Pumpkin Spice Shortbread Cookies (vegan recipe)

A simple recipe for vegan pumpkin spice cookies with a free printable recipe. If you don't have the individual spices you can use pre-mixed pumpkin spice or mixed spice.

Pumpkin Spice Shortbread Cookies

The season is changing and we're moving into Autumn (or Fall if you're elsewhere in the world). It's getting cooler, so we're wearing cosier clothes and layers.  Here in Scotland, a coat and umbrella are essential when you head outdoors. It's rather wet and windy here right now. So much rain!

Meals are changing too. Soups and other comfort dishes like shepherd's pie and chilli are back on the menu in place of salads and outdoor BBQs.

I'm also noticing a change in the recipes appearing on Pinterest (yes I spend way to much time browsing over there) and pumpkin spice is appearing everywhere. From lattes to cookies and cakes.



Pumpkin spice shortbread cookies cooling on a baking rack.

What is pumpkin spice?

Pumpkin spice is spice mix which is popular in America where it's often used to flavour pumpkin pies and the famous Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte which was developed way back in 2003.

Even though it's a seasonal treat, they've sold over 200 million of those spicy lattes. What can I say? People love their coffee and they like a bit of spice too, especially at this time of year.

Is pumpkin spice the same as mixed spice?

No they aren't the same, but they are so similar that they can be used the same way and one can be substituted for the other in recipes. 

Pumpkin spice is the American blend and mixed spice is the British blend. 

Here in the Great Britain we add mixed spice to fruit loaves, mince pies (sweet fruity Christmas pies), gingerbread biscuits, gingerbread, Christmas cake and Christmas pudding

In America these spice mixes are associated with Fall (Autumn), but here in Britain we look forward to them at Christmas.

Pumpkin Spice  

Pumpkin spice is a mixture of cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, allspice and cloves

Mixed Spice

Mixed spice is a mixture of cinnamon, coriander, nutmeg, ginger and cloves. It sometimes contains allspice too.

What is allspice?

Allspice can be found in both pumpkin spice and mixed spice, but what is it? 

Sometimes people confuse it with mixed spice, but it is actually an unripe berry from a small evergreen tree which is native to Mexico, Central America and the West Indies which is dried and ground to a powder. It is also called pimento or myrtle pepper. 

vegan shortbread cookies

What is shortbread?

Shortbread is a Scottish biscuit (cookie) made from flour, sugar and butter.

It was originally made from leftover bread dough that was left to dry out in the oven to make a crunchy biscuit, but later the yeast was replaced with butter and that is the basis of our crisp, buttery melt-the-mouth biscuits or shortie as we call it. 

They've been made for centuries, but became popular as a favourite of Mary Queen of Scots who reigned over Scotland between 1542 and 1567. They were not an every day snack, they were reserved for special occasions such as Christmas, Hogmanay (Scottish New Year), weddings and christenings.

They were often known as petticoat tails as they were baked in a round with a pattern that looked like the petticoats wore in the time Queen Mary.

Since then shortbread has traditionally been served as petticoat tails which are cut into wedges, rounds (cookies) or fingers.

traditional circular Scottish wooden shortbread mould

Shortbread moulds

Short bread can be rolled out and cut into cookies or fingers, but it is also traditional to make it in a wooden mould. The shortbread dough is pressed into a floured mould, chilled, turned out carefully and baked on a baking sheet.

I'm lucky to have my gran's shortbread mould, which I have to admit I've been too feart (Scottish for afraid) to use. I tend to make shortbread rounds or cookies. I really must try using this mould and not just keep it as a memento.

pin it for later

Pumpkin Spice Shortbread Cookies A twist on a traditional Scottish shortbread recipe. Still melt-in-your-mouth buttery but with warming spices. Suitable for vegans and those on a dairy-free diet. #pumpkinspice #shortbread #cookies #pumpkinspicecookies #Scottishshortbread #veganshortbread #vegancookies

close up of Scottish shortbread cookies

Pumpkin Spice Shortbread Cookies

I made these pumpkin spice shortbread cookies vegan so Graham could enjoy them. I tweaked my recipe for sweet lemon basil cookies as I know it works well with soft margarine. 

Shortbread is usually made with cold, hard butter, so you have to get the recipe right if you're converting it to a vegan recipe and using dairy free spread. 

Have a try of these cookies. My only tip is you want them to cook through so don't bake them in a too hot oven and don't take them out too early. Keep an eye on them as you don't want them to colour too much. Once they start to develop a little colour at the edges they are nearly ready, but hold your nerve and give them time.



shortbread, Scottish shortbread, shortbread biscuits, shortbread rounds, shortbread cookies, cookies, pumpkin spice, pumpkin spice shortbread, pumpkin spice cookies, shortbread history
Scottish, vegan
Yield: 12-14 cookies
Pumpkin Spice Shortbread Cookies

Pumpkin Spice Shortbread Cookies

A twist on a traditional Scottish shortbread recipe. Still melt-in-your-mouth buttery but with warming spices. Suitable for vegans and those on a dairy-free diet.
prep time: 15 minscook time: 25 minstotal time: 40 mins


  • 180g/¾ cup dairy-free spread
  • 120g/1 cup plain flour (all-purpose flour)
  • 90g/½ cup cornflour (cornstarch)
  • 75g/½ cup icing sugar (confectioner's sugar)
  • 1 tbsp almond milk
  • 1/½ tbsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1 tsp allspice
  • ½ tsp ground cloves


  1. Preheat the oven to 150c/130c fan/ 300f/gas mark 2.
  2. Line a large baking tray (or two standard trays) with a baking sheet or greaseproof paper.
  3. Beat the dairy-free spread in a stand mixer (or in a bowl with a hand mixer) to soften it. 
  4. In another bowl mix the spices into the flour and add it into the soft spread a bit at a time, starting at a slow speed so you don't coat your kitchen in a layer of white powder. Once that has been completely incorporated. Follow it with the cornflour (cornstarch) and then with the sugar. 
  5. While it is beating add a little milk if you think it needs it and beat until it all comes together into a ball of dough. It may seem very dry and unlikely to stick together at all, but give it time. You might need to remove it from the bowl near the end and knead the last dry bits in by hand.
  6. On a lightly floured surface, sprinkle the dough with just a touch more flour, and roll it out to a thickness of ½ cm to 1 cm. If you have trouble rolling it out smoothly or find it is too sticky to work with, let it chill in the fridge for 30 minutes or so before continuing. 
  7. Cut into cookies with a cookie cutter or a glass and place on the prepared baking tray.
  8. Bake for 20-25 minutes until the edges just begin to take on some colour, but you really don't want to let them get too golden. 
  9. Leave the cookies to cool on the tray for a few minutes then move to a cooling rack to continue cooling.
  10. Dust with icing sugar before serving.
  11. Enjoy!
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Created using The Recipes Generator

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