Pumpkin and Apple Pie Sugar Cookies

Every year around this time I pronounce my dislike of pie here on the blog. While everyone is freaking out about what pie they’re going to whip up next Thursday, I’m just thinking of all the alternate possibilities for a turkey-day dessert. So when my dental school friends hosted a Friendsgiving last weekend, I came up with this clever idea to avoid warm fruit at all cost (although of course another guest did bring pie, so it couldn’t be avoided completely). I put together two different types of sugar cookies inspired by pie – pumpkin flavored slice cookies and apple cinnamon flavored lattice cookies. They have all the festiveness and flavors of fall without actually being pie, hooray!

The pumpkin cookies are an idea borrowed from Sweet Sugar Belle and the apple cookies from Kitchen Simplicity, and both of their posts have beautiful tutorial images, so definitely check those out. I would love to have more step-by-step photos of the process of recipes here on the blog, but unfortunately I find myself baking at night most of the time when I have no good lighting for photos. So for now we’ll borrow the visual aids from the other blogs and focus on the pretty finished products here :) I really can’t decide which design I like more – the pumpkin ones are really cute and playful but the apple ones are so textural and different that I love them too. That’s why I thought a platter with a mixture of the two would be a great Thanksgiving treat, because there’s never just one pie on the table anyway!

For the two flavors, I used a different combination of things to help give them their distinctive taste. The pumpkin was flavored with pumpkin emulsion and pumpkin pie spice, while the apple was spiced with some ground cinnamon and apple cider drink mix. There are plenty of other ways to bring in the flavors of pumpkin and apple into sugar cookies, but I was very pleased with the outcomes of using these combinations of spices and flavorings. You could also forgo adding the specific flavors and just spike the sugar cookie batter with some cinnamon to make them seasonal. Although though the lattice cookies are a bit more technically difficult than simply rolling out dough and cutting shapes, there’s no need to decorate them with royal icing so that makes them manageable. As for the pumpkin ones, the shape is super simple and there is royal icing involved to decorate them, but it’s such an easy design so it’s a great no-fuss decorating project!

For more non-pie Thanksgiving desserts, check out my other Apple Pie Cookies, Maple Leaf CookiesApple Pie Cupcakes, Cinnamon Bread Pudding, or my old-school Turkey Cake Balls!

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Pumpkin and Apple Pie Sugar Cookies

Ingredients:

for the pumpkin pie sugar cookie dough:
1-1/2 cups butter
2 cups granulated sugar
2 eggs
2 egg yolks
3 tsp pumpkin emulsion
2 tsp vanilla extract
4 cups flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice

for the apple pie sugar cookie dough:
1-1/2 cups butter
2 cups granulated sugar
2 eggs
2 egg yolks
5 tsp vanilla
4 cups flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
2 tbsp powdered apple cider drink mix

Cinnamon sugar, for sprinkling

for the royal icing:
4 cups powdered sugar
5 tbsp meringue powder
1/2 cup water
Few drops pumpkin emulsion

Directions:

For either flavor cookie dough, start by beating together butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer for about 2 minutes, until light and fluffy.

Add the eggs and egg yolks and beat until smooth, and then add vanilla (and pumpkin emulsion if using).

In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, salt, baking powder, and cinnamon (and pumpkin pie spice or apple cider drink mix if using). Then with the mixer on low speed, add the dry mix slowly to the wet until just combined. Wrap dough in saran wrap and chill in the fridge for an hour (or more).

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and roll out dough to a 1/4" thickness on a well-floured surface. If you're making the pumpkin version, use a medium bowl to cut out circles and then a sharp knife to cut pie slices. For the lattice cookies, cut the dough into strips and follow the tutorial here for instructions. I like to put my cookie dough shapes in the freezer before baking to help prevent spreading, but this is optional. Bake for 8-10 minutes, allow cookies to cool on pan for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire wrack and allow cookies to completely cool before decorating. Sprinkle some cinnamon sugar on top of the lattice cookies after they come out of the oven while still warm.

For the icing for the pumpkin cookies, mix together sugar, meringue powder, water, and pumpkin emulsion until smooth (about 2 minutes). Start with a consistency that will melt back into the bowl within 20 seconds when drizzled on top. Place 2/3 of the icing in a bowl and use gel food coloring to dye it a good orange pumpkin pie color. Transfer to a piping bag fit with a small round tip or squeeze bottle and fill the majority of the pie slices with orange icing. Allow the orange icing to set for at least 2 hours before moving on to the next steps.

Dye half of the remaining royal icing tan and use a #101 tip to pipe squiggly lines that resemble a pie crust. Then load white royal icing into a piping bag fit with a star tip and pipe swirls of "whipped cream" on top of each cookie. Allow the icing to set for another few hours, or ideally overnight, before serving.