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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Comments

  • Hi Jenn, I am so tempted to make these after reading the comments. One question though, I don’t want to go out buying demerera sugar just for one recipe. I have soft brown sugar at home, do you think that would work for rolling at the outer edges instead of demerera? Although I note that soft brown sugar is smaller granules than coarse sugar or demerera. Appreciate urgent response as I am keen to make these now…..too tempting

    • — Komal S on December 2, 2021
    • Reply
    • Hi Komal, You really need the coarse sugar for these. Do you have a coffee shop nearby? They often have packets of raw sugar.

      • — Jenn on December 2, 2021
      • Reply
  • I made these cookies but I added 1/4 cup cornstarch. They are delicious!

    • — Diane Minear on November 23, 2021
    • Reply
  • Could oil be used in this recipe?

    • — Chris on September 4, 2021
    • Reply
    • Hi Chris, the only oil that would work in this recipe would be (solidified) coconut oil. Please LMK how they turn out if you try it!

      • — Jenn on September 6, 2021
      • Reply
  • Jenn – every one of your recipes are amazing!! You are my go-to chef. I have shared your recipes with many and as a result they have purchased your cookbook. (i must say, I hesitated to share your recipes, b/c i went from being a terrific cook to now they too are excellent cooks.) These cookies are the bomb! The tenderness of the shortbread along with the buttery taste of pecans and sweetness and crunch of the sugar make for the perfect cookie with a cup of coffee.

    • — Lois on September 4, 2021
    • Reply
    • So glad you like the recipes (and your comment made me laugh)! 🙂

      • — Jenn on September 6, 2021
      • Reply
  • These cookies are sooooo good. I might add a 1/4 cup rice floor. Best shortbread had rice flour. Reduce white flour by that amount. They are yummy.

    • — Norma on June 29, 2021
    • Reply
  • Simply Scrumptious!!!

    • — jill griffin on June 11, 2021
    • Reply
  • Can you use regular sugar? I’m on a time crunch and my local market is closed.

    • — jill griffin on June 10, 2021
    • Reply
    • Hi Jill, do you want to use granulated in place of the confectioners’ sugar or demerara sugar? Granulated sugar won’t work in place confectioners’ sugar. If you’re referring to the demerara sugar, that should be fine though the coarser grain of the demerara sugar adds a nice texture. Hope that helps!

      • — Jenn on June 10, 2021
      • Reply
      • Thanks. So delicious.

        • — jill griffin on June 11, 2021
        • Reply
  • These are so good! Make them make them make them 🙂

    • — Samantha on June 2, 2021
    • Reply
  • This is now my favorite shortbread recipe. Delicious, easy to make and they look so pretty.

    • — Debbie on May 19, 2021
    • Reply
  • By far the best shortbread cookies I’ve ever made, or ever eaten! They are not too sweet, melt in your mouth, and the Kosher salt is a perfect addition! My friends all think I am a cookie queen – but it’s really Jen’s recipes that rule!

    • — Patricia M Langer on April 8, 2021
    • Reply
  • Hi Jen, can I substitute almond flour and monk fruit sugar instead of turbinado sugar and conf. Sugar?

    • — Sheila on March 19, 2021
    • Reply
    • Hi Sheila, It’s hard to say without trying them that way. For the best results, I’d stick with the recipe. Sorry!

      • — Jenn on March 19, 2021
      • Reply
  • What could I use instead of the egg wash to keep the recipe egg free?

    • — SHAD on February 24, 2021
    • Reply
    • Hi SHAD, You could use milk or cream in place of the egg. Enjoy!

      • — Jenn on February 25, 2021
      • Reply
  • These are dangerously good! They are so so good and everyone always raves about them. The only thing I do differently is I bake each half-log by itself. When I made this the first time, I felt like my oven wasn’t baking both pans evenly… even with the rotation instructions. Now I cut the log in half, put one half back in the fridge, and work with just one at a time. Of course, it takes me longer to bake them, but I don’t mind. I like mine a little less browned, so I’m closer to the 18-minute mark (rotating front-to-back at 9 minutes).

    • — Andrea F. on January 31, 2021
    • Reply
  • This is my favorite shortbread recipe! It’s much more interesting & flavorful than the usual shortbread because of the nutty flavor that the pecans impart. You use much less butter & sugar than a typical shortbread recipe so they’re not overly rich or greasy or sweet like most shortbreads. However, I use more than the recommended 1/4 c of demerara sugar to roll them in so that the rim of the cookies are very coated. It gives great flavor and texture to the cookie. I love the convenience of refrigerating them overnight. They also freeze well so that you can make them & enjoy them all year round.

    • — Judith on January 30, 2021
    • Reply
  • These pecan shortbread cookies are probably one of my favorite cookies – I love how nutty they are, and they melt in your mouth. Rolling the log in demerara sugar and pressing it in the dough is brilliant. It makes them extra pretty once baked.

    • — Jacqueline Mensinger on January 29, 2021
    • Reply
  • This is bang on a great recipie we all loved it

    • — Maria Morelli on January 29, 2021
    • Reply
  • This has become my favorite cookie recipe. So delicious and easy to make! Family loves them!

    • — Theresa on January 28, 2021
    • Reply
  • These cookies are sooo yummy! I’ve never made anything like this so it was fun to do something different. They are great with coffee.

    • — Courtney on January 28, 2021
    • Reply
  • These are just the best! I made them for the first time this past Christmas. Followed the recipe to the letter. Melt in your mouth cookies! Had to make more. I would suggest these anytime really. Don’t wait for Christmas! Great with a cup of tea.

    • — Calley OHenley on January 28, 2021
    • Reply
  • I followed the recipe to a T except for one thing: I substituted Turbinado sugar for the Damarara sugar. They were terrific and simple to make. Use a wire cheese slicer to slice the dough into cookies; works like a charm.

    • — Jan Mark on January 28, 2021
    • Reply
  • These were excellent. Shortbread has been a seasonal treat for us ,usually St. Patrick’s day, but with these delicious cookies I believe they will be enjoyed the year around. Everyone in our family enjoyed them. I will have to make a double batch the next time.

    • — Paulette Horger on January 28, 2021
    • Reply
  • The BEST! As usual for Jenn. I have become a devotee of Jenn’s website and cookbooks because they are literally no fail, 10/10 every time.
    These cookies are a dream to make because you can freeze the dough in a log and simply slice and bake later. I like my cookies a little “caramelized”, so I slice mine thinner to get them a little golden brown and toast the pecans a little more. I know it’s not what you’re supposed to do with shortbread, but it’s how I like it! These are now my most requested cookie! Thanks for another winner, Jenn!

    • — Sue Awrey on January 28, 2021
    • Reply
  • I made these cookies for Christmas and they were amazing. I added dried apricots. Definitely one of my favorites! A nice cookie to add to Christmas cookie trays.

    • — Carol Kimble on January 28, 2021
    • Reply
    • Thanks for this. I wanted to add apricots or cranberries, then dip in chocolate instead of roll in sugar. 😍

      • — Laurie Welsh on March 6, 2021
      • Reply
  • I made these for the first time at Christmas this year, and they will be added to the permanent holiday bake. These were the first cookies to be eaten up and everyone loved them. I did not coat the outside of the log with the sugar and they were fine. The dough was a little dry to work with and form; I made a note to be sure the butter is thoroughly softened. Thank you, Jen for another terrific recipe!

    • — Jan on January 28, 2021
    • Reply
  • These little bites of heaven are so perfect if you just want a little something – not too sweet, crunchy and nutty. I especially like the raw sugar edge… adds a great texture.

    • — Julie on January 28, 2021
    • Reply
  • 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
    • Reply
  • 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
    • Reply
  • 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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