How to Make the Best Snickerdoodles

Here's our step-by-step guide for baking the sugar and cinnamon classic. Don't forget the cream of tartar!

Snickerdoodles are iconic. They’re like the Judy Garland of cookies—beloved classics that never go out of style, adored by all ages. The fun-to-say-name is thought to come from the German phrase schnecke knel, which can be translated as “snail dumpling,” a not-so-iconic dessert.

The cookies’ signature quality is their soft chewiness, brought to you by the odd ingredient cream of tartar. Below, we’ve provided a tutorial on how to make snickerdoodles, along with some tips and tricks for making the best snail dumplings, err, snickerdoodles, you’ve ever had.

How to Make Snickerdoodles

The recipe below is for our top-rated Snickerdoodles.

Ingredients

  • ½ cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar, divided
  • 1 large egg, room temperature
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Instructions

Step 1: Bring Ingredients to Room Temp

It might sound like too much, as though the egg is a diva that requires moderate warmth before jumping into the batter. But science says that room temperature dairy creates an emulsion, or small air pockets, which expand in the oven and create fluffy baked goods. (Forgot to set the egg out? Just pop your egg in a bowl of warm water for a minute. Here’s a trick for softening butter, too.)

Step 2: Mix It Up

After preheating the oven to 375°, grab a sturdy wooden spoon and start creaming together your softened butter (not melted, or you’ll have flat, chewy cookies) and a cup of the sugar in a big bowl. Mix in the egg and vanilla until it’s one big, happy, sugary family.

Step 3: Grab a Slightly Smaller Bowl

It’s time to whisk together the flour, baking soda and cream of tartar. Once these guys have gotten to know each other, add this mixture to the butter and egg concoction in the bigger bowl.

Step 4: Make the Cookie Coating

I hope you own a lot of bowls. In a third, even smaller bowl, combine the cinnamon and remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar. This is going to be your cookie coating.

Step 5: Roll, Roll, Roll Your Dough

Shape your dough into small 1-inch balls and roll them in the cinnamon and sugar. Place on ungreased baking sheets and pop them in the oven for 10-12 minutes. Let the cookies cool on a wire rack.

For evenly baked cookies, you need the right sheet pan. Here’s our Test Kitchen’s top pick!

More Snickerdoodle Tips & Tricks

Chill the Dough First

Some home bakers insist that you chill your dough first before baking—for an hour up to overnight. It can help stop the dough from spreading and allegedly can give the cookies a browner, more caramelized color and bigger depth of flavor.

Don’t Overbake

If your snickerdoodles come out of the oven already looking well-done, you may have left them in a bit too long. The trick is to underbake them just slightly. They’ll continue cooking for a minute or so after you take them out of the oven, so always err on the side of just underdone.

Use a Secret Ingredient

Some people swear by adding in cream cheese to snickerdoodles to make them even more delicious. Whether or not you mess with perfection is your call, but if you’re going to try it, add a quarter-cup of cream cheese to the recipe above. Find more top-secret ingredients for baking.

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Amanda Kippert
Amanda Kippert has been an award-winning freelance journalist for nearly two decades. She is based in Tucson, Arizona and specializes in food, health, fitness, parenting and humor, as well as social issues. She is the content editor of the domestic violence nonprofit DomesticShelters.org.