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Thick and chewy, these Gluten Free Pumpkin Cookies are soft and tender, with extra fall flavor from real pumpkin, maple syrup, and pumpkin pie spice. It’s a healthy snack kids will actually devour, especially when they dunk them in a glass of milk.
My kids, like most, love snacking on graham crackers. Their namesake, Sylvester Graham, created them as a healthier snack that aligned with his beliefs in a vegetarian diet that includes lots of whole grains. So, as a mom, I’ve always felt this honey-sweetened, lightly cinnamon-spiced snack, while yes, still essentially a cookie, was a more wholesome option for a sweet treat.
On a gluten free diet, whole wheat flour is not an ingredient that we can add to our baked goods. But there is something about the earthy flavors of fall – pumpkin, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and maple – that can make even a cookie without whle wheat still have that graham cracker-like flavor. And that pumpkin spice might make them even better! Plus the pumpkin puree gives these a soft, tender texture that is easy for even little ones to eat.
As I mentioned, these Gluten Free Pumpkin Cookies obviously don’t exactly qualify as graham crackers since they aren’t made with graham flour or whole wheat flour. But they are still sweet and delicious.
You also get some of that graham-cracker like flavor. The combination of the whole grain flavor of the brown rice flour, plus pumpkin, pumpkin pie spice, and maple syrup give you that subtle earthiness balanced by a sweetness that is deeper and richer than cookies made with just white sugar. And while the pumpkin spice blend includes more than just cinnamon, you get that cozy warmth from the combination of cinnamon with ginger, nutmeg, and cloves.
If gluten isn’t an issue for you, try my similar recipe for Pumpkin Graham Crackers that are made with whole wheat flour!
While I often use a 1-to-1 gluten free blend in my recipes, I think this one benefits from using the individual flours and starches. Plus it only has a few other simple pantry ingredients.
- Gluten Free Flours: This uses the common combination of brown rice flour, tapioca starch, and potato starch. You can try using a 1:1 gluten free baking blend like Pillsbury Multipurpoese Baking Blend or Bob’s Red Mill 1-to-1, but I haven’t tested it.
- Xanthan gum: Helps hold the dough together and give it the right texture.
- Baking Soda
- Salt: You always need a pinch in baked desserts to balance the sweetness and make the flavors pop.
- Pumpkin Pie Spice: By now everyone knows this mix of cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, clove and allspice that is the ultimate in fall flavors. You can mix the individual spices yourself, like my Pumpkin Pie Spice, or buy it already made. Just be sure the brand you use is gluten free, such as McCormick.
- Butter: You’ll need unsalted butter that is well-chilled.
- Maple Syrup: Make sure to use real maple syrup for a healthier sweetener option that also adds rich, robust flavor.
- Pumpkin Puree: Just pumpkin puree, not pumpkin pie filling.
- Optional: Maple sugar, cinnamon sugar, or coarse sugar for sprinkling over the crackers before baking.
Make the Dough
Sift the brown rice flour, potato starch, tapioca starch, xanthan gum, baking soda, salt, and pumpkin pie spice into a large bowl. Add the chilled cubed butter and cut it in using a pastry cutter or fork until you have small, crumbly bits.
Work in the maple syrup, pumpkin, and vanilla with a wooden spoon or spatula. Give it some time to absorb the moisture, but knead in extra flour if you notice the dough is too sticky. Once the dough is smooth, cover it with plastic wrap, and let it chill in the fridge. I leave mine in for at least 30 minutes.
Roll and Cut the Cookies
While the dough is chilling, preheat the oven to 350°F, and prepare the baking sheets by lining them with silicone baking mats or parchment paper.
Lightly dust gluten free flour over a countertop or another flat surface and remove your dough from the fridge. Placing your dough onto the surface, roll it to about 1/4-1/2 inch in thickness. Using a small knife, cut out about 1 1/2 inch squares or rectangles. Using a chopstick or thin skewer, prick holes in the tops and sprinkle with one of the optional sugars, if desired.
Bake and Cool
Bake the cookies until they’re set, about 16-18 minutes. To make them more like soft and chewy graham crackers, bake them until they’re lightly browned. Keep them in slightly longer if you’re going for more traditional crispy crackers.
Once the gluten free pumpkin cookies are out of the oven, allow them to cool on baking sheets for about two or three minutes. Transfer them to racks to cool completely and then serve or store them!
Tips for Success
Sift the Dry Ingredients: Sifting is import to allow the flours and spices to distribute evenly and blend more uniformly later on.
Chill the Dough: To make it easier to roll out and handle the dough and to allow the gluten free flour to fully absorb the moisture, be sure to chill it well. It needs at least 30 minutes, but you can also leave it overnight.
Make them Crispy: If you prefer a more crunchy cookie, roll them thinner. I would check them after about 15 minutes or so to make sure they aren’t getting too dry or burnt.
Make them Ahead: These gluten free pumpkin cookies freeze well, as does the dough. You can make a batch of dough, wrap it tightly, place it in a place it in a plastic freezer storage bag, and keep it in the freezer for up to 2 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator.
Store your cookies in an airtight container or cookie jar for up to 4-5 days, perfect to have on hand for snacking! Or freeze for longer storage.
Ways to Use Them
While it doesn’t get much better than dunking homemade pumpkin cookies in milk or enjoying with a cup of tea, I love using them in other recipes, too! Here are some ideas:
- Ice Cream Sandwiches: Add a scoop or Caramel Apple Ice Cream or your favorite to make a cool treat.
- Cookie Sandwiches: Spread a layer of Vanilla Frosting or go crazy and try Chocolate Frosting between two cookies for a sweet sammie.
- Dipping: Set out some pumpkin graham crackers with sweet dips like Caramel Apple Cookie Dough Dip or a Chocolate Chip Cheese Ball.
- Make Parfaits: Use them as the base in Pumpkin Cheesecake Mousse Parfaits.
- S’mores: Take the campfire treat to another level by adding a piece of chocolate and a toasted marshmallow. If you really want to go gourmet, make your s’more with Toffee Pumpkin Spice White Chocolate Bark.
Get What You Need
- GLUTEN FREE FLOURS: You’ll need brown rice flour, tapioca starch, and potato starch plus xanthan gum for this recipe.
- PUMPKIN PIE SPICE: I trust McCormick with their labeling, and this is a blend I feel confident they don’t add any fillers that could introduce hidden gluten, at least at the time of writing this. Always check updated information though!
- 1 3/4 cups brown rice flour plus more for flouring your work surface
- 1/2 cup tapioca starch
- 1/2 cup potato starch
- 1 1/8 teaspoon xanthan gum
- 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup (one stick) unsalted butter, chilled and cut into small cubes
- 1/2 cup pure maple syrup
- 3/4 cup canned pumpkin puree , not pumpkin pie filling
- 1 Tablespoon pure vanilla extract
- Optional maple sugar, cinnamon sugar, turbinado or coarse sugar
- Sift the brown rice flour, tapioca starch, potato starch, xanthan gum, pumpkin pie spice, baking soda, and salt together into a large bowl.
- Add the cold, cubed butter to the bowl. Using a pastry cutter or fork, cut in the butter until you have small crumbly bits.
- Add the maple syrup, pumpkin, and vanilla and mix well with a wooden spoon or spatula giving time for the gluten free flour to absorb the moisture.
- Roll dough into a ball, cover with plastic wrap, and chill in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 350°F and line baking sheets with silicone baking mats or parchment paper.
- On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough to about 1/4-1/2 inch thickness.
- Using a sharp knife, cut into about 1 1/2 inch squares or rectangles. Prick holes in the top (I used a chopstick). Sprinkle with your choice of sugar, if desired.
- Bake for 16-18 minutes, or until set and lightly browned (longer if you would like the crispier).
- Cool on baking sheets for about two or three minutes, then transfer to racks to cool completely. Store in an airtight container.
More Gluten Free Pumpkin Recipes
Just because you can’t have gluten doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy amazing pumpkin spice treats like these.