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!

260 Comments

  1. Just sent the BF a text to bring home cornstarch and pecans. And THANK YOU for including the weight/grams equivalent for your recipes! Cheers from NZ.

  2. I love your cookie recipes! I think my mom would just love these! Maybe I can bake them & then rush mail them to her 🙂 I’m looking forward to the rest of Cookiepalooza!

  3. Nora @ Savory Nothings says:

    Love those cookies! Pecan anything is a winner in my books!

  4. Oooh, they look so good! Too bad I wasn’t allergic to pecans…… 🙁

  5. Sorry, I meant, too bad I AM allergic to pecans. 🙂

  6. These sound so warm and delicious, Sally! Perfect for the cold season 🙂 Your photographs are great…you always capture texture so well! 😀

  7. Let’s see. Butter. Pecan. Cookies. Yup. Every part of that title is RIGHT. And so very right.

  8. Butter pecan ice cream is one of favorites! I have to try these cookies 🙂

  9. Meriem @ Culinary Couture says:

    This was a flavor begging to happen! LOVE IT!

  10. Jennifer @ Show Me the Yummy says:

    Love all the “science” you put in these posts and those butter pecan cookies look amazing! I love that they’re so different than other holiday cookies! 🙂

  11. Kelsey @ Snacking Squirrel says:

    exactly what i need right now!!! have a pot of hot tea and need this to go with it! 🙂

  12. Oh my word!! Currently eating one of these with a cup of vanilla earl gray tea, and I am in complete heaven!! I did not chill the cookie dough before making this current batch, and they still turned out great.

  13. All the ingredients are prepped and I’m making these today! Also making peanut blossoms. I’m testing out a new (new to me anyway) recipe before the cookie giving fiasco that ensues between the 22nd and 25th. Lol. Not that ANYONE in my house complains about the “practice/testing” and I appreciate their feedback. Even if they have been known to be brutally honest. Eeekkk!
    When these babies come out of the oven, one is going in a bowl, getting covered with butter pecan ice cream and drizzled with your sea salt caramel…think I’ll top it if with some extra toasted pecans. Skinny pants? What skinny pants?! Helloooo weekend of sweat pants!! 😉

    1. weekends of sweatpants are my favorite kind of weekends. Enjoy the cookies!

  14. Yayy for Butter Pecan Cookies!!! Definitely a mother daughter dessert waiting to happen

  15. Amy @ Amy's Healthy Baking says:

    I always love your food science bits Sally!! Brings back all of those memories from my chemistry days… But the science of baking is a lot more fun than the science of designing drugs! Besides, you get to eat the results as soon as they come out of the oven. 😉 Love how you turned one of your favorite ice cream flavors into a cookie! So creative!

  16. This is an excellent blog – I have already started defrosting my frozen stash of butter to make these cookies tomorrow – wow!

  17. Have my last batch baking and I am sooooo proud of my cookies!!! These are ridiculously light and airy and chewy and pecany — delicious!! Thank you Soo much for your super detailed and easy to follow directions. You rock!!

  18. Oh. My gosh. Sally, yet again you have not failed to impress with your A grade cookieology! I made these he day after you published the recipe and they are already gone! The cookies were perfect! Thick, chewy, buttery and delicious. Thank you for the amazing recipe I’m sure I will be making these again and again!

  19. Chineka @ Savor The Baking says:

    Butter pecan flavors in a cookie is genius. Now I just need some butter pecan ice cream to pair with it.

  20. 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!

      1. Thank you for your help Sally and I have a good feeling you nailed it on the head. Can’t wait to make more cookie recipes!!!

  21. The dough is currently chilling in the fridge as I write…and I have to admit that I ate quite a bit of the dough. Goodness that was just the most fantastic cookie dough I have ever tasted in my entire life! And I swear by, live and die by, your cookie recipes. I can’t wait to bake these in 2.5 hours!!

  22. Thalia @ butter and brioche says:

    How delicious are these butter pecan cookies! They definitely have been added to my holiday baking list.. incredibly yummy recipe Sally!

  23. Sally, we made these cookies this past weekend and they are one of the best cookies we’ve ever tasted! Toasting the pecans brought out so much flavor, the sugar gave them a sparkle, and the touch of sea salt finished them off nicely. I baked them from frozen(and still have more stored for later) and just increased the time by 1 minute. Perfection!

  24. I made these cookies on Wed for our book club’s holiday dinner, and I just HAD to write and tell you how AH-MAZING they are!!! They were a huge hit at the party, and I can’t stop eating them. I am totally adding these to the list of cookies I make each Christmas. I might even like them more than pecan pie – gasp!! I rolled them in a mixture of red, green and white granulated sugar so they were definitely festive. Thank you so much!

    1. Becky, I know what you mean when you say you can’t stop eating them. They are DANGEROUS!

  25. 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!

      1. Oh Lordy Lord, I agree with Ali …. Kerrygold butter is literally liquid gold! As you would know Sally, any European butter is far superior to our local butters. I do all my baking and cooking during the holidays with either Kerrygold (avail now at our local Costco – yippee!!) or Plugra (Whole Foods). Taste of cakes & cookies & mashed potatoes is noticeably different! 🙂

    2. I made these and though I loved the texture, I found them somewhat bland…Next time I am going to add probably butter extract as well as almond or maybe maple extract to give it a more “butter pecan” taste like the ice cream…Thanks for a great starter recipe where I can springboard!

  26. Boring? Never! Refined? Absolutely! Nuanced, sophisticated, even classic =). I’m off to the store right now for more pecans so I can make these this afternoon. Thanks for a great blog!

  27. khadidrah barco says:

    Hi Sally,

    Can I make these with extra large eggs since they are all I have? Or how could I modify this recipe?

    1. Using XL eggs should be ok here.

      1. Khadidrah Barco says:

        Yay! I am excited about these. You are kind of my idol! Keep doing what you do as well as you do!!

  28. Hi Sally,
    I just love your blog and baking cookbook! And I have used many of your recipes!
    I have a questions about the butter. Is 1 cup of butter really 230 grams? It seems like a big difference?

    1. Yep! 1/2 cup (1 stick) weighs around 115g. So, 1 cup is about 230.

      1. Thanks, Sally. Can’t wait to bake them 🙂

  29. Hey Sally!

    We made these at our annual cookie day yesterday and they were a huge hit!! I love the salty-sweet combo.. too perfect. A+ from this pregnant lady.

    Cheers,

    Lauren

  30. I think I may have strained my knee making and baking several of your cookies recipes including this recipe (totaling somewhere around 8-10 dozen). These. Cookies. Are. Heavenly. I’ve always *liked* butter pecan but I didn’t know I LOVED it until this cookie. These are simply fantastic. Thank you (again) for sharing your recipes!

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