These iced Pumpkin Pecan Spice with cream cheese frosting are tender, lightly sweet, and feature a wonderful nutty flavor. Made with a pumpkin paste and seasoned with cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger, these pumpkin cookies are finished with a simple spiced glaze.
Table of Contents
Why This Recipe Works
Note: This is an excerpt from The Perfect Cookie by America’s Test Kitchen. This recipe was shared with permission from America’s Test Kitchen in an effort to promote their cookbook.
“Try to add pumpkin puree to cookies, and they’ll usually come out cakey and muffin-like. That’s because pumpkin purée is laden with water. And when pumpkin treats hit the oven, that extra moisture turns into steam and provides cakey lift.
That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but we wished for a pumpkin cookie that wasn’t like the rest—one that was thin, crisp, and shortbread-like and baked up with a flat surface that we could coat with a flavorful glaze.
For a cookie with the texture we sought, we needed to remove as much moisture as possible from the puree. We tried reducing it on the stove top, but the cooked flavor was too pronounced.
To remove moisture without heat, we developed a unique method of spreading the canned puree thin on the underside of a baking and soaking up moisture with paper towels until 1 cup of puree reduced all the way down to ⅓ cup. Adding this paste to the dough resulted in a fine crumb once the cookies we baked.”
How to Make Pumpkin Spice Sugar Cookies
We love this recipe for spiced pumpkin cookies! They’re resemblant of pumpkin sugar cookies because they’re thin and crisp as apposed to the all-too-common cakey pumpkin cookie.
Achieving a thin and crisp texture in a pumpkin cookie is no easy task. The high moisture content of pumpkin purée doesn’t lend itself crisp baked goods. It does best in cakes, breads, and bars.
In order to create a chewy yet crisp pumpkin cookie, we have to draw out some of that excess liquid. And that’s the first step in creating spiced pumpkin cookies! The rest of the process is pretty self-explanatory.
- Remove excess moisture from pumpkin purée by spreading purée between paper towels and pressing to saturate.
- Combine dry ingredients with sugar (superfine—it helps to create that crisp texture) and spices.
- Add butter and mix until mixture is crumbly.
- Add pressed pumpkin purée, cream cheese, pecans and vanilla; mix until a dough comes together.
5. Knead the dough a few times, then roll to 1/8-inch thick between pieces of parchment paper.
6. Cut dough out into cookies then arrange on baking sheet and freeze for 10 minutes.
7. Bake, cool, ice and enjoy!
Test Kitchen Tips
- To ensure these pumpkin sugar cookies come out perfectly, we recommend you measure out the ingredients by weight. Here is our favorite food scale.
- Pumpkin, you want to love it, you want to cook with it, you want to bake with it, you want to add it to everything this time of year. The problem is, it just doesn’t taste like much, ya know? America’s Test Kitchen came up with a technique that works just as well for concentrating the pumpkin, while maintaining the integrity of it subtle flavor. Their technique? Pressing the wet pumpkin puree between sheets of paper towels. Yes! This technique doesn’t alter the flavor, it simply concentrates it by drawing out the excess moisture.
More Pumpkin Desserts to Enjoy
Want more sweet pumpkin treats? We’ve got you!
- For a soft pumpkin cookie, try our pumpkin whoopie pies.
- Make a sandwich cookie by sandwiching some of our pumpkin butter between two cookies! Or make pumpkin pop tarts.
- Use any leftover pumpkin purée in our pumpkin challah rolls.
- You can even swap out sweet potato in favor of canned pumpkin in our Spiced Sweet Potato Cake.
In order to achieve the correct texture (crisp and shortbread-like) you need to press the pumpkin as directed in the recipe. In addition to achieving the desired texture, you’ll also get more pumpkin flavor in the cookie.
It’s simply sugar that has a smaller granule size than regular sugar. You don’t have to buy super fine sugar, just add granulated sugar to a food processor or blender and process it until finely ground.
We don’t recommend using fresh or homemade pumpkin puree in this cookie recipe. Baking is more finicky than cooking and any excess moisture can alter the cookie texture.
These pumpkin spice cookies can be frozen for up to 2 months (without frosting). Can be stored in an airtight container at room temp for up to 1 week.
You can! We recommend freezing these spiced pumpkin cookies without the icing. Then when you’re ready to serve, pull them out of the freezer, let thaw and ice as directed.
How to freeze these spiced pumpkin cookies:
1. Let cookies cool completely on a wire rack.
2. Arrange cooked pumpkin cookies in an airtight container between sheets of parchment paper or wax paper.
3. Secure lid and freeze cookies for up to 2 months.
We recommend using parchment paper instead of silicone. Parchment will make the cookies more crisp.
Pumpkin Spice Cookies
- 1 cup canned 100% pumpkin purée
- 2¾ cups all-purpose flour
- ¾ cup superfine sugar
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon ground ginger
- ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- 16 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 16 pieces and softened
- 1¼ cups pecans, toasted and chopped fine
- 3 tablespoons cream cheese, softened
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 2 tablespoons milk
- 1½ cups confectioners’ sugar
- Line a rimmed baking sheet with triple layer of paper towels. Spread pumpkin puree over towels. Press with second triple layer of paper towels until towels are saturated.
- Peel off top layer of towels. Place second baking sheet inside first over pumpkin and flip. Remove top sheet and towels. Repeat if needed to reduce past to ⅓ cup.
- Using a stand mixer fitted with paddle, mix flour, superfine sugar, 1½ teaspoons cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and salt on low speed until combined.
- Add butter, 1 piece at a time, and mix until dough looks crumbly and slightly wet, 1 to 2 minutes.
- Add pecans, pumpkin paste, 2 tablespoons cream cheese (1 ounce), and vanilla and beat until dough just begins to form large clumps, about 30 seconds.
- Transfer cookie dough to counter; knead just until it forms cohesive mass and divide in half. Form each half into disks, wrap disks tightly in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
- Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 375°. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
- Working with 1 disk at a time, roll dough to ⅛ inch thick between 2 large sheets of parchment paper. Transfer dough, still between parchment, to refrigerator and let chill for 10 minutes.
- Using a 2½-inch cutter, cut dough into shapes; space shapes 1½ inches apart on prepared sheets. Gently re-roll scraps, cut into shapes, and transfer to prepared baking sheets.
- Bake 1 sheet at a time, until cookies are light golden brown, about 10 minutes, rotating sheet halfway through baking.
- Let cookies cool on sheet for 3 minutes, then transfer to wire rack and let cool completely.
- Whisk milk, remaining ½ teaspoon cinnamon, and remaining 1 tablespoon cream cheese (½ ounce) together in a bowl until combined.
- Add confectioners’ sugar and whisk until smooth. Spread glaze evenly onto cookies (or drizzle) and let dry for at least 30 minutes before serving.
About the Book
This pumpkin cookie recipe is from America’s Test Kitchen’s newest cookbook called The Perfect Cookie. This book is an incredible guide to everything cookie or bar related. From how to procure and measure ingredients, to why certain fats and sugars result in different textures and types of cookies.
They even have a section devoted to gluten-free cookie baking. From start to finish, America’s Test Kitchen really thought of it all when it comes to cookie baking (but, what’s new?). It’s safe to say that this book will be on the annual Zestful Kitchen Holiday Cookbook Guide!
Speaking of, do you have a cookbook (or a few) that you’ve been loving this year? Or do you have a list of cookbooks you’ve been dying to check out? Let me know as I start my research for this year’s cookbook guide. As you can see, I flagged a lot of recipes that I want to make or put my own spin on. This pumpkin cookie recipe spiked my curiosity immediately for its unique pumpkin-concentrating method. Their pressing method was unlike anything I had seen before and I was curious to give it a try.
Plus, what’s more seasonal than a pumpkin cookie? Other than making the pumpkin paste (which is very easy), everything else about this recipe is pretty straightforward.
This post was made in partnership with America’s Test Kitchen. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own. This recipe was shared with permission from America’s Test Kitchen in an effort to promote their cookbook.
This recipe article was originally published on October 5, 2017.
these cookies look amazing! also, thanks for sharing why this recipe works. I love the science behind cooking but have A LOT to learn, so thanks for contributing to my education 😉
Thanks Rebecca! I love how ATK adds “why this recipe works”, I think it helps build knowledge for future cooking endeavors!
What an interesting method to remove moisture from pumpkin! I never would have thought you would be able to remove so much water from paper towels alone- does it take a long time? I”m sure it’s well worth it for the result though- these look amazingly good!
It actually didn’t take me much time, probably 5 minutes of me actively pressing on it. If you wanted to multitask, you could weigh down the top baking sheet with some heavy cans, that will do some of the pressing for you!
Omg these look so yummy I’m gonna have to try making these at home, and like a bunch of other recipes you have up!
Thanks Stephanie! I hope you enjoy them!
Oh my heavens, this is right up my alley. These look/sound absolutely amazing. I need to make these asap.
A great post and a mouthwatering recipe.
Your photos are so gorgeous! Thank you for sharing the recipe! I’ll save these for our family holiday baking day!
Thank you Hayley! 🙂 I hope you enjoy them!
Love the combo of pumpkin and pecan. And thank you for explaining the process, I am not the best baker but I am trying to learn 🙂
Thanks Heather! I hope the info helps!
These are absolutely incredible! Thanks for a pumpkin cookie that doesn’t have a cakey texture! Now that it is fall, I can’t wait to whip up a batch!
I’m so glad you like them! With this chilly weather, I may have to mix up a batch!
I tried this today. I am wondering about the cream cheese among ingredients.
It says 1 1/2ounce but instruction says 2tablespoon cream cheese. I could not understand it. 1tablespoon cream cheese for glaze.
Could you explain it to me how much cream cheese use?
I understand your confusion. 1 1/2 ounces was listed as a weight because cream cheese comes in 4-ounce blocks. Blocks of cream cheese often have lines designating amounts in ounces (similar to how sticks of butter have tablespoon lines).
Once the cream cheese is measured out and softened, it is then call for in tablespoons to make it easier on the cooke to measure out. However, you could also continue to measure in ounces during the cooking process. The cookies recipe 1 ounce and glaze requires 1/2 ounce. I will add those to the recipe instructions for clarification. I hope that helps!
Great recipe with one complaint. I like to do Mise en place, and as a result I mixed all of my spices together before reading the directions. It would be better if the ingredients list specified any splitting necessary.