There’s something special about the rich, buttery taste of a shortbread cookie. When you add pecans to the mix, the nutty flavor takes the classic cookie favorite to the next level. That’s exactly what recipe developer Ting Dalton loves about this recipe for pecan sandies. "These shortbread-type cookies [are] filled with delicious chopped pecans and [are] really buttery and delicious. I love the taste of pecans, and the texture of these cookies are moist with an outer crunch — just how I like them," she says.
The sugary, nutty treat smells delicious as it cooks, so it’s an excellent option to pop in the oven just before company comes over. Your guests will be impressed by how good your house smells, and they’ll be even more thrilled by the fresh-from-the-oven cookies you serve with a smile. Just be sure to plan a little bit ahead; it takes about 90 minutes to make a batch of 20 cookies from scratch (including time to allow the dough to chill).
Gather the ingredients for pecan sandies
These pecan sandies are surprisingly simple to make, and if you bake on a regular basis, you may already have the ingredients on hand. All you need is salted butter, light brown sugar, all-purpose flour, cinnamon, vanilla extract, chopped pecans, and, for dusting at the end, powdered sugar. "The cinnamon is an extra touch I added to give a slightly more spiced flavor," Dalton says, so if you want to go for a more classic flavor, you can skip it (though we highly recommend including it). And if you don’t happen to like pecans, you can switch them out for another chopped nut — Dalton suggests walnuts as a good runner-up.
Make and chill the pecan sandies dough
First, you’ll need to mix your dough. If you’ve made shortbread cookies before, it’s not all that different a process. Using a large mixing bowl, add the brown sugar and butter (which should be room-temperature). Use an electric beater to mix them until light and fluffy. Then add the flour, cinnamon, and vanilla extract and continue mixing. Scrape down the sides as needed to make sure all the flour combines. Once formed, rest and chill the cookie dough by placing the bowl in the fridge for 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven and form the cookies
As the cookie dough chills, go ahead and preheat your oven to 325 F and line two or three large baking sheets with parchment paper.
When the dough is ready, remove it from the fridge and use your hands to form 1- to 2-inch dough balls. Press and form them carefully to prevent the balls from crumbling. "There are no eggs here, so the dough is quite crumbly and dry. But once you begin to mold the shape, you’ll find the dough comes together quite easily," Dalton explains.
As you form each ball, place them on the parchment paper-lined baking sheets, about 2 inches apart. "I like to have slightly bigger and thicker biscuits," says Dalton, "so this recipe yields about 20. If you’d like smaller, bite-sized cookies, just make smaller balls." Use your palm or the bottom of a glass to gently press down on the top of each cookie to flatten it slightly.
Bake the cookies and serve
When all of the cookies have been formed, transfer the baking sheets to the oven and bake the cookies until golden (about 15 minutes). Pull them out of the oven and dust the cookies with powdered sugar if desired. Dalton suggests enjoying them with a cup of tea, and if you have any left over, you can store them for up to 1 week in an airtight container.
These buttery, crumbly cookies, not unlike shortbread, are simple and delicious. Their warm aroma is sure to impress even before they come out of the oven.
- 1 cup salted butter, cubed, room temperature
- ½ cup light brown sugar
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup pecans, finely chopped
- Powdered sugar, for dusting
- In a large mixing bowl, add the butter and brown sugar. Beat with an electric mixer (or paddle attachment of stand mixer) until light and fluffy.
- Add the flour, cinnamon, and vanilla extract. Continue mixing, scraping down the sides as needed to make sure all of the flour is combined.
- Chill the dough in the fridge for 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 325 F and line baking sheets with parchment paper.
- Once dough is chilled, remove from the fridge and, using your hands, roll into 1- to 2-inch dough balls (this recipe should yield 20). Make sure to form them carefully, as the dough is quite dry and crumbly.
- Place the balls onto the parchment paper, spacing them 2 inches apart. Using your palm or the bottom of a glass, gently press down to flatten slightly.
- Bake in the oven until golden, about 15 minutes.
- Remove from oven and dust sandies with powdered sugar if desired.