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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!
Looking for variations on this recipe? Try Orange Cardamom Cookies and Coconut Snickerdoodles that start with the same base and change up the flavors! You can even make Gluten Free Snickerdoodles!
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.
Great for people like me and most of my family that like our cookies crispy!
Love crispy Snickerdoodles. My granddaughter loved decorating them with colored sugars & sprinkles for Christmas. We also used the cinnamon sugar.
Will definitely make this recipe again.
I love that you used this recipe for a fun day with your granddaughter!
Is there a reason why no vanilla is added does it drown out the taste of the cream of tartar?
I have never put vanilla in Snickerdoodles since the key flavors are butter and cinnamon. You can try it if you prefer the flavor.
These were delicious! I love crispy cookies. It’s a texture thing!
Yes, we are all about crispy Snickerdoodles!
For me, the texture of a snickerdoodle is of utmost importance. These are perfection! I wouldn’t change a thing! I’ve made two batches in as many days: one to give away, the other to keep.
I love to hear this. So many people love chewy snickerdoodles, but we are 100% Team Crispy!
Whoa! Best ever Snickerdoodles!! I added a splash of almond extract bc that stuff is addicting 😄 and also made these in the air fryer for extra crispiness. This is a 5 star recipe that is going into my file. No other recipe will do – this is the one!!
Oh my gosh, I haven’t tried cookies in my air fryer yet!
I just made the wonderful cookies! My husband LOVES snickerdoodles, but most recipes are for the more cakey kind of cookie, and he prefers crispy. This is definitely a keeper and now my house smells just like Christmas!
I have noticed I mostly see chewy Snickerdoodle recipes. Glad you got ti make crispy ones for your husband.
Your recipe calls for 1/2 cup 1 stick unsalted butter. Do you mean 1/2 cup plus 1 stick of butter?
Sorry, I am going to fix the formatting. That happened when I changed the recipe card, it is 1/2 cup of butter, which is 1 stick.
Made these, and everyone who’s had them has raved about them.
I am so happy to hear that! I’ve been making them for decades!
When you say vegetable shortening, do you mean crisco or vegetable oil? I have them in the fridge and used crisco. Added a teaspoon of vanilla too.
I do mean Crisco. 🙂
I don’t know if my previous comments can be edited, but I meant to say 1/4 cup of egg nog replacing one egg in the recipe. Could maybe stretch it to 1/3 cup and still be close to the liquid volume of one egg. Just made these and the taste is fabulous. I’m practically a genius! I’m kidding…I just like saying that.
Thanks, Rich. I edited your previous comment to reflect the amount of eggnog. And yes, you may very well be a genius… at least in the kitchen. 😉
I have only salted butter. Can I use this and not add the salt?
Thank you! I am one of those people who divides the dough out to be sure I get the right number of cookies so I know I made them the right size.
That’s a very smart idea, Tracy. Keeping them the same size also helps to assure that they bake evenly.
Can you please tell me how many cookies this recipe makes?
The recipe makes about 3 dozen cookies.
I became a Cookie Jude over the weekend at a Cookie Festival in our town..and I came along this wonderful cookie which I had heard but never tried…..OMG!!!!… the BOOMM…I selected this cookie as the winner as well as many of the other Judges…can wait to try it at home…thanks for the recipe.
I’m so happy that everyone enjoyed the Snickerdoodle cookies, and that it was the winning recipe!
Hey Bri– update on attempt to replicate taste of former girlfriend’s cookies. Your recipe is fabulous by the way–crispiness is perfect. Don’t think I have the ratios quite right yet, but I think what I was missing flavor-wise was nutmeg. I did a half recipe to test. I added 1/4 tsp of both cinnamon and nutmeg to the flour mix and then 1 tsp of each to 3 tablespoon sugar mix. I also added 1/2 tsp of rum extract along with the vanilla. I really couldn’t detect that flavor so I think I’ll reduced the cinnamon a little, add a bit more nutmeg and also add more rum extract. Couldn’t find a shaker for the sugar mix, so I punched holes in a small Dixie cup from the inside out with a fork and that worked perfectly. I do like a strong cinnamon/nutmeg flavor, but I’m hopeful of bringing out a subtle flavor of rum as well. Sorry to be tinkering your already marvelous recipe!!
Rich, No need to apologize for tweaking. Sometimes that’s what a recipe needs to make it “your own”. I hope your next attempt to replicate your girlfriend’s recipe is THE ONE. 🙂 Thanks for the great recipe rating!
I also like them more crispy than thick and chewy. Have heard you can substitute 1/4 cup of egg nog for one of the eggs, which gives a richer taste, although I haven’t tried that yet. My first girlfriend made the best snickerdoodles ever–my sister said I think that because I was tasting them with my heart! Lol!!
No, I hadn’t heard the egg nog substitute, but it sounds like something I definitely need to try!
I love these cookies. Thank you.