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Snickerdoodles: The Common Cookie with the Uncommon Name

Snickerdoodles. I can’t think of too many other cookie recipes with a silly name that gives you no clues about what is in it, what it looks like, who created it or perhaps who frequently consumes them. What is certain, however, is that there are as many versions of this recipe as there are theories about their origin. Snickerdoodles are one of the early recipes I remember baking with my mom 30 years ago. Essentially a sugar cookie with a little cinnamon on the outside, what isn’t there for a kid to love?

As a recipe, I think snickerdoodles are pretty forgiving and hard to mess up. Perhaps that explains the many variations of the recipe. It would be interesting to take a half dozen variations head to head to see what the differences are. Depending on your mood, you can bake these crunchy or soft and the two textures result in very different cookies, equally delicious (though I like them a little soft in the middle).

There are a lot of people that debate the cream of tartar in snickerdoodles. The accepted explanation indicates that the cream of tartar acts as an acid to assist the baking soda. I can see how this would makes sense given my college background in science, but the ingredients in this recipe aren’t all that different from the popular chocolate chip cookie, so I don’t know if the cream of tartar does all that much for the baking soda and probably alters the taste just enough to make it worthwhile to leave it in. Maybe someday I’ll experiment with it, but after 30 years with this snickerdoodles recipe, I don’t have any complaints.

Ingredients for making Snickerdoodles.

Cream 1 cup butter, 2 eggs and 1 1/3 cups of sugar until light and fluffy.

Add 1 teaspoon baking soda to 3 cups of flour.

Add 1 1/2 teaspoons of cream of tartar to dry ingredients.

Add a pinch of salt and mix dry ingredients until thoroughly blended.

Slowly add dry ingredients to butter, egg and sugar mixture, scraping sides of bowl occasionally to ensure even mixing.

Roll dough into 1 inch balls and then roll in cinnamon sugar mixture made of 1 tablespoon cinnamon and 3/4 cups of sugar.

Arrange dough balls evenly on ungreased cookie sheet.

Bake for 10 – 12 minutes in 375° F oven until lightly browned. Let cool for 1 minute on cookie sheet before cooling on racks.

The recipe pictured above, with detailed instructions and complete photo gallery can be found on the Snickerdoodles Cookies recipe page.

  • One of my favorite cookies, I must admit that I first baked these because of their name. 🙂
    Beautiful photos, Brian!

  • Thanks Patricia. I always liked these cookies as a kid, and now my kids like them, too (though my wife thinks they are plain).

  • I never had Snickerdoodles before but they sound amazing. I want one please.

  • What a great blog! Love your posts!

  • Lina: they are all gone!

    My Sweet & Saucy: thanks so much for the positive feedback.

  • Hi Brian,
    I’m so glad to finally get a chance to revisit. Just in time for Snickerdoodles too!
    I “hear” you’re all out. Well, thanks for the recipe and the great instructions. I’m going to bake and eat them ALL!

  • Soph

    Haha! I love these biscuits!
    I think they are American though, I’m Aussie. My friend heard about them and became obsessed with the name – anything with Doodle in it is funny to her. I think it was even her computer password a while ago, and when she went to the computer lab and gave them her password they cracked up laughing.
    But really, what’s not to love about a snickerdoodle!