Butter Pecan Cookies

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

Buttery, soft ‘n chewy cookies exploding with toasted pecans and brown sugar flavor! Recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

Welcome to recipe #2 of my Christmas Cookie Palooza! Just like last year, we’re celebrating the holidays with 10 new cookie recipes. Bake one, bake two, heck… bake all ten recipes and join the cookie monster madness.

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.

Buttery, soft ‘n chewy cookies exploding with toasted pecans and brown sugar flavor! Recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

Along with pie and more pie, I made these butter pecan cookies for Thanksgiving last week. Baked them on Tuesday and by Thursday, half were gone. And then the entire batch was mysteriously missing on Friday morning.

If it’s not their chewy edges, soft centers, and buttery flavor– it’s the toasted pecans that make these cookies so incredible. Emphasis on the toasted! 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. The flavor is 84573849% better. I actually did the calculation yesterday; it’s really that much better.

Diamond of California is my go-to brand when it comes to baking with nuts. Chop up the pecan halves (or simply use chopped pecans) then bake at 300F for 15 minutes, stirring once during that time. In test batches, I only used 1 cup of toasted chopped pecans. But taste testers and I agree that you need plenty more nuts in the cookie dough! Around 1 and 1/2 cups is ideal. The more pecans, the butter. I mean better.

Buttery, soft ‘n chewy cookies exploding with toasted pecans and brown sugar flavor! Recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

If you haven’t noticed, butter plays a big role in today’s cookie recipe.

Food Science // Nerd Alert

As I’ve explained recently, 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 Chewy Chocolate Chunk Cookie recipe, I use melted butter. Melted butter is what makes them so insanely dense and fudge-like. 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.

You’ll notice that this cookie dough is supremely soft and a little sticky. And you know what’s best for soft, sticky cookie dough? Chilling. Chill this dough for at least 3 hours and up to 3 days. What a drag, right… waiting for cookie dough to chill. But trust me about this one. Chilling allows the cookie dough to thicken and the brown sugar*, butter, and toasted pecan flavors to enhance. The longer you chill, the better. Just remember that the longer you chill the cookie dough, the longer you should let it sit out at room temperature before rolling into balls and baking. The results of chilling this cookie dough are worth the wait.

*I use a higher ratio of brown sugar to white sugar in this cookie recipe. Brown sugar = rich flavor, ultimate chewiness, moist texture, and soft cookie centers. Brown sugar compliments the butter pecan flavor so well. You’ll love it!

How to make butter pecan cookies on sallysbakingaddiction.com

Butter pecan cookies on sallysbakingaddiction.com

I rolled some cookie dough balls in sugar, others I did not. The sugar makes the baked cookies have a beautiful sparkle, but really doesn’t do much in terms of flavor– besides (duh) just making the cookies taste sweeter and less salty/sweet.

So, coat the cookie dough balls in sugar if you’d like.

These cookies are perfect for the holidays because they are slightly more complex in flavor than say, a delightful decorated sugar cookie. Everyone will love their chewy edges, toasty flavor, and soft centers. I guarantee they’ll disappear just as quickly as they did in this house. If you want to go overboard, and you totally should, crush them up and sprinkle on top of butter pecan ice cream.

Buttery, soft ‘n chewy cookies exploding with toasted pecans and brown sugar flavor! Recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

Buttery, soft ‘n chewy cookies exploding with toasted pecans and brown sugar flavor! Recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

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Butter Pecan Cookies

  • Author: Sally
  • Prep Time: 3 hours, 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 12 minutes
  • Total Time: 3 hours, 30 minutes
  • Yield: 30 cookies
  • 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

  • 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 (312g) 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. Click here for my tips and tricks on freezing 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

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

253 Comments

Comments are closed.

  1. Hello! Do you need to add the cornstarch? What does it do for the cookie?
    Thanks in advance!

    1. Hi Casey! A little cornstarch keeps the baked cookies extra soft.

  2. April E Coggins says:

    I made these cookies today and the results were pretty good. They probably would have been fantastic in your original recipe except I had to replace a few ingredients due to diabetic diet restrictions. I replaced 1: 1 the brown sugar replacement (Swerve) and 1:1 white sugar replacement (Spenda). My first batch did raise too high and didn’t spread enough. I tried your advice to press down on the cookies after taking them out of the oven. Better, but not quite right. I returned this first batch to oven for about four more minutes or until the edges looked a little more brown and the cookies looked a little more like flat cookies. Hubby was not impressed.

    The second batch I decided to use a fork to press down on the raw cookie balls in a criss cross. Huge improvement. I used the same batch of cookie dough and hubby commented to me that these cookies have improved, he thought it was because of the cooling, but it was because of more crisp texture of the wider, flatter cookie.
    Once again, this is not a criticism of your original recipe. This is just my experimentation with your recipes to adapt them to diabetic restrictions. Your recipes are fantastic! That’s why I am here, trying to take your great recipes and adapt them to my diabetic husband. If you don’t care to post this, that’s fine. I can understand. I am on a baking site that uses lots of regular ingredients that most people can enjoy and here I am trying to change your recipes while telling you what worked and didn’t work.

    1. I made these cookies using Shars gluten free flour and they spread and came out completely flat . Not sure if it’s the flour or something in how I made them. The dough was in the fridge all night and came out exactly as you described. As a rule, What causes cookies to spread? Despite the look they are tasty.

  3. I made these cookies last night and baked them today on Christmas. They were unbelievably good. My whole family loved them. I was looking for a pecan cookie recipe since my uncle from South Carolina gave me a few bags. I can’t wait to make them again when the rest of my family comes over for the holidays. Thank you, Sally for the fabulous recipe!

  4. Love the cookies and everyone else does also!
    I have tried baking them without refrigerating the dough and with refrigerating the dough overnight. To me, I really don’t detect any difference in the results. In the future, I will probably leave that step out.

  5. Can this cookie be frozen? I like to get baking done ahead.

    1. Sure can! Up to 3 months.

  6. Koan Bischoff says:

    Made the Butter Pecan Cookies today.
    Chilled the dough overnight. The first ones were more flat the second batch were puffy so I used a fork and flattened them right out of the oven as someone suggested.
    I roiled the first ones in sugar but once baked you don’t even see the sugar. Second batch I sprinkled sugar on the top of them while warm.
    I don’t see how someone got 5 dozen as mentioned. I got 34 cookies.
    Loved the flavor definitely a keeper recipe.

  7. Hi there! I tried these and loved them. Now, how can I make them with half the sugar and not lose the texture?

    1. Hi Marta, Keep in mind that the sugar is wonderful for taste – but it also is imperative for the correct texture in baked goods, and the proper amount of spreading in cookies. You can try to reduce the sugar but you might sacrifice the wonderful chewy texture.

  8. Catherine Jolicoeur says:

    So delicious! Soft, creamy and perfect amount of sweetness and salt!

  9. Do you think I could make these with brown butter?

    1. Hi Lauren, for best results, I recommend using my brown butter chocolate chip cookies recipe and replacing the chocolate chips with toasted pecans.

  10. Hi,
    Can I use just 1/2 cup of brown sugar and skip the granulated sugar? I don’t want them too sweet. Will this do anything to the recipe if I cut back on sugar? Thanks.

    1. Hi Julie, the cookies will taste a little bland with only 1/2 of brown sugar per this ratio of dry ingredients. You can slightly reduce the sugar, but I don’t recommend leaving out a full cup.

  11. Patrick Roche says:

    I think I read somewhere to add butterscotch chips? Is that right? If so, how much?

    1. You certainly can! Keep the total amount of add-ins to one and a half cups. You can do 3/4 cup pecans and 3/4 cups butterscotch chips or any ratio you prefer. Enjoy!

  12. These cookies are delicious! The longer they chill, the better the cookie tastes! Definitely worth the chill time! I chilled them for 3 hours and made the first bath then made the second batch the next night and they were melt in your mouth good! Definitely one of my first cookies- I love all things pecans especially in desserts!

  13. Victoria l Brown says:

    These are as delicious as baby yoda is cute!! I don’t think they need sugar on top they are amazing without.

  14. I’d like to add a little bourbon to the recipe – do you think I could add about 2 tbsp without affecting the consistency too much?

  15. Can these be made as cut-out cookies instead of rolling them into balls?

    1. No, they wouldn’t hold the shape of a cookie cutter.

  16. Made these Butter Pecan cookies this week. They were amazing..They would be great all year without sugar. For this holiday batch, I had some leftover royal icing. I thinned it with some brandy and drizzled over the cookies. YUM, next time I am going try rum in my royal icing. Thanks for the great recipe

  17. I have to admit that I have never had a pecan cookie before (hard to believe but true-not a nut I normally bake with). I love all your recipes so decided to give these a try. They came out AMAZING!! They were so delicious!!! Everyone raved about them in my family.
    I will definitely bake them again .
    Oh and I followed the recipe exactly-yum!!!

  18. Hello, I would love to make these cookies! However I recently ran out of vanilla extract – do you think almond extract would be a good substitute, or would it be too strong? Should I omit extracts entirely? Thank you and the cookies look amazing!

    1. You can leave out the vanilla extract in a pinch. Adding 1/2 teaspoon of almond extract would be tasty!

  19. Dear Sally.

    I have been making cookies for a number of years…this recipe goes to the TOP of my list!
    Sweet, salty, nutty~everything you want in a cookie!

    I just took a dozen across the street to my neighbor during this “self distancing” time and made them a little happier.

    Thank you for offering this wonderful recipe to my collection.

    Dee

  20. Hi Sally! I love these cookeis and was planning on making them again today 🙂 But I only have salted butter.. do you think it would be okay?

    1. Hi Tasha, You can use salted butter, simply cut the added butter in half.

  21. Hi Sally,

    I have been planning to make these cookies for months and I finally did them today. I chilled them overnight and baked them in the morning. For some reason they did not spread at all. I expected them to be thin, buttery, crispy and crunchy at the edges as in your photos, but mine came out burned on the bottom and doughy. I lowered my oven to 300F for my second batch, same result. Do you have any idea what might have gone wrong for me?

    Thank you,
    Iglika

    1. Hi Iglika! I’m happy to help and thank you for trying my recipe! Cookies don’t spread when there’s too much flour (or dry ingredients) soaking up the fat. Try spooning and leveling the flour next time or even reducing the amount by 2-3 Tablespoons. Less flour, more spread. This always helps when I attempt a cookie recipe again.

      1. Thank you for your quick answer Sally! That helps! I was using King Arthur all-purpose flour for the cookies. Not even sure if it’s related at all, but I have noticed that often if I use KAF I will need a bit less flour compared another all-purpose flour brands. I will test again, maybe with half of the batch of the cookies with less flour.

  22. I made these this week and they were probably the best cookies I’ve ever had! So yummy!

  23. CARLA M FOLK says:

    I don’t have cornstarch is it really necessary

    1. Hi Carla, The cornstarch keeps the cookies extra soft. You can leave it out if you don’t have any.

  24. These look yummy…think they will turn out chewy if I sub almond flour for AP flour???

  25. Thank you so much.. made these and they turned out amazing. Used a little less sugar than the suggested. I am freezing half the dough to make in a few weeks. I sprinkled some cinnamon on top instead of salt for extra flavor. Next time I may add in white macadamia chips to make sweeter. 🙂

  26. Could you put the chilled balls in mini-muffin pans for breakfast muffins?

    1. You could bake this cookie dough in a greased mini muffin pan, yes. I’m unsure of the best bake time, but the oven temperature will be the same.

  27. Literally one of the best cookie recipes of all time. Everyone at my work loved them and it took everything I had not to eat all the dough I have tried a few of your recipes and they are golden. Keep up the great work!

  28. Perfect texture with crispy edges and soft centers (I baked for exactly 11 mins. and did not roll in sugar.) Made these for my hubby for Father’s Day and it was love at first bite!

  29. Made this as had some pecans loitering in the cupboard. They were lovely! Great recipe thank you.

  30. Dolly Bennett says:

    Not much taste. I followed the recipe to the letter. I won’t be making these again.

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