As a sophomore in college, my three roommates and I decided to bake sweet treats for all of our friends’ birthdays that lived in our apartment complex. However… We never actually delivered them on time. We were usually just a few days late, but one person received his almost two months after his special day!
We said it was because we lived in the “Delayed Reaction” apartment, where the TV took a minute to turn on, the internet needed a few extra seconds to start up, and the microwave always started a good twenty seconds after you pressed start. So we were just following suit!
Everyone laughed when we arrived carrying plates of cookies on their doorsteps, and they never minded our “Delayed Reaction” treats. It meant that they could celebrate their birthday for at least a week!
To avoid competing with typical birthday cakes, we tried to slyly ask people’s roommates about their favorite cookie flavors. With the first person’s birthday coming up, his roommate revealed that his favorite cookies were pumpkin chocolate chip, and I thought that was the strangest combination ever.
Pumpkin? A vegetable? With… Chocolate??
But I found a recipe and baked them anyway, and before delivering them, we split two extra cookies between the four of us as samples. Oh my goodness! The sweet pumpkin… The warm cinnamon… The rich chocolate… I nearly swore on the spot to always include pumpkin in chocolate chip cookies from then on!
Yet the problem with many pumpkin cookies (including that particular recipe I followed!) is that they often turn out cakey, rather than soft and chewy like regular chocolate chip cookies. So this past month, I set out to create the ultimate healthy soft and chewy pumpkin chocolate chip cookies. After six different batches, I finally did it!
These cookies have the perfect texture, and they’re full of sweet pumpkin and cozy spice flavors. This recipe is also quick and easy to make. The cookie dough comes together in just 10 minutes!
INGREDIENTS TO MAKE HEALTHY PUMPKIN CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES
Let’s go over the ingredients you’ll need to make these healthy pumpkin chocolate chip cookies! The dry ingredients are fairly straightforward: flour, cinnamon (← that’s my favorite kind!), baking powder, salt, and… Cornstarch.
That’s right — cornstarch. It’s not just for thickening sauces and soups! In this cookie dough, it absorbs moisture and helps make the cookies beautifully soft and chewy.
For the flour, I opted for white whole wheat flour. Contrary to what it sounds like, it’s not a combination of white (aka all-purpose) flour and regular whole wheat flour! It’s actually made by finely grinding a special type of soft white wheat (hence the name!), whereas regular whole wheat flour comes from a heartier variety of red wheat. They have the same health benefits, like extra fiber, but white whole wheat flour has a lighter taste and texture — and that lets the sweet pumpkin flavor and beautifully soft texture of these cookies really shine!
On the other hand, the wet ingredients required some testing and tweaking… Especially the pumpkin purée.
Pumpkin purée contains a lot of moisture, which dries out baked goods and leaves them cakey. However, it can also act as a binding agent to hold the cookie dough together. Eggs do the same thing: add lots of moisture and bind cookies together. To balance that out, I omitted the egg and used all pumpkin purée instead. This kept the cookies soft and maximized the pumpkin flavor.
Tip: Make sure you’re using regular pumpkin purée — not pumpkin pie mix! The latter contains added sugar and spices, so it doesn’t behave the same way in this recipe.
To make the cookies chewy, I used melted butter. Unlike softened butter, melted really helps increase the chewy factor. This means you can put away your mixer — no butter and sugar to cream!
Tip: To make these healthy pumpkin chocolate chip cookies vegan and dairy-free, substitute coconut oil or stick-style vegan butter! For the vegan butter, this one and this one are my two favorites for baking. (The latter melts especially well and doesn’t splatter or pop, like some other brands do!)
To sweeten these pumpkin cookies, I turned to pure maple syrup, an unrefined sweetener, instead of granulated sugar. Be sure you buy the real kind that comes directly from maple trees! The only ingredient on the label should be “maple syrup,” and it generally comes in thin glass bottles or squat plastic jugs. (I’ve also bought it online!)
Tip: I don’t recommend substituting sugar-free maple syrup. It’s often water-based, and that will make your cookies cakey and bread-like, rather than soft and chewy. It also prevents them from spreading.
Only one more ingredient to go! Perhaps you’re wondering… Why did I use miniature chocolate chips?
Two reasons! First, I prefer lots of littler bursts of chocolate over just one or two bites containing big chocolate chips. Second, their smaller size helps ensure that the cookie dough fully binds together better and doesn’t break apart in your hands while eating. That’s always a plus, especially if you’re dunking them in milk!
HOW TO MAKE THE BEST HEALTHY PUMPKIN CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES
Let’s quickly cover how to make the best pumpkin chocolate chip cookies! Like I previously mentioned, the cookie dough is really quick and easy to whip up. You need less than 10 minutes — and no mixer required!
Because maple syrup is a liquid, it makes the cookie dough really moist and tacky, so you must chill the dough before baking. Chilling is mandatory. Only 30 minutes — just enough time to wash the dishes and wipe up any spilled flour!
Because the cookie dough will still be somewhat tacky after chilling, do not try to shape it with your hands. Use a spoon and spatula to drop it onto the baking sheet and shape it into rounded mounds. (I use these mini spatulas!) If you prefer extra thick cookies, make sure they’re as tall as they are wide. If you prefer wider and thinner cookies, flatten them just a bit before popping them in the oven.
To ensure the cookies stay soft and chewy, do not overbake them! Instead, pull them from the oven when the centers still feel slightly soft and underdone; then leave your cookies on the warm baking sheet for at least 10 minutes to allow the centers to set and finish baking. This little trick gives them the most irresistible texture — if you can wait long enough for them to cool!
FAQS ABOUT HEALTHY PUMPKIN CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES
Are these healthy pumpkin chocolate chip cookies vegan, gluten free, clean eating, low calorie, or low fat?
Yes — to all of the above! They’re naturally vegan (aka they’re egg-free and dairy-free!), clean eating (with no refined sugar), low calorie (compared to many traditional recipes!), and low fat. I included my top gluten-free recommendations in the Notes section of the recipe too!
Can I substitute a different flour?
You sure can! Whole wheat pastry flour is a fantastic substitute for the white whole wheat flour. Regular whole wheat flour and all-purpose flour also work well. You can substitute oat flour as well, but be really careful when measuring it because it tends to be more absorbent than wheat-based flours.
Can I substitute something else for the cornstarch?
I haven’t tried, so I’m not personally sure. You can omit it, but your cookies won’t be quite as soft and chewy.
What’s the best pumpkin for making cookies?
Regular pumpkin purée — not pumpkin pie mix! It’s also called “canned pumpkin” or “100% pure pumpkin.” The only ingredient on the label should be pumpkin.
How do you make pumpkin cookies soft and chewy — not cakey?
First, make sure you measure the flour correctly, using this method or a kitchen scale. (← That’s the one I own!) Too much flour will make your cookies cakey or bready. Second, omit the eggs and use melted butter. Third, do not substitute sugar-free maple syrup. Fourth, do not overbake them. (I’ve covered #2, #3, and #4 in more detail in my blog post above, so scroll up for more info!)
What’s the best way to store these healthy pumpkin chocolate chip cookies? And how long will they last?
Store any leftovers inside of an airtight container in the refrigerator. (Pumpkin baked goods often spoil really quickly when left at room temperature!) They should keep for close to a week, if not longer.
Can I freeze them?
Yes! These freeze really well. I like to thaw individual cookies in the microwave on 30% power until warmed all the way through. I think that makes them taste almost freshly baked!
RECIPE VIDEO: THE ULTIMATE HEALTHY PUMPKIN CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES
Ready to bake your own batch? And when you do, remember to snap a picture and share it on Instagram using #amyshealthybaking and tagging @amyshealthybaking IN the photo itself! (That guarantees I’ll see your picture! 🙂 ) I’d love to see your healthy pumpkin chocolate chip cookies!
The Ultimate Healthy Soft & Chewy Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies
- 1 cup (120g) white whole wheat flour or gluten-free* flour (measured like this)
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp cornstarch
- ¾ tsp baking powder
- ⅛ tsp salt
- 2 tbsp (28g) unsalted butter or coconut oil, melted and cooled slightly
- ¾ cup (183g) pumpkin purée (room temperature – and NOT pumpkin pie mix)
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- ½ cup (120mL) pure maple syrup or agave (room temperature)
- 3 tbsp (42g) miniature chocolate chips or chopped dark chocolate (divided)
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cinnamon, cornstarch, baking powder, and salt. In a separate bowl, whisk together the butter or coconut oil, pumpkin, and vanilla. Stir in the maple syrup or agave. Add the flour mixture, stirring just until incorporated. Fold in 2 tablespoons of chocolate chips. Chill the cookie dough for 30 minutes.
- Using a spoon and spatula, drop the cookie dough into 12 rounded scoops onto the prepared baking sheet. Flatten slightly, and press the remaining chocolate chips into the tops of the cookie dough. Bake at 325°F for 15-17 minutes. Cool on the baking sheet for at least 10 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack.
View Nutrition Information + Weight Watchers Points
You may also like Amy’s other recipes…
♡ Healthy Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies
♡ Healthy Pumpkin Pie Thumbprint Cookies
♡ Healthy Pumpkin Cake
♡ Healthy Pumpkin Cupcakes
♡ Healthy Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Breakfast Cookies
♡ Healthy Pumpkin Pie Bars
♡ Healthy Pumpkin Pie Brownies
♡ …and the rest of Amy’s healthy pumpkin recipes!