These adorable little cookies are buttery and melt in your mouth! They’re shaped like little 3D pumpkins – making them the perfect treat for Halloween and Thanksgiving.
I’m super excited about this cookie recipe because I had all of zero hopes that they would end up holding their shape after they were baked.
After a few cookies dough trials, the best option was clearly a modified version of these snowball cookies – but a nut free version with a bit more flour! While the cookies do spread out a little bit while they bake, they still hold their shape enough to look perfectly pumpkin-y!
These are probably the cutest cookies I’ve ever made, and they are officially on the top of my list of desserts to make for Halloween and Thanksgiving.
And for anyone who doesn’t like the flavor of pumpkin (it’s a pretty controversial fruit!), these cookies are pumpkin free.
For my pumpkin lovers out there, here are some recipes to satisfy those pumpkin cravings:
pumpkin cookies ingredients:
• cocoa powder
• food coloring
how to make pumpkin cookies:
1. Cream together butter, sugar, salt, and vanilla. The mixture doesn’t need to be fluffy – just mix until the ingredients are well combined.
2. Add flour. Mix until you have a dough ready. The dough should be soft, but it shouldn’t stick to your hands if you touch it. If it’s sticky, gradually add more flour, 1 tablespoon at a time, until it reaches the right texture.
3. Divide dough. Portion out about 3 tablespoons of dough into a medium bowl, and leave the remaining bulk of the dough in your large bowl.
4. Color doughs. Add cocoa powder to the small portion of dough to color it brown and color the large portion of dough orange using gel or liquid food coloring. If using gel coloring, you will need much less than if you use liquid. For gel coloring, use a toothpick to add a small bit to the dough, and mix. If needed, gradually add more until it reaches your desired shade of orange. If using gel-liquid food coloring, start with a drop and work in more as needed. If using liquid food coloring, start with about 1/2 a teaspoon.
5. Chill two doughs in fridge.
6. Shape the pumpkin cookies! Start by taking a portion of the orange dough (about 2 tablespoons large) and roll into an oval shape. Place onto a parchment lined baking sheet. Using a skewer, toothpick, or similarly shaped utensil, make indents into the sides of the dough to resemble the dips you see in pumpkins. Take a small piece of brown cookie dough and roll into the shape of a stem and place on top of the shaped orange cookie dough. Repeat with the remaining dough, leaving about 1 inch of space between each cookie.
7. Freeze shaped cookies for 10 minutes. This will help them hold their shape!
8. Bake! Cool completely on the tray before serving .
Keep these cookies stored in a plate or container that’s loosely tented with plastic wrap.
Unlike with softer cookies, you’d actually want a tiny bit of air circulation to keep these cookies crisp for longer! So try to avoid airtight packaging, and keep them at room temperature to minimize moisture (the fridge can soften the cookies faster).
These cookies will keep for 1 to 2 weeks!
Tips: how to help these cookies keep their shape:
The cookie dough I choose for this recipe is designed to hold it’s shape much better than say a chocolate chip cookie dough (for example). BUUUUUT there are still a few tips to keep in mind for added insurance to help these cookies keep their pumpkin shape.
1. Cocoa powder stems. The stems were the part that I was most worried about holding it’s shape, but the easiest and tastiest solution was to add cocoa powder! The cocoa colors the stem and helps with moisture absorption. It’s an all around firmer and easier to work with dough because of it.
2. Don’t skip the chill. This dough is chilled twice (once in the fridge and once in the freezer). The fridge chill is mostly to make the dough easier to work with and shape, but it also helps prevent overspreading. The freezer chill is especially important for keeping the pumpkin shape. A semi-frozen cookie going into the oven will hold it’s shape much better than a room temperature cookie.
3. Shape the dough into ovals. Shaping the orange portion of the dough to be on the taller side means that when it bakes (and inevitably spreads a bit) it’ll hold a taller shape than if you were to portion the dough into standard balls.
4. Take care not to overwork your dough when shaping. The longer you hold the dough, the softer the butter will become. It just makes for an all around more difficult process and more unpredictable cookies.
Check out these other fall recipes!
Mini Pumpkin Cookies Recipe
- 1 cup (2 sticks / 225g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
- 1/2 cup (65g) powdered sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspon pure vanilla extract
- 2 & 1/4 cups (270g) all-purpose flour, spoon and leveled
- 1 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder
- orange food coloring, gel or liquid *see notes
- In a large bowl, combine butter, sugar, salt, and vanilla. Mix together until incorporated. It doesn't need to be fluffy – just until it's relatively smooth. It's super easy to do this by hand, but you can also use an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment!
- Add your flour to the butter mix, and stir together until a dough forms. The dough should be soft but it shouldn't stick to your fingers. If it does, mix in an additional tablespoon of flour at a time until it reaches the right consistency.
- Portion out about 3 tablespoons of dough into a separate bowl, and add in cocoa powder. Mix together until combined.
- Working with the remaining dough, add food coloring until you reach your desired shade of orange. ** (see notes) If the food coloring has softened the dough too much (to the point where it sticks to your fingers if you press it), gradually add more flour until it stops sticking.
- Cover both portions of dough with plastic wrap, and set aside in the fridge for 1 to 2 hours, or until firmed.
- Preheat your oven to 350°F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
- To shape the mini pumpkins, take a portion of the orange colored dough (about 2 tablespoons large), and roll into a tall oval. Place the orange dough onto your parchment lined baking sheet.
- Using a skewer, toothpick, or similarly shaped utensil, press vertical indents into the side of the orange dough to create the lines you see on real pumpkins (see above post for visual). Take a very small piece of the brown cookie dough, and roll into the shape of a stem. Place the stem on top of the orange dough.
- Repeat the shaping process with the remaining dough, leaving about 1 inch of space between each cookie on your baking sheet. Place the cookies in the freezer for 10 minutes to allow the cookies to firm up.
- Bake the semi-frozen cookies in the center of your preheated 350°F for 15 to 20 minutes, or until golden brown along the sides and bottom. The cookies will spread and flatten slightly.
- Cool the cookies completely on your baking sheet before serving!