A craggily-textured pumpkin cookie.

Pumpkin Cookies


Ida’s first Halloween in California she was struck by an absolute need to eat everything pumpkin. There was initially some difficulty in finding canned pumpkin in stores, but when it was finally in stock Chris bought every can on the shelf. We ate pumpkin pie, pumpkin souffle, pumpkin chili, pumpkin curry… until we met with gastronomical disaster.

We’ve all had those cakey and dense pumpkin cookies that come out around October - nothing like their beautiful snickerdoodle and chocolate chip rivals. The gold standard for a cookie is the soft, chewy, crisp-edged, almost fudgy texture standardized by Nestle Toll House. The difference? Water; pumpkins are 90% water. This brings us to a particular cookie conundrum. If water is the enemy of a good cookie, how do we include pumpkin into a cookie without ruining the texture? We baked cookies with math! We calculated all the water in a conventional cookie dough: 105g, that’s 11%, and substituted every gram of it with pumpkin reduction.

This is one of the first recipes we created together, and continues to be a treasured favorite.

This recipe makes around 24 smaller cookies (or 15 if you make them larger).



  1. In a saucepan over medium heat, reduce the butter to at least 62.5g (though some butter is different - if the weight plateaus, take it off the heat). The easiest way to check this is to tare a scale with no auto-off feature with the pan and a trivet in advance. Continue to heat it until it turns just golden brown.
  2. Mix the ground cinnamon into the browned butter.
  3. Let the butter cool, then refrigerate until solid.
  4. Microwave the pumpkin puree until it reaches at most 75g (about 5 minutes), so that it loses at least 50% of its moisture. Then let it cool to room temperature.
  5. Once the pumpkin is cool, mix in the flaxseed meal (a fork works very well). Allow this mixture to sit for at least 5 minutes while the butter refrigerates, occasionally mixing (trying the get moisture into the flaxseed meal).
  6. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  7. Add the sugar to the bowl of a stand mixer.
  8. Once the butter is solid, cream together the butter and sugar.
  9. Mix the pumpkin-flax compound into the butter and sugar.
  10. In a separate bowl, stir together the flour, salt, and baking soda.
  11. On a slow speed, gradually add the flour until just incorporated.
  12. Roll the dough into logs roughly 1 inch in diameter.
  13. Tear roughly 1 inch segments of dough and place onto a parchment paper lined AirBake cookie sheet. (If you don’t have AirBake, double up your cookie sheets.)
  14. Bake for 10 minutes, or until the edges begin to turn a darker shade.
  15. Let the cookies cool slightly (around 2 minutes), then move them to a wire rack to finish cooling.


In this recipe we reduce out half of the water in the pumpkin puree, while also eliminating the water from egg and butter, to get a classic cookie density. We also use a higher temperature setting for a lower amount of time to amplify the fudginess of the cookie interior.

It’s very easy to make this recipe vegan; simply evaporate the pumpkin to 69.5g (instead of 75g), substitute the butter for 62.5g of vegetable shortening (skip the step of browning), and add the cinnamon with 75g sugar and 25g of molasses (instead of 100g of sugar).

Our partnership was in notable debate about the cooking time and temperature for these cookies. Another option is to bake for 7 minutes at 400°F. This produces a thinner crispy edge, and a softer gooier center that is more reminiscent of hot cookie dough.