These pecan shortbread cookies are made with just butter, sugar, flour, vanilla extract, and toasted pecans. It's a great recipe for Christmas and the holiday season.
The pecan shortbread cookies are so buttery, light, crumbly, and full of pecan flavor. You will have a hard time restraining yourself from eating the whole batch (or two) too fast. If these cookies do disappear quickly from your kitchen, you can always make other delicious Christmas cookies, such as almond shortbread cookies with Amaretto or hazelnut shortbread cookies.
Using toasted pecans is very important in this recipe! Toasting pecans in the oven really brings out their flavor and makes the pecan shortbread cookies the way they are meant to be: nutty, melt-in-your-mouth, delicate.
If you love cookies rich with the flavor of toasted nuts and the butter - this is the recipe for you.
Pecan shortbread cookies have been my faithful companions over the last several days. They are the reason I look forward to coming home from work every day. They are the reason my husband almost finished a gallon of milk in a matter of 3 days.
You see, cookies (such as almond crescent cookies or cranberry noels) and milk - those go well together. As well as cookies and hot tea. Or, cookies and coffee. Or, cookies and movies, on the couch. These shortbread pecan cookies are perfect. For everything! Especially for Christmas and for the holiday season.
The pecans are first lightly toasted in the oven, then they are finely ground in the food processor, and then they are added to the cookie dough. The cookie dough is shaped into logs, chilled, thinly sliced, and then baked! Super easy!
I can't believe I've never made pecan shortbread cookies before! What has stopped me until now? Maybe, it was the price of pecans: why would I use expensive nuts for some basic shortbread cookies instead of saving the pecans for something more sophisticated, such as a pecan pie. That could've been my train of thought. And now, back to the recipe.
Important tips and tricks
- Use toasted pecans. Toasted pecans add a rich nutty flavor to the cookies. If you don't toast the nuts, the cookie won't taste the same. It's way better with toasted nuts!
- Place the cookie dough in the freezer for 30 minutes before baking. Placing the cookie dough for a short time (30 minutes) in the freezer allows the cookie dough to thicken and to chill. It ensured the cookies keep their perfect round shape when baking. If you intend to bake the cookies right away, don't freeze the cookie dough longer than 30 minutes. You don't want the cookie dough to be actually frozen, just chilled and thickened. You can, however, freeze the cookie dough (shaped in logs and wrapped in plastic wrap) for up to 3 days before baking. If you freeze the cookie dough for that long (3 days), allow it to sit at room temperature for about 30 minutes before slicing the cooking dough log into slices.
How to toast pecans
- Line the baking sheet with parchment paper. Place the pecans on the baking sheet.
- Toast the pecans in the preheated oven at 350 F for about 5 minutes.
- Note: pecans burn easily so watch them carefully to make sure they don't burn.
How to store pecan shortbread cookies
- Store cookies, covered, at room temperature for up to 1 week.
- Freeze cookies, covered in an air-tight container, for up to 2 months.
Favorite Christmas Cookie Recipes
Pecan shortbread cookie is such a classic holiday cookie! It's a great addition to your Christmas cookie box. Here are my other favorite Christmas cookie recipes:
- Almond Crescent Cookies
- Almond Shortbread Cookies with Amaretto
- Hazelnut Shortbread Cookies
- Cranberry Noels
- Chocolate-Dipped Pecan Shortbread Cookies
- Chocolate-Covered Hazelnut Shortbread Cookies
- Browned Butter Pecan Sandies
Pecan Shortbread Cookies
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- ⅛ teaspoon salt
- 4 oz unsalted butter room temperature
- ⅓ cup white sugar
- ½ cup pecans toasted, finely ground
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
How to make finely ground toasted pecans:
- Toast pecans at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 5 minutes. Watch carefully to make sure they don’t burn – they burn easily. Cool them off completely.
- To make finely ground nuts, place toasted pecans into the food processor and process until finely ground.
How to make pecan shortbread cookie dough:
- In a large mixing bowl, beat butter, sugar until creamy. Add vanilla and continue beating.
- Add ½ cup finely ground pecans and beat to combine.
- In a separate bowl, combine flour and salt, then add mixed flour and salt to the creamy butter-sugar mixture. Do not overmix, just enough to combine all ingredients and form a cookie dough.
How to shape cookie dough:
- Shape dough into 4 logs of different thickness (to make cookies of different radius – large and small).
- Wrap each log in plastic wrap and put wrapped cookie dough in the freezer for 30 minutes, then in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
How to bake pecan shortbread cookies:
- Preheat oven to 325 Fahrenheit.
- After cookie dough has been in the freezer and in the refrigerator, unwrap the plastic wrap and slice each log into thin cookie slices.
- Place cookie slices on a parchment-lined ungreased baking sheet, spacing 1 inch apart.
- Bake for about 15 minutes, don’t let the cookies get brown.
- After about 15 minutes of baking, transfer cookies to a wire rack to cool.
The nutritional information on this website is only an estimate and is provided for convenience and as a courtesy only. The accuracy of the nutritional information for any recipe on this site is not guaranteed. It should not be used as a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
wondering can this recipe be doubled
Ellen, yes, it can be easily doubled.
I am not sure what happened. My dough is so dry it will not form a log, how to I fix this issue. Nore butter?
Try adding more butter. You can even add small amounts of water (1 teaspoon at a time) and knead the dough. The shortbread dough should be crumbly - it should just hold together.
To prevent this from happening, make sure to aerate or sift the flour before adding it to the liquid ingredients. Too much flour can cause the dough to be too dry.
great cookies one of my favorite. Very easy to make. a real hit with coffee at our house.
William, I am so happy to hear you enjoyed these cookies! Thank you for your comment! 🙂
Quick and easy, but most importantly, delicious. I added lavender and almond extract as a nice variation the second time making them. Great base recipe.
Josh, so glad you enjoyed these cookies! Love the addition of lavender and almond extract - sounds so good!
Beautiful looking cookies! Trying them this year!
Thank you! Enjoy!
Hi, these look good. Can this dough be rolled and cut with cookie cutters?
Yes, you can. However, you should roll the dough right after you make it and only then refrigerate it (or briefly put it in the freezer). In other words, don't roll the dough after chilling it. Roll it out before chilling the dough in the freezer (briefly) or in the refrigerator.
I found this very helpful article: https://food52.com/blog/18559-this-trick-will-free-you-from-the-frustrations-of-rolling-out-cookie-dough
In a nutshell, make the dough, then roll it out pre-chilling, between 2 sheets of parchment paper. Then, chill the dough (rolled out between 2 sheets of parchment paper) in the refrigerator. When it's chilled and firm, use cookie cutters to cut out the shapes you want right on the parchment paper. Pull away the scraps of dough from the parchment paper, while cookies remain on the paper. For more details, refer to this article: https://food52.com/blog/18559-this-trick-will-free-you-from-the-frustrations-of-rolling-out-cookie-dough
I made these last Thanksgiving, planning to make the again! Love these!
So happy to hear that!