If fall were a cookie, it would be these Pumpkin Cookies with Cream Cheese Frosting.
While I have all sorts of dessert recipes with pumpkin, these cookies take the cake. Laced with cinnamon, tangy cranberries, walnuts- they’ll disappear as fast as you can make them.
These cookies are a no-chill recipe, meaning you don’t have to wait for the dough to chill in the fridge. Instead, you can drop the dough onto the baking sheet and bake immediately; this is great news when you’re ready to sink your teeth into a warm cookie.
Pumpkin Cookies Iced with Cream Cheese Frosting
These iced pumpkin cookies don’t have the same texture as a standard chocolate chip cookie. Instead, they’re soft and cake-like, almost like tiny pumpkin pillows, topped with cream cheese frosting.
Are you picturing yourself biting into one of these? I am too.
I like using cinnamon for this cookie recipe, but you can swap it out for pumpkin pie spice if you want a little more pumpkin spice action.
The cream cheese frosting is also optional, the cookies are delicious all on their own, but I find it adds a nice touch with the pumpkin flavor and tangy-sweet cranberries.
Soft Pumpkin Cookie Ingredients
To make these iced pumpkin cookies you will need:
- Butter: gives the cookie a soft texture.
- White sugar: how we sweeten the deal; for a softer cookie, use brown sugar.
- Egg: adds structure and helps the dough rise.
- Vanilla extract: pairs beautifully with pumpkin and vanilla flavors.
- Pumpkin puree: make sure it’s puree and not pumpkin pie filling.
- All-purpose flour: can’t make these cookies without it; for a gluten-free recipe, use 1:1 gluten-free all-purpose flour.
- Baking powder: makes the dough rise.
- Baking soda: yes, this recipe gets a double dose of leavening agents because it makes the cookies cake-like.
- Salt: enhances the other ingredient flavors.
- Cinnamon: or pumpkin pie spice.
- Fresh or frozen cranberries: optional, but they add a delicious tart flavor.
- Chopped walnuts: for optimal crunch!
Check the recipe card for the ingredient measurements and detailed cooking directions!
While these cookies are made with regular butter, sugar, and flour, if you have a sweet tooth, definitely check out my latest cookbook, Clean Treats for Everyone. It includes recipes made without refined sugars and grains but still taste like the decadent desserts they are!
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How to Make Pumpkin Cookies
Don’t be alarmed that the dough is soft compared to cookie doughs you’ve made in the past. It’s supposed to be soft and easy to scoop.
Speaking of, while you can scoop these with a regular tablespoon, I like using a cookie scoop. It’s a hands-free way to shape and portion out the perfect amount for each cookie. If you have one on hand, now is a great time to put it to use but make sure it holds up to one tablespoon.
Without further ado, let’s make pumpkin cookies:
Preheat the oven to 350F and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Cream the butter and sugar
In the bowl of a stand mixer or large bowl with a hand mixer, beat the softened butter on high for 30 seconds. Add the sugar and mix on medium speed for 3 to 5 minutes or until fluffy, stopping to scrape the sides of the bowl when necessary.
To the butter and sugar, add the egg, vanilla, and pumpkin puree. Mix to combine.
- Make the dough
Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon in a separate large bowl. Working in 2 batches, add the dry ingredients to the butter-sugar mixture, combining after each addition.
- Add the good stuff
Gently fold in the cranberries and walnuts.
- Scoop and bake
Using a cookie scoop or tablespoon, scoop and drop the dough 2-inches apart onto the lined baking sheet.
Bake for 8 to 10 minutes or until the edges are just set.
- Cool off
Remove from the oven and allow to cool down to room temperature before removing the cookies to a cookie rack.
- Make the frosting
While the cookies bake, in a stand mixer or large bow with a hand mixer, beat the cream cheese on medium speed until smooth. Add the powdered sugar, melted butter, and vanilla extract. Mix until combined and smooth.
- Time to frost
Once the cookies are cooled, gently frost the tops and enjoy!
This is definitely the part where you quickly whip up a batch of homemade hot cocoa, pour yourself a mug, and grab a cookie.
Watch the cookies come together step by step in this recipe video.
Cream Cheese Frosting for Pumpkin Cookies
Top these cookies with this cream cheese frosting, and they’ll melt in your mouth. It has a glossy, smooth texture that makes it easy to spread, and this recipe yields just enough for one batch of cookies, so you won’t have extra going to waste in the fridge.
How to Frost Pumpkin Cookies
Make sure to cookies cool down to room temperature before applying the frosting. If you try to frost them out of the oven, the icing will melt, and they most certainly would break apart.
Tips for the Best Iced Pumpkin Cookies
Along with the recipe, I’ve also included several helpful tips to help you achieve the perfect iced pumpkin cookie. These could also be applied to other drop cookie recipes like my Frosted Sugar Cookies.
Make sure the butter is softened
What does softened butter look like? It’s not half-melted or caving in. Softened butter should be solid, but when poked, your finger or knife will easily leave an indent.
Cream the butter and sugar
When you cream the butter and sugar on medium speed long enough, about 3 to 5 minutes, it adds air to the dough and does wonders for the texture of the cookie. The cookies will rise and keep their shape without caving in as they bake, producing a soft, “puffy” cookie.
Use fresh baking powder
Baking powder is what gives these cookies and other baked goods their “lift.” Once expired, the leavening agents in baking powder begin to decline, resulting in flat tops and dense texture.
One of the biggest culprits to tough cookies is too much time in the oven. Once cookies are removed from the oven, they continue to cook on the baking sheet, so removing them at the point that they’re just holding together will ensure evenly baked cookies that stay soft and chewy for days.
Can you Make Pumpkin Cookies Ahead?
You can absolutely make these cookies ahead of time and freeze for later! Here’s how to freeze unbaked cookie dough.
- Prepare the dough as directed.
- Scoop onto a baking sheet and freeze for 1 hour or until solid.
- Transfer the cookies to a large zip bag labeled with baking directions.
- Freeze for up to 2 months.
- When ready, preheat the oven and bake as directed, adding an additional minute to the recipe.
If you’ve already baked the cookies, you can still freeze them using the same process above, but no need to re-bake them. Just remove them from the freezer and thaw for 10-20 minutes before frosting.
Pumpkin Cookies with Cream Cheese Frosting
- ½ cup butter, – about 1 stick, softened
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 egg
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup pumpkin puree
- 2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoons baking soda
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 ½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1 cup fresh or frozen cranberries, coarsely chopped
- ½ cup chopped walnuts, optional
Cream Cheese Frosting
- 4 ounces cream cheese
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- 2 tablespoons butter, melted
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Preheat the oven to 350ºF and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer or large bowl with a hand mixer, beat the butter on high speed for about 30 seconds. Add the sugar and mix on medium speed for 3 to 5 minutes or until fluffy.
- Add the egg, 1 teaspoon vanilla, and pumpkin to the butter and sugar mixture. Mix on medium speed until just combined.
- Stir together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon in a separate large bowl.
- Working in 2 batches, add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, and mix on medium speed after each addition, stopping to scrape the sides of the bowl when necessary.
- Once combined, add the cranberries and walnuts to the dough and fold to combine.
- Using a tablespoon or cookie scoop, scoop and drop the dough 2-inches apart onto the lined baking sheet.
- Bake for 8 to 10 minutes or until the edges are just set. Remove from the oven and allow to cool down before transferring the cookies to a cookie rack.
- While cookies are cooling, make the frosting. In the stand mixer with a clean bowl or a large bowl with the hand mixer, beat the cream cheese until smooth.
- Add in the powdered sugar, melted butter, and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Mix on low speed for 2 to 3 minutes or until a thick frosting-like texture is achieved.
- Frost the cooled cookies. Enjoy and refrigerate the leftovers in an airtight container for up to 4 days.