These soft gluten free pumpkin cookies are lightly spiced, pumpkin-flavored, and only gently browned in the oven. They’re chewy, but fluffy, and are a lovely addition to the holiday season.

Some holiday cookies can really knock you out with all their holiday specialness. I’m thinking of gf rainbow cookies, and even gluten free gingerbread men, with all their rolling and cutting and stacking. Sometimes, you just want a simple pumpkin cookie that you can sink your teeth into and isn’t overpowering. These are that cookie.

Here’s why you’ll love these gf fall cookies :

  • They’re soft, chewy, and perfectly spiced but never overdone (if you overdo the spices, your tongue will detect some bitterness).
  • They have a more subtle pumpkin flavor than our gluten free pumpkin chocolate chip cookies.
  • They’re easy to make with simple ingredients in one bowl, and without any specialized ingredients.

Key ingredients for gf pumpkin cookies

  • Pumpkin puree – Be sure to use plain canned pumpkin puree here, and measure out 5 ounces on a kitchen scale. A small can of pumpkin is usually 15 ounces, so you’re using a third of the can. Refrigerate the rest in a sealed container for up to a week.
  • Granulated sugar – Refined white sugar adds a simple sweetness and tenderness to these cookies.
  • Light brown sugar – Light brown sugar adds more depth of flavor than plain granulated sugar, since it has a touch of molasses in it.
  • Molasses – We use a single tablespoon of unsulphured molasses (I like Grandma’s brand) to these cookies for additional depth of flavor without having to add too much bulk or extra brown sugar. It also adds some welcome color to these cookies.
  • Melted butter – Melting the butter first makes the cookies chewier and doesn’t add any air like the butter would if we were to cream it with the sugars first. These cookies are already puffy enough, but the melted butter gives them flavor and some density.
  • Egg – A single, room temperature egg adds some lift and structure.
  • Gluten free flour blend – I like to use Better Batter here, since it has the right balance of starches and protein to give these cookies some substance.
  • Salt – Salt brings out all the other flavors and balances the sweetness.
  • Baking soda – This chemical leavener is activated as soon as you add it to the wet ingredients in these cookies, so it doesn’t provide a ton of lift in the oven. It neutralizes the acidity from the molasses nicely, though.
  • Pumpkin pie spice – A fall mix of all the best warm ground spices (cinnamon, ginger, allspice, cloves, and nutmeg), you can make your own pumpkin pie spice with the components or buy it ready made. This ingredient provides more pumpkin flavor than the actual pureed pumpkin itself.
3 disks of raw pumpkin cookie batter on white paper on tray

Tips for making the best gluten free pumpkin cookies

Use canned pumpkin puree, not pumpkin butter or pie filling

These cookies are made with plain canned pumpkin puree, which has plenty of moisture and only a delicate pumpkin flavor. This simplifies the recipe, and the liquid in the puree makes for naturally cakey, pillowy cookies.

Many of our richer gf pumpkin recipes are instead made with pumpkin butter, which is cooked down with spices, apple cider, and maple syrup until it’s lost a lot of its moisture and has lots of depth of flavor all on its own.

The cookie dough begins so soft that it almost feels like it would be made into a cake, or maybe our gf pumpkin bars. It will thicken a bit as it stands and the liquids hydrate the flour, but it will remain quite sticky to work with. That’s why it’s really useful to chill the dough for about 10 minutes in the refrigerator before separating it into portions.

These cookies don’t spread much during baking, but they won’t spread at all if you bake them cold. So be sure to only chill the dough very briefly, or shape the cookies and let them come to room temperature before placing them in the oven to bake.

Use two wet small spoons for uniform sizing

I often like to portion cookies with a spring-loaded ice cream scoop, often a #50 scoop (that just means that it would take 50 of that size scoop to make a quart of ice cream). You can make these portions that way, of course, but this dough is so sticky that I find it’s easier to use 2 teaspoons to scoop and then scrape off this cookie dough.

Whichever way you separate portions of the cookie dough, you’ll need to roll it into better rounds and press into flat 1/2-inch thick disks with wet fingers and hands. The dough is too sticky to handle with dry hands.

This step is super optional, but if you’d like to ensure that your baked cookies are more round than oval or otherwise misshapen, you can use a moistened 2½-inch or 3-inch plain cookie cutter to coax it into a rounder shape. It’s hard to explain how, but you’ll see what I mean if you watch the how-to video in the post.

Make sure your oven temperature is at a reliable 325°F

The molasses in these cookies adds lots of flavor and some welcome color, but it does tend to burn rather easily. Most ovens run hot, so be sure to check your oven temperature with a simple analog standalone thermometer, and let that guide you to a proper 325°F. The bottoms will burn at 350°F (ask me how I know that).

Let your gluten free pumpkin spice cookies cool before icing or serving

Once the cookies have finished baking, they will be quite fragile. You probably won’t be able to lift them off the baking paper or tray to check the undersides, so just let them sit undisturbed for 10 minutes, then lift with a thin spatula onto a wire rack, so they cool completely. And let them cool entirely before trying to dip them in the icing or the tops of the cookies will come off in the icing, and the icing will melt right off.

3 baked pumpkin cookies on white paper on tray

How to store gluten free pumpkin cookies so they stay fresh

These cookies are so moist and tender that they stay fresh-tasting for quite a while. I don’t like to stack them when they’re at room temperature, since they do tend to stick to one another.

Can you freeze gluten free pumpkin cookies?

Yes! You can, and should, freeze your pumpkin cookies to store them touching one another. Just lay them out in a single layer, with or without the icing, on a rimmed baking sheet that is small enough to fit in your freezer. Freeze the cookies until firm, then pile them into a freezer-safe container and enjoy them either right from the freezer or at room temperature.

Orange colored pumpkin cookie batter in large metal mixing bowl

Pumpkin gluten free cookies: substitution notes

Gluten free, dairy free pumpkin cookies

The only dairy in these cookies is from the melted butter. To make them dairy-free, you can try using vegan butter. Melt and Miyoko’s Kitchen are my favorite brands. I would not try using shortening, as it has no moisture and your cookies will be way too puffy and almost dry.

Gluten free, vegan pumpkin cookies

To make vegan cookies, you’ll need to replace the dairy as described above, use a “chia egg” to replace the one egg (1 tablespoon ground white chia seeds + 1 tablespoon lukewarm water, mixed and allowed to gel), and use vegan versions of all the sugars since many are made with bone char.

  • Add some pumpkin pie spice or plain ground cinnamon (just about 1/8 teaspoon) to the confectioners’ sugar in the icing for a little extra zip
  • Top with a cream cheese frosting like we used in our gf pumpkin bars instead of the icing
  • Sprinkle the top of each raw cookie with coarse sugar before baking for a little sparkle
  • Dust the baked, un-iced cookies with powdered sugar after they’re baked and cooled
Pumpkin cookies with white icing dripping on wire rack

FAQs

Is pumpkin gluten free?

Yes! Pumpkin, like all squashes, fruits, and vegetables, is safely gluten free. Check your product labels, though, so you’re certain your can contains only a single ingredient (which is sometimes pumpkin, sometimes a different type of squash).

Are these healthy gluten free pumpkin cookies?

No, I wouldn’t call these cookies healthy. They have plenty of sugar and refined starches. But they’re delicious, and sometimes, that’s enough!

What’s the best gluten free flour for these easy gluten free pumpkin cookies?

I only like to make these cookies with Better Batter’s classic blend all purpose gluten free flour, since it has the right blend of flours to provide the right amount of structure. You can always make my mock Better Batter blend, too, if you can’t find or don’t want to buy it online.

Can I make gluten free pumpkin cookies with almond flour?

No, this recipe must be made with a rice-based all purpose glute free flour blend. It isn’t designed to be made with almond flour. To make almond flour cookies requires a recipe specifically formulated for that flour.

You can wrap this cookie dough well and store it in the refrigerator for at least a week. It will be easy to shape, but make sure you let the raw cookies come to room temperature before baking them or your cookies will be too puffy.

Why are my gluten free pumpkin cookies sticky?

The cookie dough here is quite sticky, which we manage by chilling it a bit and handling it only with moistened hands and tools. If your baked cookies are very sticky, they’re probably underbaked—or you overmeasured one of the wet ingredients, and they have too much moisture.

Stack of pumpkin cookies with white icing on wire rack
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Gluten Free Pumpkin Cookies Recipe | Soft & Cakey Fall Cookies

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Make these gluten free pumpkin cookies to welcome cooler weather. Soft and cakey, these gf pumpkin cookies are wonderfully spiced and the perfect fall treat.
Course Cookies, Dessert
Cuisine American
Keyword gluten free pumpkin cookies
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 14 minutes
Chilling time (optional) 10 minutes
Servings 22 cookies
Author Nicole Hunn

Equipment

  • #50 spring loaded ice cream scoop (optional)
  • Plain metal cookie cutters (optional)

Ingredients

For the cookies

  • 5 ounces canned pumpkin puree at room temperature
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • ¾ cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon unsulphured molasses
  • 9 tablespoons unsalted butter melted and cooled
  • 1 egg at room temperature, beaten
  • 2 ¼ cups all purpose gluten free flour blend (I used Better Batter; click thru for info on appropriate blends)
  • 1 teaspoon xanthan gum (omit if your blend already contains it)
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¾ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 ½ teaspoons pumpkin pie spice

For the icing (optional)

  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 tablespoon lukewarm water (plus more by the teaspoon if necessary)

Instructions

Make the cookies.

  • Preheat your oven to 325°F. Line rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper and set them aside.
  • In a large mixing bowl, place the pumpkin puree, granulated sugar, brown sugar, molasses, melted butter, and beaten egg. Mix until very smooth, working out any lumps in the brown sugar.
  • Add the flour blend, xanthan gum, salt, baking soda, and pumpkin pie spice, and mix until fully combined. The cookie dough will be very soft, but will thicken as it stands.
  • For easier scooping and shaping, chill the dough in the refrigerator for about 10 minutes.
  • Scoop the slightly chilled dough into portions about 1 1/2 tablespoons in volume (a heaping #50 scoop or two teaspoons will work well).
  • With wet hands, shape the mounds of cookie dough into rounds, then press into disks about 1/2-inch thick.
  • For the roundest cookies, moisten the bottom edges of a 2½-inch round cookie cutter, place it over each disk of raw dough, and move around in concentric circles to help round out any misshapen edges.
  • Place the cookies in the preheated oven and bake for 14 minutes or until top springs back when pressed very gently in the center. The cookies should no longer glisten on top, as if wet.
  • Remove the cookies from the oven and let them cool for 10 minutes on the baking sheet before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

Make the (optional) icing.

  • In a medium-sized bowl, place the confectioners’ sugar. Add the water, and mix until smooth. It will form a very thick paste.
  • Add a bit more water, and mix until smooth and well-combined. The icing should be bright white and opaque but thickly pourable.
  • If you’ve added too much water, balance it by mixing in more sugar. It’s much easier to thin with a few drops of water than to thicken with more sugar, though, so proceed carefully.

Decorate the cookies.

  • Dip the tops of the cooled cookies into the sugar glaze by inverting them into the bowl of icing, and bob up and down a few times to make sure the icing adheres.
  • Let excess icing drip off, then twist the cookie as you return it to a right-side up position to try to prevent the glaze from dripping off the side. Return the cookies to the wire rack to sit until the icing is fully set.

Video

The post Gluten Free Pumpkin Cookies Recipe | Soft & Cakey Fall Cookies appeared first on Gluten Free on a Shoestring.

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