We Tested 4 Popular Snickerdoodle Recipes and Found a Clear Winner
Once upon a time I assumed that all snickerdoodles — the classic, buttery sugar cookies rolled in cinnamon-sugar — were practically the same. Boy was I wrong. This week I battled off four popular snickerdoodle recipes in an attempt to crown the absolute best, and I learned a lot along the way.
Some recipes yield thick and puffy snickerdoodles, others flat and crispy, and still others fall somewhere in between. Some are well worth your time, and others are worth passing on. Although the differences between the recipes may seem insignificant — baking time and temperature, or even the variety of cinnamon — they make all the difference in the taste and texture of the cookies. Read on to find out which one you should bake this holiday season.
How I Chose the Snickerdoodle Contenders
It took a little digging to narrow our contenders. As is the process for many of our recipe showdowns, I began by looking at the recipes that are most searched-for on the internet. To keep the comparison fair, I filtered out any that went too far outside the box of what we consider a classic snickerdoodle. This eliminated Dorie Greenspan’s snickerdoodle recipe, which swaps the cinnamon for ground cardamom (it sounds delicious, but not a fit here).
From there, I looked for recipes that each took a slightly different approach to snickerdoodles. Bon Appétit’s all-butter recipe calls for light brown sugar in addition to granulated, includes the seeds from a vanilla bean, and rests the dough at room temperature before baking. Smitten Kitchen’s is the one all-butter recipe of the four that calls for chilling the dough before baking. Trisha Yearwood uses salted butter along with vegetable shortening to make her cookies. And Stella Parks’ recipe from Serious Eats relies on a combination of unsalted butter and virgin coconut oil, along with a blend of ground and freshly grated cinnamon, and lowers the oven temperature during baking.
By comparing classic snickerdoodles that all used different techniques, I knew I would come away with a better understanding of what made the winning snickerdoodle so special.
How I Tested the Snickerdoodles
To create a level playing field, I kept as many factors as consistent as possible. I used the same brand of ingredients for all cookies. I baked them all on the same brand and style of baking sheet, on the same day, in the same oven.
Meet Our 4 Snickerdoodle Contenders
Here’s how they ranked, from my least favorite to most.
1. The Most Mild-Mannered Snickerdoodles: Trisha Yearwood’s Snickerdoodles
These cookies are fine, although unmemorable, and there are other recipes that make a much better snickerdoodle. They have the least amount of cinnamon-sugar coating of the four and and I found them a bit dense rather than soft and tender.
2. The Most Classic Snickerdoodles: Smitten Kitchen’s Snickerdoodles
I expected to really love these easy-to-make, super-classic cookies, but I have to admit they were a little underwhelming. They were good, but not great. I loved that Deb didn’t skimp on the cinnamon-sugar coating, but I found the texture of the cookies to be disappointing. They’re cakey, borderline dense, and a little dry.
3. The Most Jazzed-Up Snickerdoodles: Serious Eats’ New-Fashioned Snickerdoodles
These are like no other snickerdoodles I’ve ever tasted, in the best way possible. They’re buttery and crisp around the edges yet soft, tender, and chewy in the center. In fact, these were the most moist and tender cookies of the bunch. Best of all, they have a double layer of cinnamon-sugar coating, which includes both freshly grated and ground cinnamon. That being said, I found these to be a tiny bit too fussy to receive a perfect 10.
4. The Very Best Snickerdoodles: BA’s Best Snickerdoodles
These cookies are everything I want in a classic snickerdoodle and more. They spread thin and bake up with crisp, buttery edges and soft, chewy centers. Most notably, they do not skimp in the flavor department. Not only is there ample cinnamon-sugar coating on every cookie, but the cinnamon also adds the tiniest hint of spice that balances the sweetness of the cookies really well. The addition of vanilla bean makes them feel a little extra special, although the flavor doesn’t overwhelm the cookie.