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Frosted Pumpkin Spice Cookies

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These sweet, soft Frosted Pumpkin Spice Cookies topped with a thick layer of rich vanilla butter icing are a vintage-inspired, melt-in-your-mouth, light and airy cookie, so delicious it will become a fall tradition. Not a fan of frosting your pumpkin cookies? No problem, they’re also delicious plain!

Pumpkin Spice Cookies on a Cooling Rack.

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The Story Behind this Pumpkin Spice Cookie

Email inboxes have a way of becoming untidy. Which then becomes a dreaded chore we often procrastinate. Wondering what emails have to do with pumpkin cookies? I’m getting to that…

It was in one of those read/delete/save/sort sessions when I happened across an email from my Auntie Betty, who is to this day a fabulous cook and baker. It was a recipe for pumpkin cookies — sent in 2012! Did I mention… procrastinating? Seven years… I like to look at it as a lost treasure. 

In that recipe email was an addendum that read in part:

“This recipe came from Grace Jio, a Japanese lady we would take to Sunday School every week. She used to bring these pumpkin cookies to share and they were always a hit.”

Sold — I had to try them!

closeup of frosted pumpkin spice cookies

Converting a Vintage Recipe

I love old, tried and true recipes passed down between friends and family. You know they’re good or they never would have survived.

As is true for these Pumpkin Spice Cookies.

The original recipe contained shortening, cinnamon, and 1/2 cup raisins and nuts. I decided to tweak it a little by substituting butter for the shortening, adding pumpkin pie spice, and eliminating the raisins and nuts. But honestly, raisins and nuts would be amazingly delicious.

The icing is the same. The sugar in the recipe is a smaller amount than we are used to today. My son loves the icing. For me? I like the cookies plain. So, we make them both ways! Happy house. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I top these cookies with Cream Cheese Frosting instead?

I know Cream Cheese Frosting is the more common choice for a soft pumpkin cookie, but I think the buttercream helps things stay less sweet. But, if cream cheese is what you’re craving you really can’t go wrong – this is the cream cheese frosting I use to top my pumpkin bars.

How long will these cookies last?

Soft cookies are always best eaten the day they are made but I’d keep them for up to 3 days in an air tight container. Unfrosted cookies might last a day or two longer depending on the temperature of your kitchen.

I don’t live in the US and it is hard to buy canned pumpkin here, can I use fresh instead?

I like this recipe for breaking down leftover pumpkins from Halloween into pumpkin puree – it freezes really well too. Also, if you can’t find pumpkin spice where you are mixed spice is a good international substitute, either from the store or homemade.

Pumpkin Spice Cookies on a Metal Rack.

More Pumpkin Recipes We Love


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Pumpkin Spice Cookies on a Cooling Rack.

Easy Pumpkin Cookies with Vanilla Butter Icing

Yield: 36 Cookies
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 17 minutes
Total Time: 22 minutes

Pumpkin Spice Cookies with Vanilla Butter Icing are a vintage-inspired, melt-in-your-mouth, light, and airy cookie, so delicious it will become a fall tradition.


  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup pure pumpkin
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and line a cookie sheet with parchment.
  2. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, pumpkin pie spice, and salt in a medium-size bowl.
  3. In a stand mixer or with an electric mixer, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Then add the egg, pumpkin puree, and vanilla; stir until combined.
  4. Gradually fold the dry ingredients into the pumpkin butter mixture. Using a cookie scoop, transfer mounds of pumpkin cookie batter to the prepared cookie sheet. Two spoons work well too. Bake in the preheated oven for 17 to 20 minutes or until lightly browned.
  5. Cool on a wire rack and make the icing.
  6. To Make the Icing: In a small saucepan, bring 3 tablespoons of butter and 4 tablespoons of milk to a boil. Stir in 1/2 cup of brown sugar and 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla. Let the mixture cool and then stir in powdered sugar until you reach spreading consistency.


Depending on the size of your cookie scoop or spoons, you should have between 28 and 36 cookies.

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Nutrition Information:
Yield: 36 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 96Total Fat: 5gSaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 2gCholesterol: 19mgSodium: 156mgCarbohydrates: 11gFiber: 0gSugar: 6gProtein: 1g

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