The Secret to Great Snickerdoodles

Posted on Oct 1, 2013 in Baking Tips, Cookies, Drop Cookies | 15 comments

The Secret to Great Snickerdoodles

Snickerdoodles are definitely a classic and simple cookie but one that took me at least a few… okay many attempts to master. Some may say it is a simple sugar cookie but they are so wrong.  Snickerdoodles are buttery & soft, crispy & crinkly on the outside but deliciously chewy on the inside.  And to get that signature Snickerdoodle taste made with Cream of Tartar.

For the longest time, whenever I saw a recipe with Cream of Tartar, I’d always think to myself, is that really necessary?  Sometimes substitutes are perfectly acceptable, however in this case I think not.  Cream of tartar is used for many different reasons, most commonly in meringues to stabilize egg whites. It’s acids help strengthen the proteins in the egg whites allowing them to trap more air as they are beaten and we all know the trick to mile high meringue is air.  However in the case of the Snickerdoodle, it is combined with baking soda to aid in leavening and provide the classic Snickerdoodle tang.  If you don’t have it on hand, I’ve heard you can substitute 2 teaspoons of baking powder but I’ve never tried it and it wouldn’t be a true Snickerdoodle, now would it?

So what’s the secret to great Snickerdoodles? Here’s what I think.  1.) Softened butter 2.) Cream of Tartar 3.) Chilled Dough 4.) Slightly Underbaking

Perfect Snickerdoodles

1.) Softened butter is necessary to get good creaming action out of the butter and the sugar. Cold butter is good for flaky pastries but not cookies. The creaming process incorporates air bubbles into the mixture giving the cookie it’s soft interior. When creaming this cookie, cream until it is light and fluffy.  About 3-4 minutes.

2.) Like we mentioned before cream of tartar gives the Snickerdoodle its signature tang.  It also aids in lightening up the dough so you don’t have a super dense cookie.

3.) Chilling the dough for at least an hour before baking.  Most of the time I actually let it chill covered in the fridge overnight. This topic has been heavily debated in the baking world and by all means if you can’t chill your cookie dough because self control is definitely a virtue then bake the cookies as soon as you can! However, I have found that whenever I chill my cookie dough at least overnight before baking, the dough is easier to handle and the cookies are browner in color, with a more chewy soft texture and have a much deeper caramelized buttery flavor.  And we all know I LOVE chewy cookies.  Chilling the dough also helps cut down on the spreading so your Snickerdoodles don’t end up thin and crispy. Crispy cookies are only good for dunking in milk and so I’d rather have an Oreo. 🙂

Soft & Chewy Snickerdoodles

4.) Slightly under-baking cookies is my little trick to making sure they are chewy every time.  A couple minutes in the oven in the world of cookies can be the difference between soft & gooey cookies and hard, crunchy and dry cookies.   Bake these babies until you see the edges start to turn a light golden brown and firm up, the center will still look soft and not quite done, that means they are ready to come out.  Once out of the oven they will continue to bake.  If they look done in the oven then they are overdone.

Now we are all ready to bake some delish Snickerdoodles!

Chewy & Soft Snickerdoodles

The secret to perfect soft & chewy snickerdoodles


  • 1 cup Unsalted Butter (2 sticks)
  • 1 1/2 cup Sugar
  • 2 Eggs
  • 1 teaspoon Vanilla
  • 2 3/4 cups All Purpose Flour
  • 2 teaspoons Cream of Tartar
  • 1 teaspoon Baking Soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon Salt
  • 1 tablespoon Cinnamon (Reserve for Cinnamon Topping **Just remember the 1:3 Ratio for any cinnamon topping)
  • 3 tablespoons Sugar (Reserve for Cinnamon Topping **Just remember the 1:3 Ratio for any cinnamon topping)


Step 1
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Cream softened butter and sugar in a mixer until it becomes light & fluffy. Approximately 3-4 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time making sure they are incorporated. Add the vanilla and mix until combined.
Step 2
Sift the flour, salt, baking soda & cream of tartar in a separate bowl. Add it to the wet ingredients slowly in increments until combined.

Cover and chill the dough for at least an hour.
Step 3
While the dough is chilling, in a small bowl combine the cinnamon sugar for the topping. After the dough has chilled roll the dough into 1 inch balls and roll them in the cinnamon and sugar mixture. The dough will be tough to scoop out at first but the warmth from your hands will soften it very quickly.
Step 4
Place them 2 inches apart on a silver or light colored baking sheet with parchment. And bake for 10-11 minutes until you see the edges of the cookies turn a light golden brown color and firm up.

If you roll out dough that is waiting to be baked, chill the cookie balls on the baking sheet in the fridge.

Let cool completely before moving or eating. Enjoy!


  1. This recipe is the exact recipe that I have from my dear neighbor growing up 1960’s-1970’s. It truly is the perfect recipe, I’m glad I came across your blog & enjoyed reading about this family favorite cookie & you gave me a great memory of my neighbor Barbara (she passed in 2018, my mom in 2016, we kids are still friends to this day)

  2. Finally! This is the snickerdoodle I’ve been waiting for. I’ve tried other recipes that were good but didn’t quite nail it like this one. This ones a keeper! Thank You!

  3. Add cinnamon chips and use 1/2 brown sugar takes them to a whole new level

  4. I love your tips on how to make a great snickerdoodle. I completely agree with you that in this case, substitutions cannot be made for cream of tartar! It’s pretty special. Glad to have stumbled on your blog! Loving the recipes

    • Thanks Monica!! So happy you stopped to say hi! Right? You can’t make a true snickerdoodle without it.

  5. Fantastic cookies! Thanks for the recipe 🙂

    • Thank you Stephanie! This is absolutely one of my all time faves!!!

  6. Roughly how many cookies does this recipe make?

    • Hi Angie! Depending on how big you make them, you’ll probably get around 18-22 cookies.

  7. they do look like perfect snickerdoodles!

  8. Just out of curiosity, why do you have soy listed as an allergen? It shouldn’t be with the ingrediets you listed.

    • Whoops! Good catch! I didn’t even notice that was checked. Thank you for pointing that out!

  9. Your cookies are gorgeous! Just like a textbook perfect snickerdoodle! Pinned!

    • Thanks Averie! That means a lot coming from you!! Thanks for visiting and pinning my cookies!

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