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Pecan Shortbread Cookies

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

Pecan Shortbread Cookies

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. Lisa describes these  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


  • ¾ cup chopped pecans
  • 10 tablespoons (1¼ sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • ½ cup confectioners' sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • Scant ¾ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1½ cups all-purpose flour, spooned into measuring cup and leveled-off with a knife, plus more for dusting
  • 1 egg yolk, beaten
  • ¼ cup demerara or turbinado sugar (Note: You'll use less than this, but you need extra to roll the dough in.)


  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 1½ to 2 inches wide and 1½ 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 ½ 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 ½-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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  • I made a HIT giving these cookies to a neighbor! They loved them! I kept a few for myself, they’re already gone. Thank you, Jenn!

  • These are the first shortbreads I’ve made and they are the BOMB. Literally perfect.

  • My husband thinks these are the best cookies I’ve ever made and that’s saying something Because I use to be a pastry chef and have made thousands of dessert recipes over the years.

  • I made these over the weekend as part of my plan to make Christmas cookies ahead of time and then freeze them. Well, there were fewer to freeze than I expected as they were gobbled up! Delicious.

  • I chose this recipe, over so many others, because it had less butter and only 1/2 cup 10X sugar. I left out the additional roll in demerara sugar . Was not missed at all.
    This cookie delivers a buttery nut flavor with the melt in your mouth goodness of the perfect shortbread.

  • I made these last night and I found the dough to be extremely dry. I felt like I was missing something as the dough was so crumbly. I was able to make the log, chilled for over 3 hours, glazed with the egg yolk and rolled in the sugar. They took a minute or 2 longer to bake than listed. But they were so dry and crumbly (I hate to re-use the words but I can’t think of a better description). They tasted just ok. I have made over 100 of your recipes and this is the first one I felt was a fail.

    • — Terri Schwartz
    • Reply
    • Hi Terri, I’m sorry you had a problem with these! Did you use the spoon and level method to measure the flour? Even a few extra ounces can make a big difference.

  • Could I use lavender flowers in this recipe? If so, when should I add them?

    • You’ve stumped me there, Pearl! I’ve never cooked with lavender flowers so I really can’t say — sorry! If you do try it, I’d love to hear how they turn out. 🙂

  • Hate to write a negative review, but these did not work for me. Perhaps I over mixed the dough in an attempt to get it to come together, but I STRUGGLED to shape it into a log, Even after chilling overnight, they crumbled when I cut them…a big mess. Baking for 18 minutes as the recipe suggested, the bottoms were a darkish brown.
    Also, I found the vanilla flavor overwhelming, maybe that’s because I use the expensive Madagascar vanilla. threw it all out. Any thoughts Jenn?

    • — Carol Winkelman
    • Reply
    • Hi Carol, sorry you had a problem with these! I haven’t heard any feedback similar to this so I’m wondering if by any chance you may have made a measuring error?

      • measured exactly…I do think that the Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla at 40 bucks for the 8 ou bottle (so good, never use anything else) is richer and more intense than McCormick

        • — Carol Winkelman
        • Reply
        • I don’t think the vanilla would’ve accounted for the problems you had. That’s a head-scratcher as I’m not really sure what could’ve gone wrong. Sorry these didn’t work out for you!

  • Can these Pecan Shortbread Cookies be made with a gluten-free flour?

    • Hi Teresa, I haven’t tried these with gluten-free flour. Oftentimes, readers will have commented if they’ve tried a recipe with gluten-free flour and have been successful but it doesn’t look like anyone has mentioned that in the comments so far, so you may be the guinea pig. 🙂 That said, I think you can get away with it. My many readers have commented that they have great luck with King Arthur gluten-free flour if you want to give that a try. Please LMK how these turn out if you try them!

  • Hi Jen
    I just wanted to say that I have tried to date about 6 of your baking recipes and they have all turned out brilliantly. I love baking and since retiring my love of baking has taken off again. Thank you for such great recipes. It’s not often that a recipe works to perfection but yours do!
    Thought I’d try falafel tomorrow. I’ve read a few people have had problems with them not staying together. Will give it a go.
    Kind regards

    • — Andrea Clifford Noren
    • Reply
  • Yum! I’ve never been a fan of shortbread because I can’t remember if I have actually had any homemade. But the store bought ones I have always stayed away from. But I wanted to give them a go because The Great British Bake Off got me thinking I was missing out- and I sure was! My husband is not a sweets person but he loved these and ate 4. That’s unheard of in all the years I’ve been married to him. They’re so buttery and melt in your mouth. I can’t wait to make these with my mom! A simple recipe that was easy to follow and execute.

  • OMG! This recipe is definitely a keeper! Next time I will double recipe! They are delicious!

  • I have made these WONDERFUL Pecan Shortbread Cookies at least 4 times. I found it easier for me to use 1 1/2 sticks of butter instead of 1 1/4 sticks; 1 tsp. Kosher salt instead of 3/4 tsp.; and 2 extra Tbl. of flour. Mine baked in 15 min. These are better than my Pecan Tassies and much easier!

  • Loved this recipe! I made it a second time and substituted almond extract for vanilla extract and almonds instead of pecans and wow, amazing!

  • Must you roll the dough in sugar?

    • — Harriet WaltersHarriet Walters
    • Reply
    • Hi Harriet, You can omit it if you’d like but it adds nice texture and really elevates the cookie. 🙂

  • Always perfect.

  • 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

    • You’re so welcome Jan – so glad you like the recipes! 💓

  • 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.

  • 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!

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

  • 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!

  • These are delicious! Suggest baking less than 18 minutes (for my oven, at least). Enjoy!!

  • 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 😊

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

  • 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
    • Reply
  • 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!!

  • 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?

    • 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.

      • 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.

  • 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!

  • My husband swears these are the best cookies he has Ever had! And he has had decades of tasting many homemade cookies!

  • DELICIOUS and pretty easy!

  • Hi Jenn,

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

    Thank you.

    • Hi Ivana, Milk or cream should work in place of the eggs.

  • 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
    • 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!

  • Outstanding.

  • 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!

  • 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!!!!

  • Loved loved loved.
    Your recipes are consistently excellent.

  • 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

  • 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!!

  • 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.

    • 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?

  • I don’t have pecans. Can I use almonds?

    • 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!

    • 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!

  • 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

  • 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)!

  • 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
    • 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!

    • 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!

      • Can this made without nuts?
        Thank you

        • Sure, that should work. Enjoy!

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

    • Hi Angela, either light brown or granulated sugar will work here. Enjoy!

  • You said to make the log 1 1/2-2″ wide but how long should this log be?

    • 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!

  • I love shortbread cookies and this looks so easy. What do you think about using almond extract?

    • 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. 🙂

  • 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 😘

  • 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

    • 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.

    • Hey Bud, mine was like that too until I worked it into the log with my hands.

  • Would leaving the sugar off the rim work?

    • 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.)

  • 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. 🙂

    • Hi Ingrid, I think regular granulated sugar will work. So happy your family enjoys the recipes! 💕

    • 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?


      • 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.

        • My kids and couldn’t get enough of these! I had to make 2 batches!

          • — Amanda R Walpole
          • Reply
      • I made the cookies and they are delicious! Came together beautifully

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