These delicious pumpkin cookies stay impossibly soft and tender for days. They are fragrant with pumpkin pie spices and so quick and easy to make. You don’t even need a stand mixer!
I’ve been making this pumpkin cookie recipe for a decade. They’re just so good! The soft texture reminds me of the tops of really good pumpkin muffins.
They’re tender and moist for days (much like my fan-favorite moist pumpkin bread) and a breeze to whip up.
Here’s What You Need for this Soft-Baked Pumpkin Cookies Recipe
Ready to make some delicious pumpkin cookies? Let’s dive into what you’ll need.
Soft-Baked Pumpkin Cookies Ingredients
Each ingredient in this recipe has a role to play in making your cookies amazing.
- All-purpose flour: The backbone that provides structure to your cookies.
- Baking powder & Baking soda: These help your cookies rise and get fluffy.
- Coarse salt: Enhances the flavors by balancing the sweetness.
- Cinnamon, Ground ginger & Ground cloves: Adding the warm, seasonal spice profile we love in fall.
- Canned pumpkin puree: Brings in moisture and that authentic pumpkin taste (and if you have any leftover, here’s a guide to freezing canned pumpkin puree). Be sure not to grab “Pumpkin Pie Filling” by accident (as that already contains sugar and spices).
- Brown sugar: Adds sweetness and a bit of chewiness to the texture.
- Oil: Contributes moisture, keeping the cookies soft. I like to use avocado oil for its health profile, but you can use vegetable or any neutral-tasting oil.
- Egg: Acts as the binder that keeps everything together.
- Vanilla extract: Provides that familiar cookie flavor we all love.
- Pecans or Walnuts: Add crunch and nuttiness to the cookies.
- Raisins: Optional, but they add extra sweetness and texture.
Variations and Substitutions
Want to put your own spin on these cookies? Here are some options.
- Spice Swap: Add a quarter teaspoon ground nutmeg, or swap in pumpkin pie spice mix instead of individual spices.
- Frosted Pumpkin Cookies: Frost cooled cookies with the glaze used in the recipe for these Iced Molasses Cookies.
- Add-ins: Try toasted nuts or dried cranberries mixed into the batter. Or add some chocolate chips for pumpkin chocolate chip cookies.
Grab These Tools
Make sure you’re prepared with the following kitchen tools.
- Mixing Bowls: Two should do it—one for wet ingredients and one for dry.
- Whisk: Handy for getting those wet ingredients well-mixed.
- Rubber Spatula: You’ll need this to fold your wet and dry ingredients together.
- Baking Sheets: Line these with parchment paper for easy cleanup.
- Wire Rack: Perfect for cooling the cookies once they’re out of the oven.
Now you know what you need, so let’s get baking!
How to Make This Pumpkin Cookie Recipe: An Easy Guide
Making these pumpkin cookies is a breeze. Follow these simple steps and you’ll have cookies to enjoy in no time.
How to Prep Your Oven and Ingredients:
- Start by preheating your oven to 375°F. Line your rimless baking sheets with parchment paper. Optional: Toast the nuts in the oven as it preheats.
- In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices. Keep it aside.
How to Mix Your Wet and Dry Ingredients:
- In a separate bowl, whisk together the pumpkin puree, brown sugar, oil, egg, and vanilla extract.
- Use a rubber spatula to fold the wet ingredients into the flour mixture. Stop mixing when just a few floury streaks remain in the cookie batter.
How to Shape and Bake:
- Drop the batter by heaping tablespoonfuls onto your prepared baking sheets. Shape the cookie dough balls using dampened hands to make them smoother and flatter. Keep each cookie about 1 inch apart.
- Bake for 8-10 minutes. You’ll know they’re done when they’re slightly springy to the touch.
How to Cool and Serve:
- Let the cookies cool for about 2 minutes on the baking sheets.
- Transfer cookies to wire racks to cool completely.
That’s it! You’ve made soft-baked pumpkin cookies. Enjoy them with a cup of hot chai (using my authentic Chai tea recipe).
Perfect Pumpkin Cookies: Final Tips + Science-Based Secrets
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 electric mixer. See points 2 and 3 on overmixing.
- Smooth Cookies: Moisten your fingers with water and smooth out the cookie dough ball. Then, press the cookie balls down to flatten them. This gives you a smooth, soft cookie look. If you just use a cookie scoop, they’ll turn out uneven in texture (but still be delish!).
- Perfect Circles: Dip an overturned glass in water and use it to shape the cookies into perfect circles immediately after they come out of the oven.
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.
Just skimming through? Here are some quick answers to the commonly-asked questions.
Is pure pumpkin the same as pumpkin puree?
Yes, 100% pure canned pumpkin is the same as pumpkin puree. Both are made of cooked, pureed pumpkin and contain no added ingredients.
Can I use pumpkin pie filling instead of pumpkin puree?
Using pumpkin pie filling is not recommended. It contains added sugar and spices, which would throw off the recipe’s flavor balance.
Is Libby’s pumpkin pie mix the same as pumpkin puree?
No, Libby’s pumpkin pie mix is not the same as pumpkin puree. The pie mix contains added spices and sugar, whereas pumpkin puree is just pureed pumpkin.
How much sugar is in pumpkin cookies?
The sugar content in pumpkin cookies varies by recipe. For this one, there’s 1 cup of packed brown sugar for 24 cookies.
Can I freeze the cookie dough for later?
Yes, freezing the cookie dough works well. Scoop individual portions onto a baking sheet, freeze until firm, then store in a zip-top bag for up to 3 months.
How do I store these cookies?
Storing these cookies is easy. Put them in an airtight container and they’ll stay fresh for up to a week at room temperature.
Do pumpkin cookies have to be refrigerated?
No, they don’t have to be refrigerated. They will actually get drier and harder in the fridge. Store them in an airtight container at room temperature, or freeze them if you plan to keep them longer than 4 days.
What to Do With Leftover Pumpkin Puree
Here is the best method for freezing canned pumpkin puree for use in future cookies, or use it up in one of my favourite pumpkin recipes:
Soft-Baked Pumpkin Cookies
- 2 cups all-purpose flour (lightly spooned in and levelled off)
- 1 tsp baking powder
- ½ tsp baking soda
- ½ tsp coarse salt
- 1 tbsp ground cinnamon
- 1 ½ tsp ground ginger
- ½ tsp ground cloves
- 1 cup pumpkin puree
- 1 cup brown sugar packed
- ¾ cup avocado oil or vegetable oil
- 1 large egg
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
Cinnamon Sugar Topping (Optional)
- ¼ cup granulated sugar
- 1 tbsp ground cinnamon
- 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. Use dampened hands to smooth and flatten out the balls.
- Bake 8-10 minutes, until slightly springy to the touch. Immediately out of the oven, use an overturned glass to gently re-shape the cookies into perfect circles and use your finger to press on the middle to flatten slightly, if you like.
To Make Cinnamon Sugar Topping
- In a small bowl, mix the sugar and ground cinnamon together until well combined. Use a spoon to sprinkle the mixture over the cookies as soon as they come out of the oven. You can store any leftover cinnamon-sugar mixture in an airtight container for future use.
- 1 cup chocolate chips
- 1 cup toasted nuts
- 3/4 cup raisins or dried cranberries
Last Updated on November 17, 2023 by Jennifer Pallian BSc, RD