Melt in your mouth butter pecan cookies are the perfect addition to your holiday dessert platter. Nutty and buttery, crunchy and chewy, they are so delish!

Butter Pecan Cookies on a cooling rack

You probably know that butter pecan cookies are famous for their delicate nutty buttery flavor. What you may not know is that they feature prominently in traditional holiday poetry!

It’s two weeks before Christmas, and all through the house, the cook is a-scurrying, with flour on her blouse! The cookies are set on the window to cool, in hopes that her guests will begin to drool! Okay, okay, due credit to Clement Clarke Moore’s A Visit from St. Nicholas here!

If you fit this description of a harried Christmas baker and need just one more incredible dessert to complete your spread, butter pecan cookies are the solution for you. They are quick and simple — using just nine ingredients and requiring only ten minutes of prep work — but also rich, refined, and elegant. And there are so many ways to beautify them! I love the classic half-pecan adornment, but keep reading for some other ideas!


  • Total recipe time is just half an hour!
  • Pecans are a classic winter holiday treat.
  • This recipe uses only a few readily available ingredients.
  • These cookies are both delicate and decadent!




What Are Butter Pecan Cookies?

With butter pecan cookies delish is the name of the game! A moist, chewy variant of the old standby Pecan Sandies, these nut cookies are a holiday classic.

Made with loads of buttery toasted pecans, with a bit of a crunch and just enough of a chew, these goodies fly off the table faster than you can say, “Save some for me!” For some other tremendous recipes featuring pecans, try my Pecan Pie Cobbler or Pecan Pie Cake.

Butter Pecan Cookies arranged on a cooling rack

What Ingredients Do You Need To Make Butter Pecan Cookies?

This butter pecan cookie recipe is made using just nine ingredients! You will need both chopped and halved pecans in addition to the usual cookie ingredients:  butter, some brown sugar, just one egg, a little vanilla, some all purpose flour, a bit of baking powder, and a couple pinches of salt! If you have nuts on hand you can skip the trip to the store!

How Do You Make Butter Pecan Cookies

Butter pecan shortbread cookies are so simple to put together! Prep time is a mere ten minutes. Just mix the dough and refrigerate it, brown the chopped pecans in a little butter, then roll it all together! Decorate your cookies with half a pecan (dipped in egg white for firm setting) before baking. All that’s left is to serve and enjoy!


Step By Step How To Make Butter Pecan Cookies

Step By Step: How To Make Butter Pecan Cookies

  1. In a bowl, add brown sugar and butter.
  2. Cream until light and fluffy. 
  3. Add egg yolk to the mixture.
  4. Add vanilla and beat.
  5. In a bowl, add flour, baking powder, and salt. Mix
  6. Gradually add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture. Mix well. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour.
  7. Place chopped pecans on a rimmed cookie sheet.
  8. Add a tablespoon of butter. Bake. Stir frequently until toasted. Set aside and cool.
  9. Roll dough into 1-inch balls then roll in toasted pecans. Place 2 inches apart on ungreased baking sheets.
  10. Beat egg white until foamy. Dip the bottom of pecan halves in egg white.
  11. Gently press a pecan half on top of each ball.
  12. Bake. Cool before removing to wire racks. (complete instructions below)



Butter Pecan Cookies

Melt in your mouth butter pecan cookies are the perfect addition to your holiday dessert platter. Nutty and buttery, crunchy and chewy, they are so delish!

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 16 cookies
Calories 333 kcal
Author kathleen


  • 1 3/4 Cups Pecans chopped
  • 1 Cup plus 1 Tablespoon Butter
  • 1 Cup Brown Sugar packed
  • 1 Egg separated
  • 1 Teaspoon Vanilla
  • 2 Cups All-Purpose Flour
  • 3 Teaspoons Baking Powder
  • 1 Teaspoon Salt
  • 1 Cup Pecan Halves


  1. In a large bowl, cream brown sugar and remaining butter until light and fluffy. Beat in egg yolk and vanilla. Gradually add flour, baking powder, and salt and mix well. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour or until easy to handle.
  2. Place chopped pecans and 1 tablespoon butter on a rimmed cookie sheet.  Bake at 325 degrees, stirring frequently, for 5-7 minutes or until toasted and browned.  Set aside and cool.
  3. Roll into 1-in. balls, then roll in toasted pecans, pressing nuts into dough. Place 2 in. apart on ungreased baking sheets. Beat egg white until foamy. Dip the bottom of pecan halves in egg white, then gently press one into each ball. (If you get the foamy egg white on the top of the pecan it with remain after baking and not be attractive)
  4. Bake at 375° for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown. Cool for 2 minutes before removing to wire racks.

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Nutritional Information

Nutrition information will vary based on the specific products. To be safe, check the nutrition facts labels of your products. Optional object listed above have been left out of nutritional data.

Nutrition Facts
Butter Pecan Cookies
Amount Per Serving (1 /16 of the recipe)
Calories 333 Calories from Fat 216
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 24g 37%
Saturated Fat 8g 40%
Cholesterol 40mg 13%
Sodium 255mg 11%
Potassium 187mg 5%
Total Carbohydrates 28g 9%
Dietary Fiber 2g 8%
Sugars 14g
Protein 3g 6%
Vitamin A 7.6%
Vitamin C 0.2%
Calcium 6.3%
Iron 7.6%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

Butter Pecan Cookies cut in half

Recipe Notes For Butter Pecan Cookies:

Chopping the pecans: If you opt for a variety of pecans that is not pre-chopped, you may find yourself facing the age old quandary of nuts shooting everywhere around the kitchen as you try to slice and dice! There are a few possible solutions. 1. Go for the food processor, if you have one! 2. Grip your chef’s knife with one hand on the handle and the other on the top of the tip, and slowly and gently rock the knife back and forth across a row of nuts. 3. Put the nuts in a bowl and use a tool like a pastry or apple cutter to chop them. Happy slicing!

Separating eggs: If you are an old hat at baking, this step is something you have done hundreds if not thousands of times! But for my new bakers out there, there are a few easy ways to separate egg yolks from egg whites. 1. Use your hand! Crack the egg over a bowl, catch the yolk, and let the white slip into the bowl. Just be sure to wash those pinkies thoroughly afterwards to avoid cross contamination! 2. Use a pasta spoon with holes. Let the white slide through the holes into a receptacle. 3. My favorite method of all is using the egg shell itself – no extra dishes! Crack the egg, catch the yolk in one half, and tip it back and forth between halves until all the whites have drained. 4. Last but not least, check out Handmania’s clever recycled bottle method for separating yolks. This one is a great trick to share if you have kids helping.

Toasting the pecans: This step is so important for the final flavor! Don’t forget to monitor the nuts closely to avoid scorching them or the butter. Frequent stirring helps with this, and also with even baking and distribution of butter. If you are oven-averse, the nuts can be browned on the stove top as well.

Dipping the pecans: To dip the nuts with minimal mess and maximal precision, use your fingers or a pair of tongs to grip each one. I would avoid spearing the nuts on something like a toothpick, because pecans are fragile and will probably spit!

Vanilla selection: While the higher price tag of pure, real vanilla extract gets you deeper, warmer flavor, you can usually get away with imitation vanilla in baked goods with other strong ingredients. In this case, the pecan will cover for you! Just test your extract selection before baking a huge batch of chewy pecan cookies – sometimes the flavor can be too far off from the original.

Design variations: If you want to test out a few different designs to add that extra pizazz to your cookie plate, try drizzling white icing across half of the batch, dusting some with powdered sugar, omitting the pecan on a few, or sugaring some of the pecans before baking. You can sugar the pecans on the stove top using butter, brown sugar, and a little cinnamon. Butter pecan cookies with maple frosting are also on point. Maple frosting is made with butter, maple syrup, vanilla, cream, and powdered sugar. For salty sweet butter pecan cookies, try decorating with sea salt flakes and a little orange zest. And for an even more fabulous dessert tray, add some sliced Pecan Pie Bars or Easy Bourbon Pecan Pound Cake With Caramel Glaze to the arrangement!  

Crunchy vs. chewy: There are two sorts of cookie lovers:  those who swear by the old crunchy standard, and those that go bananas over melty, doughy circles! The classic butter pecan is a little chewy in the center and crisp around the rim, which can keep both camps happy. If you want to push the needle further to one end of the scale, however, here’s how. For crunchy, cut back a tiny bit on the flour and brown sugar, and keep them in the oven for one to two extra minutes. For chewy butter pecan cookies, add a little more brown sugar and remove the cookies from the oven a minute or two early. Remember that cookies harden as they cool, so gauge your bake time accordingly!

Leftover pecan storage: Nuts are often expensive, but you can cut down on costs by buying them in bulk either online or from your local grocer. And don’t worry about preserving the leftovers:  pecans will keep in the fridge for close to a year, and in the freezer for up to two years! Just remember to use an air tight container and double check for freshness before consuming. My Classic Pecan Pie is a great way to use up the stragglers!

Butter Pecan Cookies, Close up

Can You Make Butter Pecan Cookies Ahead Of Time

Brown butter pecan cookies can be made well in advance! You can freeze them for several months, or keep them in the fridge for three days in a sealable container. The dough can also be kept in the fridge for about five days. Treats like these are great when you need to plan and prepare your expansive holiday dessert bar ahead of time.

How Do You Freeze Butter Pecan Cookies

Cookies with a lot of butter typically freeze very well. Butter pecans can be frozen in an air tight and freezer safe bag or container for around four months. You can also freeze the dough for about three months, if you want to serve them hot and fresh!

Thaw on the counter the night before baking or serving. For best results, thaw outside the freezer container so the melting condensation does not make them soggy. Then you’ll have butter pecan cookies Martha Stewart herself would approve of (no insider trading necessary)!

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Step By Step How To Make Butter Pecan Cookies