How to Make Gluten-Free Pumpkin Cookies

Avoiding gluten doesn't have to mean skipping the dessert table this fall. Here's how to make our favorite gluten-free pumpkin cookies.

When it comes to fall baking, pumpkin recipes have our hearts. Pumpkin is cozy, warming and festive. It’s as welcome in a back-to-school lunchbox as on a Thanksgiving dessert table. These gluten-free pumpkin cookies have all of the flavor and none of the wheat.

Key Ingredients in Gluten-Free Pumpkin Cookies

The secret to achieving chewy, tender gluten-free cookies lies in the perfect balance of ingredients. Here’s what makes this recipe work really well.

Gluten-Free Flour Mix

The trick to gluten-free baking? Most alternative flours can’t replace wheat flour one-to-one. Gluten-free recipes call for an all-purpose mix of a few gluten-free flours, which are combined together to mimic the protein, fiber and starch content of wheat. For this gluten-free pumpkin and cookie recipe, you can use a store-bought gluten-free flour blend or make a homemade gluten-free flour mix.

Canned Pumpkin Puree

It may surprise you, but when it comes to canned vs. fresh pumpkin, canned wins, hands-down. Not only is canned pumpkin easier (and often cheaper) than homemade, it’s generally the most consistent in terms of texture, flavor and moisture content: three crucial elements of a baked good.

Gluten-Free Pumpkin Cookies Recipe

Ingredients

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 2/3 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin
  • 2 cups gluten-free all-purpose baking flour
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder

Glaze:

  • 1-1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons 2% milk

Directions

Step 1: Cream butter and sugar

Gluten-Free Pumpkin Cookies step oneTMB Studio

Before you get started, preheat the oven to 350°F.

In a large bowl, cream the softened butter with the brown and granulated sugars until light and fluffy. This is easiest to do with a stand mixer or a hand-held beater, though possible with a wooden spoon and elbow grease!

Step 2: Add the egg

Gluten Free Pumpkin Cookies step twoTMB Studio

Beat in the egg, along with the vanilla.

Step 3: Stir in the pumpkin

Gluten Free Pumpkin Cookies step 3TMB Studio

Add the canned pumpkin. Mix well, until the batter is a uniform color.

Editor’s Tip: Did you buy a big can of pumpkin puree? Try our favorite recipes that use canned pumpkin in order to use it up.

Step 4: Add the remaining dry ingredients

Gluten Free Pumpkin Cookies step 4TMB Studio

Whisk together the flour, cinnamon, baking soda, salt and baking powder. It’s important to pre-mix these dry ingredients to ensure that the smaller quantities are evenly distributed when added to the batter. Gradually, add the flour mix to the creamed mixture and mix well.

Step 5: Portion out cookies

Gluten Free Pumpkin Cookies step 5TMB Studio

Using a spoon or a cookie scoop, portion out tablespoon-sized dollops of dough onto greased baking sheets. Space them about 2-inches apart so they have room to spread while baking.

Step 6: Bake

Gluten Free Pumpkin Cookies step 6TMB Studio

Bake cookies until edges are lightly browned, 8-10 minutes.

Editor’s Tip: If your oven doesn’t heat evenly, it helps to rotate the cookie sheets halfway through. Switch the bottom and top sheets, and flip them so the rear is to the front.

Step 7: Cool

Gluten Free Pumpkin Cookies step 7TMB Studio

After removing cookies from the oven, move to wire racks to cool completely.

Step 8: Prep the glaze ingredients

Gluten Free Pumpkin Cookies glaze ingredientsTMB Studio

Measure out the ingredients for the glaze: the confectioners’ sugar, vanilla and milk.

Step 9: Make the glaze

Gluten Free Pumpkin Cookies glaze in a bowlTMB Studio

In a small bowl, whisk the confectioners’ sugar and vanilla with just enough milk to achieve a pouring consistency. If you accidentally add too much milk and the glaze becomes watery, shake in a bit more powdered sugar.

Step 10: Drizzle

Gluten Free Pumpkin Cookies being drizzled with glazeTMB Studio

Drizzle the glaze generously over the cookies.

If you love soft cookies, here are our best pumpkin pudding cookies.

Gluten-Free Pumpkin Cookies Tips

Mix-In Ideas for Pumpkin Cookies

  • Spices: pumpkin pie mix, nutmeg, Chinese five spice or cardamom
  • Chips: chocolate chips, butterscotch chips or chopped up pieces of chocolate
  • Nuts: chopped walnuts or pecans

How to Store Gluten-Free Cookies

Freshly made pumpkin cookies make perfect potluck desserts. If you can’t eat them up right away, glazed cookies are best kept in the fridge, as they contain milk. They will last up to three days.

Unglazed cookies can be stored at room temperature, tightly wrapped or sealed in an airtight container, for up to three days.

Bear in mind that gluten-free cookies do tend to try out faster than wheat-containing cookies do. A warm-through in the microwave will revive a crumbly cookie, but they will taste best the first day or two.

Want to store them longer? Freeze unglazed cookies, tightly wrapped, for up to a month.

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Kelsey Rae Dimberg
A former in-house editor at Taste of Home, Kelsey now writes articles and novels from her home in Milwaukee. She's an avid cook, reader, flâneur, and noir fanatic. Her debut novel, Girl in the Rearview Mirror, will be published in June 2019 by William Morrow.