Soft Pumpkin Cookies (vegan w/ gluten and sugar-free options)

Soft Pumpkin Cookies - These gluten free cookies are vegan and sugar free too! They taste like Enjoy Life Cookies!

I told you in my post on Pumpkin Pie Spice Recipe – Do It Youself, that I was on a pumpkin recipe kick.

Well, I must say it was pretty hard to decide what to make.

The biggest struggle for me is that almost all of the sweet pumpkin treats have TONS of sugar in them—basically they had as much sugar as I would have loved to have eaten in my sugar-aholic days.

I found a winner last night for sure.

These cookies are amazingly low in sugar (even if you choose to use regular sugar, which I don’t recommend) and they still taste great.  The pumpkin adds a natural sweetness and the orange flavor adds a nice hint of orange.

Anytime you add flavor like this you can sometimes get away with less sweetener.

They are soft and moist and my whole family loved them.

My oldest was walking around the kitchen, nibbling on them and saying, “Now these really remind me of something.”  And then he remembered what, and my youngest agreed.  They reminded him of Enjoy Life’s Gingerbread Spice cookies.

Now mind you, even in my sugar-aholic days, I never really bought those, mainly because they’re expensive.  We’d sample them at Gluten-Free fairs and then feel plenty sick afterwards.  Not that there is anything technically wrong with Enjoy Life.  We just couldn’t handle all of the sugar and white flour.

Well, he was sure right.  These soft little bites are like Enjoy Life’s yummy treats, minus the white flour and all the sugar. Healthy.  Yum

I adapted this recipe ever so slightly from one on Whole Approach’s Forum.  I basically lived in this forum when I first started learning about candidiasis – that’s for another post.

We made the cookies four different ways – with and without nuts and with and without rolling them in sweetener. Hubby likes nuts in his cookies and oldest son does not like crunchies in his cookies. In my opinion, rolled in sweetener, either with or without nuts, is the best option :-).

When you roll them in sugar, you get a nice punch of sweetness without a bunch of added sweetener to the whole recipe.

The top photo shows the plain version and here is a photo of the nut-filled version with walnuts.

If you are using stevia for this recipe, you will for sure want these spoons since you’ll be measuring out such teensy amounts.  The 2nd smallest size is the one that you will use, but I am finding that stevia powders are now greatly varying in their strengths, so sweeten to taste.  Either way, you will find these spoons to be a huge help.

Norpro Mini Measuring Spoons

I think you are just going to love these and love how good they are for you.  It’s a great way to have healthy sweets around as the Thanksgiving and Christmas Holidays get closer and closer so you are less tempted to eat the “other” stuff.

Here are more “Pumpkin Treats” from my blog:

Pumpkin Snickerdoodles
Pumpkin Pie Spiced Creamer (DF & SF)
Pumpkin Pie Spice – DIY for use in your own recipes!

How about you?  Do you have a favorite pumpkin recipe that needs “healthifying”? 

I am always (almost always) up for a challenge!

This post contains affiliate links.  If you click on a link and make a purchase, I may be compensated with a small percentage of your purchase.  Your price will remain the same.  This compensation helps to support the ongoing work of this blog.  Thank you!

Comments

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  1. The pictures are beautiful!

    I do like baking with pumpkin because you usually can cut the sugar. Thanks for the recipe!

  2. I have everything in the house minus the orange flavor. I assume I could use vanilla and add pumpkin pie spice instead of just cinnamon?

    • Hi Beth. I would just go for it! I tried it w/ pumpkin pie spice and it was good also, but this combination was better in our opinion. I’d love to hear how it turns out! Maybe I should do a trial run as well. I think the orange flavor will yield a sweetness to it that the vanilla may not. Let me know :-)!

  3. Thanks. I bet they are wonderful with the orange flavor. I was just looking for a recipe that would be like the soft cake-like pumpkin cookies that you find at the grocery store, but much healthier. Can’t wait to try this.

  4. Hi Whole.New.Mom – I’m a new follower. I wanted to suggest you look into the book “Gut and Psychology Syndrome” for your son with autism. We have had wonderful results. It is an amazing diet/book. The author is a nuerologist-surgeon who was able to heal her son of autism. Healed. If you would like to view a video of some her material I can send you a link. Good luck and thanks for the fun blog :)

    • Hi Monica.

      Thank you for the recommendation. I read that book about 3 years ago and it has influenced what we have chosen to do. I didn’t do the whole diet per se, but we adhere to a lot of the principles. I may choose differently in the future, though :-). Hope to see you around!

  5. Hi- these sound amazing and will make them for a friends birthday next week. It is not clear to me if you use 1/4 C sweetner AND stevia? How much is a scoop of stevia?

    • Cathi,

      I am sorry about the sweetener confusion. It is hard to keep it all straight :-) – You want to use both, or you can add additional sweetener (believe me – you will need it :-)!). I just updated the recipe to make it more clear. You won’t believe it, but a scoop of pure stevia extract is only 1/32 tsp. They put a scoop in the jar so you can use it more easily. Hope that helps! Tell me how it goes! We had them w/ ice cream tonight. Really great!

  6. Hi Adrienne~

    These look so yummy! I love the idea of orange. How very creative!

    I made some similar cookies last week (and gave a shout-out for your pumpkin spice mix).

    ‘Tis the season for pumpkins!

    Happy early Halloween.

    Be Well,
    –Amber

    • Oh Amber – yours look so wonderful – and my kitchen is such a mess now – how can I possibly bake something else? I am going to try those though :-). I tried a flourless cookie tonight and they flopped. I am sure I can get someone to eat them though. I really got on a roll and it’s hard to stop me when I get on a baking roll.

      Take care!
      - Adrienne

  7. These look delicious
    We do not have here pumpkin-cans, but it’s not a problem
    I’d love to eat some of your cookies :)

  8. First of all, I love your site! Following from the fitness friday hop!

    I am crazy for all things pumpkin and I MUST try these!! They look and sound amazing! I healthified some pumpkin bread recipes last week…some were not too great but I found a winner! I’ll be posting it soon :)

    • Thanks, Marissa, for the compliment! We are seriously baking too much pumpkin here. And I just found another recipe yesterday. But I guess I’ll have to clean up the kitchen first :-)!

  9. Thanks for sharing this with our flu fighting foods blog hop! I love your allergy-friendly options. Come back next week and share some breakfast ideas!

  10. Catherine says:

    Where do you get orange extract from? Currently have pumpkins in oven cooking right now. You can make pumpkin fruit leathers by dehyd. [umpkin PUREE with A LITTLE SPICE AND SWEETENER. YUM

    • Hi Catherine! I just put a few options into the post. The leather sounds wonderful! You can also get the orange flavoring whenever we order from Herbtrader :-)! They carry everything that Frontier makes.

  11. Hey there!
    I love this recipe and how healthy it looks. Your photos are really high quality. I wanted to let you know that for another week or so there is a pumpkin recipe link up here, and about 15 entries will be chosen to be in a pumpkin cookbook. The winners will have their own page, and will be able to mention their blog and URL in the cookbook. If you’re interested in submitting your recipe, head on over to The 12 Days of Pumpkin Link Up and add it!

    Thanks!

    -Carly @ Createlive

    • Thanks, Carly and thank you for the compliment. I did visit your link up but couldn’t see where to submit a link. Let me know what I can do please. Thanks again.

  12. Psst. Adrienne. I don’t see the flour in the ingredients.

  13. I LOVE just about anything with pumpkin and am up to my ears in fresh pumpkin puree from my garden. Thanks for another recipe, pumpkin cookies are always a hit in our house! tessadomesticdiva.blogspot.com

  14. Adrienne, as always, these look delicious! I’m so excited to try these with my little girl! Your site has been such a blessing since we found out about her food issues! Thanks for joining us at Flu Fighting Foods! I hope you’ll come back and link up a breakfast recipe next week!

    • Hi Erin! Thanks again for being so encouraging! I sure will be back – my favorite breakfast recipe has no photo yet and so I’ll need to work on that if I have time :-). Take care!

  15. this sounds very yummy :)

  16. You’re such an excellent source for healthy recipes and info! Great stuff here! Thanks for linking to Foodie Friday!

  17. Thanks for sharing this great recipe and all the info on sweeteners, handy stuff to know. I have always wanted to make a pumpkin cookie or scone but never been game to try it, these look and sound so good I am eager to give it a go.
    I am a relatively new blogger and have just started a healthy lifestyle challenge and am hosting my first link party, I would be honoured if you stopped by and shared this and some of your other fab recipes and ideas.

    http://michellescraft.blogspot.com/2011/10/healthy-lifestyle-change-week-1.html

  18. I will be trying these! I love soft cookies, and I REALLY love pumpkin foods! Thank you for sharing!

  19. These look tasty. Have you actually made the gluten free recipe and if so, what flour did you use. I haven’t had a lot of success with adapting regular recipes with gluten free flour.

    Thanks! :)

    • Yes, Kimberlee – I have made them w/ different blends and I have read that buckwheat alone works great too. I think these are super-forgiving. I had slightly different results each time, but they were great and gone in a flash each time :-).

  20. Thanks Adrienne! :)

  21. I like the stevia option! Thanks so much!

  22. Thanks for linking your great post to FAT TUESDAY. This was very interesting! Hope to see you next week!

    Be sure to visit RealFoodForager.com on Sunday for Sunday Snippets – your post from Fat Tuesday may be featured there!

    http://realfoodforager.com/2011/10/fat-tuesday-november-1-2011/
    If you have grain-free recipes please visit my Grain-Free Linky Carnival in support of my 28 day grain-free challenge! It will be open until November 2.

    http://realfoodforager.com/2011/10/grain-free-real-food-linky-carnival/

  23. Thanks so much for explaining how much pure stevia powder or liquid is in a scoop. When I think of scoop it means a shovel full!

  24. Thanks for sharing this wonderful recipe.

    Love for you to link up at:
    “Made by ME” Linky Party at JAQS at http://www.jaqsstudio.com/2011/11/made-by-me-5-linky-party-and-features.html

  25. Oh Yum! I have a pumpkin loving family and these look delicious! Almost healthy enough to eat for breakfast! Thanks for sharing! I’ll definitely be trying these!

  26. This sounds like a tasty recipe. Have the ingredients on hand, may try it this weekend :) Thanks for posting!

  27. I have just recently gone on a gluten free diet. Thank you so much for the recipe. I found some gluten free flour that is called better batter that has everything in it you need. I haven’t used it yet, so I’m going to try this recipe. I have a recipe for ppumpkin bread on my blog that is a heathier version.

  28. Yum! I love everything pumpkin too, we’ve had pumpkin cheesecake and pumpkin spice cupcakes in the last week just because!

    Thanks for linking up to Momtrends Friday Food!

  29. Hi! Just wanted to let you know I featured your cookies on today’s Allergy Friendly Lunchbox Love link party. They look delicious! Thanks for linking up :)

    Lisa @ Allergy Free Vintage Cookery
    http://allergyfreecookery.blogspot.com/2011/11/brownies-again-and-lunchbox-love-8.html

  30. Mmm… I love a tasty treat that’s healthy for you. Will be saving this recipe to try sometime. Thanks!
    :)
    ButterYum

  31. These Soft Pumpkin Cookies look like they would be so moist and delicious. Sure wish I had one right now. Thank you so much for sharing with Full Plate Thursday and come back soon.
    Miz Helen

  32. What fabulous allergy-friendly cookies! I love anything pumpkin this time of year and these would be perfect with a nice hot cup of tea, coffee or apple cider. Thank you for sharing this post with the Hearth and Soul hop.

    • We are just blasting through my canned pumpkin supply (got a great deal this past year and stocked up :-)) – there will hopefully be more to come…

  33. Thank you for your submission on Nourishing Treasures’ Make Your Own! Monday link-up.

    I love pumpkin recipes! I will have to try this one.

    Check back later tonight when the new link-up is running to see if you were one of the top 3 featured posts! :)

  34. I love pumpkin…everything! I would be absolutely delighted if you would link this up to Spa{ahhh} Sundaze! (http://www.projectpossessed.com/spaahhh-sundaze/spaahhh-sundaze-116/) Your newest follower!

  35. Thank you for sharing your fabulous recipe on “A Little Birdie Told Me…” Tuesday at Rook No. 17!

    I can’t wait to see what you have in store this week!

    Cheers!

    Jenn

  36. Pumpkin is such a versatile ingredient. These cookies look delicious- perfect for fall snacking. Thanks for sharing on Sweet Indulgences Sunday.

  37. I have a gluten- and sugar-free friend coming for Thanksgiving and I’d like to try to make these for her. What works best for gl-free flour? I have rice flour or buckwheat already–can I just use one of those? Also, does the amount of flour vary depending on the type I use?

    • Hi Sarah!

      I have tried this recipes with several combinations and they have always been delicious. My typical combo is a mostly sweet brown rice and some millet and some buckwheat and oats (country life’s is almost certifiable GF). I have heard that buckwheat alone works fine, but I find buckwheat to have too distinctive of a taste to work well except in odd cases. The general rule of thumb for me is to go heavy on the sweet rice as it has a “glutinous” texture. The other rule would be to combine flour. Some flours are heavier than others. I am not a perfectionist in this area and just use whatever I have because it is too overwhelming for me otherwise. If I am making a cake I will use some starch because otherwise it typically sinks. But I did do a soaked oatmeal cake (all oats) yesterday that rose beautifully, so maybe I just need to soak my grains all the time for cakes :-).

      If you are being a perfectionist about it, the flour amounts do vary. Since I mix my flours it is hard to calculate. I think it’s good to go by texture and not amount if you are altering someone else’s recipe. Sorry for the not-so-exact answer :).

  38. OK, thanks! It sounds like I may need to experiment with more than one batch, but fortunately I have two ready and willing test-testers who are usually hanging about the kitchen when I’m baking!

    I’d love it if you’d post that soaked oatmeal cake recipe sometime, too–it sounds great! Also, just for clarification, is it Country Life’s regular oats that are “almost certifiable GF,” or do you have to buy a special GF variety?

    • I think you’ll be fine with whatever flour you try. The texture will vary a bit, but they’ll be great!

      I will post the cake soon- I just need to get a good photo and I have 2 guest posts due this week so I am busy right now! It was so good. I can’t believe it has no flour in it. C Life’s regular oats (I have only purchased their whole groats) are made by Natural Way Mills (I think that’s the name). Years ago, they did regular gluten assays on their oats and the results were always 50 PPM or lower, typically running around 20 PPO which is the gluten free threshold. So I considered them to be good enough. They do not test anymore (I am not sure why), but they have put in even more restrictions on their production lines to reduce cross contamination issues w/ gluten-containing grains. I can’t vouch for the safety for each person, but I have a number of GF friends who buy their oats. C Life also offers Bob’s GF oats at a really good price, but it is still too much for me to pay. None of us has celaics, however, that we know of.

  39. I made these yesterday delish!! I used wht whole wheat flour (store bought), 2 tsp pumpkin pie spice, 1 tbsp vanilla and they are quite tasty. Although my 5 yr old did not appreciate them–he said he like the cookie part, but not the pumpkin part! Crazy kid!! My husband, myself and 2 yr old however thought they were wonderful!

  40. Wonderful recipe, thank you so much for it! I’m making a bunch for my daughter’s school’s bake sale this weekend. I wanted to contribute that adding raisins to the batter is another nice way to add a punch of sweet without a ton of sugar.

    • Did you try them already, Tiffany? If so, I am so glad that you like them! I am not eating raisins right now (hence their perhaps not-too-obvious absence from my site) due to being off dried fruit for sugar metabolism reasons, but that’s a great idea for those without the same issues. Take care!

  41. Thank you so much for a terrific cookie, we have tons of pumpkin so I used your recipe for our Christmas gift baskets. I linked to your recipe here:

    http://www.gratefullynourished.com/gratefully-nourished/2011/12/12/gift-baskets-and-tiger-butter.html

  42. Yum, Yum, Yum!!!! These look wonderful :) Thanks for sharing them with us at Whole Foods Wednesday ~ Halle

  43. These look delicious! I need some pumpkin in my life now that fall is here. I have not tried making cookies since becoming GF these will be my first try…can’t wait!!!

  44. What lovely wholesome cookies! I’m totally into pumpkin this time of year and they look delicious!

  45. Hi! I just tried making these with coconut flour bc I am on GAPS, but they really did not bind well together without gluten or eggs. The “dough” was very granulated and dry, and I had to really press them together to even form a ball. When baked, they tasted delicious, but were incredibly crumbly. Any suggestions? I used honey as my sweetener. Thank you!

    • Coconut flour really soaks up liquids. How about less flour and try adding flax, chia or gelatin as a binder. I’m forgetting if GAPS includes seeds – sorry :-)!

  46. do you think I could make these w/ oat or coconut flour? We’re going wheat and most other flours free, egg, soy, peanut and dairy free for 3 weeks. YIKES! I’ve gotta look through your recipes for some snack ideas.

    • Hi Beth!

      Coconut soaks up way too much liquid so you really need to be creative using that. Oat would work for sure I think. I typically mix flours but oat tastes great. :). What’s going on dietary-wise? Do you have other grains – millet, quinoa, etc?? I need to buy teff, speaking of that. Haven’t had it in years!!! If you’d like to be on our mailing list for stuff like that shoot me an email :).

      • Thanks. I might try oat. I could probably use quinoa. My son had 2 back to back ear infections, which we treated w/ antibiotics b/c they were quite bad :( So in trying to boost his immune system, we went to a chiropractor who approaches things from a wellness/nutritional aspect as well. She did some testing and said he was sensitive to those things, which were causing inflammation. She said to go off them for 3 weeks to hopefully heal the inflammation and boost his immune system. She’ll test again and hopefully those sensitivities will be gone (praying, praying, praying!!) But for now I’m trying to come up with some things that he can have and not feel terribly left out. I found gluten free oats, but then they say they may have been processed on equipment that processed soy, dairy, etc!!?! What in the world? I’m at a loss as to what to buy. I have some gluten free oats coming from vitacost, I hope they don’t say that too :(

        • Are they using kinesiology to test your son? Or what kind of testing? Country Life’s oats are pretty close to GF and they are on a dedicated line – the ones from Natural Way Mills (I think that’s the name). I don’t know that I’d worry about cross contamination, but then that’s just me. I think the stress is much more of a problem than any teeny little bit of possible allergen. Is your son off sugar? I would say that is a much bigger deal than most other foods. Anyway, I am starting a nutritionist training program in ortho molecular nutrition. I am considering adding a consulting service to my blog but I have some opinions about testing and the like – not all conclusive but it’s something to think about in any case. Gotta run – take care!

  47. Ha! Look at that post right above me. Doh.

  48. Thanks. It was kinesiology (sp?) testing, I believe. We would probably confirm w/ main stream testing if these sensitivities persist with the Kinesiology testing. I’m hoping they won’t. He has never seemed to have any visible adverse effects to these things that I know of.
    Another question…Is white rice flour ok? I mean, not all the time. But in a pinch? I’m assuming it’s just pretty nutrient lacking, like white flour. I have some stuff on order, but it’s not here yet and I’d like to make something for my son. I know I can get my hands on white rice flour, millet and tapioca starch at the bulk foods store, but I called and they didn’t have brown rice flour :( I kind of feel like I’ve been blindsided w/ this.

    • Yes, I have really mixed feeling on the kinesiology testing. Mainstream testing via IgG is mixed at best as well from what I know. IgE will test for anaphylactic. If you don’t see the effects, personally I wouldn’t stress right now. But that’s not a dr’s opinion, right :-)? I never use white rice flour basically for the same reason I stay away almost entirely from starches. They are just not good for the gut. How about grinding your own flours? I have a grinder I might be willing to sell and it has saved me a TON of money -and space. You don’t need to keep flours and grain around – just the grain and it’s much more stable.

  49. Wondering how much almond flour you would use in these?
    Also, I got all the ingredients to make your egg substitute. My little guy had such bad excema and after removing eggs and wheat like two months ago it is nearly gone. I am wondering if you have a grain free pancake recipe using the egg substitute? I eat grain free.

    • From what I’ve read you can try 1:1 almond flour in recipes as a sub. Hmm…I don’t have a grain free recipe for pancakes unless you think buckwheat is OK since it technically isn’t a grain, but I did see a few recipes recently that looked great. I will try to feature on my FB page later today :-).

  50. Oh, thanks! I appreciate it! I am no stranger to grain free cooking but egg free I am!

  51. Have you tried these replacing pumpkin with sweet potato?

  52. When you say: “3-4 scoops stevia extract, or approx 4-8 T additional sweetener” Do you mean mini scoops of stevia powder? If I want to do a 1:1 sweetness ratio of Stevia and any additional natural sweetener, how much of each?? Thanx. (Oh, my new devotional blog is up)

  53. How many cookies does this recipe make?

    • Hi. It really depends on how big you make them :). I keep forgetting to do serving sizes. Sorry – but I’ll just have to make them again to figure it out :). If you do try them please let me know.

  54. You can eliminate the added sweetner entirely if you use fresh Japanese pumpkin, also called Kabocha. It’s naturally very sweet.

    Another great naturally sweet Japanese foodstuff to use in healthy baking is Satsuma Imo, a Japanese kind of sweet potato.

    With either of these added sweetner is totally unnecessary for a mildly sweet cookie, and for a very sweet cookie I’ve never had to add more than a tablespoon of sweetner to a batch.

    Both are probably hard to find but I’ve heard from friends that Kabocha is sold in specialty and health-food grocery stores. Check it out!

  55. Do you think almond flour would work for this recipe? My daughter was just put on the SCD, and I am overwhelmed trying to figure out what she can eat. She battles yeast and sugar and bread are her favorite foods! Thanks!

    • I think it will work out OK – just try it! It won’t behave exactly the same since there is no “stickiness” to almond flour – maybe you could add some gelatin to it – about 1 tsp for each batch – and see how it goes? Did you see my no bake coconut cookies? They are really good! I hope to do more grain free in the future!

  56. Tanja F says:

    The cookies sound delicious, except that I do not use stevia. Would I just use more honey? Or a combination of honey & maple syrup? Thanks!

  57. I made these tonight and I must say, they are amazingly delicious! I was a little bad and added a handfull of white chocolate chips. I’m definitely making them again and want to try them with some chopped dried apricots or cranberries. A picture of the ones I made, along with some strawberry banana ice cream we had. Soo good! Thank you!
    https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10200364565304350&set=a.2248093689455.2107790.1461582981&type=1&theater

  58. I love the flavor of these cookies! I used just half the amt of orange extract, though. But my problem was, they were all crumbly. Did I do something wrong?

    • What kind of flour did you use?

      • Pam Fischer says:

        Yeah, I thought that might be part of the problem. I used a combination of almond flour and coconut flour (it’s what I had on hand!). I was reading through some of your blogs, is brown rice flour best for baking?

        • Coconut soaks up water like crazy so you can’t sub that easily. I think sweet brown works the best personally but I use a mix. Search GF Baking tips on my site and you can see more of what I do.

  59. These look great! How do I substitute sugar for the stevia?