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 with brown butter icing

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 with brown butter icing on a wood plate

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.

2 images of pistachios in a food processor and pistachio cookie dough balls on a baking sheet

Pistachio drop cookie dough balls on baking sheet before baking

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.)

2 images of brown butter icing in a glass bowl and dipping a pistachio cookie into brown butter icing

Pistachio drop cookies with brown butter icing on a wood plate

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 cookie with inside showing

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. 🙂

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Pistachio cookie with inside showing

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

179 Comments

  1. These are absolutely amazing! I lovelovelove pistachio flavour and it was super pronounced in these cookies. I was slightly worried that the brown butter icing might cover the pistachio a little (not worried enough to not make it though) but it really didn’t, just added a nice touch on top! I also love that the icing made the perfect amount. Enough to top all the cookies with just enough leftover to eat with a spoon and not feel like a pig 🙂 lol. I will definitely be making these again!

  2. These cookies were very easy to make and tasty! Loved the brown butter icing. Thanks for the recipe!

  3. Never a big fan of pistachios but those little cookies are just divine packed with so much flavours.
    Tried making the brown butter icing, and mine didn’t turn out as runny as urs, instead it became something like brown butter cream didn’t help even I’ve added more cream in it. May I kindly ask what I might have done wrong.

    1. Hi Jenny! So glad you enjoy these pistachio cookies.
      Did the brown butter solidify? Make sure it’s still liquid.

  4. Ingrid Lliguin says:

    I made these and they couldn’t stop themselves from being eaten ! Will have to make some upon popular demand for our Easter gathering ! Thank you so much I’ve started baking again thanks to your instructions which make it feel like such a fun and easy task !

  5. Christina Agapiou says:

    Hi Sally! We are making these cookies for a church cookie sale. Can I double the batch right away or play it safe and make one batch at a time? Thank You! I love all your recipes, follow exactly as written and everything works perfectly every time!

    1. Hi Christina! Doubling is usually fine, but for BEST results I always recommend making separate batches. Especially if you’re baking for an event or bake sale. 🙂

  6. Megan Meagher says:

    I wanted to make these because they seemed light and perfect for spring when you aren’t necessarily in the mood for a heavy chocolate chip cookie (although who would those people be??). I brought them to work and my coworkers absolutely RAVED about them. Three different people asked for the recipe. They are so simple to make and so delicious. And I think I might like them even more after they’ve been refrigerated. The flavors really seemed to pop. Thank you for yet another great cookie recipe!

  7. unfortunately these were way too sweet for me. bummer I usually like pistachio anything. and the almond extract seemed to over pour the pistachio flavor

  8. Ruby MANANQUIL says:

    I love love love this recipe! The brown butter icing is a perfect contrast to the pistachio cookie! On my second and third batches, I used half a cup unsalted and half a cup salted butter in the cookie dough, and salted butter in the icing. The butter flavor is intense and addictive! Thank you for this recipe!

  9. I am anxious to try these cookies, but am wondering how necessary it is to keep the iced cookies refrigerated. Would room temperature be okay for them, for 3 days?

    1. Hi Sally! The storing instructions are a general guideline, but I always suggest using your best judgment. That being said, I’m totally fine leaving these iced pistachio cookies at room temperature but if you’re concerned, you should refrigerate them.

      1. I have pistachio extract. Can I use that instead of the Allman or should I stick with the almond extract ? Thank you.

      2. I’ve never seen pistachio extract! Would love to try it sometime. It should be great in this recipe. I bet it tastes a lot like the almond flavoring.

  10. These cookies are unreal! They were a hit with everything who had one. Thank you for the recipe!

  11. Sally, this recipe is so good i ate half of the dough before baking! Amazing flavors!

  12. Hi Sally! When you mention 130g of pistachios do you mean with or without the shell please?

    1. Without the shell. Shelled, meaning the shell has been removed. 🙂

  13. Loved this delicate recipe! I used fine granulated sugar (we often bake with this in France) and the balls didn’t over-spread. My husband loved the taste but not the flaky consistency, do you think adding an egg could add some density? I’ll try the pistachio shortbread next!

    1. Hi Madison! These drop cookies are shortbread-like, so you’ll have that flaky and crumbly texture. (Same with the pistachio shortbread recipe.) You can try adding an egg if you’d like!

  14. Could you toss the cookies in powdered sugar instead of using the icing, like a snowball cookie? If so, would they freeze okay for Christmas with the powdered sugar coating?

    1. You can definitely use powdered sugar instead of the icing. When the cookies are still warm, coat in powdered sugar as I do with my snowball cookies. Follow those freezing instructions, too.

  15. Gloria Val Verde says:

    I am trying these this weekend, I love l love pistachio anything and am giving it a 5 rating because I have faith in you :). Thought I was done with Christmas cookies, but you had to go an real me in….Thank you for all you do to make us better bakers. Merry Christmas!

  16. Austria Azaceta says:

    Hi Sally! I did a lot of cookie baking this weekend & this recipe was one of them. I must say these cookies are SO good!! My new favorite for sure. The dough came together nicely & tasted amazing. I did use a little less almond extract (probably 3/4 teaspoon) for personal preference & they are perfect!! And that brown butter icing is unbelievable!! Just a winner all around. Thank you!!

  17. Leighann Murphy says:

    These cookies are THE BEST! They are so delicious. Perfect recipe. For the icing I used buttermilk instead of the milk or cream and she was right, you could eat it with a spoon. I love the subtle hint of the almond flavor in the cookie, it went so well with the nutty awesomeness of the brown butter flavor of the icing. everybody in the family especially the kids just sat there and shook their heads saying mmm, mmmm, mmm! while they were eating them. Thanks for this recipe, They came out exactly as they looked on the website and surpassed on the flavor expectation!

  18. I’m going to make these tomorrow, and now am questioning the pistachios I picked up at the bulk food store! Should these be salted, roasted pistachios? I couldn’t find those, so I had to get the unsalted raw ones… Now I am not sure if that will work. Help!!!

    1. Hi Claire! You can use any pistachios you want. I usually use unsalted raw pistachios, which is what you purchased. Roasted + salted it great too– extra flavor.

  19. These look A-MAZING! I love love love anything pistachio! Question – what are your thoughts on making this a thumbprint cookie?…with a touch of raspberry jam? Do you think this dough is suitable to do so? I’ve never made a thumbprint cookie but saw a couple of your other recipes & wondered if I could pull it off here??

    1. Hi Kristin! I think it’s definitely possible! After you mix up the dough and before chilling, I recommend following the assembling instructions for my chocolate thumbprint cookies— chilling the indented cookies. Then add the jam right before baking them as I do with my peanut butter jam thumbprints.

  20. Can you substitute water for milk in icing?

    1. You can, yes, but milk would be ideal.

      1. These just won me second place in my company cookie contest – out of 47 entries! Enough said…

  21. This one is a keeper!

  22. I made these cookies to give to co-workers for the holidays and they turned out delicious! But I’m wondering if you have another recommendation for a more room-temperature friendly icing/topping? Since they’re a gift I worry about the recipients eating them in time without refrigeration!

    1. Hi Hannah! How about a drizzle of melted chocolate instead? Melted chocolate will set quicker and be a little harder than this icing.

  23. Anthony Arena says:

    Sally I followed you instructions to the T. The cookies came out flat not round as yours appear. the flavor was there and they are delicious, but they were flat.

    What did I do wrong??

    1. Hi Anthony, I’m glad you enjoyed the flavor of these cookies! The two tips I have for you are to make sure your room temperature butter isn’t too warm (check out this post). Also be sure you are chilling the cookie dough! You can even chill it again after you roll it into balls so that it’s cold when it goes in the oven.

  24. Thank you for this recipe! I’ve made that “other” pistachio cookie recipe at the holiday for years now. You know, the one with the very artificial pistachio pudding mix. They added a festive touch to my tray, and a few people really liked them. But this recipe…it’s to die for. The browned butter icing is the perfect touch — and I somehow managed to get the butter to JUST the right point (not too light, not too brown) this time. Absolutely delicious. I hope that I have enough left for the tray!

    1. Hi Pat, I’m so happy that you tried these and enjoyed them so much!! You might have to make another batch just for you after you fill your trays! 🙂

  25. Sally, my seven year old son is your biggest fan. We made this recipe today with a Christmas twist! We added half a jar of drained and pulsed marachino cherries and rolled them in powdered sugar (several times) to make snowballs. Delicious – white and fluffy on the outside and pink with flecks of red and green inside.

  26. 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!

  27. 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.

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

  29. 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

  30. 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.

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