Homemade pumpkin cookies with a made-from-scratch cream cheese frosting? Yes, please! These Soft Pumpkin Cookies are warmly spiced with cinnamon and nutmeg, and dusted with additional cinnamon for a decorative finish. Plus, they’re so easy to make!
Soft Frosted Pumpkin Cookies from Scratch
These pumpkin cookies are a sweet treat that is easy to make, and perfect for the Holiday Season. Each cookie is soft and fluffy, with an almost cake-like consistency that’s so comforting and indulgent.
With a swirl of sweet cream cheese frosting on top, they are absolutely irresistible!
What’s in Pumpkin Cookies?
This simple recipe is very similar to a pumpkin muffin batter, and uses wholesome, natural ingredients. I find that using real butter makes for the best cookies, but you could swap some of the butter in the cookie dough with coconut oil or vegetable oil.
For the Cookies
- Butter: These soft, Lofthouse-style cookies use a lot of butter in the mix! Set it out ahead of time to soften, so you can cream it with the sugar and other ingredients.
- Sugar: I use regular granulated sugar, but you could also use brown sugar or raw sugar here.
- Baking Powder and Baking Soda: Using both ingredients allows the cookies to get lift and fluffiness and keeps the flavor balanced.
- Cinnamon and Nutmeg: A perfect pumpkin spice flavor adds oomph to these sweet pumpkin cookies. You can substitute pumpkin pie spice for the cinnamon and nutmeg, if you prefer.
- Eggs: Large, whole eggs bring the cookie dough together and add richness.
- Vanilla: For the best flavor, use pure vanilla extract.
- Pumpkin: Make sure to use pumpkin puree, not pumpkin pie filling! The ingredients should simply say “pumpkin.” Pumpkin pie filling contains additional eggs, sugar, and other ingredients that will affect the cookie texture and quality.
- Flour: I use all-purpose flour in this recipe. A gluten-free 1:1 blend with xanthan gum would also work (the texture may vary if you use gluten-free or other flours, though).
For the Cream Cheese Frosting
- Butter: Again, the butter needs to be softened before using.
- Cream Cheese: Soften a block of cream cheese along with the butter.
- Sugar: You’ll need powdered sugar (AKA confectioner’s sugar) to make the frosting.
- Vanilla: Like the cookies, the frosting benefits from a bit of vanilla to add flavor.
- Cinnamon: This is optional! A light sprinkling of cinnamon on the finished cookies makes a pretty finish.
How to Make Them
To make these cookies, it’s best to have an electric mixer or stand mixer for creaming the butter. You can cream butter by hand using a whisk, but it is time-consuming and can make your arms tired, so if you go that route, try to get someone to help you. 🙃
- Prep the Oven and Baking Sheets. Before you get started, set your oven to preheat at 350˚F. Take two baking sheets, and line them with parchment paper (or lightly grease them with high-heat cooking oil). Set those aside for now.
- Cream the Butter. Place the softened butter in a large mixing bowl, or the bowl of your stand mixer. Beat the butter on medium speed until it is light and fluffy.
- Add the Dry Ingredients (Except Flour). Add the sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg to the butter. Beat the mixture until well-combined, scraping the bowl occasionally.
- Add the Wet Ingredients. Now, mix in the eggs and vanilla, followed by the pumpkin puree, mixing after each addition to combine.
- Add the Flour. Last, add the flour to the cookie batter. The flour should be added gradually and beaten in to make a soft, wet dough. slowly until combined.
- Bake. Drop the dough onto the baking sheets using a tablespoon, keeping the cookies about two inches apart so that they have room to spread out in the oven. Bake the cookies for 10 to 12 minutes, or until the tops are set. There may be a little browning around the edges, but the tops won’t be browned. Take the cookies out of the oven, and let them cool completely on a wire rack.
- Make the Frosting. While the cookies are cooling, beat all of the frosting ingredients in a separate bowl to make a soft, whipped frosting.
- Frost the Cooled Cookies. Once the cookies are completely cool, frost them with a generous layer of frosting. Do not frost warm cookies, or the frosting will melt off! Sprinkle the cookies with cinnamon.
Tips and Tricks
Making pumpkin cookies is super simple, but there are a couple of useful tips you should know! Here are my best helpful hints for making this seasonal favorite.
- Strain the Pumpkin: Like a lot of plant-based ingredients (looking at you, spinach), pumpkin puree can be watery, so if you have the time, it’s helpful to measure your pumpkin puree into a mesh strainer and set it over a bowl. You can also use a clean tea towel or some paper towels to pat some of the excess moisture away.
- Customize the Recipe: You can tweak the flavors in this recipe to make the cookies your own. Chopped nuts go well with pumpkin cookies, whether on top of the frosting or in the cookie batter. You can also add a dusting of colored sugar or sprinkles (try gold!), mini chocolate chips, a tiny bit of powdered instant coffee, or whatever you like!
- Upsize the Cookies: For a fun and festive twist, try making these into jumbo frosted cookies! Oversized cookies are especially perfect for showcasing pretty toppings like toasted nuts or sprinkles. If you make larger cookies, you may want to flatten them slightly before baking or they will turn out like little cake rolls.
How Do I Store Frosted Pumpkin Cookies?
- These pumpkin cookies store well at room temperature. Keep them in an airtight container for up to 5 days.
- If it’s warm, you may find that they store better in the fridge, also in airtight containers.
Can I Freeze Pumpkin Cookies?
- Yes, these cookies freeze well! Place the cooled, frosted cookies on a plate or tray and put them in the freezer until they are frozen solid. Then transfer the frozen cookies into shallow airtight containers.
- You can store them in layers, with a piece of wax paper or parchment between each layer to protect the frosting and keep them from sticking together.
SOFT PUMPKIN COOKIES
FOR THE COOKIES
FOR THE CREAM CHEESE FROSTING
- 1/2 cup butter, softened
- 1 block (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened
- 3 ½ cups powdered sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- ground cinnamon, for sprinkling
- Preheat oven to 350˚F.
- Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
- In a large bowl, beat 2 cups butter with an electric mixer set on medium speed until light and fluffy.
- Add granulated sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Beat until combined, scraping bowl occasionally.
- Add eggs and 2 teaspoons vanilla; beat until combined.
- Beat in pumpkin.
- Add the flour slowly until combined. Dough will be wet.
- Drop dough by the tablespoon onto previously prepared baking sheets, two inches apart.
- Bake in the preheated oven for 10 to 12 minutes, or until tops are set.
- Remove from oven and transfer cookies to a wire rack; let cool.
- While the cookies cool, beat all of the frosting ingredients in a separate bowl until soft and whipped.
- Frost cooled cookies and sprinkle with cinnamon.
- Serve, or store in airtight containers and keep at room temperature for up to 5 days.