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

  • Jen I have followed you for awhile and must say you are the best ever! Every recipe I have tried and followed you exactly turned out the best. I have learned so very much from you and so have many of my friends who enjoy the art and love of cooking. By the way this cookie recipe is now the number 1 choice in our home and now our friends. Thank you so very much for sharing your expertise and talent Jan Hahn

    • — Jan hahn on June 2, 2020
    • Reply
    • You’re so welcome Jan – so glad you like the recipes! 💓

      • — Jenn on June 3, 2020
      • Reply
  • So easy and so good. Wish I had made a double batch, but then I would be eating twice as many. A quick and pretty much effortless solution when I get a hankering for shortbread.

    • — Carol Rahn on June 1, 2020
    • Reply
  • Thank you for another delicious recipe! I have lots of turbinado sugar and I’m interested in trying Demara sugar, but not sure it’s worth its hefty price tag. What would you describe is the big difference between the two and would you recommend spending the extra money for it? Thanks!

    • — Marisa on May 12, 2020
    • Reply
    • Hi Marisa, It’s definitely not necessary to buy Demerara sugar – you can easily get away with using turbinado. Hope you enjoy!

      • — Jenn on May 12, 2020
      • Reply
  • These have a great buttery nutty flavor! The dough was easy to work with after about 1 1/2 hours of chilling. I cut them a little thicker, so I baked them about 26 minutes. Yum!

    • — Vi on April 30, 2020
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  • These are delicious! Suggest baking less than 18 minutes (for my oven, at least). Enjoy!!

    • — JE on April 29, 2020
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  • These cookies look amazing, however I cannot use nuts due to tree nut allergy. Would they work with out nuts? Should the recipe be altered in any way? Or do you have another suggestion? Thanks for your input 😊

    • — Janine on April 26, 2020
    • Reply
    • Hi Janine, I suspect these would work without the nuts (without any modifications). Please report back and LMK how they turn out! 🙂

      • — Jenn on April 27, 2020
      • Reply
  • I absolutely loved these cookies. Not a lot of ingredients needed, simple to make, and they are yummy. The only minor criticism I would have is that 1 batch doesn’t yield enough cookies!

    • — Samantha Pipkorn on April 22, 2020
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  • Delicate and delicious! These were easy to make and looked very pretty when baked. I made two logs and froze them before brushing with egg, coating in sugar and slicing them. I baked one today and will do the other when my son comes home! A nice treat! Thank you!!

    • — Naz Sicherman on April 21, 2020
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  • The dough never held together. Wrapped the dough in plastic wrap overnight. I do not have an electric mixer with a paddle attachment. Is there another way of getting results without electric mixer and paddle attachment?

    • — Ed on April 19, 2020
    • Reply
    • Hi Ed, sorry to hear you had a problem with these! This one really does require a mixer so I suspect that’s what caused the problem. If you have a hand mixer, that will work; you would just need to increase the speed.

      • — Jenn on April 20, 2020
      • Reply
      • To die for. I’ve been baking for 35+ years and this recipe is one of the best. I prefer it over Ina Garten’s shortbread recipe. Can’t stop eating them.

        • — Danielle M on May 2, 2020
        • Reply
  • These are amazing cookies – buttery, crispy and the sugar rim just adds a nice crunch. I made the dough and chilled it overnight, very easy to cut the next day. I doubled the recipe and got about 32 cookies. I baked them on a silpat at 16 minutes and they were crispy and golden. Next time I might go for less time. Well worth baking for Christmas gifts!

    • — Pam S. on April 18, 2020
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  • My husband swears these are the best cookies he has Ever had! And he has had decades of tasting many homemade cookies!

    • — Michele on April 16, 2020
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  • DELICIOUS and pretty easy!

    • — Val on April 16, 2020
    • Reply
  • Hi Jenn,

    My son cannot eat any eggs.
    What could I use instead of the egg for the egg wash?

    Thank you.
    Ivana

    • — Ivana on April 16, 2020
    • Reply
    • Hi Ivana, Milk or cream should work in place of the eggs.

      • — Jenn on April 17, 2020
      • Reply
  • Jen, I made these last weekend. I didn’t have any coarse sugar but I did have maple sugar. They were delicious😘. Will definitely make these again

    • — Judi Richardson on April 16, 2020
    • Reply
  • I made these this morning. They’re delicious, perfect with a cup of tea. Quick and easy to put together. I’ll be sure to add these to my list of favorites! Love your recipes!

    • — Liz on April 14, 2020
    • Reply
  • Outstanding.

    • — Hollis on April 14, 2020
    • Reply
  • OMG!
    I made these cookies yesterday, April 12, 2020… they were AMAZING! the recipe is simple, the cookies looked exactly like your picture & I am adding these to my cookie repertoire. I love to make cookies as gifts during the holidays and this will be one I will keep.

    I bake cookies often, but this is the first time I have ever made a shortbread cookie, but I am so glad I found this recipe. I personally LOVE shortbread cookies, and prefer unflavored ones to flavored, and many from bakeries are outright disappointing, but these were simply outstanding. In my opinion, it is the Kosher salt that adds a nice contrast to the sweetness and richness of this cookie and elevates it to Phenom-Level. My friends will be begging me for these cookies & my hubby loved them, too. He has dunked them in both milk (last nite) and coffee this morning. I am not a cookie dunker, so prefer them un-dunked.

    So far, I have made two of your recipes (just joined a couple of weeks ago, but Wow, so impressed with the quality). Thank you for sharing and to anyone not sure if you should make these– Do it!

    One thing I did is I made some cookies on 1/2″ thick (or so) and some about 1/4″ or thinner. If you like a crunchier texture, make them thinner, or to make more cookies. Also, I tend to underbake most cookies I make a bit to allow them to be slightly chewy/soft in the center, but the ones I cooked longer (per instructions) were better because the sugar starts to caramelize a little bit which really makes them Extraordinarily divine. None of my cookies were burnt on bottom, just nice toasty brown (I used silicone mat on one cookie sheet & parchment paper on the other- no difference). I also doubled the recipe. I yielded just over 4 dozen cookies.
    Go make these cookies! I think they could be used to get you a new love, job, raise, friend, anything!

    • — Brenda O on April 13, 2020
    • Reply
  • These are absolutely delicious!!! My husband and adult son told me I should sell them. I made a couple of flops when making them as I thought I had burnt my pecans because I forgot about them in the oven and they were really dark but we tasted them and they didn’t taste burnt. Then, when I had them in the oven, my beeper went off but I was on a call (when you are working remotely and trying to bake too) so I couldn’t get to them for about 3 minutes after so thought they would end up in garbage but they were amazing. Tasted like a softer version of a biscotti. I did grind my pecans so didn’t have big chunks. I did not have any problems getting my dough in the square log but I did weigh all ingredients. Other than grinding the pecans to a coarse grind, I didn’t make changes to recipe. Absolutely a keeper!!!!

    • — Nancy A on April 13, 2020
    • Reply
  • Loved loved loved.
    Your recipes are consistently excellent.

    • — Linda Rose on April 13, 2020
    • Reply
  • I didn’t have enough walnuts or pecans so I added some chopped dried cherries to the dough. They turned out very well.
    Nice to have a different sort of cookie recipe. Thanks

    • — Stella on April 12, 2020
    • Reply
  • These are so delicious! I didn’t have Demerara sugar so substituted turbinado sugar and they turned out just fine. I’ll definitely add these to my cookie file! Thanks again Jenn!!

    • — Linda on April 12, 2020
    • Reply
  • Ah-mazing cookies. So delicious I’m not sure if I’ll be sharing these with the fam- or anyone else for that matter.
    One question though- In the photo it looks like you have used Turbinado sugar but the recipe calls for Demerara. I live in Canada so I’m wondering if maybe they’re referred to differently? I rolled one log in one sugar and the second log in the other sugar and prefer the yummy crunch of the turbinado, though the Demerara caramelized a teensy bit and has a lovely flavor as well. Another fantastic recipe! Thanks, Jenn.

    • — Alanna on April 12, 2020
    • Reply
    • Hi Alanna, So glad you enjoyed them! You’re correct, I did use turbinado. Both turbinado and demerara have large crystals, so I use them interchangeably. Did you notice a difference in crunch using the demerara?

      • — Jenn on April 12, 2020
      • Reply
  • I don’t have pecans. Can I use almonds?

    • — Ann on April 11, 2020
    • Reply
    • Hi Ann, almonds should work here but you may want to chop them fairly finely; if not, it could be a bit hard to cut the log into slices (because almonds would be more challenging to cut through than pecans). Please LMK how they turn out!

      • — Jenn on April 14, 2020
      • Reply
    • Tried it with a hand mixer at higher speed: does not hold together UNLESS you add a bit more flour to the zillion little balls that formed in the bowl and, as Jenn said, also add a bit of flour on the board. Then form 4 square « rolls » and put away in fridge for at least 24 hours. Cut carefully: I had lots of crumbles and damages (baked these anyway on separate sheet). Final result: FABULOUS!!!
      Thanks, Jenn!

      • — Louise Samson on April 26, 2020
      • Reply
  • Hi Jenn,
    These were very easy and delicious. I changed the sugar to Turbinado. I made 2 batches. One using a silplat which came out golden and the other using parchment paper which was a little dark. The next time I will only use the Silplat and I made almost 20.
    Can’t wait to make another batch.

    Laura V

    • — Laura V. on April 10, 2020
    • Reply
  • Delicious! I made a double batch of the cookies. I made the dough and cut the logs in half before wrapping in plastic wrap and chilling overnight. I subbed turbinado sugar for demerara and used my stainless steel bench scraper to measure the cookies and slice them. I baked the first batch for 22 minutes. For the third and fourth logs, I cut the cookies thinner, making 16 cookies rather than 12 per log. One egg yolk was plenty for the wash on the double batch of dough. I sprinkled the leftover turbinado sugar over the tops of the cookies and baked them 19 minutes. So good! And such a nice treat for my husband (and me, too)!

    • — Donna on April 10, 2020
    • Reply
  • I think these are one of the best cookies–over all of the cookies ever!
    My first batch was overbaked (lost track of time…) and they were still absolutely delicious! Second batch I set the timer, and wow! These are the best shortbread cookies I’ve ever made or eaten…next time I will double or triple the recipe.

    • — Jacqueline Mensinger on April 10, 2020
    • Reply
  • Hi Jenn, I am most definitely going to make these cookies thank you! So I have a couple of questions for ya… since we are just the two of us, my hubby and me, what is the best way to bake a few for now and more later? May I freeze a roll for later or is it preferable to bake all then freeze the cookies? I don’t want to cut the recipe in half as I am positive we’re going to love these cookies… we’re pecans freaks! Lastly, he’s a sweets guy and I’m less sweet. I read if I didn’t sugar the outside to cut back on the salt but how about I leave the recipe as is, but only sugar one roll and leave the other sans sugar? This leads me into the other part of this question, is the egg wash to help the sugar cling and therefore my roll is sans egg?
    As always, thank you for your help, Jenn! Love, love your recipes!

    • — Dawn Criqui on April 10, 2020
    • Reply
    • Hi Dawn, So glad you like the recipes! You can freeze the cookies either before or after baking them. See the Freezer-Friendly instructions at the bottom of the recipe. You mentioned that you’re not so into sweets. These cookies are not terribly sweet. That said, if you want to omit the sugar on one log, I’d just keep the amount of salt the same so you don’t have to make 2 different batches. (You may want to add a very light coating of sugar on “your” log as the texture of the sugar really elevates the cookie.) And last, yes, the egg wash is to help the sugar adhere. Hope that helps!

      • — Jenn on April 15, 2020
      • Reply
      • Can this made without nuts?
        Thank you
        Nabeela

        • — Nabeela Alam on April 21, 2020
        • Reply
        • Sure, that should work. Enjoy!

          • — Jenn on April 21, 2020
          • Reply
  • Hi Jenn, I can’t find Demerara sugar in my supermarket. Can I use light brown sugar or would you recommend granulated sugar?

    • — Angela on April 10, 2020
    • Reply
    • Hi Angela, either light brown or granulated sugar will work here. Enjoy!

      • — Jenn on April 10, 2020
      • Reply
  • You said to make the log 1 1/2-2″ wide but how long should this log be?

    • — Nancy on April 9, 2020
    • Reply
    • Hi Nancy, I’m not 100 percent sure how long it should be, but the log should be 1-1/2 to 2 inches wide and 1-1/2 to 2 inches high. Hope you enjoy!

      • — Jenn on April 10, 2020
      • Reply
  • I love shortbread cookies and this looks so easy. What do you think about using almond extract?

    • — Anne C. on April 9, 2020
    • Reply
    • Hi Anne, I think almond extract would be really nice here; I’d replace 1/4 tsp of the vanilla with it (a little goes a long way). Please let me know how it turns out. 🙂

      • — Jenn on April 10, 2020
      • Reply
  • Made these today & they were so good! At first I thought something went wrong because my dough seemed kind of dry. But once I started working it with my hands it came together. Did not have the fancy sugar but used granulated. You def need the sugar on the outside as the dough is not very sweet. Will def make again but next time a double batch 😘

    • — Rebecca on April 9, 2020
    • Reply
  • Hi Jenn

    First time I ‘ve had a measurement question….
    I attempted shortbread recipe using 10 tablespoons of butter ( about 150g) and the dough didn’t come together. Rolled it up in plastic and in fridge.
    I went back and checked recipe….
    I’m wondering if 10 tablespoons of butter should be 20 tablespoons?
    I think 20= 1 1/4 cups vs 10 = 5/8?
    Or maybe I’ve made an error somewhere else

    Thanks from
    Bud

    • — Bud on April 9, 2020
    • Reply
    • Hi Bud, 10 tablespoons (140 g) is correct. If you look in the top right corner of the recipe, you’ll see a button that allows you to toggle between metric and cup measures. Hopefully that will help.

      • — Jenn on April 9, 2020
      • Reply
    • Hey Bud, mine was like that too until I worked it into the log with my hands.

      • — Rebecca on April 9, 2020
      • Reply
  • Would leaving the sugar off the rim work?

    • — Daisy on April 9, 2020
    • Reply
    • Hi Daisy, I think it’s the best part but if you want to omit it, I would reduce the salt by 1/4 tsp. (If you don’t have coarse sugar on hand, you can use granulated.)

      • — Jenn on April 9, 2020
      • Reply
  • Hi Jenn,
    These look amazing! With our current situation, I don’t have any coarse sugar on hand. Would this work with regular sugar or do you have any other ideas? Love you and your site – you’re part of our family. 🙂
    Thanks,
    Ingrid

    • — Ingrid on April 9, 2020
    • Reply
    • Hi Ingrid, I think regular granulated sugar will work. So happy your family enjoys the recipes! 💕

      • — Jenn on April 9, 2020
      • Reply
    • Hi Jenn, just to confirm, slicing vertically means cut log lengthwise. If I want to form round logs that do not need to be halved what diameter should each log be?

      Thanks,
      MP

      • — MP on April 9, 2020
      • Reply
      • Hi MP, Sorry for the confusion. Just cut the long log in half to make two shorter halves so they are more manageable. A round log would be about 2 inches in diameter.

        • — Jenn on April 9, 2020
        • Reply
      • I made the cookies and they are delicious! Came together beautifully

        • — Ricki on April 9, 2020
        • Reply

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