These dark chocolate pecan cookies combine some of baking’s most popular ingredients like brown sugar, nutty brown butter, cinnamon, dark chocolate, and pecans. Certainly a line-up that few cookie lovers can resist! Browning the butter is a quick extra step requiring the stove, but the flavor is unparalleled. If it’s not the flavors and add-ins that reel you in, it’s the soft centers and slightly crisp edges. These cookies have it all!
At the time I’m publishing this recipe, I have 250 cookie recipes on my website, plus a cookbook with 75 cookie recipes (a small handful from the site are published in that book), plus about 15 cookie recipes published in my 1st cookbook. I also publish a 2 week Christmas cookie countdown each year called Sally’s Cookie Palooza. You’d think I’d be tired of testing new cookie recipes after 10 years of this madness, but let me tell you– the cookie mania has only just begun.
Today I’m serving up dark chocolate pecan cookies, a new cookie recipe that was an instant hit with my taste testers. With so many tested cookie recipes in my back pocket, it was hard to choose the starting point for this dark chocolate pecan flavor. Should we use my regular chocolate chip cookies and add pecans? Or try a rendition of these dark chocolate orange icebox cookies? I tested a few options, but ultimately decided on a brown butter cookie base. THE BEST! My recipe for brown butter toffee chocolate chip cookies was published in 2012 and has remained a favorite ever since.
And now it tastes remarkable with cinnamon, dark chocolate, and pecans!
Tell Me About These Dark Chocolate Pecan Cookies
- Flavor: Brown sugar, nutty brown butter, and a hint of cinnamon add warm, inviting flavors that are always welcome during the fall and winter seasons. You’ll also enjoy plenty of rich dark chocolate and buttery pecans, which not only add more flavor but varying texture as well. If you gravitate toward dark chocolate more than sweeter milk chocolate, you’ll adore these cookies.
- Texture: Each bite is loaded with crunchy pecans! The centers of the cookies are soft-baked and the edges crisp up beautifully. If you want pools of melty chocolate throughout the cookies, use quality chocolate. Chocolate chips contain stabilizers which prevent them from melting in the oven. Instead, reach for Ghirardelli or Bakers brand bittersweet chocolate bars– they’re sold in the baking aisle. I use Ghirardelli 60% Cacao Bittersweet Chocolate Baking Bars in this recipe.
- Ease: Browning the butter and chilling the cookie dough in the refrigerator certainly add time, but neither are difficult steps. Almost immediately after browning the butter, begin mixing the dough together. Since we’re using melted (browned) butter, you do not need an electric mixer– a whisk and rubber spatula do the trick. After the dough comes together, chill it before scooping and baking the cookies. Without time in the refrigerator, this cookie dough will spread into greasy puddles.
Learn About Browning Butter
Brown butter is simply melted butter with a nutty, almost caramelized flavor brought on by gently cooking it on the stove. If you’ve never browned butter before, take a minute to review my How to Brown Butter guide. In less than 10 minutes, the butter sizzles, foams, and cooks into a vastly flavored ingredient you can use in today’s dark chocolate pecan cookies, pecan sugar cookies, brown butter pumpkin oatmeal cookies, apple blondies, brown butter berry tea cakes, and brown butter pound cake. For more uses and all of my success tips, see the How to Brown Butter guide linked above.
Overview: How to Make Dark Chocolate Pecan Cookies
The full printable recipe is below, but let me show you some step-by-step photos so you know what to expect. Chop up your chocolate into bite-size pieces and give the pecans a rough chop, too. Have both ready to go.
Success tip: Brown the butter in a light-colored skillet or pot if you have one. If not, check the butter’s doneness by spooning some into a glass or white bowl.
Combine the wet & dry ingredients, and then chill the cookie dough in the refrigerator.
Order of chilling/shaping dough: You may notice that we scoop the brown butter toffee chocolate chip cookies dough into balls before chilling and that’s because the toffee chips make the dough extra crumbly. After chilling, it’s pretty difficult to roll/scoop that dough into uniform balls. Today’s recipe, which uses a similar dough base, isn’t nearly as crumbly so it is best to chill the dough before shaping.
I hope you enjoyed learning about how this recipe came to life. It’s always so much fun to publish new cookie recipes!Print
Dark Chocolate Pecan Cookies (with Brown Butter)
- Prep Time: 2 hours, 30 minutes (includes chilling)
- Cook Time: 13 minutes
- Total Time: 3 hours
- Yield: 36 cookies
- Category: Cookies
- Method: Baking
- Cuisine: American
These soft, yet crisp dark chocolate pecan cookies combine some of baking’s most popular ingredients like brown sugar, nutty brown butter, cinnamon, dark chocolate, and pecans. For best success, review recipe notes before starting and don’t skip chilling the cookie dough.
- 1 cup (230g; 16 Tbsp) unsalted butter
- 1 cup (200g) packed light or dark brown sugar
- 1/2 cup (100g) granulated 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 baking soda
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- two 4-ounce semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate bars (226g total), chopped (about 1 and 1/2 cups)*
- 1 cup (130g) roughly chopped pecans*
- Brown the butter: Set out a medium heat-proof bowl because you’ll need it at the end of this step. Slice the butter into Tablespoon-size pieces and place in a light-colored skillet or large pot. Light colored helps you determine when the butter begins browning. (See note if using a dark skillet or pot.) Melt the butter over medium heat and stir or whisk constantly. Once melted, the butter will begin to foam. Keep stirring/whisking. After 5-7 minutes, the butter will begin browning and you’ll notice lightly browned specks begin to form at the bottom of the pan. It will have a nutty aroma. Once browned, remove from heat immediately and pour into the bowl, including any solids that have formed on the bottom of the pan. (You want those solids for flavor.) Cool brown butter for 5 minutes. Don’t cool longer than that because the butter will begin to thicken and, as a result, the cookie dough will be difficult to mix and its texture will be very crumbly.
- Whisk the brown sugar and granulated sugar into the brown butter and then whisk in the eggs and vanilla extract. Set aside. In a large bowl, whisk the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt together. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, add the chopped chocolate and pecans, then stir together with a large spoon or rubber spatula. Dough will be greasy, thick, and even slightly crumbly.
- Cover cookie dough and chill in the refrigerator for 2 hours and up to 3 days before baking. (You can also freeze the dough balls, see Freezing Instructions below.) If chilling for longer than 2 hours, allow the dough to sit at room temperature for at least 20-30 minutes before rolling and baking in the next step. The cookie dough is quite firm otherwise.
- Towards the end of chill time, preheat oven to 350°F (177°C). Line large baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats. Set aside.
- Roll or scoop the dough into balls, 1.5 Tablespoons of dough each. I recommend a medium cookie scoop. Place 3 inches apart on the baking sheets and bake for 13-14 minutes or until the edges appear set. (Tip: If cookies aren’t spreading by the 10 minute mark, remove pan from the oven, carefully bang it on the counter to help induce some spreading, and then return it to the oven to finish baking.)
- Remove from the oven and allow cookies to cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
- Cookies stay fresh covered at room temperature for up to 1 week.
- Make Ahead & Freezing Instructions: Baked cookies freeze well up to three months. Unbaked cookie dough balls freeze well up to three months. Bake frozen cookie dough balls for an extra minute, no need to thaw. Here’s how to freeze cookie dough.
- Chocolate: You can certainly use 1 and 1/2 cups (or anywhere between 220-270g) chocolate chips, but I recommend chopped baking chocolate. Baking chocolate is sold in the baking aisle as 4 ounce bars, so you need 2. I strongly recommend Ghirardelli brand and I like their “60% Cacao Bittersweet Chocolate Baking Bars.” I’m not working with this company– this chocolate is simply one of my favorites for cookies. I also like Bakers brand. Feel free to use semi-sweet, bittersweet, milk chocolate, or white chocolate in this recipe.
- Pecans: I always use unsalted raw pecans. If you love salty sweet cookies, you can use salted/roasted pecans. Can I toast the pecans? You don’t have to, but you can for added flavor. Preheat oven to 300°F (150°C). Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. Spread the chopped pecans on top and toast for 7-8 minutes or until fragrant and lightly browned. Cool before adding to cookie dough.
- Can I leave out the nuts? Yes, absolutely. I wouldn’t add more chocolate in its place– simply leave out the nuts. If you’d like to add another add-in, try 1 cup (about 140g) dried cranberries or dried cherries or 1 cup (150g) Heath Bar Bits O’ Brickle English Toffee.
- Darker skillet/pot when browning butter: I recommend using a light-colored skillet or large pot when browning butter so you can see when the butter is done. (It’s only a quick few seconds between browned butter and burnt butter.) Towards the end of 5-7 minutes, check for doneness by spooning some butter into a glass bowl to determine if it has browned.
Keywords: dark chocolate pecan cookies
Cookie Baking Success Tips
The following articles are helpful if you’re looking for best cookie baking practices and more of my success tips.
- How to Prevent Cookies from Spreading
- Top 5 Cookie Baking Tips
- How to Properly Measure Ingredients
- 10 Best Cookie Baking Tools
- How to Freeze Cookie Dough
Reader Comments & Reviews
Can I use Crisco butter shortening instead of butter?
Hi Barbara, We have not tested this recipe with Crisco, but for the best results we recommend sticking with butter.
These cookies were great fresh out of the oven but a couple hours they were really hard The only thing I left out was the vanilla extract. Why did this happen?
Hi Elena, how did you measure your flour? Be sure to spoon and level or use a kitchen scale to ensure that the flour isn’t over measured. Too much flour can cause the cookies to become dry and hard. Slightly decreasing the bake time by a minute or two will help as well. Thank you for giving these a try!
Do you think I could replace the granulated white sugar with maple syrup? I had made these in the past as a half batch and replaced the sugar with maple syrup but i am not sure how it will affect a bigger batch
Hi Niharika, we don’t recommend swapping with maple syrup here, as the granulated sugar plays an important role in the texture and structure of the cookie. We fear it will cause the cookies to over spread, too. Best to stick with granulated sugar here.
These are absolutely FANTASTIC!!! I sprinkle a bit of salt on top.
Wow these are just so good!!!! I will now have to exercise my self control and not eat all of them! Definitely a recipe to keep and make again!
I agree with MJ. A sprinkling of sea salt before baking brings out the rich chocolate flavor!
I’m excited to try this recipe. Are there any modifications for high altitude baking? I live at 7200ft above sea level and my baking never seems to be quite right
Hi Jennifer, I wish we could help, but have no experience baking at high altitude. Some readers have found this chart helpful: https://www.kingarthurflour.com/learn/high-altitude-baking.html
I love these cookies so much. I’ve made them several times. The addition of cinnamon gives them a little something extra. I made some recently and froze half the batch. They had been in the freezer for a couple of months and they baked up like a dream. If you have the room, make a big batch and freeze some.
I made these today and topped each cookie with a sprinkle of flaked sea salt before baking…they are great!
I have made so many recipes (20+) from your website and have had amazing success with all of them. Thank you!! This is the only one that hasn’t worked for me… the batter was just so crumbly after chilling the dough that I couldn’t roll the cookies properly. The butter browning process went fine and I followed all the instructions, but the cookies came out of the oven as these dry little mounds, with an okay taste but a sawdust-like texture. Not sure where I went wrong, but probably won’t make this one again. Oh well!
I have this issue too. I ended up having to wet my hands to work dough into a ball and then I slightly undercooked them and they came out good. I don’t know what I did wrong. Usually chilling dough helps cookies to not flatten out too much, but I’m not sure that would be an issue with this dough. Next time I may try without chilling and see what happens.
Love love love this recipe! Thank you Sally! I’ve made it 3 times and it’s always a hit!
Happy new year!!!