These Snickerdoodle Cookies are probably the most addictive cookies I make. They have a buttery flavor, chewy texture, and, being that they are also freezer-friendly, they are easy to enjoy.
When it comes to cookie recipes, this is the one I’ve always held closest to my chest. No matter how often my friends asked me for the recipe, I’d never share it. Now I’m a kinder, gentler soul, so here it is.
What are Snickerdoodle Cookies?
Snickerdoodle cookies are crackle-topped sugar cookies rolled in cinnamon sugar just before baking. Some versions of this cutesy-named cookie are fluffy and cakey, while others are thin and chewy. Snickerdoodles are simple in that they contain butter, flour, and sugar. The types of these ingredients are what can make a snickerdoodle epic.
My snickerdoodle cookies recipe is my best take on a legendary recipe from my high school days. Iverson Mall, in Temple Hills, Maryland, is known for its snickerdoodle cookies. I worked at a clothing store that sat in a strip mall just in front of the mall, and almost daily, I’d carry myself over there to get a bucketful of cookies. Now, back in the day, Iverson Mall wasn’t the safest place to be. The running joke was that the cookies were so good, people were willing to get shot to buy them. Though I never felt my life was in danger, I would’ve risked it to get my cookies even if I did.
The “Iverson cookie” was thin, chewy, and slightly crisp around the edges. You could buy them in threes, half-dozens, or by the dozen. At one point, they were being piled into buckets, and that’s when life was really grand. I don’t know if the cookie place is still running, but if they are, it’s solely on the backs of those snickerdoodle cookies.
What do they taste like?
Snickerdoodle cookies taste buttery, first and foremost. The next prominent flavor is the cinnamon-sugar topping they’re rolled in just before baking.
If you are a fan of sugar cookies, this may just make you abandon them. They’re an elevated sugar cookie, for sure.
What do I need to make Snickerdoodle Cookies?
Again, this snickerdoodle recipe is the product of decades of tweaking and refining. As a result, I’ve come up with a unique mix of ingredients to make them. Each ingredient serves its own purpose, but I’ll also provide alternatives to them if you cannot get to the store to buy them all.
The cookie’s base begins with unsalted butter, butter-flavored shortening, brown sugar, granulated sugar, and salt. The dry ingredients are all-purpose flour, bread flour, baking soda, and cream of tartar. Eggs, pure vanilla extract, and finally, a cinnamon-sugar topping round out the snickerdoodle cookies recipe.
You need sheetpans to bake the cookies and a hand mixer to mix the dough. You can also use a stand mixer for that. A portion scoop (also known as an ice cream scoop) will ensure accurate cookie sizes.
Why use both butter and shortening?
If you’re a baking geek, you may be wondering why the two types of fats, sugars and flours. I love geeking out over pastries, so I’m happy to explain.
Each ingredient contributes different qualities to these snickerdoodle cookies. I use both butter and butter-flavored shortening here because I want the benefit of flavor (from the butter) and the benefit of a soft texture from the shortening. Shortening is hydrogenated, which means it has trapped air bubbles. The cookies are lighter, softer, and hold their shape better thanks to shortening. Butter, as we all know, tastes amazing. That’s the main reason for its use here. Butter shortening adds a more buttery flavor, though in an artificial way. You can omit the butter shortening and replace it with more butter. Just know that your snickerdoodle cookies will be firmer and may spread more during baking.
Why both brown and granulated sugars?
I use both brown and granulated sugar because I want the caramel notes of the brown sugar. Yes, I could add all brown sugar, but doing so would result in too much caramel flavor, interfering with the buttery flavor I want. Brown sugar does double duty as well. All sugars are hygroscopic, which means they grab and retain the water in their environments. Brown sugar has a greater hygroscopic ability because it contains molasses, an invert sugar, but granulated sugar also retains moisture. Retaining moisture in the cookie means it stays chewy and softer. Crisp cookies are the result of lower amounts of moisture in the batter. Between the hydrogenated shortening, the water in the butter, and the hygroscopic sugars we’re using, our snickerdoodles will not only taste amazing, but they’re also going to stay nice and chewy for days.
I recommend using just the granulated sugar if you want to use just one sugar. The flavor won’t be as rich, but you’ll still be happy with the results.
Why add the eggs one at a time?
Use an electric hand mixer to mix the butter, shortening, brown and granulated sugars, and the salt together on medium-low speed for 2-3 minutes. Stop the mixer and scrape down the bowl and beaters.
Because we want the snickerdoodle cookies to retain their shape, as well as stay chewy, we’re not going to beat the fats and sugars too much. Beating until light and airy is great for cakes because it incorporates air, which makes them fluffy. We don’t want to do that with this cookie dough, so blend until the mixture is a thick paste.
Add the eggs to the mixture one at a time. Eggs help the cookies rise and provide the cookies with their structure. Adding them one at a time prevents the dough we’re mixing from curdling. Curdling is the imbalance between the water in the ingredients and the fats. Once the eggs are in, add the vanilla extract. Blend until combined, or for 30 seconds.
Why use both bread and all-purpose flours?
Hopefully, by now, you’re seeing a method to my madness. As with the other “two types of” ingredients, the two flours serve their purposes.
Bread flour contains more protein than all-purpose flour. Gluten develops when the protein in the flour comes in contact with water and mixes with the beaters. That gluten translates to a chewy texture in your cookie. But, since we don’t want our cookie to be overly chewy, we cut the bread flour with all-purpose flour. Since it has a lower protein content, it will prevent our cookie from going overboard on the chewiness. Eliminate the bread flour and replace it with all-purpose if you only want to use one flour. The cookies won’t be as chewy but will still taste great.
What does cream of tartar do in Snickerdoodle Cookies?
Cream of tartar is in most snickerdoodle cookie recipes. It is an acid that helps leaven (give rise to) the cookie dough. When you add it to the cookie dough with the baking soda, it gives even more leavening power, but it also neutralizes the alkaline taste of the baking soda. Without it, the cookies will have a metallic taste. Adding cream of tartar to the dry ingredients also gives the baking soda a bit more leeway. Baking soda is unlike baking powder in that whatever it’s used in needs to be baked shortly after you add it, or it won’t work as efficiently. The acid in the cream of tartar makes up for the 30 minute hydration period these cookies need.
If you don’t have cream of tartar, you can replace it with baking powder, which usually contains cream of tartar AKA potassium acid tartrate.
Add the sifted dry ingredients to the butter-sugar mixture in three stages. This 3-stage addition allows some of the gluten in the flours to get a headstart on development.
Why do I have to chill the Snickerdoodle Cookie dough?
Cookies don’t retain their shape because the temperamental fat (butter) warmed up too much during mixing. Once it’s introduced to the oven’s heat, it really loses its mind and spreads like crazy. While we want some spread on these snickerdoodles, we don’t want it to go wild. Chilling snickerdoodle dough allows the flour to hydrate, making for a better flavor and texture.
Cover the bowl of cookie dough and refrigerate it for at least 30 minutes. You can even go up to 24 hours for even better flavor and consistency in your snickerdoodle cookies.
Can I freeze the unbaked dough?
At this point, you can freeze this prepared dough. I like to chill the dough for 30 minutes, then scoop it as if I’m going to bake the snickerdoodles right away. Scoop the cookies onto a silicone-lined sheetpan and freeze them until solid. Once the balls of dough are frozen, transfer them to a freezer storage bag and freeze them for up to 3 months.
Freezing the balls of dough individually like this means you can bake 2, 6, or 12 cookies at a time. If you were to freeze the entire lump of dough, you’d be forced to bake the entire amount.
How far ahead can I make the cinnamon-sugar topping?
Snickerdoodles are always rolled in a cinnamon-sugar topping just before baking. That cinnamon sugar is made up of ground cinnamon and granulated sugar. Surprised? I know, right.
Add the cinnamon and sugar to a bowl and use a whisk to combine them into a brown sugar topping. You can make this cinnamon-sugar topping 6 months to a year ahead and store it in a jar in the pantry.
Can I add different spices to it?
Try adding different spices if you want to make a more unique cinnamon-sugar topping. I like to replace the ground cinnamon with pumpkin spice blend, but you can also add 1/4-1/2 teaspoon of ground nutmeg, cloves, or ginger to the mixture.
What other ways can I use cinnamon-sugar topping?
This recipe makes more than enough cinnamon sugar to roll your snickerdoodle cookie balls in. You can save half of it for another batch of cookies or use it in another recipe. These Pumpkin Cookies are rolled in the Cinnamon-Sugar topping before baking. You can also use it to top these cranberry vanilla breakfast muffins.
If you don’t separate the cinnamon sugar and roll the dough in the entire batch, you must discard any leftover topping. The butter and raw eggs in the dough will cause the cinnamon sugar to go rancid if stored after you coat the cookies.
How far ahead can I roll the cookie dough in the cinnamon-sugar topping?
Wait until just before baking to roll your snickerdoodle cookies in the cinnamon-sugar topping. Doing it too far ahead may result in the sugar dissolving from the moisture in the cookie dough.
Use a 1-ounce portion scoop to scoop up the hydrated cookie dough. Roll the dough between the palms of your hands to form them into round balls. Lay the ball into the cinnamon-sugar topping and roll it around to coat it well in the sugar.
Transfer your cinnamon-sugar cookie balls to a sheetpan lined with parchment paper. I prefer to use parchment paper because it allows the cookies to spread slightly. You can use a silicone baking mat if you don’t want the cookies to spread at all, though. Leave a 2-inch space around each ball of dough to allow for spread.
How long do I bake the Snickerdoodle Cookies?
Bake the snickerdoodle cookies in a preheated 350°F (177°C) oven for 10 minutes. The cookies will be underbaked- still glossy in the center- when you remove them from the oven. They will continue to bake, though, because you’re going to leave them on the sheetpan for 2-3 more minutes. This underbaking of the cookies also keeps them chewy and soft.
After 2 minutes of cooling on the sheetpan, or when they’re firm enough to lift with a spatula, transfer the cookies to a cooling rack and allow them to cool further.
What makes them crackly?
Snickerdoodle cookies are known for their cracked surfaces. Baking snickerdoodle cookies on the top rack of your oven produces an even more cracked surface. The cinnamon sugar topping breaks apart when the super close heat hits the cookie dough. Leave the oven rack in the middle position if you don’t want a semi-crackled look.
Once your cookies are cool (or warm) enough to suit your preference, you can serve them. If you want to store them, wait until they’re completely cool, or the steam they produce may make them soggy.
Why are my Snickerdoodle Cookies flat?
Snickerdoodle cookies are flat because of the amount of sugar and fat in the dough. It is also the result of overmixing your sugar and butter.
I don’t like cakey snickerdoodles. Because of that, the recipe is developed to produce semi-thin, chewy cookies instead of thick, puffy ones. Sugar, butter, and eggs are all the causes of the flatter cookie. Because we don’t want them to go too flat, we didn’t beat the sugar and butter until light and airy, though.
How do I make puffy Snickerdoodle Cookies?
To make puffy snickerdoodle cookies, replace the butter shortening with unsalted butter and the brown sugar with more granulated sugar. Replace the bread flour with all-purpose flour and the baking soda with baking powder.
Bake the cookies on a silicone baking mat on your sheetpan in the middle rack for 12 minutes at 350°F (177°C).
How do I store the cookies?
Store the snickerdoodle cookies in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days. Don’t store cookies in the fridge. Refrigeration makes the cookies hard and also makes them go stale faster.
You can warm the snickerdoodles in the microwave for 5 seconds to give them a just-baked taste.
Can you freeze Snickerdoodle Cookies?
You can freeze baked snickerdoodle cookies for 2 months. Wrap them well to prevent freezer burn and store them in a freezer storage bag. This is great you plan to make ice cream sandwiches with them, too. Thaw the cookies at room temp before heating as needed.
Welp! That’s my take on cookies good enough to be shot for. I hope you love them as much as we do. Don’t forget to pin this recipe to your cookie boards. Let me know what you think of them in the comments below, too!
- electric hand mixer or stand mixer
- 1-ounce portion scoop
- 1 1/3 cups (180 grams) all-purpose flour
- 1 1/3 cups (175 grams) bread flour
- 2 teaspoons (8 grams) cream of tartar
- 1 teaspoon (7 grams) baking soda
- 1/2 cup (1 stick or 113 grams) unsalted butter at room temperature
- 1/2 cup (100 grams) butter shortening
- 1 cup (220 grams) granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup, packed (120 grams) light brown sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon (3 grams) kosher salt
- 2 large eggs at room temperature
- 1 tablespoon (15 milliliters) vanilla extract
Cinnamon Sugar Topping
- 1/2 cup (100 grams) granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon (6 grams) ground cinnamon
Mix the Snickerdoodle Dough
- Use a whisk to stir together the all-purpose flour, bread flour, cream of tartar and baking soda together in a mixing bowl. Set this aside while you combine the fats and sugars.
- Using an electric hand mixer (or stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment), mix the butter, shortening, brown and granulated sugars, and the salt together on medium-low speed for 2-3 minutes.
- Once the mixture resembles a thick paste, stop the mixer and scrape down the bowl and beaters. With the mixer on low speed, add the eggs to the bowl, one at a time. Make sure the egg is fully incorporated before adding the next one.
- Once the eggs are added, pour in the vanilla extract. Blend until combined, or for 30 seconds. Add the dry ingredients to the butter-sugar mixture in three stages. Mix on low speed just until each addition of flour has been incorporated. Stop the mixer and scrape down the bowl and beaters after each addition of flour.
Hydrate the Dough
- Cover the bowl of cookie dough and refrigerate it for at least 30 minutes or up to 24 hours.
Make the Cinnamon Sugar Topping
- Add the cinnamon and sugar to a bowl and use a whisk to combine them.
- Preheat your oven to 350°F (177°C).Line two sheetpans with parchment paper or silicone baking mats. You will need to use one sheetpan twice as this makes more than 2 dozen cookies.
Top, then Bake the Snickerdoodle Cookies
- Use a 1-ounce portion scoop to scoop up the hydrated cookie dough. Roll the dough between the palms of your hands to form it into a round ball.
- Lay the ball into the cinnamon-sugar topping and roll it around to coat it well in the sugar. Transfer the cinnamon-sugar cookie ball to the prepared sheetpan.
- Continue scooping, rolling, and coating the snickerdoodle cookie dough until you have 12 balls on one sheetpan. Leave a 2-inch space around each ball of dough to allow for spread.
- Bake the snickerdoodle cookies in the preheated oven for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, remove the pan from the oven. The cookies will still be glossy in the center when you remove them from the oven.
- Leave the cookies on the sheetpan for 2-3 more minutes or until firm enough to lift from the sheetpan with a spatula. Transfer the cookies to a cooling rack and allow them to cool further before enjoying.
Swaps and Substitutions:
- You can omit the butter shortening and replace it with more butter. Just know that your snickerdoodle cookies will be firmer and may spread more during baking.
- Replace the brown sugar with granulated sugar if you want to use just one sugar.
- Eliminate the bread flour and replace it with all-purpose if you only want to use one flour.
- If you don't have cream of tartar, you can replace it with 1 teaspoon of baking powder.
- Try adding different spices if you want to make a more unique cinnamon-sugar topping: replace the ground cinnamon with pumpkin spice blend, or decrease the cinnamon to 2 teaspoons and add 1 teaspoon of ground nutmeg, cloves, or ginger to the cinnamon and sugar mixture.
Tips and Techniques:
- You can make the cinnamon-sugar topping 6 months to a year ahead and store it in a jar in the pantry.
- If you don't separate the cinnamon sugar and roll the dough in the entire batch, discard any leftover topping as the butter and raw eggs in the dough will cause the cinnamon sugar to go rancid.
- Wait until just before baking to roll your snickerdoodle cookies in the cinnamon-sugar topping. Doing it too far ahead may result in the sugar dissolving from the moisture in the cookie dough.
- If you want to store snickerdoodle cookies, wait until they're completely cool, or the steam they produce may make them soggy.
- To make puffy snickerdoodle cookies:
- Replace the butter shortening with unsalted butter, and the brown sugar with 1/2 cup granulated sugar.
- Replace the bread flour with all-purpose flour and the baking soda with baking powder.
- Bake the cookies on a silicone baking mat on your sheetpan in the middle rack for 12 minutes at 350°F (177°C)
- Store the snickerdoodle cookies in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days. Don't store cookies in the fridge. Refrigeration makes the cookies hard and also makes them go stale faster.
- Warm the snickerdoodles in the microwave for 5 seconds to give them a just-baked taste.
- To freeze snickerdoodle cookie dough:
- Chill the dough for 30 minutes, then scoop the dough onto a silicone-lined sheetpan as if you're going to bake the snickerdoodles right away.
- Freeze the dough uncovered until solid. Once the balls of dough are frozen, transfer them to a freezer storage bag and freeze them for up to 3 months.
- To freeze baked snickerdoodle cookies:
- Cool the cookies completely.
- Wrap the well to prevent freezer burn or store them in a freezer storage bag.
- Freeze the cookies for 2 months.
- Thaw the cookies at room temp before heating as needed.