The arrival of autumn brings many familiar things. Apple picking, leaves changing, cooler weather, and of course, pumpkin-spice everything. Whether you’re on the pumpkin spice bandwagon or vehemently opposed, you can’t deny these spiced cookies are irresistible. They’re soft, cakey, and coated in sweet spiced sugar, making them great for dessert, afternoon coffee, or gifting to friends.

david caricature

Why Our Testers Loved This

LC testers adored the soft, cakey texture of these autumn-inspired cookies and loved that the not-too-sweet flavor had plenty of warm pumpkin spice. Krista D. calls them “amazingly delicious.” I couldn’t agree more.

What You’ll Need to Make This

Ingredients for pumpkin spice cookies--pumpkin, spices, sugar, flour, butter, egg, baking soda, and cornstarch.
  • Unsalted butter–If you only have salted butter, reduce the salt in the cookies to 1/4 teaspoon. Start with softened butter so that your cookies are soft and puffy.
  • Pumpkin puree–This keeps the cookies moist and cake-like. You want to make sure you’re using pure canned pumpkin, not pumpkin pie filling. Leftover pumpkin puree can be used to make pumpkin pie babka or pumpkin cheesecake bars.
  • Pumpkin pie spice–This blend of cinnamon, allspice, ginger, cloves, and nutmeg is what gives the cookies their classic autumn (and Starbucks) flavor.

How to Make This Recipe

Batter for pumpkin spice cookies being mixed in a stand mixer.
  1. Beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
  2. Add the egg, pumpkin, pumpkin pie spice, and vanilla, and beat until combined.
Flour added to pumpkin spice cookie batter in a mixer and spiced sugar in a bowl with a whisk beside it.
  1. Beat in the flour, cornstarch, baking soda, and salt. Cover the dough and chill for at least 1 hour.
  2. Whisk the granulated sugar and remaining pumpkin pie spice together in a small bowl.
Balls of cookie dough being rolled in spiced sugar, then arranged on a baking sheet.
  1. Roll the cookie dough into 1 1/2-inch balls, then roll in the spiced sugar to coat.
  2. Place the cookies 2 inches apart on parchment-lined baking sheets. Bake until puffed and almost golden.
A pumpkin spice cookie resting on the edge of a bowl of spiced sugar.

Common Questions

How do I bake cookies that stay puffy?

Make sure that you chill your dough for at least an hour. You can also pop your dough mounds into the freezer if you have issues with patience–just don’t let them freeze through, you want them cold, not iced. 20 minutes should be enough.

A few other tips–let your butter soften so it can be easily creamed but don’t let it get too warm. Just warm enough to combine with the sugar and flour. For those of you that like numbers, 67°F is the perfect temperature for “room temperature” butter. Finally, instead of flattening the dough mounds, leave a little peak in the middle so they retain some thickness.

How should I store these cookies?

The spiced pumpkin cookies can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week, or the cooked, cooled cookies can be frozen for up to 4 months.

What’s the difference between Pumpkin Puree and Pumpkin Pie Filling?

Pumpkin puree is made with only pure pumpkin that has been cooked and pureed. Pumpkin pie filling has spices and sweeteners added to the pureed pumpkin.

Helpful Tips

  • An ice cream scoop makes it easy to scoop evenly-sized mounds of dough.
  • To ensure your cookies aren’t too wet, pour off any extra liquid from your pumpkin puree or strain it in a fine-mesh sieve for 30 minutes before using. 
Seven pumpkin spice cookies on a green plate.

Write a Review

If you make this recipe, or any dish on LC, consider leaving a review, a star rating, and your best photo in the comments below. I love hearing from you.–David

Seven pumpkin spice cookies on a green plate.

Pumpkin Spice Cookies

4.84 / 6 votes
These lovely spiced pumpkin cookies are spiced perfectly, easy, and pumpkin-pie-delightful. Delicately flavored, with a soft center and crisp edges, they're the autumn treat you've been craving.
David Leite
Servings18 cookies
Calories153 kcal
Prep Time25 minutes
Cook Time15 minutes
Total Time1 hour 40 minutes


  • 1 stick (4 oz) unsalted butter, softened
  • ¾ cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 1 large egg
  • ¼ cup canned pumpkin puree, (not pumpkin pie filling)
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon store-bought or homemade pumpkin pie spice, divided
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar


  • Beat the butter, brown sugar, and egg on medium-high speed in a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or using a hand mixer until very light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.
  • Scrape down the sides of the bowl, then mix in the pumpkin, 1 tablespoon of the pumpkin pie spice, and vanilla, beating on medium-high speed until combined.
  • Scrape down the sides of the bowl again, spoon in the flour, cornstarch, baking soda, and salt, and mix until just combined, about 1 minute.
  • Cover the dough and chill it in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour and up to 1 day.
  • Crank up the oven to 350°F (180°C) and line two rimmed baking sheets with parchment.
  • Stir together the granulated sugar and the remaining 1 teaspoon of pumpkin pie spice in a small bowl.
  • Shape the cookie dough into 1 ½-inch balls, roll them in the spiced sugar, and place them on the baking sheets, spacing them about 2 inches (5 cm) apart. Using your hand, gently flatten each ball slightly.
  • Bake until the edges are set and the tops are juuuust beginning to turn golden brown, 10 to 15 minutes.
  • Let the cookies cool on the baking sheets for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.


  1. Scooping the dough–An ice cream scoop makes it easy to scoop evenly-sized mounds of dough.
  2. Strain the pumpkin–To ensure your cookies aren’t too wet, pour off any extra liquid from your pumpkin puree or strain it in a fine-mesh sieve for 30 minutes before using. 
  3. Storage–Store the cookies in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week or freeze for up to 4 months.


Serving: 1 cookieCalories: 153 kcalCarbohydrates: 24 gProtein: 2 gFat: 6 gSaturated Fat: 3 gMonounsaturated Fat: 1 gTrans Fat: 0.2 gCholesterol: 24 mgSodium: 134 mgFiber: 1 gSugar: 12 g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Tried this recipe?Mention @leitesculinaria or tag #leitesculinaria!
Recipe © 2015 David Leite. Photos © 2015 Angie Zoobkoff. All rights reserved.

Recipe Testers’ Reviews

These cookies are sneakily addictive, especially when paired with spiced chai. I rarely make cookies, and, here I am, working on my second batch as I write. The amount of sugar/spice to roll the cookies in was just enough. The cookies tasted better the next day, and they only lasted one more day.

These pumpkin spice cookies are amazingly delicious! These cookies stayed so soft even after storing. They were scrumptious, and I felt I only needed one to be satisfied.

I’m a big believer in reducing food waste and am usually looking for ways to use extra pumpkin puree. This recipe is perfect for using up those little containers you’ve collected in the fridge. This recipe is one I’ll make again.

Hello, Autumn! I love the warmth of pumpkin pie spice, and these cookies deliver! It was simple to mix together (I didn’t even use a mixer), and I used a scoop to make the balls. The finished product was tender, light, and absolutely delicious.

They are excellent with a cup of tea or coffee as they are not too sweet. Make sure all of your ingredients are at room temperature, which ensures a perfect mixture.

These pumpkin spice cookies taste like pure autumn! What a delightful way to kick off the season. The crunchy exterior combines with a light, moist interior to create an excellent fall sweet. This is a treat the whole family will love. They’re light enough to have as an after-dinner dessert or an afternoon snack with coffee, tea, or milk.

About David Leite

I count myself lucky to have received three James Beard Awards for my writing as well as for Leite’s Culinaria. My work has also appeared in The New York Times, Martha Stewart Living, Saveur, Bon Appétit, Gourmet, Food & Wine, Yankee, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, The Washington Post, and more.

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Recipe Rating


  1. 5 stars
    Delicious! Easy! On the cakey side, which is fine because the texture was delightfully light. Sometimes a crispy, chewy cookie is in order, but these were a nice alternative.

  2. 5 stars
    Pumpkin spice ANYTHING—sign me up! These pumpkin spice cookies exceeded my expectations. The rest of my family loved them, too, including my beagles. The dogs went crazy over them. I love a soft cookie, but I kept these in the oven for a full 10 minutes. They came out perfectly soft, and they stayed soft and fresh in a plastic resealable bag on the counter. Well, at least for 24 hours they did. I’d have to hide them in the garage if I expected them to go uneaten for longer than that. I have a few cookies hidden, unbaked, in the back of the fridge. I’ll surprise the family later this week. I’m sure the beagles will come running as soon as they smell these little lovelies baking.

    1. THese will be a hit as the weather gets cooler, Mike. And, hey, beagles gotta eat, too, right?