These Iced Pumpkin Cookies 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.

A close up of two iced pumpkin cookies cooling on a wire rack with a spoon of icing set on the table next to them.How to make cream cheese iced pumpkin cookies

I love this recipe for spiced pumpkin cookies! They almost remind me of pumpkin sugar cookies because they’re thin and crisp as apposed to the all-too-common cakey pumpkin cookie (no thank you!). 

Achieving a thin and crisp texture in a pumpkin cookie is no easy task. The high moisture content of pumpkin puree doesn’t lend itself well to creating crisp baked goods. Rather, it does best in cakes, breads, and bars.

So in order to create a thin, crisp pumpkin cookie, we have to draw out some of that excess moisture. And that’s the first step in creating spiced pumpkin cookies! The rest of the process is pretty self-explanatory. 

  1. remove excess moisture from pumpkin puree by spreading purée between paper towels and pressing to saturate. 
  2. combine dry ingredients with sugar (superfine—it helps to create that crisp texture) and spices.
  3. add butter and mix until mixture is crumbly. 
  4. add pressed pumpkin purée, cream cheese, pecans and vanilla; mix until a dough comes together.
  5.  knead dough a few times, then roll to 1/8-inch thick between pieces of parchment paper
  6. cut dough out into cookies, arrange on baking sheet and freeze 10 minutes. 
  7. Bake, cool, ice and enjoy! 

Pumpkin cookies set and stacked on a wire rack getting icedHow to get more “pumpkin” flavor in baking

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?

Pumpkin pancakes, yes, sounds delicious, but in reality they’re often lackluster in flavor and no matter how long they stay on the griddle, they never seem to get that crisp exterior. The challenging part of cooking with pumpkin stems from its high water content and mild flavor, which means a lot of coaxing is needed for a little oomph.

That’s where some kitchen technique comes in. Cooking pumpkin over the stove-top does wonders for concentrating the flavor of pumpkin, but gives it a toasty, cooked flavor that’s great for pumpkin pie but not so much a delicate cookie. America’s Test Kitchen came up with a gentler 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. 

Iced pumpkin cookies set on a wire rack on a concrete table.Can you freeze iced pumpkin cookies?

You can! I 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: 

  • Let cookies cool completely on a wire rack
  • Arrange cooked pumpkin cookies in an airtight container between sheets of parchment paper or wax paper. 
  • Secure lid and freeze cookies for up to 2 months. 

Glazed pumpkin cookies on a wire rack
“Why This Recipe Works” from America’s Test Kitchen

“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.”

Two iced pumpkin cookies cooling on a wire rack with a spoon of icing set on the table next to them.

Want more pumpkin desserts? I’ve got you!

Glazed pumpkin cookies drying on a wire rack set on a gray tableMake sure to tag me @ZESTFULKITCHEN ON INSTAGRAM or comment below if you make these Iced Pumpkin Cookies!

To pin this recipe and save it for later, you can click the button on any of the photos, or the red button on the side bar or below the recipe. Happy baking! 

Pumpkin Pecan Cookies

Print Recipe
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 50 mins
Cook Time 40 mins
Total Time 1 hr 30 mins
Yield 40 cookies
Category Dessert
Cuisine American
Author America's Test Kitchen via Zestful Kitchen

Description

These Pumpkin-Pecan Cookies are tender, and lightly sweetened with a wonderfully nutty note. Made with a pumpkin paste and seasoned with cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger, these pumpkin cookies are the perfect fall treat.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup 100% pumpkin puree
  • cups all-purpose flour
  • ¾ cup superfine sugar
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground ginger
  • ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 16 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 16 pieces and softened
  • cups pecans, toasted and chopped fine
  • 3 tablespoons cream cheese, softened
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • cups confectioners’ sugar

Instructions

  • 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.
    Pumpkin puree spread onto a baking sheet lined with paper towels
  • 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 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 reroll scraps, cut into shapes, and transfer to prepared sheets.
    Unbaked pumpkin cookies on a baking sheet
  • Bake 1 sheet at a time, until cookies are light golden brown, about 10 minutes, rotating sheet halfway through baking.
    Baked pumpkin cookies on a parchment-lined baking sheet
  • Let cookies cool on sheet for 3 minutes, then transfer to wire rack and let cool completely.
    These Pumpkin-Pecan Cookies are tender, and lightly sweetened with a wonderfully nutty note. Made with a pumpkin paste and seasoned with cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger, these pumpkin cookies are the perfect fall treat. | Zestful Kitchen
  • 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.
    Pumpkin cookies set and stacked on a wire rack getting iced

Notes

I used a 1½-inch cookie cutter and baked my cookies for 8–9 minutes. Using a smaller cookie cutter yielded about 84 cookies.
I used vanilla almond milk in the glaze for some added flavor.

Nutrition

Keywords Iced Pumpkin Pecan Cookies, Pumpkin Cookie Cut Outs, Pumpkin Cookies
Did you make this recipe?Leave a comment below and tag @ZestfulKitchen on Instagram and hashtag it #zestfulkitchen!
Iced pumpkin cookies set on a wire rack with glaze all over coutertop

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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 probably 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 guideAs 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. 

 

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About The Author

Lauren Grant is a professional culinary food scientist, food writer, recipe developer, and food photographer. Lauren is a previous magazine editor and test kitchen developer and has had work published in major national publications including Diabetic Living Magazine, Midwest Living Magazine, Cuisine at Home Magazine, EatingWell.com, AmericasTestKitchen.com, and more.

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Comments

  1. 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 😉

    1. Thanks Rebecca! I love how ATK adds “why this recipe works”, I think it helps build knowledge for future cooking endeavors!

  2. 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!

    1. Hi Yvonne!
      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!

  3. 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!

  4. Your photos are so gorgeous! Thank you for sharing the recipe! I’ll save these for our family holiday baking day!

  5. 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 🙂

  6. 5 stars
    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!

  7. 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?

    1. Hi Rosa,

      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!

      Lauren

  8. 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.