Easy, deliciously soft pumpkin cookies are fragrant with pumpkin pie spices plus the 4 essential keys to perfect, soft cookies every time.
A cozy book, warm woolly socks, a steaming cup of coffee nestled in my lap, and the heady smell of fall spices sparkling from my oven as these soft pumpkin cookies bake: that’s how I want to spend October.
I’ve made three batches of these pumpkin cookies in the past week. It’s convenient that the recipe requires one cup of pumpkin puree and a can typically comes in about 3 cups. I wanted to perfect the recipe (as always) before sharing with you. And also, I greedily wanted to eat more pumpkin cookies as soon as the last batch was finished.
How to Nail Perfect Soft Pumpkin Cookies: the 4 Crucial Keys
If you crave super-soft, tender pumpkin cookies that are akin to tops of really good pumpkin muffins, this is the recipe for you. There are a handful of killer tricks to making super-soft cookies.
- Use oil, not butter. Oil stays liquid at room temperature. Butter is solid. You probably don’t think of how this applies to your baking, but these physical states are exactly the same in finished goods as they were in your pantry. A butter-based cookie will have more structure and an oil-based cookie will be more soft and tender.
- Treat them like a muffin. You’ve probably heard (I HOPE) that you should not over-mix your muffin batter or you’ll wind up with tough muffins (if you spend any time around here, I’ve surely beaten you over the head with that). These cookies should be treated the same way. Unlike typical cookies, which involve creaming lots of butter to incorporate air bubbles, this recipe uses about 25% less fat and very minimal handling. Too much vigorous stirring will cause them (like muffins, pancakes, biscuits, etc.) to have a tougher, rubbery texture.
- Pause mixing when floury streaks still remain. Use a light touch and a folding technique to incorporate the wet ingredients into the dry, and pause when the flour is only about 80% incorporated. Floury streaks and pockets will remain. At this point, fold in your nuts and raisins (if using). If you finish stirring completely and then mix in your add-ins, you’ll likely overwork the batter.
- For the love of Pete don’t use your stand mixer. See points 2 and 3 on overmixing.
How to Store Pumpkin Cookies
Keep them in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days. In fact, on day two, they are actually softer than they were on day one. The brown sugar in the cookies is hygroscopic, meaning it actually slurps up moisture from the air after it is finished baking.
Any longer than 3 days, store them in the freezer instead for optimal freshness. Freeze in a single layer on a parchment-lined baking sheet until firm before packing into freezer bags or containers. Thaw them on the counter for 20 minutes before serving.
What to Do With Leftover Pumpkin Puree
Freeze it in freezer bags in convenient one-cup portions for use in future cookies, or use it up in one of my favourite pumpkin recipes:
Pumpkin-Orange Muffins (it was an old sponsored post, yes, but the recipe is SO GOOD)
Soft-Baked Pumpkin Cookies
- 9 oz all-purpose flour (2 cups lightly spooned in and levelled off)
- 1 tsp baking powder
- ½ tsp baking soda
- ½ tsp coarse salt
- 1 tbsp cinnamon
- 1 ½ tsp ground ginger
- ½ tsp ground cloves
- 1 cup pumpkin puree
- 1 cup brown sugar packed
- ¾ cup canola (or other neutral-tasting) oil
- 1 large egg
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 cup pecans or walnuts
- ¾ cup raisins optional
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees Line rimless baking sheets with parchment paper. (Optional: toast the nuts in the oven as it preheats, checking every 2 minutes or two, until they turn a shade darker and smell fragrant - about 8-10 minutes.)
- In a large bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and spices. In a separate bowl, whisk together the pumpkin, brown sugar, oil, egg and vanilla extract. Use a rubber spatula to scrape this mixture into the dry ingredients, gently folding until mostly combined. When just a few floury streaks remain, fold in the nuts and raisins (if using).
- Drop batter by heaping tablespoonfuls (so actually about 2 tablespoons per cookies) onto prepared baking sheets, spacing 1 inch apart. Bake 8-10 minutes, until slightly springy to the touch (a light press with your finger won't leave a strong indent). Cool 2 minutes on baking sheets before transferring to wire racks to cool completely.