Pecan Sandies Recipe photo by Taste of Home
Total Time
Prep: 20 min. Bake: 20 min./batch + cooling
Pecan lovers won't want to miss these buttery, tender pecan sandies. Our six-ingredient recipe is oh-so simple.

Updated: Mar. 22, 2024

Pecan sandies are classic shortbread cookies, incredibly tender and buttery. For a nice treat any time of day or a welcome addition to a holiday cookie platter, it’s time to pull out our trusty pecan sandies recipe (we love our vintage cookie recipes!).

Earthy, sweet and rich, pecans lend flavor and crunch to nutty pecan desserts, from sticky pecan pie to these delicious pecan sandies. This recipe requires five ingredients, and none of them is an egg or leavening agent, so it’s easy to whip up when the mood strikes. You might never buy a box of sandies at the grocery store again.

Ingredients for Pecan Sandies

  • Butter: Butter adds a rich flavor and gives these cookies their signature melt-in-your-mouth texture. Use your favorite brand of butter, or try the best butter according to our Test Kitchen. If you prefer, use vegan butter to make this a vegan cookie (just make sure the sugar you buy is also vegan!).
  • Flour: All-purpose flour is the go-to for great cookie baking.
  • Confectioners’ sugar: Powdery, fluffy confectioners’ sugar contributes to the delicate texture of pecan sandies. It’s also called “icing sugar” or “powdered sugar.” Here’s more about different types of sugar, and how and when to use them.
  • Pecans: This cookie recipe showcases the pecan’s delicate, buttery flavor. Chop the nuts into roughly even pieces, and keep them large enough to appreciate the texture and bite in the cookie. For extra flavor, you can lightly toast the nuts before adding them to the batter. (But don’t over-toast them; they will continue to darken when the cookies bake.) Here are the best ways to chop nuts.


Step 1: Beat the butter mixture

Preheat the oven to 300°F. In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar until fluffy. Add the water and vanilla to the bowl, and beat well.

Editor’s Tip: It’s important to learn how to cream butter and sugar for baking recipes. Since the cookies don’t have any added leavening agent, this step gives the cookies volume, so be sure to beat the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy.

Step 2: Stir in the flour and pecans

Gradually add the flour until it is just incorporated into the dough. Using a large spatula or wooden spoon, fold in the pecans.

Editor’s Tip: Add the flour in three or four batches, gently beating after each addition. Don’t beat the batter too long, or the cookies may become tough. Learning how to fold ingredients is a tried-and-true baking technique. Gently folding the pecans into the mixture gently incorporates them without knocking the air from the batter.

Step 3: Shape the cookies, and bake

Scoop and roll the dough into 1-inch balls. Place them on ungreased baking sheets. Gently flatten each cookie with your fingers. Bake the cookies for 20 to 25 minutes or until the bottom edges are golden brown. Cool on a wire rack.

Editor’s Tip: The cookies will continue to bake from residual heat after being removed from the oven, so it’s important to move them from the baking tray to a wire rack for even cooling.

Step 4: Sprinkle with sugar

When the cookies are completely cool, dust with confectioners’ sugar.

Recipe Variations

  • Go nuts for nuts: It might seem forbidden to use anything but pecans in pecan sandies, but other nuts taste great, too. We especially like almonds, macadamia nuts or walnuts.
  • Add extract: A teaspoon of almond extract underlines the nutty flavor.
  • Add spice: The mild, buttery flavor of pecan sandies pairs well with your favorite baking spices. Some good picks include cinnamon, allspice, cardamom or pumpkin pie spice.

How to Store Pecan Sandies

Keep pecan sandies in an airtight container at room temperature for up to seven days. Allow them to cool completely first, or the steam from the warm cookies will add moisture to the container, resulting in soggy cookies. Here are more tips on how to store cookies.

How to Freeze Pecan Sandies

Pecan sandies freeze well, baked or unbaked. To freeze unbaked cookie dough, wrap it tightly in plastic wrap then again in a freezer storage bag or aluminum foil. The dough will keep well up to three months. Defrost in the refrigerator, then shape and bake the cookies.

You may also freeze baked cookies. Allow them to cool completely, then arrange in a single layer on a baking sheet lined with parchment. Freeze until solid, then transfer to a large freezer bag. They will keep in the freezer for up to six months. Reheat in the microwave straight from frozen, or allow them to defrost in the fridge before rewarming.

Pecan Sandies Tips

Pecan Sandies served on platter with chocolate dipTMB Studio

How do you prevent cookies from spreading?

We’re often asked: Why are my cookies flat? One of the main reasons pecan sandies can spread is the cookie dough was too warm, perhaps because the butter was too soft. Warm, soft butter melts quickly in a hot oven, resulting in cookies that puddle outward. The good news is that the cookies will still taste delicious, even if they’re not very photogenic. But to get picture-perfect pecan sandies, try refrigerating the cookie dough for a few moments after mixing or after shaping the cookies (or both, if your kitchen is especially warm). This will keep the butter nice and cold.

Why are my pecan sandies dry?

A well-made pecan sandie should be tender, almost melting in your mouth. If the cookies are dry, that usually means that the cookie dough was overmixed, which results in tough, crumbly cookies. One of our best baking tips is to mix the batter with a light touch.

Pecan Sandies served on platter with hot chocolate and marshmallowsTMB Studio

Watch how to Make Pecan Sandies

Pecan Sandies

Prep Time 20 min
Cook Time 20 min
Yield 5 dozen.


  • 2 cups butter, softened
  • 1 cup confectioners' sugar
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 4 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups chopped pecans
  • Additional confectioners' sugar


  1. Preheat oven to 300°. In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar. Add water and vanilla; mix well. Gradually add flour; fold in pecans.
  2. Roll dough into 1-in. balls. Place on ungreased baking sheets and flatten with fingers.
  3. Bake 20-25 minutes or until bottom edges are golden brown. Cool on a wire rack. When cool, dust with confectioners' sugar.

Nutrition Facts

1 cookie: 118 calories, 9g fat (4g saturated fat), 16mg cholesterol, 49mg sodium, 9g carbohydrate (2g sugars, 1g fiber), 1g protein.

Whenever Mother made this pecan sandies recipe, there never seemed to be enough! Even now when I make it, the cookies disappear quickly. These melt-in-your mouth treats are great with a cold glass of milk or a steaming mug of hot chocolate. —Debbie Carlson, San Diego, California