Butter Pecan Shortbread Cookies

Cookies and coffee.
Diana Rattray
Prep: 10 mins
Cook: 15 mins
Total: 25 mins
Servings: 18 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
131 Calories
8g Fat
15g Carbs
1g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 18
Amount per serving
Calories 131
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 8g 10%
Saturated Fat 4g 18%
Cholesterol 14mg 5%
Sodium 124mg 5%
Total Carbohydrate 15g 6%
Dietary Fiber 1g 3%
Protein 1g
Calcium 23mg 2%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

These cookies are super-easy to prepare and bake, and the recipe can easily be scaled up for a bigger batch. The cookies are made with a simple shortbread mixture of sugar, butter, and flour, along with vanilla extract and finely chopped pecans. Gussy these cookies up with icing or decorating sugar if you like. Dip the baked cookies in melted chocolate or sprinkle them with coarse sugar.

This recipe is the perfect size for a small family or sudden cookie craving. If you can't eat them all, you can always freeze them for another day. See the tips for specifics.


  • 4 ounces unsalted butter (softened)
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar (light or dark; packed)
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour ( about 5 1/2 ounces)
  • 1/3 cup pecans (finely chopped)
  • Optional: 1/2 cup coarse sugar or vanilla sugar (for sprinkling)

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients for butter pecan shortbread cookies.
    Diana Rattray
  2. Heat the oven to 325 F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.

  3. Stir the flour, salt, and finely chopped pecans together in a bowl; set aside.

    Combine the flour and pecans.
    Diana Rattray
  4. In a mixing bowl with an electric mixer, beat the butter and brown sugar together until light. Beat in vanilla.

    Beat the butter and sugar together.
    Diana Rattray
  5. Stir in the flour mixture, kneading the dough gently with your hands to bring it together, if necessary.

  6. Press or gently roll out on a lightly floured surface; cut into circles or squares about 1/4-inch thick. If desired, sprinkle the cookies with vanilla sugar or coarse sugar.

    Pecan shortbread cookie dough.
    Diana Rattray
  7. Bake in the preheated oven for about 20 minutes. Time will vary with thickness, so check them after 12 to 15 minutes if they're a little thinner. They should be just beginning to brown around the edges.

    Brown sugar and pecan shortbread cookies on a plate.
    Diana Rattray
  8. Transfer the cookies to a rack to cool completely.

    Plated butter pecan shortbread cookies.
    Diana Rattray
  9. Enjoy the cookies plain or drizzle them with melted chocolate.


  • Because shortbread cookies are high in fat, there's no need to grease cookie sheets. Leave baking sheets ungreased if you don't have parchment paper.
  • If your cookies tend to brown too much on the bottom, try putting two baking sheets together to make an "insulated" sheet.
  • Dark baking sheets absorb more heat than lighter sheets; line dark baking sheets with heavy-duty foil to lessen the excess heat.
  • Chop the pecans finely by hand or with a chopper. A food processor can quickly turn nuts into an oily nut butter.
  • Bake cookies in the upper third of the oven for best heat distribution, and always check the cookies a few minutes before a recipe minimum bake time.
  • Make sure cookies are completely cool before storing them. Store them in airtight containers or zip-lock food storage bags.
  • To freeze cookies, cool them and arrange them on a baking sheet. Put the baking sheet in the oven and freeze the cookies until firm. Wrap them well, removing as much air from the packaging as possible.

Recipe Variations

  • Omit the pecans or replace them with finely chopped walnuts, hazelnuts, or almonds.
  • Melt chocolate or white chocolate almond bark or melting wafers over simmering water. Dip half of each cookie in the melted chocolate. Place the dipped cookies on wax paper to set. If desired, sprinkle with finely chopped pecans before the chocolate sets.