature lightly crispy and crackly exterior giving way to the chewy, soft interior without ever being caky. With one bite, you’ll be hooked! PS. If you’re looking for a cakey cookie, try these instead!

Fall is a celebration of everything pumpkin!   If you love pumpkin, don’t miss: Pumpkin Oatmeal Cookies,  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, Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars, soft and fluffy Pumpkin Pancakes and of course these new Pumpkin Snickerdoodles! 

HOW TO MAKE Snickerdoodle Pumpkin Cookies VIDEo

pumpkin snickerdoodles stacked showing how thick and chewy they are
pumpkin snickerdoodle cookies on a marble board with cinnamon sugar

pumpkin cookie ingredients

This pumpkin cookie recipe begins with basic snickerdoodle ingredients, then adds pumpkin puree and warm Fall spices to transform them into deliciously soft Pumpkin Snickerdoodles! Here’s what you’ll need to make the recipe (full measurements in the printable recipe card at the bottom of the post):

  • Pumpkin: The most important part of this pumpkin cookie 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.
  • Cream of tartar: This is what gives snickerdoodles their signature tangy taste.  Equally important, it activates the baking soda to help leaven the cookies and develop their chewy texture and distinct craggly surface. 
  • Cornstarch:  This is the secret ingredient to soft and thick cookies!  It binds with the liquids in the dough, so cookies spread less. 
  • Sugar: Use a mixture of brown sugar and granulated sugar for both sweetness and flavor.  Brown sugar adds the caramel undertones while creating a more tender, moister cookie.
  • All-purpose flour:  Spoon and level the flour (instead of scooping the flour up with your measuring cup) to avoid compact flour.  Too much flour/inaccurately measuring the flour will result in cakey cookies.
  • Baking soda: This leavening agent helps the cookies to puff up and remain thick and tender without being cakey. 
  • Baking powder: This also helps leaven the cookies but works at a different time in the baking process than baking soda for maximum benefit.
  • Unsalted butter: I recommend using unsalted butter since the amount of salt in salted butters can vary between different brands.  If you use salted, butter then reduce the salt in the recipe.
  • Egg: You will need one egg yolk ONLY.   Pumpkin puree acts like an egg in cookie dough so it is necessary to eliminate the excess moisture of the egg white. Too much moisture in your cookie dough will result in cakey pumpkin cookies. We still need the egg yolk, however, for fat, richness and flavor. 
  • Spices: Ground cinnamon, ground ginger, ground nutmeg, ground cloves and ground allspice add the warm fall flavor.
  • Salt: 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 in the recipe.
  • Vanilla extract: Adds a depth of flavor. Use quality extract for the best results.
snickerdoodle pumpkin cookies with a bite taken out showing how fluffy, thick and chewy they are

How to Make Pumpkin Snickerdoodles

  • Step 1: In a mixing bowl, whisk together the Dry Ingredients until thoroughly combined; set aside.
showing how to make pumpkin snickerdoodles by whisking together flour, baking soda, baking powder and cream of tartar

Step 2: In the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugars on medium speed until combined. 

showing how to make pumpkin snickerdoodles by creaming butter, brown sugar and granulated sugar together

Step 3: On medium low, mix in the egg yolk, followed by the pumpkin and vanilla extract.

showing how to make pumpkin snickerdoodles by mixing in pumpkin puree and vanilla

Step 4: On low, slowly mix in the Dry Ingredients just until combined.  Give the dough a stir by hand to scrape up any dough at the bottom of the bowl.

showing how to make pumpkin snickerdoodles by mixing in dry ingredients into wet ingredients

Step 5: Cover the dough and chill for at least one hour, upwards of 3 hours is optimal to reduce spreading. Meanwhile, whisk together the ¼ cup granulated sugar with 1 teaspoon cinnamon in a small bowl.

Step 6: Using a 2-tablespoon cooking scoop, scoop the dough and shape it into a ball, roll the dough ball in the cinnamon sugar mixture to thoroughly coat, then transfer to the baking mat, spacing cookies 2-inches apart. 

showing how to make pumpkin snickerdoodles by rolling pumpkin dough balls in cinnamon sugar

Step 7: Bake in the preheated oven for 9-11 minutes (they should look just slightly under-baked; they will cook more once removed from oven).

showing how to make pumpkin snickerdoodle recipe by adding dough balls to a baking sheet

Step 8: Cool on the baking sheet about 5 minutes then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

top view showing how to make pumpkin snickerdoodle cookies by cooling on a baking rack
  • Start by blotting the pumpkin puree.  If you use a brand of pumpkin puree other than Libby’s, then make sure to drain the pumpkin for the best flavor, texture and to prevent spreading.  Quite simply, more moisture = cakier cookies, less moisture = denser, chewier cookies. When you blot the pumpkin, all that’s left is flavor!
  • Measure the flour correctly.  When measuring your flour, don’t scoop it out of the container with the measuring cup. Instead, stir the flour around, spoon it into your measuring cup, and level it off with the back of a knife.
  • Use fresh baking soda. If your baking soda isn’t fresh, the pumpkin cookies won’t leaven properly. To test the baking soda, add a pinch to a bowl followed by a splash of vinegar. If it doesn’t fizz, your baking soda needs to be replaced.
  • Use a cookie scoop for uniform pumpkin 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 dough quick and easy.  
  • Use a 2-inch cookie scoop. Using a large cookie scoop promotes even baking and thicker cookies.
  • Don’t skip chilling the cookie dough.  Chilling the cookie dough is essential for thick, chewy cookies. It helps to guarantee the cookies don’t overspread by solidifying the butter – the colder the cookie dough is before it goes into the oven, the thicker the cookies will be!  After the initial chill time called for, I’ll often roll all the cookies, place them on wax paper in the refrigerator and chill for 30 minutes or so before baking.
  • Make the cookie “balls” into tall ovals.  To keep the cookies thicker, I roll the balls more tall than wide (see video).
  • 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.  More importantly, it will keep the butter chilled so the cookies don’t spread too much when baked.
  • Don’t over bake your cookies.  The cookies will continue to cook on the baking sheet when removed from the oven, so don’t overbake them or they won’t be as soft and chewy. They should look slightly underdone when you remove them from the oven.
  • Feel free to reshape unruly cookies.  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.
  • Pumpkin Snickerdoodles 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 meld together and the cookies become chewier and more flavorful.  The cookies will retain their incredibly soft and chewy texture for over a week! 
picking up a pumpkin snickerdoodle cookie showing how chewy they are

Pumpkin Snickerdoodle FAQS

Why do you need cream of tartar in pumpkin snickerdoodles?

Cream of tartar is the key ingredient to developing that tangy taste, chewy texture, and distinct craggly surface of the classic snickerdoodle.  The tartar’s acid gives snickerdoodles their distinctive tangy flavor, and the chewiness is achieved because the cream of tartar prevents sugar in the cookie dough from crystalizing into crunchiness. Lastly, the combination of the cream of tartar and baking soda helps leaven the cookies so they’re thick and fluffy. 

What is cream of tartar? Can you make pumpkin snickerdoodles without cream of tartar?

Cream of tartar is a dry, powdery, acidic byproduct of fermenting grapes into wine.  It’s what separates a tangy, chewy snickerdoodle from a run-of-the mill cinnamon-coated sugar cookie.  You can omit it if you must, but the final taste and texture won’t quite be the same (see below).

How can you replace cream of tartar in pumpkin snickerdoodles?

If you want to make snickerdoodles without cream of tartar, you can substitute the cream of tartar AND the baking soda with 2 teaspoons of baking powder which has both cream of tartar and baking soda in it.  The only difference is that a classic snickerdoodle recipe has more cream of tartar than baking soda so you will lose a bit of that tangy flavor if you use just baking powder.  

Why are my pumpkin snickerdoodles spreading so much? How do you keep snickerdoodles from going flat? 

There are 6 important elements in preventing flat snickerdoodles:

1. Most importantly, make sure your leaveners are fresh!  Both the baking soda and cream of tartar need to be fresh, otherwise, you are doomed for flat cookies.  To test the cream of tartar, add a pinch to a bowl of hot water. If the water slightly fizzes, then you’re good to go, if it stays flat, then it needs to be replaced.  To test the baking soda, add a pinch to a bowl, followed by a splash of vinegar. If it doesn’t fizz, your baking soda needs to be replaced.
2. Chill the dough for at least 1 hour. 
3. Bake the cookies immediately after rolling, or place the rolled balls back in the refrigerator to chill again.
4. Don’t overbake. 
5. Calibrate your oven.  If your oven is not calibrated correctly, it might be baking at a lower temperature than intended. Try increasing your temperature by 25 degrees which will help set the snickerdoodles before they spread too far. 
6. Lastly, if there isn’t enough flour to hold the butter as it melts, the cookies will over-spread. So, if you’ve followed the above steps and your cookies are still spreading, try adding an extra 2 tablespoons of flour to the cookie dough.

Why are my snickerdoodles dry?

Dry snickerdoodles are usually the result of overbaking.  You should NOT pull your cookies out when they’re set and crispy. It’s best to slightly under bake the cookies, then let them finish cooking/firm up on the baking sheet after they’re removed from the oven.  Another culprit could be that there isn’t enough fat in the dough.  Either the recipe itself didn’t call for enough fat (this recipe is perfect) or it was just measured incorrectly.

Should you flatten snickerdoodles before baking?

No, you should not flatten the snickerdoodles before baking or they will spread out too much as the butter melts and become flat instead of thick and chewy.

Why do my snickerdoodles not crack?

Make sure to mix the dough sufficiently until light and creamy.  This gives lift to the cookies and will cause them to rise and fall, creating those beautiful cracks.

Why do they call it snickerdoodle?

The term snickerdoodle is based off the German word Schneckennudel, a German pastry, which literally translates as “snail pasta.” A Schneckennudel is a yeast dough roll that resembles a cinnamon roll, so perhaps the term snickerdoodle cookie is a nod to the cinnamon laden pastry.

Where did Snickerdoodles originate?

While the exact origin is unclear, the snickerdoodles is believed to be invented in 891 by Cornelia Campbell Bedford. The New York cooking teacher and newspaper writer had been working on a recipe for the Cleveland Baking Powder company when she came up with a sugar cookie covered in sugar and cinnamon.

What is the difference between a snickerdoodle and a cookie?

Snickerdoodles are rolled in cinnamon/sugar before they are baked.  Additionally, snickerdoodle dough contains cream of tartar which gives snickerdoodles their iconic slightly tangy flavor, thick chewiness and craggly surface.

plating snickerdoodle pumpkin cookies

  • Use dark brown sugar instead of light brown sugar for a deeper molasses flavor
  • Make the recipe gluten free by using 1 to 1 gluten free baking flour
  • Add chocolate chips
  • Add white chocolate chips
  • Add chocolate chips with dried cranberries
  • Add white chocolate chips with dried cranberries
  • Add chocolate chips with raisins
  • Add chocolate chips with pecans, walnuts or pumpkin seeds
  • Add cinnamon chips
  • Add butterscotch chips
up close of pumpkin snickerdoodles with a bite taken out

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©Carlsbad Cravings by CarlsbadCravings.com

Pumpkin Snickerdoodles

These Snickerdoodle Pumpkin Cookies are the perfect sweet, buttery, pumpkiny, cinnamon-dusted crinkly-topped Fall cookie!  They will be the hit at all of your Halloween and Thanksgiving get togethers and they taste even better the next day (AKA stress-free, make ahead cookies)!  These Pumpkin Snickerdoodles are a celebration of fall made with real pumpkin and loaded with brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and ginger. They’re finished off with a coating of cinnamon and sugar that bakes into the signature lightly crispy and crackly exterior giving way to the chewy, soft interior without ever being caky. With one bite, you’ll be hooked! PS. If you're looking for a cakey cookie, try these instead!
Servings: 36 cookies
Total Time: 1 hr 40 mins
Prep Time: 30 mins
Cook Time: 10 mins

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Ingredients

DRY INGREDIENTS

  • 2 2/3 cups all-purpose flour (measure flour correctly or they will not spread, see notes)*
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 ½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp EACH ground nutmeg, ground ginger, salt
  • 1/4 tsp EACH ground cloves, ground allspice

CREAMING INGREDIENTS

  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2/3 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 12 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1/2 cup Libby's pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling, see notes)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

FOR ROLLING

Instructions

  • In a mixing bowl, whisk together the Dry Ingredients until thoroughly combined; set aside.
  • In the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugars on medium speed until fluffy, about 2 minutes.
  • On medium-low, mix in the egg yolk, followed by the pumpkin and vanilla extract.
  • On low, slowly mix in the Dry Ingredients just until combined. Give the dough a final stir by hand to scrape up any dough at the bottom of the bowl.
  • Cover the dough and chill for 3 hours or freeze for 45 minutes. You may chill the dough in the fridge for up to 3 days.
  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicon nonstick baking mats. Whisk together the ¼ cup granulated sugar with 1 teaspoon cinnamon in a small bowl; set aside.
  • Using a 2-tablespoon cooking scoop, scoop the dough and roll it into a ball, then roll in the cinnamon sugar mixture to thoroughly coat. At this point, I roll the ball into a tall oval (see video), so it's more tall than it is wide to create thicker cookies. Transfer the balls to the baking mat, spacing cookies 2-inches apart (6 per baking sheet). Refrigerate any dough you are not using at the time, colder dough=thicker cookies!
  • Bake at 350 degrees F just until set and the tops are starting to crack (they should look slighlty underbaked; they will cook more once removed from oven). Baking times will vary depending on how cold your dough is, plan on anywhere from 11-14 minutes. Cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Video

Notes

*Measure the flour correctly.  Too much flour/inaccurately measuring the flour will result in cookies that do not spread or cakey cookies. When measuring your flour, don’t scoop it out of the container with the measuring cup. Instead, stir the flour around, spoon it into your measuring cup, and level it off with the back of a knife.

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24 Comments

  1. Megan says

    Hi Jen,

    I just made the batter and will bake the cookies tomorrow. What is the measurement for the vanilla? I put in one teaspoon which I hope was enough.

    Thanks.

    • Jen says

      Hi Megan, sorry, just updated! It is 1 1/2 teaspoons. Hope you love them as much as us!

  2. Nell Hamilton-Schulz says

    My 6 year old grandson made these and while the kids loved them, and so did their parents. they were not properly cooked. Did anyone else find that 11 minutes was not enough time to cook the inside?

    • Jen says

      Hi Nell, ovens can be different, so I would just bake longer next time to your liking.

  3. Caroline says

    I followed every step to the letter and my cookies never spread. They just look like a little ball. It was very disappointing to say the least.

    • Jen says

      Hi Caroline, I’m guessing the flour was not measured correctly. Too much flour/inaccurately measuring the flour will result in cookies that do not spread or cakey cookies. When measuring your flour, don’t scoop it out of the container with the measuring cup. Instead, stir the flour around, spoon it into your measuring cup, and level it off with the back of a knife.

  4. Angelina says

    I tried this recipe and mine do not look like the photo. They also didn’t fall much from the balls.. and I’m not sure why. They smell good though

    • Jen says

      Hi Angela, I’m guessing the flour was not measured correctly. Too much flour/inaccurately measuring the flour will result in cookies that do not spread or cakey cookies. When measuring your flour, don’t scoop it out of the container with the measuring cup. Instead, stir the flour around, spoon it into your measuring cup, and level it off with the back of a knife.

  5. Gwen says

    Okay, these Pumpkin Snickerdoodles are OUT. OF. THIS. WORLD!! I baked the dough last night… and may or may not have eaten the cookies for breakfast haha! They are so GOOD!!!

    • Jen says

      You made my day, thank you so much Gwen, I’m thrilled you loved them so much!

  6. London says

    These were outstanding! Replaced my old recipe with this one!

    • Jen says

      That’s what I like to hear, thank you London!

  7. Kate says

    I almost ate the entire batch!!! So delicious!!!

    • Jen says

      Thanks so much Kate, I’m guilty of the same!

  8. Shellie says

    These might be my new favorite cookie all year round! Full of pumpkin flavor, cinnamon and so soft and chewy!

    • Jen says

      I love hearing that, thanks so much Shellie! I love pumpkin all year round too!

  9. Lynda Smith says

    I absolutely love your recipes!!! Just curious…..would it be possible for you to give the measurements in grams? I think that this would be a safer way of getting the correct amount of the ingredients (since getting the flour quantity correct has such a huge impact on the outcome of the recipe).

    • Jen says

      You are absolutely right, I should have done that! I’ll update shortly.

  10. Mike Peterson says

    I found 11 minutes was not nearly enough time. 14 and a bit seemed perfect. here was a family debate whether or not they we too soft. It was a texture debate. But that said, everyone loved the flavor.

    • Jen says

      I guess you’ll have to settle the debate with another round! 😉

  11. Debbie says

    10/10 These are my new favorite fall cookie. Two friends of mine also made them and we all loved them. I used Trader Joe’s pumpkin and they looked just like the photo so perhaps that is another low moisture pumpkin option. I may have to try another batch with Libby’s to compare. 🙂

    • Jen says

      Thanks for the 10/10 rating Debbie! I’m so pleased both you and your friends all loved this recipe! Thanks for the tip on Trader Joe’s pumpkin puree as well!

  12. Elizabeth Clark says

    Hey there! Would you be able to freeze the dough?

    • Jen says

      Yes! See freezing instructions in the post.

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