This classic snickerdoodle recipe is soft and chewy, coated in cinnamon-sugar, and ready to devour in just 30 minutes. It’s soft in the middle with a perfect crunch around the edges.
This timeless cookie is rolled twice in cinnamon-sugar. I think the traditional sugar cookie got bored and rolled around in cinnamon to make himself more popular.
And boy did it work!
These cookies are incredible – your people will devour them in a matter of hours. They’re perfect for holidays, get-togethers, or in my opinion – ANY day of the week.
It’s a classic cookie that’s fun to say and even more fun to munch on. The only thing missing is a big glass of milk.
What Are Snickerdoodles?
Simply put, snickerdoodles are a type of sugar cookie — only they’re so much better than most.
Unlike most sugar cookies, snickerdoodles contain cream of tartar. That one ingredient completely transforms the cookies.
It makes them delightfully chewy, subtly tangy, and downright delicious.
Furthermore, you’ll roll snickerdoodle dough balls in a cinnamon sugar mixture before baking them. That makes them extra sweet and warmly spiced.
These pantry ingredients are all you need to make drool-worthy snickerdoodles that are soft on the inside and crispy on the outside:
- Softened Butter and Sugar. We use these two ingredients at the very beginning. They need to cream together well such that the butter coats the sugar, forming a smooth consistency. Creaming also makes your cookie dough airy.
- Eggs, Flour, Shortening, Baking Soda, Salt, and Vanilla. These ingredients, when combined with the creamed butter and sugar, make up the cookie dough. There’s another special ingredient that goes into the batter, but let’s save that one for later.
- Cinnamon and Sugar. It’s the classic mixture that coats and defines the timeless flavor of the snickerdoodle.
- And Of Course, The Secret Ingredient. As mentioned, cream of tartar is what sets snickerdoodles apart from other sugar cookies. You can’t make snickerdoodles without it!
Why Is Cream of Tartar in Snickerdoodles?
I’ve already said that snickerdoodles aren’t snickerdoodles without cream of tartar. But what makes it such a special ingredient?
Cream of tartar is a white powder formed during wine production. Specifically, it is the residue left in wine barrels after grape fermentation takes place.
Since it’s a biproduct of wine, it has natural acidic properties.
Snickerdoodles owe many of their characteristics to cream of tartar. Here’s how this magical ingredient affects the cookie:
- It makes the cookies rise. When used together with baking soda, the acidic property of cream of tartar activates the baking soda. In turn, it does a better job at making cookies rise.
Fun fact: This is why double-acting baking powder contains cream of tartar!
- It makes the cookies rise – part 2. Also, when the cream of tartar combines with liquid ingredients, it produces carbon-dioxide air bubbles, which in turn disintegrates the gluten in the flour. This process lifts the cookie dough.
- It provides chewiness. Aside from making the cookie rise, cream of tartar also makes them chewy. Once the cookie dough bakes in the oven, the air bubbles created when it mixed with the liquids become even larger, making the cookie chewy and airier.
- It makes them soft. Cream of tartar also hinders sugar from crystallizing. This is what makes snickerdoodles super soft, not crunchy, on the inside. This also prevents cookies from browning – so that’s why snickerdoodles aren’t as brown as other cookies!
- It provides a unique flavor. Cream of tartar is responsible for the tangy flavor in snickerdoodles. Aside from being chewy, snickerdoodles are also known for having a bit of acidity. Cream of tartar neutralizes the bitterness of baking soda, forming a subtle sour undercoating in the cookie.
Cream of tartar is usually found in a supermarket’s spice aisle. It can last for several years provided that you store in a cool and dry area.
How to Make Snickerdoodle Cookies
These snickerdoodle cookies are so delectable I’m often surprised how easy they are to make. Here are the simple steps.
1. Make the batter. Combine the sugar butter, sugar, eggs, vanilla, and shortening.
Then, add the salt, flour, cream of tartar, and baking soda. Mix until it becomes batter-like.
2. Shape the dough. Using a spoon or cookie scoop, shape your cookie dough into balls.
3. Roll the balls. Combine 3 tablespoons sugar and 3 teaspoons cinnamon. Mix well. Then, roll the dough balls in the cinnamon and sugar mixture until fully coated.
4. Bake. Place the balls on and ungreased baking sheet. Remember to leave two inches of space in between.
Bake the cookies at 400 degrees for 8 to 10 minutes. (8 minutes for softer cookies and 10 minutes for crispier cookies.)
5. Cool. Remove cookies from the baking sheet and place onto a wire rack to cool.
Tips & Tricks
Remember these tips and tricks while baking:
- Add nutmeg. If you want to impress your loved ones, add half a teaspoon of ground nutmeg to the dough before baking. It adds a unique flavor that makes your snickerdoodles taste even better.
- Use room temperature eggs. The butter should also be room temperature.
- Chill the cookie dough. It needs just 30 minutes before you bake it. A chilled batter yields thicker cookies.
- Pick the right sugar. Use brown sugar instead white to give your snickerdoodles additional moisture and a rich flavor.
- Need a cream of tartar substitute? No problem! If you don’t have cream of tartar on hand, you can also replace it with 2 teaspoons of white vinegar OR lemon juice. Works like a charm!
- Use fresh ingredients. Make sure your baking soda and cream of tartar are both fresh. Baking soda goes flat pretty soon after opening the box. To see if it’s still good, put a tiny bit of the baking soda in some water. It should start fizzing immediately. If not, it’s time to buy fresh.
- Use this trick for coating the balls. For a quick and easy way to coat your dough balls, place the cinnamon-sugar mixture in a sandwich bag (or Ziploc bag) and drop one ball in at a time. Close the bag, shake well, and your cookies will be perfectly coated. Plus – there’s a lot less mess!
- Monitor the dough while baking. When you start to see the edges turning light gold, the cookies are done.
How To Avoid Tough Cookies
Here are a few additional tips for avoiding tough cookies:
- Don’t overbake the cookies. If your cookies are too tough, it likely means you overcooked them. Cook the next batch for 1-2 minutes less to ensure soft and chewy cookies.
- Keep an eye on the temp. If you don’t think the baking time is the problem, maybe it’s the temperature. Use a cooking thermometer to monitor the temperature of the oven while cooking.
- Don’t over-mix. It’s also possible that you have over-mixed the dough. Fold the ingredients ever so gently to avoid over-mixing.
Keep snickerdoodles stored at room temperature in an airtight container.
Place a piece of parchment paper in between layers to prevent the cinnamon sugar from becoming moist. They will last for a good 7 days.
If you want them to last a bit longer, place the cookie dough balls on a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Then, freeze for 30 minutes. Place the cookie dough balls in a plastic bag or airtight container and freeze.
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