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

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

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.

Pistachio cookie dough

Pistachio drop cookie dough

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

  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.)

Brown butter icing

Pistachio drop cookies

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. 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 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

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Pistachio cookies

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

101 Comments

  1. I made these delicious cookies with my granddaughter yesterday – they are absolutely superb – this is a fabulous recipe! Thank you!

  2. Snowballs are my all time favorite cookie. These are a super variation of this type of cookie! I love them and so does my husband! Another Sally Hit!!

  3. Tried these over the weekend and they’re the best cookies ever!! I skipped the frosting and dipped in powdered sugar instead like the snowball cookies. They were great!

  4. What a great idea to make these with pistachios, Sally. They’re so pretty! I have half a batch of your pecan snowballs in the freezer ready to bake, and I’m going to try those with the brown butter icing instead of powdered sugar – butter pecan snowballs…MMMMMMMM!!

  5. These cookies are outstanding! Do not skip the brown butter icing – it is a must! I had to stop myself from sneaking spoonfuls out of the bowl.

  6. Readies these drop cookies yesterday and baked after chilling in the frig for 18 hours. Nothing scientific about how long they were kept in the frig. I simply got to them today after running errands and could stand still long enough to bake and to make the brown glaze.

    These small, crumbly cookies are so uniquely divine. Sublime, they pack a suprising amount of flavor in such a small cookie.

    These are definitely on the “keep” list.

  7. So excited to make these!
    I was wondering if you could comment on Confectioners Sugar versus pure Icing Sugar? I understand that for things like royal icing it matters which you use, but for other recipes like these cookies will it make a difference?
    Thank you! Love everything I’ve made from your recipes!!

    1. In the U.S. powdered, confectioners, and icing sugar all mean the same thing. It is granulated sugar that has been finely ground and mixed with a small amount of cornstarch to prevent caking.

    2. I just made these cookies and they are so yummy. The dough was a little crumbly, but just like Sally said it would, it came together in my hands as I rolled them. The brown butter icing… OMG. I could eat it by itself and see slathering it on all sorts of things.
      Pecan snowballs are one of my favorites. My Nana (she passed several years ago) used to make them every Christmas, and always saved a bag just for me. Even though I have her recipe, I’ve never been able to bring myself to make them. These pistachio cookies are so reminiscent of those cookies and may just get me to tackle her recipe once and for all.
      Thank you, Sally!

  8. I recently made these and they’re delicious, but they aren’t as pretty as Sally’s that are pictured in her post. My green gel brand didn’t seem to change batter color at all. Tried multiple drops. And my icing was not white like the picture, more of a tan color (assuming this is because of browned butter). Still tasted fantastic and chopped pistachios helped the look, but color was definitely not as appealing. What did I do wrong?

    1. Hi Patti! So glad you tried and loved how these pistachio cookies taste.

      Regarding the colors: I removed the brown butter from the stove right away, so my brown butter never got super dark. That could be the difference between a lighter icing vs a more yellow icing. I also used cream, much thicker than milk. I use Americolor gel food coloring and 1-2 drops created a lovely mint shade. Keep coloring until you achieve your desired color.

  9. I am so glad that I doubled this recipe when I made them. My husband (a pistachio lover) went crazy over these cookies. They are very good and the icing added a nice flavor. This recipe goes into my recipe book. Outstanding

  10. These are amazing! They are seriously one of my new favorite cookies! Don’t skip the browned butter icing- it’s fantastic with these cookies!

  11. I absolutely love anything with pistachio. I made these last night and they are delicious. I plan to add these to the Easter dessert menu! Thanks for a wonderful recipe!

  12. Just made these for a st Patrick’s event. Sally is right about the brown butter icing – to die for!!!

  13. I made these cookies today, and they tasted amazing, and the brown butter frosting is absolutely divine! But even though I chilled the dough for about 50 minutes and then chilled them a bit more before putting them in the oven, they spread so much and are quite flat. I didn’t change the recipe at all, though I realized I may have chopped the pistachios a little finer than you did. Would that have caused it? Almost all your recipes typically work for me, so I’m just confused what could have gone wrong. Though like I said, they do taste fantastic, so I’m not complaining!

  14. Espectacular!!!!!! I am not a big cookie fan but I love browned butter icing and pistachios so I decided to try them. Just finished making them and WOW!!! Sooo good! I followed recipe exactly and turned out amazing! So glad it makes 3 dozens and no one in my house likes pistachios… all for me!!!!! 🙂

  15. Delicious! We prefer bite sized cookies – 1/2 of recipe yielded 24 cookies using about 1/2 tbsp of dough. Also, in honor of St. Patrick’s Day, used Bailey’s Irish Creme instead of milk in the icing

  16. I made these over the weekend and they were great! I, like another reader, just rolled them in powdered sugar after baking due to feeling a bit lazy, and they are superb that way – I know how good the brown butter icing is though and I’ll definitely try it the right way next time. Another wonderful pistachio dessert, quickly becoming my favorite flavor dessert.

  17. 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!

  18. Hi Sally! I’m not a big fan of pistachios in general, but these cookies look so cute and pretty that I would still love to make them! I would like to do a chocolate hazelnut version. Can I do a 1:1 swap to replace the pistachios with hazelnuts? And have you got any advice over how to make this dough chocolate? Maybe swapping out some of the flour for cocoa powder (I only have dutch-processed)? Would that work? And then I obviously have to top them with your Nutella glaze, though the brown butter version looks delicious! Thanks, Sally! I’m looking forward to these already!

      1. Thanks anyways, Sally! Maybe I could incorporate some chocolate chips into the day in place of some of the nuts for chocolate flavor? Would that work? Thanks!

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

  20. 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.

      1. Hi sally, thank you for your reply 🙂
        I’m pretty sure the brown butter is still in its liquid form while I am combining the rest of the icing ingredients. Is it because the cream is still slightly cold or I have whipped the whole thing too vigorously.
        Thank you 🙂

  21. 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 !

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