Butter Pecan Cookies
Butter Pecan Cookies: Meltingly soft, & infused with warm brown sugar, toasty browned butter, & crunchy nuts. They’ll make you feel so cozy!
Now that the weather is getting cool and the days are getting shorter, I find myself craving foods that make me feel warm and cozy. Heartier textures and flavors like nutty brown butter, warm brown sugar, and toasty nuts seem to be calling to me lately…
So today I thought I’d share my recipe for butter pecan cookies. They’re everything I’m wanting at this time of year, all wrapped up in a meltingly soft cookie. I love them with a glass of milk, but they’re even better with coffee.
PS- Is it really that bad to eat cookies for breakfast? Asking for a friend… 😉
WHAT ARE BUTTER PECAN COOKIES?
These cookies bake up soft and pillowy, with a deep, buttery taste, punctuated by crunchy, toasty pecans.
If you like the taste of butter pecan ice cream, then you’ll love these cookies!
HOW TO MAKE BUTTER PECAN COOKIES
To make this recipe, you’re first going to want to brown the butter and toast the nuts.
I’ve got lots of info on how to brown butter in this post: How to Brown Butter. To put it in a nutshell, you just have to melt the butter (it’s best to do this in a lighter-colored pan so you can really see the color changing). Keep it over the heat and it will start to bubble, then sizzle, then turn brown.
Take it off the heat immediately once you see it turning nutty-brown, and pour it into a heat-safe bowl to stop the cooking before it burns.
This browned butter will then need to be set aside and allowed to re-solidify. You’ll want it solid but soft for this cookie recipe.
The chopped pecans can be toasted on a baking sheet in the oven until aromatic, or in a dry skillet over medium heat.
Once those ingredients are prepped, it’s time to make the cookie dough.
Cream the soft brown butter together with the brown sugar until very pale and fluffy. (I use dark brown sugar for this recipe, but light brown sugar will work just fine in a pinch.)
Next, add the eggs. You’ll need one whole egg plus one yolk.
Work these in, along with the vanilla extract, until combined.
Now it’s time for the dry ingredients. Flour, the toasted pecans, cornstarch, baking soda, and salt can all go into the bowl.
Mix it all up until just barely combined. You don’t want to overmix, or your cookies can come out tough or not spread as they should.
Scoop the dough into balls, using a 1 1/2-tablespoon scoop.
Then garnish them with a little pinch of demerara sugar, for added sparkle.
The finishing touch is a whole pecan half, pressed into the top of each cookie.
Bake these until set around the edges but still quite soft in the middle. The cookies will continue to firm up quite a bit as they cool.
CAN THESE BE MADE ALLERGEN-FREE?
For gluten-free butter pecan cookies, look for a gluten-free flour blend that subs 1:1 for regular flour.
If you are avoiding eggs, try using a flax egg or chia egg as a replacement. Just mix 1 tablespoon of ground flax or chia seeds with 2 to 3 tablespoons of water. Allow this to sit for 15 minutes or so, until thickened/gelled.
Dairy-free butter pecan cookies might be a little bit trickier. According to my research, it is possible to brown vegan butter in some cases, but it might not have quite the same nutty flavor, or the proper consistency. Here’s more info on that: Can Vegan Butter Be Browned?.
TROUBLESHOOTING: WHY COOKIES SOMETIMES DON’T SPREAD
It can be a bit of a tricky tightrope walk, trying to get the perfect balance of cookies that are thick & chubby, but that still spread properly and don’t just stay in a ball shape. Here are a few of my best tips for cookies with the perfect spread:
- Make sure the butter is softened. It should be room temperature, slightly cool but not cold.
- Really whip the butter and sugar together until very pale and fluffy. It should look almost white. This takes a minimum of 5 minutes on medium-high speed. Seven minutes is better!
- Once the flour’s gone in, be careful not to overwork the dough. Just mix in the dry ingredients until combined, and then turn the mixer off. Overmixing will develop glutens that may prevent the cookies from spreading properly.
- Scoop the balls of dough to 1 1/2 tablespoons. Any larger than that, they may spread too much. Any smaller, they may not spread at all.
- If all else fails, try upping the baking soda by 1/8 teaspoon.
These butter pecan cookies will keep at room temperature for several days. Just be sure to wrap them up tightly or put them in an airtight container so they don’t dry out or become stale.
They’ll last even longer in the fridge- probably several weeks or so.
You can also freeze them, either baked or unbaked. I actually prefer to freeze them unbaked, because there is truly nothing more comforting than a freshly baked cookie, warm from the oven.
To do this, scoop the dough, add the garnishes, and freeze on a baking sheet. Once they’re frozen solid, they can be transferred to a zip-top bag. When you’re ready to bake them, just place a few onto a parchment-lined baking sheet (it’s ok if they’re still frozen) and bake according to the recipe directions.
IF YOU LIKE COOKIES WITH YOUR COFFEE, HERE ARE A FEW MORE OF MY FAVORITES:
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Butter Pecan Cookies
- 3/4 cup (170.25 g) unsalted butter
- 1 1/4 cup (136.25 g) chopped pecans
- 1 1/3 cup (220 g) dark brown sugar, (lightly packed)
- 1 (44 g) egg, (large)
- 1 (18 g) egg yolk, (large)
- 2 teaspoons (9.86 g) vanilla extract
- 2 1/4 cup (281.25 g) all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup (32 g) cornstarch
- 1 teaspoon (4.93 g) baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon (2.46 g) kosher salt, (I like to go a little generous on this when I measure it out!)
- 2 tablespoons (29.57 g) demerara sugar, , approx. (optional garnish)
- 48 (67.2 g) pecan halves,, approx. (optional garnish)
- Place the butter in a wide, light-colored pan over medium-low heat, and allow it to melt, then boil, then sizzle and turn nutty-brown.
- Immediately pour the browned butter into a heat-safe dish, and allow it to cool and solidify.*
- Toast the chopped pecans, either on a baking sheet in a 350 degree F oven, or in a dry skillet over medium heat, until browned and aromatic (about 5 to 10 minutes).
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and line baking sheets with parchment.
- Place the solidified brown butter in a large mixing bowl, along with the brown sugar.
- Beat on medium-high speed until very pale and fluffy (5 to 7 minutes minimum).
- Add the egg, egg yolk, and vanilla, mixing until combined.
- Scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl with a silicone spatula, then add the flour, toasted chopped pecans, cornstarch, baking soda, and salt, mixing just until combined (be careful not to overmix).
- Use a 1.5-tablespoon scoop to portion the dough into balls, spacing them about 2-inches apart on the prepared baking sheets.
- Sprinkle the unbaked cookies with demerara sugar and press a pecan half into each one (optional).
- Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, or until set around the edges but still very soft towards the middle.
- Cool on the baking sheets.