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Recipe for Soft Pumpkin Cookies with Brown Butter Icing

October 11, 2023

The only recipe for soft pumpkin cookies you'll ever need! These Pumpkin Cookies are a perfect taste of fall with orange and spice wrapped into one delicious soft bite and topped with a smooth brown butter glaze.

COOK + BAKE   |   Updated October 8, 2023

Recipe for Soft Pumpkin Cookies with Browned Butter Icing

Pumpkin is a staple in fall baking, and there is no better way to enjoy the seasonal fruit than baked inside a cookie.

These soft pumpkin cookies are arguably the most delicious option thanks to the freshly grated orange peel, raisins in practically every bite, and a not-too-sweet glaze topping them off.

If you’re looking for an easy, fool-proof fall cookie recipe, then look no further. This recipe is from a Better Crocker Cookbook originally published in 1969 and has withstood the test of time. Often, old-fashioned recipes of the past are still the best choice.

Recipe for Soft Pumpkin Cookies with Brown Butter Glaze This post contains affiliate links which means I receive a small commission if you choose to make a purchase using the link, but there is no additional cost to you. For more information, you can view my disclosure policy.

Why I Know You’ll Love These Cookies

Whenever I post a recipe here on the blog, I do it hoping that my readers will love it as much as I do. But I’ve had years of proof that this particular recipe for soft pumpkin cookie is a winner.

For many years, my mom and I were involved in Christmas shopping event in our town hosting a mini-marketplace in her home. These cookies (which she had already been making for years at Christmas) were originally just offered as a treat for shoppers to enjoy. But the response was overwhelming with people wanting to buy them.

By the time we stopping participating after about 15 years, we were making 8 batches of these during the four day event. But…..we were making them bite-sized. I don’t remember how many total cookies we'd scoop, bake, and ice, but suffice it to say, it was a lot.

Aside from the amazing flavor, you’ll also love this recipe because:


So many cookie recipes do better when you first chill the dough, but this isn’t one of them. They are a drop cookie (no rolling and shaping) that is best mixed up and put directly onto the cookie sheet to be baked immediately. The entire recipe comes together quickly in one mixing bowl.


Because we made so many and were already busy with the event, my mom and I would make these cookies a few weeks in advance and put them without icing in giant Tupperware containers in the freezer without even putting parchment paper in between the layers. And they would come out perfect every time.

You can leave the cookies in the freezer for up to three months and allow to thaw on the counter whenever you are ready to add the icing.

I have never frozen them with icing to see how they hold up, but if you try it, please let me know how they turn out!


There are so many recipes for chewy cookies, and I love chewy cookies. But this pumpkin cookie is more cake like, almost reminding you of the top of a muffin. It is a nice change, especially during the fall baking season when you are eating so many things filled with the pumpkin flavor!


For many, the brown butter glaze is what really puts these cookies over the top. But I actually love to eat them without icing as well. So if you don't like the topping, feel free to skip it or search for a cream cheese icing that you might like better.

What is Brown Butter Glaze

Brown butter glaze is an icing that can take your baked goods to the next level. It can be used on any butter-containing recipe, like cookies, cakes or donuts.

The glaze has a nutty aroma and flavor...without actually containing any nuts. It contains butter (obviously), confectioner's sugar (also known as powdered sugar or icing sugar), vanilla extract, and milk.

To make brown butter icing you simply melt the butter in a pan over medium heat, swirling the pan frequently to maintain an even heat. Within a few minutes, the milk sediments in the bottom of the pan will turn to a golden brown. It will become burned quickly, so you much watch it closely.

You'll then add the confectioner's sugar, vanilla, and just enough milk to make the glaze smooth without being runny.

The glaze will dry and form a light crust over your baked good making them easier to store than a cream cheese or maple cream frosted pumpkin cookie.

What You’ll Need

If these cookies sound like something you’d like to try making, here are the ingredients you’ll need:

  • granulated sugar
  • pumpkin puree – Not pumpkin pie filling. If you’d like to use fresh pumpkin, please check out the Frequently Asked Questions section at the end of the post for a helpful tip.
  • shortening – either butter or original flavored work well
  • grated orange peel
  • all-purpose flour
  • baking powder and baking soda – both work together to make your cookie fluffy and help them to rise
  • ground cinnamon
  • salt
  • raisins
  • chopped walnuts – optional, but highly recommended

And for the brown butter icing, you’ll also need:

  • butter
  • confectioner’s sugar
  • vanilla
  • milk

Soft Pumpkin Cookies with Icing on Vintage Metal Cookie Sheet

How to Make

For your convenience, there is a printable recipe further down in this post with the full ingredients list and directions for making these Soft Pumpkin Cookies with Brown Butter Glaze.

You’ll want to preheat your oven when ready to start preparing your cookies because the recipe comes together quickly.

Begin by mixing the sugar, pumpkin, shortening, and orange peel in the bowl of an electric mixer until it is well combined. Then add the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder and baking soda, cinnamon and salt) and mix just until combined. Overmixing will result in a tougher, more dense cookie.

Fold the raisins and walnuts in by hand using a silicone spatula or wooden spoon.

Drop balls of dough onto an ungreased cookie sheet using a cookie scoop. The balls of dough can be placed pretty close as the cookies do not spread much.

Bake the cookies until they are light brown and the bottoms are completely golden. This takes between 8 to 10 minutes, with larger cookies taking longer than the smaller ones. They will still be soft to the touch, but will continue to bake and harden slightly as they cool. Be careful not to overcook them or they will be dry.

Allow them to cool completely on a wire rack before making your glaze.

To make the brown butter icing, you’ll need to heat the butter in a saucepan until it turns a delicate brown color. Then confectioner’s sugar, vanilla and just enough milk are stirred in to make a glaze. You’re looking for something smooth, without being runny. More milk can be added as you ice the cookies if it gets too thick. The recipe below makes just enough icing for the cookies you will bake.

The icing will set up, unlike a cream cheese frosting, so stacking these cookies inside of a container is possible after they have a chance to dry.

Soft Pumpkin Cookie with Raisins and icing broken in half on cookie sheet


A perfect taste of fall with orange and spice wrapped into one delicious soft bite and topped with a smooth brown butter glaze.

Makes 24 regular sized or 48 bite sized cookies



  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 1 ½ teaspoons freshly grated orange peel
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup raisins
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts


  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 2 cups confectioner’s sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 to 2 Tablespoons milk


STEP 1:  Heat oven to 375°.

STEP 2: Mix sugar, pumpkin, shortening and orange peel in the bowl of an electric mixer and mix until well combined. Add the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt and continue mixing just until combined. Fold in the raisins and walnuts by hand with a silicone spatula or wooden spoon.

STEP 3: Drop balls of dough onto an ungreased cookie sheet. For equal sized cookies, it is best to use a metal cookie scoop. (1 ½ Tablespoon is perfect for bite-sized cookies, while 3 Tablespoons was used for the cookies you see in this post.)

STEP 4: Bake until the cookies are light brown and the bottoms are completely golden, about 8-10 minutes. The exact time depends on the size of your cookies. The cookies will still be soft to the touch. Gently remove them immediately from the cookie sheet and cool completely on a rack before topping with icing.


STEP 1:  Heat butter in a saucepan over medium heat until it has turned to a delicate brown color. Stir in the confectioner’s sugar and vanilla until well mixed. Add just enough milk to make a smooth glaze without being runny (up to 2 Tablespoons).

STEP 2: Dip the cookies down into the glaze for easy frosting or use a knife to swirl it onto the top of each. You may need to add a little more milk and stir if you find the icing is getting too thick.

Store cookies in an airtight container for up to a week or freeze without icing for up to three months.

Frequently Asked Questions


Absolutely! I love using fresh ingredients whenever possible. And I know that in some places like Australia it is hard to find canned pumpkin puree.

It is likely that your homemade puree will have more water content than a typical can of Libby’s pumpkin, though, so you’ll want to use some paper towel, cheesecloth, or a fine mesh sieve to drain the excess liquid. You don’t have to remove all the moisture, but a thicker puree means your cookies will be softer and fluffier while having more pumpkin flavor.

If you are interested, WyseGuide on Instagram has a quick video about how he easily makes homemade pumpkin puree.


Many drop cookie recipes can be turned into bar cookies, but I have never tried it with this particular recipe, so I can't say for sure that this one will work baked differently.


Pure canned pumpkin puree (or fresh pumpkin puree) contains only pureed pumpkin flesh (the inside of the pumpkin), although some brands may add a little bit of salt for flavor.

Pumpkin Pie Filling, on the other hand, has many of the ingredients that would go into a pumpkin pie like cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves. It is already spiced and much sweeter.

For this recipe, you want to use only 100% pumpkin puree. I prefer Libby’s brand or homemade.


The dough for these cookies is a bit sticky. But if you find that it is overly sticky and won’t come out of your cookie scoop, you can add just a bit more flour to the dough. Or, dip your clean cookie scoop into the flour to coat it before scooping.


These pumpkin cookies will stay fresh for up to a week in an airtight container between layers of parchment or waxed paper. If you can keep them in a cool place, however, they will likely last for at least a few weeks. If you notice that the look of the icing is changing it is likely the cookies are not longer any good to eat.


Typically, I attempt to avoid using shortening and margarine when baking as I try to stay away from as many processed items as I can. But as I said before, we’ve been making this recipe for as long as I can remember and I hate to mess with what has always worked. Older recipes of this era tend to use these ingredients because it is what was popular at the time.

Using butter over the shortening will likely lend a different texture to the cookie, but I can’t be sure exactly how it will alter the taste or outcome because I’ve always made it as written.


The only substitutions I can recommend is using dried cranberries in place of the raisins or pecans rather than walnuts.

This is the way that I have always prepared these cookies, so I have no way of knowing whether or not there are gluten free or egg free alternatives. If you make any changes, though, please let me know what works and I’ll be sure to update the post!


These cookies work really well doubling (or even tripling) the batch assuming you have a mixer bowl large enough to handle the extra amount of cookie dough. A double batch should work in a traditional stand mixer, while a triple batch will likely require a professional sized Kitchen Aid. I don’t recommend doubling the recipe if you are using a hand mixer as it might be too much for the smaller mixer to do. There is no problem with the dough sitting out long enough to bake the multiple batches however.

This recipe for pumpkin cookies makes a great option for holiday baking, cookie swaps and bake sales.

Stack of Soft Pumpkin Cookies with Brown Butter Glaze for fall baking.

I don’t think you are going to find another recipe for Soft Pumpkin Cookies that will be as easy or tasty as these old-fashioned drop cookies. This is one you’ll want to be sure to print (and pin) because you’ll be using it year after year!

More Great Pumpkin Desserts To Try

BEST PUMPKIN PIE - This post explains the secret to getting the most intense flavor in your traditional pumpkin pie.

PUMPKIN SPICE CRANBERRY MUFFINS - The perfect muffin for a fall breakfast

PUMPKIN GINGER MOLASSES COOKIES - All the spices of fall and perhaps some of the tastiest fall cookies I’ve ever made!


ULTIMATE PUMPKIN CHEESECAKE - A delicious alternative to ordinary pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving dessert.


This post is part of the Tastes of the Season series hosted by Kristen of Ella Clair & Co. If you are looking for more fall flavored desserts, be sure to glance at the other recipes listed below.

Click here to see all of my previous Tastes of the Season posts.

Baked Pumpkin Donuts Dipped in Cinnamon Sugar by Ella Claire & Co. | Pumpkin Cookies with Brown Butter Glaze by anderson + grant | Pumpkin Roll by Inspired By Charm

Pumpkin Cheesecake with Sour Cream Topping by Maison de Pax | Pumpkin Spice Caramels by Handmade Farmhouse |  Pumpkin Cobbler by French Country Cottage

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