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What is a Snickerdoodle?

Mary McMahon
Updated May 16, 2024
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A snickerdoodle is a type of soft sugar cookie dusted with cinnamon and sugar. Usually, the snickerdoodle has a slightly crackly or crinkly top, and snickerdoodle cookies are often served at Christmas. Some cooks add more shortening and lengthen the cooking time to make a crunchier snickerdoodle, and others add ingredients including nutmeg, nuts, and dried fruit. A traditional snickerdoodle, however, remains unadorned except for cinnamon and sugar.

The origins of the snickerdoodle are shrouded in mystery. On the surface, the snickerdoodle is a very basic cookie, and therefore one that could easily have been invented numerous times in kitchens all over the world. The Joy of Cooking attributes the cookie to Germany, suggesting that the name is a corruption of the German word schneckennudeln, a type of cinnamon dusted sweet roll. The cookie may also be of Dutch origin, with its name being a contraction of Saint Nicholas. It is also possible that the cookie is a relative of the British-inspired Christmas cakes and cookies common on the Eastern Seaboard of the United States.

Like other holiday cookies, such as gingerbread men, the primary flavor of the snickerdoodle is a spice. Because snickerdoodles use a sugar cookie base, however, it's possible to make a wide variety of holiday cookies from one batch of dough, instead of being forced to mix multiple batches of dough for different cookies. The versatile snickerdoodle is also easy and quick to make, and it is often used to teach children how to bake as a result. Traditionally, after the dough is made, the cookies are rolled in a cinnamon and sugar mixture and pressed with a fork twice to make a characteristic grid pattern on the top of the cookie. Some bakers prefer to make snickerdoodles with a plain top, allowing the slight cracking that occurs during baking to create its own pattern.

To make snickerdoodles, cream one cup butter or shortening with one and one half cups sugar. Mix two beaten eggs into the shortening mixture. Sift together three cups flour, one quarter teaspoon salt, one teaspoon baking soda, and two teaspoons cream of tartar, and add to the wet ingredients. Fill a shallow plate with a mixture of cinnamon and sugar, and as individual cookies are scooped out, roll one side in this mixture before putting each cookie on an oiled baking sheet. Bake at 400°F (200°C) for ten minutes or until golden.

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Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a DelightedCooking researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments
By Mae82 — On Jul 12, 2011

@JessicaLynn - You should definitely give making snickerdoodles a try. They are by far one of the easiest cookies to make and they taste amazing.

I used to be like you and always bought mine at the store, and while they were delicious my friend pointed out that making them would work out to be cheaper in the long run and they would probably taste better too. So I figured why not give it a try and I was really happy with the results.

I was surprised at how much moister my cookies were than the store brand and I never went back to store bought snickerdoodles.

By Sara007 — On Jul 11, 2011

Oh wow, I haven't thought of snickerdoodles in a long time, but this article has certainly jogged my memory. I recall snickerdoodles being the first baking recipe I ever tried solo because my mom told me how easy they were to make. She was right and they turned out pretty well despite my complete lack of experience with baking.

If you are thinking about making snickerdoodles a good thing to remember is not to play with the dough too much when you are making them. Just roll your balls and place them. If you touch them too much the cookies will get too dry.

By OeKc05 — On Jul 11, 2011

@kylee07drg - Snickerdoodle cake is delicious! It’s pretty easy to make.

First, preheat your oven to 325 degrees. Then, butter and flour two cake pans. Mix together one and a half cups of self-rising flour, one and a half cups of cake flour, and one tablespoon of cinnamon.

In a separate bowl, cream the butter and sugar together. Add four eggs one at a time, and add two teaspoons of vanilla. Then, slowly add the dry mixture and one and one-fourth cups of milk, alternating in three batches. Finally, bake the cake for 35 minutes.

For the frosting, I make a brown sugar buttercream. I mix one and a half sticks of butter, one-third cup of brown sugar, and one-half teaspoon of cinnamon together. Then, I add 3 cups of powdered sugar and 3 tablespoons of half and half.

By kylee07drg — On Jul 10, 2011

I have heard that there is such a thing as snickerdoodle cake. I imagine from the taste of the cookie that this cake would be a lot like a spice cake. I am curious about what kind of frosting would go with it.

Has anyone ever made a snickerdoodle cake? If so, would you mind giving me the recipe? I am throwing a wedding shower for my friend next month, and since she loves cinnamon, I would love to make this cake for her shower. I think it would be the perfect cake for the occasion, because it wouldn’t be overly rich or heavy.

By orangey03 — On Jul 09, 2011

@Oceana - My sister and I were also disappointed to learn that the recipe for snickerdoodles did not mention Snickers! I mean, especially as children, you would assume you were about to make a gooey chocolate cookie full of nuts and caramel!

After overcoming my initial disappointment, I fell in love with these cookies. The grainy coating of cinnamon and sugar combines perfectly with the soft cookie. The perfect bite of food always seems to involve a mix of textures like those found in snickerdoodles.

I love making them around Halloween and Thanksgiving. This is the time when I start to crave food with spices found in pumpkin pie, like nutmeg and cinnamon.

By Oceana — On Jul 08, 2011

One of our first hands-on tasks in home economics class was following a snickerdoodles recipe. I had heard the name of the cookie before, but I never knew exactly what was in it.

I was disappointed to learn that snickerdoodles do not actually contain Snickers. In my opinion, any cookie worth making and eating should contain chocolate.

Under the guidance of our teacher, we made some decent snickerdoodles. Especially because I always seemed to be hungry in school, these cookies tasted great, even without any chocolate. Their soft, chewy texture and buttery flavor caused me to eat several of them.

By truman12 — On Jul 08, 2011

I have seen a lot of snickerdoodle recipes and most of them are almost identical. But I did once come across one that used a little almond extract. I tried making this kind of snicker doodle and they were incredible! There is something about the almond flavor that kicks the recipe into high gear. This is now my standard recipe and everyone in my family loves them. I make a few really big batches around the holidays and give them to friends and neighbors. They are always glad to see me.

By Ivan83 — On Jul 07, 2011

I also love snickerdoodle because they are so easy to make. Most of the time I have all the ingredients on hand and 30 minutes later I have a tray of hot and delicious cookies.

What is great about these cookies is that they taste better than the sum of their parts. You would not expect cinnamon and sugar to taste so good together. This is one of those common combinations that has kind of been played out. But snickerdoodles are so good. Now that I'm thinking about them I just might go whip up a batch right now.

By JessicaLynn — On Jul 07, 2011

@ceilingcat - I love snickerdoodles too. I'm ashamed to admit I usually get mine from the grocery store bakery instead of making them myself though.

I always assumed they would be kind of hard to make. I might give the recipe in the article a try though because it sounds so easy. Hopefully I will have snickerdoodle success!

By ceilingcat — On Jul 06, 2011

I know snickerdoodles are a holiday cookie but I eat them all year round! I usually opt out of making the fork marks at the top and just let them crack a little bit on their own. I love when the outside is nice and crisp and the inside is still soft. Delicious!

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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