Fall-inspired Soft and Chewy Pumpkin Cookies with Browned Butter and Pumpkin Pie Spice
Soft, chewy pumpkin cookies with just the right amount of sweetness make for the perfect cookie this time of year. Browned butter, dark brown sugar, and pumpkin pie spice make these cookies more flavorful than traditional pumpkin cookies. The result? An incredibly dense, chewy cookie with a crackly top and soft center.
What better way to welcome fall than with something tasty. This is such an easy recipe that comes together fast and your house will smell amazing while making a batch of these cookies. I can’t think of a better way to kick the start of fall off.
Growing up, we loved to bake cookies, especially at Christmas, but leading up to it we left some of our chocolate chip cookies behind and shifted to baking with pumpkin and apple to celebrate the start of the autumn season.
How to Make Pumpkin Cookies
- Brown butter on stovetop in a saucepan. Allow brown butter to cool.
- Pat the pumpkin puree dry with paper towel or a strainer.
- Whisk in brown sugar and granulated sugar into butter.
- In a medium bowl, pour in butter and sugar mixture.
- Whisk in eggs, vanilla, and pumpkin puree.
- Mix in salt, pumpkin spice, and baking soda.
- Gradually fold in flour.
- Roll 3 tablespoons pumpkin cookie dough into a ball.
- Roll cookie dough in pumpkin pie spice and sugar mixture.
- Bake in 350°F for 10-12 minutes.
- Pat tops of cookies down with spatula if desired.
Homemade Pumpkin Pie Spice Recipe
How can I make pumpkin pie spice at home? Making pumpkin pie spice at home is easy to do. First, you’ll want to get a small bowl and ground spices out. To make homemade pumpkin pie spice you’ll need ground cinnamon, ground ginger, ground nutmeg, ground allspice, and ground cloves. Mix the following spices together to make your own batch to keep in the kitchen pantry. It especially comes in handy during the fall and winter baking season.
- ¼ cup ground cinnamon
- 2 tablespoons ground ginger
- 4 teaspoons ground nutmeg
- 2 teaspoons ground cloves
- 2 teaspoons ground allspice
Pumpkin Cookie Ingredients
Butter: Salted or unsalted butter may be used for this recipe. To make the cookies extra chewy, I melt the butter in a small saucepan and then brown the butter on low heat for 10 minutes. This step can also be done in just 3-4 minutes over medium heat but you’ll have to stir the butter continuously and make sure that it doesn’t burn. Melted butter interacts differently with gluten making the cookies have a chewy texture and less cake-like. In addition, brown butter adds an incredible flavor as well as removes extra water content. Both steps are critical for the ultimate chewy pumpkin cookies. It’s important for the butter to come to room temperature before making the dough. To speed things up, the butter may be placed in the refrigerator but make sure that it does not solidify, as it should still be in a melted state when adding the sugars to the butter.
Sugar: I use a combination of dark brown sugar and granulated sugar. Dark brown sugar adds a deeper, richer flavor this cookie. In addition, it absorbs air after the cookies are baked, ensuring that they remain soft and chewy. The granulated sugar adds a crackly top to the pumpkin sugar cookies.
Pumpkin: Yes, real pumpkin is used in the recipe. Not just pumpkin spice. Don’t confuse pumpkin puree that’s needed in this recipe with pumpkin pie filling. Pumpkin puree already has some of the liquid removed and this recipe calls for more of the liquid to be removed using paper towels. Taking this extra step will help curate a more flavorful and concentrated cookie flavor with less flour and more pumpkin flavor. To remove the liquid from the pumpkin puree, smooth the puree on a double layer of paper towels. Next, top it with another layer of double paper towels. Press into the pumpkin puree with the sheets of paper towel. Peel back the top layer and carefully dump it onto the next set of clean and dry paper towels ready to go. Repeat this step until the puree is like playdough, can be rolled into a tight cookie dough ball, and measures between 1/3 cup and 1/2 cup, or about 80 grams. A kitchen scale is super useful for this step.
Flour: I use all-purpose flour and fold it into the cookie batter. Folding it into the batter will incorporate less air into the dough.
Baking Soda: I use just a little baking soda to give rise to the cookies.
Egg Yolks: Make sure they are room temperature. To do this quickly, fill a small bowl with warm water and place the eggs in it for a few minutes. Next, replace the water again with warm water and wait a few minutes. The eggs should be ready to use then. I like to do this while I’m making brown butter.
Pumpkin Spice: These cookies are full of pumpkin flavor from top to bottom. I have never tried a better cookie than this one. Store bought pumpkin pie spice works as well as homemade pumpkin pie spice. I have a recipe for homemade pumpkin pie spice below if you plan to make it from scratch.
Making Chewier Pumpkin Cookies
MELTING BUTTER: While crisp and crunchy cookies are delicious in their own way, I prefer these pumpkin sugar cookies with a chewy crumb and delicate crackly tops. For chewier cookies, melting butter instead of creaming soft butter with sugar frees up the water content of the butter so that it can interact with the all-purpose flour in the cookie dough. Melting butter and in this case browning it, allows gluten, the protein that gives baked goods their chew, to develop.
BROWING BUTTER: Browning butter allows some of the water content in the butter to evaporate. It also gives the butter a deeper flavor. One that will match the warmth of the spices in this pumpkin dessert recipe. Typically, unsalted butter contains less water than salted butter and while I almost always bake and cook with unsalted butter, both salted butter and unsalted butter will work for this recipe as I have tested both versions.
BROWN SUGAR: Brown sugar contains molasses. While it adds a ton of warmth and flavor to baked goods, it also plays a role in making cookies and bars chewier. It all comes down to science. Cookies made with brown sugar absorb moisture from the air after they are baked. This helps to keep them chewy. Cookies made with brown sugar are known for being able to bend around a rolling pin without breaking in half while cookies made with granulated sugar can snap.
FAT: Both saturated and unsaturated fat are necessary for chewy cookies. It’s a preferred choice of mine for baking. Use a good quality butter for the best baking results.
STIRRING BY HAND: To make dense, chewy cookies from scratch, it’s best to skip the stand mixer or the hand mixer. Instead, whisk, stir, and fold the cookie dough batter by hand. It results in less incorporated air than using a stand mixer. Less air leads to denser, chewier cookies rather than fluffier, cakey ones.
- Melt butter.
- Brown butter in saucepan.
- Incorporate brown sugar into the recipe.
- Use butter for fat.
- Stir by hand for best results.
Pumpkin Cookie Variations
- Chocolate chips: Semi sweet chocolate chips, white chocolate chips, or butterscotch chips would take this cookie up a notch. Add 1 cup for some added flavor and texture.
- Frosting: I love these cookies with or without a frosting. Cream cheese frosting is my favorite pairing. It adds just the right amount of tang to the pumpkin spice cookies that you’ll love. A pumpkin spice flavored cream cheese frosting is also delicious. Also, a simple icing of powdered sugar and milk or water drizzled across the top is a real treat.
- Nuts: Any type of chopped nut will work though my preference would be a pecan or walnut. Add a cup to the cookie dough if desired. Almonds, walnuts, pecans, or pepitas (pumpkin seeds) like the kind on Starbuck’s pumpkin loaf.
- Dried berries: Cup up dried cranberries, dried cherries, or dried figs.
- Candy: Sprinkles like Halloween dessert sprinkles, or any colored sprinkles. Candy from the baking asile like caramel bites, toffee, or coconut flakes.
Other Cookie Recipes You’ll Love
- Gingerbread Thumbprint Cookies
- Peanut Butter Blossoms
- Pumpkin Sugar Cookies
- Lemon Cream Cheese Cookies
- Mexican Wedding Cookies
- 15 Classic Christmas Cookies Recipes
- Raspberry Kolaches Cookies
- Strawberry Thumbprint Cookies
Baked Cookies: Once the cookies are baked, store them in an airtight container. They should stay soft for up to one week.
Pre-making your cookies: Short on time and want to make these ahead? Mix up the cookies, wrap the bowl in plastic wrap, and store it in the refrigerator for several days. Do take the cookies out and place it on the countertop to come to room temperature before baking.
Freezing your dough or baked cookies: If you want to freeze your dough, roll the cookies and set them on a cookie sheet for 1-2 hours to freeze individually so that they don’t stick together. Next, store them in an airtight container or ziplock bag for up to several months. Bring the cookies to room temperature before baking. Baked cookies freeze well for up to a month once baked. Simply thaw them before eating.
- 1 cup butter salted or unsalted
- ½ cup + 2 tbsp dark brown sugar packed
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- 1 cup pumpkin puree use Libby's
- 2 large egg yolks room temperature
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1⅔ cup + 1 tbsp all-purpose flour
- 2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
- ½ tsp salt or 1 tsp salt if using unsalted butter
- 1 tsp baking soda
- ⅓ cup granulated sugar
- ½ tsp pumpkin pie spice
- In a small saucepan, brown butter over the lowest heat for about 10 minutes. Stir occasionally. Butter will simmer, bubble, and foam, this is normal.
- Pour butter into a large mixing bowl. Allow it to completely cool for 30-40 minutes.
- Layer several layers paper towels together. Top with another double layer. Pat pumpkin liquid out of pumpkin. Repeat with new papers towels until pumpkin is pretty dry and can be rolled into a tough dough ball. Tip: If you have a kitchen scale, it should weigh around 80 grams.
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a cooking sheet with parchment paper.
- Once butter is at room temperature, whisk in brown sugar and granulated sugar;
- Add egg yolks, vanilla extract, and dried pumpkin puree. Whisk until well combined.
- Whisk in pumpkin spice, salt, and baking soda.
- Gradually fold in flour just until combined. It's okay if the dough still has a flour sheen to it.
- In a small bowl, whisk together ⅓ cup sugar, and ½ teaspoon pumpkin pie spice.
- Scoop 3 tablespoons of dough and roll it into a ball. I use a 1½ tablespoon scoop so I double it.
- Roll cookie dough in sugar mixture.
- Place on baking sheet about 2-inches apart.
- Bake in 350°F oven for 10-12 minutes.
- Pat tops down with a flat spatula if desired once baked.
- Allow to cool before transferring to cooling rack.
Nutritional information is only an estimate and it’s accuracy is not guaranteed to be exact.
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