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

  2. 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 !

  3. 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!

  4. 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!

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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!

  8. 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!

  9. 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!)

  10. 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.

  11. 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.

  12. 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!

  13. 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.

  14. 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!

  15. The mixture was very tasty but the ratios were definitely out. I ended up using a bit more flour and extra crushed pistachios. It didn’t come together as a dough. Eventually I just wrapped in plastic wrap and crossed my fingers. They spread a lot on the oven which was very disappointing

  16. Hi Sally,
    I had some leftover icing when I made this. How long can I keep it in the fridge to use for another batch later?

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Sarah, If not using right away, cover and store icing in the refrigerator for up to 2 days – you can also try freezing it and thaw overnight in the refrigerator before using.

  17. Does the icing set up well? Would like to ship these. I’m not sure how much the flavor would be affected if I skipped it. Anything else I can use on top instead that would hold up to being shipped?

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Krithika, Yes! This brown butter icing sets after about 1 hour.

  18. These cookies were so good, buttery and melt in your mouth like shortbread! The icing recipe is pretty sweet (still delicious though) and makes about 2 times as much as you need. A whole cup of pistachios through the food processor ended up being too much as well. Since they are relatively expensive, I recommend starting with 3/4 cup in the food processor. I ended up using mine to decorate but still had quite a bit leftover.

    I’m guessing those having trouble with the dough did not have ingredients at room temp or maybe using a hand mixer produces different results? I followed the recipe exactly and had no issues!

  19. Love this cookie recipe!! Cookies are delicious!!!

  20. Made these today; super straightforward preparation and baking, both for the cookies and the icing, and they are amazingly good. The dough is super easy to work with and the directions were flawless start to finish. Well, it says it yields 3 dozen and I only got 35, but other than that…. 🙂

  21. Thank you for this recipe.
    When I already have store-bought ground pistachios, will the ratio for the recipe differ or can I still put 130 grams into it?

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Sara, You can use the same amount (130g) of your ground pistachios. Enjoy!

  22. Used maltitol and stevia (both powder form) instead of powdered sugar, they are domed and didn’t spread much. I measured 130gr of pistachios. Straight from the over they are crumbly but as they cool they become firm. I keep testing… Sacrificing myself! I find them sweet enough, so no need for a frosting but i am tempted to decorate them with a few lines instead of full cover. Fantastic flavour!

  23. I made these cookies today as I am in love with all things pistachio, and miss the really good pistachio gelato you can get in Italy since we can’t travel at the moment. I split the dough and tried adding pistachio paste (which I use when trying to find a recipe for pistachio gelato that will yield results close to that which you get in Italy) to see if I could get even more pistachio flavor. In that half I reduced the amount of almond extract by half. I can honestly say I don’t love these cookies, both batches just turned out too dry/crumbly for me. The browned butter icing is delicious and I think because of the dryness of the cookies, I couldn’t imagine them without it. The flavor is great, I love that they are barely sweet, just too crumbly for me.

  24. Melissa Gallant says:

    My brown butter frosting never hardened. I doubled the recipes now have LOTS of cookies with sticky tops. Was going to package and give away. Any thing I can do now to harden the frosting?

    1. I also had this problem, but I let them sit out, uncovered for a day or two and they hardened up perfectly. I was worried they would get stale, but they did not.

    2. I wonder if your local humidity has anything to do with it; I know where I live (Pacific Northwest) they’d be likely to stay sticky instead of hardening if I left them out to harden. I used to live in the interior of BC and the icing probably would have dried nicely there.

  25. I make these today and they are so good

  26. Denise Spooner says:

    I don’t care for these, unfortunately. I made them for Christmas cookie boxes because I wanted a cookie with pistachios. However, the almond flavor completely obliterates the pistachios. The nuts could be any kind. And the icing, although delicious, was too thick to pour down the sides of the cookie as depicted. I added more cream and ended up with icing that looked separated. I heated it a bit and had more of a glaze than an icing. To counter the super sweetness of the cookie, I added some fine sea salt to the icing. If you love almond cookies, these are just the ticket. But if you want a pistachio cookie, I’d keep looking.

  27. I made these as a part of my holiday treat box for friends this year, they absolutely loved it! Both mine and their favourite part about this cookie is the texture, how soft and crumbly it is!

    1. One thing I forgot to add, I reduced the almond extract to 1/2 tsp instead of 1. I know almond extract can be really strong, and I didn’t want it to overpower the taste of the pistachios, only to enhance it.

  28. Shannon Thompson says:

    I’m a chocoholic, so I never would immediately pick this cookie. However, my significant other loves pistachio anything and everything. It was a no-brainer to make these pistachio cookies. I didn’t use food coloring – and they still look beautiful. Boyfriend approved and adored. Neighbor approved and requested. The brown butter glaze is next level. Put it on the cookies, let it set, add more. You won’t regret it and you definitely won’t regret making these cookies!

  29. Anna Mae Robbins says:

    These cookies are absolutely delicious! I made a batch yesterday and am making another one today. The dough is in the fridge as I write this. I didn’t have good luck with the brown butter icing, (it burnt for me) so I used a dependable vanilla/almond glaze recipe and then sprinkled with left over pistachio crumbs (there were quite a lot). They look like they came from a bakery, and taste even better! I plan on giving these to some friends for Valentine’s Day tomorrow. Thanks for a great recipe.

  30. Phoebe Jane says:

    Hi Sally!
    Let Me first say that I love your blog. Every Saturday I hop on your blog and look for something to make. But unfortunately, as of right now I don’t have a mixer that works. Can I make these cookies without a mixer? If not, what would be some St. Patrick’s Day treats I could make without a mixer?

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Phoebe! It would be difficult to beat the butter and combine this thick cookie dough without a mixer. You may love this quick and easy Lucky Charms Bark or some Homemade Truffles flavored with whiskey or mint and decorated accordingly (see notes for flavor instructions)!

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