Super-Soft Pumpkin Cookies

published Sep 21, 2023
Pumpkin Cookies Recipe

These soft and cakey cookies are made with pumpkin purée, pumpkin pie spice, and a spiced sugar coating.

Makes24 (2.5-inch) cookies

Prep20 minutes

Cook10 minutes to 12 minutes

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pumpkin cookies with granulated sugar on top sitting on cooling rack
Credit: Kelli Foster

I’ve made these pumpkin cookies four times in the past month, and every time the same thing happens: I cannot stop eating them. For starters, these cookies are incredibly soft and cakey. (If you’re someone who hears the word “cakey” and immediately thinks “dry,” rest assured that is not the case with these cookies.) 

They’re also super-tender and moist, thanks in part to the pumpkin purée in the dough. And, as any pumpkin cookie should be, this version has big pumpkin spice flavor. But the very best part of all is the spiced sugar coating — it adds a pretty sparkle to the cookies and the most irresistible crunch in every bite.

Key Ingredients in Pumpkin Cookies

  • Pumpkin purée. Good pumpkin cookies have to actually contain pumpkin. Remember to pick up pumpkin purée (or make your own from scratch), and not pumpkin pie filling, which is a different thing. You’ll use 1/2 cup for the cookies, and if you don’t have a plan for the leftover purée, remember that you can always freeze pumpkin purée.
  • Pumpkin pie spice. These cookies get a generous double dose of this warm spice blend. There’s a full tablespoon in the cookie dough, plus more mixed with the sugar coating. Take your pick of making your own pumpkin pie spice blend or pick up a jar from the grocery store.
  • Granulated sugar. In addition to mixing this into the dough, you’ll combine some with a spoonful of pumpkin pie spice to coat the cookie dough balls.
  • Brown sugar. I personally prefer dark brown sugar because it gives the cookies a deeper flavor, although both light and dark brown sugar work here. Use whichever one you have on hand. 
Credit: Kelli Foster

Tips for Making the Best Pumpkin Cookies

  • Give the dough plenty of time to chill. This will give the dough time to firm up and make it easier to work with. 
  • Roll the dough balls in spiced sugar before baking. The key to coating cookies with sugar and making sure it actually sticks is to roll the dough balls in the sugar before baking. 
  • Bake just until the edges are set and starting to brown. To ensure these cookies stay soft and tender (and not dry), it’s important not to overbake. These are the visual indicators you want to look out for, and the total bake time will be 10 to 12 minutes.

Pumpkin Cookies Recipe

These soft and cakey cookies are made with pumpkin purée, pumpkin pie spice, and a spiced sugar coating.

Prep time 20 minutes

Cook time 10 minutes to 12 minutes

Makes 24 (2.5-inch) cookies

Nutritional Info


  • 8 tablespoons

    (1 stick) unsalted butter

  • 1 3/4 cups

    plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

  • 1 tablespoon

    plus 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice, divided

  • 1/4 teaspoon

    baking powder

  • 1/4 teaspoon

    baking soda

  • 1/2 cup

    plus 1/3 cup granulated sugar, divided

  • 1/2 cup

    packed light or dark brown sugar

  • 1/2 cup

    pumpkin purée (not pumpkin pie filling)

  • 1

    large egg

  • 2 teaspoons

    vanilla extract

  • 1/4 teaspoon

    kosher salt


  1. Cut 1 stick unsalted butter into 8 pieces and place in a large microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on high until mostly melted, about 1 minute (it will melt completely as it sits).

    (Alternatively, melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat, then pour into a large bowl.) Let cool for 5 minutes.

  2. Meanwhile, place 1 3/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour, 1 tablespoon of the pumpkin pie spice, 1/4 teaspoon baking powder, and 1/4 teaspoon baking soda in a medium bowl and whisk until combined.

  3. Add 1/2 cup of the granulated sugar, 1/2 cup packed light or dark brown sugar, 1/2 cup pumpkin purée, 1 large egg, 2 teaspoons vanilla extract, and 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt to the butter and whisk until smooth and glossy. Add the flour mixture and stir with a flexible spatula until just combined and no streaks of flour remain. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up to overnight.

  4. Arrange 2 racks to divide the oven into thirds and heat the oven to 350°F. Line 2 rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats. Place the remaining 1/3 cup granulated sugar and remaining 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice in a small bowl and stir to combine.

  5. Scoop the dough out into 24 (level 2-tablespoon) portions. Roll into balls and roll each ball of dough in the sugar mixture. Place the dough balls at least 2 inches apart on the baking sheets, 12 on each baking sheet. Flatten each dough ball with your fingertips until about 2 inches wide and 1/2-inch thick.

  6. Bake for 5 minutes. Rotate the baking sheets between racks and from front to back. Bake until the edges are set and starting to brown, 4 to 6 minutes more. Let the cookies cool on the baking sheets for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Recipe Notes

Make ahead: The dough can be made ahead and frozen until you’re ready to bake. Scoop out the dough, shape into balls, and freeze the balls on baking sheets; when they’re firm, transfer to a zip top freezer bag and freeze for up to 2 months. Remove the dough from the freezer and let the balls sit in a single layer at room temperature for 15 minutes, then roll in the spiced sugar and bake.

Storage: Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 4 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months. Thaw at room temperature.