After several rounds of testing, these maple pecan snickerdoodles came out soft and chewy with irresistible maple and cinnamon flavors. Chopped pecans in the dough add texture and a pecan baked on top of each cookie is a pretty finishing touch!
This recipe is part of my annual holiday cookie countdown called Sally’s Cookie Palooza. Every year since 2013, I work on a handful of new cookie recipes and publish the 10 best ones for readers to enjoy. It’s the biggest, tastiest event of the year on my website!
Tell Me About These Maple Pecan Snickerdoodles
- Flavor: Two cookies collide! These are maple brown sugar cookies and snickerdoodles in one. The brown sugar flavor isn’t as heavy as the maple brown sugar cookies (or even brown sugar cookies), but there’s extra cinnamon and a little tang from cream of tartar so you certainly won’t miss it. (Cream of tartar is a staple ingredient in snickerdoodles!) The pecan half on each cookie gets a little toasty, so if you love nuts—don’t skip that addition.
- Texture: Chewy, crinkly, and oh-so-soft with chunks of pecans in every bite.
- Ease: These maple pecan snickerdoodles are easy enough for a beginner to handle because there’s no complicated shaping or prep required. Don’t forget a few key ingredients like cream of tartar, pure maple syrup, and maple extract.
- Time: Standing between you and a tray of maple pecan snickerdoodle cookies is a 2 hour chill time. Since we’re adding liquid (maple syrup), this cookie dough will over-spread in the oven without a couple hours in the refrigerator first. If you’re baking multiple cookie recipes at once, use this time to make a batch of shortbread!
By the way, if you’re ever looking for a cut-out style cookie recipe using these flavors, try my maple cinnamon star cookies.
The goal for today’s recipe was a flavorful variation of regular snickerdoodles. I tested multiple batches before landing on texture and flavor perfection—let me show you some results.
Comparing Two Test Batches
The first several rounds of dough started from my traditional snickerdoodles. I used varying amounts of maple syrup and maple extract and adjusted the egg/egg yolk and flour, but each cookie had a cakey texture and some were dry by day 2. (Likely the added flour and reduced egg yolk—the original snickerdoodles are definitely not like this!) I switched directions and used maple brown sugar cookies as the base. Adding cream of tartar gave the slightly tangy flavor that’s iconic to traditional snickerdoodle cookies. I reduced the brown sugar so the flavor wasn’t as strong and settled on a careful ratio of butter-flour-maple syrup.
On the left: Dry and cakey.
On the right: Soft with chewy, buttery centers. These were the clear winners and you can find the printable recipe below.
Key Ingredients in Maple Pecan Snickerdoodles
- Cinnamon: All snickerdoodles are dressed up in a cinnamon sugar coating including today’s version. Use cinnamon in the cookie dough as well.
- Cream of Tartar: Cream of tartar adds a unique tang to snickerdoodle cookies. If you don’t have any, you can skip it but you will lose that flavor. I have plenty of other recipes that use cream of tartar, like these caramel snickerdoodles. You can put a jar to good use!
- Pure Maple Syrup: Avoid “breakfast syrup” which doesn’t have the same robust maple flavor that pure syrup contains.
- Maple Extract: Pure maple syrup isn’t enough to give the cookies enough flavor. (And if you tried adding more for additional flavor, the dry-wet ingredients would be thrown off!) Without the crutch of maple extract, the cookies are lacking flavor. If you need a recommendation, I like using McCormick brand maple extract and you can find it in the baking aisle. You can use it in maple brown sugar cookies, maple walnut tassies, and maple bacon doughnuts, too!
- Pecans: Chopped pecans add some texture to the cookies. I like pressing a pecan half on top of each dough ball before baking—it’s a built-in garnish that lightly toasts as the cookies bake.
You also need some staple baking ingredients including butter, brown & white granulated sugars, an egg, salt, flour, vanilla, and baking soda.
A Cookie Scoop Helps
Use a cookie scoop to portion the dough before rolling into balls with your hands. I like this (affiliate link) medium cookie scoop because it measures exactly what you need—1.5 Tablespoons of dough.
These maple pecan snickerdoodles are soft and chewy with irresistible maple and cinnamon flavors. Set aside at least 2 hours to chill the cookie dough before rolling and baking. See recipe notes for additional information about some key ingredients.
- 2 and 1/2 cups (313g) all-purpose flour (spooned & leveled)
- 1 teaspoon cream of tartar*
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 cup (12 Tbsp; 170g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
- 1/2 cup (100g) packed light or dark brown sugar
- 1/2 cup (100g) granulated sugar
- 1 large egg, at room temperature
- 1/4 cup (60ml) pure maple syrup*
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 and 1/2 teaspoons maple extract*
- 1 cup (130g) chopped pecans (plus pecan halves for topping)*
- 1/3 cup (70g) granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- optional for topping: 32-36 pecan halves
- Cookies: Whisk the flour, cream of tartar, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt together in a medium bowl. Set aside.
- Using a hand mixer or a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar together on medium speed until smooth, about 2 minutes. Add the egg and beat on high until combined, about 30 seconds. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed. Beat in the maple syrup, vanilla extract, and maple extract until combined.
- Pour the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, and then beat on low until combined. Beat in the chopped pecans. Dough will be thick and soft.
- Cover and chill the dough for 2 hours in the refrigerator (and up to 3-4 days). If chilling for longer than a few hours, allow to sit at room temperature for at least 30 minutes before rolling and baking because the dough will be quite hard.
- Topping: Mix the granulated sugar and cinnamon together. Set aside.
- Preheat oven to 350°F (177°C). Line large baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats. Set aside.
- Roll cookie dough into balls, about 1.5 Tablespoons of dough per cookie. (A medium cookie scoop yields just the right amount.) Roll each ball generously into cinnamon sugar topping and place 2-3 inches apart on prepared baking sheets. Gently press a pecan half into the tops of each dough ball. (Not too hard or the pecan may break.)
- Bake for 13-14 minutes or until lightly browned around the edges. The centers will look very soft.
- Remove from the oven. If your warm cookies look puffy, lightly bang the pan on the counter when you remove it from the oven. That will help slightly deflate the cookies. Cool cookies on the baking sheets for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
- Cover and store leftover cookies at room temperature for up to 1 week.
- Make Ahead Instructions: You can make the cookie dough and chill it in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days. Allow to come to room temperature then continue with step 5. Make sure that you let it come to room temperature before rolling the dough, coating in topping, and baking the cookies. You can also freeze the cookie dough balls. Roll the dough into balls then freeze the balls for up to 2-3 months. You can freeze the cookie dough balls with the cinnamon sugar topping or without, but I recommend freezing without the topping. When you are ready to bake, remove the balls from the freezer, let sit for 30 minutes, preheat the oven, and then roll into topping. You can also freeze the baked cookies for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator before serving.
- Special Tools (affiliate links): Glass Mixing Bowl | Whisk | Electric Mixer (Handheld or Stand) | Baking Sheets | Silicone Baking Mats or Parchment Paper | Medium Cookie Scoop | Cooling Rack
- Cream of Tartar: You can skip the cream of tartar if desired but you will lose some flavor. Cream of tartar adds a unique tangy flavor to the cookie, which sets it apart from sugar cookies and makes it a classic snickerdoodle.
- Maple Syrup: Avoid “breakfast syrup” which doesn’t have the same robust maple flavor that pure syrup contains.
- Maple Extract: Pure maple syrup isn’t enough to guarantee mega maple flavor. Without the crutch of maple extract, the cookies lack flavor. I use McCormick maple extract. You can find it in the baking aisle.
- Pecans: I recommend unsalted, un-roasted pecans but feel free to use salted roasted pecans.
Keywords: maple pecan snickerdoodles