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.
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
- 1/3 cup warm water
- 3 tablespoons meringue powder (not plain egg white powder)
- 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
- 1 16–ounce 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
- 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.
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.)
- 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.
- 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.
NOTE: The amount of icing used for decorating varies from baker to baker. I suggest making a double batch of icing just in case.
- 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.
- 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.)
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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
Keywords: Pumpkin Sugar Cookies, Pumpkin Cookies, Iced Pumpkin Cookies, Pumpkin Spice Cookies, Pumpkin Shaped Sugar Cookies