Grit Blogs > City Gal Moves to Oz Land

The Sweet Story of Snickerdoodle Cookies

A photo of Oz Girl

The snickerdoodle has been around a long time. Depending on who you believe, the snickerdoodle came from Germany, or is Dutch in origin, or perhaps got its start in New England. According to one source, “The Joy of Cooking claims that snickerdoodles are probably German in origin, and that the name is a corruption of the German word Schneckennudeln, which means ‘snail dumpling.’ A different author suggests that the word ‘snicker’ comes from the Dutch word snekrad, or the German word Schnecke, which both describe a snail-like shape. Yet another theory suggests that the name comes from a New England tradition of fanciful, whimsical cookie names. There is also a series of tall tales about a hero named ‘Snickerdoodle’ from the early 1900s which may be related to the name of the cookie.”

Snickerdoodle cookies

I’ve varied my snickerdoodle cookie recipe many times in an attempt to bake the perfect cookie. But in many ways, the basic recipe IS the best cookie, with some minor variations that involve tricks more than ingredients.

Tip No. 1: The texture of your cookies will benefit greatly from hand mixing the dough, as opposed to beating with a mixer. I don’t know the technicalities behind this, but I know I’ve seen this advice several times and I’ve tried it myself, and it DOES seem to make a difference. Try your snickerdoodles both ways, and see what you think.

Tip No. 2: Make sure your butter and eggs are at room temperature. The obvious? Not only is it easier to mix the butter by hand when it’s soft, but having these ingredients at room temperature also benefits the final cookie texture.

Tip No. 3: Be sure your baking soda and cream of tartar are fresh. Outdated ingredients will compromise the final cookie.

The Recipe

1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup shortening
1-1/2 cups sugar
2 eggs (use large, not extra-large)
2 tsp vanilla
2-3/4 cups flour
2 tsp cream of tartar
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
2 tbls. sugar
2 tsp cinnamon
Heat oven to 400. Mix the butter and shortening thoroughly (by hand!) … yes, it is a strange feeling to cream by hand. But hey, the pioneers must have done it, right? I don’t think they had any hand mixers in the 1800s.
Cream butter by hand for snickerdoodle cookies
After you’ve mixed the shortening and butter, add the sugar and cream further. Add eggs and vanilla.
Add eggs and vanilla for snickerdoodle cookies
In separate bowl, mix the flour, cream of tartar, baking soda and salt. Add to creamed mixture.
Add flour mix for snickerdoodle cookies
Mix the sugar and cinnamon in a small plastic bag. Shape dough into rounded teaspoons – I make mine a little bit larger because we like big cookies – and shake balls lightly in plastic bag with sugar/cinnamon mixture.
Sugar and cinnamon in a plastic bag for snickerdoodle cookies
Place 2 inches apart on ungreased baking sheets. I use parchment paper and airbake cookie sheets for the most even baking.
Snickerdoodle cookies on a cookie sheet
Bake 6-10 minutes, depending on your preference. If you prefer a crispier cookie, then bake for 8 mins or more. I baked mine 6-1/2 minutes for a soft middle; be sure this timeframe suits your oven temperature. When the cookies look like they are beginning to crack on the top and they look moist between the cracks, it’s time to take them out. Let sit on the cookie sheets for a minute or two while they finish baking, then remove from sheets. Makes about 6 dozen.

Be adventurous and experiment with your sugar coating. I’ve added nutmeg, allspice, ginger, etc. It all depends on your taste preference!

Snickerdoodles store well in airtight containers at room temperature. I don’t know if they freeze well, because they don’t last more than 3-4 days around here.

Happy Snickerdoodling!

bev29
11/5/2013 10:13:48 AM

I always make my cookies by hand -- chocolate chip - peanut butter clouds and of course snickerdoodles. I have a special bowl and large silver spoon that is worn on the end. It's my secret ingredient to baking the best cookies -- along with the love.


oz girl
3/10/2010 9:32:04 AM

Kristy, glad you gave it a try with the lard, at least now we know it doesn't work as well. Sometimes I get disappointed when I try recipes and they don't work out well or we don't care for them, BUT then I remind myself that's how you find the keepers! :-)


kristy_1
3/8/2010 5:51:04 PM

I made these today and decided to try them with lard instead of the shortening, wondering the same as Alaska Susan. Mine did not come out chewy at all. The taste was great but the texture was too soft & delicate. Great recipe! Thanks!


nebraska dave
3/1/2010 7:43:24 AM

Oz Girl, during my military years, I spent time in Germany. I didn’t see too many Snickerdoole cookies. Then again at age 22, I wasn’t really interested in cookies. Because of German being my heritage, I was fascinated by the thought that they would come from my family’s country. Your combination of pictures and directions make it easy for even a guy like me to mix up and bake a perfect batch. Growing up there was nothing like the smell of baking happening in the kitchen. My favorite cookie was chocolate chip with loads of chips. Oh man, they were the best right out of the oven, nice and warm and soft with a big glass of cold milk. Mom knew just how to make them. It sounds like your kids will get to remember Mom’s baking in the kitchen as well. Kids today are missing out on such things when Mom just buys cookies at the store. Of course being a boy I didn’t get to help Mom with the baking, but my sister did. Passing down family traditional recipes is a wonderful way to keep the generations connected within the family. I can still remember Mom’s glorious apple pies. I haven’t found any quite like them since she passed. Susan, thanks for bringing up all those wonderful memories of childhood. I think maybe I might just make a batch of snickerdooles.


tammy@flatcreekfarm
2/22/2010 2:25:59 PM

Oh no, I can't look at those cookies right now. They just look TOO good! Wonderful info on one of my all-time favorites :) -Tammy


oz girl
2/22/2010 1:29:54 PM

A note to y'all if you try the recipe for Snickerdoodles in the current issue of Grit... I omitted the flaxseed, because I didn't have any. My cookies turned out flat, flat, flat! Duh. I should have added the equivalent amount of wholewheat flour since I omitted the flaxseed, perhaps even another 1/2 cup of flour. Don't get me wrong, they taste delicious...flat and chewy, LOL. It's a different recipe for Snickerdoodles than I'm accustomed to making. Next time I will add more wholewheat flour and I think they will turn out perfect! :-)


oz girl
2/22/2010 12:33:12 PM

Alaska Susan... you'll have to let me know if you try these with lard, how that works out! And Cindy, I just got around to reading through my latest issue of Grit, and lo and behold, another Snickerdoodle cookie recipe! The Grit version uses wholewheat flour, no cream of tartar, no shortening, only butter, and brown sugar. It also uses flaxseed, but I'll have to forego that healthy option as I don't have any in my pantry. I'm giving it a go this afternoon. Personally, I like the slight crunch that wholewheat flour gives to a cookie, but I think hubby might not. We shall see! :) Happy Monday to you too Cindy, and all the other Grit bloggers!! Oz Girl aka Susan


cindy murphy
2/22/2010 9:17:23 AM

A happy Monday to ya, Oz Girl. I love the origins behind "Snickerdoodle" - but it's a good thing the word got corrupted along the way; "Snickerdoodle" is a whole lot easier to say than "Schneckennudeln", and sounds more appetizing than snail dumplings. I wonder how corrupted my efforts to stick to low-cholesterol foods will be if I make a batch; your post made me start craving one of my all-time favorite cookies! Today would be a good day to try your recipe - the girls are off school, and we're in the midst of another winter storm. Too bad I don't have any shortening or cream of tartar in the house; I suppose tartar sauce wouldn't be a suitable substitute, (eye-roll). Actually, it's probably a good thing - I'm almost positive Snickerdoodles do not translate to "low-cholesterol" in any language. Never hurts to pretend in moderation though.


susan_7
2/21/2010 12:43:06 PM

I SO want some now! I just took the GRIT editorial survey on cover options for their upcoming book on cooking with lard, and now am wondering how the snickerdoodles would work with lard instead of shortening. I bought a block of lard last week and have yet to try it, so maybe this will be my first foray into the world of old-fashioned lard use! Thanks for such great, useful tips on an old favorite recipe. Alaska Susan


vickie
2/20/2010 7:42:50 PM

These look so good. What I can't get over is everyone is perfect looking. Your should open a country bakery! vickie


rodeo princess
2/20/2010 3:39:36 PM

The pictures are GREAT! You are a baker and a picture taker!


lori
2/20/2010 10:04:22 AM

OK, you have made my mouth water! Snickerdoodles are my favorite cookie! I also like BIG cookies, so when I mix up a batch of whatever kind, I usually get half as many as the recipe says it will make!


mountain woman
2/19/2010 4:13:39 PM

All I can say is YUMMY!!! Interesting story about the name too. Now, I'm off to the kitchen because your photos made me hungry.