Pistachio Drop Cookies

I call these pistachio drop cookies because they’re little drops of heaven! This is an easy cookie recipe prepared in 1 bowl with just 6 ingredients. Instead of artificial pistachio pudding mix, flavor these pistachio cookies with real pistachios and almond extract. Brown butter icing is optional, but it’s delicious and worth the extra few minutes!

Pistachio cookies

Do you ever catch the baking itch, but don’t know what to make next? Try a pistachio dessert. Seriously! I bake pistachio desserts whenever March rolls around because spring excitement calls for something fresh. And the pastel green hue is a lovely bonus!

Last year, I shared my favorite Pistachio Cake and Pistachio Chocolate Chunk Cookies. And I always make Pistachio Cupcakes this time of year. I love creating unique desserts with this underrated nut; pistachios are meant for sugar!

Pistachio cookies

Why You Need to Bake Pistachio Cookies Now

Let us count the ways!

  • 1 bowl recipe
  • Astoundingly easy to make
  • Only 6 ingredients
  • Only 30 minutes chill time
  • Bite-sized & adorable
  • Crumbly & soft
  • Made with real pistachios
  • Topped with brown butter icing

And bonus: this is an egg-free cookie recipe.

Pistachio cookie dough

Pistachio drop cookie dough

Real Pistachio Flavor

These pistachio cookies are adapted from my beloved Snowball Cookies, a classic Christmas cookie recipe. I use toasted pecans in my snowballs recipe, but today we’re using pistachios and almond extract. I love using real flavors in pistachio desserts. Did you know that most pistachio cookies rely on artificial pistachio pudding mixes? The pudding mixes are great, but I love baking from scratch when I can. And I know you do too.

How to Make Pistachio Cookies

These are just like my cranberry spice cookies, too!

  1. The first step is to pulse or chop pistachios into very fine crumbs. A small food processor or chopper makes this step easier. Depending on your taste preference, use salted or unsalted pistachios. I love salty sweet flavor combinations, so I use salted.
  2. The next step is to beat room temperature butter until it’s creamy and smooth.
  3. Add confectioners’ sugar. Confectioners’ sugar sweetens the cookies and replaces some of the flour. The cookies dry out with too much flour.
  4. Add vanilla extract and almond extract, then add flour and pistachio crumbs. Most pistachio flavored ice cream gets its flavor from almond extract and it’s absolutely delicious in this easy cookie recipe. If desired, add a drop or 2 of green food coloring.
  5. Chill the cookie dough for 30 minutes, then roll into balls.
  6. Bake until lightly browned, then top with the optional icing.

(LOL as if brown butter icing is ever optional.)

Brown butter icing

Pistachio drop cookies

Brown Butter Icing… you’ll want to eat it with a spoon.

Though these pistachio cookies taste great on their own, they taste even better with brown butter icing. I fell in love with brown butter icing when I topped these pumpkin oatmeal cookies and this peach bundt cake. Brown butter icing belongs on everything, including a spoon on a trip to your mouth.

What is brown butter? Browning butter is a method of melting butter that gently cooks its milk solids. Brown butter is nutty, toasty, and caramel flavored. Browning butter takes no more than 6-8 minutes and elevates every single dessert it touches, including icing. Here’s my how to brown butter tutorial. By the way, have you tried my brown butter chocolate chip cookies? You’re in for a treat.

Simply whisk browned butter, confectioners’ sugar, milk, and vanilla extract together until smooth. Dip each cookie into the icing or drizzle on top. Because butter is solid at room temperature, this brown butter icing sets after about 1 hour.

Pistachio cookies

These are some of the best cookies I’ve ever made and I know you’ll happily agree. The ingredient list is short, the preparation is simple, and the flavor is unique. Fair warning: these bite-sized soft & crumbly cookies disappear quickly. 🙂

More Quick & Easy Cookie Recipes

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Pistachio cookies

Pistachio Drop Cookies

  • Prep Time: 45 minutes
  • Cook Time: 15 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour
  • Yield: 3 dozen
  • Category: Dessert
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American

Description

Adapted from my Snowball Cookies, these soft and crumbly Pistachio Cookies are made from REAL pistachios and topped with brown butter icing. The cookie dough is made from 6 easy ingredients and requires just 1 mixing bowl. There’s only 30 minutes of cookie dough chilling needed, making this a quick cookie recipe.


Ingredients

  • 1 cup (130g) salted or unsalted pistachios (see note)
  • 1 cup (2 sticks; 230g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 3/4 cup (90g) confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • 2 and 1/4 cups (281g) all-purpose flour (spoon & leveled)
  • optional: 1-2 drops green food coloring (I used 1 drop of gel)

Brown Butter Icing (Optional)

  • 1/4 cup (4 Tbsp; 60g) unsalted butter
  • 1 cup (120g) confectioners’ sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons (30ml) milk or heavy cream
  • 1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Instructions

  1. Pulse pistachios in a food processor until small crumbs form. See photo above for a visual. You need 3/4 cup of very finely chopped pistachios. Set aside.
  2. Using a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter for 1 minute on medium speed until completely smooth and creamy. Add the confectioners’ sugar, vanilla extract, and almond extract, then beat on medium-high speed until combined. Add the flour, 3/4 cup pistachio crumbs, and food coloring (if using) and beat on medium-high speed until combined. The dough may not come together at first, but keep mixing. The cookie dough will be thick.
  3. Cover the cookie dough tightly and chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes and up to 3 days. (If chilling for 2+ hours, let the cookie dough sit at room temperature for at least 30 minutes before rolling into balls. The cookie dough will be very stiff after being in the refrigerator that long.)
  4. Time-saving tip: prepare the brown butter icing (below) while cookie dough chills OR while cookies bake.
  5. Preheat oven to 350°F (177°C). Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats. Set aside.
  6. Roll the cookie dough into balls, about 1 Tablespoon of dough each, and place dough balls 2 inches apart on the baking sheets. If the cookie dough is too crumbly, keep rolling and working it with your hands. The warmth of your hands will help bring it together.
  7. Bake the cookies until golden brown on the bottom edges and just barely browned on top, about 14-15 minutes.
  8. Allow the cookies to cool for 5 minutes on the baking sheet, then transfer to a wire rack. Make sure cookies are cool to touch before dipping in icing.
  9. Brown Butter Icing: Slice the butter into pieces and place in a light-colored skillet. (Light colored helps you determine when the butter begins browning.) Melt the butter over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Once melted, the butter will begin to foam. Keep stirring occasionally. After 5-6 minutes, the butter will begin browning and you’ll notice lightly browned specks begin to form and a nutty aroma. Once browned, remove from heat immediately and allow to cool for 5 minutes. (The butter will eventually solidify, so don’t let it sit too long.) After 5 minutes, whisk in the rest of the icing ingredients until smooth. Add more confectioners’ sugar for a thicker texture, if desired. Likewise, add more milk to thin out if needed.
  10. Dip cookies in icing or drizzle on top. If coated lightly, the icing will set after 1-2 hours. Cover leftover iced cookies tightly and store at room temperature for 1 day or in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. Cookies without icing can sit covered at room temperature for up to 1 week.

Notes

  1. Freezing Instructions: Freeze baked cookies with or without icing for up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator or at room temperature. You can also freeze the cookie dough or cookie dough balls for up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator and bring to room temperature before baking.
  2. Pistachios: You need 3/4 cup of very finely chopped pistachios in this cookie dough. As instructed in step 1, begin with 1 cup of salted or unsalted pistachios– your choice, I recommend salted– and pulse them in a food processor until small crumbs form. See photo above for a visual. Only use 3/4 cup in the cookie dough because any more will make the cookies too crumbly. If you have extra, use as garnish on the icing or sprinkle over ice cream, cake, salad, and more!
  3. Confectioners’ Sugar: Use confectioners’ (powdered) sugar. Don’t use granulated sugar. The cookies will over-spread and have a granular texture.
  4. Light Colored Icing: The darker your brown butter, the darker the icing. I remove the brown butter from the stove right away, so it’s a lighter shade of yellow making the icing a lighter shade as well. I use heavy cream in the icing. It’s thicker than milk and will create a creamier, whiter icing.

Keywords: pistachios, pistachio cookies

200 Comments

  1. So when beating all the ingredients together, my dough never really formed into a dough. Just stayed kind of crumbly.. any idea what I did wrong? New to baking…!

    1. Hi Suzanne! Keep mixing– it will come together. If absolutely needed, you can add a splash of milk.

      1. Welp, after what seemed like forever, I gave up. Managed to form littles balls anyway, however after baking, one touch and they crumbled into dust. Next time I’ll keep mixing!

  2. These were cute, delicious and easy to make. The brown butter icing is a must. The icing I prepared was more of a brown color which wasn’t too attractive so I dusted the tops of the cookies with powdered sugar once the icing set.

    1. I just tried these as an addition to my holiday baking. I used roasted, salted pistachios, as suggested, but I used slightly more than 3/4 of a cup. I also substituted pistachio extract for the almond extract, because they are pistachio cookies after all.

      For those who are having trouble with the dough spreading out, part of that could be your ratio with wet to dry ingredients. I would make sure you up your pistachios a tiny bit. Also, make sure to refrigerate for 30-60 minutes and then make your dough ball small and tight.

      Another tip- I only baked mine for 12 minutes. This keeps the end product more tender. I had no issue with them falling apart.

      I also traded the brown butter for white chocolate and then used the left over pistachios as garnish. The white chocolate provides a sweet counterpoint to the slightly salty cookie.

  3. Personally wasn’t a fan. I found them crumbly and flavourless. LOVED the icing though! Will definitely use that on something else,

  4. Michaela Tresler says:

    I think they are my favorite cookies. They taste great and I love how they crumble in your mouth. I had no problem shaping them. The icing was great with it and I had added a bit of almond extract to it.
    Thank you

  5. Hi Sally,

    I originally wanted to post my comment on the cherry almond shortbread cookie page; however, the comments are closed 🙁 So I’m asking here, as the baking “shape” is similar (cookies rolled up into balls before baking)…can I use a cookie stamp to imprint a design on the cookie before baking (I have Valentine’s heart stamps)? If so, will it affect the baking time, since the cookie will be more flat (vs. ball shape)? Would it also make the cookie more dry?

    1. Hi Ana, The cherry cookies do puff up and spread when baking so I’m not confident that they would hold the design of your cookie stamp. If I’m using a cookie stamp it’s usually for a cut out cookie dough that I know will hold it’s shape perfectly like my Sugar Cookie recipe or Chocolate Sugar Cookie recipe.

  6. Hi sally!
    I already have ground pistachios for macaroons and I’m wondering how much I should use of that in place of the solid pistachios ?
    Thanks so much,
    Sierra

    1. Hi Sierra, If you weight them they should weight 130g. I hope you love them!

  7. Thank you for this and ALL your recipes! I have lots of pistachios so I’ll be baking them for sure! What fun!

    1. You are welcome, Ellie! I hope you love them 🙂

  8. Will this cookie recipe work with gluten free flour?

    1. Hi Kelly, I haven’t tested these with gluten free flour but let me know if you try.

  9. Ok, Thank you. I’ll let you know if I try! Also, Do you think these would survive mailing if they are packed well?

  10. Hi Sally! I love pistachios & seeing as this is St. Patrick’s Day, what a perfect cookie to make! My question is, I have unsalted pistachios and unsalted butter as well. Do you think they would need a little salt in the dough? If so, how much – like maybe 1/2 – 1 tsp, do you think? Thanks! 🙂

    1. Hi Bella, The recipe calls for unsalted butter already and either salted or unsalted pistachios are fine! If you’d like to add a bit of salt you certainly can, about 1/2 tsp should be great. Enjoy!

  11. Made these for St. Patricks’s Day as well and everyone at work devoured them!!

  12. Marie Cuddihee says:

    Once again Sally…delicious! They are meant to be enjoyed with a cup of tea. They are not “pop in your mouth and swallow” cookies as the taste is subtle. Don’t know if I’ll share !

  13. Delicious! I did add a few tablespoons of half&half to the cookie dough because it was too crumbly to shape. Baked up very well and I used brown butter icing. The result is scrumptious!

  14. Linda Klein says:

    These are SO delicious and full of pistachio flavour. The brown butter icing is, well, the icing on the cake! I had a little difficulty initially in getting the dough to come together at the end, and my hand mixer gave up because the mixture was just too heavy for it to cope, so I simply used my hands and kneaded it together, which worked a treat. I set the oven for 14 minutes, but will stop at 13 next time. The smaller ones… I’m not great at getting a standard size 😉 haha….. were a little brown at the base, but not burnt. We love them and I’ll be doing them again soon!

  15. Lesley Bailey says:

    Pistachios YES! So this recipe seems similar to butter cookies and yes the kind of dough that can be dry and hard to work with (but so delicious in the end). Would forming them first THEN chilling be easier?

    1. You can certainly try that, Lesley.

  16. Adorable cookies. I think they need a pinch of salt in both the dough and glaze to enhance the flavour and cut the sweetness just a touch. I’ll be making them again with some adjustments.

  17. Jacqueline D says:

    You completely out-did yourself with this recipe! It truly deserves 10 stars, for not only creating the most delicious cookie…but being incredibly easy!
    These are now one of my (and my husbands) favorite cookies 🙂 They have been added to our Christmas cookie list but I can’t help but make them throughout the year too – they are just too good!

  18. Veronica Schanoes says:

    Great cookies! I used unsalted pistachios and salted butter (it was what I had), so I added a bit of salt when I added the flour. After that step, the dough was still too dry to stick together, even after I had mixed it for a very long time, so I softened and added a third stick of batter. That did the trick and the cookies taste great!

  19. Hello Sally,

    Can the flour be replaced with almond flour?
    If so, what would be the flour to almond flour ratio?
    Thank you,

    1. Hi Pari- I have not tried this recipe with almond flour. If you do, let me know how it goes.

  20. Hello Sally!
    Can I ask for nutrition information per 1 cookie? Thank you!

    1. Hi Denisa! I’m unsure of the nutritional info of this recipe, but there are many great online calculators like this one: https://recipes.sparkpeople.com/recipe-calculator.asp

  21. Such yummy flavors! What modifications could I make if I want a softer cookie?

  22. A-M-A-Z-I-N-G!!!! Next time I may try dipping the tops in dark chocolate (frosting was great, but chocolate/pistachio is my JAM!)

  23. We probably won’t be using the icing, but if we were just making the cookies – do you think the brown butter would would add to the flavor? Would you recommend that?

    1. Sure! You could brown the butter then chill it. After chilling to solidify it, bring back to room temperature and use it in step 2 as directed.

  24. These cookies were easier than I thought and came together really nicely!!
    Beautiful texture and flavors.
    The butter might be a little too much since it overpowers the flavor of the pistachio, however it’s still SO GOOD!

    Do you think I can store them frosted in the fridge for a few days?

    1. I’m glad you enjoyed them! Iced cookies can be stored at room temperature for 1 day or in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

  25. Delicious clouds of perfection! Thank you!
    Sally, if I want to add probably a total of 4 tsp. liquid (2 tsp. rose water and 2 tsp. orange blossom water) to flavor these a different way, do I need to change the amount of flour or confectioner’s sugar to accommodate the extra liquid? Thanks, Sally!

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi John, We haven’t tried it that way so it would take some additional recipe testing. Let us know if you try anything!

  26. I’m hoping to make this this weekend! I wanted to ask if it was okay to use roasted salted pistachios for the recipe?

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      You can use any pistachios you want! Roasted + salted it great for extra flavor.

  27. Hi Sally, should i add some salt if I would like to use salted pistachios but cant find them? How much salt should I add?

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Tamara, If you’d like to add a bit of salt you certainly can, about 1/2 tsp should be great. Enjoy!

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