I’m not sure which is the first cookie I ever baked by myself: it was either classic chocolate chip, or Snickerdoodles. I remember having just moved to Connecticut when I was 7, and making them in our little classroom kitchen area with my teacher and thinking, “school isn’t so bad!”
Cinnamon Sugar Coating
The main difference between sugar cookies and snickerdoodles is really the cream of tartar in the cookie dough and the combo of sugar and ground cinnamon that the balls of cookie dough are rolled in just before baking. This light coating provides cinnamon-iness (duh), some color, and a little crunch that contrasts very nicely with the delicate, soft interior.
Cream of Tartar in Snickerdoodles
Part of why Snickerdoodles are so tender is thanks to the cream of tartar. It activates the baking soda, which gives these cookies a different texture than straight butter or sugar cookies. I think of it as cakey, and kind of soft, kind of chewy. Snickerdoodles are traditionally kind of puffy and domed. If you like a flatter cookie, press down on the balls with your hand or the bottom of a glass.
One Baking Sheet vs. Two
In general I like baking cookies one sheet at a time, or at least rotating the sheets if I’m baking two sheets, to try and have the cookies bake evenly. I swap the sheets from the top to the bottom, and also flip the baking sheets around 180 degrees to try and give every cookie an equal chance to brown and flatten and do all of the things I want them to do. I’m less of a stickler on that with cookies like this one that don’t really need to brown at the edges as much—I am more of a stickler for one-sheet-at-a-time with chocolate chunk cookies.
You can freeze snickerdoodles for up to 3 months in freezer proof zipper top plastic bags with all of the air squeezed out. Remember to make them with the name of the cookie and date. Defrost them at room temperature for a few hours before serving.
Other Great Cookie Recipes to Try
- The Best No-Bake Haystack Cookies
- Fractaled Chocolate and Peanut Cookies
- Chewy Molasses Cookies
- Big Fat Chocolate Chunk Cookies
- My New Favorite Oatmeal Cookies
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- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon cream of tartar
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
- 1 cup sugar divided
- 1 large egg
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
- Preheat the oven to 375°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper, if you have it, otherwise leave it ungreased. In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, cream of tartar, baking soda, and salt.
- In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat together the butter and ¾ cup of the sugar for about 2 minutes, until light and fluffy, scraping down the sides as needed. Beat in the egg until completely incorporated, then beat in the vanilla extract. With the mixer on low, beat in the flour mixture until incorporated, scraping down the sides as needed.
- Place the remaining ¼ cup sugar and the cinnamon in a shallow bowl and stir to combine. Troll the batter into 1 ½-inch balls, then roll the balls in the sugar mixture, working in batches. Place them on the baking sheets, at least 2 inches apart. If you like a flatter cookies, press down on the balls with your hand or the bottom of a glass.
- Bake them for 10 to 12 minutes, rotating the sheets midway if you are baking more than one sheet at a time, so that both sheets have a chance to be on the upper rack.
- Transfer the snickerdoodles to a wire rack to cool.
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