I love butter pecan cookies! I love the way they melt in your mouth. I love the taste of pecans, and of course, the taste of butter. These cookies lasted about an hour here.
Tip for Making the Best Pecan Cookies
By the way, here's a tip I learned over lunch with Bay Area pastry chef Shuna Fish Lydon of Eggbeater. Beat the butter first. Then, add sugar and beat them together. This is the way it is supposed to be done. (Thanks Shuna!)
The Best Pecans to Use
You can start with whole pecans, pecan bits, or chopped pecans in this recipe, but be sure to chop the nuts nice and fine for a better textured cookie.
If you want a nuttier flavor, toast the nuts lightly before adding to the batter. There are a couple of ways you can this:
- Toast them on your stovetop in a dry skillet. Just place the pecans in a large skillet in a single layer. Stir with a wooden spoon until lightly browned and fragrant.
- Toast them in the oven. In your preheated (350°F) oven, place the pecans in a single layer on a baking sheet. Toast for 5 to 10 minutes, tossing occasionally for even cooking.
- Remember that pecans burn a little easier than other nuts, however you toast them. So, remove them from the heat immediately, and transfer onto a bowl or plate right after toasting to stop the cooking process.
- It's not necessary to grease the baking sheets or line them with parchment paper for this recipe. But for easier cleanup, line your sheets with parchment.
- To make the cookies more even in shape, you can bake them in a muffin pan. But you'll still want to flatten the cookies before baking.
- To keep the dough from sticking to the glass when flattening, chill the glass beforehand, or dip the bottom in sugar in between cookies.
Swaps and Substitutions
- Don't worry! The dough will be a little crumbly, but it's supposed to be like shortbread dough, which doesn't have eggs. If you prefer to add one, know that the cookies will end up softer and chewier than the original recipe.
- To amp up the flavor, add a 1/4 cup of toffee bits, chocolate chips or even some chopped lavender or rosemary.
- Chocolate lovers may want to add a 1/4 cup of unsweetened cocoa to the batter. But if you do, add 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) more butter in the batter.
- Not a fan of pecans? You can use chopped walnuts or other nuts. If you have a nut allergy, you can even substitute sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, or sesame seeds.
How to Store and Freeze Pecan Cookies:
Once you've rolled the dough into balls, you can freeze them to bake later. First freeze them in a single layer, to keep them from sticking together. Once they're firm, place them in a zip top bag for up to 3 months. (We recommend writing the bake time and temperature on the outside of the bag, Because, who can remember anything once it goes into the black hole of our freezer?)
When you're ready to bake the cookies, let the dough thaw on a baking sheet while the oven preheats. Then, flatten the dough with a glass before baking as directed.
You can also freeze the cookies after they have been baked. Be sure they are completely cooled, and place them in an airtight plastic container (again, labeled with the name and date). Place wax paper or parchment sheets between layers. Baked cookies can keep for months in the freezer if completely sealed from the air, but best to eat them after 3 to 4 weeks. Let the cookies defrost completely before serving.
More Pecan Recipes
Got leftover pecans? Here’s how to use them up!
Butter Pecan Cookies
- 1/2 cup (1 stick, 112 g) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1/3 cup (70 g) sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup (140 g) all-purpose flour
- 3/4 cup pecans (80 g), chopped
Make cookie dough:
With an electric mixer, beat the butter for about a minute. Add sugar and beat until light, about 1 minute more. Beat in vanilla, salt, and flour, scraping down sides of bowl, just until dough comes together. Fold in pecans.
Roll into balls, place on cookie sheet:
Separate dough into 12 pieces; shape dough into walnut-sized balls. Place 3 inches apart on a baking sheet.
Gently flatten with a glass:
Using the bottom of a glass, gently flatten each cookie. Reshape sides if necessary.
Bake at 350°F (175°C) until golden brown:
Bake 16 minutes, rotating sheet halfway through for even cooking. Remove and cool cookies on a wire rack.