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. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. Sally, Sally, Sally…

    These. Are. Amazing! I made these for a work Chrismas Party and in a momentary lapse of cookie-judgement, I neglected to leave any at home for myself, and now I have none!

    I suppose I will simply need to make more before Christmas! These are fantastic cookies!!

    Thank you for creating them!! 🙂
    Casey

    PS- They are also a PERFECT breakfast cookie…

    1. Yup, totally a breakfast food. I like where your head’s at Casey!

  4. 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!

    1. Wonderful, Austria! You’re making some of the best recipes this holiday season. I love it!

  5. Hi,

    I’ve had some struggles with this cookie recipe, the cookies are good but I would like them to be a little flatter. When I made them they came out good but a little to puffy. Also, they didn’t tasete sweet enough, I added the right amount of sugar that the recipe called for but I couldn’t taste it. So do I add more granulated sugar or brown sugar?

    1. You may add more sugar if you’d like– do you think you overmeasured the flour? This will prevent the cookies from spreading. Try reducing the flour by 2 Tablespoons.

  6. Michelle Oliver says:

    Made these for my husband’s poker party last night. They were a hit! Thanks for sharing!

  7. OMG I just got them fresh out the oven  and OMG these are the best cookies EVER!!!!  THANKS SOOOO MUCH FOR SHARING EATTING THEM AS IM TYPING!!!  TWO THUMBS UP!!!!! 

  8. i made these today and they came out like cake texture, the dough was sticky, hard to roll. But, they tasted real good, with pecans. I’m happy to say that I have no problems getting pecans, my sister in law has two pecan trees in her yard! I will make these again, hope they come out right!

  9. Hi Sally!
    These cookies look scrumptious!!
    I have a question about the butter. I need to make them nondairy. Is there any way I can sub the butter for margarine (yeah, I know it ruins the point) or should I just not bother at all and try one of your other delicious recipes?
    Thanks!!

    1. I do not suggest margarine in cookie recipes calling for butter. Here are some dairy free recipes: https://sallysbakingaddiction.com/category/vegan/

  10. Hi Sally, I just made a batch these cookies and unfortunately, they came out flat 🙁 I spooned and leveled the flour but now I’m worried that there wasn’t enough (the dough was thick but not crumbly at all-kindof sticky). Do you think I should add some flour to the rest of the dough before making the rest of the cookies, or do you think I did something else in the recipe wrong (overmixing maybe?)

    1. I also tested my baking soda and baking powder a few days ago so that shouldn’t have been a problem…

    2. Chava, overmixing wouldn’t have to do with it. I would either (1) chill the dough for longer or (2) you can fold in a little more flour.

  11. Hi Sally, I wish to know if I can substitute the butter with butter flavoured shortening. will it make any difference to the consistency of the dough or the taste of the cookie? do I use same measurements of shortening as the butter for this recipe?

    1. Yes, it will make a huge difference. Nothing beats the consistency and flavor of real butter. The measurement would be the same if you’d like to try it out.

  12. Hey Sally! Tried these cookies .. like the carrot cake muffins and chocolate cupcakes they turned out pretty tasty.
    But they didn’t spread looked like dumplings not as pretty as yours..
    I live in Singapore. we are at sea level, should I change the flour measurements? or put in more baking soda so that they spread?
    or should I roll them out rather than put them in the oven as balls

    1. Raj– I would try reducing the flour by 1/4 cup. Make sure you aren’t packing in the flour when measuring it. Spoon and level when measuring.

  13. Hi, Sally! I super love how the batter smells (and tastes). Now my oven is currently broken, so it only reaches 160 degrees Celsius. How long do you think should I bake the dough for? Would 15 minutes be enough?

    1. I’d say closer to 12-13 minutes.

  14. Hi Sally!

    Thank you so much for explaining a little of the Science in the baking.  My 13 year old daughter does baking in 4-H and has recently started creating her own recipes. With that she has become interested in the purpose of the ingredients and what they do in the product. Reading this recipe gives her a better understanding. 
    Thank you! 

    1. Thanks Stacey– I’m so glad the writing is helpful!

  15. 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.

  16. Sally,

    I made these cookies this past weekend, and they were delicious!!! 
    I was thinking of adding some bits of toffee next time. How much would you recommend and should I decrease the sugar? 
    Let me know what you think 🙂 

    1. I don’t recommend decreasing the sugar. I would add about 3/4 cup toffee bits. I think you’d love these cookies too: https://sallysbakingaddiction.com/2015/06/12/salted-vanilla-toffee-cookies/

  17. 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!

  18. I tried these cookies but wasn’t blown away as I hoped. More like a chocolate chip cookies without the chocolate. It is definitely a wonderful base and great texture though.

  19. A co-worker asked me to bake her family’s thanksgiving cookies; made all recipes from your blog. EVERY single one was raved about! Added some mini chocolate chips to this and made 3 more batches because I needed some to share at work and for my own holiday dinner.

  20. ohh boy! I’m about 24 hours late reading this recipe for the Butter Pecan Cookies! I totally agree that this flavor ice cream is totally underrated in bragging rights! I made 4 dozen yesterday of my recipe for “buttered pecan crisps”. Made the same way but I have one other trick. Brown the chopped pecans in melted butter and allow to cool before mixing into the batter. Oh my heaven. Only adds to the buttery flavor…..and they are crisps so they are ‘thin’…which lessons the guilt factor when eating more than 2 or 3 🙂

    I look forward to trying this recipe soon!

  21. These cookies look delicious! I’m making some for a cookie exchange this weekend and I was wondering about how many cookies I can get out of a batch? 

    1. 2 and a half dozen

  22. I just made these and it is so worth it. I’m not sure what the reviewer that said that these just tasted like basic cookies with added pecans meant. These cookies exploded with toasty, nutty, buttery, slightly molasses-y flavor and I’m so glad that I turned to your recipes again, Sally. Thank you for inevitably making my Christmas luncheon a blast.

    1. So happy you loved them Michelle, thanks!

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

    1. Jen, you can simply leave it out.

  24. What if you can’t chill for the whole 3 hour? What effect will it have on the cookies?

  25. Love 

    Love your recipes!  I made these cookies and added butterscotch chips. Omg!  Tastes like butter pecan ice cream!

  26. 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. 

  27. Hi Sally,
    Love this recipe
    My grandmothers was identicle minus the cornstarch
    She also rolled hers into a log in waxed paper
    After it chilled one hour she sliced and baked
    They were my favorite cookie  and still are!
    Thank you for sharing!
    Ps
    Last batch I mixed in s little English walnuts , turned out great!

  28. Thankyou for the recipe!

    if chilling for three days which is a better option
    fridge or freezer?

    1. Always the refrigerator for chilling cookie dough.

  29. 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.

  30. I made 1/2 batch last night.  I figured if we didn’t like them, I would only have wasted 1/2 the ingredients.  That was a bad decision, because they were FANTASTIC and got gobbled up fast.  I’m already planning to make more.  THANK YOU so much for this delicious recipe!

    1. Appreciate you reporting back about the cookies, Carmen. Sounds like you’ll be baking these on the regular. 😉

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