The best snickerdoodle cookies are slightly tangy with crinkly tops and coated in cinnamon sugar. The cookies bake up crisp with soft interiors.
What is a snickerdoodle?
Snickerdoodles are such a classic cookie. I grew up eating them and often baked them as Christmas gifts for friends and family.
True snickerdoodle cookies have a very slight tang to the flavor. The edges will be crisp and the centers will be soft. They're also characterized by their cracked surface.
It is claimed that the snickerdoodle was originated in Germany but the name suggests it came from New England. They are known for their whimsical cookie names.
No matter where the cookies originated, they are most popular in the United States and Canada.
Today, I'm sharing my easy version which is slightly adapted from America's Test Kitchen.
Why this recipe works
- Cream of tartar and baking soda combined give the cookies their crackled tops. The cream of tartar also imparts a slightly tangy flavor.
- Butter and shortening prevent the cookies from spreading and create crispy edges.
- There's no need to chill the dough! This is so appealing because you can bake the cookies right away. There's no waiting hours for the dough to become easy to handle.
- The cookies don't bake up super thick. They are just thick enough to give you a great crispy cookie that is still soft in the middle.
After a lot of research, I found that most snickerdoodle cookie recipes have very similar ingredients. So if you've made them before, you'll recognize a lot of the ingredients listed below.
- Flour: Use all-purpose flour and make sure to measure it correctly.
- Cream of tartar: Needed to react with the baking soda so the cookies puff up and deflate. This creates a cracked top appearance. The cream of tartar also adds a little tanginess to the cookies.
- Baking soda: Reacts with the cream of tarter.
- Salt: Balances the flavors.
- Butter: Adds buttery flavor and richness as well as promotes crisp edges.
- Shortening: Prevents the cookies from spreading too much. I use shortening in quite a few of my cookie recipes. See my chewy gingersnap cookies, soft peanut butter cookies, peanut butter blossoms, and cardamom cookies.
- Sugar: White granulated sugar is best.
- Egg: I used one egg and one egg yolk. I found that with just one egg, they were too dry and cakey. And with two, they spread too much.
- Vanilla: Most recipes are missing vanilla extract. I find they taste so much better with just a little added.
- Cinnamon: Mix with sugar to coat the cookies before baking. I went heavy-handed with the cinnamon and the results are fantastic.
To bake these cookies you'll need:
- Mixer: I always use my KitchenAid stand mixer with the paddle attachment.
- You can also use a regular electric hand mixer if you don't have a stand mixer.
- Cookie Soop: A 1.5 tablespoon cookie scoop is best for portioning the dough.
- Baking Sheet: My favorite baking pans are these Nordic Ware aluminum half sheet pans. They distribute heat evenly and always yield great results.
How to make Snickerdoodle cookies
This is one of the easiest cookie recipes on my blog. No chilling of the dough is required. You simply mix the ingredients together, roll the dough into balls and coat them in cinnamon sugar. They go straight into the oven and only take about 12 minutes to bake.
Before you begin, bring the egg, egg yolk, butter, and shortening to room temperature. Set them out 1 hour before you plan to make the cookies. This ensures the ingredients will combine easily.
Prepare your stand mixer with the paddle attachment or handheld mixer with beaters. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. And preheat the oven about 30 minutes before you begin making the dough.
In a medium bowl whisk the flour, cream of tartar, baking soda, and salt together. Set that aside while you combine the wet ingredients.
Cream the butter, shortening, and sugar together for 3 minutes on medium speed. It should look fluffy and pale in color. You made need to stop and scrape down the sides of the bowl as it's creaming.
Add the egg and beat for about 20 seconds followed by the egg yolk and vanilla. Beat for an additional 20 seconds until combined. Stop to scrape down the sides of the bowl if needed.
Add the flour and beat on low speed until everything is just combined. Take care not to overmix or the cookies will be tough. Once you no longer see dry streaks of flour, stop mixing.
Mix sugar and cinnamon in a small dish. Use a 1.5 tablespoon cookie scoop to portion the dough.
Roll each portion into a ball and dip each ball in the cinnamon & sugar mixture. Roll the dough around until it's evenly coated.
Arrange the dough balls -inches apart on the prepared cookie sheet. They spread a little so make sure there's enough space between them.
Bake the cookies one pan at a time for 10-12 minutes. The edges should look like they're beginning to brown but the centers will be puffy and appear undercooked.
Remove them from the oven and let the snickerdoodles rest on the pan for 10 minutes. They will continue to cook and the centers will set.
You can transfer the cookies to a wire rack to cool completely. Or enjoy a couple while they are fresh and slightly warm.
I think everyone needs an easy snickerdoodle recipe in their life. This one is so good, simple, and yields fantastic results. Your friends and family will thank you!
Tips for success
- Properly measure the flour. Don't scoop the flour directly out of the bag with the measuring cup.
- Don't try to substitute more butter in place of the shortening. The recipe is designed to use shortening. Otherwise, they will spread too much during baking.
- Use room temperature ingredients. This is crucial. Cold ingredients will not emulsify properly.
Frequently asked questions
Why use cream of tartar in snickerdoodles?
Cream of tartar is the essential ingredient for snickerdoodle cookies. It's acidic and acts as a flavoring.
But when cream of tartar is combined with an alkaline ingredient like baking soda, it creates carbon dioxide. This results in the cookies rising during baking. They quickly collapse once out of the oven leading to cracked tops.
Cream of tartar is found on the baking aisle of your local grocery store or it can be ordered online.
Is there a substitute for cream of tartar?
Yes! Fresh lemon juice or white vinegar can be used in place of cream of tartar. Baking powder also works but will not offer the tangy flavor cream of tartar usually adds.
How to store snickerdoodles?
Snickerdoodle cookies will keep for up to 1 week stored in an airtight container at room temperature or in the refrigerator.
You can also freeze snickerdoodles for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator.
Slightly adapted from America’s Test Kitchen.