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 don’t know if the ladies that said these cookies have no taste, or are too difficult to make didn’t follow the recipe correctly or maybe didn’t toast the pecans or what because, THESE COOKIES ARE AMAZING!!!! If you like pecans, these have such an amazing pecan flavor!! These will definitely be THE cookies I take to a picnic or to a BBQ party or to cookie exchange party!!! Thank you so very much for sharing this recipe!!

  2. Made these yesterday. As others stated they don’t have tons of flavor. I tweaked each b atcha I made. Using a small Oneida scoop I only baked 10 minutes or they burned on the bottom. Also, best batch as rolled in cinnamon sugar with no cinnamon in the dough.

    Best way to eat is as suggested…with vanilla ice cream and homemade toffee sauce over broken pieces if cookies. Definitely will make again.

  3. Deb Karpinski says:

    Just made these cookies, and they’re absolutely delicious! Great with coffee. I used unsalted Irish butter and refrigerated the dough for about 36 hours – came out perfect! Thanks for the recipe!

  4. These cookies sound really good.
    Have you ever added chocolate chips or butterscotch chips or white chocolate chips to batter?

    1. I haven’t, but any would be great here. Like a kicked up butterscotch or chocolate chip cookie!

  5. 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.

  6. 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!

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

  9. Catherine Jolicoeur says:

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

  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. 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

  15. 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!!!

  16. 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!

  17. 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

  18. 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.

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

  20. 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. 🙂

  21. 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.

  22. 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!

  23. 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!

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

  25. Dolly Bennett says:

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

  26. I made these as the recipe stated and they are just okay. I think there’s too much flour because they did not spread. I pressed the 2nd batch down and they flattened some but the balls just sort of sat there. I had to bake them longer to get a little color on them. I probably won’t make these again.

  27. Yum- I am going to try this week! Do you think I could get away with adding choc chips too? 🙂

    1. Absolutely! I recommend 1 – 1.5 cups of chocolate chips. Go ahead and add them when you mix in the toasted pecans.

  28. These are my husband’s favorite cookies. If I don’t have cornstarch is there a substitute?

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

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

      1. Thank you…my husband said “…they were the best cookies ever, don’t change a thing.” I went to the grocery store and purchased cornstarch
        The dough is chilling in the refrigerator right now!

  29. Delicious! Only minor alterations to a terrific recipe—–I toasted my pecan halves, then chopped them once they had cooled. In all, used closer to 2 cups of chopped nuts. So easy! I used a smaller scoop, creating one inch balls, and they spread to about 2 inches once baked. Perfection.

    1. Hello, these were delicious! Loved the buttery, sugary flavor to them… Sea salt adds a nice touch

  30. I’ve tried these a few times and LOVE them. I was wondering, though, if you’ve ever tried this recipe with browned butter?

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Paige, For best results, I recommend using this brown butter chocolate chip cookies recipe and replacing the chocolate chips with toasted pecans.

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