Pumpkin Drop Cookies with Cream Cheese Frosting

Pillowy and light Pumpkin Cookies with Cream Cheese Frosting are light, fluffy and totally decadent. Made in less than an hour, this cookie recipe requires no chill time. These pumpkin drop cookies are perfect for any fall or winter get-together! Makes 48 cookies.

Close up of iced Pumpkin Cookies on a cooling rack over granite

My mother recommended a Pumpkin Drop Cookie recipe when she came to visit our home before Thanksgiving. She tried some delectable cookies at school the week before and was raving about them.

So did some experimenting one Sunday afternoon and tinkered with the recipe to make it more palatable to us.

The end result was a smashing hit.

Why I love this recipe:

These cookies are simple to make, but pack quite the punch when served to a group.

Winston and I made these for his family for Thanksgiving, and they were the resounding favorite from that evening.

The Soft Pumpkin Cookies are light and fluffy. The cream cheese frosting is easy to spread and utterly decadent.

Pumpkin and cream cheese, after all, are all kinds of perfect, and these cookies are just delicious.

Other pumpkin baked goods to try: Easy Pumpkin Spice Bread | Pumpkin Blondies with a Caramel Cream Cheese Swirl | Spiced Pumpkin Sugar Cookies | Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Bread | Brown Butter Pumpkin Streusel Muffins with Maple Cream Cheese Glaze

Need some food inspiration for this season? Check out my Fall Recipe Index for more ideas.

Graphic text for Christmas Cookie week

What you need to make this recipe:

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Let’s talk ingredients!

In addition to the tools above, you’re going to need some ingredients to make this recipe, too! Chances are, you might already have some of them in your fridge or pantry. Scroll down to the recipe card for the full measurements and instructions.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • All-purpose flour—we like to use unbleached AP flour in our household, but the regular kind works, too. I have not tried this cookie with a gluten free flour blend.
  • Leaveners—we’re using a combination of baking powder and baking soda to give these pumpkin drop cookies some lift. Make sure they’re fresh.
  • Sea salt—I like to use a fine grain sea salt for baked goods so that the salt evenly disperses in the batter.
  • Spices—while you could use 2 ¼ teaspoons of your favorite pumpkin pie spice blend, I like to divide out my ingredients because I don’t love nutmeg. I use a combination of ground cinnamon and ground ginger here instead.
  • Unsalted butter—make sure to set it out so it comes to room temperature before mixing the cookie batter!
  • Unsweetened applesauce—this makes our cookies extra soft and cakey!
  • Light brown sugar—this adds a sweet molasses flavor to the cookie dough. Personally, I think brown sugar and pumpkin are a match made in heaven.
  • Eggs—these are also a leavener to help the cookie batter rise in the oven. They also help hold the batter together.
  • Pumpkin puree—make sure to read the label. You don’t want to use pumpkin pie filling, which is already spiced and sweetened.
  • Evaporated milk—this adds creaminess to the cookie batter! It is not the same thing as sweetened condensed milk.
  • Pure vanilla extract—a little goes a long way and adds awesome vanilla flavor. Make sure you’re using the real deal.
  • Cream Cheese Icing—this is the frosting recipe we’re using, and it calls for a combination of softened cream cheese, powdered sugar, vanilla extract and milk.
Iced Pumpkin Drop Cookies on purple plate

How to make Pumpkin Cookies with Cream Cheese Frosting

Preheat the oven. Also, line sheet pans with parchment or nonstick baking mats and set aside for later.

Combine the dry ingredients. Measure the flour, baking powder, baking soda, baking powder, salt, ground cinnamon and ginger into a medium bowl and whisk. Set them aside for later.

Cream the butter, sugar and applesauce. In a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, beat these until pale and fluffy.

Add the eggs and pumpkin. Measure in the evaporated milk and vanilla extract, too. Mix these wet ingredients until incorporated and fragrant.

Combine the wet and dry ingredients. Slowly sprinkle the flour mixture into the wet ingredients and mix until everything is combined.

Dollop the cookie batter onto the prepared baking sheets. You can use a cookie scoop or a tablespoon.

Use an offset spatula or a butter knife to smooth out the tops of the cookies.

Bake the cookies for 10-12 minutes in the preheated oven.

When brown and pillowy, remove from the oven, and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

When completely cooled, ice the pumpkin cookies with the cream cheese frosting, and enjoy!

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you make a soft pumpkin?

These soft pumpkin cookies involve the usual suspects in most cookie recipes, including flour, brown sugar, butter, baking soda, baking powder, salt and spices. They also call for more social ingredients like pumpkin puree and evaporated milk.

Should pumpkin cookies be refrigerated?

Yes. When these cookies are completely cool, they should be refrigerated because they call for a cream cheese frosting.

Can you use pumpkin pie mix instead of pumpkin puree for cookies?

While you could use a pumpkin pie mix instead of pumpkin puree for these cookies, I do not recommend it because the canned pumpkin pie filling is sweetened and spiced. We add our own sweetener and spices to this cookie recipe.

Quick tips and tricks to the best Soft Pumpkin Cookies

  • Use pumpkin pie spice. Instead of a combination of ground cinnamon and ground ginger, use the same amount of your favorite pumpkin pie spice blend.
  • How to store: Place the cookies on a plate and wrap with plastic wrap. Store in the fridge for 3-4 days. You may also store them in an airtight food storage container. Consider separating layers of cookies with wax paper.
Close up of iced Pumpkin Cookies on a cooling rack over granite
Yield: 48 cookies

Pumpkin Drop Cookies with Cream Cheese Icing

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 12 minutes
Total Time: 22 minutes

Pillowy and light Pumpkin Cookies with Cream Cheese Frosting are light, fluffy and totally decadent. These pumpkin drop cookies are perfect for any fall or winter get-together!

Ingredients

Cookies

  • 2 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 ¼ teaspoons salt
  • 1 ½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • ¾ teaspoons ground ginger
  • ½ cup unsalted butter, softened (1 stick)
  • ¼ cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 2 ¼ cups light brown sugar, packed
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 ½ cups pumpkin puree
  • 1 cup evaporated milk
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Icing

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a nonstick baking mat, and set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and ginger, and whisk.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream the butter, applesauce and sugar together. They will become pale and fluffy.
  4. Add the eggs to the butter-sugar mixture, beating until combined.
  5. Measure in the pumpkin, evaporated milk and vanilla to the wet ingredients. Beat until well-mixed.
  6. Sprinkle in the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, and blend until combined.
  7. Using a 1-tablespoon cookie scooper, scoop the batter onto the prepared baking sheet baking sheet. Use a knife to smooth out the tops of the cookies, spreading into a circular shape.
  8. Bake for 12 minutes, and then let cool.
  9. Once cooled, ice the cookies with Cream Cheese Icing, then enjoy!

Notes

Adapted from Martha Stewart's Pumpkin Cookie recipe.

How to store: Place the cookies on a plate and wrap with plastic wrap. Store in the fridge for 3-4 days. You may also store them in an airtight food storage container. Consider separating layers of cookies with wax paper.

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Nutrition Information:

Yield:

48

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 92Total Fat: 3gSaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 15mgSodium: 107mgCarbohydrates: 15gFiber: 0gSugar: 9gProtein: 2g

Nutrition facts are an estimate and not guaranteed to be accurate.

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