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. 🙂

More Quick & Easy Cookie Recipes

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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

171 Comments

  1. One of the best cookies I’ve made. Super easy. First time making the brown butter glaze, brings a common glaze to a whole other level.

  2. I found that halving the icing recipe actually ices all but 4 cookies. I didnt want to ice them all as I wanted to make them last, especially if I am mailing them. I agree with an earlier commenter that the almond extract takes away any taste of pistachio but also wonder how strong is the pistachio nuts taste to begin with? This recipe reminds me of the Greek almond crescent cookies except instead of almond, I used pistachio; there is green food colouring; it is round not crecents and there is ground pistachio not almonds. It was perfect timing to make since green cookies goes well for St. Patrick’s Day!

  3. Is it possible to make these gluten free? I tried substituting the all-purpose flour with almond flour but the cookies just spread out in the oven and did not retain their ball shape.

  4. Sally,

    I just discovered your recipes and am overdosing on all things-Sally’ s Baking Addition! However, I wanted to make these for St Pat’s Day, but I couldn’t get the dough to come together at all. It is very loose and crumbly. Is that how it is supposed to be?

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Renée, so glad to hear you’ve been enjoying our recipes! These drop cookies are shortbread-like, so you’ll have that flaky and crumbly texture. Keep rolling the dough balls with your hands, and the warmth from your hands should help bring them together. For next time, you can try adding an egg if you’d like!

  5. Snowball cookies are my all time favorite. This is an AMAZING take with pistachios. Highly recommend doing the brown butter icing, I tried rolling in powdered sugar (bc I’m in love with snowball cookies), but this version is almost better (if that’s possible). Delicious!! I used salted butter and added a little salt to the cookie dough and icing, I just think it brings out the flavor a bit more. Love it!

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Thank you so much for this kind review, Katie! So glad these cookies were a hit.

  6. Connie Evans says:

    Hi Sally, Happy St. Patrick’s Day! I just finished making your pistachio cookies. Took two tries for the frosting. First time, I had burnt butter yuk! My son says they are yummy and he’s my guinea pig. Thank you so much for the recipe.

  7. hi sally. can i halve the recipe?

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Yes, sure can!

  8. These cookies are delicious and quite possibly one of my new favorites! I ate one after they cooked and they were perfection. I refrigerated the rest and pulled one out of the fridge and it was very hard. Do they soften a bit at room temp? I had planned to bring these in to work and want to make sure they won’t be too hard when bitten in to.

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Liz, the cookies should soften up a bit after coming back to room temperature. Hope they’re a hit!

  9. Merve Simsek says:

    The mixture didn’t come out doughy at all. I added some eggs, milk and baking powder to make a cake not to waste the ingredients

  10. Hi Sally! Just wondering why my cookies melted so much in the oven and instead of ball shape it became flat?
    I followed the recipe and put in the middle rack with 177C temperature for 14 minutes.

    Did I do something wrong in the process?
    TIA.

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Lina, it sounds like your butter may have been a bit too warm (see What Room Temperature Butter Really Means) which caused the spreading. Did you chill the dough before baking? A longer chill time would be helpful for next time. You might also find this post on 5 Cookie Baking Tips to Improve Your Next Batch helpful as well. Hope these resources help!

      1. Hi Lexi! Thanks for the reply:)
        Butter temperature should not be a problem.
        Read the 2nd link you gave… It’s either I over whipped the butter or maybe I should just use a mat and not only parchment paper to hold the dough better in the oven.
        Or I should just accept the fact that cookies are not my specialty 🙁 and should stick to cakes and breads…

    2. Lina – this happened to me because i misread the ingredients and accidentally left out some flour. Cookies have been perfect every time I bake them now.

    3. I was wondering if I’d be able to make these into large, NY style cookies (like 5-6oz each). Do you think the shape would still hold? I usually use cornstarch and cake flour in cookies like that, but thought maybe the powdered sugar would help?

  11. These are excellent!

  12. I make these exactly as written and they are perfect and delicious. A new favorite!

  13. I tried these yesterday as I am considering them for our daughters wedding. I thought they were a bit bland, but then realized I used lightly salted pistachios. I definitely would recommend regularly salted pistachios. But the browned butter frosting….. My 17 yo son tasted it and stated, “It’s creamy, it’s rich, and it’s really, really good.” I totally agree with his assessment. I think using full salt pistachios will make the difference, and plan on using them for the wedding. 🙂

    1. Update: after setting overnight the flavors really melded together and were wonderful. I’m still using full salt pistachios next time, but they were even better 2 or 3 days later!

  14. Hi, I have made these cookies a couple of times now and they have been a massive hit and have been asked to make more! I actually have a large bag of walnuts that I need using up. Would I be able to swap the pistachios with walnuts? If so, would I still use the same amount of almond extract? Thank you!

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Janne, that should be just fine. We’d recommend keeping in the almond extract. Let us know how it goes!

  15. Christine says:

    Hello,

    First time trying this recipe. I’m not sure what I did wrong, but I would describe the texture of mine as “turned into wet sand in my mouth” vs “soft and crumbly”. I made them for my mom for Mother’s Day. I’m bringing them to her now, and I’ll have to make sure she has a drink at the ready!

  16. Made these on Sunday-easy recipe, excellent cookie. I could only find salted pistachios however I, like you, liked the sweet / salty combo. Used the leftover ground pistachios on top of the browned butter icing. Had never done the browned butter thing before but will be doing it on the regular now that I know how. Thank you for a great recipe!

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      So glad you loved these cookies, Jackie!

  17. These are so good! Why so much icing though? I definitely could have done with half as much.

  18. Hello,
    Can’t have butter what should be the alternative? Thank you.

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Agnes, we haven’t tried this ourselves, but what about a plant-based butter? Some readers have reported success using that in some of our cookie recipes. We’d love to know if you give it a try.

  19. Hi! I am about to make this recipe soon and I wanted to know what kind of pistachios should be used. Is it roasted or raw?

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

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

  20. Any suggestions on best way to make this a GF recipe?? Was debating almond or oat flour substitute for AP flour. Thanks!

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Toni! We haven’t tested these with gluten free flour but let us know if you try.

  21. These cookies are AMAZING, but what is truly delicious is the brown butter icing. I’m going to try to use that icing with other recipes because I loved it so much. Cheers!

  22. Hi! I was wondering instead of doing the icing if you think adding in white chocolate chips would work? The icing sounds great! I’m just looking for something that could sit out on the counter for a couple of days.
    TIA

    1. Hi Patsy, while I haven’t tested it to be certain, I’m sure adding white chocolate chips to this cookie dough would be fine.

  23. Hi! I just made these cookies and they turned out really yummy! My family loved them. I did want to ask, I used raw pistachios rather than roasted ones because the recipe didn’t specify. Would it be even better with roasted ones or is what I used the best option. Thanks so much!

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Cassidy, any works! We usually use unsalted raw pistachios. Roasted + salted it great too– extra flavor.

  24. Hi Sally,

    Can I used unshelled roasted pistachios?

    1. Michelle @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Lupe, You can use unshelled roasted pistachios. We usually use unsalted raw pistachios. Roasted + salted it great too– extra flavor.

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