Please welcome guest author and pastry chef Shuna Fish Lydon of Eggbeater, who shares with us her secrets for making snickerdoodles. ~Elise

While people argue about where the name Snickerdoodle comes from, few people who love them waste time with words. Here is a cookie with a following! Tender and crisp, plain and aromatic, sweet with a dash of salt, the Snickerdoodle has made quite a place for itself in the canon of cookies. But as loyal as its fans are, it’s not the easiest cookie to find on bakery shelves.

A Snickerdoodle has two signature characteristics: an exterior of cinnamon sugar, cracked on top, and a perfect textural balance of crunchy and pliable.

With other cookies born from the same method– creaming, getting just the right texture can feel like an impossible journey with way too many cookies to eat along the way. Snickerdoodles, on the other hand, have a built-in fail proof ingredient, saving them from the place where cookies that aren’t “just right” go. Cornstarch.

It’s simple and yet extraordinary: cornstarch absorbs moisture, binds the dough like flour but has no gluten. Gluten is a protein in wheat flour that creates a “toughness” in many baked goods. “Do not overmix” is an instruction based on this property. In Snickerdoodle dough, cornstarch is what makes those edges light as air, but provide a middle you can sink your teeth into.

This is not a puffy cookie, it spreads a lot. It’s simple, meaning there are few ingredients. Please use the most delicious butter you can find. Organic cinnamon will also make a huge difference, and if you can get your hands on true Ceylon cinnamon, Snickerdoodles all over the land, and I, salute you.

Snickerdoodles Recipe

  • Yield: Makes 12-18 cookies.

It’s important that all your ingredients be room temperature when making the cookie dough.




  • 4 Tablespoons Unsalted Butter
  • 1/3 Cup Brown Sugar
  • 1/3 Cup White, Granulated Sugar
  • 1 Egg
  • 1 Cup All Purpose Flour
  • 1 Tablespoon Cornstarch
  • ½ teaspoon Baking Soda
  • ¼ teaspoon Kosher Salt

Cinnamon Sugar - whisk well to incorporate

  • ½ Cup Sugar
  • 3 Tablespoons Ground cinnamon



1 Preheat your oven to 350°F. Cream the butter until it's soft, smooth and light.

2 Add both of the sugars to the creamed butter and mix until they are fully incorporated, and lighter in color. Add salt.

snickerdoodles-sugar-1.jpg snickerdoodles-sugar-2.jpg
Cream the butter and sugars until fully incorporated and light in color (right).

3 Stirring vigorously, add the egg to the mixture and beat until the batter looks uniform.

4 Sift the flour, cornstarch and baking soda, and fold, in three additions, into a large bowl to create cookie dough.

5 Form balls of dough with a soup spoon and plop them in cinnamon sugar, swirling to coat.


6 On a buttered or parchment lined cookie sheet, place the dough balls 3 inches apart. Flatten the dough slightly and sprinkle about half a tablespoons worth of cinnamon sugar on the flattened surface.

7 Set the first timer for 7 minutes. Turn the pan around and set a second timer for 7 minutes. If you are using a buttered pan they might be done at this point, or need another minute. If you’re using parchment, cookies will take 2-3 minutes more. You are looking for golden edges and a blonde middle.

8 Cool on a baking sheet and eat as soon as possible. Snickerdoodles will keep in an airtight container, at room temperature for 3 days, but they are best eaten the day they’re made.

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Flickr photo set of snickerdoodle making

Pastry chef, writer, poet, muse, Shuna Fish Lydon has worked in such notable kitchens as Gramercy Tavern and Verbena in Manhattan, The French Laundry and Bouchon in Yountville, California, and Citizen Cake and Aziza in San Francisco.

Photos for this recipe by Shuna Lydon.

Showing 4 of 36 Comments

  • Karen

    My recipe always has cream of tarter in it instead of cornstarch…. are they similar in function? These are my boys’ favorite cookies and I have to make a double or triple batch when I make them because they just disappear!!

    Hello Karen
    I am so glad you asked this question. According to the Baking and Baking Science website, “When cream of tartar is used without a counteracting alkali such as baking soda, it increases the acidity of the dough or batter. The higher acidity produces a whiter crumb color and a lighter crust color because sugar caramelizes at a higher temperature in an acid media.”

    According to Cookies-In-Motion, “In baking cookies, we can substitute cornstarch for a certain amount of wheat flour to make more tender and spreadable cookies.” I have found that cornstarch gives cookies a “melt-in-your-mouth” smooth texture. I think that the cookies are more tender because when you use cornstarch, you reduce the percentage of gluten in the total recipe.”

    My own recipe has cornstarch, but I have seen many other recipes with cream of tartar, as well as shortening and baking powder. I am not the official spokesperson for the Snickerdoodle, but I say keep doing what’s the most delicious for you and your family! ~ Shuna

  • Rosie

    I was surprised to see butter as my mother (b 1913) and grandmother (b 1874) always swore that the key to an excellent snickerdoodle was to use vegetable shortening. Especially surprising as they made their own butter and I would have thought that would have made it a first choice for them. Guess I’ll have to do a side-by-side test with their and your recipes. A tough chore but I will step up and do it!

    I agree with you, this is surprising. But for a long time butter wasn’t the first choice for anything because it usually went bad easily and was used right away if it was made at all. My mother and grandmother said they still associate salted butter with off butter because salt was used as a preservative before refrigeration was consistent, both for home and shipping.

    Also butter for cookies was considered a double luxury for a long time, and still is, depending on someone’s class, geographical location and culture. Shortening still has the reputation that it makes everything its in incredibly tender. I prefer to place taste before structure of crumb, though, so I stick with butter… Thank you for your excellent inquiry. ~ Shuna

  • Jennie

    Interesting… I have a snickerdoodle recipe everyone always begs for every time I make them, but it doesn’t include cornstartch. Instead, the secret ingredient is MILK. Now why do you think milk might make them extra addictive in texture? I just figured that was the way snickerdoodles were made. Never compared recipes before. :)

    This is a great question. After having looked at dozens of snickerdoodle recipes, it seems to me that the recipe’s list of ingredients and instruction is designed to produce a really tender cookie. Milk adds extra fat, but more importantly, moisture.

    In recipes for baked goods every ingredient plays a role, like in a play. But some characters play multiple roles, not all of them obvious. I agree that milk is an interesting ingredient for a cookie (it’s more prevalent to see it in cakes), but the theory behind all recipes is science, alchemy, and… Practicality! If someone didn’t have one thing on hand they made a substitution to compensate.

    If you do make your recipe against this one please do come back and tell us your findings. ~ Shuna

  • Dennis

    I just have to ask this….. so many recipes call for unsalted butter, and then add salt as an ingredient.
    Why not just use salted butter?

    Hello Dennis,
    Another great question. In dessert making we want to control how much, and the flavor of the salt we use. Salted butter, depending on what brand it is, has different percentages of salt. And because I’m not sure what kind of salt that is, I would prefer to control the overall taste on my end. All that said, I have been known to use salted butter when I want salt to be a through-line in a particular baked good or dessert component, like caramel for example.

    This is a small batch recipe. If you have time to make some dough with salted butter and more following this method I’d love to know what you think after doing a taste test. ~ Shuna

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