Super Soft Pumpkin Cookies

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. 

pumpkin cookies with maple icing

Pumpkin cookies! The two most beautiful words in the baking language. Well, besides apple pie and chocolate cake.

Diving into the fall baking season feels so good this year 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 pumpkin oatmeal cookies.

Search my pumpkin recipes for more cookies because I’ve published A LOT.

stack of pumpkin cookies

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 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?

blotting pumpkin with a paper towel

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!

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Whisk dry ingredients. You need flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, pumpkin pie spice, cinnamon, and ground ginger. Pumpkin pie spice contains cinnamon and ginger, but I like adding more of both and know you’ll enjoy the extra flavor too.
  4. 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.
  5. Mix the dry and wet ingredients together. Dough is thick and sticky, so I strongly recommend using a cookie scoop. The medium size is perfect because each dough ball should be around 1.5 Tablespoons of dough.
  6. 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.
  7. Prepare the icing. Icing is optional, but I definitely don’t regret adding it. See next!

pumpkin cookie dough in glass mixing bowl

pumpkin cookie dough balls on baking sheet

pumpkin cookies on cooling rack

cookies and maple cream cheese icing

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.

pumpkin cookies with icing on top

These are honestly the only thing I want to eat for the entire fall season.

No Chill Cookies

In a rush? I usually am too. Here are all of my cookie recipes that don’t require any cookie dough chilling. Some favorites include:

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pumpkin cookies with icing on top

Super Soft Pumpkin Cookies

  • Author: Sally
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 15 minutes
  • Total Time: 40 minutes, plus cooling
  • Yield: 32 cookies
  • Category: Dessert
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American

Description

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!


Ingredients

  • 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 teaspoonpumpkin 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)

Instructions

  1. 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.
  2. Preheat oven to 350°F (177°C). Line baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats. Set aside.
  3. Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, pumpkin pie spice, cinnamon, and ginger together in a large bowl. Set aside.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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!
  7. 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.
  8. 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.

Notes

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Spices: Instead of prepared pumpkin pie spice, you can use 1/2 teaspoon each: ground nutmeg, ground cloves, ground allspice, and ground ginger. This is in addition to the cinnamon and ginger already called for in the recipe. I prefer these with extra ginger, but you can skip the additional 1/4 teaspoon if desired.
  4. 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!
  5. 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, pumpkin spice, cookies

67 Comments

  1. Hi Sally! These pumpkin cookies look amazing! I live in the southern hemisphere (Australia), so we’re heading into spring right now, but I’m definitely still going to make these….they’re not restricted to fall, right? 😉

    1. Definitely! They’re delicious any time of year 🙂 Let me know how you like them, Gemma!

  2. Hey Sally!
    Do you have a recipe for making pumpkin puree? I live in a country where they don’t sell this in cans so I would like to try and make it with fresh pumpkins. Thanks!

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Jessica, Other readers have reported making fresh pumpkin puree this way: https://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/alton-brown/pumpkin-puree-recipe-1922629
      Let us know if you give this recipe a try!

  3. looks delicious!

  4. Yum! These cookies look absolutely delicious. Your pumpkin snickerdoodles are my favourite fall cookie! After so many batches of those, white chocolate is the only chocolate I want to eat with my pumpkin. And that maple cream cheese icing looks so scrumptious. Oh, and while I do agree that pumpkin cookies are two very beautiful words in the baking language, the two MOST beautiful words in the baking language are definitely brown butter! 😉
    I will definitely try these cookies at some point this fall and report back how they turn out for me 🙂

    1. The pumpkin and maple cream cheese icing do make for a delicious pair…right up there with browned butter! I hope you enjoy these, Stephanie – let me know how they turn out for you!

  5. The smell in my house right now is the definition of autumn!!! Such an easy recipe to put together in my stand mixer. I added some chopped pecans to the mix as well. Of my 3 cookie dough scoops, the smallest one looked too small so I used the next one up — I think they are definitely a little bigger than the intended 1.5 tbsp, but oh well! Still super yummy 🙂 They are so soft and cakey, it’s somewhere in between a cookie and cupcake!

    1. Yum! Bet these were delicious with the addition of chopped pecans – so glad you enjoyed this recipe, Jenna!

  6. These cookies might become my favorite ones, and I couldn’t think of any better way to welcome fall than baking them as soon as I read ‘pumpkin’ in the . As much as I love Sally’s pumpkin chocolate chip cookies, these are superior: super easy to make and so delicious! Their taste, and softness, are just incredible.
    The funny thing was that, while using the 1.5 Tablespoon cookie scoop, I ended up with 48 cookies, so I “had to” freeze at least half of them, otherwise… we would eat them all!: so addictive!!!

    1. Now you’ll have more cookies to enjoy when the craving hits! 😉 I’m thrilled to hear these were a big hit, Gabriella – happy fall baking to you!

  7. Colleen Reeves says:

    Sally, you’ve done it again! I followed the recipe *exactly* and they came out perfect. I made the icing but actually preferred the cookies without it! The cookies were soft, cakey, and filled with pumpkin flavor and spices. I did add the additional 1/4 teaspoon of ground ginger you recommended and it wasn’t overpowering at all. Thanks for my new go-to pumpkin cookie recipe!

  8. Gah I almost skipped these because I love your other pumpkin cookies so much but these are perfection. Y’all don’t sleep on the optional glaze – it totally makes the cookie. These are such a good addition to my frenzied fall baking repertoire!

  9. Hi Sally! I want to make this but what can I substitute the eggs with ?

    1. Hi Ransford! I haven’t tested any egg-free alternatives, but let me know if you do.

  10. Hi Sally!
    These cookies look amazing!!!! I was just wondering what kind of pumpkin puree would you recommend?

    1. Hi Emmy! For best results, I recommend using canned pumpkin puree. I usually use Libby’s brand 100% pure pumpkin.

      1. Thanks for your quick reply! I made a batch today and they were amazing! I love this recipe!!!!! It’s so delicious, simple, and my family loves it (I’m 13)… thank you so much for your recipes, Sally! 🙂

  11. Omg omg omg! These are sooooo good!!! I’m not A huge fan of pumpkin spice but these cookies are just so good I’m already planning another batch.

  12. Made these the day they came out! They were fantastic! The cookie is soft and cakey. It’s stays nice and mounded with almost no spread and yet still bakes through beautifully. Texture is almost like the top of a muffin. Mine baked in 13 minutes and were easy to tell when done. I took them out once they lost that “spongy” feel when I touched it. Almost like baking a cake. They were just BARELY getting some color to them and then they darkened further after coming out. These are very pumpkin spicey so if it isn’t your thing then I would swap some of the pumpkin spice out for a little more cinnamon.
    Definitely make the frosting, it’s delicious! It gets a slight crust but doesn’t harden. It has great flavor too- not boring like royal icing can be.

  13. WOW wow wow, these cookies look so good! Great texture, great color and great photos – definitely on my list to try next time I make cookies. Thank you Sally!

  14. These cookies are just wonderful!! They’re easy to make, the texture is a perfect balance between cakey and dense, and the flavor just knocks you over! I made them for co-workers, and got tons of positive feedback, especially on the icing. A great way to kick off Fall baking!

    1. Thank you for making and sharing this recipe with others, Valerie – I love to hear that they were a hit!

  15. Kristen Werner says:

    Yum yum yum! These are lovely (and DELICIOUS) cookies! Perfect for this rainy fall day!

  16. Made these earlier this week and they are fabulous! So soft and serves as a harbinger to Fall.

  17. Oh my! These are like little pillows of pumpkin!! Just made today but chose not to frost … next time. I did add white chocolate chips though. Made these for my granddaughters to have for a school snack after lunch (and some for me ). So light and delicious! Fall goodness for sure!

    1. Such a sweet afternoon treat – I hope your granddaughters enjoyed these, Laurie!

  18. These were so amazing! They were so soft and full of flavor! Thank you for another great recipe

  19. These cookies are amazing!
    My 2 yr old granddaughter and I just made these this afternoon.
    I used all the spices, maybe even a little heavy on them, wise choice! The cookies are so are so flavorful and soft.
    This recipe is a keeper, thank you!

    1. What a fun activity to do with your granddaughter, Samantha! I’m glad this one is a keeper 🙂

  20. Made these 3 days ago and was forced to make them again Today! They are wonderful.
    Also have made your scones and your carrot cake. Your recipes make me look great!

    1. Thrilled to hear that you’ve been enjoying my recipes, Malcolm!

  21. Wow, these cookies are so incredibly soft and delicate but powerfully flavorful. I made a batch of these and brought them to the beach to share. I didn’t want to omit the cream cheese frosting so I put it in a squeeze bottle. They were a huge hit!

  22. Hi Sally! I have an order for 60 of these cookies, do you think I can double this recipe?
    Thanks!

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Vivian, You could but for the best results, and to avoid over or under mixing, make two separate batches.

      1. Perfect, thanks so much!

  23. Hi Sally! Does the maple syrup in the cookie give it a maple taste? Just asking because I was going to make them for a neighbor but they don’t love maple flavor. Thank you!

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Claire, You can use milk or orange juice instead if you wish! See the recipe notes for details.

  24. Melissa Walles says:

    These were so yummy! I made some plain, some with chopped pecans and some with sea salt caramel chips. I think my favorite were the caramel chips! Definitely agree that they are more like a muffin top. I will have to try the icing next time because these were scrumptious without it and I was tired of being in the kitchen. Ha!

  25. Hi Sally! If I wanted to make the icing without syrup, how much vanilla do you think I should put in? Thank you!

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Claire, You can try adding 1/2 tsp of vanilla instead of the syrup in the icing. Enjoy!

  26. Hi Sally
    These cookies look unbelievable and I am excited to make them. If I wanted to try your brown butter icing for them , do you think would work??
    thank You!
    Michele

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Definitely, Michele! You can use the brown butter glaze from these pumpkin oatmeal cookies.

      1. thanks so much!

  27. I made these and the taste is great! But they turned out very flat and pale, any ideas on what I could have done wrong?

    1. Hi Jessi, did you make any substitutions? Did you use fresh pumpkin puree? They should be quite thick and orange in color.

  28. These pumpkin cookies were great, soft and puffy with yummy flavor! Skipped the icing the first time but made it for the 2nd batch. They were tasty both times!

  29. These are just what I needed to kick off the fall baking “season”. The flavor was outstanding! Not a weak pumpkin flavor but not too much either- I made them with all of the suggested spices and they were perfect. And I tried with and without icing and decided the icing should NOT be skipped. I shared them with several different families and all declared them an all around winner!

  30. Hi again! These are literally the BEST fall cookies ever! I was just wondering if I can freeze them for a few days, and then let them thaw out. Will they dry out or not? Let me know what you think. Thanks!

    1. Absolutely. They freeze and thaw wonderfully!

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