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Buttery, soft ‘n chewy cookies exploding with toasted pecans and brown sugar flavor. 

butter pecan cookies on a cooling rack

Maybe it’s just me, but I think butter pecan is an underrated ice cream flavor. Quite often overlooked and running with the “boring” pistachio and rum raisin ice cream crowd. For the record, I love all three of these ice cream flavors! And that’s exactly why I made today’s cookie recipe. They’re salty, they’re sweet, and they’re rich with butter flavor.

If it’s not their chewy edges, soft centers, and buttery flavor– it’s the toasted pecans that make these cookies so incredible. The toasty, nutty flavor of these pecans is crucial to their flavor. If you’ve never toasted nuts before adding them to a recipe, you are missing out. I love using them in my pecan pie cheesecake, too. With toasted nuts, the flavor is 84573849% better. I actually did the calculation yesterday; it’s really that much better.

butter pecan cookies on a baking sheet after baking

Behind the Recipe

Butter is where most cookie recipes begin. It has several jobs, including keeping the cookies tender and also imparting flavor. As today’s butter pecan cookies bake, the milk proteins inside of the butter begin to brown– giving these cookies a nutty flavor. Which is intensified with the toasted pecans. A win win butter pecan situation.

Not only this, how butter is mixed into cookie dough affects a cookie’s texture. In my favorite chocolate chip cookies recipe, I use melted butter. Melted butter provides a denser, chewier texture. But with today’s cookies, I chose to cream the butter and sugars together. During this creaming process, air is incorporated into the dough which, in turn, helps leaven the cookies as they bake. The cookies rise up, the centers stay soft, and the edges slightly crisp and become chewy.

This cookie dough is supremely soft and a little sticky. And you know what’s best for soft, sticky cookie dough? Chilling it in the refrigerator before baking. Chill this dough for at least 3 hours and up to 3 days. Chilling allows the cookie dough to thicken and the brown sugar, butter, and toasted pecan flavor to enhance.

2 images of pecans in a measuring cup and cookie dough in a bowl with a paddle attachment

butter pecan cookie dough rolled into balls

butter pecan cookies

butter pecan cookies

These butter pecan cookies are perfect for the holidays because they’re slightly more complex in flavor than traditional chocolate chip cookies or Christmas sugar cookies. Everyone will love their chewy edges, toasty flavor, and soft centers.

If you want to go overboard, and you definitely should, use two of them to make a sandwich with salted caramel frosting in the center.

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butter pecan cookies

Butter Pecan Cookies

  • Author: Sally
  • Prep Time: 3 hours, 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 12 minutes
  • Total Time: 3 hours, 30 minutes
  • Yield: 30 cookies 1x
  • Category: Cookies
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American

Description

Buttery, soft ‘n chewy cookies exploding with toasted pecans and brown sugar flavor. This cookie dough requires chilling – at least 3 hours and up to 3 days.


Ingredients

Scale
  • 1 and 1/2 cups (195g) chopped pecans
  • 1 cup (230g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 1/2 cup (100g) granulated sugar
  • 1 cup (200g) packed dark or light brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 2 and 1/2 cups (313g) all-purpose flour (spoon & leveled)
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Optional

  • 1/3 cup (67g) granulated sugar, for rolling
  • sea salt, for sprinkling

Instructions

  1. In a 300°F (149°C) oven, toast the chopped pecans on a large parchment paper or silicone mat-lined baking sheet for 15 minutes. Stir twice during this time. Turn oven off and set pecans aside.
  2. In a large bowl using a hand-held mixer or stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter for 1 minute on medium speed until completely smooth and creamy. Add the granulated sugar and brown sugar and beat on medium high speed until fluffy and light in color. Beat in eggs and vanilla on high speed. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk the flour, cornstarch, baking soda and salt together until combined. On low speed, slowly mix into the wet ingredients until combined. The cookie dough will be quite thick. Add the toasted chopped pecans, mix on low for about 5-10 seconds until evenly distributed. Cover dough tightly with aluminum foil or plastic wrap and chill for at least 3 hours and up to 3 days. Chilling is mandatory for this cookie dough.
  4. Remove cookie dough from the refrigerator and allow to sit at room temperature for 20 minutes– if the cookie dough chilled longer than 3 hours, let it sit at room temperature for about 30 minutes. This makes the cookie dough easier to scoop and roll.
  5. Preheat oven to 350°F (177°C). Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats. Set aside.
  6. Once chilled, the dough might be slightly crumbly, but will come together if you work the dough with your hands as you roll into individual balls. Scoop and roll balls of dough, about 1 Tablespoon of dough each, into balls. You may roll the cookie dough balls into the 1/3 cup of granulated sugar listed under the “optional” ingredients. It’s optional because I merely did this for looks– the sugar gives them a pretty sparkle. Or you can bake the cookies without the sugar rolling and sprinkle with a little sea salt when they come out of the oven. If you love salty/sweet, do the sea salt.
  7. Bake the cookies for 11-12 minutes (13 minutes for crispier cookies), until slightly golden brown around the edges. My oven has hot spots and yours may too- so be sure to rotate the pan once during bake time. The baked cookies will look extremely soft in the centers when you remove them from the oven. Allow to cool for 5 minutes on the cookie sheet. If the cookies are too puffy, try gently pressing down on them with the back of a spoon. They will slightly deflate as you let them cool. Transfer to cooling rack to cool completely.

Notes

  1. Make Ahead & Freezing Instructions: Cookies stay fresh covered at room temperature for up to 1 week. You can make the cookie dough and chill it in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Allow to come to room temperature then continue with step 5. Baked cookies freeze well for up to 3 months. Unbaked cookie dough balls freeze well for up to 3 months. Bake frozen cookie dough balls for an extra minute, no need to thaw. Read my tips and tricks on how to freeze cookie dough.
  2. Be sure to check out my top 5 cookie baking tips AND these are my 10 must-have cookie baking tools.

Keywords: butter pecan cookies

Reader Questions and Reviews

  1. Even though I measured very carefully I could still taste the baking soda. Uch! They also spread out way too much. Taste was ok.

  2. I just made these and they are delicious. I weighted the flour and baked them for 12 minutes. I tried both rolling them in sugar and sprinkling sea salt. Both were good so I end up finishing with adding sea salt to the sugar and rolling them.

  3. They are good but not delicious, a little disappointed. Sea salt didn’t help that much. Once is enough.

  4. Love this recipe! Definitely

    Any way I can make this egg-free? Whar can I use as a substitute?

    1. Hi Arshi, We haven’t tested these cookies with any egg substitutes, but let us know if you try anything!

      1. I am a huge fan of Sally’s recipes and make everything egg free. The easiest baking substitute is ground flax seed (where it has a fine flour consistency).
        For 1 egg: You whisk 1 tbsp flax seed flour with 1/4 cup of water for like 20 seconds and then it has an egg like consistency.

        And then you use it in the recipes just like an egg.
        It works amazingly with Sally’s scone recipe, her cake recipes, and her cookies. (Like I said, huge fan :))

        And as an aside, 1/4 cup Aquafaba per egg is also great, but then you also often need to adjust the flour or fat content a bit too, so it’s a bit more finicky.

  5. The first time I made the butter pecan cookies they were delicious. Soft, chewy and perfect. Made a double batch to freeze extra cookies and dough this second time. The cookies were cakey, did not spread at all and nothing like the first time. Followed directions exactly. So disappointed. Where’d I go wrong?

  6. These cookies are awesome! They are soft and chewy and with the sea salt they have a nice sweet/salty combination. Great recipe! I will definitely use them again.

  7. I had high hopes for these cookies, but they didn’t meet my expectations. The cookies were okay, but not great. I followed the directions exactly, used dark brown sugar, European butter, toasted the pecans, baked them for about 12 minutes. Rather than the optional rolling in sugar, I dipped the top of each in turbinado sugar (Sugar in the Raw), then sprinkled a little sea salt on top. The sugar added some crunch, and the salt boosted the flavor, which was still not enough to make me want to make them again. The first batch didn’t spread much, so I slightly flattened succeeding batches with my hand, which made a better looking cookie. I can’t think of any other way make these rather insipid cookies any better.

  8. hey sally, is it possible to use brown butter instead of normal butter? will it taste better?

    1. Hi, I rolled these using a one tablespoon scoop, and got over 50 cookies! They are also really browned after baking for 11 minutes, and didn’t spread much. Is the one tablespoon measurement correct?

      1. Hi Kalle, thank you for making this recipe! You can definitely roll them a little bigger next time. Always keep an eye on cookies in the oven as all ovens and bake times are slightly different. When cookies aren’t spreading, it usually means that there’s too much dry ingredient (flour) soaking up all the liquid. When measuring flour, use the spoon & level method. Do not scoop the flour out of the container/bag. Doing so leaves you with excess flour in the cookie dough. Hope these tips help for next time!

  9. Hi Sally,
    I just took my butter pecan cookies out of the oven and they are so, so INCREDIBLY DELICIOUS!!! Yes, soft and delicate in the middle with a little chewy edge. I always weigh my cookie dough in grams so that I am consistent. I rolled these at 31gms each and baked for exactly 12 mins. Thank you for such a delicious recipe.

    Blessings,
    Brenda

  10. These were absolutely awesome!!! Even my Aunt whose tastebuds have been affected by cancer and chemo loved them. Will definitely be making again. ❤️

  11. These are the perfect “afternoon break” cookies – delicate flavor, not-too-sweet, they are perfect for nibbling with a cup of tea or a coffee. I know a lot of folks complained about them being kind of “boring” – but sometimes I don’t want a big blown-out cookie with lots of spices or chocolate and whatnot. These hit the spot! I made them with a gluten free flour, but followed the directions otherwise, and they look just like the photo.

  12. These cookies are delicious and perfect with coffee! Even though they are quite sophisticated, my kids love them! After reading some of the less-positive reviews I was just a little hesitant to make these, but I am so glad I did!!! If you follow the directions, They are a PERFECT fall cookie… and Christmas cookie… and maybe any other time-of-the-year cookie, too! Thank you, Sally, for providing us with so many DELICIOUS recipes!

  13. I’ve made these twice as the base for chocolate chip cookies and they are decadently delicious. No other chocolate chip cookie will do now 😉

    I make your recipe as is and then add about 1 and 1/2 cups dark chocolate chips. I don’t have to adjust any other ingredients or cooking time. So yummy!!

  14. Hi I just made the batch and I am currently keeping them chilled in the fridge. What is the best time you recommend to keep them chilled,

    1. Why is it that my cookies do not have the surface (uneven look) like yours. Mine pretty smooth . I like the ones u have. Can u respond please. Thanks

      1. Hi Chloe, good rule of thumb for any drop cookie you bake– for a more textured look, make sure the cookie dough balls have a textured surface. Instead of perfectly smooth and even dough balls, keep them a little lumpy and uneven on the surface.

  15. Hello I just made the batter:D and I was wondering what be the best recommended time to keep them chilled.

  16. Hi Sally,
    I’m so excited to try these! I usually use King Arthur Unbleach AP Flour for my baking. However, for gluten-free friends, I wondered about using Bob’s Red Mill 1-to-1 Baking Flour, which is gluten-free and a blend of various products. Have you made these or any other cookies with this flour, and how has it worked? Thank you!

    1. Hi Desiree, we haven’t personally tried it, but perhaps other bakers can chime in!

  17. I followed recipe, and they spread TOO MUCH! They spread all over the pan and they did not even stay in circle shape. I would not recommend this recipe at all

  18. Didn’t read the comments before I baked. I weigh all ingredients, shaped dough into a rectangle and kept in fridge overnight. Next day I sliced into squares. I kept the dough in the fridge (already cut up) and only took out what I needed for each batch. I mixed the sugar and salt and dipped before baking. I baked for 12 mins. These came out great. A not too sweet cookie with crunchy ends and soft middle. I will make these again as the are perfect with tea/coffee. Another very good Sally recipe.

  19. Marvelous! Not what I was looking for initially but I’m glad I tried them.

    The taste of roasted pecans with a hint of vanilla and hardly sweet is perfect!
    I thought there was too much brown sugar or sugars over all but no. If you want sweet as store bought sweet then add an extra 1/4 cup white sugar.
    If you follow the recipe to the letter making no mistakes (I weighed my ingredients which is what you should do with pastry) you should get great results.

  20. I haven’t prepared the recipe yet, but wanted to know if cooking the pecans on the stove top in butter first and adding almond extract would be a good idea?

    1. Hi Nikki, We haven’t tested it but we recommend simply toasting the pecans in the oven (or on the stovetop if needed should be fine). There is plenty of butter in the cookie dough and you can definitely add some almond extract to the cookie dough also without making any other changes.

  21. Thank you for your tip. I will be doing your Nutella choc chip cookies next and will roll them a bit bumpy so I can get the look like yours. 1 really like the looks of your cookies. I bake mine at 150 for 12 mins. Thanks again .

  22. These were a hit in my house. The salt didn’t add too much but we ate both approaches just as quickly.

  23. I followed the recipe precisely and they didn’t come out good. The texture was good but the flavor was very bland. I think it could use more sugar.

  24. Classic Butter Pecan Cookie Perfection!! Was craving this classic flavor and this recipe OVER-delivered on my expectations. Toasted pecan halfs according to instructions and chopped after. Made the cookies a bit larger (yielded 20), cooked for a little over 13 minutes and let cool on the cookie sheet for 10 before transferring to cooling rack. Was blown away by texture – crisp edges and soft center, and perfect amount of pecans in the dough. During fall season, I’m always tempted to bake pumpkin spiced for everything, or opt for “fancier” cookies/cakes/etc., but so glad I didn’t sleep on the classic recipe I was craving!

  25. My question is about rolling the dough into balls. Is it absolutely necessary? I made a batch using the #40 scoop and never touched them again. When I baked them they came out very good and no messy hands or rolling time spent. They came out a little darker than yours…probably too long in the oven but tasted great. My husband at 6 right out of the oven! Thank you for a great recipe but please tell me why the roll instead of a time saving scoop that seemed to bake up the same way. I may do all the roll cookies this way instead of taking the time and mess to roll. Maybe some cookies won’t look right? Please let me know. Thank you. Love your recipes and viceos

    1. Hi Dee, if you have a cookie scoop you can certainly use that instead!

  26. I honestly didn’t see the point of chilling for 3 hours and then letting them come back to room temp for 20 minutes, so I used cold butter and chilled for 30 minutes only. I then baked for 14 minutes and they came out really good. Just be sure to slice the butter and beat til smooth. I also rolled in sugar and sprinkled with Himalayan salt and that was delicious. Really good texture. Crispy edges and bottoms, chewy centers.

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