Pecan Shortbread Cookies

Tested & Perfected Recipes

Rolled in coarse sugar, these sophisticated pecan shortbread cookies are long on buttery, nutty flavor.

These buttery, sugar-crusted pecan shortbread cookies come from my friend Lisa Kolb Ruland, a self-described “recovering lawyer” turned CIA-trained pastry chef. Lisa has worked in some of New York City’s top bakeshops, and she is also the voice behind the lovely blog Unpeeled, where she shares trusted recipes, interesting profiles of women in food, and more.

Lisa describes these shortbread cookies as “sweet but not cloying, hearty and nutty but still delicate…a standout.” I have to agree — they are one of the most delicious cookies I have ever made. If you’re looking for something sophisticated to nibble on with coffee or tea, a gift-worthy baked good to share with friends or neighbors, or just a fun baking project, these cookies fit the bill.

What You’ll Need To Make Pecan Shortbread Cookies

ingredients for pecan shortbread cookies

How To Make Pecan Shortbread Cookies

Begin by toasting the pecans in a 350°F-oven for about five minutes to bring out their flavor. Let the pecans cool on the baking sheet while you prepare the cookie dough.

toasting the pecans

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the butter, confectioners’ sugar, vanilla, and salt.

butter, sugar, and vanilla in mixer

Beat until smooth and lightened a bit, two to three minutes.

creamed butter and sugar mixture

Scrape the bowl with a spatula and add the flour.

adding flour

Mix on low speed until just combined.

mixed pecan shortbread cookie dough

Add the toasted pecans.

adding the toasted pecans to the dough

Mix on low speed until evenly incorporated.

pecan shortbread cookie dough in mixer

Turn the dough onto a clean countertop lightly dusted with flour. Dust the dough with a little flour as well.

pecan shortbread cookie dough on flour-dusted counterShape and roll into a squared log between 1-1/2 to 2 inches wide and 1-1/2 to 2 inches high, dusting with more flour as necessary. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap or parchment paper and chill for at least one hour or overnight, until the dough has gotten very firm.

forming the dough log

Once chilled, slice the chilled log into two halves. Brush the log with a beaten egg yolk.

beaten egg yolk, cookie dough logs, and turbinado sugar on counter

Roll the logs in demerara sugar, pressing as necessary, until fully coated. If there are any areas of the log that are bare, sprinkle with the demerara sugar to cover.

rolling the dough logs in turbinado sugarUse a serrated knife to slice each log into about 12 individual cookies, each about 1/2-inch thick. Place the cookie slices onto the prepared baking sheets, leaving about 2 inches of space between each.

sliced shortbread cookies on baking sheet ready to bakeBake until lightly golden, 18 to 20 minutes.

baked shortbread cookies on baking sheet

Let the cookies cool on the baking sheets for a few minutes, then transfer to a rack to cool completely.

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Pecan Shortbread Cookies

Rolled in coarse sugar, these sophisticated pecan shortbread cookies are long on buttery, nutty flavor.

Servings: 24 cookies
Prep Time: 15 Minutes
Cook Time: 20 Minutes
Total Time: 35 Minutes, plus 1 hour to chill the dough

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup chopped pecans
  • 10 tablespoons (1-1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • Scant 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour, spooned into measuring cup and leveled-off with a knife, plus more for dusting
  • 1 egg yolk, beaten
  • 1/4 cup demerara or turbinado sugar (Note: You'll use less than this, but you need extra to roll the dough in.)

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F and set an oven rack in the middle position.
  2. Place the pecans on a baking sheet and toast for around five minutes, until fragrant. Cool on the baking sheet. (The nuts can be toasted and stored at room temperature.)
  3. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter, confectioners' sugar, vanilla, and salt until smooth and lightened a bit, two to three minutes. Scrape the bowl with a spatula. Add the flour and mix on low just until fully combined. Add the pecans and mix until evenly combined.
  4. Turn the dough onto a clean countertop lightly dusted with flour. Dust the dough with a little flour. Shape and roll into a squared log between 1-1/2 to 2 inches wide and 1-1/2 to 2 inches high, dusting with more flour as necessary. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap or parchment paper and chill for at least one hour or overnight, until the dough has gotten very firm.
  5. Preheat the oven to 350°F and set two oven racks in the centermost positions. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
  6. Lightly beat the egg yolk and 1/2 teaspoon of water in a small bowl and set aside. Pour the demerara sugar into a rimmed baking sheet or shallow casserole pan. Slice the chilled log in half to make it more manageable. Working with one log at a time, brush all sides of the log with the egg yolk mixture, then roll in the demerara sugar, pressing as necessary, until fully coated. If there are any areas of the log that are bare, sprinkle with the demerara sugar to cover.
  7. Use a serrated knife to slice each log into about 12 individual cookies, each about 1/2-inch thick. Place the cookie slices onto the prepared baking sheets, leaving about 2 inches of space between each. Bake, rotating from top to bottom and front to back halfway through, until lightly golden, 18 to 20 minutes. Let the cookies cool on the baking sheets for a few minutes, then transfer to a rack to cool completely. The cookies will keep in a covered container at room temperature for up to a week.
  8. Freezer-Friendly Instructions: Let the cookies cool completely and store in an airtight container separating layers with parchment paper or aluminum foil. Before serving, remove the cookies from the container and let them come to room temperature. If you'd like to freeze the dough before baking, shape it into a squared log, then wrap it securely in plastic wrap and then a layer of foil; freeze for up to 3 months. When ready to bake, remove the log from the freezer, thaw it until pliable, and then proceed with recipe.

Nutrition Information

Powered by Edamam

  • Serving size: 1 cookie
  • Calories: 112
  • Fat: 7g
  • Saturated fat: 3 g
  • Carbohydrates: 10 g
  • Sugar: 4 g
  • Fiber: 1 g
  • Protein: 1 g
  • Sodium: 51 mg
  • Cholesterol: 19 mg

This website is written and produced for informational purposes only. I am not a certified nutritionist and the nutritional data on this site has not been evaluated or approved by a nutritionist or the Food and Drug Administration. Nutritional information is offered as a courtesy and should not be construed as a guarantee. The data is calculated through an online nutritional calculator, Edamam.com. Although I do my best to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures should be considered estimates only. Varying factors such as product types or brands purchased, natural fluctuations in fresh produce, and the way ingredients are processed change the effective nutritional information in any given recipe. Furthermore, different online calculators provide different results depending on their own nutrition fact sources and algorithms. To obtain the most accurate nutritional information in a given recipe, you should calculate the nutritional information with the actual ingredients used in your recipe, using your preferred nutrition calculator.

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Reviews & Comments

  • Best cookies ever and I was not a big shortbread cookie fan. These cookies converted me into one. Wish I wasn’t perpetually dieting; otherwise, I would have these around all the time. Delicious!

    • — Mary on January 20, 2021
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  • I have stayed away from making shortbread cookies because I thought they were hard to make. Well, no more. This recipe was easy, quick, and turned out great! The first time I made them, I covered the outside with white crystal cake decorating sugar, and they looked so festive. I did the brown sugar coating on the second batch, but I liked the decorating sugar better than the brown sugar coating. I will make this recipe again and again.

    • — Nori on January 14, 2021
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  • I’ve made these cookies several times and they always turn out great. Very popular with family and friends. My friends dad brings me pecans from Texas so I am always looking for new recipes to use them. I live in Colorado with a dry climate and we have our wood burning fireplace going all day this time of year. I did reduce the flour by a couple of ounces for the last couple of batches and they still turned out perfectly. I don’t even like cookies that much and I love them. My husband, the cookie monster loves all your cookie recipes. Also made your cheesecake recipe for Christmas dessert and he practically at the whole thing. I was able to save my father one slice. Goodness.

    • — Evette Wilson on January 7, 2021
    • Reply
  • These are amazing! Made them for the first time for Christmas but a definite all year round recipe!

    • — Bethany Durkin on January 3, 2021
    • Reply

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