Welcome to The Basil & Cinnamon Sagas! I'm Alexa, and I am a food and travel blogger who loves cooking, baking, eating, and storytelling. Enjoy reading and eating your way through the Sagas found here!

Pumpkin Sugar Cookies

Pumpkin Sugar Cookies


Hello and Happy Halloween, Saga people! Well, almost Halloween. But I figured I'd need to give you guys the recipe to these oh-so Halloween cookies in advance so that you'd have the full weekend to make your sugary, pumpkiny holiday dreams come true before the main event arrives on Tuesday.

I'm torn about how I feel about Halloween. I don't like horror movies, I don't like haunted houses, and I don't like being a) creeped out b) freaked out c) scared out of my mind or d) all of the above. BUT! Halloween also marks the beginning of the best time of the year (oh hi holiday season!), you get to dress up in fun costumes, fall activities like pumpkin patches and corn mazes and caramel apples are in full swing, it's fun to decorate for, and, most importantly, it's a day partially dedicated to candy. I mean, it's a day where it is not only legal, but deemed perfectly acceptable to dress in ridiculous (ly cool) outfits, pound on your neighbors' doors, and demand candy from them--awesome. 

Do you see my dilemma?

I guess when it comes down to it, I'm a fan of elementary school Halloween, but I refuse to traverse higher. Trick or treat? I'm so there. Pumpkin carving? Hand me a knife. Halloween costumes? I'm already at Spirit Halloween and hey why don't we dress up the dog while we're at it! But would I like to accompany you to a maze of dimly lit hallways strewn with bloody sheets and people wielding chainsaws and jumping out at you from behind cracked mirrors and darkened crevices? No thanks. If you need me, I'll be with my haul of Halloween candy watching Peanuts' It's The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown and loving every minute of it. If I'm feeling really spooky, maybe I'll even turn on Scooby Doo, but that's as horror as I get. So I guess when it really comes down to it, I'm lame--and proud of it!


We'll see how lame you think my Halloween game is after you try these Pumpkin Sugar Cookies, though--they have the power to change hearts and minds. Think of biting into a perfectly soft, pillowy sugar cookie, invigorated with all those warm, intoxicating fall spices you love, and dusted with sweet frosting. If this idea gets your tastebuds firing, you'll go crazy for the real deal.

These cookies are adapted from one of my mom's famous Christmas cookie recipes. While usually we only made them for Christmas, I remember one year we decorated them with spiderwebs and pumpkins and such to take them into school for the Halloween party. It was so much fun, and actually was when I first fell in love with cake decorating and piping. Using that memory as my inspiration, I decided to change things around so that we could add pumpkin and all the autumn spices that go with it--cinnamon, nutmeg, the works. 

To my utter shock, they came out perfectly the first time around. That doesn't happen very often when it comes to baking, so it totally felt like these cookies were meant to be. I wish I could say the same thing for the frosting, but I got all prepped and ready to make it when I discovered--the horror--that I completely forgot to bring my mega-pack of food coloring with me when I moved to South Carolina. That derailed my cookie train for a couple days until I could summon up enough willpower to go to the grocery store. Is it weird that I hate grocery shopping? Sometimes I wonder if I am the only food blogger who dreads grocery shopping, and avoids it like the plague until I am staring at an empty fridge and my rumbling stomach forces me into the nearest Harris Teeter.

Clearly, I eventually made it to the grocery store so that these cookies could be completed. I went with a lavender and light orange Halloween frosting color scheme. I'm not sure why--maybe it was the vaguely hipster-ish Pandora station I've been listening to lately, but slightly off-color pastels seemed like the way to go. You can decorate your cookies however you want; for example, these sugar cookies are always good with sprinkles! If you want to add sprinkles, make sure to add them on right after you frost each individual cookie, because sprinkles don't stick well once the frosting has had time to dry out at all. 

One last note: unless you really enjoy eating homemade dog treats, make sure not to overbake these cookies. And a subnote on that note: don't feed these cookies to dogs, even if you overbake them and they feel more like dog treats--your pooch and I thank you, because they do have ingredients that don't agree with pups' tummies.

If you make these cookies, I'd love to know how it goes! Shoot me an email, comment here, or tag me on social. I hope you love them as much as I do! This recipe makes a ton of cookies, meaning I have a freezer full of frosting-slathered sugar cookies right now, and very limited self-control when it comes to sweets--probably the scariest thing about this Halloween. So much temptation....

xoxo Alexa

Pumpkin Sugar Cookies

Pumpkin Sugar Cookies

Makes: About 5 dozen cookies (depending on the size of your cookie cutters)

Takes: About 3 hours (including prep, chill, bake, decorate)

The Saga:

  1. Cream sugar and crisco in a stand mixer with the paddle attachment.
  2. Add lemon juice, vanilla, and pumpkin and mix until smooth. 
  3. Add salt, baking powder, pumpkin pie spice, cinnamon, and a pinch of nutmeg and mix to incorporate. 
  4. Alternate adding flour and milk and blending until the 3 cups of flour and 1/2 cup of milk are mixed in and the dough is smooth.
  5. Turn dough out onto a clean surface. Knead in flour until dough is no longer sticky (I used a little less than a cup of flour). 
  6. Chill for 1 hour.
  7. Preheat oven to 350Β°F. 
  8. Flour a clean surface and use a rolling pin to roll dough until thin (about 1/4 inch). 
  9. Use the cookies cutters of your choice to cut out shapes in the dough. Peel the extra dough away from your shaped cookies and form it into a ball.
  10. Using a spatula, transfer your cookies to a non-greased pan and bake at 350Β°F on the top shelf of your oven until the edges of the cookies are just starting to turn golden brown. Cookies are done when they are still soft to the touch, but not squishy. Do not overbake!
  11. Take your ball of extra dough, add more flour to your surface as necessary to avoid sticking, and roll out the dough again. Continue chapters 8-10 until all the dough has been used.
  12. To make the frosting, add crisco, powdered sugar, vanilla, and milk to a stand mixer and beat with the whisk attachment for about 5 minutes, or until you have reached your desired frosting consistency. Add the powdered sugar gradually, not all at once, to avoid a sugarpocolypse. Mix in the food coloring of your choice. 
  13. Wait until the cookies have cooled completely, and then frost them, sprinkle them, decorate them to your heart's content! 

Cookies do best when stored in the freezer and removed as you want them. They thaw well!

The Characters:

The Cookies:

  • 1  cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup crisco
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/4 cup pumpkin puree or canned pumpkin
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 & 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • A pinch of nutmeg
  • 3 cups flour + about 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup milk

The Frosting:

  • 1 cup crisco
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 4 Tbsp milk

To Decorate:

  • Food coloring (optional)
  • Sprinkles (optional)


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