This is the best gluten-free pumpkin cookie recipe around. My soft and chewy pumpkin cookies are easy to make and topped with a whipped maple cream cheese frosting. They are loaded with real pumpkin and, of course, lots of pumpkin spice. If Fall had a taste, this would be it.
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Obviously, nothing says "Fall" like pumpkin. From our favorite spicy pumpkin soup to our new gluten-free pumpkin bread recipe, we are here for all the pumpkin recipes. These delicious cookies are perfect for after-school snacks or your Halloween costume party.
📖Why This Recipe Works
When baking gluten-free getting the correct rise is always a challenge. This recipe uses a combination of butter and vegetable shortening to balance texture and rise for a perfectly soft cookie.
Using vegetable shortening prevents the cookies from spreading too much, which would cause them to become dry. While the addition of butter adds a richer taste. The perfect balance!
We also use an extra egg yolk to provide richness. For a denser cookie use two egg yolks and no whites.
Finally, the combination of brown sugar and white sugar ensures a moist chewy texture and the right amount of sweetness to match the savory pumpkin.
PUMPKIN - Pumpkin is obviously a key ingredient in this recipe. I use canned pumpkin puree, but you can make your own pumpkin puree from fresh pumpkins. Both have great pumpkin flavor.
However, do not use pumpkin pie filling. Pumpkin pie filling has sugar and spices already added. If you need a substitute for pumpkin puree, use canned butternut squash or sweet potato puree.
GLUTEN-FREE FLOUR-This recipe relies on a cup for cup all-purpose flour blend. Most commercially available brands already contain xanthan gum. You will need to add if yours does not contain. I used Bob's Red Mill when testing this recipe.
BROWN SUGAR- I used dark brown sugar in this recipe. You can substitute light brown sugar, but the cookies will have less rise and a less rich flavor.
For this recipe you will also need:
- Unsalted Butter AND Vegetable Shortening- Not vegetable oil or coconut oil
- Baking Powder, Baking Soda, and Salt
- Granulated Sugar
- Vanilla Extract
See the recipe card for exact quantities.
Maple Cream Cheese Frosting
MAPLE SYRUP- Use pure maple syrup, not pancake syrup. You can substitute our pumpkin syrup for maple syrup.
You will also need:
- Cream Cheese- Neufchatel or low-fat cream cheese work as well
- Confectioners' Sugar- Also called powdered sugar or icing sugar
⏲️How to Make Gluten-Free Pumpkin Cookies
Before getting started, make sure your oven is properly pre-heated to 350 F degrees and that all your ingredients are room temperature.
Room temperature ingredients are essential to baking, including the eggs. It typically takes 30 to 60 minutes for the butter to come to room temperature.
This recipe uses the traditional baking method of mixing dry ingredients and wet ingredients separately and then combing. Sugars are always considered "wet ingredients" in cookies because of the way the sugar interacts with water when baking.
Step 1- Dry Ingredients
Start by adding the dry ingredients to a bowl and whisking. We are going to add the dry to the wet ingredients so you can use a smaller bowl for this.
Whisking the dry ingredients ensures the leavening agents (i.e., the baking soda and baking powder) are evenly distributed.
When measuring out the flour, use a scoop to spoon the flour into your measuring cup.
Step 2- Wet Ingredients
Start by adding the butter, shortening, and both sugars to a large bowl. We are going to "cream" them. Meaning beat them with a stand mixer or hand mixer until the mix is fluffy.
Next, add the remaining wet ingredients. I find it easier to beat in the eggs and then add the pumpkin.
Step 3- Combine
I prefer to do this step by hand using a spatula. When testing the recipe, I quickly overworked the dough using my electric mixer. Add ⅓ of the dry mix and use a spatula to fold in.
Add the next ⅓ of the flour, fold in, and then slowly add the remaining. You will want to eyeball this part. As with our GF chocolate chip cookies, you may need more or less of the dry ingredients. See note.
NOTE: Depending on the humidity of my kitchen I sometimes use less of the flour mix, sometimes all, and when I tested these in July and August, I had to add ⅓ cup extra flour because it was so humid.
Step 4- Bake
Use two spoons, or a cookie scoop, to scoop out about 2 tablespoons of dough. The dough is on the softer side so wet your fingers and then pat down the top. You want them to be about ½ inch thick.
Bake for 13 to 14 minutes, turning the pans halfway through baking. Remove from the oven and cool on the sheets for 2 to 3 minutes before moving to a cooling rack.
Allow the cookies to fully cool before icing and enjoying these soft pumpkin cookies!
Step 5- Icing
When making the cream cheese frosting be sure your cream cheese and butter are at room temperature. beat them together with a pinch of salt. Then slowly add the powdered sugar to get your desired consistency.
This maple frosting is very flexible. You can increase the maple syrup and totally eliminate the icing sugar to make a glaze and drizzle over.
In these pictures, I chose to go lighter on the sugar to make a creamy frosting. Side note, if you go creamier the frosting doesn't set and the cookies can't be stacked.
I like to sprinkle on a little extra cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice.
👩🏻🍳 Expert Tip
If baking in batches, allow the cookie sheets to fully cool before scooping out fresh dough. A hot cookie sheet will cause the cookies to spread and become tough.
First, off I recommend a cookie scoop. This is the first cookie I have ever made where it would have been really helpful!
Many bakers will tell you to use a rimmed sheet pan lined with parchment paper or a Silpat. However, the rimmed sides prevent the cookies from rising properly.
Instead, I recommend using an insulting cookie sheet that doesn't need to be lined or greased in any way.
Unfrosted pumpkin cookies can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for 5 to 7 days. Frosted cookies should be stored in an airtight container in a single layer in the refrigerator, they will last 4 to 5 days.
More Gluten-Free Baking Recipes
💬Frequently Asked Questions
Yes, you can make this recipe vegan and without eggs. Substitute a vegan stick butter alternative and make 1 flax egg. Or use enough egg replacer for 1 egg. For the frosting, make a maple glaze with powdered sugar, water, and maple syrup. Drizzle over the top.
Yes, you can freeze the unfrosted cookies for up 3 months. Freeze on a sheet pan and then move to a zip-top bag for storage. Defrost the individual cookies on a plate for one hour. Or pop in the microwave for 30 seconds at 50% power.
Yes, you can freeze the cookie dough for this recipe. Scoop into balls onto a parchment-lined sheet pan. Freeze for 2 hours. Move to a zip-top bag, the dough balls should keep for 2 months.
To bake, place the frozen cookie dough balls on a cookie sheet. Bake according to the recipe plus 2 extra minutes.
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Gluten-Free Pumpkin Cookies with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting
- 2 ½ cups gluten free flour blend with xanthan gum
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice plus extra for sprinkling
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ cup unsalted butter softened
- ½ cup vegetable shortening
- ¾ cup granulated sugar
- ½ cup brown sugar
- 1 large egg plus 1 egg yolk
- 1 cup pumpkin puree
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Maple Cream Cheese Frosting
- 1 8 ounce package cream cheese softened
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter softened
- 2 tablespoons maple syrup
- 1 ½ cups confectioners’ sugar
- pinch of salt
- Preheat oven to 350°F.
- In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, pumpkin pie spice, and salt until combined. Set aside.2 ½ cups gluten free flour blend, 1 teaspoon baking powder, 1 teaspoon baking soda, 1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice, ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- Use an electric mixer to cream together butter, shortening and sugars until fluffy.½ cup unsalted butter, ½ cup vegetable shortening, ½ cup brown sugar, ¾ cup granulated sugar
- Mix in the whole egg and the extra yolk. Mix in pumpkin puree and vanilla extract.1 large egg plus 1 egg yolk, 1 cup pumpkin puree, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Fold in the dry ingredients and mix until combined.
- Scoop dough out, place on a baking sheet, and use your fingers to evenly flatten cookies into rounds until they are about a ½ inch thick.
- Bake in preheated oven 11 - 12 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Once cool frost with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting.
Maple Cream Cheese Frosting
- In a mixing bowl beat together the cream cheese, butter, maple syrup, and salt. Slowly add the confectioners' sugar until fluffy. You may not need all the sugar.1 8 ounce package cream cheese, 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, 2 tablespoons maple syrup, 1 ½ cups confectioners’ sugar, pinch of salt
- If your flour does not contain xanthan gum, you will need to add a ¾ teaspoon to the dry ingredients.
- Different brands of GF flours have different weights so measurements are approximate. You may need to add up to a ⅓ cup of extra flour to get the right consistency.
- To make a maple cream cheese glaze omit the powdered sugar and increase the maple syrup to ¼ cup. Use a mixer to whip the ingredients together and drizzle it over cookies.