These soft baked Vegan Pumpkin Cookies are big and fluffy, full of autumn flavors and totally delicious! The dairy-free maple frosting takes them over the top. The perfect fall treat!
If you love soft, pillowy cookies, you’re in the right place! They are firm, but almost cake-like in texture. They bake up super fluffy! With a mild pumpkin flavor, perfect sweetness, and just enough autumn spice to make saying goodbye to summer totally worth it, these vegan pumpkin cookies are going to be your go-to fall treat as soon as the weather starts to turn!
Ingredients you need
Ingredient notes and substitutions
The same amount of regular all-purpose flour will work. Do not use a single gluten free flour by itself (almond flour, coconut flour, rice flour, etc), it will not work.
Pumpkin – They wouldn’t be vegan pumpkin cookies without the pumpkin! Look for canned 100% pure pumpkin, not pumpkin pie filling!
If you want to purée your own home cooked pumpkin, go for it! Sweet potato would be a great a substitute if you don’t have pumpkin.
Sugar – I use a combination of cane sugar and coconut sugar. This makes the cookies soft, fluffy, and moist.
Brown sugar can be used in place of the coconut sugar. Using all of one kind of sugar (all cane or all coconut/brown) will technically work, but will change the texture of the cookies. Not necessarily a bad thing, just different, so be aware of that if you try it.
Also, note that not all sugar is vegan. If that matters to you, be sure to check labels for certified vegan brands or buy organic, which will always be vegan.
Butter – There are several vegan butter brands available in most grocery stores these days. Earth Balance is a popular one. Miyoko’s is also a great one for baking.
Cornstarch – Cornstarch helps these cookies stay super soft on the insides while at the same time lending structure to the dough.
Spices – I like a strong spice flavor in these cookies. You can leave out the extra cinnamon and nutmeg if you prefer. But don’t skip the salt – it helps balance the sweetness.
How to make this recipe
This recipe is easiest to make with the help of a stand mixer. I haven’t tried making them without one, so I can’t say how you will fare if you try it.
In the stand mixer, (1, 2) cream the dairy-free butter and sugars together. (3) Add the pumpkin purée, vanilla extract, and cornstarch mixture and mix again.
(4, 5) In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and spices.
With the stand mixer on the lowest speed, (6) gently add a bit of the flour mixture. Once it’s mostly incorporated, raise the speed a bit. Continue with the remaining flour mixture, a little at a time, always starting on a low speed when you first add it so it doesn’t go flying all over your kitchen, until (7) well combined. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, as necessary to ensure all the ingredients are mixed well.
Once the dough is made, scoop 2 heaping tablespoons and roll them into a ball using your clean hands. (8) Place onto a parchment lined rimmed baking sheet. Continue with the remaining dough spacing them out about 2 inches. Gently flatten the balls of dough into round discs using your palm or fingers as they won’t spread out much on their own. Slightly damp hands can help if the dough is sticking.
Bake for 12 to 14 minutes until puffed up and slightly firm. Transfer to a (9) cooling rack to cool completely.
They will continue to firm up as they cool, so do not over bake! A little under baked is better than over. Every oven is differnet, but I recommend to start with 12 minutes in the oven and if they are still a bit gooey, bake another 1 to 2 minutes.
Frosting ingredients and notes
These tender gluten free cookies are amazing all on their own, but adding a little frosting makes them irresistible!
The frosting for these iced vegan pumpkin cookies is fairly traditional – dairy free butter and powdered sugar – but I also add pure maple syrup for a heavenly combo that complements the flavors of the cookies so well. A touch of pure vanilla extract balances the butter and sugar.
If don’t want to use maple syrup, simply use a few tablespoons of non-dairy milk instead until you reach the desired consistency. The frosting should be thick and spreadable.
Beat all the frosting ingredients in the bowl of an electric mixer until smooth.
If your frosting is too thick, add additional liquid (more pure maple syrup or non-dairy milk) 1 tablespoon at a time until the desired consistency is reached. Alternately, if your frosting is too thin, add more powdered sugar ¼ cup at a time until it is smooth, thick and spreadable.
These cookies, with or without frosting, will keep in a single layer in an air-tight container on the counter for 2 days. Be sure they are completely cooled before storing.
Transfer them to the fridge to keep them longer, about 1 to 2 weeks.
You can also freeze these cookies! Place the baked, cooled, and frosted cookies in one even layer on a cookie sheet or large place. Transfer to the freezer. Once frozen, transfer the cookies to a freezer safe plastic bag or container with a small piece of parchment in between in each to prevent sticking. They should last in the freezer for about 3 months.
Recipe pro tips
Be sure to start with room temperature ingredients, especially the butter. Using butter that is either too cold or too warm (melted) will result in a different cookie texture.
As with all baking, be sure to preheat your oven!
Be sure to use a gluten free flour blend that is meant to replace wheat flours as a 1:1 substitute. Single gluten free flours will not work here.
If the dough is sticking to your hand when rolling, slightly dampen your hands with water. You may have to repeat the dampening process as you work your way through the dough.
Do not over bake! A little under baked is better than over as the cookies will continue to firm up as they cool. Every oven is different, but I recommend starting with 12 minutes bake time. If they are still a bit gooey, bake another 1 to 2 minutes.
Let the cookies cool completely before frosting them!
Pumpkin Cookie FAQs
Pumpkin is very nutritious. It’s low in calories, packed with vitamins and minerals (specifically vitamin A, vitamin C, and potassium), high in fiber, and boasts antioxidants.
Canned pumpkin is simply puréed cooked pumpkin and nothing more. Pumpkin Pie Filling contains not only pumpkin, but a lot of sugar and spices.
Since we are adding our own sweetener and spices, you want pure pumpkin purée (canned 100% pumpkin) for these Vegan Pumpkin Cookies, not pumpkin pie filling.
Pumpkin Pie Spice is generally made up of cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and cloves. Some brands also contain allspice or cardamom.
My favorite Pumpkin Pie Spice is from Trader Joe’s. It contains cinnamon, ginger, lemon peel, nutmeg, cloves, and cardamom.
You can even mix up your own if you’re feeling fancy.
More sweet vegan pumpkin recipes
- Vegan Pumpkin Bread
- Vegan Pumpkin Spice Latte
- Pumpkin Fudge Brownies
- Pumpkin Layer Cake
- Crunchy Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies
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Soft Baked Vegan Pumpkin Cookies with Maple Frosting
For the Vegan Pumpkin Cookies
- 2 ½ cups gluten free flour blend use a blend that is a 1:1 sub for all-purpose flour (or use all purpose flour if you don't need it to be gluten free)
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon plus more for dusting the tops, if desired
- ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 3 tablespoons water
- ½ cup dairy-free butter sticks softened to room temperature (I use Earth Balance)
- ¾ cup organic cane sugar
- ½ cup coconut sugar or brown sugar
- 1 cup pure pumpkin purée (not pumpkin pie filling)
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
For the Vegan Pumpkin Cookies
- Preheat the oven to 350° F. Line 2 rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
- Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, pumpkin pie spice, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. Set aside.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the cornstarch and water. Set aside.
- In the bowl of an electric stand mixer, beat the butter, cane sugar, and coconut sugar until well blended. Add the pumpkin purée, vanilla extract, and cornstarch slurry. Beat until smooth. (If it separates a bit, it's fine, it will come back together when you add the rest of the ingredients.)
- Gently add in the flour mixture, a little bit at a time, until well combined. Be sure to have your mixer on a slow speed when first adding the flour. Once it is somewhat incorporated, you can raise the speed.
- Scoop about 2 tablespoons of the dough and roll it into a ball using your clean hands. Place it on the prepared baking sheet. Continue with the remaining dough, spacing them out 2 inches apart.
- Gently flatten the balls of dough with your palm or fingers. Slightly damp hands can help if the dough is sticking.
- Bake 12 to 14 minutes until the dough has puffed up and is fairly firm.
- Let cool on the baking pan for 1 to 2 minutes and then transfer to a wire cooling rack to cool completely, about 20 minutes.
For the Maple Frosting
- Add the butter to the bowl of an electric stand mixer and beat until smooth.
- Add the powdered sugar, a little at a time at slow speed, until mostly incorporated.
- Add the maple syrup and vanilla extract and beat until smooth. If the frosting is too thick, add non-dairy milk 1 tablespoon at a time until the desired consistency is reached. Alternately, if the frosting is too thin, add more powdered sugar a few tablespoons at a time until the desired consistency is reached.
To Frost the Cookies
- Once the cookies are completely cool, use an offset spatula to frost the tops.
- Sprinkle with ground cinnamon, if desired.