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Butter Pecan Cookies

Butter Pecan Cookies are a delicious cookie flavor combination that is traditionally served during the holidays or any time of the year. These cookies have a warm and comforting flavor; they taste great with coffee or milk for an afternoon snack, after dinner, or even for breakfast!

There are a few reasons why butter pecan cookies are so popular. For one, the flavor combination is really unique and different from most other cookies. Additionally, they’re not too sweet but still have a lot of flavor, which makes them appealing to many people. 

Finally, they’re really easy to make and don’t require any advanced baking experience, so it’s a great recipe for kids and adults alike. Butter Pecan Cookies are versatile cookies and can be enjoyed in many different ways.

They’re great for an afternoon snack with coffee or milk or enjoy them after dinner with a warm mug of slow cooker homemade hot chocolate. Additionally, they can be served either warm or cold, so you can enjoy them however you like!

Cookie leaned against a stack of cookies.

Ingredients You’ll Need for Butter Pecan Cookies

  • Unsalted Butter – A traditional ingredient in butter pecan cookies, adding a rich and creamy flavor to the dough. 
  • Light Brown Sugar & Granulated Sugar – These sugars are mixed together to create a lovely caramel flavor in the cookies and to give the cookies their sweetness. 
  • Egg – Provides moisture and richness to the dough and helps them set after baking. 
  • Vanilla Extract – Adds a wonderful vanilla flavor to the butter pecan cookies. 
  • All-Purpose Flour – This is the main type of flour used in this recipe and helps to create a light, fluffy texture to the cookie. 
  • Cornstarch -Gives the cookies a soft and slightly chewy texture. 
  • Baking Soda & Baking Powder – Helps the cookies rise in the oven. 
  • Chopped Pecans – Adds a wonderful nutty flavor to butter pecan cookies.
  • Pecan Halves – A pecan half is placed on top of the cookies before baking for a nice presentation and extra nutty pecan flavor. 
  • Salt – Just a pinch is all you need to balance out the flavors in these cookies.
Ingredients needed for butter pecan cookies.

How To Make Butter Pecan Cookies

  1. Combine butter and sugar:  In a bowl, cream together the butter and light brown sugar until it’s fluffy.
  2. Beat in egg and vanilla extract: Add in the egg and vanilla extract and continue to mix until everything is well combined.
  3. Mix dry ingredients: In another bowl, whisk together flour, cornstarch, baking soda, and baking powder: This will help prevent any lumps from forming in the dough.
  4. Combine all ingredients: Slowly add dry mixture into the wet mixture until everything is just combined and a soft cookie dough forms.
  5. Fold in chopped pecans: Gently fold in chopped pecans to the butter pecan cookie batter. Don’t overmix or else your butter pecan cookies will be tough.
  6. Chill the dough:  Place the dough in the fridge for about 30 minutes so it will be easier to work with. This will also help prevent the cookies from spreading while baking.
  7. Prepare for baking: Preheat the oven to 350°F, and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  8. Assemble and bake: Scoop out dough balls (about tablespoon size) and place them on the prepared baking sheet(s). Press a pecan half into the top of each ball of dough. Sprinkle with a tiny bit of salt and bake in preheated oven for about 10-12 minutes or until cookies are lightly golden brown in color and the tops no longer look soft or wet.
  9. Remove from oven and cool: Let butter pecan cookies cool on the baking sheet for a few minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely. Serve slightly warm or at room temperature.
Collage showing how to make butter pecan cookies.

Recipe Tips

  1. Be sure to cream the butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar together until light and fluffy. This will help create a nice smooth texture in the cookies.
  2. Making sure the egg and butter are at room temperature will help the texture remain even while baking. 
  3. Don’t overmix the dough after adding the dry ingredients. Stir just until no streaks of flour remain so that the cookies stay light and fluffy.
  4. When pressing down on top of the cookies before baking, use gentle pressure so that they don’t get too flat.
  5. If you’d like a crisper texture to your butter pecan cookies, bake for an extra minute or two. 
  6. After you let the butter pecan cookies cool for a few minutes on the baking pan, transfer them to a wire rack. This will help create the perfect cookie texture.

Variations

  • Instead of chopped pecans, try using other chopped nuts like almonds, walnuts, or hazelnuts.
  • Add a teaspoon of cinnamon to the dough for a warm flavor twist.
  • Swap out some of the all-purpose flour for whole wheat flour to add a touch more fiber and texture.
  • Add 4 tablespoons of unsweetened cocoa powder to the dry mix for a chocolate butter pecan cookie.
  • Add a teaspoon of your favorite extract to the dough for an extra burst of flavor. Besides vanilla, you can use maple, almond, coconut, or any fruit extract you enjoy.
Butter pecan cookies in a pile.

Can I make these cookies gluten-free?

Yes, you can use a gluten-free all-purpose flour blend in this recipe. Make sure it is a 1:1 ratio with all-purpose flour and that it already contains xanthan gum.

Can I substitute margarine for the butter in this recipe?

The question, “Can you use margarine instead of butter in cookies?” is a common one.

Yes, you can, but it will change the flavor and texture of the cookies. Not to mention, it changes how the cookies spread and bake up in the oven since margarine is oil based and butter is dairy based.

You can try using vegan butter or dairy-free margarine in place of the butter, but the results may vary as far as texture and taste as dairy-free butter does not have as much of a rich butter taste.

Can I make butter pecan cookies without eggs?

Yes, you can try using a flax egg or an egg replacement like Ener-G in this recipe.

What if I don’t have cornstarch?

You can try substituting arrowroot powder, tapioca starch, or potato starch in place of the cornstarch.

Storing and Freezing Butter Pecan Cookies

Storing:  Butter pecan cookies will stay fresh in an airtight container at room temperature for up to five days.

Freezing: Baked and cooled cookies can be frozen in an airtight container for up to two months. Let them thaw overnight on the counter before serving.

Freezing unbaked cookies: Place butter pecan cookie dough balls on a baking sheet, place in the freezer until firm then transfers to a plastic bag and store for up to one month. To bake from frozen, add an extra minute or two onto the baking time.

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Yield: About 18-20 Cookies

Butter Pecan Cookies

Bite taken out of a butter pecan cookie.

Butter Pecan Cookies have a warm and comforting flavor; they taste great with coffee or milk for an afternoon snack, after dinner, or even for breakfast!

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Additional Time 12 minutes
Total Time 57 minutes

Ingredients

  • ¾ cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • ½ cup light brown sugar, packed
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 ¾ cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 1 cup pecan halves

Instructions

  1. In a large bowl, cream together the butter, brown sugar and granulated sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
  2. Add the egg and vanilla extract, and mix until well combined.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, cornstarch, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients. Stir just until no dry streaks remain.
  4. Finally, stir in the chopped pecans, cover, and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  5. Preheat the oven to 350°F, and line a large baking sheet(s) with parchment paper.
  6. Roll 6 (1-inch) balls from the dough and place them evenly onto each prepared baking sheet. Gently press down the tops of the cookies, and place a pecan half on top.
  7. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until the edges start to turn a light golden color, and the tops lose the wet appearance.
  8. Let them cool for 5-10 minutes on the pan then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely
  9. Serve slightly warm or at room temperature. See post for storage options.

Notes

*The calories listed are an approximation based on the ingredients in the recipe card and a serving size of 1 butter pecan cookie. Actual calories will vary.

*For more information, tips, and answers to frequently asked questions, please refer to the post.

*Photos courtesy of Karla Rae Photography.

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Nutrition Information:

Yield:

20

Serving Size:

1 cookie

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 216Total Fat: 15gSaturated Fat: 5gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 9gCholesterol: 28mgSodium: 76mgCarbohydrates: 20gFiber: 1gSugar: 10gProtein: 3g

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Elaine D

Friday 21st of January 2022

Has anyone tried using Splenda or other sugar substitute to make these?

Kimberly

Friday 21st of January 2022

Hi Elaine!

We haven't tried a sugar substitute with these cookies. Someone else may be able to answer with some advice regarding which would be best to use and how much. :)

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