Everyone will fall head-over-heels for these soft Pumpkin Sugar Cookies! They are irresistible with creamy brown sugar cream cheese frosting on top, creating the perfect tang with these sweet cookies. Both are filled with this season’s favorite pumpkin spice. You won’t be able to get enough!
There’s a new kid in town around here. They go by the name of ‘the most amazing soft pumpkin sugar cookies with brown sugar cream cheese frosting.”
That doesn’t mean we don’t still love and adore the classic pumpkin bar recipe, it simply means the pumpkin spice in our life doubled (tripled? quadrupled?) which directly correlates with happiness, doesn’t it?
These cookies are a must-make this fall. They are so soft, light, and fluffy, with the just-right balance of cinnamon and pumpkin spice. Their subtleness is paired with a tangy, luxurious cream cheese frosting, made with brown sugar nonetheless, for a unique, rich, caramel essence. The combination is out of this world, and I can pretty much guarantee you won’t be stopping at just one.
The Cookie + Frosting Ingredients
This recipe uses simple ingredients that you likely already have in your cupboard (’tis the season to stock up on pumpkin, isn’t it?). That’s one of the things I love most about it; that while these cookies have an air of elegance, sophistication, and may seem like a labor of love, they’re actually easy to make and pretty straightforward.
Here’s what you’ll need:
- Unsalted Butter – I recommend unsalted so we can add our own salt, and therefore the ratios will be the same regardless of which brand of butter you use.
- Vegetable Oil – using oil with the butter keeps these cookies moist and soft.
- Pumpkin Puree – make sure you’re using 100% pumpkin, not pumpkin pie filling.
- Granulated and Powdered Sugar – both sugars contribute to the cookie’s texture. I use a mix of powdered sugar in my soft sugar cookie recipe, too. It helps add to the softness of the cookies and contributes to the melt-in-your-mouth texture.
- Egg – just one in this recipe; I recommend bringing it to room temperature so it combines with the other ingredients properly.
- All-Purpose Flour – please, please, please weigh your flour to ensure proper results!
- Cream of Tartar – adding to that classic sugar cookie flavor, it also works with the baking soda to keep these cookies light and fluffy!
- Vanilla Extract – get the real stuff!
- Pumpkin Pie Spice – now we’re talking pumpkin cookies.
- Cinnamon – how could we not add extra cinnamon?
As for the brown sugar icing, we will need cream cheese, butter, vanilla, brown sugar, and powdered sugar. Oh, and a little more pumpkin pie spice for good measure.
Be sure to click the ‘metric’ tab on the recipe card to weigh out the main ingredients!
How to Make Pumpkin Sugar Cookies
Get ready, because you’re going to be making pumpkin cookies on repeat! Luckily, they’re pretty darn easy, ready in about 30 minutes (depending on your cool time before frosting!), and the dough does not need to chill! More on that chilling piece in a minute…
I recommend first combining the dry ingredients in a mixing bowl. This will help make the process quicker, AND it’s the easiest to do since you’ll be using that handy-dandy kitchen scale.
Weigh the ingredients where noted (especially the flour) for the most accurate results. If you don’t have a kitchen scale, sift your flour and spoon it into a dry measuring cup, being extra careful to not pack it down whatsoever. Then go get yourself a kitchen scale. 😉
Begin the batter by creaming together the butter and sugars. Use a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, or an electric hand mixer. Run the mixer on medium speed for 1-2 minutes until the mixture is light, pale, and fluffy. When the two are creamed together, it helps create a light and fluffy texture in our cookie, so don’t skip it!
Once creamed, add the oil, pumpkin, and vanilla extract. Mix until combined, then beat in the egg.
Next, stir in the dry ingredients just until combined. As with many baked goods, it’s important to not overmix these to ensure they keep their soft texture.
Do I need to chill the dough?
Let me tell you, friends. You don’t really need to chill the dough. Not really. But you can, if you want even thicker cookies.
I tested these many, many times (it’s a hard job but someone has to do it). Each time I made half of the batter immediately, then chilled the other half for 30 minutes. There wasn’t a great deal of difference, as you can see below. However, the chilled cookies were very slightly thicker.
Or, the other way to phrase that, is that the unchilled cookie dough spread just ever so slightly more.
Personally, this difference didn’t really matter to me. I’m generally in the camp of let’s just eat the cookies already! However, if you want thicker cookies, go ahead and chill the dough. If the dough seems like it’s too runny, or if it’s a hot day, I would recommend going ahead and chilling the dough.
Short answer? No, not really, with a few caveats.
Shaping Sugar Cookies
Use a #40 cookie scoop or about one and a half tablespoons of dough and dollop on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet.
Once the dollops are placed, dip a flat-bottomed glass in sugar (you may want to dampen the bottom of the glass so the sugar sticks the first time). Then, using the bottom of the glass, gently press the cookie dough into a disc that is about 1/4 inch thick, or 2 inches wide. It will likely feel natural as you’re gently pressing, as long as you don’t use all of your muscles.
If you’re feeling extra, add another sprinkle of sugar, but keep in mind that brown sugar icing is going on top anyway.
Once they’re pressed, it’s time to bake!
Bake the cookies until the edges are set and slightly golden brown. They are naturally darker in color because of the pumpkin and spices, so they may not look as golden brown as you’re used to with cookies. Similar to muffins, you can lightly touch the tops to see if they’re done; they should gently bounce back.
Making Brown Sugar Frosting
I realize that ‘brown sugar cream cheese pumpkin spice frosting’ is a very long name for a frosting. I mean, even brown sugar cream cheese frosting is a mouthful. But whatever you want to call it, it’s dang delicious.
I’m pretty sure it’s my new favorite frosting, too. The brown sugar gives it a slight caramel flavor and adds a little texture since it has a grainer texture than our typical all-powdered sugar frosting. I’m telling you, it’s a winner. And the hint of pumpkin spice compliments these cookies like WOW.
Start by beating together the cream cheese and butter. It’s important that both are room temperature so they easily combine together. If your frosting is lumpy, they weren’t quite soft enough, so definitely keep that in mind.
Once the two are combined, add in the sugars, spice, and vanilla extract until fully incorporated. I fully approve of taste testing.
What’s the texture like? The result will be thick yet spreadable, and it will stay creamy and soft. It won’t harden as royal icing does.
Frosting the Cookies
There is really only one important thing to keep in mind when frosting the cookies: make sure the cookies are cooled before icing them. Similar to frosting a cake or pumpkin bars, the top may peel away when icing if they are still warm.
The good news? Put the cookies on a cooling rack and they will cool off in no time. It doesn’t take as long as it sounds.
Then, spread the frosting on top. A spoon or small icing spatula works great for this. Use about 1 1/2 teaspoons per cookie and you’ll have the perfect amount of frosting for the 22 cookies!
I wouldn’t recommend halving the recipe. Because there is just 1 egg, it’s easier to make the full recipe to ensure the best results. The recipe makes about 22 cookies, so a few more for sharing if you want a smaller batch yourself!
You can freeze the cookies themselves, but do not freeze them with the frosting on top. Instead, prepare the frosting when you’re ready to serve the cookies and frosting them then.
Store them in an airtight container. Because of the cream cheese frosting, I recommend storing them in the fridge after the first day. If you need to stack the cookies, place a piece of wax paper between them.
Pumpkin Sugar Cookies with Brown Sugar Frosting
Pumpkin Sugar Cookies
- 2 cups + 2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour, 258 grams
- 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon fine salt
- 1 teaspoon pumpkin spice
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar, plus extra for pressing
- 1/2 cup powdered sugar
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil
- 1/2 cup pumpkin puree
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 egg, room temperature
Brown Sugar Cream Cheese Frosting
- 3 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
- 3 Tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 1/4 cup powdered sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- In a large mixing bowl, stir together the flour, cream of tartar, baking soda, salt, pumpkin spice, and cinnamon. Set aside.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, or in a mixing bowl using a hand mixer, cream together room temperature butter, granulated sugar, and powdered sugar for 1-2 minutes on medium speed, until light and fluffy, scraping the sides of the bowl as needed.
- Add vegetable oil, pumpkin puree, and vanilla extract. Mix until combined. Then, add the egg until fully incorporated. Add in the dry ingredients and stir until incorporated, being careful to not overbake.
- Optional: chill for 30 minutes for a slightly fluffier cookie. See the post for more details.
- Dollop a scoop or 1 1/2 tablespoons of batter about 2 inches apart on the prepared baking sheet. Dampen a flat-bottomed glass with water, then dip in a small bowl of granulated sugar. Gently press each cookie dough ball with the bottom of the glass until approximately 2 inches wide, or 1/4 inch thick. Press the glass back in the sugar between each cookie to recoat.
- Bake the cookies for 9-12 minutes until the edges are set and gently bounce back when lightly tapped. Let cool on the baking sheet for 2 minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely before frosting.
Brown Sugar Frosting
- In the bowl of a stand mixer with a whisk attachment, combine the cream cheese and butter. Add the brown sugar until combined. Then, whisk in the powdered sugar, vanilla extract, and pumpkin spice until smooth and completely combined.
- Once the cookies are completely cooled, spread approximately 1 1/2 teaspoons of frosting on each cookie. Garnish with a sprinkle of cinnamon or pecans as desired.
Disclaimer: The nutritional information provided for this recipe is only an estimate. The accuracy of the facts listed is not and cannot be guaranteed.