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These Snickerdoodle cookies, unlike others you’ll find, are thin and crispy, just the way we love them. Buttery and crunchy and packed with cinnamon flavor, it’s hard to eat just one of these classic Christmas cookies! With sugar and spice and everything nice, you’ll have to add them to your holiday baking plans this year!
Originally published on December 20, 2012 and updated with more helpful information.
Here is a classic cookie recipe for you – Snickerdoodles.
I mentioned on my Facebook page that Snickerdoodles are part of my annual Christmas cookie repertoire. They are my dad’s favorite, so I always tried to bring him a couple of dozen, end even shipped them to him when he moved out of state and I didn’t see him around the holidays.
I made them so often that several years back, my dad admitted that my Snickerdoodle cookies had finally surpassed my grandmother’s. This made me grin from ear to ear.
But in that conversation, two things came up. First, they aren’t just classic cookies, they are a traditional American cookie recipe. So people from other countries didn’t know what I what talking about.
And then there was the debate about thin and crispy snickerdoodles versus thick, chewy cookies.
What are Snickerdoodles?
While the name might be derived from German, it is more likely just a nonsensical name made up for these buttery cookies with a coating of cinnamon sugar. In fact, outside of the United States, few people have even heard of them.
They are made with a basic dough of butter or another fat, sugar, flour, and usually eggs, and sometimes a leavening like baking soda. Balls of dough are rolled in a mixture of cinnamon and sugar before baking so that the cookies end up with a crackled, almost sparkly appearance.
Besides the cinnamon, the other characteristic ingredients that differentiate a Snickerdoodle cookie from a basic sugar cookie is cream of tartar. This gives the cookie a slight tang, but generally, it is also used to produce a soft, chewy cookie because it inhibits the sugar crystals from binding together and producing a crunchy cookie.
That’s where the next debate comes in…
Are snickerdoodles chewy or crispy?
With what I explained about the cream of tartar, it would seem that these are intended to be a chewy cookie. And most of the recipes out there seem to produce a soft snickerdoodle. They are made with all butter and the dough balls are formed and baked, not flattened before putting them in the oven.
However, if you, like everyone in my family, prefer a crunchy snickerdoodle perfect for dunking in milk or tea, then this recipe is perfection…
How to Make Crispy Snickerdoodles
This recipe began with Betty Crocker’s Snickerdoodle cookies. Betty seem to have a few slight variations of the recipe floating around between the different cookbooks and websites. But I have mastered the technique to ensure they come out thin and crispy, but definitely not hard and dry.
Here is a brief overview so you can see just how easy it is to make. Scroll down to the printable recipe card for the full quantities and details.
But don’t skip my PRO TIPS below!
What do you need?
- All-purpose flour – you can also make gluten free snickerdoodles using a 1:1 gluten free baking blend, such as Bob’s Red Mill
- Cream of tartar
- Baking soda
- Butter – unsalted is preferred, softened to room temperature
- Vegetable shortening – I rarely use shortening but this is what helps to give the cookies their characteristic crispy texture. If you don’t like to use shortening, you can use all butter, though you will end up with a softer cookie. Coconut oil works as well, but gives it a hint of coconut flavor.
- Sugar – you’ll need some for the dough as well as additional for rolling the cookies
To make the dough, you’ll start by sifting the dry ingredients together. Then cream the butter, shortening, and sugar, and beat in the eggs one at a time. Gradually add the flour and mix just until a dough forms.
How do I make them crispy?
Now we come to the key steps to ensure that perfectly delicate texture. First, chill the dough so it is easier to handle.
After it is chilled, roll balls with about one tablespoon of dough, and roll them in a mixture of cinnamon sugar.
Finally, before baking, press them down slightly with your three middle fingers. You don’t want to flatten them completely, as they will spread during baking. But you don’t want thick balls.
As they bake they will puff up and then flatten out. Don’t overbake or they will get hard, versus that lightly crisp consistency that makes them perfect.
Can I make chewy Snickerdoodles?
If I still haven’t brought you over to Team Crispy, you can certainly stick with all butter, skip chilling the dough, and don’t pat down the balls before baking.
They will taste just as delicious and you’ll have the texture you love!
Can you make the dough in advance?
Yes, you cna keep the cookie dough in the refrigerator for a day or two before baking, but you will have to let it soften at room temperature a bit to be able to scoop it.
You can also freeze the dough in an airtight container, either all together or as balls. Thaw in the fridge then let warm up a bit at room temperature before baking.
Can you freeze Snickerdoodles?
Yes, Snickerdoodles freeze great. Since they don’t have any decorations, they are actually a perfect cookie to make in advance and freeze until Christmas.
Wrap tightly in plastic wrap or placed in a freezer storage bag and squeeze out the air before sealing. Then I always recommend to place them into a cookie tin or another more sturdy container to avoid breakage.
More Snickerdoodle recipes
- Toffee Brown Butter Snickerdoodles
- Espresso Snickerdoodles
- Snickerdoodles Cinnamon Sugar Biscotti
- Snickerdoodle White Chocolate Bark
More classic Christmas cookies
- Snowball Cookies
- Almond Crescent Cookies
- Flourless Peanut Butter Cookies
- Crackly Gingersnaps
- Spritz Cookies from Life, Love, and Sugar
Classic Crispy Snickerdoodle Cookies
- 2 3/4 cups all purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons cream of tartar
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup vegetable shortening
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter , at room temperature (1 stick or 1/4 pound)
- 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 3 Tablespoons granulated sugar
- 3 teaspoons cinnamon
- In a medium bowl, whisk or sift together flour, cream of tartar, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
- In a large bowl or the bowl of your mixer, cream the shortening, butter, and sugar at medium high speed thoroughly until light and fluffy.
- Add the eggs one at a time, and mix thoroughly.
- Reduce mixer speed to low, and slowly add the flour mixture. Mix until just combined.
- Place dough in the refrigerator until just cool enough to handle and roll into balls, about 15-30 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 400°F.
- Combine cinnamon and sugar in a small bowl.
- Using a small scoop or about 1 tablespoon of dough, form balls, and roll each ball in the cinnamon sugar mixture to coat all sides.
- Place dough balls about two inches apart on a cookie sheet.
- Just before baking, take your three middle fingers and press the balls down slightly, until they are about a half inch thick.
- Bake for 8-10 minutes, or until barely set and slightly golden. They will puff up at first while baking, then flatten out.
- Cool for a few minutes on the pan, then remove and cool completely on cooling racks.