Pumpkin chocolate chip cookies: Make your own Halloween fun

Halloween is one of the fastest-growing holidays in America, in terms of dollars spent. What used to be an exercise in creative reuse of on-hand materials for costumes (my older sister drew a body-sized peanut on an old pillowcase one year, cut holes for her head and arms, and went as a Goober) and parties (my brother is famous for Halloween parties with honest-to-God bobbing for apples: each contestant is timed with a stopwatch) has become a blockbuster for the local party store.

If you’d like to get back to the make-your-own fun style of doing things, allow me to propose making some pumpkin chocolate chip cookies.

This is really a simple recipe, which is a good thing, because you have plenty to do if you’re getting kids ready for Halloween. It also makes 5 dozen, which is handy if you have a lot of people to feed.

Here we go. Whisk together the dry ingredients.
Cream the butter and sugar, scrape,pmkn3scrape.JPG

then in go the pumpkin, eggs, and flavorings. The orange zest is optional; if you ‘re baking for kids who might not be up for that kind of taste combination, by all means leave it out.


The mixture will break and look icky; that’s OK. If this freaks you out, you can alternate adding some of the dry ingredients between eggs. The mixture will look better as it develops, but it will bake up the same way however you add the flour mixture.


Mix in the chips and walnuts, then scoop


and bake.


If you want to do the extra step in decorating, press a couple of chocolate chips into the cookies for eyes right after you take the cookies out of the oven.


You can get as creative as you want with this idea…


The glaze is easy to whisk together. The recipe says you can just dip the tops in the glaze, like this:


But I like the pumpkin look. All it takes is a disposable pastry bag.

Here’s one of my favorite hints: since you really need three hands to fill one of these, try putting the bag inside a tall narrow container with a heavy base, like a vase or a beer mug. Then you can have both hands available to encourage the icing into the bag.


The mug will hold the bag open as you pour.


Hint number two: never fill a pastry bag more than 2/3 full, and close up the back. Spring clips or twist ties both work.


This step is especially important if you’re going to be working with kids, who tend to squeeze the middle of the bag and have a big mess back up over their hands.


Fun, but messy, and doesn’t help you concentrate on your piping.

Get ready to draw: snip a small triangle off the bottom of the bag (the opening should be about 1/8” across).


Now, trace the outside edge of the cookie, then move up and down to make the ribs of the pumpkin.


This recipe is just right for whole wheat: white whole wheat, in particular, can step into recipes that feature high moisture ingredients like apples and pumpkin. You simply can’t tell that you aren’t eating white flour. So go ahead, make the switch. Just don’t tell the kids until after!


Read, review, and rate (please!) our recipe for Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies.

Susan Reid

Chef Susan Reid grew up in New Jersey, graduated from Bates College and the Culinary Institute of America, and is presently the Food Editor of Sift magazine. She does demos, appearances, and answers food (and baking) questions from all quarters.


    1. PJ Hamel

      Eve, dried cranberries or hulled sunflower seeds are both complementary substitutions for the nuts. Enjoy — PJH

  1. Donna s

    I have been making this cookie recipe for three years,my kids and grand kids love it, I use air baked cookie sheets, all my cookies don’t run on them, too keep moist I put them in frig, bake cookies one pan at a time. I have three of your cook books, I use them all the time.

  2. Eric Hirsh

    Made these cookies today(hot and humid), used pumpkin my wife and I put up last year, needed to add about 1/2 cup of flour more to make it stiff (moist pumpkin in Ct), but I wanted to know if anybody as added craisins ? or maybe pecans not walnuts. They did remind of scones, very nice cookie.

    1. PJ Hamel

      Eric, feel free to use whatever “add-ins” you like. I’m guessing Craisins would be not only yummy, but attractive, too. Enjoy! PJH

  3. Philip

    My icing came out runny. It is nowhere near the consistency of what your pictures showed. What did I do wrong. I used skim milk. Is that the culprit?
    Dear Philip: There could be some variation in the confectioners’ sugar, if it’s cut with dextrose, which some generic and store brands are, that could make the difference. In general, the rule of thumb I try to teach is “never add all of anything to anything else at once”; that way you have more wiggle room to make adjustments for what you’re seeing. And skim milk would certainly thin things out more than heavy cream or half and half would. You can always thicken the glaze with more sugar; just be sure it’s sifted or pushed through a strainer to take out the lumps first. Susan

  4. Connie

    I wonder if different brands of canned pumpkin change the consistency? I made the cookies with a store brand of pumpkin and the batter was very thin. I had to use at least 2 more cups of flour than the recipe.

  5. Gayle

    I made these this morning and they were delicious! I don’t like nuts, and I was worried about omitting them; would they flatten out too much without the nuts? I needn’t have worried. They turned out fabulous! Nice and moist rounds–much better than store-bought. I didn’t have enough powdered sugar, but the cookies tasted so good without the frosting, that I don’t feel any compulsion to frost them on future tries. Oh so yummy! (By the way, I doubled the recipe and used a 29 oz. can of pumpkin instead of two 15 oz. cans, and they were plenty moist. I have a 6-quart mixer, and it handled the double batch beautifully.)


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