Pumpkin Spice Sugar Cookies + Decorating Tips

Halloween is right around the corner and pumpkin may be one of the most popular flavors. Many of you know we do custom cookies for events and I have to say, this gnome & home set was one of my favorites! Not only were they adorable, but they’re pumpkin spice flavored! The pumpkin cookies are soft and full of spice-y flavor, but just as good as a sugar cookie. Don’t let the picture deceive you, they are easy and perfect to try with kids for holidays.

We’re giving you our best sugar cookie tips + decorating advice!

How to make the Perfect pumpkin sugar cookies

  1. First, like many cookies, beat together your butter and sugar. You don’t want to overmix the butter and sugar too much, otherwise, the cookie dough could have the wrong texture when baked.
  2. Next, beat in your eggs, pumpkin, vanilla extract, baking powder, and pumpkin spice.
  3. Then, you’ll mix in the flour until a dough forms. It will be quite soft and a little sticky. Wrap in plastic and chill for 4 hours to overnight. If you don’t chill the dough it will be too soft to bake and spread in the oven.
  4. After chilling, pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees F and roll your cookie dough onto a lightly floured surface. I roll my cookies into about 1/2″ because I like them thicker.
  5. Bake the cookies for 8-12 minutes depending on how crispy or soft you want them. I baked them more towards 12 minutes. Remember: cookies do slightly harden when cooling.
  6. Let the cookies fully cool before icing.

How to make the royal icing

For the longest time, I struggled with getting the right royal icing texture. It would either be too soft and drip off the cookie, too thick and pasty, or not harden.

Thankfully after testing a few different recipes and talking to some fellow cookie bakers, there is a perfect recipe!

  1. Whisk together the powdered sugar and meringue powder. Depending on how much icing you want to use, I use between 1-2 lbs of powdered sugar.
  2. Next, fill a measuring glass with 1/2 cup of warm water. It is important to have it warm, otherwise, the icing thickness could be wrong.
  3. Slowly begin to pour the water into the powdered sugar and beat with a hand or stand mixer. I only do a little bit of water at a time because I want the base to be white. If you add too much, the icing could be looser than you wanted and it’s tricky to reverse.
  4. I don’t always use all the water and sometimes I use more. For the white base I try to keep it fairly thick, but not too much. A way to test the icing is to dip your spatula in the icing and then let it runoff. Mine usually takes 10-15 seconds to sink back into the icing. Looser icing will take a shorter amount of time.
  5. Next, I separate the icing 1 color at a time into different bowls. For each color, you’ll need 2 consistencies: the border and flood. The border icing is what you just made (the thicker kind). The flood is a little thinner icing that you’ll pipe into the center of the cookies.
  6. Example: If you’re using the color blue, scoop a few small spoonfuls of the base you just made into a small bowl. Color it with food coloring and stir. Then, scoop 1 spoonful of the colored mixture into a piping bag. This will be your border. Add 1 tsp or more to the remaining blue icing in the bowl. This will be your flood. Add it to a piping bag. You should now have 2 piping bags of the same color. Do this for all your colors. *Note: Make sure you cover icings that you are not using at the time or are sitting there, otherwise they’ll being to harden.
  7. Pipe a border on your cookies and let it sit for about 1-2 minutes. Then, flood with your flood icing. Be careful not to pipe too much icing. You want to start on the edge and make your way to the center. Use a toothpick or cookie scribe to pop bubbles and smooth to the edge.
  8. If your doing designs with multiple layers, you’ll have to let one layer dry at a time before adding another, otherwise, it’ll sink into the last one. I suggest 1 hour because it doesn’t have to be fully dry, just enough to pipe another design on top. An example of this is the leaf cookie design.
  9. Let your cookies dry for 8 hours to overnight before eating or packaging.

Icing Textures

Depending on the designs you choose you’ll want to have different icing textures. For florals or designs with extra dimension that you might be using that have a piping bag with tips, you’ll want a pretty thick icing. Below are some examples.

The left cookies require a thicker icing because you want the flowers to keep their shape and detail after piping. If you use a thinner icing, they won’t keep their shape and dimension. The cookies on the right have a few extra details that require a thicker icing, such as the florals.

The cookies below are just standard cookies that don’t require an extra thick base. They still have border and flood consistencies.

Ingredients You Need

  • Butter
  • Sugar
  • Eggs
  • Pumpkin Pie Spice (or make it yourself)
  • Baking Powder
  • Pumpkin Puree
  • Flour
  • Powdered Sugar
  • Meringue Powder
  • Water
  • Food Coloring

Best Materials to Have

When it comes to cookie baking you really don’t need a lot of supplies, unless you want to get fancy. For these designs, you need a little extra materials, but it’s all worth it! 😉

Troubleshooting Tips

  • If your cookies spread in the oven, your dough was probably too soft to bake. Try chilling it for longer.
  • If your royal icing is too thin, add a little extra powdered sugar.
  • Did your icing spill off the edges? Try piping a little bit larger border and let it sit for a few extra minutes to dry.
  • Did your icing designs blend together? Let one layer dry at a time before adding another design on top.
  • If you’re using an edible marker, let the cookie get fully hard before writing.
  • Are your cookies or dough dry and crumbly? You might have overbaked the cookie or added too much flour. When you roll cookies, the flour on the surface can end up in the dough.
  • Sometimes you can have too thick of a border, cut a very small hole at the end of your piping bag, but not too small.
  • Oh no, my icing dried in the bowl! Add a tiny bit of water and beat it with a hand mixer until you get the smooth icing you had before.

How long can I store the cookies?

After the cookies have fully dried, you can store them in a Tupperware for up to 2 weeks.

You can also freeze the cookies in an airtight container and let them come to room temp before serving.

Decorating Tips for Each Design

For each design, we’ll give you the best tips on how to make them yourself!

Plaid Mug

  1. Start by piping a red border for the cookie. Stay as close to the edge as you can while applying the same pressure for a continuous line. Let it sit for 1-2 minutes.
  2. Next, flood the cookie with red icing. Start by piping on the edge and making your way to the middle. Use a toothpick or cookie scribe to pop bubbles and spread the icing to edges and corners. After this step, you’ll want to let it sit overnight before doing the plaid design. If you don’t and try to press the plaid into it, it will squish the bottom layer.
  3. After the base is hard, choose another color for the plaid. You want it to be the border consistency, not flood. Lay the cookie stencil on top and gently pipe a few squiggles over it. Use a firm flat piece to scrap the icing and make it smooth with the stencil. I cut a piece of flat cardboard.
  4. Next, you want to use the extra thick icing to pipe your white foam on top.

Cable Knit Pumpkin

This design looks hard, but don’t worry, it’s easier than you think.

  1. Start by piping a border along the edge of the cookie. Let it sit for 1-2 minutes.
  2. Flood the pumpkin with your flood icing and use a toothpick or cookie scribe to pop bubbles and spread it to the edge. After let the cookie sit for a few hours before adding your next layer, otherwise, they could sink into each other.
  3. Pipe a thin line on the left side of the cookie and another line 1/8″ away from it, similar to railroad tracks. You want to use the border icing for this. Then apply a fair amount of pressure and then let go as you pull away. Do this in a cris-cross shape to create little v’s. Continue this 2 more times across the pumpkin.
  4. Use brown border icing to pipe small lines for your stem.


  1. Start by using a colored border icing to pipe a triangle on the top of the gnome head. Let it dry for 1-2 minutes, then flood with flood color.
  2. Then pipe a white squiggle along the edge of the cookie with the little pointy bottom to create the beard. Then use the white flood to flood the beard. Let this dry before adding the arms and pumpkin.
  3. Use a border icing to pipe lines for the arms.
  4. Use the orange border to pipe little ovals to create 1 little pumpkin. Add a little brown stem.
  5. Once the entire cookie is hard, use cookie stencils to pipe the icing and then gently scrape it to be even with the stencil.

Pumpkin Truck

  1. Start by piping a red border along the edge of the truck leaving a space where the wheels go. Leave the top of the truck plain for now. Pipe a small square border for a window.
  2. Flood the truck with the red flood icing. Leave the window empty, you’ll flood that with white flood icing. Let the base sit for a few hours before adding extra details.
  3. Use the white border to pipe wheels. Let sit for 1-2 minutes. Flood the wheels with white flood icing.
  4. Pipe another layer around the wheel and flood. Sprinkle with sanding sugar or sugar if you don’t have any.
  5. Use brown to pipe lines in the back to create a wagon look. Use the border icing for this.
  6. Use orange border icing to create pumpkins and add brown stems. Just apply pressure to create circles.

Love cookies as much as us, check out our:

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Pumpkin Spice Sugar Cookies + Decorating Tips

Recipe by Gillian VolzCourse: CookiesCuisine: DessertDifficulty: Intermediate


Prep time




Cooking time



There’s nothing more comforting than homemade cookies, especially when gifted to a neighbored or friend. Make these cookies with your kids or just for a fun fall treat!


  • Pumpkin Sugar Cookies
  • 3 cups flour

  • 1 tsp baking powder

  • 3 tsp pumpkin pie spice *Notes

  • 2 tsp vanilla extract

  • 3/4 cup butter, softened

  • 1 cup sugar

  • 1/2 cup pumpkin puree

  • 2 eggs

  • Royal Icing
  • 2 lbs powdered sugar

  • 1/2 cup – 1 cup warm water *Notes

  • 5 tbsp meringue powder


  • Cookie Dough
  • Start by whisking together your dry ingredients including the flour, baking powder, and pumpkin pie spice. Set aside.
  • In another large bowl, beat together your butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Continue to beat in the eggs, pumpkin, and vanilla extract until combined.
  • Next, add the dry ingredients in 2 halves and mix until a dough forms. The dough will be quite soft and somewhat sticky.
  • Tightly wrap the dough in plastic wrap and chill for 4 hours to overnight.
  • Once your dough has chilled, roll it out on a lightly floured surface into 1/4″ thick. Use fall themed cutter to cut the cookies and place them 1″ apart on the cookie sheet.
  • Bake for 8-12 minutes, until the edges are golden. The tops will still feel soft, but they slightly harden when they cool. Continue these steps for the rest of your dough or wrap it tightly and save it for another time.
  • Let the cookies fully cool before decorating.
  • Royal Icing
  • After the cookies have fully cooled, let’s make the royal icing! Start by whisking together your powdered sugar and meringue powder in a large bowl.
  • In a measuring glass add the warm water. Pour a small amount of water into the powdered sugar mixture and begin to mix. At first, it will be thick and chunky, but the more water you continue to add and stir, it will become smooth and shiny. *Notes
  • Separate the royal icing into different bowls and color it. Add to piping bags and decorate away! For more decorating details, view our tips above in the blog.


  • Sometimes I use 1/2 cup of water, sometimes less or more. For a base thickness, you want it to be fairly thick, but not pasty. To test the icing, dip your spatula in the icing and then let it drip back into the bowl. If it takes 10-15 seconds that is perfect. This is a good border consistency. For flood icing, you want less than 10 seconds.
  • To make your own pumpkin pie spice for this recipe, just add 2 tsp ground cinnamon, 1 tsp ground ginger, and 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg.
  • Always start with less water when making your icing, you can always add more later. You’ll also add some when you separate them.