Pumpkin Cookies with Caramel Frosting

Another Halloween come and gone and four little treat buckets picked clean of dark chocolate (I know where my priorities lie). I’m kind of a strict momma when it comes to the candy. My kids get to choose 30 pieces, which I feel is quite generous and my husband, Brian, thinks is a travesty of childhood, and the remaining candy goes into a big bin that Brian graciously takes to work to share. I just don’t like all the junk hanging around the house for months on end because let’s be serious, I’m probably the one that ends up eating the majority of it. My children think their 30-pieces is a veritable treasure so it’s a win-win situation, if you ask me. For those of you with kids, how do you handle the candy overload?

On to the cookies of the day: quite simply, these little beauties are a classically delicious, fluffy pumpkin cookie made even more delectable by a smear of creamy caramel frosting. A divine combination, really. Not that any of us need any additional sugar at the midpoint of Halloween week, but bookmark to try soon when you need a scrumptious treat that tastes just like the epitome of fall.

Pumpkin Cookies with Caramel Frosting

One Year Ago: White Bean and Tuna Salad
Two Years Ago: Thanksgiving Dinner 101: The Stuffing
Three Years Ago: Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins

Pumpkin Cookies with Caramel Frosting

Yield: Makes 2-3 dozen cookies

Pumpkin Cookies with Caramel Frosting


  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin puree
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • Frosting:
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugars for the cookies. Add the eggs and vanilla and mix well. Stir in the pumpkin. In a medium bowl, sift together the baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, ginger, salt and flour. Add the dry mixture to the pumpkin batter and mix until combined. Drop the dough by large tablespoonfuls onto a lightly greased (or lined with parchment or silpat) cookie sheet. Bake for 10-12 minutes.
  2. For the frosting, in a medium saucepan, combine the butter, cream, brown sugar and salt, and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture comes to a boil. Remove from the heat and stir in 1 cup powdered sugar and the vanilla. Let the frosting cool to room temperature and stir in the remaining 1 cup powdered sugar. Spread the frosting over the cooled cookies.

Recipe Source: adapted from Let’s Dish Recipes, originally seen on Pinterest

61 Responses to Pumpkin Cookies with Caramel Frosting

  1. Aubri says:

    I made these for the first time and followed the directions exactly. The frosting was soooo thick that I couldn’t spread it. I had to add a couple teaspoons of milk and whip it with my mixer, and then it was spreadable. The frosting tasted a lot like powdered sugar, so I think that next time I will reduce the amount of powdered sugar. But, it was fun to have another type of pumpkin cookie 🙂 We love pumpkin!

  2. Chris says:

    Ok, you are a genius!!!!! I have to post on here and your sugar cookies because you made such a difference to my cookies. I will talk about them on the other page. The frosting wow eeeee! I actually used your cream cheese frosting but my daughter and I were torn between loving it and thinking it too cream cheesy tasting (not your recipe fault, just that distinct taste – but was 50 x better than the oh so over sweet buttercream I normally stick with) so I made the frosting but only had brown vanilla sugar so used that and only used half the powdered sugar and then drizzled it in swirls, uuuummmmm!!!! Just bought some buttermilk so going to try that topping now. I actually love whipping cream fillings and toppings but have had a nightmare in the past with a not so level 3 tier princess castle cake starting to landslide during the warm party so maybe the buttermilk will be the one.

  3. Tiffiny says:

    Hi Mel! Just made these yesterday, and I think I have to declare these my favorite pumpkin treat ever! I ate one right out of the oven, no frosting yet, and it was so unbelievably good. So moist and delicate! I was a bit afraid to add the frosting because the cookie seemed so perfect without it. But the frosting had a delicate caramel flavor and didn’t take away from the cookie at all. I thought it was even better with the frosting. I took them to work and they were a huge hit. Thank you so much!

    I think I made these a bit big, because I only got 19 cookies out of it. And they took about 16-17 minutes to cook. Next time I know not to use such a big spoonful. Maybe I have freakishly big spoons?

  4. Tiffany says:


    Do you think that sweet potato puree could be substituted for the pumpkin in order to turn these into sweet potato cookies? Or would any proportions need to be adjusted elsewhere?


    • Mel says:

      Hi Tiffany – I think it’s definitely worth a try although I haven’t tried it myself. I’d probably decrease the sugar just a bit though.

  5. summer says:

    I’m planning on making these for work ; I think Ill put candy corns on top.

  6. Lisa says:

    I’ve made these cookies twice now and they are amazing! Like another reader commented, I usually end up eating a good portion of them. 😉 The last time I made the frosting, I only added about a half a cup of the powdered sugar. It made for a very intensely caramel frosting and I loved it!

  7. Deb says:

    Made these tonight and they are awesome! The cookies are soft and fluffy. I had the same issue others mentioned where my frosting was SUPER thick after adding the 2nd cup of powdered sugar. I ended up pulling out pieces of frosting and patting onto the cookies b/c spreading didn’t really work. The taste of the frosting is phenomenal!

  8. Amy V says:

    These cookies are so yummy!! We made them this afternoon and my 3 year old said “no frosting, mom.” They were that good. I made mine a little bigger than suggested because I only got 2 dozen cookies. They were very moist inside which is always a concern of mine when making cake like cookies. Thanks for a great recipe, Mel!

  9. Beth says:

    Ok these are SERIOUSLY one of the best cookie recipes I have ever tasted!! I made them for my 23 year old to take back to school with him (luckily I doubled the recipe, because we could not stop eating them). SO amazing! They will definitely become a household staple…..;) THANK YOU!!

  10. Mel says:

    Elizabeth – it’s more likely that the cookies are a little heavy on the flour (completely depends on how you measure flour – I kind of like the spoon and sweet method). You can try pressing the dough down before baking – that might help. Good luck!

  11. Elizabeth says:

    I’m making the cookies right now, but the cookies are staying small and puffy instead of spreading out. Could my oven be too hot?

  12. Davis says:

    just read all the comments and noticed a similar question. next time i’ll read before I comment. Thank you for the great recipes!

  13. Davis says:

    Oh, man. I’m frustrated. I have tried to make the frosting twice and both times FAILED. Looking back on both attempts, the only thing I can guess that is that I am misunderstanding the directions. Perhaps if I was more familiar with the process, it would be a non-issue. The last part says “Let the frosting cool to room temperature and stir in the remaining 1 cup powdered sugar.” So I have let it cool THEN added the last cup of powdered sugar. It seemed odd (both times) but I swear that is how it reads, so I don’t trust my gut and I follow the recipe. Am I an idiot and I should: Remove from heat, add the cup of sugar and then let it cool to room temperature? If I had an ounce of energy left I’d try it, but now I’m going to sit down and eat a pumpkin cookie. 🙂

  14. Melissa says:

    Thanks! I can’t wait to try these! 🙂

  15. Mel says:

    Melissa – yes, that is vanilla extract.

  16. Melissa says:

    In the frosting recipe, it says to add vanilla. Is that vanilla extract? thanks!

  17. tonya says:

    I finally got around to making these last week & they were delicious! We all ate a couple & then I sent them to work w/ my husband (out of sight, out of mind…OUT OF MOUTH & OFF OF HIPS!). His boss curled up her nose at the thought of a pumpkin cookie, but tried a crumb in the bottom of the dish then polished off 3 or 4!

  18. Anissa says:

    I added cinnamon chips to these and they turned out delicious! 🙂

  19. Liss says:

    These are super yummy! My frosting was plenty thick w/ 1c. powdered sugar so I left it at that. Thanks again, Mel.

  20. Christina says:

    Can these be frozen once the cookies are iced?

    • Mel says:

      Christina – I don’t know since I haven’t tried it. I’m not sure how the icing would fare coming out of the freezer but it’s worth a try.

  21. Courtney says:

    I made cookies following a similar recipe but topped them with your browned butter frosting–it’s some of the best, and definitely my newest go-to recipe! The problem I often have with pumpkin cookies is that they’re fine the first day but become extremely moist–even wet–by the second day. Have you found this to be the case with this recipe? And do you have any suggestions to remedy the problem? Thanks!

    • Mel says:

      Courtney – I’ve noticed the same thing with pumpkin cookies. We ate these so quickly, to be honest, that there were only a handful left on day 2 (after sharing with neighbors) and they were still moist but not wet and sticky. So they definitely fared better than other pumpkin recipes I’ve tried in that respect. I’m not sure why it happens – probably due to the moisture content in the pumpkin.

  22. grace says:

    sigh. if only i liked pumpkin. that said, i’d eat these anyway, simply as a vehicle for that luscious frosting. nice touch!

  23. Beth says:

    I love the advice given by my favorite childhood nutritionist, Ellyn Satter: http://www.ellynsatter.com/october-22-2008-family-meals-focus-30-the-sticky-topic-of-halloween-candy-i-129.html
    Ellyn advises that dessert is the only time where parents should really influence portion control, but she does say that Halloween can be an exception to this approach and an opportunity for kids to practice self-control. She is the one who came up with the oft-quoted division of responsibility (the parents are in charge of the what, when and where of eating; children are responsible for the whether and how much of eating). I let my 7 and 4 year-old eat as much candy as they like after lunch and after school as a snack as she advises, along with milk and something healthy. I don’t say “you can have as much as you would like,” but “how much do you think you want?” They are so used to the “one-serving of dessert” rule in our house, that they never go crazy. My older son likes to save his, so he maybe eats two pieces a day. Also, the stash is never huge as we always end up trick-or-treating a little later than we plan (pumkin carving is more elaborate than we expect), and they usually aren’t out for longer than an hour as the night ends with a cousin party. We’ll see if these strategies in moderation can last as the kids get older. Thanks for starting the interesting discussion, and all the great recipes!

  24. Ashley in pdx says:

    I let my kids pick out 15 pieces of candy- I would actually like them to eat it and get it over with. But, at this point, they still have part of their 15 pieces! I am planning to hide some of the extra for holiday decor and also for a quick treat for the movies- The rest is leaving the house because I need it to go as well- before I keep eating it.

  25. Lesli says:

    Mel, this year we started the candy buy-back program where the kids get paid by the piece for any candy they want to forfeit. (bubble gum, pixie six, and fun dips get double price) Then we donate the candy to the child and family shelter. They loved the donation. I used to make them ration their candy to a certain number per day, but this year I just let them go at it. The sooner the sugar roller coaster is over, the better.

  26. Kristi says:

    I was thinking of all of the candy that gets wasted when we throw it away and was wondering why we don’t all just give out nickels for Halloween, ha ha. Seriously. It would be cheaper for everyone, the kids could use the money for something they want, nothing gets wasted…we all win!

  27. Tracy says:

    Man thank you so much for posting about the candy. I was feeling super guilty about making my two boys choose a small bowl of candy and I bring the rest to work. Then over the next two weeks or so they have a couple pieces a day. Most of my friends let their kids eat all their candy and honestly that makes my stomach hurt! ha ha ha

    It was nice after reading the comments to not feel so alone in my decision.

  28. Dana says:

    I have been toying with the idea of what to do about the candy…. it is all such a waste isn’t it!??? when i was little my mom let us have a few pieces a day until it was pretty much gone and i am happy and heathy today so that is probably what i will do. My boy probably doesn’t even like some of it so i am not too worried. I keep his bucket it the pantry so he doesn’t think about it all day, out of sight out of mind!

  29. Lisa says:

    I like your idea for the kids picking out some candy and then your husband taking the rest to work. I just read on my friends blog that she lets her little ones pick 10 pieces and then they put the candy out in their bucket and during the night the “switch witch” takes the candy and puts a toy in it’s place. Kind of cleaver when you have little ones who would think it’s magical. Also a lot of dentists (in our area at least) will pay the kids $1 for a lb of candy and they send the candy to the soldiers.

  30. Brittany says:

    I just made these and they may very well be the best pumpkin treat I’ve ever made. The cookies themselves were just eh, but add the frosting and oh baby.

    One question though, I followed the frosting recipe exact (except I browned the butter first) and after I let it cool and tried to add the remaining 1 cup of powdered sugar, the frosting was so thick I could hardly stir it, let alone bring it all together. I knew it wasn’t going to work so I added a bit of milk (I used all my cream in the first part of the frosting). Did anyone else have an overly thick frosting problem?

    • Mel says:

      Brittany – glad you loved these! Thanks for the note on the frosting. The original recipe only calls for 1 cup powdered sugar but my frosting was so runny I couldn’t spread it. So it sounds like this may be a case-by-case basis, perhaps start with the first cup and then gradually add from there to get the desired consistency. Thanks for checking in!

  31. Jessica says:

    I just made a version of these yesterday and they were so delicious! I put a toasted pecan half on each one and loved the extra crunch.

    I let my little guy eat as many pieces as his age on Halloween (5 this year), then 1 piece a day until Thanksgiving. I like the idea of selling the rest (or the “switch witch” or similar) as I never know what to do with the rest. Also like saving the suitable kinds for decorating gingerbread houses…the less to buy later, the better!

  32. Doreen says:

    Fantastic ideas!!! Saving the candy for gingerbread house decorating!

    In the past I rationed the candy to a couple pieces everyday and it was torture with candy still in our pantry at Christmas. Yuck. This year I let the older kids have a free-for-all during the little one’s nap a couple times and turned my back. I don’t think they even ate that much. Oddly, they don’t even ask for it. I think once the tradition of decorating gingerbread houses sets in they will enjoy picking out candies for the houses each year. I hope.

    Congrats on the pregnancy and I look forward to your recipes, especially during the holidays. Beautiful blog. Thanks for sharing!

  33. Rachael K says:

    You’re nicer than me Mel. I can’t handle the temptation of candy in the house, so I let my kids choose their favorite 10 pieces of candy each, then we sold the remaining 8 pounds (yikes!) to the orthodontist for $2 per pound. My kids were mad until they found out they get to keep the money.

  34. awesome! i love pumpkin and its great to see so many pumpkin recipes out there these days

  35. Analese says:

    These look delicious. This might be an obvious question, but I only have half and half right now. Would that work in place of the heavy cream? Would I need to add more? Thanks!

    • Mel says:

      Analese – the frosting might be on the thinner side but it’s worth a try if that’s all you have on hand. Don’t add more half and half, instead you might need to add a bit more powdered sugar.

  36. Jonesy says:

    A friend of mine uses the “Switch Witch” who comes on Halloween night and switches out most of the candy for a small toy or other little gift.

    I save all that crap candy no one really eats and use it to decorate gingerbread houses a few weeks later. Beats having to go out and just buy more candy!

    BTW, pumpkin + caramel = heaven!

  37. Alison says:

    This year (my oldest is 5) we bought their candy; 10 cents for the little things and 25 cents for the big ones. They are so excited to buy kid umbrellas with the money. Funny- this morning when my five year old requested powderd sugar on his french toast and I said no he offered to trade another candy for it. They learn quick.

  38. Chele says:

    In our area we have a couple of local dentists that will buy the kids Halloween candy for so much a pound. The kids pick out their favorites and sell the rest!

  39. Teresa says:

    We have a child with a peanut allergy, so we seperate out all the peanut candy and Dad takes that to work the next day. At that point there usually isn’t too much left!! the rest gets eaten up over the next couple of weeks.
    Congratulations on the baby! I hope you have safe, easy pregnancy.

  40. Nancy says:

    I have been known to sneak out select pieces of halloween candy, put it in the freezer and bring it out again for stocking stuffers.

  41. Sandee says:

    my sil only lets her kids keep 5 FIVE pieces! 30 is more my style. cant wait to try the browned butter frosting.

  42. Jen says:

    I just made these last week (via pinterest) and they were incredible. I intended to give a bunch of them away but my husband and I can’t stop eating them!

  43. Cara says:

    Yummy looking cookies!

    My husband likes to use Halloween candy as his favorite way to introduce the concept of taxation to our children. 🙂 Don’t worry, the kids know he is kind of joking, except when it comes to Kit Kats–he is serious about those. After they pay the Daddy Tax, my kids get to eat a few pieces every day for three days. The rest is divided between my gingerbread house candy bucket (Skittles, Lemonheads, M&M’s go well in this bucket) and the rest goes to our elementary school store that accepts Halloween candy donations and “resells” the candy. It is great! Everyone is happy. For all of you out there that have a ton of Whooper candy you don’t know what to do with I just saw a malted chocolate cake recipe decorated with Whoopers split in half and it looked kinda cool.

  44. I made a pumpkin sugar cookies this year for decorating and giving away with a classic buttercream icing, however I think this maple frosting sounds like a prefect pairing with the pumpkin!

  45. Melanie says:

    We let them have a few pieces each day for a week or so and then they forget about it and I usually send it with my husband to the young men’s activities. We do let them choose 25 pieces and then at the end of November, they each make their own advent calendar with their leftover Halloween candy. I did this as a kid and now do it with my own kids. They love it and it’s a great family home evening activity!

  46. Heidi says:

    I love your site! You have the best recipes ever!

    For my kids… I let them eat what they want that night (it usually isn’t much after the parties at school, etc) and then I offer a trade: ALL the candy for 1 package of sugar free gum. Since gum is considered the biggest treat of all in our house, my kids greedily accept. Then I pick through and keep the good stuff (not only for me haha but also to have as a reward here and there) and send the rest on (my hubby either takes it or I know a teacher who hands out candy throughout the year when the kids reach their goals).

  47. Heather Bell says:

    We have a little, then I get rid of the rest secretly.=) They never know!

  48. Jessie Romney says:

    Those looks so yummy!!!! I love anything pumpkin. I only let my kids have a 2-3 pieces each day(depending on the size) until it is all gone. I control how much they eat and when and I never hear a complaint from them. They don’t get into it unless I let them!!

  49. Stefani says:

    My kids are still little (my oldest is 6) so in years past we have just limited them to a couple pieces a day and by the end of the week they had forgotten all about it. This year we let them OD on candy for 2 days. They ate as much as they wanted for those 2 days (which still wasn’t a ton) and then last night we bought the rest of their candy from them. They each got 2 bucks. They were completely content with that.
    And I’m totally excited about the cookies. They look amazing. We just need a couple days to detox before I make them!

  50. Karrie says:

    The Great Pumpkin has always been a Halloween visitor at our house. My girls each pick out 15 pieces to keep. They leave the rest out for our yearly visitor. He takes the candy, and in turn leaves a gift. Their 15 pieces last a few weeks, as they want it to last as long as possible.

  51. Leslie says:

    Every year so far we’ve talked my kids into “selling” their candy (they keep about 10 pieces) to us for a gift. This year it was the Cars 2 movie. One of mine is reluctant every year but always does it. Candy totally grosses my husband out esp when it’s coating all of their little teeth! These cookies look amazing!!

  52. Amy Maires says:

    I am a huge Nazi when it comes to candy! I only let my kids have 10 pieces and then we BUY back their candy. $20 a bag. Then my husband takes it to work where it is then donated to the troops over seas. We have always done this and the kids don’t ever protest.

  53. I love everyone’s ideas for the candy! Since I only let them have 1 or 2 pieces each day (when they remember they have it, because like others – once I put the buckets away and the candy is put in the pantry, they don’t often remember it’s there), having them choose a set amount is a GREAT idea. Plus, by the time they get through it, it will be time for Christmas and another onslaught of candy!

    I love pumpkin everything!!! I have my “old faithful” of pumpkin cookie recipes, but I want to try this one – especially with the addition of the caramel frosting!!! Sounds delicious!!!! 🙂

  54. Kim in MD says:

    ‘Tis the season for pumpkin! I can’t get enough of it, and I must confess I just bought six cans of pumpkin puree last week! 🙂 I am so going to make these this weekend!

    Mel- I love your idea of limiting your children to 30 pieces of Halloween candy! That really is a lot of candy, and I bet they choose carefully what they really want. I find that my children eat a few pieces of candy each day for a few days after Halloween, and then I get tired of the candy buckets/bags laying on the counter. Once I put the candy away in the pantry, my children never even think about it again (and after a few weeks I throw it away). I like your idea of sending it into work with Brian. I bought too much candy this year, and I am going to send it into work with my husband! Thanks for the ideas of how to handle the Halloween candy madness! 🙂

  55. These look awesome. I have been thinking about making a frosted pumpkin cookie and this looks perfect. The caramel frosting puts these over the edge for sure!

    I am giving my girls another day of picking through their candy and then it’s going in with my husband into the office. I like to get all of the candy frenzy over in a couple of days and then we are through until next year.

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