Pumpkin Cookies with Brown Sugar Caramel Frosting

Fall is one of the best times of year. I love the sweaters, football games, pies, warm hot chocolates and apple ciders, spooky activities, costume parties, colorful leaves, and cool air. And let’s not forget the PUMPKINS! My friend Shelby posted her mom’s famous recipe for Pumpkin Cookies on her adorable blog, Salted Sugar, last week and I was smart enough to make them yesterday. They are uh-mazing!

These cookies are perfectly spiced, amazingly soft, and incredibly delicious. Not lying. I know that sounds over the top, but it’s true!! They are just what I needed to help me usher in the fall season. I promise you won’t be disappointed.

I followed Shelby’s advice and used half the amount of cloves the recipe calls for and it was perfect. I wouldn’t have wanted any more. I cut the amount in half in the recipe below, so just follow it as written. Oh, and I had to use a small, fresh pumpkin cause I didn’t have any canned pumpkin on hand, but it was easy to cook and made the cookies taste extra fresh! So, whether you use canned pumpkin or a small cooking pumpkin, these cookies really are the best.

Shelby mentions that she never uses a timer, she just watches them. I was expecting them to brown a little more than they do so I left my first batch in for a little longer than I would have liked. After trial and error, I found that they came out perfectly after 12 minutes.

The frosting recipe that goes with cookies is vanilla buttercream (and it’s perfectly amazing), but as I was waiting for the cookies to bake, my mother-in-law suggested making a brown sugar frosting as well so we could switch things up and have two flavors. We weren’t disappointed!! Both frostings were SO yummy with the pumpkin flavor, and everyone agreed that it was too hard to choose which frosting was better because they are so different and equally delicious. Guess I’ll always have to make both frostings when I make these cookies! It was fun having brown and orange frosting too :)

The only other thing you need to know is that this recipe makes about 5 dozen cookies—so don’t double it unless you really need to make a TON!

The BEST Pumpkin Cookies EVER

adapted from Salted Sugar
about 5 dozen cookies


  •  2 cups sugar
  • 2 cups shortening
  • 2 cups pumpkin (the can should say 100% pure pumpkin…don’t accidentally buy the pumpkin pie filling! You don’t want the sweetened stuff)
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • 5 cups flour
  • 4 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 2 tsp. baking soda
  • 2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
  • 2 tsp. nutmeg
  •  ¾ tsp. cloves


  • Preheat oven to 350° F.
  • In an electric mixer, blend shortening and sugar.
  • Add pumpkin and mix.
  • Add eggs one at a time, mixing after each one.
  • Add vanilla extract and mix.
  • In a separate bowl, mix flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, baking soda, pumpkin pie spice, nutmeg, and cloves.
  • Add your dry ingredients to the wet ingredients one cup at a time
  • Bake at 350°F for 10-12 minutes (I found that mine were perfect after 12).
  • Meanwhile, make your frosting (I made 1 batch of each kind of frosting…this will give you more vanilla buttercream than brown sugar caramel).
  • Once cookies have cooled, frost and add your favorite festive sprinkles. Enjoy!

Related: Perfect Sugar Cookies

Vanilla Buttercream Frosting

*If only making this frosting, make one and a half recipes.

  • 4 ¼ cups powdered sugar
  • 1 stick of butter
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • ¼ cup half and half
  • add orange food coloring for a festive touch (I did 8 drops yellow, 5 drops red)

Brown Sugar Caramel Frosting

*If only making this frosting, double.


  • ½ stick melted butter
  • 1 T water
  • ⅛ c half and half or whole milk
  • 2 ¼ c  powdered sugar
  • ½ c brown sugar, packed lightly
  • 1 t vanilla


  • Prepare pan by spraying with Pam and rubbing down the sides. In the pan, melt the butter and then add the brown sugar and water. Cook and stir until the sugar has melted and isn’t grainy anymore.
  • Remove from heat and add the half and half and vanilla to cool the mixture. Let stand for 10-15 minutes to cool (don’t skip this step!)
  • Transfer brown sugar mixture to kitchen aid or bowl, add the powdered sugar, and beat until smooth.