These Snickerdoodle cookies are made without cream of tartar, but they are still the best you'll ever have! Soft and thick, with just the right cinnamon flavor!
Why You Will Love This Recipe
Soft Texture - The baking powder makes soft snickerdoodle cookies. They aren't quite as thick as Half Moon cookies, but they still rise tall and are the absolute perfect texture!
Amazing Flavor - Without the overpowering tangy flavor of cream of tartar the delicious taste of butter and cinnamon really shines!
Pantry Ingredients - You probably have all of the ingredients in your kitchen already, so you don't even have to go to the grocery store!
What is Cream of Tartar?
Cream of tartar is also known as potassium bitartrate. It is a white powdery acid that forms during the process of fermenting wine. When combined with eggs or cream it holds the protein molecules in place. This helps to stiffen egg whites for meringue and also stabilizes whipped cream.
Another common use for cream of tartar is as a leavening agent in baked goods. The acid activates the baking soda, releasing carbon dioxide, which causes baked goods to rise. This combination was used to make baking powder in the 1800s and is still used in some brands today.
Cream of tartar is an ingredient in classic snickerdoodles. It gives the cookies their tangy flavor which many say separates the cookie from regular sugar cookies.
Is it still a Snickerdoodle without Cream of Tartar?
There is an argument that cream of tartar is a required ingredient for traditional snickerdoodles. However, Stella Parks from Serious Eats reports that the original Snickerdoodles had baking powder.
As a matter of fact, one of the earliest known snickerdoodle recipes was from 1891, when Cleveland Baking Powder published the recipe in an advertisement for their brand of baking powder.
The problem was that baking powder was not a household product like today. It was expensive and hard to come by. So the recipe was adapted for the everyday baker to use baking soda and cream of tartar.
Today, of course, baking powder is a pantry staple, but not everyone keeps cream of tartar on hand. Isn't it funny how things change?
See the recipe card at the bottom of this post for the full list of ingredients, including measurements.
All Purpose Flour - This standard baking flour helps create a chewy and delicious cookie.
Butter - My original recipe called for a ½ cup of butter and a half cup of shortening, but the flavor is so much better with all butter! And with a few other recipe adjustments, the cookies are just as thick! Use room temperature butter for the best cookies.
Baking Powder - I love what baking powder does to these cookies! It makes them nice and thick while still having a chewy texture like traditional snickerdoodle cookies.
Vanilla Extract - High-quality pure vanilla extract makes a big difference in the flavor.
1. Cream the Butter and Sugar
- You can use a hand mixer or the paddle attachment with a stand mixer.
- Start your mixer on low speed, then as the sugar mixes into the butter, increase it to high speed.
- Beat together for at least 2 full minutes. This allows the sugar to completely dissolve into the butter, providing a more even flavor throughout the cookie.
- It also adds some air into the dough, producing a lighter and fluffier cookie.
- Add the eggs and vanilla and beat an additional minute or two.
2. Mix in Dry Ingredients
- Mix the flour mixture into the wet ingredients on low speed.
- Scrape the sides with a rubber spatula so that all of the ingredients are incorporated.
- Turn your mixer off as soon as the flour is completely mixed in. Over-mixing will result in a dry cookie.
3. Roll in Sugar
- Stir the cinnamon and sugar in a small bowl.
- The ratio of cinnamon and sugar in this recipe gives a hint of sweetness and lots of cinnamon flavor.
- Make that each ball of dough is thoroughly coated in the cinnamon-sugar mixture.
- Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
- Bake the cookies until they are just starting to brown on the outside.
- They will continue to bake while they sit at room temperature on the pan.
- Slightly under-baking gives you chewy cookies.
- After cooling for about 5 minutes on the baking sheet, transfer them to a wire rack and cool completely.
The result of these steps is a soft, thick center, slightly crispy outside, buttery, sweet, cinnamon goodness! The perfect cookie!
- Cream the butter and sugar for several minutes. This allows the sugar to completely dissolve into the butter, providing a more even flavor throughout the cookie. It also adds some air into the dough, producing a lighter and fluffier cookie. If you find yourself with dense and flat cookies, this is a step you want to pay careful attention to!
- Refrigerate your dough. You have probably heard this tip for chocolate chip cookie dough, but it holds true for all cookie dough! It is best to chill your dough for 24 hours, though even 30 minutes makes a difference. This chills the fat in the cookie, which slows down the spread in the oven and results in a thicker cookie.
- Another benefit of chilling the dough is that the dough dries out a little. This sounds like it would be a bad thing, but it is actually precisely what you want! As the dough dries the flavor is concentrated, producing a more robust flavor.
- Bake at a high temperature to create a nice rise out of the cookie dough.
- Do not overbake. Remove from the oven when the edges are just starting to brown but the center is still a little bit gooey. The cookies will continue to bake as they cool on the baking sheet.
- Use parchment paper or a silicone mat.
If your baking powder is old then it will not work to make your cookies rise. Replace your baking powder and try again! Another important element in baking a thick Snickerdoodle is the high temperature. If you bake lower than 400°F then your cookies may be flat.
Store your Snickerdoodle cookies at room temperature in an airtight container. These cookies keep longer than many other cookies. When stored properly they will be good for up to 7 days. If they begin to harden you can place a slice of bread in the container, and the moisture will help soften the cookies once again.
Yes. When freezing I recommend that you go ahead and portion cookie dough balls. Place them on a tray lined with parchment paper and freeze them for about 2 hours. Then transfer them to a freezer bag and freeze them for up to 3 months. You can bake the frozen dough without thawing, though they may need an additional minute or two of baking time.
More Cookie Recipes
Snickerdoodle Cookies (Without Cream of Tartar)Recipe by:
- 1 cup butter, softened (226 grams)
- 1 ½ cups granulated sugar (300 grams)
- 2 eggs room temperature
- 2 teaspooons vanilla extract
- 2 ¾ cups all-purpose flour (358 grams)
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoons table salt
- ¼ cup granulated sugar (50 grams)
- 1 ½ tablespoons ground cinnamon
- Cream together butter and sugar in a large bowl, using an electric mixer. Start the mixer on low speed and gradually increase to high speed. Beat at least 2 minutes, until the mixture is light and fluffy.1 cup butter, softened, 1 ½ cups granulated sugar
- Add eggs and vanilla, and beat an additional 1-2 minutes.2 eggs, 2 teaspooons vanilla extract
- Stir together flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl. Add to butter mixture and mix together on low until flour is incorporated. Do not overbeat at this step. Refrigerate dough for 24 hours, if possible, or at least 30 minutes.2 ¾ cups all-purpose flour, 2 teaspoons baking powder, ½ teaspoons table salt
- When ready to cook, preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C). Portion 1 ½ tablespoon dough balls. Then roll the cookie dough balls into cinnamon sugar mixture, making sure dough is completely covered.¼ cup granulated sugar, 1 ½ tablespoons ground cinnamon
- Bake for 7-9 minutes. The cookies should just begin to have a small amount of brown on the edges, but will still look slightly wet in the center. You don't want to overcook or you will end up with crispy cookies. Cool on cookie sheet for 5 minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely.
This recipe was originally posted as The Actual Best Snickerdoodle Cookies in June 2020. It was updated in October 2022 changing the recipe to one that does not include cream of tartar or baking soda. See the recipe notes for the ingredient portions from the original recipe.