Easy recipe for soft & chewy pumpkin cookies made with healthy ingredients, like fresh pumpkin puree! Iced with naturally sweetened cream cheese frosting. You can even add chocolate chips! I may even admit they are better than pumpkin swirl black bean brownies!
Do you ever feel like you need a classic go-to recipe for fall?
Something that tastes like fall, smells like fall (like stove-top potpourri!), and makes you wish summer would end early?
Oh yeah, and something that’s fairly easy and straightforward too would be nice.
How about pumpkin cookies with naturally sweetened cream cheese frosting?
Oh yes, I think that will do the trick.
But I’ve never actually made PUMPKIN COOKIES before.
It should have been a no-brainer, but my husband isn’t a huge fan of pumpkin. So I kind of put pumpkin on the back burner every year until it’s time to make pumpkin pie.
Shame on me though – that’s not fair to my fellow pumpkin lovers out there (or me!).
Well, friends, I’m making amends. This year, I have ALL SORTS of pumpkin recipes planned…
But first, we make cookies.
Are pumpkin cookies healthy?
One thing you should know about these cookies is that they have SIGNIFICANTLY less sugar than most other cookies.
(Unlike zucchini muffins, I haven’t mastered honey and/or maple syrup only in cookies… yet!)
My recipe was inspired by this recipe, which calls for 1 cup of white sugar and ½ cup of brown sugar. And then another 2 cups of powdered sugar in the icing. YIKES!
It’s no secret around here – I love dessert. My friends even know that it’s “my thing” to eat dessert for breakfast.
HOWEVER, my family and I quit processed sugar. We’re now super conscious about how much sugar we feed ourselves and the kids.
It’s not that all sugar is bad, but we do believe in using natural sugar whenever possible. And even then, in moderation.
Friends, 3 ½ cups of processed sugar IN ONE RECIPE is not moderation.
Thinking about food priorities is something I teach in Grocery Budget Bootcamp. It will be different for every family and it will affect what your grocery budget looks like. There’s not a right or wrong way, but you do need to think about it to keep your budget on track. Learn more about the course HERE.
Ingredients for Soft Pumpkin Cookies
This recipe for pumpkin cookies has a lot of typical cookie ingredients, butter, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and vanilla extract. But, you should know these cookies taste a little bit like pumpkin pie… and pumpkin cake… together.
- Sugar. As I said, I greatly reduced the amount of sugar in this recipe. I also use Turbinado sugar instead of white table sugar. It is slightly less sweet and also slightly less processed.
- Maple Syrup. Because pumpkin + maple syrup = awesome. This helps give the cookies a pumpkin pie flavor.
- Pumpkin Puree. Pumpkin cookies wouldn’t be complete without PUMPKIN! I use canned pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling), but you can make homemade pumpkin puree if you prefer.
- Pumpkin Pie Spice. My recipe calls for a full TABLESPOON of homemade pumpkin pie spice. Seriously, don’t skimp on the spices. It gives you that delicious pumpkin flavor!
- Cornstarch. Give thanks to Sally’s Baking Addiction for this tip. Adding cornstarch to your cookies gives them a light and fluffy cake-like texture. This is how these cookies taste like pie and cake at the same time!
These pumpkin cookies are seriously amazing! In fact, my pumpkin-hating husband ate three cookies fresh from the oven. And then couldn’t stop eating them the rest of the night.
Plus with a lot less sugar, you’ll feel better saying “yes” if the kids ask to have cookies for breakfast.
How to Store Pumpkin Cookies
These are THE BEST the day they’re baked. But they hold up well for a few days if you keep them in a sealed container.
Unless you have oodles of fridge space, I recommend making the frosting and storing it in a separate container. Then frost the pumpkin cookies right before eating or serving.
These cookies also freeze well unfrosted! Thaw to room temperature before frosting and you have an instant dessert ready for those holiday gatherings.
More Healthy Cookie Recipes
- Healthier Sugar Cookies
- Candy Cane Cookies
- Dark Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies
- Peanut Butter Oatmeal Cookies
- Molasses Breakfast Cookies
- ½ cup (1 stick) butter, room temperature
- 1 cup granulated sugar (I use Turbinado sugar)
- 1 tsp molasses
- 2 Tbsp maple syrup
- 1½ cup canned or homemade pumpkin puree (1 15 oz can minus ¼ cup)
- 1 egg
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 2½ cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp baking soda
- ½ tsp salt
- 2 tsp corn starch
- 1 Tbsp pumpkin pie spice
- 1-8 oz brick cream cheese, room temperature
- 3 Tbsp butter, room temperature
- ½ tsp vanilla
- 3 Tbsp maple syrup
- pinch salt
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a Silpat baking mat.
- In a large bowl, or in the bowl of a stand mixer, mix the butter and granulated sugar until the color is very light, about 5-7 full minutes.
- Add 2 Tbsp maple syrup, molasses, pumpkin puree, egg, and vanilla and mix well until combined.
- Add flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, corn starch, and pumpkin pie spice and mix until JUST combined.
- Using a cookie scoop, scoop dough onto the prepared baking sheet. 1 scoop of dough will yield smaller, more bite-sized cookies. 2 scoops of dough will yield slightly bigger, more "normal" sized cookies.
- Bake for 15 minutes, or until the cookies are golden to light brown underneath. Allow the cookies to cool completely before frosting.
- Meanwhile, prepare the frosting. In a stand mixer, blender OR by hand, combine the cream cheese, butter, vanilla and maple syrup in a medium bowl. Add the salt and taste, adjusting sweetener as desired.
- Smear frosting on each cookie and sprinkle with additional cinnamon for decoration, if desired.