Butter Pecan Cookies

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. 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 Christmas sugar cookies. Everyone will love their chewy edges, toasty flavor, and soft centers. If you want to go overboard, and you definitely should, crush them up and sprinkle on top of butter pecan ice cream.

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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
  • 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 (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. 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

99 Comments

  1. I am fairly new to your blog(about a months worth of drooling) and just made these this morning for Christmas giving. These cookies turned out stunningly good!! They are by far the best cookies I have ever made!! One question. My cookies didn’t spread much. Is that normal for these cookies?? Thank you so very much for this new Christmas cookie!!¡

    1. Hmm. They should spread a little. Try chilling for a little less time. That will help them spread a little more. Thanks Wendy!

  2. Sally, can you use salted butter and just omit the salt from the recipe? I really love using KerryGold butter in it’s salted variety—if u haven’t tried it; please do—u will never think all butters are the same again!!! Anyway just wondering if u could substitiute…Thanks!

    1. Yes, you may substitute with that butter. To be honest, I don’t think you need to reduce the salt in the recipe. I often use salted and unsalted butters interchangeably. Enjoy!

  3. Hello,
    I bought glazed pecans and reg pecans. Will the glazed pecans work the same as taste or will it be to sweet for the cookie?

    1. I don’t recommend the glazed pecans because I feel they would make the cookies a little too sweet. However, adding sea salt on top of the baked cookies would likely make up for the extra sweetness. It’s worth trying.

  4. Hi Sally!
    I love your cookies. I tried this recipe last night and I couldn’t figure out how to keep them from coming out flat. I tried altering the cooking times and also increasing the chilling. Any suggestions? I love the way the batter tastes and would love to bring them to a christmas party this weekend.
    Thanks so much!

    1. Allie, are you at high altitude? If so (and if not) you may want to try increasing the flour. Also, make sure your butter isn’t melted in the slightest. You want a softened, yet slightly firm texture.

  5. Austria Azaceta says:

    Hi Sally,
    I needed to tell you that I LOVE LOVE these cookies!!! I made them yesterday along with the peanut butter oats ones with the hidden reese’s cup inside & i am in love….. (those peanut butter ones are amazing too, btw) I love pecans & the flavor of the toasted nut, the sweet cookie & a little hint of salt is just amazing!!! I am loading up on cookies to make little cookie boxes for gifts but i don’t know if i can part with these…..or i’ll just have to make another batch….:-)
    Also, made the s’mores fudge from your cookbook & sooooo sinfully good!! Thank you so much for all your amazing recipes! Everyone thinks i’m an awesome baker cause of you!

  6. I love pecan cookies, I use to buy the Pecan Sandies at the store.But these sound soooo good. But I was wondering if you can add dried cranberries to this recipe. Would it dry the cookies out to much or make them moister.

    1. The addition of dried cranberries sounds fantastic– I would add about 3/4 cup to the cookie dough. Maybe a little more if you’d like.

  7. I love baking these cookies! They are my favorite ones to bake 😀
    Just wondering,,,do you think it’ll taste equally as delicious if I used walnuts instead of pecans? Some one in my family just bought a bag of walnuts and I wasn’t sure what to do with them…

    1. Absolutely. Walnuts would be divine in these cookies!

  8. Is it possible to substitute the cornstarch with another ingredient?

    1. Jen, you can simply leave it out.

  9. OMG…..these cookies are delicious. I’ve made them twice in a week. My husband and kids love them. I really like the chewy texture of the cookie. Toasting the pecans are perfect. Thanks so much for sharing this recipe. 

  10. Susan J Duncan says:

    This is now the family favorite. I alternate between toasted pecan / toasted walnut, both equally good, but must be toasted. I have never yet waited to chill the dough and they are still favorites. Maybe someday…

    Thank you for this wonderful recipe.

  11. Wow these are delicious! I also threw in some chocolate chips which worked well. We used these cookies as the sandwich for a pecan pie ice cream sandwich and it was perfection. 

  12. Hi Sally, I mixed up this batter and let it chill overnight. I’m baking them this morning any mine are coming out very flat, not like your picture at all. What am I doing wrong? I want them to be thicker. Your picture looks like it has a cake texture inside the cookie. I want that!! 

    1. Hi Kerry, these cookies should definitely be on the thicker side. Did you change anything about the recipe? Was your butter melted at all? Make sure you’re using large eggs, not extra large. Is the dough too soft? Keep it cold as long as possible right before baking the cookies.

  13. They are so good, my friends can never get enough. I freeze them and before I know it they are gone and I need to make more.

  14. They were perfect! Shape, taste, consistency, everything was perfect. Followed the recipe, every step and it was perfect! Love them, yummy! Thanks!

  15. Denise Flores says:

    Just made them..fabulous…xoxo 

  16. I just made these for my husband’s VFW meeting. They are so delicious and dangerous. Hard to stop eating them. I am glad we did leave enough for the Veterans at the meeting. They are buttery and chewy as described. Thank you for a new “go to” recipe when in need of something yummy.

  17. Hi is there anyway adding cranberries would be good? 

    1. Dried cranberries would be absolutely delicious!

  18. These sound great — all the other Pecan Sandies recipes out there are for crisp cookies. I do have a question, though. You said the edges are chewy…do they stay that way? My husband has trouble chewing (bad dentures) and I want him to be able to have soft cookies. Would maybe an extra egg yolk or some cornstarch make them softer? And how about chopping up the pecans super finely — would that work?

    Thanks!

    1. Hi Michelle! They do stay chewy, but are incredibly soft. You can certainly chop up the nuts to be a little more fine. I don’t recommend adding any cornstarch. Try baking the cookies for a minute less. Super soft that way.

  19. These cookies were VERY GOOD! I have never seen cookies go so fast at a party. I will give a tip for those like me who completely missed the 3 hour chill time when deciding when to begin that I put the dough in the freezer for an hour and the fridge for 30min and they turned out great. It was a quick trick to cut my chill time in half. 

  20. I made these but they can out very cake-like much to my disappointment. Next time I am going to add more Brown sugar and only 1/2 tsp of baking soda and see how the come out.

  21. These are my favorite butter pecan cookies! I had to come over and share the recipe for #nationalpecancookieday so good!!

  22. My husband’s boss/friend asked him to have me make him some “pecan only” cookies. I love to bake and was more than happy to oblige him. Let me say how glad I am that I found this recipe! I’M GLAD! My family ate so many that I had to make more! 
    Thank you for the recipe. 

  23. That one girl says:

    I really want to make these again. Only I don’t have pecans. I have walnuts :(. Would that be okay?

    1. Definitely!

  24. Wahh! These totally missed the mark for us! So confused. The actual consistency was delicious and soft and puffy, just like what I love about Sally’s snickerdoodles. We followed everything to a T and they were just, well, boring. Everyone agreed – it was lacking flavor! Even the ingredients sounded like it would be the perfect cookie, but they were so bland! I don’t even like particularly sweet cookies, and these were so UNsweet I feel like it needed more sugar, or something! We ended up making some homemade caramel so that guests could drizzle some on if they wanted.

  25. Hi there! I was so excited to bake these today…I followed all of the directions but they didn’t turn out so well 🙁 I’m a little disappointed I’m not sure if I accidentally used too much flour or what but I measured properly and I also chilled it for 3+ hours. They kind of looked like scones and didn’t taste very sweet. Any tips for making it better?

  26. Don’t know what happened, but the recipe completely flopped. Followed all the directions, too. They were burnt and thin, but the middle was raw. Could not chilling it long enough cause it? I had them in the fridge for three hours.

  27. These cookies were amazing! I used fresh pecans from my neighbors yard to add the perfect touch. I didn’t chill my dough for 3 hours but froze it for 45 minutes and dropped the dough onto the cookie sheets and baked in the lower rack of my oven for 12 minutes, then added a sprinkled of salt to the top once they came out. These cookies were divine! Next time, I’m adding cinnamon. I always add cinnamon to all of my cookies but I forgot this time. Cinnamon would take these cookies to the next Level. Thanks for the awesome recipe!

  28. Mary sullivan says:

    Very disappointed , won’t make again.  Weak in flavor and not worth the work.  I guess I’m the minority based on reviews noted but did not like the cookie.    I followed the recipe 100% and kept going back to the recipe to make sure I was following directions.    I give cookie platters to our friends every year and try a new cookie every year.  Unfortunately I will not have this cookie on my trays .

  29. I just made these cookies and they are delish!  A quick note:  these are very “pecany” in flavor, so if you are looking for a sweeter cookie, might not be the one for you. But man, you should give these a whirl if you want a great and different Christmas cookie this year! 😀

  30. Is it possible to substitute almond extract for the vanilla? Would 2 teaspoons be too strong?

    1. You can but 2 teaspoons might be too strong. I find almond extract to have a much more powerful flavor than vanilla!

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