Cream Cheese Pecan Cookies

You could easily use walnuts, pistachios, or cashews in place of the pecans.

  • Prep time: 30 minutes
  • Cook time: 20 minutes
  • Dough freezing time: 4 hours
  • Yield: Makes 4 1/2 dozen cookies


  • 3 cups pecans
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 cups (4 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 6 ounces cream cheese (not whipped), room temperature
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 2 tablespoons vanilla extract


1 Bake the pecans to brown: Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Coarsely chop 1 1/2 cups of the pecans and spread them on a cookie sheet and bake for about 10 minutes or until the nuts are fragrant. Set aside to cool.

2 Whisk together the flour and salt in a large bowl.

3 Make the cookie dough: Beat together the butter and cream cheese in an electric mixer on medium speed for 2 minutes until light and fluffy.

Add the sugar and vanilla and beat for another minute.

Reduce the mixer speed to low and beat in the flour and salt until just combined. Do not over-mix. Fold in the toasted pecans.

4 Shape into logs and freeze: Transfer the dough to a work surface and divide the dough in half. Roughly shape each half into a 8-inch log about 2 inches in diameter.

Wrap each log in plastic wrap and place in the freezer until firm, about 4 hours, but overnight is best. The dough can sit in the freezer for up to two weeks and about a month if wrapped and then placed in an airtight container.

5 Roll logs of dough in pecans, cut into rounds: Preheat the oven to 350ºF with racks on the upper and lower thirds. Finely chop the remaining 1 1/2 cups of pecans. Unwrap one of the logs of dough and roll in the pecans.

Cut into 1/4-inch-thick rounds. Space 1-inch apart on baking sheets lined with parchment paper or silicone mats.

6 Bake: Bake the cookies at 350°F for 18-20 minutes or until the edges are a lightly golden. Rotate the cookies halfway through to ensure even baking.

Let cool on the sheets for a minute or two before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely. Repeat with remaining cookie dough.

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  • Janice

    I liked these cookies but I sliced them too thick and they weren’t crisp like I had hoped. Definitely want to try again.

  • Maria Mackey

    These are my go to cookies. I make the recipe above with two exceptions.

    I do not roll the cookie dough in the chopped pecans prior to baking. They didn’t still well enough when the dough was frozen.

    So I had all these extra nuts the first time I baked these cookies. So I heated up Ghirardelli Dark Melting (chocolate) wafers. I drizzled a little bit of chocolate over the cookies and then sprinkled the chopped pecans on (before the chocolate set).

    These are my families favorite cookies. And they look so pretty with chocolate drizzle.


  • Taurra

    No fail recipe. Excellent cookie soft sandy buttery goodness. My family loved loved loved them. Getting ready to make a batch now. Can’t wait to share with my coworkers. Happy holiday


  • Claire

    Can you use almond flour for these cookie

    • Emma Christensen

      Hi, Claire! Emma here, managing editor. I wouldn’t recommend it because I think you’ll have problems with the cookies holding together. If your aim is to make gluten-free cookies, though, then I think you’d be ok using an all-purpose gluten-free flour mix that contains xanthan gum. Our favorite here at Simply Recipes HQ is Bob’s Red Mill’s 1:1 Gluten Free Baking Flour Mix. Enjoy!

  • Tina Clemons

    If I make these, I would have to use Stevia for my sugar would that work?

    • Emma Christensen

      Hi, Tina! Emma, managing editor for Simply Recipes, here! We haven’t tested this recipe with Stevia, so I can’t really advise! I don’t think that sugar and stevia can be substituted 1-for-1 for each other, though. If you want to give it a try, I’d recommend doing a little research to figure out how much you should use. Good luck!

  • Wendy

    You said the racks in the oven should be on the top and bottom thirds, but which rack should you bake them on?

    • Elise Bauer

      You’ll need to use both of the racks. (Lots of cookies to bake)

  • Sara Walz

    Is it 2 T of vanilla? Seems like a lot, just want to make sure this is correct. Have all my ingredients and ready to go!

    • Elise Bauer

      Hi Sara, yes, that’s the amount we’ve been using for years. Feel free to cut back on it though if you think it’s going to be too much for you.

  • Suizou

    Perfection! Thanks!


  • Marianne

    HI!! Recipe was wonderful! I noticed some of you were having a hard time with getting the pecans to stick so my solution was to brush egg whites on the roll before pressing on pecans! Worked like a charm!


  • Ala

    These cookies are delicious! Definitely my favorite cookies.
    Two questions:
    1) If I make cookies in advance, how long would they survive? I plan to make them on Tuesday, and to bring as a present on Saturday. Last time we just ate them all up within two days, so I do not know. Or maybe, it is better just to keep the dough in the freezer?
    2) I have a huge bag of walnuts, not pecans. Last time I used pecans, do you think walnuts would work the same?

    Thank you for your wonderful site!

    • Elise Bauer

      Hi Ala, great questions! For how long they will last, it sort of depends on the humidity of where you are, so it’s hard to say. The more humid, the more they will fall apart. In any case, keep them in an airtight container and you should be fine for a week. Keeping the dough in the freezer and just cooking the cookies closer to when you need them would be ideal. As for subbing walnuts for the pecans, yes you can do that. Same proportions. The cookies will taste like walnuts and not pecans.

  • CaT

    perfect and delicious! hmmmmm…. :)


  • Devon

    Thanks Elise. These were delicious! My husband loves pecans so these were ideal. I don’t really like making cookies, cuz I love savory flavors- not sweet. Your cream cheese pecan cookies were the only cookies I made this holiday season and I’m glad I did.


  • kayg

    would that be okay to have it as cashew nuts..? :)

    Don’t know. If you try it, please let us know how it turns out for you. ~Elise

  • Andrea

    I made these for a friend and they turned out great! I put pistachios and cranberries in to add some extra color as well as some orange zest for flavor. Delicious cookies and cookie dough ;)

  • don

    If completely frozen, I would recommend that these be thawed a bit. I would be baking cookies now, except for the knife not being able to penetrate the roll.

  • Angela

    I LOVE shortbread and am a sucker for any different twist on the basic cookie. These were awesome!! After reading all the comments I decided to try something a little different during the process.

    After I made the dough, I put the rolled logs in the REFRIGERATOR for about 4 hours until firm then I rolled the logs in the chopped, raw pecans. After this I rolled each log in plastic wrap and stuck them in the freezer overnight. This way I had no trouble getting the pecans to stick to the rolls.

    Also in answer to Lulu’s question about spreading, these cookies didn’t. And also they were easy to slice in neat round pieces.

    I made these cookies for my son’s New Years party at work and the they were a hit!

    I kept an extra log in the freezer so now I can just slice off a few at time to bake when I need a sweetie to go with my tea.

    Thanks Elise

  • Hazel

    Cookies are delicious – rich with just the right amount of cheesy tang. Not easy to make though – my cookies don’t look anywhere near as pretty as the photo. Still, worth the trouble. Thanks for the lovely recipe!

  • Renee

    Sorry but just ok for me. I struggled too with the rolling a frozen log of cookie dough in pecans. Nothing stuck. Waited and waited…started pressing them in with my fingers after 15 min. Liked the cinnamon snap cookies better. But thanks for giving me recipes to try – most are delicious.

  • Gina

    Made these (and the orange poppy seed, peppermint bark, and cinnamonsnap cookies) for Christmas presents. All were loved. I subbed slivered almonds for the pecans and didn’t pre-toast anything (I was afraid I would burn the thin slivers). They were delicious! Thanks!

  • Alexandra

    When rolling the logs in the untoasted pecans, are you supposed to be able to have the pecans stick right out of the freezer? Or do the logs have to thaw a bit?

    Take the dough out of the freezer. Then carefully chop the remaining pecans. Then roll the dough roll in the chopped pecans. If they don’t stick, wait a couple minutes and try again. ~Elise

  • Jessica

    Out of curiosity, why do you only toast half the pecans? (As opposed to all or none?) Also, why the half that goes IN the cookies, rather than around the edge?

    Because the pecans around the edge will get toasted in the oven, as they are exposed to more air. The pecan surfaces that are surrounded by dough in the cookie itself will not toast. ~Elise

  • gina

    No leavening agent? Is this correct?

    That’s right. No leavening. ~Elise

  • Sy

    You lost me with the pecan instructions. What do you do with the ones that are already toasted if you put the ones that are not in the cookies?

    You fold in the toasted pecans into the cookie dough in step 3. You roll the logs in the untoasted pecans in step 5. ~Elise

  • Lulu

    These look delicious.
    I have a question. Do these cookies spread a lot, or do they stay about 2 inches in diameter?

    Now that I’ve eaten them all I don’t remember! I don’t think they spread a lot, but you should still leave room between the cookies on the tray. ~Elise

  • JS

    Gosh, this brings back memories of my favorite great aunt. She made these often and called them her “refrigerator cookies”. Sometimes she would vary the thickness of the slices. Sometimes she would add some cocoa to the mixture. She always liked to “square up” her cookie rolls so that the shape of the cookie she ended up with was sort of like a rectangle with bulging sides.

  • Jennie M

    These look so pretty and sound yummy!

    How sturdy to they feel to you? Do you think the would hold up in a carefully packed box?

    Thank you!

    Ours were sturdy enough. I think they would hold up. ~Elise