I am beyond excited to share these chewy pumpkin cookies with you! It may still be 85 degrees outside, but we are over halfway through September, which, in my mind, means it is totally acceptable to break out the best flavor of the year – pumpkin.
I am a proud pumpkin enthusiast and have many pumpkin recipes on the site that I love (have you tried pumpkin bread with chai crumble, pumpkin pie cake, or pumpkin coffee cake?!), but I hadn’t yet mastered pumpkin cookies. All of the pumpkin cookies I previously tried were cakey and dry. This would be great if I was looking for a muffin, but the cake-like texture is not at all what I want in a cookie, and definitely not one that boasts my favorite flavor. After ten (yes TEN) test recipes, I finally came up with a chewy pumpkin cookie that I am thrilled to share!
In my first few versions I left out the pumpkin puree entirely, with the fear that it would add that cakey texture I was trying to avoid. These versions ended up tasting more like gingerbread with a slight hint of pumpkin, rather than pumpkin cookies with a hint of ginger. After enough ginger-pumpkin cookies, I did some research and added pumpkin puree in place of the egg to keep the moisture, but keep the chew. Close, but not quite there. The cookies were delicious, but very flat. Throughout the next few versions, I added the pumpkin puree, kept an egg yolk, increased the amount of baking soda and froze the cookie dough balls before cooking them. My kitchen felt like America’s Test Kitchen: Pumpkin Cookie edition.
We start with browned butter – a delicious addition to any cookie, and a great flavor to compliment the warm pumpkin spices. The next layer of flavor comes from the brown sugar and spices. Including brown sugar-only without granulated sugar brings out great depth and almost caramel-like flavor while creating those beautiful cracks on the tops of the cookies. Finally, pumpkin puree and spices create the great pumpkin flavors so many of us lust after this time of the year as the leaves turn and temperature drops. Freezing the cookie dough balls allows them to keep their shape a bit more as they cook, but let’s not pretend I was patient enough to bake some of them straight from the dough ;).
Chewy pumpkin cookies are my new fall obsession. Filled with warm spices, brown sugar, browned butter, and pumpkin, they are the perfect treat for crisp afternoons and evenings.
Chewy Pumpkin Cookies
7 tablespoons butter, divided
¾ cup + 2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 egg yolk
3 tablespoons pumpkin puree
1 ¼ cups flour
¾ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
1 ½ teaspoons cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ginger
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
¼ teaspoon allspice
1/8 teaspoon cloves
Line a baking pan with parchment paper.
In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt 5 tablespoons of butter until it is medium-brown. You will notice the bubbling will stop and it will smell nutty. This should take between 5-10 minutes. Remove the butter from the heat, stir in the remaining 2 tablespoons until they are fully melted and let the butter cool to room temperature. To speed up this process, pour the browned butter into a shallow bowl and refrigerate or freeze for a bit.
While the butter is cooling, prep your dry ingredients. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, allspice, and cloves.
In the bowl of an electric mixer, add the brown sugar and cooled butter and mix until the ingredients are fully incorporated. Add the vanilla, egg yolk, and pumpkin puree and mix again. Pour in the dry ingredients and mix until all of the ingredients are combined and no flour streaks remain. Scoop the dough into 1½ tablespoon balls and place them on your parchment-lined baking sheet. Cover with plastic wrap and freeze until firm. If you just can’t wait for the cookies to freeze, you can still bake them straight from the soft dough, but they will spread a bit more.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line another baking sheet with parchment paper and place frozen cookie dough balls about 3 inches apart on the baking sheet. Bake for 12-15 minutes, or until the edges begin to become slightly brown. The centers may still look soft. Let the cookies rest on the cookie sheet for 5 minutes before transferring them to a cooling rack to cool completely.