Snicker, Snicker

Snickerdoodles cooling.

Here is one of those exasperating food names: snickerdoodle. We can spend all kinds of time and not get anywhere trying to figure out where the name came from and why. And there are those who claim snickerdoodles for New England and others who grew up with them in Pennsylvania, or Missouri, or wherever. It is probably just a nonsense word. One thing most people agree on is that it is a sugar cookie, rolled in cinnamon sugar before baking.

They are ridiculously easy to make. I even went so far as to haul out the mixer for them because I had cold butter and not much time. I let the paddle beat the butter soft to cream it with sugar. A couple of eggs, some vanilla, and nearly three cups of flour and a big pile of cookies resulted. Ninety of them, in fact, about two inches in diameter. (I am not fond of huge cookies, but if you are, you may make them bigger.)

I hope you know by now that you can make your own cinnamon sugar. I see it for sale in small jars in the baking supply aisle, and try to fathom why anyone would buy it when it is so easy to concoct. Almost anyone keeps some supply of sugar on hand, and cinnamon is a terribly common spice for very ordinary pantries, along with ginger and cloves. I don’t think any particular proportion of cinnamon to sugar is required, though you can try two to three spoons full of sugar to half a spoon of cinnamon, then tweak it to taste in either direction by adding more sugar or more cinnamon.

In past times, two to three hundred or more years ago, cooks mixed ginger and cinnamon with sugar. That is easy to do, too, absolutely adjustable to taste, and delicious on buttered toast. I can’t think of any reason why you couldn’t roll your snickerdoodle dough in it instead of just cinnamon sugar. Maybe we would have to change the name to snackerdiddle or something to make the distinction between all cinnamon cookies and gingery ones.

Allow time to chill the dough enough that you can roll it between your hands. You can grease a cookie sheet or use parchment paper to line it. I have taken to parchment paper lately, because cookies simply don’t stick to it, and I can use the paper two or three times.

Roll cookies in the cinnamon sugar and space on parchment paper covered baking sheet.


1 cup butter

1 ½ cups sugar

2 large eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla

2 ¾ cups flour

2 ½ teaspoons baking powder

¼ teaspoon salt

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Cream together the butter and sugar, then beat in the eggs and vanilla. Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Gradually add the dry ingredients to the butter, sugar, and egg mixture and beat just until the flour is taken up. Chill the dough.

Mix sugar and cinnamon to taste (or use prepared cinnamon sugar) in a soup or pie plate. Roll one-inch balls of dough between your palms, and drop into the cinnamon sugar mixture. Roll or shake them in the sugar until they are coated, then place them on the baking pan allowing for moderate spreading. Bake ten to twelve minutes until they are golden.

Sandy Oliver

About Sandy Oliver

Sandy Oliver Sandy is a freelance food writer with the column Taste Buds appearing weekly since 2006 in the Bangor Daily News, and regular columns in Maine Boats, Homes, and Harbors magazine and The Working Waterfront. Besides freelance food writing, she is a pioneering food historian beginning her work in 1971 at Mystic Seaport Museum, where she developed a fireplace cooking program in an 1830s house. After moving to Maine in 1988, Sandy wrote, Saltwater Foodways: New Englanders and Their Foods at Sea and Ashore in the 19th Century published in 1995. She is the author of The Food of Colonial and Federal America published in fall of 2005, and Giving Thanks: Thanksgiving History and Recipes from Pilgrims to Pumpkin Pie which she co-authored with Kathleen Curtin. She often speaks to historical organizations and food professional groups around the country, organizes historical dinners, and conducts classes and workshops in food history and in sustainable gardening and cooking. Sandy lives on Islesboro, an island in Penobscot where she gardens, preserves, cooks and teaches sustainable lifeways.