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Pumpkin sugar cookies with maple frosting, dusted with nutmeg.

High Altitude Pumpkin Sugar Cookies with Maple Icing

Heather Smoke
These soft and buttery, pumpkin-shaped sugar cookies are topped with maple icing for a cute and delicious fall cookie.

All recipes on Curly Girl Kitchen are developed for high altitude at 5,280 feet.

5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 30 mins
Cook Time 10 mins
Total Time 40 mins
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Servings2 dozen



  • 2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour, spooned and leveled
  • ¾ cup powdered sugar
  • ¼ tsp coarse Kosher salt (if using table salt, use half the amount)
  • ¾ cup cold unsalted butter, cut into 12 pieces
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste
  • 3 tbsp whole milk or cream


  • ½ cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • ½ - 1 tsp maple extract
  • ¼ tsp ground cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1 tbsp milk or cream, if needed



  • In a food processor, pulse the flour, powdered sugar and salt to combine.
    With the food processor running, drop the butter pieces in one at a time, pulsing until evenly dispersed.
    Add the vanilla and cream, then pulse until the mixture comes together into a soft, supple dough.
  • Note that if you don't have a food processor, you can make the dough in a bowl, using a pastry cutter. I've done this many times, and it just takes a bit longer to work the butter evenly into the flour, and then work the liquid into the mixture until it forms a soft dough.
  • Dump the dough out and knead a few times just to bring together any stray floury bits. Shape into a flat disk, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 20 minutes.
  • Flour a clean work surface, and flour the dough lightly as well. Roll the dough out evenly to between 1/4-1/8 inch thick. Cut as many cookies as you can, and set the cut cookies on a parchment lined baking sheet, spacing them 2 inches apart. Gather up the scraps of dough, re-roll the dough, and continue cutting cookies. I used a 2 1/2 inch cutter, and was able to cut 2 dozen cookies.
  • Refrigerate the cut cookies for 1 hour. Chilling the cut cookies helps to keep the cookies from spreading while they bake, so they maintain their shape.
  • Preheat the oven to 350 F. Bake the chilled cookies on the center oven rack. Depending on their size, they should take about 8-10 minutes. The baked cookies will still be very pale on top, but the surface will no longer look like raw dough, and you should see tiny flaky layers around the edges.  If you're not sure if they're done, gently turn a cookie over and look at the bottom - if the dough looks wet in the middle, bake the cookies for a couple more minutes. Cool the cookies on the baking sheet for several minutes, and then carefully transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before decorating.


  • With an electric mixer, beat the butter for 1 minute until smooth.
  • Add the powdered sugar, maple extract, cinnamon and nutmeg. Beat for 4-5 minutes until very light and fluffy, scraping the bowl occasionally. Only add the milk if needed for desired consistency.
  • To decorate your pumpkin cookies, you'll only need a small offset icing spatula. You can spread the frosting on as thick or as thin as you like; I kept it fairly thin on mine. Scoop up some frosting with the spatula, and swipe it along one side of the pumpkin, letting the icing leave a textured ripple along the edge of the cookie. Repeat with a total of 4-5 swipes, working from the outside of the pumpkin to the middle, so that the ripples of buttercream look like the ridges in a pumpkin.
  • If you like, sprinkle with a little extra nutmeg.


  • These cookies freeze beautifully, so you can bake them in advance and then freeze until you're ready to decorate them.
  • You can also make the dough in advance, wrap it well, and freeze for 3-6 months.  Thaw it overnight in the refrigerator, then let it warm up at room temperature until you can roll it out.
  • Note that the icing on these cookies is buttercream, not royal icing.  It won't dry and harden like royal icing, but the the surface of the buttercream will dry a bit and crust over, while staying soft underneath.  As such, be careful if you stack the cookies, as you can mess up the frosting.
Keyword Cookies, Maple, Pumpkin, Sugar Cookies
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