The classic cinnamon-sugar cookie, this recipe produces snickerdoodles that are crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside, with the distinctive tang we all love in snickerdoodle cookies!
The holidays just aren’t right without cookies. Everyone has their favorites, and while you know I’m partial to molasses cookies, these snickerdoodles are a VERY close contender. Just look at that crunchy cinnamon sugar!
Christmas felt a little weird this year, as Brian and I are traveling all over New Zealand for two weeks! We promised ourselves years ago that we would travel to New Zealand for our 30th birthdays, and we actually made it happen (albeit a few months late). We’re huge Lord of the Rings fans so seeing all the filming locations from the movies in person is beyond amazing. LOTR aside, New Zealand is absolutely beautiful!
Since it’s summer right now in NZ, it’s been a little strange seeing all the “snowy” Christmas decorations next to ads for Christmas beach houses, but it’s a fun change of pace from the usual hibernation of the holidays.
We actually spent Christmas day hiking near Mt. Cook in the blazing summer sun, and ended the day with a traditional British Christmas dinner at our hotel. It’s all about the contrasts.
Before we left, though, I had the chance to get in the Christmas spirit a little early with these snickerdoodle cookies, thanks to Nielsen-Massey’s holiday flavors bundle. They very kindly sent me samples of their bourbon vanilla extract, peppermint extract, and almond extract to try in holiday cookie recipes.
What are snickerdoodles?
Even though Christmas is behind us, I think snickerdoodles are appropriate any time of year. It’s a classic vanilla sugar cookie rolled in a mixture of cinnamon and sugar, and baked until crispy on the outside and soft and chewy on the inside.
No bells and whistles, nothing too fancy. You don’t even need to chill the dough for this one! Hallelujah.
I decided to use the bourbon vanilla for the snickerdoodles, as it’s a key component of the classic snickerdoodle cookie flavor. I honestly love this extract and use it all the time in my baking.
Quality is important when it comes to vanilla extracts, as they aren’t all created the same – especially when it’s the shining flavor of the recipe.
Tips to Make Snickerdoodle Cookies
- Use cream of tartar. Not baking powder – cream of tartar. I know, it’s annoying to buy it, but it’s the main rising agent in snickerdoodles and the distinctive flavor will not be present otherwise. That being said, if you can’t access it and you want to make snickerdoodle cookies without cream of tartar, you CAN use baking powder instead (instructions in the recipe).
- Whisk your dry ingredients together before mixing into the wet. This incorporates the ingredients more evenly with less stirring required once that flour goes in. Less mixing = better cookies.
- Use unsalted butter in these snickerdoodles, rather than shortening – I like the flavor much better, though traditional snickerdoodle recipes do generally call for shortening. Butter (especially unsalted butter so we can control the salt content in the recipe) is best for texture and flavor!
- Roll evenly sized balls of dough for uniform cookies. I like to make them about 1 inch in diameter (I actually use a small cookie scoop to form them all evenly).
- Put the cinnamon and sugar in a ziplock bag and shake the cookie balls in it, rather than individually rolling them. They get evenly coated in way less time (and less mess). Shake and bake!
Sometimes the simplest things truly are the best.
Follow these tips and you’ll be making the best snickerdoodles in no time. They’re one of my favorites and this recipe makes a bunch, even though it doesn’t call for a huge amount of ingredients!
They’re perfect for parties or those Christmas cookie boxes you’re still giving out – and they stay fresh for a few days, which is always a bonus (and not a given) with cookies.
They’re even perfect for a hot New Zealand summer’s day. Happy holidays!
More Christmas Cookie Recipes
For cookie dough:
- 1½ cups (187g) all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon cream of tartar*
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ cup (113g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature (8 tbsp or 1 stick)
- ¾ cup (150g) granulated sugar
- 1 large egg (preferably at room temp)
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
For cinnamon sugar coating:
- 2 Tablespoons (25g) granulated sugar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
- Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cream of tartar, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, using a stand mixer with paddle attachment or a hand mixer, cream the butter and sugar together at high speed until fluffy. Beat in the egg and vanilla on medium speed until fully combined.
- Add the flour mixture and beat on low speed until the dough just comes together and is evenly mixed.
- Roll dough into 1-inch diameter balls. I do this by scooping the dough using a small cookie scoop, then rolling it smooth with my hands.
- Place the 2 tbsp sugar and 1.5 tsp cinnamon in a small plastic bag, and add the cookie dough balls one by one, shaking to coat in the cinnamon sugar mixture. Place each coated ball on a parchment-lined cookie sheet, spaced at least 2 inches apart (they spread more than you think!).
- Bake cookies for 8 minutes. Let cool completely before serving.
Thank you to Nielsen-Massey for sending me the vanilla extract I used in this recipe. All opinions are my own!
Like this recipe for snickerdoodle cookies? Please leave a comment or tag me on Instagram @katiebirdbakes, and sign up for my email list to receive my recipes straight to your inbox every time I post!
Cookies are delicious but they stayed kind of puffy, never going flat with the typical Snickerdoodle crinkly top. Did I do something wrong? How can I get the typical snickerdoodle look?
Hi Celia – it sounds like you might have too much flour in the dough. Make sure to spoon and level the flour rather than scooping from the bag so your cup of flour is not too packed in! Or, the MOST accurate way is to measure the flour by weight using a food scale. Let me know if that helps!
Love these every time!! The baking powder substitute is a great one–thanks for understanding that we don’t always have cream of tartar on hand 😉
I have one regular thin cookie sheet and one of those air layer ones that help prevent burning(?) and find that the air layer sheet cookies need about 1.5-2 minutes longer than the recipe calls for, but 8 minutes is perfect on the thin sheet!! (For those of y’all trying to dial your sheet baking times in like me)
Thanks for the tips Lauren! So glad you love these!
These cookies have everything I’m looking for in a snickerdoodle! The edges are slightly crisp, the center is tender, and the flavor is absolutely perfect.
Thank you Katherine! So glad you liked them!
Can I replace cream of tartar? In the Netherlands we don’t use it and cannot find it in the supermarket. Thanks in advance
Yes – you can use baking powder in place of the baking soda + cream of tartar. So delete both the baking soda and cream of tartar, and use 1.5 teaspoons of baking powder instead. Hope you enjoy!
Could you please help me with metric measurements? Also, does the cookie dough need no chilling time?
I will update the recipe with metric measurements soon, but in the meantime you can go to a conversion table like this one from King Arthur Flour. No chill time necessary for these.
Great recipe for soft and thick cookies! I also love that it doesnt make a giant batch – just the right size! Thanks so much!
So glad you enjoyed them Laura!
Can you freeze the dough and bake it later?
Yes! Just bake from frozen and add 1-2 minutes to the baking time.
You’re right – these are the best snickerdoodles! I can’t count many recipes I’ve tried, but these are absolutely perfect. Thanks for such a great recipe. It’s my new go-to! 🙂
Yay! Thank you so much Darcy – so glad you enjoyed these!