These soft pumpkin cookies are thick and cakey with extra pumpkin spice flavor. The maple cream cheese icing is a delicious addition, but the cookies are just as wonderful plain. They’re quick, easy, and best of all– there’s no cookie dough chilling required! My advice is to blot the pumpkin puree to rid excess liquid and use a cookie scoop.
Diving into the fall baking season feels great and these pumpkin cookies are the best place to start. I’ve been perfecting cookie recipes for years and these, along with my pumpkin snickerdoodles, are some of my best. If you crave chocolate, my chewy pumpkin chocolate chip cookies use the same delicious cookie dough as the snickerdoodles. And if you prefer oats in your cookies, you will FLIP for my brown butter pumpkin oatmeal cookies.
Search my pumpkin recipes for more cookies because I’ve published A LOT.
Why You’ll Love These Pumpkin Cookies
- Texture: Unlike my pumpkin chocolate chip cookies where we play with ingredients to produce a chewy cookie, today’s cookies are soft and cakey. They aren’t dense and chewy like a traditional cookie. I wouldn’t describe them as fluffy as a cake—probably closer to a muffin. (Like little muffin top cookies.)
- Flavor: What they lack in chew/density, they make up for in flavor. By using extra cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice, and ground ginger, as well as using more brown sugar than regular white sugar, I guarantee these will be more flavorful than any traditional pumpkin cookie you’ve had before. We’ll also blot excess liquid out of the pumpkin so we’re left with more concentrated flavor.
- Ease: No cookie dough chilling! They’ll go from mixing bowl to oven in minutes, which is especially helpful if you’re baking with kids or if you’re as impatient as I am.
Best Pumpkin Cookie Baking Tip
Blot the pumpkin puree. I discovered this trick when I worked on my brown butter pumpkin oatmeal cookies recipe. Pumpkin is a water-heavy ingredient. Its moisture is wonderful for quick breads and cakes, but not necessarily cookies. By removing some of the moisture, you’re left with dense and flavor-packed pumpkin without all of the excess liquid. (Think about it: you don’t usually put liquid in cookie dough, right?) Using a paper towel, blot out some of the pumpkin’s moisture. No need to squeeze it completely dry.
Blotting the pumpkin is actually one of my tricks to prevent a cakey tasting cookie. (See my chewy pumpkin chocolate chip cookies.) Today’s pumpkin cookies are still going to be cakey because we’re using a lot of pumpkin. Still, ridding some of its moisture will improve the flavor and texture. Does this make sense?
Overview: How to Make Soft Pumpkin Cookies
The full detailed instructions are provided below, but let me guide you through the process first. Start preheating that oven now!
- Blot the pumpkin. After ridding some moisture, you’ll have a little less than 1 and 1/2 cups of pumpkin—I usually have about 1 and 1/3 cups (315g). Using anywhere between 1.33 – 1.5 cups of pumpkin is fine.
- Get your oven preheated. Prepare your baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats. I swear by these mats! You can learn more in my 5 Cookie Baking Tips video and here’s how to clean silicone baking mats.
- Whisk dry ingredients. You need flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, pumpkin pie spice, cinnamon, and ground ginger. You can use homemade pumpkin pie spice here! Pumpkin pie spice contains cinnamon and ginger, but I like adding more of both and know you’ll enjoy the extra flavor too.
- Mix the wet ingredients. You need an electric mixer for this recipe. Cream the butter and sugars together, then add the egg. Next add a splash of maple syrup to help thin out the dough, a little vanilla extract, and your blotted pumpkin. Mixture will look a little curdled at this point. Don’t fret, that’s normal.
- Mix the dry and wet ingredients together. Dough is thick and sticky, so I strongly recommend using a cookie scoop. The medium size cookie scoop is perfect because each dough ball should be around 1.5 Tablespoons of dough.
- Bake until the edges appear set. And here’s my tip for cooling: the longer the cookies cool, the better their flavor. It’s nearly impossible to wait before tasting one but just know that the flavors intensify after a day.
- Prepare the icing. Icing is optional, but I definitely don’t regret adding it. See next!
Maple Cream Cheese Icing
The cookies are wonderfully flavorful on their own, but I wanted to see how they’d taste with a little accessory on top. I love pumpkin and cream cheese together (hello pumpkin cake), as well as pumpkin and maple together (hello pumpkin scones). I tested a hybrid cream cheese frosting/maple glaze topping and definitely don’t regret it! This maple cream cheese icing is phenomenal. Give the cookies a quick dip and taste for yourself.
Note: the icing doesn’t really set so if you want to stack/transport these pumpkin cookies, skip the icing. Or for a different flavor, these cookies would also be delicious with salted caramel frosting.
These are honestly the only thing I want to eat for the entire fall season.
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These soft pumpkin cookies are thick and cakey with extra pumpkin spice flavor. The maple cream cheese icing is a delicious addition, but the cookies are just as wonderful plain. No cookie dough chilling required!
- 1 and 1/2 cups (340g) fresh or canned pumpkin puree
- 3 cups (375g) all-purpose flour (spoon & leveled)
- 1 and 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice*
- 1 and 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
- 3/4 cup (170g; 1.5 sticks) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
- 1 cup (200g) packed light or dark brown sugar (I use and recommend dark)
- 3/4 cup (150g) granulated sugar
- 1 large egg, at room temperature
- 2 teaspoons pure maple syrup, milk, or orange juice (see note)
- 1 and 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
Maple Cream Cheese Icing (Optional)
- 3 ounces (85g) block cream cheese, softened to room temperature
- 2 Tablespoons (30g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
- 3/4 cup (90g) confectioners’ sugar
- 2 Tablespoons (30ml) pure maple syrup
- pinch ground cinnamon (about 1/8 teaspoon)
- In this recipe, it’s best to use pumpkin that has had some moisture removed. Blot the pumpkin with paper towels to rid excess moisture. No need to squeeze it completely dry. I usually place it in a paper towel lined bowl and let the paper towel soak up some moisture. A clean kitchen towel works too, but the pumpkin can stain. After ridding some moisture, you’ll have a little less than 1 and 1/2 cups of pumpkin– I usually have about 1 and 1/3 cups (315g). Using anywhere between 1.33 – 1.5 cups of pumpkin is fine. Set aside until step 4. Or cover and refrigerate for up to 1 day. It can be cold when you add it to the dough.
- Preheat oven to 350°F (177°C). Line baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats. Set aside.
- Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, pumpkin pie spice, cinnamon, and ginger together in a large bowl. Set aside.
- Using a hand mixer or a stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, cream the softened butter and both sugars together on medium speed until smooth, about 2 minutes. Add the egg and mix on high until combined, about 1 minute. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed. Add the maple syrup, vanilla, and blotted pumpkin and mix on high until combined. Mixture will look a little curdled– that’s ok.
- Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, then mix on low speed until combined. Dough is thick and sticky. Scoop or roll cookie dough, around 1.5 Tablespoons of dough per cookie, and place 3 inches apart on the baking sheets.
- Bake for 14-15 minutes or until edges appear set. The centers will look soft. Remove from the oven and allow cookies to cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely. The longer the cookies cool, the better their flavor– I like them best on day 2!
- Optional Icing: Using a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a paddle or whisk attachment, beat the cream cheese in a medium bowl on medium-high speed until smooth and creamy. Beat in the butter until combined. Add the confectioners’ sugar, maple syrup, and a pinch of cinnamon (about 1/8 teaspoon), then beat on low speed until smooth and creamy. Taste. Add more cinnamon if desired. Dip the tops of the cooled cookies into icing or spread it onto each cookie with a knife.
- Cover leftover iced cookies tightly and store at room temperature for up to 2 days or in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. Cookies without icing can be covered tightly and stored at room temperature for up to 1 week.
- Make Ahead & Freezing Instructions: To make ahead, you can cover and chill the cookie dough for up to 48 hours. Bring to room temperature before shaping into balls and baking. You can also freeze the cookie dough for up to 3 months. Allow to thaw overnight in the refrigerator, then bring to room temperature before shaping into balls and baking. You can also freeze the cookie dough balls for up to 3 months. It’s best to thaw the dough balls and bring to room temperature before baking. Iced cookies or cookies without icing freeze well for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator and bring to room temperature before serving.
- Pumpkin: Do not use pumpkin pie filling; use pure pumpkin puree. While using fresh pumpkin puree is fine, I always have better results with canned. You’ll need a little less than 1 standard 15 ounce can. No matter if you use fresh or canned, blot the pumpkin as directed in step 1.
- Spices: You can use 2 teaspoons of store-bought or homemade pumpkin pie spice in this recipe. This is in addition to the cinnamon and ginger already called for in the recipe. Instead of prepared pumpkin pie spice, you can use 1/2 teaspoon each: ground nutmeg, ground cloves, ground allspice, and ground ginger.
- Maple Syrup: The 2 teaspoons of maple syrup, milk, or orange juice are really just to help thin out the cookie dough. 2 teaspoons isn’t much, but it does help. I love using maple syrup, but milk or orange juice work too. Orange is excellent with pumpkin– see my pumpkin bread!
- Optional Add-Ins: Feel free to fold 1 and 1/2 cups of chocolate chips, white chocolate chips, chopped nuts, or dried cranberries into the dough after you mix the wet and dry ingredients together.
Keywords: pumpkin cookies