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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.

These are just like my lemon coconut drop cookies & cranberry spice cookies, too!

How to Make Pistachio Cookies

  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 brown butter 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 1x
  • 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

Scale
  • 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 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 lightly browned 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 the 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

Reader Questions and Reviews

  1. Hi Sally,
    I made these last week. The dough wouldn’t come together so I added a few tablespoons of heavy cream and it was great! The cookies were a hit. I made more for my friends to take with them. Thank you for a wonderful recipe.

    1. I put in 1 cup instead 3/4 cup powdered sugar by mistake. Since I was afraid the dough would be too dry because of that, I added some heavy cream. I did it by eye till the dough felt right, so can’t say how much. The dough was easy to work with and the cookie was yummy!

  2. I’ve made 2 batches. Love them. While the icing was still wet on the second batch, I dipped them in the left over ground pistachios. When I pack them to send out for the holidays, the icing won’t stick to the top of the film.

  3. I usually make the pecan melt aways but not this year. These are my new favorites. Thank you

    1. Hi Rox, swapping the almond extract with the pistachio extract should work just fine. Leave in the vanilla extract as written. Enjoy!

  4. Oh my!!! These are so delicious!! I made them exactly as the recipe said and they turned out just great. I drizzled an easy icing (confectioner’s sugar, vanilla & water) over the top and they were a hit! Another recipe to add to my Christmas baking repertoire.
    Thank you!

  5. ABSOLUTELY a staple on my cookie platter. Super delicious and your instructions are on point. Thanks for sharing-will definitely try your other receipes.

  6. These turned out very well. I didn’t ice them but instead lightly rolled the top of cookies in some confectioners sugar while still warm and once cooled dipped the bottoms in melted chocolate. Delicious. Very festive with green tint. Definitely making again

  7. Incredible! I made these exactly as the recipe suggests. I can’t wait to share with friends and neighbors for the holidays. Thank you for a wonderful recipe! I’ll be making these for years to come.

  8. Oh my god. You were not kidding about the icing. My husband and I just devoured the remaining icing with a spoon. These are so good!

  9. Hi Sally,

    I made the dough last night and put it in the refrigerator. The dough was very hard to come together, and I had to put more flour. Do you think the extra flour would create problems when I bake them today? Also, can I leave the cookies out for more than one day?

    Thanks
    Marie

    1. Hi Marie, Depending on how much extra flour you added the cookies should be ok but may taste a bit dry. If you ever make them again, keep in mind that the dough may not come together at first, but keep mixing and it will!

    1. after mixing ,my batter is crumbly …. how do I get it more dough -like ?

      1. Keep beating it because the dough will eventually come together. If it’s not after several minutes of mixing, beat in a couple drops of water.

  10. I wondered if raw pistachios will work or should they be roasted first. Or just toasted a bit?

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

    2. Amazing! I’m always on the lookout for egg-free cookies due to an egg allergy and I’m adding these to my favorites list! Easy to make and turned out perfectly.

  11. Thank you very much for this awesome recipe for pistachio drop cookies. I really love pistachio and almond. I taste of cookies and cakes with pistachio are really incredibly delicious.

  12. These were the new big hit of the Christmas cookie season! Delicious and truly drops from heaven! Thanks so much for sharing. I made a record 12 recipes this year. And It will be on my annual recipe list going forward.

  13. Nice easy recipe. Ingredients blended together well for me. Put round balls in oven but came out looking like your typical flat cookie shape. Could it be because I used plant based butter?? Regardless of how they look, they taste real good even before icing them .

    1. Hi PJ! Plant based butter can have different baking properties than regular butter and are not always a 1:1 swap. Glad you enjoyed them!

  14. Hi! I have leftover pistachio pulp from making nut milk- do you think I could use that in this recipe in place of the ground pistachios?

    1. Hi Hayley, We’ve never tested that before so we are unsure of the results. If the pulp still has some moisture it would be a different consistency and would take more recipe testing on how to adjust the recipe. Let us know if you try anything!

  15. One of the most delicious cookies I have ever had! Thank you so much for the recipe. I notice the recipe does not call for an egg. My cookies turned out super delicious…but they did fall apart a little with biting into them. Would an ounce or two of egg help bind the cookies together? Thank you again! Cindy

  16. Hi sally , I want to make these heavenly cookies but first I need to ask a question . Can we replace the flour with almond flour and add egg whites like Italian pistachio cookies? Whats the difference between the texture of this cookie and Italian one ?

    1. Hi Ladan, I’m glad to help. These are more of a shortbread-style cookie. Crumbly, thick, a bit tender in the centers. As I understand, Italian Pistachio Cookies are softer and a bit more delicate. I recommend looking for a pistachio cookie recipe with almond flour and egg whites– neither would be suitable here unless you did some testing.

  17. WOW pistachio cookies were my 7yr old grand daughters request, she was eating pistachios and says “Nanny i wonder if we can make cookies with pistachios” I’ve used your site for other things, and I looked on your site, and said, oh we sure can! We tried your recipe! One word AMAZING and super easy to make, they turned out AMAZING, lol did i say that twice! Well I can’t say it enough. Thank you for creating this site, and sharing your recipes, we are grateful!

    1. Hi Loretta, Thank you for trying this recipe! So glad you enjoyed the cookies with your granddaughter!

  18. Love this recipe!!! One of these days I will take the time to roll these into balls for cookies, but I’m always short on time so I just grind the pistachios in the food processor, and then add the rest of the ingredients (use cold butter) to the food processor to blend, then press the dough into a 9×13 pan (don’t even chill it) and bake for 15-17 minutes or until just starting to very lightly brown, then pour the icing over the top when they’re warm and serve as a “shortbread bar”. My family can’t get enough of these! I’m sure they would be great with raw, roasted, salted, or unsalted pistachios, as long as you add some salt to the dough if using unsalted. I usually use salted pistachios and still add a little salt (1/4-1/2 teas) to the dough, and a dash to the icing, as I love the sweet and salty combo. Also, I use only a half teaspoon of almond flavoring and 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla so the almond doesn’t overpower the pistachio flavor. One other addition I’ve tried and love is to add the zest of one small orange… AMAZING!! Thanks for the recipe!

  19. Great recipe! Cookies turned out perfect. The browned butter icing was a great addition.

  20. These were amazing! Totally worth the effort of shelling all those pistachios!

    1. Hi Shiloh, Keep beating it because the dough will eventually come together. If it’s not after several minutes of mixing, beat in a couple drops of water.

  21. Hi Sally, we are big fans of your recipes, I am sorry, we are beginners and we did not understand, the tecipe says 1 cup pistachios and 3/4 fine crumbled, I did not find what to do with the remaining 1/4 . Please help, thanks

    1. Hi Ike, thank you so much for giving this recipe a try! Starting with 1 cup pistachios should yield about 3/4 when they’re chopped. If you have extra, use as garnish on the icing or sprinkle over ice cream, cake, salad, and more!

  22. What happens if I omit almond extract? Would the pistachio nutty taste be less intense?

    1. Hi JY, yes, it would simply lessen the pistachio flavor. The almond extract really amplifies it in recipes, since pistachio is pretty subtle. But you could certainly use vanilla extract instead if you’d prefer. Hope this helps!

  23. Absolutely amazing! Don’t generally bake, but when I came upon these I had to make them. They turned out phenomenal and I got 37 out of this recipe! Just as described. Thank you!!!

  24. Hi Sally,
    We made these lovely cookies and they did not turn out like the balls we were expecting! HELP! What do we do?!

    1. Hi Becky! Is the mixture too dry to form into balls? How did you measure the flour? Make sure to spoon and level (instead of scooping) to avoid packing in too much flour into your measuring cups – or use a kitchen scale. You can read more about properly measuring baking ingredients in this post. If the mixture is too loose, it could be an issue of starting with butter that was too warm – here’s what room temperature butter really means. Hope these tips help for next time!

  25. This recipe was so delicious. My grandfather’s funeral is this weekend, and he loved pistachios, so I wanted to make some pistachio cookies for the funeral. I made three types your pistachio cookies: these pistachio drop cookies, the raspberry pistachio linzer cookies, and the salted chocolate pistachio shortbread. Next, my family taste tested each cookie. Although most loved every cookie, the unanimous winner was this recipe: the pistachio drop cookies; the reason being that you can clearly taste the pistachio flavor. Unlike the other two recipes whose flavor, although delicious, are overwhelmed by chocolate or raspberry, the delicious brown butter icing in this recipe compliments the pistachio flavor and doesn’t hide it. Thank you for the delicious recipes, Sally! Your website is always the one I go to first for new recipes.

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