Pumpkin Cookies with Brown Butter Icing

Although I declared my less-than-enthusiastic nature towards the Halloween holiday, I am still in gung-ho mode for everything and anything pumpkin. The bonus to baking with a ton of pumpkin this time of year? Any leftover that gets moved into the refrigerator can be stirred into oatmeal, applesauce, yogurt, ice cream… you name it, and you just created a pumpkin version of xyz. I have been meaning to make pumpkin cookies for well over a month and they kept getting put on the back burner. I had them on my list of things to make for this week, but didn’t have a specific recipe picked out when I noticed these on foodgawker. I have always been a big fan of Tracey’s blog (she makes amazing things!) and I loved that these were just a tad bit different, foregoing the traditional cream cheese frosting that is usually paired with pumpkin goodies, and using a brown butter icing instead. I’m so glad that I stepped outside of the proverbial box, because this is a fantastic combination!

These cookies actually have more of a cake-list consistency than a cookie – they are light, fluffy, and the definition of moist. The are packed with pumpkin flavor and perfectly spiced.

And then that icing. Oh sweet icing. This was my first time working with browned butter, and I couldn’t believe how much more pop of flavor there was. The resulting icing is faintly reminiscent of caramel, but not that sweet. It’s just amazing. And it’s a perfect complement to the pumpkin cookies; the flavors bounce off of each other in great balance. These will definitely be dessert for many nights to come!

Two years ago: Egg Bagels

Pumpkin Cookies with Brown-Butter Icing

Yield: 36 cookies

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 12 to 15 minutes

Total Time: 30 minutes


For the Cookies:
2¾ cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1¼ teaspoons kosher salt
1½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
1¼ teaspoons ground ginger
¾ teaspoon ground nutmeg
¾ cup (6 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2¼ cups light brown sugar
2 eggs, at room temperature
1½ cups canned pumpkin
¾ cup half-and-half
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the Icing:
4 cups powdered sugar
10 tablespoons unsalted butter
¼ cup plus 1 tablespoon half-and-half
2 teaspoons vanilla extract


1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg; set aside.

3. In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream together the butter and brown sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Beat in the eggs until combined. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the pumpkin, half-and-half and vanilla. Beat until very well blended, about 2 minutes (the batter may look grainy at this point, but don't worry, it will come together). Keep the mixer on low and gradually add the dry ingredients, mixing until just combined. Use a rubber spatula to give it a final mix, incorporating any flour on the sides and scraping the bottom of the bowl.

4. Use a large cookie scoop to scoop balls of the batter onto the prepared baking sheets, leaving about 1½ inches between them. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, or until the tops of the cookies spring back when lightly pressed. Transfer the baking sheet to a wire rack and let the cookies cool for 5 minutes then remove them to the rack to cool completely. Repeat with the remaining batter.

5. To make the icing: Add the powdered sugar to a heatproof bowl. Put the butter in a small saucepan over medium heet and let it start melting. Continue cooking, swirling occasionally, until the butter becomes golden brown and smells nutty (be paitent and watch carefully, it can go from brown to burnt quickly). Remove it from the heat and pour it over the powdered sugar, scraping the browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Add the half-and-half and vanilla and stir until the icing is smooth. Using a small offset spatula, spread icing on each cookie. (If the icing stiffens before you get them all frosted, stir vigorously to lighten it up.)

Note #1: You can substitute evaporated milk for the half-and-half in both the cookies and the icing.

Note #2: If you don't have a cookie scoop, transfer the batter to a pastry bag fitting with a plain tip (or use a ziploc bag with the corner snipped off) and pipe 1½-inch rounds onto the prepared baking sheet.

(Recipe adapted from Tracey's Culinary Adventures)


65 Responses to “Pumpkin Cookies with Brown Butter Icing”

  1. Kate Koger on October 26, 2011 at 1:05 am

    I can see that these are clearly calling to me…..make me, bake me and eat me. So I shall!! Looking forward to these in a big way!!


  2. Jessica on October 26, 2011 at 1:18 am

    Oh yum! I need these in my life asap! 😉


  3. Kathryn on October 26, 2011 at 4:20 am

    Oh wow, that brown butter icing looks perfect and I bet it works amazingly well with the cookies!


  4. Choc Chip Uru on October 26, 2011 at 4:50 am

    If something can cheer me up this is so it 🙂


  5. Tracey on October 26, 2011 at 5:44 am

    I’m so glad you enjoyed the combination as much as I did! I sent most of mine off to a party with the husband, but the ones that stayed with me did not last long 🙂


  6. Katrina on October 26, 2011 at 6:53 am

    These sound dreamy! I could just eat that icing by the spoonful!


  7. Jennifer@Peanut Butter and Peppers on October 26, 2011 at 7:27 am

    Dam, I wish I saw this yesterday! I could of made these last night to take to work! I just love pumpkin, why I haven’t gotten sick of it, I’ll never know??


  8. Erin @ Dinners, Dishes and Desserts on October 26, 2011 at 8:00 am

    Pumpkin cookies are one of my favorites. They are so soft and yummy! I have never tried them with a brown butter frosting though, that sounds amazing!


  9. Lauren at Keep It Sweet on October 26, 2011 at 8:15 am

    Why is brown butter so good? These look fantastic!


  10. Mackenzie@The Caramel Cookie on October 26, 2011 at 8:38 am

    I just made very similar cookies last week and they were sooo good! Brown butter really takes the icing over the top!


  11. Crystal on October 26, 2011 at 9:11 am

    I love pumpkin cookies. I suggest nixing the frosting and stirring in a cup of semi-sweet mini morsels. Trust me.


  12. Angie on October 26, 2011 at 9:19 am

    Just found your site ~ Love it!! Cookies look amazing !


  13. Sweettwist_Meg on October 26, 2011 at 9:40 am

    I am not a Halloween fan either. I am looking onward to Christmas. Today is National Pumpkin Day, so good timing. These look great!


  14. bridget {bake at 350} on October 26, 2011 at 9:46 am

    Oh, YUM!!! Do you deliver? 😉


  15. L.S. on October 26, 2011 at 10:47 am

    These look FAB! I can’t wait to try em. Does the frosting harden or does it stay soft?


    • Michelle on October 26th, 2011 at 10:53 am

      Thanks! The icing hardens.


  16. Barbara on October 26, 2011 at 11:07 am

    Alright Michelle, I forgave it earlier in the month when a fresh pumpkin could not be found. For heaven’s sake pumpkins are fresh off the vine, so why are you still using canned pumpkin? Fresh pumpkin is so much better and is better for the environment (less transportation impact). Didn’t you read Food Matters? Pumpkins can be stored whole for months; or you can process them and aliquot them into “can” size servings and freeze. Trust me when I say you can taste a difference.
    Wheh well after that rant/ramble I look forward to trying the recipe out. Maybe tonight (if the power comes back on), nothing like baking when its snowing outside.


  17. Ashley @ Wishes and Dishes on October 26, 2011 at 11:35 am

    I just discovered recently that I love pumpkin cookies 🙂 Will have to try these… great recipe!


  18. amanda @ fake ginger on October 26, 2011 at 12:04 pm

    I’ve been thinking about these since I saw them on Tracey’s blog! I might have to make them today after hearing your review!


  19. christina @ ovenadventures on October 26, 2011 at 12:34 pm

    i just discovered brown butter myself and pumpkin cookies well that just sounds UMMM-mazing! i need to get more pumpkin in my life.


  20. Kate H. on October 26, 2011 at 2:30 pm

    These look delightful! I actually have a Betty Crocker Pumpkin cookie mix in the pantry. I plan on making this icing to go with them (:


  21. Jen @ Chocotuile on October 26, 2011 at 2:53 pm

    I love brown butter, especially in autumn! It just reminds me of fall spices and pairs so beautifully with pumpkin! Your pumpkin plate is very cute, were you waiting for a “pumpkin baking occasion” to pull it out? 🙂 I have a cherry plate and am waiting for a “cherry occasion!”


  22. Grubarazzi (@Grubarazzi) on October 26, 2011 at 4:00 pm

    That icing sounds un..friggen..believable. wow. I want a dozen of these.


  23. Erin on October 26, 2011 at 4:12 pm

    Yummy! I saw these on Tracey’s blog too and have been meaning to make them.


  24. Emily on October 26, 2011 at 4:19 pm

    I love ther recipe! What if I want to use real pumpkin? What wold be the conversion?


    • Michelle on October 26th, 2011 at 5:21 pm

      Hi Emily, You would use the same amount of real pumpkin, just be sure to strain it as much as possible so there isn’t any excess water.


  25. Princess Polkadot on October 26, 2011 at 5:46 pm

    Oooh, that’s a good idea. I’m fairly unfond of cream cheese frosting, but these are calling my name. 😉


  26. Shelby on October 26, 2011 at 7:35 pm

    These cookies look and sound absolutely amazing!


  27. themacaronqueen on October 26, 2011 at 7:41 pm

    Oh I love this. Very similar to my pumpkin cream cheese macaron. Yummy http://themacaronqueen.blogspot.com/2011/10/pumpkin-cream-cheese-macaron.html


  28. Kelly on October 26, 2011 at 7:45 pm

    Wow these look fantastic! I’m loving all these pumpkin recipes! 🙂


  29. Veronica Diaz on October 26, 2011 at 9:17 pm

    Those cookies! My bellah wants them now. BTW: When you say pumpkin you mean pumpkin and not pumpkin pie filling.


  30. Kim Bee on October 27, 2011 at 1:29 am

    These cookies look so good. That icing looks like heaven.


  31. Ella @ Home Cooking Adventure on October 27, 2011 at 8:58 am

    These looks amazing. I’ll try this recipe soon…


  32. Bobbi on October 27, 2011 at 11:05 am

    Oh my, you had me at browned butter frosting. I’d happily slather that stuff on anything!


  33. Fran@fransfavs.com on October 27, 2011 at 1:00 pm

    Too funny–we have the same pumpkin plate! I’ve been using it all month to showcase seasonal goodies (here’s one: http://www.fransfavs.com/2011/10/spicy-molasses-crisps/). I love brown butter “anything.” It does amazing things to amp up the flavor. Putting this on my (long) baking list!


  34. CouponClippingCook on October 27, 2011 at 3:04 pm

    These cookies look sooo good. The frosting is perfect for this cookie. All very simple ingredients right out of the pantry too.


  35. nicole on October 28, 2011 at 6:41 am

    these look so good. I pinned it!


  36. Carroll on October 29, 2011 at 10:02 am

    Hmmmm….. Must try these soon! Yum!


  37. Amanda on October 30, 2011 at 2:18 am

    I made the cookies with the icing, and they are delicious, but they are really really soft. Is it because of the pumpkin? The icing hardened on the cookies the day I made them, but kind of melted the next day? Any tips would help because the tastes separate and together were amazing!!


    • Michelle on October 31st, 2011 at 12:57 pm

      Hi Amanda, The cookies are definitely meant to be soft, but perhaps they needed another few minutes in the oven if you find they are too soft? Also, the icing on mine stayed hard. How did you store them?


  38. Crystal on October 30, 2011 at 10:15 am

    Made them last night and they are wonderful! Per the other Crystal, I added mini chocolate chips (good suggestion). However, my icing seems more brown than picture so maybe I let it get more burned than brown??


  39. Tracy on October 30, 2011 at 12:58 pm

    Lovely cookies! And I love your plate, too. 🙂


  40. Sylvia on October 30, 2011 at 5:28 pm

    I made these this morning and they turned out beautifully. My first (of probably many) experiences with brown butter. I can’t wait to share these with my coworkers in the morning. Thanks for all the wonderful recipes 🙂


  41. melissa on October 31, 2011 at 7:14 pm

    I just finished frosting these cookies & wow they are good. Now i just got to keep my self from eating all of them.

    I follow many blogs & try out many of their recipes & have been disappointed many times. Your blog has yet to have me try a recipe that I love. Thanks for only blogging about the good stuff & only passing along the good recipes from other blogs. 🙂


  42. Meagan on November 1, 2011 at 8:20 pm

    These cookies were AWESOME! However, I have found they spread way out when I bake them. I’ve tried baking longer and also tried making them smaller with a smaller cookie scoop but they still spread way out. Any suggestions? Less 1/2 & 1/2? More flour? They taste great and are super soft but almost too soft to handle since they are so big!

    The frosting was the best frosting I’ve ever made…


    • Michelle on November 2nd, 2011 at 10:34 am

      Hi Meagan, Did you use parchment paper, or did you grease your baking sheet? The cookies should have gotten larger and spread a bit, but not to an unmanageable amount.


  43. Maggie on November 3, 2011 at 1:21 pm

    Brown butter is my all-time favorite “secret weapon” ingredient! I just posted a brown butter brownie recipe today that is utterly amazing. I can’t wait to try this icing, and the cookies of course, but brown butter icing…ohhhhhh. Gimme! Thank you for this great recipe.


  44. Jess on November 7, 2011 at 9:37 am

    I took these tailgating this weekend and one of my friends loved them so much she couldn’t speak; she just walked over and hugged me. The cookies themselves are good, but the icing is one of the best things I’ve ever tasted!


  45. Alley {AtHomeWithAlley} on November 8, 2011 at 11:13 pm

    I made these, they were so fantastic!!! Thank you for another great recipe! I blogged about them, and you here: http://athomewithalley.com/2011/11/08/pumpkin-cookies-with-brown-butter-icing/


  46. Anna on November 12, 2011 at 2:26 am

    These look great, and I love the pumpkin plate!


  47. sharon on January 17, 2012 at 3:43 pm

    OMG – thank you! These are amazing! The bad news…It is snowing hard and I am home alone with 3 dozen warm pumpkin cookies!!


  48. Kai on March 1, 2012 at 8:26 pm

    This recipe is amazing. I am happy to report that I followed the recipe to a T and the frosting is out of this world! Just ate a gigantic cookie with a cup of tea and I’m in heaven. My coworkers are going to LOVE these! Thanks for another great recipe!



  49. Heather on September 11, 2012 at 3:54 pm

    I will NEVER look at regular icing the same after tasting brown butter icing. It is delicious! I doubled this recipe for a wedding cookie table and the cookies came out wonderful and look pretty!


  50. nick p on October 26, 2012 at 4:30 pm

    I just made these and they turned out so well! I love being able to use my cookie scoop, hahaha. I’ve made pumpkin cookies before but they were more like scones, and definitely not spicy enough. thank you for the recipe!


  51. Kristina on November 10, 2012 at 8:54 am

    I made these. They were really good. But I thought the icing was crazy sweet. I think I’ll keep the cookie recipe and make up something else to go with them
    Thanks for sharing. I love your recipes.


  52. Julie Caldwell on October 14, 2013 at 3:42 pm

    First time making a pumpkin cookie. I didn’t cook the frosting, will do next time, just mixed up the ingrediants and frosted cookies due to shortage of time.


  53. felicia on December 4, 2013 at 1:10 am

    Hello everyone! Anyone have storage tips for these? I am planning out a couple of baking tasks for the weekend and trying to figure out which ones will keep will/which won’t.



    • Michelle on December 5th, 2013 at 3:44 pm

      Hi Felicia, I would freeze these before frosting them. Happy baking to you!


      • felicia on December 5th, 2013 at 7:05 pm

        Thanks Michelle!


      • Felicia on December 6th, 2013 at 11:35 pm

        I ended up bringing these to work today and they were a big hit! So delicious. I loved how cakey the cookies turned out and how much the spices added to it. Definitely going into my “success!” file!


  54. Teri on September 29, 2014 at 9:53 am

    Quick question ~ does this icing stay wet or does it harden enough to stack the cookies on top of one anther without sticking together?


    • Michelle on September 30th, 2014 at 9:46 am

      Hi Teri, It does harden, so if you’re putting them out to serve, you could have them touching, however if you’re storing them in a container, I would put a layer of parchment or wax paper between layers.


  55. Heidelind on October 24, 2014 at 5:04 pm

    These are wonderful! My husband inhaled them! I brought some to work as well and received many compliments. The brown butter icing is amazing!


  56. Erin on November 23, 2014 at 11:06 pm

    Thanks for a great recipe! I had never browned butter before and was glad to try it. I made it as written (only with 1/2 tsp more of cinnamon), and thought it was delicious. I also made another batch of the icing to put on pumpkin bread. They are nice looking cookies when frosted!


  57. Sophia on October 25, 2016 at 9:38 am


    How large do the cookie dough scoops should be? 1.5 tablespoons? 2 ounces of cookie dough? These look delicious, and I can’t wait to try them!



Leave a Comment

(Your comment may need to be approved before it will appear on the site. Thanks for your patience! If it is your first time commenting you may want to review the Comment Guidelines.)