September 29, 2023

Chewy Pumpkin Cookies

Always chewy pumpkin cookies flavored with pumpkin spice and pumpkin butter. These cookies make the impossible true: there’s not a trace of cakiness in the texture. Pure autumn bliss wrapped up in a pumpkin spice & sugar dusted, bendy, ultra chewy cookie. The best pumpkin cookies ever.  

4.96 from 46 votes
Yield: 10 cookies
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Chewy Pumpkin Cookies

 

Uhm okay. I am so gosh darn happy with this pumpkin cookie recipe. For years and years I’ve tried baking cookies with pumpkin puree (both canned and fresh homemade) and I’d never gotten the right cookie texture; they’re always cakey because of the high water content. Some recipes will try to circumvent this by removing the water from the puree by squeezing it, but in my experience these still have a high risk of getting a cakey texture (how do you know when you’ve absorbed enough water??), and in my case they weren’t what I wanted, because I wanted the texture of a super chewy cookie (like how a molasses cookie is so chewy and bendy!) but with the flavors of pumpkin and pumpkin spice. 

Recipe Overview 

So for this recipe, I decided I’d approach adding the pumpkin to cookie dough and take out as much water as I possibly could, in the way that we might add sourdough starter or discard to a cookie recipe (this recipe is a great example): I use only the egg yolk, I brown the butter to remove the extra moisture, I don’t use baking powder because it tends to make things rise ‘up’ which can give a cakey texture, I balance my sugars appropriately (we often forget that sugar is a wet ingredient!) so that I would have a little bit of chew from the molasses in the brown sugar but not too much it would stop a good cookie spread, and finally… 

This year I said, let’s try pumpkin butter instead of canned puree. And oh boy… These are just as chewy as a ginger molasses cookie!! But the flavor is all pumpkin: pumpkin spice and pumpkin butter in the dough, rolled in more pumpkin spice sugar mix for a slightly crisp. They’re the best pumpkin cookies ever. I said it. YOU HAVE TO MAKE THEM! 

 

Recipe Ingredients 

Butter: I think you will get roughly the same results with american style butter (~80% butterfat) and european style butter (~83% butterfat). There might be a slight more spread with the latter which will mean thinner edges. 

Pumpkin pie spice: If you have the ‘pumpkin spice mix’ store bought, use that. If not, you can make your own: combine together 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon, ½ teaspoon of ginger, ½ teaspoon nutmeg, and (if you want) ¼ tsp each cloves and allspice. 

Salt & Vanilla: Fine sea salt – if you’re using table salt, halve the amount; and pure vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste. If you’d like, you can use a fresh vanilla bean: split it and add it to the butter while it browns. Once the butter is done browning most of the lovely vanilla caviar will be swimming with the brown butter bits (this is one of my favorite baking tricks!). Discard the vanilla pod afterwards. 

Sugar: Both brown sugar, which makes the cookies moist and chewy, and adds notes of caramel, (it can be light or dark brown) and fine granulated. 

Egg yolk: From one large egg. Just the yolk! 

Flour: All purpose flour. I generally use king arthur baking co. all purpose. If you aim to make these gluten-free opt for a 1 to 1 GF substitute flour that has the appropriate added starches and xanthan gum. 

Leavening: Just baking soda. Be sure yours is fresh (less than 5 months old from the open date) and not clumpy. Always level out the spoon, never heaped. 

Pumpkin Butter: I buy this from Trader Joes or I make my own! Recipe below. 

 

How to make the best chewy pumpkin cookies 

*If you’re making the pumpkin butter yourself, do it an hour before you will make the cookie dough. 

Start by measuring out the butter, then set it over medium low heat. Cook as it melts, stirring as needed. Keep cooking as the butter sputters and spits, and you’ll see the milk solids starting to separate (they kind of look like bits of panko). 

After some time, those cream colored bits will begin to turn brown. Keep cooking the butter, stirring as needed with a rubber spatula, until all the bits are a medium brown. Immediately pour the butter, scraping off the brown bits from the pan, into a heatproof bowl. 

 

While the butter is hot, add the salt, pumpkin spice and vanilla. Gently stir it then let it cool for about 5 minutes. 

 

Add both the granulated and brown sugar to the butter and whisk very well, the sugar will begin to melt or dissolve as you whisk, and once it starts to look more cohesive you can stop. 

Add the egg yolk and the pumpkin butter then whisk very very well for about 2 minutes. The mix will become thick and shiny. 

 

Measure the flour over a scale or by fluffing it up with a fork, then shaking it over the measuring cup and leveling the cup (do not pack it in). Add it and the baking soda to the mixture and use a rubber spatula to stir the dough until you can’t spot any more unmixed flour. 

 

Leave the dough uncovered and set it in the fridge for at least half an hour but up to a full hour. 

If you’re using the sugar topping, whisk the spice with the sugar. 

Preheat the oven and line two cookie sheets with parchment paper. I usually grease my cookie sheets so the parchment and cookies don’t slide around (the back of the butter wrapper is great for this, just set the oily part of the wrapper on the pan and rub it all over). 

Scoop two tablespoons of dough per cookie.  If using the sugar topping, roll the cookie dough balls in the sugar, coating all over. 

Bake the cookies until you can see a dark amber color on the edges and the cookies have cracked (or crinkled) all over. 

If you will be glazing the cookies, wait until they are completely cool before you make the glaze. 

 

Homemade Pumpkin Butter Recipe 

So if you can’t find a store bought pumpkin butter, or you just prefer things from scratch, the good (GREAT) news is you can make your own! The texture you get is a little different, homemade is thicker and less sweet and it makes for cookies that spread just a bit less but are still wonderfully chewy. 

Here’s how to make it for this cookie recipe: 

(note this will make more than you need for the cookies, you could probably make two batches of cookies with it!)

In a pot combine 425g or 1 can pumpkin puree, two tablespoons of honey, 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice (1 teaspoon cinnamon, ½ tsp each nutmeg and ginger), 100g or ½ cup brown sugar, and 2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar or red wine vinegar. Cook on medium heat, stirring often, for about 30-45 minutes until the mix has reduced quite a bit and is shiny and thick. Store in a mason jar for 1 week in the fridge or in the freezer for up to 5 months.

 

Options for topping pumpkin cookies

Pumpkin spice sugar: Combine ¼ cup granulated sugar (organic sugar is great for toppings because of its bigger granules) and 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice. Roll the cookies in the sugar before baking. 

Pumpkin glaze: whisk together 1 cup powdered sugar plus 2 tablespoons pumpkin butter. You can add some additional pumpkin spice, salt and vanilla to the mix. If it’s overly runny add more powdered sugar. If it’s too thick, add some milk. Always add less liquid than you think, powdered sugar has a tendency to disappear as you stir. 

Pumpkin spice glaze: Skip the pumpkin butter and the brown butter and just whisk together 1 cup powdered sugar, 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice, a pinch of salt, a dash of vanilla and about 2-3 tablespoons milk. 

Brown butter glaze: Brown butter gives a lovely nutty, deep flavor to any glaze. If you’d like to use some in the glaze brown 160g butter (instead of 140 listed below), then measure out 113 g of butter for the cookie dough. Use the remainder to make a glaze, adding 1 cup powdered sugar, a pinch of salt, dash of vanilla and however much milk you need (probably 1-2 tablespoons) to give it the consistency of elmer’s glue. 

 

Storing the cookies

If you haven’t glazed them, you can store these in an airtight container at room temperature where they’ll keep for a few days. If you’d like to keep them longer, freeze them. 

If you have glazed them, keep them on an open try so as not to destroy the glaze. They’ll keep for a day or two. If you want to keep them longer after glazing, set them in a single layer on a tray and freeze until completely solid. Then you can transfer them to an airtight container and keep them longer in the freezer. 

 

How to make chewy pumpkin cookies ahead of time 

Make the cookies to the point of scooping on the tray (if you’re doing the sugar coating do it now). Set the tray in the freezer and freeze the dough balls until the dough is solid and hard. Transfer to a ziplock bag and freeze for up to 2 months. 

If baking from frozen, add an additional 2-3 minutes of bake time. Remember, the cookies are done baking when the edges have an amber golden hue to them and have cracked quite a bit all over. 

 

 

 

 

 



Chewy Pumpkin Cookies

Pure autumn bliss wrapped up in a pumpkin spice & sugar dusted, bendy, ultra chewy cookie.
Yields: 10 cookies
4.96 from 46 votes

Ingredients

  • 140g or ½ cup plus 2 tablespoons butter unsalted (cold is fine)
  • 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice plus more for topping
  • ½ tsp fine sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 100g or ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 100g or ½ cup dark brown sugar
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 145g or ½ cup pumpkin butter store-bought or homemade (for homemade see recipe above)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 250g or 2 cups all purpose flour

Method

  • Make the pumpkin butter about an hour before making the cookie dough (see above recipe box for pumpkin butter recipe).
  • Set the butter in a small frying pan over medium low heat. Once the butter has melted, raise the heat to medium. Cook, stirring often, as the butter sputters and the milk solids separate.
  • With a rubber spatula, ensure to scrape the edges of the pan to ensure an even browning. Once the milk solids turn brown and the butter is almost done foaming, immediately remove it from the heat into a heat-safe bowl.
  • Add the pumpkin spice, salt and vanilla to the butter and gently stir. It will bubble a bit. Let the butter cool for about 5 minutes.
  • Pour in both sugars and then whisk for about 30-45 seconds, until the sugar and butter start to become cohesive.
  • Add the egg yolk and whisk for a full 60 seconds. Add the pumpkin butter and whisk to combine.
  • If measuring the flour by cup, fluff it first with a fork then sprinkle it into the measuring cup and level the cup.
  • Add the flour and baking soda to the bowl and use a rubber spatula to mix until no traces of dry flour can be seen.
  • Set the bowl uncovered in the fridge for 30-45 minutes.
  • Preheat the oven to 350 F and line two greased cookie sheets with parchment paper.
  • Stir together ¼ cup granulated sugar and 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice.
  • Use a cookie scoop to portion the dough into 2 tablespoons per cookie. Roll the dough between your palms then place it face down into the sugar, and swirl it around a bit, to coat.
  • Bake the cookies until lightly golden on the edges and cracked all over, about 12 minutes.

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Recipe Reviews




  1. 3 stars
    I’m going to be honest. These cookies are good. But, they are not so good that I would make them again. They are way too much work and certainly not worth the calories. I know when you eat any cookie, you are not worried about calories. This recipe took a lot of time, lots of dirty dishes and only made less than 2 dozen. You indicate the recipe yields 10 cookies but I made them smaller and got 18. The first 9 came out like round balls and weren’t done after 15 minutes. The second 9, I smashed down with a glass and they came out flatter but still took longer to bake then you suggested. All in all, no, I won’t make these again, they just aren’t worth the effort. I did follow your recipe with no alterations. I notice all 5 stars in your reviews. Sorry, not from me. I expected a really good cookie from your pictures. How big around are your 10 cookies?

    • Hi Susan, that alteration you made with portioning them smaller is likely the culprit. Smaller cookies won’t turn out as pictured because they are in the oven for less time, puffing up but will be done on the edges, before they crack. Cracking will happen with big cookies which are in the oven for around 12 mins, they puff up then crack. In the recipe I say divide them into 2 tablespoon portions.

  2. Possibly heretical question – do you think it would be possible to swap out pumpkin butter for apple butter for my (insane) pumpkin-hating offspring? Would that mess with the chemistry too much? Thank you!

    • hehe, I did try it once and I personally didn’t love the result – although that could have more to do with my apple butter’s flavor. Structurally it did work though and I had someone else tell me they tried these with apple butter and liked them.

  3. 5 stars
    Wow!!!! Absolutely best cookie recipe! My family wants me to make these all the time! No other recipe can come close! These are not hard to make, but I do buy pre-made pumpkin butter. Delicious chewiness. My son even wants me to make these for Christmas….who am I kidding….year round even 🙂

  4. I love chewy cookies, so I saved this recipe for when Thanksgiving came around. Although so many things went wrong for me in the process of making these, they still came out delicious and chewy! Everyone who tried them loved them. They tasted like an oatmeal cookie, without the oatmeal or raisins. This batch yielded 19 cookies for me.

    For anyone who’s curious how forgiving this recipe is, here are the mistakes/changes I made:
    – I mistakened coconut sugar for brown sugar and added about 30g of coconut sugar. I also accidentally added about 10g extra of brown sugar.
    – I was afraid the coconut sugar would mess with the chewiness, so I took the liberty of adding some cornstarch.
    – Left the butter and sugar mixture out for too long and it resolidified, so I heated it up before adding the remaining sugar and egg.
    – Accidentally bought Trader Joe’s pumpkin jelly instead of pumpkin butter and realized after TJ had already closed (and didn’t even have it in stock anymore anyways). Walmart does sell pumpkin butter, but the first ingredient is cane sugar and it lists water as an ingredient, so I was afraid of it messing with the recipe. I opted to make my own pumpkin butter atp. The pumpkin butter went smoothly, but like another commenter, it didn’t get glossy (I used Great Value brand). Since Sam said that the homemade pumpkin butter spreads less, I decided to add a little extra baking soda. Not sure if that really made sense to do, or if it even made a difference.
    – The first batch of cookies turned out very rounded and didn’t spread much. I wasn’t sure if that’s because they were straight out of the fridge and needed to come down to room temp, but I decided to flatten the cookie dough for the rest of the batches. I also flattened them immediately after they came out of the oven and that helped it look more like the recipe.

    Congrats if you made it to the end of this novel! And sorry to Sam for butchering your recipe. (But my cookies are proof that you can mess up the recipe and still get delicious results). I’ll definitely make this again and hopefully I can follow it to a tee next time!

    • Hi Kristine! It’s good to know about coconut sugar. I’m glad you saw my note about homemade spreading a bit less (I think it has to do with the homemade butter having less sugar that storebought). Thank you so much for the thoughtful comments and notes.

  5. Do you recommend doubling the recipe for the pumpkin butter as well as the cookie? Or make 2 separate batches? Thank you

  6. I was disappointed when I noticed “Yield: 10 cookies” after I had already made the pumpkin butter. Thankfully, the recipe made 26 fair-sized cookies, and they are incredible,! The flavor hints at maple and caramel. This recipe will become part of my autumn baking rotation. After years of baking pumpkin muffin tops, I wanted something different, and this recipe is impressive.

  7. 5 stars
    Look, I’ve made these four times in the last month, plus once with my mom’s homemade apple butter. I’ve been a pumpkin “cakelette” (as my husband calls my cakey pumpkin cookies) gal for 20 years. No more! These are it. They are everything. They smell amazing, they chew, they have complex flavor layers. Everyone I give one to agrees, although they hardly last long enough to share as I will eat them for breakfast if they make it through the night. One minor complaint, a jar of pumpkin butter from TJ’s is 284g, so not quite enough for doubling (I’m a stickler to sticking to Sam’s weights). Glad I bought six more jars after the first time I made these!

  8. 5 stars
    these cookies are divine. I added 2 C chocolate chips because i couldn’t help it and they are perfect. will definitely be making these again. thank you!

  9. My homemade pumpkin butter isn’t shiny. Cooked it for about 25 mins and it started to get stuck to the pan, that’s why I stopped cooking it.
    What should I do? Put it back on the hob to cook for longer or use it as is? It is very thick.
    Thank you ????

  10. 5 stars
    Just a couple of comments…
    First I LOATHE cakey cookies- especially pumpkin. So, thank you for saving me from those! Thank you also for not insisting on chocolate within this recipe. I never got the pumpkin/ chocolate thing.????
    Secondly, I put the scraped vanilla pod in my sugar cannister for an essence of vanilla.
    Thirdly, use a sugar/ pie pumpkin. Jack o lantern variety are way too watery to bake with. And, if you use a white pumpkin (*don’t!) The result looks like wet cement.
    Lastly, I have a caramel pumpkin butter so I used that. SNARF!
    I have used several of your recipes recently. They often seem to be exactly what I’m looking for at the time. Thanks!!

  11. 5 stars
    ok, so I made this recipe as written and it truly is phenomenal. Absolutely perfect chewy pumpkin cookie. Yesterday, I suddenly wondered if I could make the recipe and sub in apple butter…. Reader, it works beautifully. Made a double batch and added 3 T. boiled cider on a whim to bump up the apple flavor, but not sure how much that did (if anything). The browned butter combined with the apple butter makes a delightful caramel apple flavor, in my opinion. Shared them with a youth group and all were obsessed.

    • love this megan!! I did try it once with apple butter and I got great texture but I think I didn’t like the way my apple butter tasted. Will have to try again based on your notes.

  12. 5 stars
    These turned out so well – delicious, great texture, and a lovely cracked appearance. I made them with Trader Joe’s pumpkin butter. I will definitely make these again!

  13. I just made these. I hate to be the person that changed a recipe and then leaves a review but all I did was add 1 TB of espresso powder. I wanted to mimick more a pumpkin latte cookie. They were AMAZING! As someone who loves soft molasses cookies and also loves pumpkin this was a perfect marriage

  14. 5 stars
    I don’t often take the time to rate recipes but these are my favorite cookies I’ve made in a minute! Didn’t take too much time or effort either. Will definitely be making these again!

  15. 5 stars
    Just finished baking these a few minutes ago. My husband says, “Now that’s a good cookie!” No other words needed. ???? thanks

  16. 5 stars
    Holy YUM! These are divine. I was thrilled to find a chewy pumpkin cookie recipe and this did not disappoint! I made the pumpkin butter as well and it yielded a little less than 2 cookie batches worth so I look forward to supplementing the remaining with store bought TJ’s and seeing how the cookies bake up in comparison. This is a keeper recipe, thank you!

  17. 5 stars
    Great recipe. Love that I don’t have to pull out mixer.

    Do you think I can substitute pumpkin butter in any recipe that calls for pumpkin puree? Do you think any other adjustments would be necessary? Thank you

    • hi patty! There will be a few things to take into consideration when subbing pumpkin butter for puree: there’s less water in the butter (it gets cooked off) and there’s more sugar (added to the puree as it cooks). But I think if you make some adjustments to whatever recipe you’re working with it can (mostly) be done; by reducing the sugar in the recipe a bit and by making sure there’s still enough water to balance the recipe.

  18. 5 stars
    I made this today, and the only thing I can say is WOW!!!
    These cookies have the perfect amount of chew and sweetness. The pumpin flavor really comes through!
    I used the pumpkin pie spice mix and pumpkin butter from Trader Joe’s. I think I’m going to have to stock up.
    Thank you for sharing this wonderful recipe!

  19. 5 stars
    Great recipe! Very holiday vibe, it reads more like a ginger molasses cookie for sure. I veganized it with the below steps and it turns out fantastically.

    – browned butter: use Miyoko’s which can be browned
    – egg yolk: sub 1.5tbpsn oil and 1.5tbspn water (you might get away with not even using at all)

  20. 5 stars
    I made these on a chilly rainy day and they were absolute PERFECTION. I feel like Sam saved us all from cakey pumpkin cookies here – they are truly chewy and wonderful!

  21. 5 stars
    These cookies are everything your little fall-loving heart desires! A chewy spiced cookie that comes together in one bowl so easily. I was deciding between making cookies or pumpkin pie and Sam gave me my favorite answer. Both. I used Trader Joe’s Pumpkin butter and followed the recipe by weight. No adjustments needed. They are perfect.

  22. 5 stars
    These were seriously delicious. Simple, chewy, and flavorful without being too sweet. I will definitely make these again!

  23. Hi, Sam,

    re Jana’s comment:
    is it feasible, do you think, to replicate the texture and moisture content of commercial “pumpkin”* puree found here in the States with pureeing another similar winter squash available canned in halved/sliced/chopped form? I ask because a lot of squash is available in markets where pumpkin itself is not readily available and because many domestic canned products claiming to be pumpkin are often another species* altogether.

    Oddly enough, many varieties and cultivars of pumpkin are the same species of summer squash (yellow, zucchini, pattypan), as are certain winter squash (eg delicata, acorn, spaghetti), whereas one of North America’s most popular fresh substitutes for pumpkin (butternut) belongs to a separate species as do two of its most popular canned substitutes.*

    *blue hubbard, Dickinson

    • Hi Saurs! I only tested this with pumpkin (canned) though I’ve had a few people say they’ve used a butternut and a fresh pumpkin to make the puree for the butter. Wish I had more to tell you but without having tried it I’m afraid I’d be giving you pointless info. If I hear from someone who tries it with something else I’ll be sure to add it to the notes.

  24. 5 stars
    I’ve loved every one of Sam’s recipes I’ve ever made, but this one takes the cake!!!! I made these cookies with the brown butter glaze and it’s one of my favorite things I have ever baked!!!

  25. 5 stars
    for the fellow Europe dwellers who don’t have access to Pumpkin Puree or Pumpkin Butter: using a butternut which I roasted, cut in half, in the oven works perfect. Roasting it until the skin blackens, the flesh comes out of the oven quite dry, so I pureed it with 2.5 (European) tablespoons of honey; texture looked like in Sam’s pictures and cookies taste is divine :)))

  26. also, for all the fellow Europe dwellers who don’t have access to Pumpkin Puree or Pumpkin Butter: I made Pumpkin Butter using a butternut which I roasted in the oven, cut in half and studded with whole cloves and cardamon, until soft. roasting it at 200°C until the skin blackens, the pumkin comes out of the oven quite dry – I pureed 100 with 2.5 (European) tablespoons honey and the consistency was as shown in Sam’s pictures; cookies were deeeelliiish as i wrote below :)))

  27. ok, I am back as promised and oh my god, as a absolute pumpkin lover, these cookies are my dream come true. crisp, crunchy, goey in the middle, all bathed in the warmth of pumpkin; Sam deserves another award for it!

  28. Sam!!!! i am literally SCREAMING with joy. I’ve got some roasted butternut in the fridge and been searching for a pumpkin cookie recipe that is *NOT cakey* for the whole week (i’ve gone through the whole buttermilk newsletter archive in my mailbox and do you know how often I typed in pumpkin in buttermilk’s search bar…). literally wanted to make the cookies *today* not yet being fully settled on a recipe and upon waking up i find this recipe in the newsletter – I LOVE YOU, this made my weekend. will report back after baking :))))

    • MIMI! I love you for this comment 😀 what perfect timing for these! I was debating leaving it for October but I was too excited lool. Love the idea of them with butternut!

  29. Hi! This recipe looks delicious! Canned pumpkin puree (or pumpkin butter) is not available where I live and I’ve never tried it – if I were to make this completely from scratch, what should I pay attention to? What kind of pumpkin? What consistency?
    Thank you!

    • hi! So from a fresh sugar pumpkin or a pumpkin pie pumpkin and make your own puree right? I have made alton brown’s pumpkin puree before and think his method works well so I’d start there. Once you have the puree you’ll then need to make the pumpkin butter per the recipe listed in the text above the cookie recipe. And as long as you get the consistency you see in the photos above (in the gray pot) where it’s cooked off a lot of water I think you’ll be good to use it to make the cookies. This is going to be quite the project! Crossing my fingers for you. Please report back if you do make them, I’m so curious!