Pumpkin Sugar Cookies

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Iced pumpkin sugar cookies are the perfect way to celebrate fall. Tender, buttery and delicious, these adorable pumpkin-shaped treats are beautifully decorated with royal icing. They make the harvest season sweeter.

📌 PIN PUMPKIN SUGAR COOKIES

Eight iced pumpkin sugar cookies in pumpkin shapes frosted in orange and white.

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Enjoy iced pumpkin cookies after a trip to the pumpkin patch. Or better yet, pack them in a zip-top bag and take them with you. These stackable cookies are also ideal for children’s classroom parties, fall festivals and gift-giving.

One pumpkin sugar cookie on a baking tray.

I love my vintage pumpkin-shaped cutters. I use them for these pumpkin sugar cookies, and for these cute pumpkin pop tarts. This exact metal shape has been replaced by a new design. However, looking hard enough you can still find a few on eBay, Etsy and Amazon. I suggest you snag one below!

🥣 Why This Recipe Works

  • This simple recipe comes together with basic pantry staples.
  • The dough is super easy to work with.
  • These pumpkin sugar cookies keep their shape during baking.
  • They’re lightly crisp around the edges, tender in the middle.
  • This recipe produces 18 (2 1/4-inch) pumpkin sugar cookies, but can be easily doubled for a larger batch.
  • The cookies are decorated with homemade or store-bought royal icing. Or sprinkle with a mix of turbinado sugar and ground cinnamon.
  • The homemade royal icing hardens quickly so the decorated cookies can be stacked. This is super convenient for storage and/or transport.
Bite taken out of a pumpkin sugar cookie to show soft texture in the middle.

🛒 Ingredients

Pumpkin Sugar Cookies

  • Butter: This is the base for our buttery sugar cookies. It adds richness, flavor and provides the baked goods with structure. The butter must be soft but not melted.
  • Granulated Sugar: Adds the perfect amount of sweetness.
  • Large Egg: Contributes richness and moisture for thick tender cookies.
  • Pumpkin Puree: This ingredient is the star of the show. It’s what makes these treats pumpkin sugar cookies. It adds pumpkin flavor and orange color. Make sure to use 100% pumpkin puree, not pumpkin pie filling.
  • Pure Vanilla Extract: Amplifies the deliciousness of the butter, sugar and pumpkin puree. It also works well with the pumpkin pie spice.
  • All-purpose Flour: Provides structure for these baked goods. When measuring this ingredient, use the fluff-spoon-level method, as too much flour will result in dry dense cookies.
  • Baking Powder: Helps give the treats a gentle rise. It assures that our pumpkin sugar cookies will have soft tender middles.
  • Pumpkin Pie Spice: Adds delicious fall flavor and aroma.
  • Sea Salt: This seasoning enhances the flavor of the other ingredients.
Ingredients for pumpkin sugar cookies.

Royal Icing

For decorating iced pumpkin cookies, make a homemade batch of royal icing with the ingredients below. Or to speed up the process, buy and use store-bought royal icing or cookie icing instead.

  • Warm Water: For easily dissolving the meringue powder.
  • Meringue Powder: Replaces the need for raw egg whites which can cause concern about salmonella food borne illness. It creates a sturdy icing that firmly hardens on the top of the pumpkin sugar cookies.
  • Cream of Tartar: Helps stabilize and strengthen the icing.
  • Powdered Sugar: This is the base of our royal icing. It provides thickness, sweetness and a white snowy look.
  • Clear Vanilla Extract: Gives royal icing an authentic bakery flavor. Use clear vanilla extract (instead of amber-colored) to keep the royal icing a sharp clear white which is also the perfect slate for adding color.
  • AmeriColor Gel Food Coloring: Pumpkin Orange for the pumpkin, Brown for stems, and Black or Green for the vines. Do not use liquid food coloring as it will affect icing consistency. Use gel paste colors.
Iced pumpkin sugar cookies and a glass bottle of milk.

📖 Recipe Steps

Pumpkin Sugar Cookies

RECIPE PREP: Line 2 large cookie sheets with parchment paper or reusable silicone baking mats. Put them aside.

  • STEP 1: Add softened butter and granulated sugar to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. (If no stand mixer, use a large mixing bowl and an electric hand mixer.)
  • STEP 2: Beat on medium-high speed for 2 to 3 minutes, or until the mixture is light and fluffy.
  • STEP 3: Add in egg, pumpkin puree, and vanilla extract. Mix to combine. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.
  • STEP 4: Combine the dry ingredients in a separate (medium-sized) bowl: flour, baking powder, pumpkin pie spice and sea salt. With the mixer on low-speed, gradually add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients. Mix just until incorporated. Do not overmix.
How to make dough for pumpkin sugar cookies in 4 easy steps.
  • STEP 5: Turn the dough out onto a lightly-floured board. Roll to 1/4-inch thick. Cut out shapes with a 2 1/4-inch pumpkin cookie cutter. Dip the cutter in flour before each use. Transfer the cookies to lined trays, leaving 2 inches of space between treats. (If you don’t plan on icing or frosting the cookies, sprinkle them now with cinnamon sugar.)
  • STEP 6: Chill the trays of cookies in the freezer or fridge for 20 minutes. Chilling helps keep these cookies from spreading in the oven so they can stay flat and keep their cut-out shapes.
  • STEP 7: Preheat oven to 375°F. Bake chilled cookies 12 to 15 minutes, or until the bottoms are just barely a light golden blonde. Allow the cookies to cool completely on the tray. Transfer to a wire rack.
  • STEP 8: Decorate pumpkin sugar cookies as desired. For a homemade batch of royal icing, see the recipe instructions below.

RECIPE TIP: Smaller cookies bake much faster than large ones. If using a 1-inch cutter, start checking the cookies for doneness at about 10 minutes.

How to cut, bake, cool and ice pumpkin spice cookies.

Royal Icing

  • STEP 1: In a medium bowl, combine all ingredients EXCEPT the gel food coloring. With an electric mixer, beat on low speed until combined. Turn the mixer to high speed and beat 7 to 10 minutes or until the mixture is very thick and stiff.
  • STEP 2: Divide the mixture in half between 2 bowls. Set one bowl aside. We’re going to leave the icing in this bowl nice and thick. It’s perfect for applying fine decorating details on the cookies.
  • STEP 3: Work with the second bowl of icing. We’re going to take it from super stiff to flooding consistency (thickness of toothpaste) by adding some water to thin it out. Start by stirring in 1 tablespoon of water, then adding more water as needed. This thinner, looser icing will give the frosting a nice smooth surface when piped onto the cookies.
Iced pumpkin cookies drying on the back side of a cookie sheet.

How to Decorate Pumpkin Sugar Cookies

NOTE: For a bakery-style presentation, I leave a 1/4-inch unfrosted border around the edge of each cookie. I also like sprinkling the cookies with orange and white candy sprinkles. But this is completely optional.

  1. Mix 3 cups (flooding consistency) royal icing with 1/2 teaspoon AmeriColor Pumpkin Orange gel paste food coloring. Transfer it to a piping bag fitted with a very small metal tip. I use a Wilton #3, but you can use a PME – ST1.5 tip.
  2. Thinly outline a (vertical oval) pumpkin rib in the center of the cookie. Flood it with icing. If needed, use a toothpick to smooth out any bumps. Gently shake the cookie so the icing smooths and settles into place. Let the icing dry until set, about 10 minutes.
  3. Outline 2 pumpkin ribs – on the far left and right sides of the cookie. Flood them in and let the icing set. Fill in the gaps by creating 2 final ribs – so there are 5 ribs in total. Let the icing set, about 10 minutes.
  4. For the stem, mix 2 tablespoons royal icing with 1 to 2 drops of AmeriColor brown gel paste food coloring. Transfer it to a piping bag with a small tip. Draw the stem of the pumpkin and allow it to set.
  5. For the vines, mix 1/4 cup royal icing with 2 to 4 drops green or black AmeriColor gel paste food coloring. Transfer it to a piping bag with a small metal tip. Draw the vines as desired. Let the icing set.

🎥 VIDEO TUTORIAL: Sweetopia has a great resource on YouTube for how to decorate pumpkin cookies. You’ll find it very helpful.

Pumpkin sugar cookies decorated with royal icing and sprinkles.

🧑🏼‍🍳 Recipe FAQ

These are the most commonly-asked questions for making the BEST pumpkin sugar cookies, and the most helpful answers for recipe success.

How to keep cookie dough from sticking to the cutter?

Dip the cookie cutter in flour before making each cut.

How to keep sugar cookies from spreading?

First, use a sugar cookie recipe specifically designed to keep the dough from spreading. Then chill the tray of cookies in the freezer for 20 minutes. This will help the cookies stay flat and keep their shape.

How to tell when royal icing is the perfect consistency?

Lift up the whisk from the mixing bowl. If the icing that drips off the whisk melts back smoothly into the bowl of icing within 5 to 10 seconds, it’s the perfect consistency. However, if the icing’s too thin, add more powdered sugar. If the icing’s too thick, add a bit more water.

How to store pumpkin sugar cookies?

After the icing has dried, arrange cookies inside an airtight container with parchment paper between the layers. They can be stored at room temperature for up to 5 days, or for longer storage freeze up to 1 month.

Pumpkin shaped sugar cookies on a countertop with a glass bottle of milk.

More Bakery-Style Cookies

There’s nothing like a freshly-baked batch of bakery-style cookies. The irresistible aroma fills your kitchen with comfort and happiness. Add these must-have recipes to your ongoing collection. You’ll be glad you did.

Iced pumpkin cookies drying on a marble board.

Rate This Recipe ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Taste testers rated these the BEST homemade iced pumpkin cookies. They’re so delicious. Their pumpkin shape, crisp edges and tender middles are reminiscent of sugar cookies purchased at neighborhood bakeries.

If you enjoyed these fall favorites, don’t keep them a secret. Share this pumpkin sugar cookies recipe with a friend. 📌 Pin it Pinterest.

Gold Line: Sprinkles of Inspiration | confettiandbliss.com

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Eight iced pumpkin sugar cookies in pumpkin shapes frosted in orange and white.

Pumpkin sugar cookies


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Description

Make the harvest season sweeter with bakery-style iced pumpkin sugar cookies. They boast a sugar cookie base with pumpkin purèe, vanilla and pumpkin spice. They’re everyone’s favorite fall treats.


Ingredients

Units Scale

Pumpkin Sugar Cookies

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup pumpkin purée
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt

Royal Icing*

  • 1/3 cup warm water
  • 3 tablespoons meringue powder (not plain egg white powder)
  • 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1 16ounce box powdered sugar, sifted
  • 1 teaspoon clear vanilla extract
  • AmeriColor gel paste food coloring (pumpkin orange, brown, and green or black), not liquid food coloring

Decoration

  • Sprinkles: orange and white

* OPTIONAL: If desired, you can use store-bought royal icing (or cookie icing) instead. If using this homemade recipe, have enough ingredients on hand to make a double batch of icing, if needed. 


Instructions

Pumpkin Sugar Cookies

RECIPE PREP: Line 2 large cookie sheets with parchment paper or reusable silicone baking mats. Put them aside. Take out a 2 1/4-inch pumpkin-shaped cookie cutter.

  1. Add softened butter and granulated sugar to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. (Or use a large mixing bowl and an electric hand mixer.) Beat on medium-high speed for 2 to 3 minutes, or until the mixture is light and fluffy. Add in egg, pumpkin puree, and vanilla extract. Mix to combine. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.
  2. Combine dry ingredients in a separate (medium-sized) bowl: flour, baking powder, pumpkin pie spice and sea salt. With the mixer on low-speed, gradually add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients. Mix just until incorporated. Do not overmix.
  3. Turn the dough out onto a lightly-floured board. Roll to 1/4-inch thick. Cut out pumpkin shapes with the cookie cutter, dipping the cutter in flour before each cut. Transfer cookies to lined trays, leaving 2 inches between each. (If you don’t plan on icing the cookies, sprinkle them now with cinnamon sugar.)
  4. Chill the trays of cookies in the freezer or fridge for 20 minutes. Chilling helps keep the cookies from spreading in the oven so they can stay flat and keep their cut-out shapes.
  5. Preheat oven to 375°F. Bake chilled cookies for 12 to 15 minutes, or until the bottoms are just barely a light golden blonde. Allow cookies to cool completely on the tray. Transfer to a wire rack.

Royal Icing

NOTE: The amount of icing used for decorating varies from baker to baker. I suggest making a double batch of icing just in case.

  1. In a medium bowl, combine all ingredients EXCEPT the gel food coloring. With an electric mixer, beat on low speed until combined. Turn mixer to high speed and beat 7 to 10 minutes or until the mixture is very thick and stiff.
  2. Divide the mixture in half between 2 bowls. Set one bowl of icing aside. (The thick batch of icing being set aside is for piping fine decorating details onto the cookies.)
  3. Work with the second bowl of icing. We’re going to take it from super stiff to flooding consistency (the thickness of toothpaste) by adding some water to thin it out. Start by stirring in 1 tablespoon of water, then adding more water as needed. This thinner, looser icing will give the frosting a nice smooth surface when piped onto the cookies.

How to Decorate Pumpkin Cookies

NOTE: For a bakery-style look, leave a 1/4-inch unfrosted border around the edge of each cookie. If desired, sprinkle the iced cookies with orange and white candy sprinkles.

  1. Mix 3 cups (flooding consistency) royal icing with 1/2 teaspoon AmeriColor Pumpkin Orange gel food coloring. Transfer it to a piping bag fitted with a very small metal tip. I use a Wilton #3, but you can use a PME – ST1.5 tip.
  2. Thinly outline a (vertical oval) pumpkin rib in the center of the cookie. Flood it with icing. If needed, use a toothpick to smooth out any bumps. Gently shake the cookie so the icing smooths and settles into place. Let the icing dry until set, about 10 minutes. 
  3. Outline 2 pumpkin ribs – on the far left and right sides of the cookie. Flood them in and let the icing set. Fill in the gaps by creating 2 final ribs – so there are 5 ribs in total. Let the icing set.
  4. For the stem, mix 2 tablespoons royal icing with 1 to 2 drops of AmeriColor brown gel food coloring. Transfer it to a piping bag with a small tip. Draw the stem and allow icing to set.
  5. For vines, mix 1/4 cup royal icing with 2 to 4 drops green or black AmeriColor gel food coloring. Transfer it to a piping bag with a small metal tip. Draw vines as desired. Let the icing set.

Notes

How to store iced pumpkin cookies: After the icing has dried, arrange cookies inside an airtight container with parchment paper between the layers. They can be stored at room temperature for up to 5 days, or for longer storage freeze up to 1 month.

  • Prep Time: 20 Minutes
  • Chill Time: 20 Minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 Minutes
  • Category: Cookies
  • Method: Bake
  • Cuisine: American
Gold Line: Sprinkles of Inspiration | confettiandbliss.com

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5 Comments

  1. I made these cookies yesterday. They are beyond delicious and so adorable! I doubled the recipe and made them in a larger size. Thank you for including detailed info on how to decorate them. It was so much easier than I thought!