Saffron Vanilla Snickerdoodles

So good! Saffron Vanilla Snickerdoodles with a slight buckle in the middle, kiss of saffron, and thin golden crust with a fudge-textured center. The Blue Bottle Coffee version.

Saffron Vanilla Snickerdoodles

The Saffron Vanilla Snickerdoodles sold at Blue Bottle Coffee are a favorite of mine. I like to sit in the sun on the beautiful stone slab benches across from the Blue Bottle Coffee kiosk in Hayes Valley, San Francisco with a macchiato a snickerdoodle to share. This, the first Blue Bottle Coffee location, is just a short walk from my house in an alleyway. A not-so-secret spot, slightly off the main strip - source of excellent coffee and cookies!

Snickerdoodle dough on baking sheet with Ice Cream Scoop as dough Scooper

I also love to have lazy breakfasts beneath the tall ceilings, light streaking through the massive windows, in their cafe at Mint Plaza. Word on the street was that a Blue Bottle Coffee book was the works. And each time I visit the cafe I find myself uttering the same nine words, usually with my mouth full, "I really hope this recipe is in the book".

Blue Bottle Saffron Vanilla Snickerdoodles

In addition to their coffee, which I'm more than happy to brave a line for, I have a list of go-to favorites from their beautifully concise and inspired menu. My hope was that all would be in the book: these Saffron-Vanilla Snickerdoodles, the Pickled Fennel Egg Salad, the Sesame Absinthe Cigars, and Catalan Eggs with Braised Greens. Check, check, check, and check! Every one of them is in the book.

Blue Bottle Saffron Vanilla Snickerdoodle Cookies Recipe


The Best Snickerdoodles

The book will be released October 9th (I originally posted this in 2012), but I've been hassling Ten Speed to get me an early copy for months. In part because I wanted to bump up my coffee know-how, but (no surprise) I was particularly excited about the recipes - the Saffron Vanilla Snickerdoodle Cookies were first up. They contrast traditional snickerdoodles in the best way. Caitlin describes them as having "an unusual butterscotch flavor from the combination of saffron, brown sugar and vanilla." If you love snickerdoodles, please try these!

Snickerdoodle dough on a baking sheet

A Twist on the Classic

This recipe delivers a version that is a dead-ringer of the Blue Bottle version. The same as the ones I would buy at the kiosk - buckle in the middle, kiss of saffron, a thin golden crust that gives way to a fudge-textured center. Arguably the best snickerdoodle cookies I've ever had. I made a double batch for a family trip to Lake Tahoe - baking half for the drive there, freezing the remaining pre-scooped dough to bake at the cabin. Everyone loved them.

Blue Bottle Saffron Vanilla Snickerdoodles
I hope you like these as much as I do, make a double batch and freeze half of the pre-scooped dough for later baking. And be sure to measure the saffron carefully - it's easy to go too light/heavy. Other favorite cookies in the archive include these Chocolate Puddle Cookies, Toasted Almond Sables, the Chocolate Chip Skillet Cookie, these chocolate chip cookies, or you can click around all the past cookie recipes. xo -h



A number of you have played around with the recipe a bit. Here are some notes from the comments!

Dorothy noted, "These are amazing! I can’t have gluten so made them with GF all purpose flour + xantham gum. I live overseas and on a rainy day like today the comforting smell of these in the oven reminds me of home."

Emily couldn't resist a cinnamon-sugar coating, "I loved the texture of these, very fudgy-centered which is something you don’t often get from a snickerdoodle. I rolled mine in cinnamon sugar and it did not overpower the saffron. And I put some pistachio gelato on top. Very sophisticated flavor but with a cozy-familiar cookie texture."

Katrina weighed in with results using white whole wheat flour. "I used 1/2 the salt called for, which was plenty for my taste. I also used whole wheat white flour, which worked fine, but regular white would have been better. Thanks so much for sharing this amazing recipe!"

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Saffron Vanilla Snickerdoodle Cookies

4.85 from 13 votes

As I mention up above, it's worth making a double batch here. Bake off what you need in the short-term, and save the rest to bake as needed. Also, rather than use a vanilla bean, you can double the vanilla extract.

  • about 30 threads of saffron (to yield 1/8 teaspoon ground saffron)
  • 1/2 vanilla bean
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 2 cups (9.9 oz / 280 g) all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 cup (4 oz / 113 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup (3.5 oz / 100 g) granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup (3.8 oz / 109 g) packed light brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 egg (1.8 oz / 50 g), at room temperature
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Prepare the Cookie Dough
  1. Crush the saffron threads with a mortar and pestle until powdery or grind them in a clean spice grinder; alternatively, you can finely mince the saffron. The finer the powder, the more intense the saffron color and flavor in the cookies.
  2. Split the vanilla bean in half and scrape the pulp into a small saucepan. Add the vanilla pod, milk, and saffron and cook over very low heat, just until bubbles begin to form at the edges, between 180°F and 190°F (82°C and 88°C). Alternatively, combine the vanilla pulp, pod, milk, and saffron in a small microwavable bowl, and microwave just until the milk is hot, 20 to 30 seconds. Cover and let steep for about 10 minutes; the milk should have a sunny yellow color.
  3. Sift the flour and baking soda into a medium bowl.
  4. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter on low speed until smooth, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the granulated sugar, brown sugar, and salt and mix on low speed until well combined. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, then mix on medium speed until light and fluffy, 4 to 5 minutes.
  5. Remove the vanilla pod from the milk, squeezing off any liquid or pulp clinging to it back into the milk. In a medium bowl, combine the milk mixture, egg, and vanilla extract and whisk vigorously until well blended. With the mixer on medium speed, add the egg mixture very slowly, in a steady stream, and mix until well-incorporated and very smooth, about 30 seconds. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, then mix on medium speed for 30 more seconds.Scrape down the sides of the bowl, then add the flour mixture. Mix on low speed just until uniform in texture. Using a rubber spatula, scrape the dough out into an airtight container or onto a piece of plastic wrap. Cover the container, or, if using plastic wrap, shape the dough into a rough disk, wrap tightly, and refrigerate for at least 3 hours and up to 5 days.
Shape and Bake the Snickerdoodle Cookies
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone mat. Roll 1/4-cup (60 ml) portions of the dough into balls, and place them on the baking sheet, spacing them at least 2 inches (5 cm) apart. Bake for about 16 minutes, until golden but not too dark, rotating the pan midway through the baking time. Ideally, the baked cookies will be tall and slightly undercooked in the center, and will buckle shortly after coming out of the oven. If the cookies don't buckle, don't worry; they'll still be delicious. Let the cookies cool on the pan for 10 minutes before removing. These cookies are best when eaten warm, shortly after they come out of the oven. However, they can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 days. Alternatively, the dough can stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days, so consider baking only as many cookies as needed and saving the rest of the dough to bake another day.

From The Blue Bottle Craft of Coffee: Growing, Roasting, and Drinking, with Recipes by James Freeman, Caitlin Freeman, and Tara Duggan.

Prep Time
20 mins
Cook Time
20 mins
Total Time
40 mins
If you make this recipe, I'd love to see it - tag it #101cookbooks on Instagram!

Post Your Comment

Recipe Rating


Ingredient list error? Hi - Just started making this cookie recipe & see mention of ''egg' in the instructions - but no egg in the list of ingredients. I assume it is just one whole egg? It gets mixed in with the milk mixture- but is it just 1 egg or is it more? Quote -- "In a medium bowl, combine the milk mixture, egg, and vanilla extract and whisk vigorously until well blended. With the mixer on medium speed, add the egg mixture very slowly, in a steady stream, and mix until well-incorporated and very smooth..." Thank you!


    Hi Rebecca - it's there! Near the end, below salt and above the vanilla. Hope this helps!

    Heidi Swanson

So happy to have come across this recipe! The cookies are scrumptious! The dough was very easy to work with once chilled, and the cookie texture was wonderfully crispy around the edges and fudgy on the inside. I rolled half of the first batch in sanding sugar, which bumped up the sweetness a bit, added some crunchy texture, and looked pretty. Really good with some pistachio ice cream! Tomorrow I’m going to try with Turkish coffee because I bet they’ll pair well with the bitterness of the coffee and the brightness of cardamom. Thanks for the recipe!


Heidi, I'm a long time time reader but first time commenter. These are amazing! I can't have gluten so made them with GF all purpose flour + xantham gum. I live overseas and on a rainy day like today the comforting smell of these in the oven reminds me of home :) I love your posts.. Keep them coming!


Hi! I just wanted to let you know I made these cookies a few days ago and they were amazing! I will definitely be making them again. They came out looking gorgeous!

Li @ Words and Cake

I just baked them and are delicious! by mistake I added too much sugar (1 cup of each) so finished making double batch. For sure will make them again.


These are so. beautiful! I can almost taste them. Can't wait to try them for real this fall.

Katie H.

I love this-and the saffron and vanilla sound like a great base for ice cream. Love the new Blue Bottle and Heath factory over in the Mission. Sip your coffee out of one of their mugs while looking in on the works! Regards, Linda

Linda NYC

i made the cookies and they were delicious! i shared with friends and co-workers and everyone loved them! thanks and i can't wait to get my blue bottle book tomorrow for some more baking - i got the shipping confirmation from amazon this afternoon :)

Jennifer Lo

i just made the batter and it's sitting in the fridge. can't wait to bake a batch to start my Sunday morning with a cup of coffee! i'll let you know how they turn out! thanks!

Jennifer Lo

About the buckwheat/sorghum flour: I should have realized that the buckwheat would change the color - they were not very pretty to look at! :) the cookies had a nice texture, and the taste was very reminiscent of a graham cracker. All in all, they were good but next time I think I'll use a different blend of flours to get a better idea of what the cookies should taste like.


I loved the texture of these, very fudgy-centered which is something you don't often get from a snickerdoodle. I rolled mine in cinnamon sugar and it did not overpower the saffron. And I put some pistachio gelato on top. Very sophisticated flavor but with a cozy-familiar cookie texture.


I made these a few nights ago and I added too much saffron. I thought more of a good thing would be better, but no. So sad. They are really tender and sweet otherwise. I love your blog, Heidi, and your recipes are so wonderful!


these are so delicious! Any ideas for a sprinkle of something interesting on top, to finish them or give them a little color?


I've never been a big saffron fan but these look so good. I guess I'll just have to give it a shot... :)

julie @ the semi-reformed nerd

Made a batch tonight and absolutely loved them. I used 1/2 the salt called for, which was plenty for my taste. I also used whole wheat white flour, which worked fine, but regular white would have been better. Thanks so much for sharing this amazing recipe!


I am making these right now with buckwheat and sorghum flour. Will let you know how they turn out!

HS: Please let us know Lindsey!


I think we always rolled our snickerdoodles in cinnamon sugar - it's how I knew what they were. These look good too!


These sound amazing! Never used saffron in anything sweet but is very intriguing and I should definitely give them a try. Also you are so lucky to be living so close to such a kiosk!


oh Heidi, for the coffee info alone, i love you.


It's 8:30 AM and I've just made cookies. My whole house is filled with the flavors of saffron and vanilla, and I'm smiling over my morning cup of coffee. Thanks for sharing this fabulous recipe!


I just baked these, and they are delicious. Not too sweet, soft, and the flavor is amazing. Wish I had a vanilla bean on hand, I just used a good amount of extract. I did add a wee bit of cinnamon and cardamom in with the flour mixture. Thank you for this recipe!


Vanilla and saffron together, sounds great.

Fork and Whisk

Hi Heidi! I was immediately drawn to these. Referring to the whole bean vanilla cookies, I used the whole half-bean of vanilla here. It's perfect really. The pod adds a floral/vegetal essence which matches the saffron. I tested rolling some dough in cinnamon-, cardamom-, or semolina-sugar. All worked, but I also liked the unadorned too. They were baked in a convection and even though I scooped out Tbsp minis with not a lot of surface area per cookie, they each had some nice looking dimples. Taking them out before they're fully cooked is crucial-- they fall like little soufflé cakes.


I've been making snickerdoodles forever. They're my son's favorite!! Love the twist to these.!! Can't wait to make them. Thanks Heidi for sharing the recipe!

I adore snickerdoodles and have never baked using saffron! I love your use of spices and herbs, always creating unique and fresh flavors. I can't wait to try these cookies!

Julia {The Roasted Root}

ooh, I've never ordered this at Blue Bottle. I usually don't care for a snickerdoodle, but made these after reading your description. yum!


Oh my my, these sound amazing. I love snickerdoodles, and would never have thought to add saffron. Can't wait to try!

Kim Fisher

Oh, what I would do to get Blue Bottle in Chicago. Love. I just made a batch of these, and while I'm usually an if-it's-not-chocolate-it's-not-worth-it person, I'm hooked!


This post and all of you wonderful people make me so happy! A quick bit of info about the buckling (which I have as a note in the book); in the recipe testing process, I discovered that they only truly buckle in an electric oven. If using gas, you have to watch closely, because they cook more slowly and evenly (usually a great thing), and don't leave the slightly undercooked center that buckles out of the oven. Still great, just different.

HS: Thank you Caitlin (and thanks for such a special recipe!). Hope to see you soon around the neighborhood. Best of luck with the book - it's beautiful, and the recipes are clearly written with a lot of care and attention to detail. xo

Caitlin Freeman

Yum I made these today! SO delicious and different.


Loved reading about Blue Bottle and SF; so wished to visit there now! And your cookies are in my menu for next week, thank you!

Ozlem's Turkish Table

Mine didn't buckle! Nevertheless, delicious! Crisp on the outside, such complex flavours within. And yes she's spot on, a beautiful unusual butterscotch flavor. Is buckling caused by leaving on warm pan, undercooking a little or what? Look forward to visiting Blue Buckle when we trip down from the Arctic for Christmas.


Snickerdoodles are one of my very favorite cookies. These look amazing. Thanks for sharing!


Made these tonight. Delightful even without saffron (I hope it's not a complete blasphemy that I did not use saffron) but rolled them in sugar/cinnamon prior to baking. Soft and yummy. I promise to use saffron next time. There will most certainly be a next time! Love, love your books (I have two) and this site!


Do you let the dough warm up at all before you bake? I baked from cold dough and they stayed in the stiff scooped shape. Still delicious, but more like shortbread.


These look fabulous! Yum!

Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar

I love the idea of saffron in a simple cookie. I am sure these have a wonderful, subtle flavor. I just bought a little jar of saffron, so I'll have to make these!


Just returned from San Francisco with my daughter where we made our way through many of the places on your list (thanks for that!) but we didn't make it to Blue Bottle. I'm trying not to regret it too much though since we'll be returning in May when she starts school there. :)


The snickerdoodles I ate growing up were always rolled in cinnamon sugar, but that doesn't seem to be the case here. What do you think, would that kill the taste? No worries, I'm going to make them in any case - just wondering :)


These sound absolutely incredible. Snickerdoodles were one of my specialties when I was in high school, although this recipe sounds infinitely more sophisticated that the Mrs. Field's recipe I used back then!


My first trip to Blue Bottle was actually in Brooklyn, NY. I went there every morning I was in New York for the coffee and for the saffron snickerdoodles and have been dreaming of duplicating the recipe ever since. I live in Portland, OR, so San Francisco is much closer than Brooklyn. Hmm... road trip!


Oh how I remember those days of standing in line at the ferry plaza when James used to work every Saturday remembering everyone's name. I also fell in love with the Linden and Mint locations. 5 years later I still love his coffee and now must try these cookies. Thank you Heidi.

Kari Zazzara

Yum. The recipe sounded so appealing I made them today. There really is a "butterscotch-like" flavor. Creative use of saffron! Thanks for sharing.


These sound ridiculously good. I have two glass jars of saffron I picked up in Greece this summer and now I know what I'm going to be doing with at least one of them. Clearly, one jar is meant for sweet things and the other for savory! Thanks for the inspiration!


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