Snickerdoodles are one of my absolute favorite cookies! I love how such a simple cookie can be such a big hit for a crowd!
If you’ve never had a snickerdoodle (umm, make these now please) then they may not sound all that exciting. A simple cookie rolled in cinnamon sugar? What is so exciting about that? I don’t know what! But darn it, they are so dang good! Addictive even!
What is a Snickerdoodle?
The dough for snickerdoodles is very similar to a basic sugar cookie dough. You have the usual line up of butter, sugar, egg, salt, and flour. But what makes snickerdoodles different from regular sugar cookies is that they traditionally call for cream of tartar.
Cream of tartar is a white powdery ingredient that has acidic properties. It is used in many baking recipes for various reasons, but the reason it is added into snickerdoodles is threefold:
- Cream of tartar gives snickerdoodles their iconic slightly acidic flavor.
- Cream of tartar prevents the sugar in the cookie dough from crystallizing so that the cookie stays soft instead of crunchy.
- Cream of tartar is typically used in conjunction with baking soda in snickerdoodles. The cream of tartar acts as the acidic component to activate the baking soda, leavening the cookies (making them rise).
But the thing about cream of tartar is that many people who don’t bake often, and even some people who do bake often, do not keep it on hand. And in my opinion, the need for cream of tartar in snickerdoodles completely ruins the beauty of how fast and easy they are to make! So I set out to create a perfectly easy snickerdoodle recipe that could be made without cream of tartar.
You Can Make Snickerdoodles without Cream of Tartar!
In order to make this snickerdoodle recipe without cream of tartar, I made a few simple changes from the standard recipe. I swapped out the baking soda for baking powder, and tweaked some of the sugar, flour, and egg ratios to make sure that this cookie remains soft even without the acid.
At a strictly baking science level, baking powder functions the same as baking soda mixed with an acid. The only difference is that it doesn’t bring quite the acidic flavor to the cookie as the cream of tartar would.
With these changes, the only true role the cream of tartar would play is to add the iconic acidic flavor. So now you can use cream of tartar if you do have it on hand, or you could use lemon juice instead of the cream of tartar, or you could leave both of them out all together!
How to Make the Easy Snickerdoodle Recipe
These easy snickerdoodles are made using the standard creaming method for cookies. You’re going to start by creaming the butter and sugar together until really light and fluffy.
Then mix in the egg, followed by the dry ingredients. The dough will be quite thick.
Scoop the dough into large balls. I like to use about 2-3 TBSP per cookie, but you can make them any size you like. Next, roll them in the cinnamon sugar mixture and flatten them out slightly on the baking sheet. Bake until slightly golden brown.
Tips for Success!
I have to tell you, these are absolutely the best and easiest snickerdoodles I have ever made! They come together so incredibly quick and require such few ingredients. I have literally made them 4 times this week and have ended up eating way too much dough and cookies each time.
This dough is very thick because of the ratios of ingredients to keep the cookies soft and chewy without needing the cream of tartar. You may have to work the last little bit of flour into the dough with your hands. It is also best if you press the dough balls down to flatten them slightly when shaping them, because if you leave them in balls when baking they will not spread. I also recommend sprinkling even more of the cinnamon sugar over the top of them right before they bake. You can’t really overdue it!
These easy snickerdoodles come out super soft and slightly chewy and also stay thick so you really have something to sink your teeth into. I can’t wait for you to try them!
For the Cookies
- 2 sticks (224 gr) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1 1/2 cups (294 gr) granulated sugar
- 1 large egg, room temperature
- 2 tsp baking powder (*see note for substitution if you do want to use cream of tartar for a more traditional snickerdoodle)
- 1/4 tsp Morton kosher salt (use 1/2 tsp if using Diamond Kosher)
- 3 cups (360 gr) all-purpose flour
For the Cinnamon/Sugar Topping
- 1/4 cup (50 gr) granulated sugar
- 1 TBSP (8 gr) ground cinnamon
- Preheat your oven to 375F (190C).
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, or in a large bowl with your hand mixer, cream together the butter and sugar on medium speed for 3 minutes until light and fluffy. Scrape down the bowl with a rubber spatula.
- Add the egg, baking powder, and salt into the mixing bowl. Mix for about 30 more seconds until combined. Scrape down the bowl again.
- With the mixer running on low speed, gradually add in the flour until it is all in the bowl. Stop the mixer, scrape down the sides and the bottom of the bowl, and mix again until the flour is absorbed into the dough. This is a very thick dough and it may be necessary to use clean hands to work the last bit of flour into the dough. Stop mixing as soon as you have a cohesive dough, as over-mixing can cause tough cookies.
- In a small bowl, combine the granulated sugar and ground cinnamon for the topping and mix together well.
- Roll the cookie dough into balls, about 3 TBSP in size. Roll the dough balls in the cinnamon-sugar and then place on a parchment lined baking sheet, about 10-12 cookies per sheet. Flatten the dough balls out slightly to about 1/2" thick. Sprinkle more cinnamon sugar over each cookie if desired.
- Bake at 375F (190C) for 10-14 minutes, until the cookies look just set. They will look slightly under-baked, but set around the edges. You do not want to overcook these as they will start to become more crispy and dry. Mine usually take right at 11 minutes, but depending on how big you make your cookies and because all ovens cook differently, this could vary.
- Store the cooled cookies in an airtight container at room temperature for 3-4 days. They will become crispy if not stored in an airtight container.
- Make Ahead TipsIf you want to make the dough a few days ahead of time: I recommend making the dough and shaping the cookies and then store in an airtight container in the refrigerator before rolling them in cinnamon sugar. Store for up to 3 days. Before baking, allow the cookies to sit at room temperature for 1 hour to take the chill off, then roll in cinnamon-sugar and bake.
- If you want to freeze the dough: Make the cookies as the recipe states all the way until right before baking, including rolling in the cinnamon sugar. Freeze the dough in an airtight container for up to 3 months. Bake the frozen cookies for about 2 minutes longer than the length of time they take to bake fresh.
- If you want a more traditional snickerdoodle, omit the baking powder and add 2 tsp of cream of tartar or lemon juice and 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda. Cream of tartar gives snickerdoodles their iconic slightly acidic flavor and serves to help traditional snickerdoodles rise and remain soft after baked. However, I developed this recipe in a way that the cream of tartar is not necessary for the texture of the cookie, but can still be used if you have it on hand.
- For a gluten free version, substitute the all-purpose flour for a gluten free flour blend such as Bob’s Red Mill’s Gluten Free Baking Blend or Cup 4 Cup Gluten Free Flour.