Butter Pecan Cookies Recipe photo by Taste of Home
Total Time
Prep: 25 min. + chilling Bake: 10 min./batch
These buttery soft, flaky butter pecan cookies are rich in flavor and versatile enough to complement other desserts and sweet treats, too.

Updated: Jul. 07, 2024

These butter pecan cookies have a delightful taste: they’re nutty, lightly sweet and packed full of buttery smooth pecan flavor. Although they do require a bit of prep time (they need to chill for an hour in the fridge before shaping), they’re relatively easy to make and don’t require a lot of complicated ingredients. If you’d prefer, they freeze well, so you can absolutely make these a few months or so in advance.

 Ingredients for Butter Pecan Cookies

  • Pecans: Chop pecans for the batter, but leave some in halves for topping at the end.
  • Butter: Be sure to fully soften butter prior to using.
  • Brown sugar: Brown sugar adds a nice rich, deep sugar flavor as well as a creamier texture.
  • Eggs: Keep egg at room temperature; this can take up to an hour to achieve.
  • Vanilla extract: Skip the imitation extract; the rich, smooth flavor of real vanilla extract is worth it.
  • Self-rising flour: This type of flour helps to make the texture of these butter pecan cookies light and slightly crumbly.

Directions

Step 1: Prepare pecans

Preheat oven to 325°F. Chop pecans and place on a baking pan with 1 tablespoon of butter. Bake 5 to 7 minutes, or until pecans are toasted and browned. Stir frequently. Once browned, set aside to cool.

Step 2: Make the dough

Next, in a large bowl or stand mixer, cream brown sugar and remaining butter until light and fluffy, about 5 to 7 minutes. Beat in egg yolk and vanilla. Gradually add flour, and continue to mix until fully combined. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour, or until easy to handle.

Step 3: Shape and bake

Preheat oven to 375°F. Roll dough into 1-inch balls, then roll balls in the chopped and toasted pecans, pressing nuts gently into the dough. Place 2 inches apart on an ungreased baking sheet. Beat egg until white and foamy.

Next, dip pecan halves into egg white, and then gently press one into each ball.

Bake until golden brown, or about 10 to 12 minutes. Cool for 2 minutes, remove to wire racks and serve warm or after completely cooled.

Recipe Variations

  • Add mixed nuts: Swap out the chopped pecans for a variety of mixed nuts, keeping the halved pecan topper for the end. This will switch up the pecan flavor, but it’s a nice variation.
  • Drizzle with honey: Just before baking, drizzle a thin line of honey over the top of each cookie and then bake. The result is a decadent, moisture-rich honey flavor that complements the pecans well.
  • Swap for hazelnuts: To make these with another nut flavor completely, swap out the pecans for hazelnuts. You can even swap the vanilla extract for hazelnut extract, too.

How to Store Butter Pecan Cookies

These cookies can be stored on the counter in an airtight container, or in the fridge, wrapped well.

Can you freeze butter pecan cookies?

Yes, these cookies freeze exceptionally well. To do so, wrap in a freezer-safe, airtight plastic bag or wrap, and store for up to 4 months.

Butter Pecan Cookie Tips

Are this butter pecan cookie recipe appropriate for the holidays?

This butter pecan cookie recipe is an excellent addition to your holiday sweet treat or sugar cookie spread. The rich, nutty texture and flavor will complement other holiday cookies, and because they aren’t too sweet, they can be enjoyed with other, sweeter treats such as homemade chocolate ice cream. For the same reason, they’re also yummy alongside coffee or a cup of cappuccino in the morning.

Can these be vegan?

Yes. Simply swap out the butter called for in this recipe for a vegan baking butter. Skip the egg wash at the end, and sub a vegan egg for the recipe.

How do I get a richer pecan flavor?

If the chopped nuts and topper aren’t quite enough nutty flavor, you can add butter pecan extract to your cookies in place of the vanilla extract.

Butter Pecan Cookies

Prep Time 25 min
Cook Time 10 min
Yield 4 dozen

Ingredients

  • 1-3/4 cups chopped pecans
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 cup butter, softened, divided
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 large egg, separated, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups self-rising flour
  • 1 cup pecan halves

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 325°. Place chopped pecans and 1 tablespoon butter in a baking pan. Bake 5-7 minutes or until pecans are toasted and browned, stirring frequently. Set aside to cool.
  2. In a large bowl, cream brown sugar and remaining butter until light and fluffy, 5-7 minutes. Beat in egg yolk and vanilla. Gradually add flour and mix well. Cover and refrigerate 1 hour or until easy to handle.
  3. Preheat oven to 375°. Roll dough into 1-in. balls, then roll balls in toasted pecans, pressing nuts into dough. Place 2 in. apart on ungreased baking sheets. Beat egg white until foamy. Dip pecan halves into egg white, then gently press 1 into each ball.
  4. Bake at 375° until golden brown, 10-12 minutes. Cool for 2 minutes before removing to wire racks.

Nutrition Facts

1 cookie: 115 calories, 9g fat (3g saturated fat), 15mg cholesterol, 97mg sodium, 9g carbohydrate (5g sugars, 1g fiber), 1g protein.

When my daughter was a teen, these butter pecan cookies earned her blue ribbons from two county fairs. Then a few years ago, her own daughter took home a blue ribbon for the same cookie. Needless to say, these mouthwatering morsels are winners! —Martha Thefield, Cedartown, Georgia
Recipe Creator