Pumpkin Spice Sugar Cookies with Maple Icing

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A small batch of Pumpkin Spice Sugar Cookies with Maple Icing are a delicious way to welcome Fall!  This is an easy cut out sugar cookie recipe that makes soft and tender cookies perfectly spiced with pumpkin pie spice.  Then the charming pumpkin shaped cookies are decorated with maple syrup royal icing.  Who says everything has to taste like pumpkin for Fall!?

Pumpkin Spice Sugar Cookies with Maple Icing

Sugar cookies aren’t just for decorated Christmas cookies!  But I think we knew that.  When you think about the little sugar cookie, they are the perfect base cookie that you can flavor any way you like. 

However, I haven’t always liked sugar cookies.  I wasn’t a huge fan of the uninteresting flavor, but mostly, it was task of rolling and decorating what seemed to be a thousand cookies.  Fast forward to this recipe for Pumpkin Spice Sugar Cookies, and I am a converted sugar cookie lover.  For a few reasons:

  • Sugar cookies can be flavored – hence, this recipe.
  • Cutting out the sugar cookie doesn’t have to be time consuming – I’m learning to appreciate the simplicity of one cookie cutout per batch of sugar cookies.
  • I now have a small batch recipe for sugar cookies – So no more thousands of cookies laying around.
  • These sugar cookies have a delicious texture – The cookies are soft and tender, and almost melt in your mouth.  
  • Decorating can be fun – if you take your time and plan ahead – Full disclosure, I am not a professional cookie decorator.  Nor do I aspire to be.  Which is what helped me.  I love the elaborate designs I see on Pinterest, and I’m happy to accept that will probably never be me! 

Small Batch Sugar Cookie Recipe

First things first – With this recipe for Pumpkin Spice Sugar Cookies with Maple Icing, I was able to get 10 ‘regular’ size cookies, plus 6 (give or take a couple) ‘small’ cutout cookies. 

The number of cookies you can get out of this recipe depends on:

  1. How thick you roll your cookie dough
  2. The size (and shape) of your cookie cutout
Pumpkin sugar cookie cut outs

Maple Syrup Royal Icing

As a reminder, I am not a professional or seasoned cookie decorator.  And my recipe for Maple Royal Icing may be indicative of that.  In the sense that there is a little bit of artistry when it comes to making royal icing:

  • Consistency / texture – The consistency of the icing should be easy enough to pipe borders, and loose enough to ‘flood’ in between the borders.  For this recipe – I’ve left that up to you.  Seeing as I only did one color and my design is not that elaborate on these cookies.  
  • Ingredients – Some recipes call for egg whites or meringue powder, milk or water.  And I’ve even seen some with glycerin – so the icing doesn’t set to hard.  This recipe – we’re using powdered sugar, pure maple syrup, and a little milk.  That’s it.
  • Mixing techniques – I’ve seen recipes where you mix the icing in the stand mixer for x amount of time, until peaks form, the icing is glossy, etc. etc.  This recipe – We are just going to mix with a whisk until everything is combined.  From there, you can add more powdered sugar or milk to get to your desired consistency. 

I relate the consistency I used to decorate these pumpkin cookies to that of Elmer’s Glue.

I have great respect for the artists that I see on Pinterest, and their amazing cookies.  And yes – I may add some of the above to my next recipe for decorated Christmas cookies.  But for this recipe, what I have developed works beautifully.

A pumpkin shaped sugar cookie with maple royal icing

What You Need To Make A Small Batch Of Sugar Cookies

Ingredients

  • Unsalted Butter
  • Granulated Sugar
  • Egg Yolk
  • Vanilla Extract
  • All-Purpose Flour
  • Baking Powder
  • Salt
  • Pumpkin Pie Spice
  • Powdered Sugar – For the royal icing.
  • Milk – The milk is also for the royal icing.  You can use any milk you prefer (even dairy-free), or water also works.
  • Maple Syrup – I recommend pure maple syrup to add buttery and caramel notes to the icing.  You can certainly omit the syrup if you prefer.

Baking Equipment

  • Baking Sheets
  • Parchment Paper
  • Mixing Bowl
  • Rolling Pin
  • Cookie Cutters

Tips For Making Pumpkin Spice Sugar Cookies with Maple Icing

Sugar Cookie Tips

  • Bring the butter to room temp – Butter is much easier to mix when it is not chilled solid.
  • Chill the cookie dough – I’ve seen the searches for cookie recipes that do not need to be chilled.  This recipe is not one of them.  The cookies have butter, and butter melts, and if it melts too fast while baking, the cookies will spread.  Additionally, chilled cookie dough helps the cookies to keep their cut out shape.
  • Flavor the cookies to your taste – If you want a bigger punch of pumpkin spice, add a little more, or even a little extra cinnamon.  You can also add different flavored extracts (i.e. Maple) to match the flavor of your icing. 
  • Roll the dough to your desired thickness – If you like a thicker cookie, don’t roll the dough too thin.  You will want to watch the bake time as a thicker cookie may take a minute or two longer to bake.  Keep in mind, the number of cookies you yield from the recipe depends on how thick/thin you roll the dough, and the cookie cutters you use.
  • Bake one sheet at a time – I prefer baking one baking sheet of cookies at a time for a couple of reasons:  Even baking and not having to worry about rotating the baking sheets in the middle of baking.  
  • Crispy cookie – If you prefer a crispier cookie, bake the cookies for about 1 to 2 minutes more.  Word of caution – keep a close eye on the cookies so they don’t overbake (or burn!)

Royal Icing Tips

  • Allow the cookies to chill before decorating – Royal icing and warm cookies are not a good combo.  And can lead to an aggravating cookie decorating session.  
  • Don’t stress on the icing – At least, that is my recommendation.  There are a lot of wonderful recipes and techniques for making the perfect royal icing.  But for the sake of ease, I take a much simpler approach on the recipe and technique.
  • Flavor the royal icing – I highly recommend adding a little punch of flavor – like pure maple syrup – to the royal icing.  Or you can also try the Apple Cider Icing used on the Gingerbread Cookies on the blog.
A decorated pumpkin cookie on fall plate

Common Questions For Making A Small Batch Of Sugar Cookies

Can this sugar cookie recipe be doubled?

I have not tested it, but I think doubling the recipe would work. For the egg, I would recommend two egg yolks vs. 1 whole egg. The egg yolk adds great flavor and texture to the cookies. If you try a larger batch, let me know!

I want gluten free sugar cookies. Can I swap in a 1:1 gluten free flour blend?

You could certainly try it! Though, I can’t say for certain how the cookies would roll out and hold their cut out shape when baked. If you are looking for a simple gluten free sugar cookie, try the Gluten Free Small Batch recipe on the blog.

Can I substitute a sugar alternative?

I can’t say for certain as I don’t have experience baking with sugar alternatives. If you try it, let me know!

I like thicker sugar cookies. Can I roll out the dough thicker than suggested?

Of course! You will probably need to adjust the bake time by 1 to 2 minutes longer.

Do I really have to chill the dough?

I say yes. We don’t want the cookies to spread while they bake – especially after all of that work to roll and cut them out!

Can I save time and bake both baking sheets at the same time?

You certainly can. I recommend keeping an eye on the cookies and if the cookies in the back or on the lower rack are baking too fast, rotate the pans. I prefer to bake on baking sheet at a time so I don’t have to open the oven, let out heat, an rotate the baking sheets.

Are the sugar cookies soft and chewy or crispy?

I would describe these sugar cookies as soft and tender. They are not chewy, nor are they crispy. If you prefer a crispy cookie, bake them for 1 to 2 minutes longer.

More Small Batch Cookie Recipes

Decorated sugar cookies with maple royal icing
Fall sugar cookies shaped like pumpkins
Print Recipe Pin Recipe
5 from 2 reviews

Pumpkin Spice Sugar Cookies

Yield: 1 Dozen (see notes)
A small batch of Pumpkin Spice Sugar Cookies with Maple Icing are a delicious way to welcome Fall!  This is an easy recipe for a classic sugar cookie cutout that is flavored with pumpkin pie spice.  Then the charming pumpkin shaped cookies are decorated with maple syrup royal icing.  Who says everything has to taste like pumpkin for Fall!?
Prep10 mins
Cook10 mins
Chill30 mins
Total50 mins

Ingredients

Sugar Cookies

  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • pinch salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

Maple Royal Icing

  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 teaspoons pure maple syrup
  • 1-2 teaspoons milk, any kind

Instructions

Sugar Cookies

  • In a medium mixing bowl, add the butter and sugar. Use a hand held mixer and beat on medium-high speed until the butter is creamy. Add the egg yolk and vanilla extract and beat until fully incorporated.
  • Sift the flour, baking powder, pumpkin pie spice, and salt over the top of the butter mixture. Mix on low speed until a dough forms and no flour streaks remain. Do not overmix.
  • Pour the dough onto a sheet of plastic wrap and form into a disc. Wrap completely in the plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
  • Preheat oven to 350F degrees and adjust the oven rack to the middle position. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
  • Lightly flour your work surface roll the chilled dough to 1/4 inch thickness. If you want thicker cookies, don't roll the dough so thin.
  • Use a cookie cutter to cut out your shapes, and place the cookies at least 2 inches apart on the baking sheet. Re-roll any scraps to cut into more cookies. I don't recommend re-rolling the dough more than twice.
  • I recommend baking one baking sheet of cookies at a time. While the first batch is baking, refrigerate the other baking sheet of cookies. If the cookies feel as though they got too warm while rolling and cutting, place both baking sheets in the refrigerator to cool for about 10 minutes.
  • Bake the cookies for 10 minutes, or until the edges turn slightly golden. If you want crispier cookies, bake for a couple minutes longer. Cool the cookies on the baking sheet set on a wire cooling rack for 10 minutes. Then transfer the cookies to the cooling rack to cool completely.
  • Once the cookies are cool, make the royal icing and decorate the cookies!

Maple Royal Icing

  • In a small mixing bowl, add the powdered sugar and maple syrup. Whisk together until the powdered sugar is moist. Add a teaspoon of milk at a time to get to your desired icing/decorating consistency.

Notes

  • Serving Size – The number of cookies in your batch will depend on how thick you roll out your cookie dough, and the size of your cookie cutters.
  • Chill Time – I recommend refrigerating the cut-out cookies before baking.  This helps them not spread too much.
  • Baking Tip – I prefer baking one baking sheet of cookies at a time.  For an even bake and not having to worry about rotating baking sheets in the middle of baking.
  • Crispy Cookie – For a crispier cookie, bake for a couple of extra minutes.   
  • Freezing the Cookie Dough – The cookie dough can be frozen – for up to 3 months.  Shape the dough into a disc, wrap generously in plastic wrap, and place in a Ziploc bag to freeze.
  • Freezing Baked Cookies – Baked un-decorated cookies can be frozen for up to 3 months.  Either in a Tupperware, or gently placed in a Ziploc bag.  Defrosting the cookies can take 1 to 3 hours.
Check out the blog post for more Tips and FAQ’s!
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Author: Erin | Butter and Bliss
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