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Pumpkin Cutout Cookies

Pumpkin Cutout Cookies

Pumpkin cutout cookies are a delicious and flavorful cutout cookie recipe that is great for the holidays. The dough for this recipe is amazing and I use it for baking up different cookie shapes all throughout the year.

I normally do not usually get excited when it comes to sugar cookie recipes. I feel like they lack something and their only real use is to make cookie shapes for the holidays.  So years ago I began researching cookie recipes that I could try so I had a cookie I liked when I made holiday cookies with the kids. 

This is that recipe that I searched so long for and I have been using this recipe for so many years now that it has become a tradition in our home because it is that good!   It comes from Epicurious and there are only a few changes in the recipe since I didn’t want to ruin it 🙂  

It can be a tricky dough to work with at first because it is a little drier than most dough that you roll out but let me tell you it is worth it for the extra flavor!  Normally, this recipe is brought out at Christmas time and all of our cookies are made with it including an amazing adaptation for this recipe where I make 2 different types of cookies with one dough.

Tips for working with the dough:

If you feel like the dough is a little dry after refrigerating it, here a few things you can do that will help.

  • Take the dough out of the refrigerator 30 minutes before you want to use it so it softens just a bit.
  • If you are rolling it and find that the dough cracks too much (some cracking is normal) then just pick up the dough and squeeze it a bit, kind of like when a kid plays with play dough.
  • If the cracking is minor but it cuts across your beautiful cutout shape, just scoop your cookie on to your baking sheet as usual and mend it a bit with the warmth of your finger by lightly pressing on it.

This year, rather than waiting for Christmas to roll around, we thought let’s use it to make some Halloween cookies and it was as always amazing!   Maybe it’s psychological but the orange color on the cookies made us feel like we tasted that orange zest just a little bit more…. ?  I don’t know but it was great! 

Give this recipe a try and you will no longer find sugar cookies to be boring, promise!

Pumpkin Cutout Cookies

Prep Time30 mins
Cook Time15 mins
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American


Cookie Dough

  • 2 cups unbleached all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup 1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
  • the zest of one lemon with a microplane or zester
  • the zest of 1 orange with a microplane or zester
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 small package of Wilson cookie eyeballs can be found in the baking section at grocery store or Michaels


  • 1 cup of powdered sugar for icing
  • 1/2 cup of milk
  • 1 cup of orange or clear sparkling sugar
  • 3 drops of red food coloring and 3 drops of yellow food coloring to make your orange icing


  • Sift flour, baking powder and salt into medium bowl.
  • Using electric mixer, beat butter, lemon peel and tangerine peel in large bowl until light.
  • Add 1/2 cup sugar and 1/4 cup powdered sugar and beat until fluffy.
  • Beat in egg.
  • Add dry ingredients. Using spoon, stir until mixture forms dough (dough will be soft).
  • Divide dough into thirds. Gather each third into ball; flatten into disks. Wrap each disk in plastic and refrigerate until firm, about 4 hours. (Can be prepared 2 days ahead. Keep refrigerated. Let soften slightly, if necessary, before rolling out.)
  • Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  • Generously flour work surface and rolling pin.
  • Place 1 dough disk on work surface (keep remaining 2 dough disks refrigerated).
  • Press rolling pin into dough several times to flatten slightly for easier rolling.
  • Roll out dough to 1/8 inch thickness, frequently lifting and turning dough to prevent sticking. Using pumpkin cookie cutters cut out cookies.
  • Transfer cookies to ungreased nonstick baking sheets, spacing 1/2 inch apart.
  • For 1/2 of your cookies, place 2 small eyeballs on your pumpkins. Leave the other 1/2 plain for decorating later.
  • Bake until cookies turn brown on edges, about 10-15 minutes. Let cookies stand on sheets 1 minute.
  • Using metal spatula, transfer cookies to racks and cool completely. Once cooled you can proceed to the decorating part!
  • Decorating

Prepare your decorations

  • Mix 1 cup of powdered sugar, 6 drops of orange food coloring and 2 tbsp of milk in a large shallow bowl. Make sure all of the sugar lumps are gone and the consistency is nice and smooth but not watery. If it is watery just add 1 tbsp of powdered sugar at a time until it thickens. If it is too thick add 1 tbsp of milk at a time until it thins. In a separate bowl add orange sugar sprinkles.


  • Take your cooled cookies with the eyeballs and place them face down into the bowl of orange icing and carefully pull it out and place it on a cooling rack to dry. For the other half of your cookies without the eyeballs, place face down in the orange icing then after you take them out place them into the bowl with sugar sprinkles so the sprinkles stick to the icing and then place them on a cooling rack to dry.
  • The cookies after being iced will need at least 2 hours (or more depending on humidity) to dry fully.


* Total time includes setting up in the refrigerator
Adapted from Epicurious

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