Maple cinnamon sugar cookies are tender and warmly spiced, all with just the right amount of maple flavor in the dough and icing. The dough for these cut-out cinnamon cookies handles well and these cookies are perfect for a fall dessert or as part of a holiday cookie assortment.
Sugar cookie recipes vary from thick and chewy to thin and crisp to all types in between. This recipe for maple cinnamon sugar cookies in particular is based off of my grandma's sugar cookies, which are on the crisper-but-not-crumbly-crisp side.
(If you're looking for chewy and soft cinnamon sugar cookies, then I HIGHLY recommend these orange ginger snickerdoodles. Those will hit the spot.)
But if it's cut-out sugar cookies with some pizzazz you're after? Then this post right here is where you want to be.
Note: This recipe has been updated to be even better (in my opinion!) in 2021 from its publish date in 2016. If you're returning to this post via saved link and would prefer to have the recipe as it was initially published, please leave a comment or send an email and I can send you the original version.
Why This Recipe Works
- Using concentrated maple flavoring (maple extract) in the dough and glaze allows the maple flavor to be present in these cookies once baked. While it's less common to have on hand than maple syrup, maple extract only requires a small bit to be used and doesn't throw off the dry/wet ingredient ratio. You'd likely need a lot of maple syrup in a cookie recipe to have the flavor shine through, adding too much liquid and sweetness in the process.
- Cream of tartar adds to the rise in cookies, but also works to prevent sugar from crystalizing. Sugar crystallization in a baked good leads to a crunchy texture, so it helps these cut-out cinnamon sugar cookies achieve a tender and sturdy, yet not too hard consistency.
- The maple cinnamon icing swaps out the more traditional corn syrup for pure maple syrup. While this keeps the maple theme going, it works in the same way as corn syrup would to provide a smooth, shiny feel to the icing, as well as an extra boost of flavor. I pull the same move in pecan upside down cake with big success.
- Unsalted butter: Three-quarters of a cup (twelve tablespoons) of softened butter is used here. Be sure to take the butter out of the fridge for at least an hour or two before you plan to start the recipe to allow it to thoroughly soften. You'll know it's ready when you press on a stick with a *small* bit of pressure and your finger makes an indent. It might still feel cool to the touch but that's okay.
- Maple extract: Through trial and error I've found that not all maple extracts are the same. For years I used the maple flavoring from Frontier, though it appears they've reformulated and unfortunately I don't think it's for the better. Supermarket store brands have been okay, but I recently bought Mapleine imitation maple flavor to test out and YES. This is it. It provides such a warm, not-artificial-tasting maple flavor to the cooked dough (and not-cooked icing) and gives these cinnamon sugar cookies (and maple Irish soda bread) a special boost.
- Cream of tartar: When combined with baking soda, cream of tartar acts a leavening agent, helping baked goods rise. Traditional in snickerdoodles, meringue recipes, and angel food cake, cream of tartar can be found in the baking aisle, is just a few bucks, and stays for a long while in the pantry.
Making the Cookies
- Cream together the softened butter and sugar. This means using an electric stand or hand mixer, mix on medium-high speed for about 2 minutes, or until the ingredients are well combined and the butter has lightened in color some and is fluffy/creamy. One misconception with this step is to stop mixing once the butter and sugar have combined. You want to keep going to allow more air to become whipped in there, leading to a better texture.
- Add the egg, vanilla extract, and maple extract and mix until well-combined.
- In a separate bowl, evenly whisk together 2 ¼ cups of flour, cinnamon, cream of tartar, baking soda, and salt.
- Add the dry ingredients in several increments to the wet ingredients, mixing in each addition until just combined.
- Once all of the dry ingredients are added, a dough will form but it will still be a little bit sticky. That's okay for now.
- Turn the dough out onto a sheet of plastic wrap and form it in a roughly round shape. Snugly wrap the dough with the plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for at least two hours.
- Lightly flour a rolling pin and your work surface (pictured is a large silicone pastry mat), then sprinkle about one tablespoon of flour on top of the ball of dough. Lightly knead the flour into the dough, adding an extra teaspoon of flour, as needed, until the dough can handle well and isn't sticking too much. Working in batches, roll dough to one-quarter of an inch in thickness. If the dough is too hard, let it sit out at room temperature for a brief time until it's workable.
- Cut out desired shapes with cookie cutters, then place on a parchment-lined baking sheet about an inch and a half apart from one another.
- Bake in a 375°F/190°C oven for 9-11 minutes, or until the cookie edges are just turning golden-brown. Let the cookies cool on the baking sheet for about 10 minutes, then carefully remove to a wire rack to cool completely. Repeat this process, re-rolling the dough scraps as needed, until all the dough is used.
Making the Icing
- Once the cookies have cooled completely (this is important so the icing doesn't melt and slide off), sift confectioners' sugar into a large bowl. I use a fine sieve and tap my hand on the side to work out the sugar. Add the cinnamon and whisk, then add the maple syrup, maple extract, and vanilla extract. Whisk everything to combine evenly. It won't be smooth at this point, rather it will form small clumps.
- Add milk one teaspoon at a time and whisk in until the icing comes together and is smooth. Go slow with the milk as it's easier to add more of it than supplement with more dry ingredients if the icing becomes too thin. You will likely need around six to eight teaspoons of milk.
- Once the icing comes together to be thick and smooth, pipe onto cooled cookies. You can use a piping bag, but a plastic bag with one corner snipped off works just as well. Give these maple cinnamon sugar cookies ample time for the icing to harden completely before storing or serving.
- To soften butter more quickly, cut the stick(s) into smaller pieces and/or place the butter in a warmer spot like the counter on top of a running dishwasher or oven, or near the coffee pot. Be sure to turn the butter sticks over periodically if the spot is fairly warm to soften all sides evenly.
- This recipe will likely need to be baked in batches. For best results, do not reuse baking sheets batch after batch, as placing cut-out cookies directly onto a hot pan can cause them to spread more than you'd like. Rotate pans and allow them sufficient time to cool off.
- Chilling the dough reduces stickiness and helps the butter re-firm up, lessening the amount the cookies spread in the oven. This is especially important for shaped sugar cookies like these. Do not skip the chilling process. If you find the dough too chilled and hard to roll out after, just leave it out at room temperature for a few minutes and it should become easier to handle.
- Go slow when adding additional flour to the dough and milk to the icing. It can be tempting to add more at once to speed the process along, but it's harder to add more ingredients to offset if you've gone too far. Too much flour can lead to drier, crumbly cookies and too much milk can result in thin icing that runs right off.
No, that substitution would not work here. Maple extract is WAY more concentrated in flavor than syrup. Adding a teaspoon of maple syrup to this cookie dough would totally disappear in terms of flavor once baked, and adding a larger quantity would throw off the texture. If you'd like to make these as strictly cinnamon sugar cookies (without maple), I would replace the maple extract with an equal amount of vanilla extract.
Allow plenty of time for the cookie icing to harden completely. This could take several hours or longer depending on the icing thickness. Then store in an air-tight container with a sheet of parchment or wax paper between layers, careful not to smush them in to cause breakage. Store at room temperature for several days, or freeze for several months.
If you’ve enjoyed this recipe, I’d love for you to leave a star rating in the recipe card and/or a comment review below!
Maple Cinnamon Sugar Cookies
For the Cookies:
- ¾ cup (12 Tablespoons) unsalted butter softened
- ¾ cup granulated sugar
- 1 large egg
- 1 teaspoon maple extract
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 ¼ (273g) cups all-purpose flour plus more for rolling
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon cream of tartar
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ¼ teaspoon salt
For the Icing:
- 3 cups confectioners' sugar sifted
- 2 Tablespoons pure maple syrup
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon maple extract
- ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 Tablespoons milk any variety, up to 3 Tablespoons
For the Cookies:
- Cream together the softened butter and sugar in a mixing bowl on medium to medium-high speed for 2 minutes or so, or until the butter has lightened in color some and the mixture becomes fluffy. Add the egg and the vanilla and maple extracts and mix again until evenly combined.
- In a separate bowl, whisk together 2 ¼ cups of flour, 1 teaspoon of cinnamon, cream of tartar, baking soda. Add the dry ingredients to the bowl with the creamed butter/sugar in several increments, mixing each one in until just combined. The dough should be in a ball shape and will be a bit sticky.
- Turn out the ball of dough onto a sheet of plastic wrap, wrap snugly, and place in the refrigerator to chill well, at least 2 hours.
- Once chilled, preheat the oven to 375°F. Line a baking sheet or two with parchment paper and set aside.
- Flour a work surface and a rolling pin. Turn out dough onto the work surface and sprinkle about a tablespoon of flour over top. Lightly knead the dough to work in the flour, adding an additional sprinkling of flour, as needed, so the dough handles well. Roll the dough out onto the surface until it's ¼-inch thick. Cut cookies with cookie cutters and place shaped cookies around 1 ½-inches apart from one another on the lined baking sheets, re-rolling any scraps and repeating the process until all of the dough is used.
- Bake for 9-11 minutes, or until cookies are turning lightly golden brown on the edges. Let cookies cool for 10 minutes on the baking sheets, then carefully transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely.
For the Icing:
- Sift the confectioners' sugar in a large bowl (I use a fine sieve) and whisk together with the ground cinnamon. Add the maple syrup, maple extract, and vanilla extract and whisk to combine. The mixture will be in small clumps at this point.
- Add milk a teaspoon at a time until the icing becomes a thick yet smooth consistency. You will likely need between 6 teaspoons (equivalent to 2 Tablespoons) and 8 teaspoons (2 ⅔ Tablespoons) of milk in total.
- Pipe or spoon the icing onto the cooled cookies, letting the icing harden completely before storing or serving. This could take several hours or even longer depending upon the thickness of your icing.
- Use a fresh (room temperature) cookie sheet for baking batches of these cookies. Reusing a hot pan right away would cause these cookies to spread more than you'd like.
- As all ovens behave differently, keep a close eye on these cookies when they're near the end of their bake time. Sugar cookies aren't the type of recipe we want to get considerably toasted looking. They're done when you notice the very edges of the cookies turning golden.
- After the icing has been piped, allow sufficient time for the icing to harden before storing, stacking, or serving. Depending upon how thick the icing is, this may take hours longer than you might think.
- Store decorated cookies in an air-tight container with a sheet of parchment or wax paper between layers. The cookies will stay well at room temperature for several days, or you can place the container in the freezer for several months.
Nutritional information is provided as an estimate. As it can vary due to many factors (brands used, quantities, etc.), we cannot guarantee its accuracy.Food Safety and Nutrition Disclaimer
If you're coming back to this post from a pin on Pinterest, you may recognize the photo below. This recipe has been updated for the better (more tender, easier handling) with the same great cinnamon maple sugar cookie flavor.