Snickerdoodle Cookies

4.92 from 24 votes
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Snickerdoodle cookies are a delightful treat rolled in cinnamon and sugar. The spiced coating creates a crackly crisp exterior with surprisingly thick, soft centers. It’s the perfect balance of simple flavors and contrasting textures.

Easy snickerdoodle cookies recipe for the holidays.

Snickerdoodle cookies differ from other drop cookies as they have a slightly tangy flavor balanced with warm spices and a candy-like crust. Their distinctive thickness and chewy texture are achieved using equal parts butter and shortening.

Enjoy them warm from the oven, or add some ice cream in the middle to make sandwiches. These simple, eye-catching cookies are a must-have for any celebration. No need to chill the dough like chocolate chip cookies. Just mix and bake!

Don’t skip the cream of tartar!

Dry flour ingredients in a bowl with a whisk.
Step 2. Prepare the Dry Ingredients

Cream of tartar (potassium bitartrate) gives snickerdoodle cookies a slightly tart flavor. The acidic salt is a byproduct of grape juice and winemaking that looks like a fine white powder. It can help stabilize eggs or add a slightly sour taste to cookies and cakes. It provides a nice balance to the abundance of sugar added to the dough and coating.

Otherwise, it would taste bland and overly sweet. The all-purpose flour, cream of tartar, baking soda, and salt are mixed together to disperse into the cookie dough evenly.

Add in two kinds of fat

Butter and sugar being mixed together in a stand mixer bowl to make cookie dough.
Step 3. Cream butter and sugar

Shortening is made from hydrogenating vegetable oil, which contains no water but has a bland taste. This helps the cookies hold their shape and prevent spreading, so they stay nice and high. Butter adds incredible baked flavors from the milk solids, which brown to give the cookies a more attractive aroma and appearance.

I extensively tested the effects of adding butter vs shortening in cookies and found some interesting results. Using only butter makes the cookies spread too much and feel very greasy. Using only shortening keeps them thick but with very little flavor dimension. A 50:50 mix provides flavor, holds the shape better, and provides a soft bite.

Mix the wet ingredients

Mixing egg yolk into a snickerdoodle cookie dough.
Step 4. Incorporate the eggs

Cream together the softened butter (just below room temperature), shortening, and granulated sugar. This creates pockets of air for a tender chew. Mix in the eggs, one at a time, to emulsify the fat and add richness to the cookie dough.

Gradually add the flour mixture to the wet mixture. When the dough feels stiff, it’s ready to roll! Adding a generous amount of cream of tartar paired with baking soda creates a rapid carbon dioxide reaction. These bubbles help the cookies rise and crack on the top, which is what we want.

Roll and coat

Rolling a single dough ball in a small bowl of cinnamon and sugar.
Step 6. Roll the dough balls

Measure out 2 tablespoon-sized cookie dough balls. They will expand after baking. Combine ground cinnamon and sugar in a small bowl for a churro-flavored crust. Roll the balls in the flavoring to cover them completely. Place them about 3 inches apart on baking sheets lined with parchment paper.

Bake time

Raw sugar coasted snickerdoodle dough balls on a parchment paper lined sheet pan.
Step 7. Bake the cookies

The cookies bake at a slightly higher temperature of 375ºF (191ºC). This sets the edges quickly, so it doesn’t spread out too much. The centers should puff up. Then once it settles down after being removed from the oven, you’ll see the characteristic crackly surface.

Baking for about 10 minutes and briefly cooling them on a warm sheet pan allows carryover cooking and keeps the texture soft and chewy. Transfer cookies to a wire rack to cook completely.

Ways to adapt the recipe

  • Add ½ to 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract for a richer flavor.
  • Use ½ teaspoon almond or hazelnut extract to add a nutty taste.
  • Make it chai-flavored by adding ground ginger, cardamom, and cloves.

Sugar cookies vs. snickerdoodles

Sugar cookies have a sweet vanilla base and often use a combination of baking powder, baking soda, butter, and oil. They’re rolled in just granulated sugar or colored sugar.

Snickerdoodle cookies have a distinctive tangy flavor from the cream of tartar and use vegetable shortening in addition to butter. The dough balls are rolled in a cinnamon sugar mixture for more of a churro-like taste.

More holiday cookies

Freshly baked snickerdoodle cookies cooling on a sheet pan.

Don’t use baking powder

This snickerdoodle cookies recipe calls for baking soda and cream of tartar, which is very similar to baking powder but without the starch that prevents the ingredients from reacting when stored. If you add chemical leavening agents like baking powder, the cookies will spread too much and be overly sour.

Snickerdoodle Cookies

Snickerdoodle cookies are a delightful treat rolled in cinnamon and sugar. The coating creates a crackly crisp exterior with surprisingly thick soft centers.
4.92 from 24 votes
Prep Time50 minutes
Cook Time20 minutes
Total Time1 hour 10 minutes
Servings 24 cookies
Course Dessert
Cuisine American

Ingredients 
 

Snickerdoodle Cookies

  • 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons cream of tartar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened to 65 to 67ºF (18 to 20ºC)
  • 8 tablespoons vegetable shortening
  • 1 ½ cups granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs

Cinnamon Sugar Coating

  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar

Instructions 

  • Preheat the Oven – Set the oven rack to the center position and preheat to 375ºF (191ºC). Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
  • Prepare the Dry Ingredients – In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cream of tartar, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
  • Cream Butter and Sugar – Fit a stand mixer with the paddle attachment or use a hand mixer. On medium speed (setting 5), beat the butter, shortening, and 1 ½ cups of sugar until pale and fluffy, 3 minutes.
  • Incorporate the Eggs – Add the eggs, one at a time to the butter mixture. Mix on medium speed until incorporated, 30 seconds. Scrape the sides of the bowl in between addition.
  • Add the Dry Ingredients – Turn the mixer to the lowest setting and slowly add in the flour. Mix until just combined, and the dough feels stiff, about 30 seconds. Stir the dough with a spatula to incorporate any flour pockets, but do not overmix.
  • Roll the Dough Balls – In a small bowl, combine ¼ cup sugar and cinnamon. Make 2 tablespoons (30g, 1 ounce) sized cookie dough balls, then roll them into the mixture to completely coat the outside. Repeat with the remaining dough.
  • Bake the Cookies – Stagger the balls 3" apart on the baking sheets, about 9 to 12 per sheet. Bake 1 sheet at a time until the edges are set and beginning to brown, about 10 to 12 minutes, rotating halfway through. The centers should be puffy, soft, and cracked and look slightly raw in the cracks.
  • Cool After Baking – Cool the cookies on the baking sheet for 10 minutes then transfer them to a cooling rack.

Notes

  • Refrigerated Cookie Dough: Shape, roll in cinnamon and sugar, then refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 5 days. Bake at 375ºF (191ºC) until edges are set and centers are puffy.
  • Frozen Cookie Dough: Shape, roll in cinnamon and sugar, and freeze in a resealable plastic bag for up to 1 month. Bake at 300ºF (149ºC) for 18 to 20 minutes, rotating halfway through.
  • Make it Gluten-Free: Substitute gluten-free flour for all-purpose flour. I recommend Bob’s Red Mill 1:1 gluten-free baking flour.
  • Storing: Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days or in the freezer for up to 2 months.  
  • Recipe Adapted From: Cook’s Illustrated

Nutrition Facts

Serves: 24 cookies
Calories 179kcal (9%)Carbohydrates 24g (8%)Protein 2g (4%)Fat 9g (14%)Saturated Fat 4g (20%)Cholesterol 28mg (9%)Sodium 102mg (4%)Potassium 62mg (2%)Fiber 1g (4%)Sugar 14g (16%)Vitamin A 142IU (3%)Calcium 9mg (1%)Iron 1mg (6%)

Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000-calorie diet. All nutritional information is based on estimated third-party calculations. Each recipe and nutritional value will vary depending on the brands you use, measuring methods, and portion sizes per household.

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Jessica Gavin

I'm a culinary school graduate, cookbook author, and a mom who loves croissants! My passion is creating recipes and sharing the science behind cooking to help you gain confidence in the kitchen.

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15 Comments Leave a comment or review

  1. Jerri Davis says

    I love, love, love your chocolate chip cookie recipe! The mixing 30 seconds then resting 3 minutes 4 times– really makes a difference! Best CC cookies I have ever made!!!

  2. Greg says

    A great recipe, the one I’ll return to, and I’ve tried a bunch (always all butter, but I thought I’d try this one. I’m in Brazil and vegetable shortening is weird here, it’s not like Crisco but the results are the snickerdoodle I’d hoped for). I added vanilla and let the dough sit for 30 minutes before the oven but otherwise followed exactly.

    A perfect cookie. Appreciate the weighted measurements as that’s the way I bake.

    • Jessica Gavin says

      Thank you for your feedback Greg! So happy to hear that even with different ingredients they still turned out yummy. Happy baking!

  3. Katie Kruse says

    Jessica,
    As our social distancing continues, the increase in baking continues. My sister and I had a Snickerdoodle marathon. We compared and tried different recipes and you won! The cookies were perfect. I never thought I would ever use Crisco but I trusted you which wasn’t a mistake.

    • Jessica Gavin says

      I love that you had a baking competition! Just a little bit of crisco really adds that characteristic thick chew. Yum!

  4. Judy says

    The best recipe. Our family grew up on snickerdoodle cookies and Jessica’s are the best. I took them to church and to the home care where my mom lives. Everyone raves about this recipe.

  5. Barbara says

    Can I use liquid vegetable oil in your snickerdoodle recipe? The recipe reads, shortening. I do not generally use shortening like crisco. Will vegetable oil work? Thx.

    • Jessica Gavin says

      No, I would not add liquid vegetable oil or the cookie will spread to much. You can use all butter, but it will be more crispy and spread a little more.

  6. Mib says

    I like the idea of a chai flavoured cookie! Can you guide me as to how much of the additional spices to add, and do the spices go in the cookie dough or the topping? Also do you have a suggestion for which dairy alternative for butter would work best to give the desired results. I usually use soy butter.
    Can’t wait to make these!

    • Jessica Gavin says

      I would go with chai spices in the topping. In addition to the sugar and cinnamon, add 1 teaspoon ground ginger, 1 teaspoon cardamom, and 1/4 teaspoon cloves. You could use soy butter and vegetable shortening.

  7. Mib says

    Turned out great! Just like you said crispy on the outside and soft in the center. I loved the chai spice combo. The dough was quite soft and didn’t crack much when baked…maybe the soy butter?

    • Jessica Gavin says

      That’s great to hear that the extra spices added a nice chai spice flavor! Yes, the soy butter could impact the texture on the surface.

  8. Kathleen says

    Hello Jessica, what do you mean by “rotating halfway through” in the baking instructions? Do you mean that the baking sheet should be turned? Thank you.