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!
Do you ever catch the baking itch, but don’t know what to make next? Try a pistachio dessert. Seriously! It’s an unexpected and delicious flavor, and the pastel green hue is a lovely bonus.
I’ve shared my favorite Pistachio Cake, Pistachio Cupcakes, Salted Chocolate Pistachio Shortbread, and Pistachio Chocolate Chunk Cookies on my website. I love creating and publishing unique desserts using this underrated nut; pistachios are meant for sugar!
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.
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
- 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.
- The next step is to beat room temperature butter until it’s creamy and smooth.
- Add confectioners’ sugar. Confectioners’ sugar sweetens the cookies and replaces some of the flour. The cookies dry out with too much flour.
- 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.
- Chill the cookie dough for 30 minutes, then roll into balls.
- Bake until lightly browned, then top with the optional icing.
(LOL as if brown butter icing is ever optional.)
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, the brown butter icing sets after about 1 hour. This brown butter icing is also delicious on peach Bundt cake, apple blondies, pumpkin oatmeal cookies, and pecan sugar 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
- Lace Cookies
- Mini M&M Cookies
- Banana Chocolate Chip Breakfast Cookies
- Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars
- Coconut Macaroons
Pistachio Drop Cookies
- Prep Time: 45 minutes
- Cook Time: 15 minutes
- Total Time: 1 hour
- Yield: 3 dozen
- Category: Dessert
- Method: Baking
- Cuisine: American
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.
- 1 cup (130g) salted or unsalted pistachios*
- 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 (spooned & leveled)
- optional: 1-2 drops green food coloring (I used 1 drop of gel)
Brown Butter Icing (Optional)
- 1/4 cup (4 Tbsp; 57g) unsalted butter
- 1 cup (120g) confectioners’ sugar
- 2 Tablespoons (30ml) milk or heavy cream
- 1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.)
- Time-saving tip: prepare the brown butter icing (below) while cookie dough chills OR while cookies bake.
- Preheat oven to 350°F (177°C). Line large baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats. Set aside.
- 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.
- Bake the cookies until lightly browned on the bottom edges and just barely browned on top, about 14-15 minutes.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Special Tools (affiliate links): Electric Mixer (Handheld or Stand) | Food Processor or Chopper | Baking Sheet | Silicone Baking Mat or Parchment Paper | Cooling Rack | Whisk | Green Gel Food Coloring (optional)
- 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!
- Confectioners’ Sugar: Use confectioners’ (powdered) sugar. Don’t use granulated sugar. The cookies will over-spread and have a granular texture.
- 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 Comments & Reviews
I’ve been looking for this recipe since the first time I made them years ago! I’m so thankful u posted it again!!! These cookies with the brown butter icing are so freaking delicious! I absolutely love them
This might be my favorite thing I’ve ever baked! SUCH a rich flavor and a unique texture.
Hi Sally! My boyfriend asked for a pistachio cookie ice cream cake for his birthday. Will this recipe work as a large cookie for the base of an ice cream cake (I plan to bake the cookie in a round cake pan)? Do you have any suggestions or recommend altering baking time/temp? Thanks in advance!
Hi Kara, We haven’t tried this recipe in that way, but fear that if you make these too much bigger you’ll lose that moist, yet crumbly texture in the center. The centers likely won’t bake thoroughly and then you may accidentally over-bake the exteriors. If you decide to try it, you could slightly lower the oven temperature and extend the bake time.
Hi Sally, I would love to make these cookies for my vegan daughter and son-in-law but I’m finding that the vegan “butters” don’t work quite the same in recipes for baked goods as regular butter. Do you have any suggestions?
Hi Jackie, we haven’t tried this ourselves, but some readers have reported success using plant based butters in some of our cookie recipes. We’d love to know if you give it a try.
I would love to try making these but wonder if anyone has tried them with GF all purpose flour???
I made these for my Holiday cookie trays. I used a small scoop and used leaf green color. I skipped the glaze and covered with 1 white chocolate melting wafted and added red sanding sugar instead. They were a hit and I’ve already received multiple recipe requests. Thanks Sally for another tasty recipe.
I had a flop with another recipe called pistachio star cookie and this recipe saved my nuts! Lol
These cookies came out delicious. This recipe is incredibly easy, and these will look gorgeous in my cookie box this year. I am planning on dipping these in the glaze and topping with gold sugar sprinkles.
I made these for Christmas last year and they were a huge hit! I’m making them again this year to be given to friends and family. I was just wondering if it’s possible to make any of it ahead? E.g. make the dough and keep refrigerated, bake the cookies and store before frosting (airtight container or frozen) or is it best to make them and then eat them ASAP? Thanks!
Hi Eleanor, you can make the dough and keep it in the refrigerator for up to three days. You could make the frosting ahead of time, but the consistency may not be quite the same once thawed. You’ll likely need to add some additional liquid to it and remix to bring it back to dipping/drizzling consistency, so it may be best to just make the icing right when you’re planning to use it. You can also see longer freezing instructions in the recipe Notes section. So glad they were a hit for you!
I love your recipes! Consistently great results….and love the weighted measuring! I am not a novice baker and wanted to ask before I try this pistachio drop cookie recipe….I have made many others from your site. There is a fairly consistent order in your steps I am puzzled by. Instructions for drop or form into ball type cookies often have you chill the dough BEFORE scooping/shaping/rolling. I find this makes it really difficult, and in the case of the Peppermint Mocha Cookies (a to die for recipe that is now a family staple at Christmas), it actually broke my cookie scoop it was so stiff. I tend to scoop dough with scoops before chilling, then chill on sheets before baking. I find the scoops are perfect for portioning and also shaping with very minimal effort (one of my best gadget investments, I have about 8 different sizes), but dough has to be soft and pliable. Is there a reason it’s better to chill first before forming?
Hi Tara! Sticky dough can be hard to handle – especially for bakers not using cookie scoops. This is why we recommend chilling first, but you can definitely roll the balls before chilling if you prefer!
I typically chill dough for 30 mins to get it firm but not to hard, scoop/shape the dough, then refrigerate for the remaining time. This seems to make it WAY easier for me.
I shelled the pistachios and made the cookies, and they turned out good. My problem is the brown butter icing. I made it as directed and the butter browned perfectly. I added the confectioners’ sugar and vanilla and half & half and whisked by hand and it won’t come together. I even tried the “boat motor” immersion blender. I tried heating it up in the microwave in bursts and taking the boat motor to it–it smells and tastes good, but it’s kind of a greasy mess. If anyone sees this on 12/14/2022, I’d love to hear your thoughts about solutions. (I also made 2-3 other recipes from this site in the same cookiepalooza and this is the only one that didn’t turn out as expected.)
Hi Scott, is it particularly clumpy? You can try sifting your confectioners’ sugar to help rid of any lumps of sugar. That should help smooth things out considerably and help the icing come together.
Hi! I’m wondering if it would be possible to use this dough to make thumbprint cookies? It says it’s a shortbread dough, but also a little crumbly, so I was wondering if you think it would hold together well as a thumbprint? Thanks!
Hi Abby, we haven’t specifically tested it but think it’s definitely possible! After you mix up the dough and before chilling, we recommend following the assembling instructions for our chocolate thumbprint cookies— chilling the indented cookies. Then add the jam right before baking them as we do with these peanut butter jam thumbprints.
I am going to be making these for a cookie exchange and need several dozen. Is this recipe ok to triple? Thank you for your help and delicious recipes!
Hi Mandi, this is a crumbly type of dough so tripling it would be very hard on your mixer. I recommend making 3 separate batches, for best success.
Would it effect the cookie any if I use salted butter instead of unsalted?
Hi Denise! You can use salted butter for these cookies.
Hi, I am making this recipe tomorrow, I’m wondering if almond flour would be a good substitute for regular flour? Would it enhance the nutty flavor and give a shortbread feel to the cookies?
Hi Chelsea, These are already a bit crumbly in texture and we fear using all almond flour would make them even more so (it’s not an even swap with regular flour). You can try to substitute a small portion of the flour first and if you are happy with the taste and texture adjust future batches. Hope this helps!
Hi Sally! How long do these cookies last at room temperature and does the crunchiness of the pistachio change/ soften easily? What if I leave out the Brown Butter icing, does it keep my cookies for an even longer time? Can’t wait to make this as my Christmas cookies this year! Thanks you!
Hi Serinah, you can 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. The cookies are on the softer side to begin with (not crunchy — they’re more like a shortbread cookie!). They’re a wonderful addition to Christmas cookie platters!
I loved the recipe and the cookies are delicious! I was looking for the calories estimate in each cookie. Could you please provide that to me?
Hi Maria, We don’t usually include nutrition information as it can vary between different brands of the same ingredients. Plus, many recipes have ingredient substitutions or optional ingredients listed. However, there are many handy online calculators where you can plug in and customize your exact ingredients/brands. Readers have found this one especially helpful: https://www.verywellfit.com/recipe-nutrition-analyzer-4157076
Hi. Can I use unroasted shelled or should I roast them first ? I have some unsalted raw…
Hi Julie, any works! We usually use unsalted raw pistachios. Roasted + salted it great too– extra flavor.
So simple and simply amazing recipe! Thank you for sharing.
These cookies are delicious and my husband loved the flavor of the almond extract in them.
Wondering how you’d substitue with a pistachio pudding mix in this recipe? As I do have that handy and I don’t really want pistachio pudding, just love pistachios.
My family loves it when I make your Angel Food Cake Recipe.
Hi Frea, using a pudding mix would require some testing – it may be better to search for a recipe specifically formulated for that ingredient instead of trying to adapt this one. So glad the angel food cake is a hit!
I have made this three times. And followed it exactly. It never turns out. Awful
We are sorry this recipe is giving you trouble. If you let us know where they seemed to go wrong, we are happy to help troubleshoot!
Hi! I’m trying this recipe and I don’t know what I did wrong but the dough won’t come together, what can I do to save it ? Thank you
Waiting for a response to the question about dough not coming together (Nadya C’s question). Should some liquid be added?
Hi Lourdes, 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.
Super delicious. The flavor develops over a day or two, so make them a bit ahead to really impress.
Hi Laura, I was thinking about making these for our Christmas party and it’s a must that they can be made ahead. Do you think the cookies dried out at all after a couple days? I’m trying to decide if I should freeze them or just bake them 2 days ahead.
Hi, I don’t have any pistachios, but I do have pistachio paste. Would I be able to substitute one for the other? Would I need to make any adjustments? Thank you. 🙂
Hi Charlotte, I wish I could help but I haven’t tested the recipe with pistachio paste, so I’m not 100% sure. Let me know if you try it.
I have been looking for a pistachio cookie recipe and I’m glad I came across this one!! I haven’t made yet but I am wondering—
I recently purchased pistachio extract and have been wondering what to do with it— my question is could I use it with the almond extract or would that make these not taste right???
Hi Rebecca, swapping the almond extract with the pistachio extract should work just fine. Leave in the vanilla extract as written. Enjoy!
Hi Sally, could I possibly skip the almond extract? I made baked goods with almond extract before and wasn’t fond of its flavor in the final products. Thank you!
Hi Lisa, absolutely. 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 more vanilla extract instead if you’d prefer. Hope this helps!
I’ve made these cookies a couple of times and they have been a huge hit! Fabulous flavor and they hold together great but I do think they are coming just out a little drier than they’re maybe meant to be? I live at ~9000 and still perfecting my high altitude baking. I was thinking of adding a little heavy cream to the dough? Maybe slightly hotter, shorter baking time? Any suggestions?
Hi Maddy! We wish we could help, but we have no experience baking at high altitude so we’re unsure how that’s contributing to the dryness. Some readers have found this chart helpful: https://www.kingarthurflour.com/learn/high-altitude-baking.html We don’t recommend adding heavy cream as we fear that would change the texture of the dough too much, but you can definitely try a minute or two less in the oven for bake time. Also, be sure to spoon and level your flour so that too much doesn’t make its way into the dough, which can also dry out cookie. Hope these tips help for next time!
I love this recipe and so did my neighbor so I shared the Pistachio Drop Cookies and recipe with her
Can you make these much larger (bakery size cookies) and still have the same soft consistency? Would you do anything different if you were making them larger? Thanks!
Also, I’ve tried several of your recipes and they are delicious.
Hi Michelle, thank you so much! I wouldn’t shape these too much bigger because you’ll lose that moist, yet crumbly texture in the center. The centers likely won’t bake thoroughly and then you may accidentally over-bake the exteriors. Feel free to try it, though. You could slightly lower the oven temperature and extend the bake time.
If you are a baker and follow this recipe as written , you will be very happy with the outcome!!! Thank you Sally, all your recipes are AMazing! These are surely addicting!
I was super excited trying this recipe and I’m glad I did. The cookies are fabulous but the icing is overly sweet for my liking. I’m bummed that I iced them all for our Friendsgiving celebration today but I’ll just scrape it off of mine. Definitely making these again, just without the icing. Thanks for sharing!