Homemade Pecan Sandies
Homemade pecan sandies are brown sugar shortbread cookies packed with chopped pecans. The slice-and-bake cookie dough is easy to make ahead of time for holiday prep. They have the perfect melt-in-your-mouth texture with a bit of crunch!
Have you ever had pecan sandies? They are old-fashioned cookies with a shortbread-like texture and finely chopped pecans throughout. Growing up I was a fan of the Keebler variety, but I wanted to try my hand at baking them from scratch! It turns out they are super easy to make at home. This recipe yields cookies that are buttery, slightly crumbly, and filled with nutty flavor (just like snowball cookies).
Why You’ll Love This Recipe
- Only 8 ingredients. They are easy to find if you don’t already have them in your kitchen!
- Slice-and-bake! This method makes these cookies great for holiday prep. Simply roll the dough into a log and, when you’re ready to bake, cut it into discs.
- Melt-in-your-mouth effect. Similar to shortbread cookies, they have a soft, buttery texture.
- Perfect pairing. I think these are one of the best cookies for pairing with hot tea or coffee, especially on a cold winter day!
- Add it to your Christmas cookie plate. They’re a nice contrast to the gingerbread and sugar cookies you’ll frequently find.
- Butter: Use cold, unsalted butter that is cut into cubes. Every brand of butter has varying amounts of salt so it’s best to add it separately.
- Brown sugar: For a little moisture, brown sugar is called for. The subtle molasses flavor also complements the pecans. Dark brown sugar may also be used.
- Confectioners’ sugar: Also known as powdered sugar, confectioner’s sugar provides sweetness and a super soft texture.
- Egg yolk: One yolk adds richness while helping bind the ingredients.
- Pecans: This star ingredient adds a little crunch in every bite! You will need some finely chopped nuts for the dough and some halves for garnish.
Refer to the recipe card for ingredient details and measurements.
Toast the pecans. Scatter them on a baking sheet and bake at 350 F for 7 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally until fragrant. Cool completely before using in the recipe.
Add chocolate chips. Stir in 1/2 cup mini chocolate chips when adding the nuts. Toffee bits are also a good addition that complements the pecan flavor.
Make them maple flavored I love maple desserts and I think a simple maple glaze would be a nice touch to these cookies. Alternatively, you can add 1 teaspoon maple extract when mixing in the egg yolk.
How to Make Pecan Sandies
- Make the dough. Use an electric mixer to beat cold butter, brown sugar, confectioners’ sugar, cinnamon and salt together until combined.
- Add egg yolk and mix. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl as necessary/
- Mix in flour just until combined.
- Add the chopped pecans and mix until incorporated. It’s okay if the dough a little crumbly.
- Chill dough. Roll dough into a 12-inch log and wrap it in plastic wrap. Chill for an hour.
- Slice and bake. Remove dough log from the refrigerator and use a sharp knife to cut the dough into discs. Place discs on the prepared baking sheet and garnish with a pecan half. Bake cookies at 350 F for 10 to 12 minutes. Cool completely before serving.
Weigh your ingredients. It’s more accurate than using measuring cups. If you don’t have a scale, spoon the flour into a measuring cup and level with a knife (don’t pack it down). Do the same with the confectioners’ sugar. This dough is a little on the more crumbly side so it’s important the dry ingredients are measured properly.
Make sure the butter is cold. This is crucial to get that melt-in-your-mouth shortbread texture. It also prevents the cookies from spreading.
Rotate the dough log when it’s in the refrigerator. If it rests on one side the whole time, the bottom will get a little flat and the cookies won’t be perfectly round.
Use a sharp knife to cut the dough and wipe the knife clean between slices. This will make a clean finish for each cookie!
Make Ahead and Storage Tips
Store the cookies after they have cooled completely. Place in an airtight container for up to 1 week.
Freeze the log of dough for up to 3 months. Defrost in the refrigerator before slicing and baking. You can also freeze the baked cookies for up to 3 months. Wrap in plastic wrap to keep them fresh.
Make ahead the dough and roll it into a log. Store in the refrigerator for up to 48 hours.
The dough will be a little crumbly, but it will come together when it’s rolled into a log. If it doesn’t, then there was probably too much flour added. Add 1 to 2 tablespoons milk to help it bind.
Yes, pecan sandies are a type of shortbread. Instead of using regular sugar, this recipe uses a combination of brown sugar and confectioners’ sugar.
Yes, but they are the star ingredient and the flavor will change slightly. Walnuts or almonds are good substitutions.
I haven’t tried this method, but I imagine it would work!
If you like these cookies, try these baked goods next!
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Get the Recipe: Homemade Pecan Sandies
- 12 Tablespoons (170 g) cold, unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
- ½ cup (100 g) packed light brown sugar
- ¼ cup (30 g) confectioners’ sugar
- ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 ½ cups (187 g) all purpose flour
- 1 large egg yolk, room temperature
- 1 cup (125 g) finely chopped pecans, (chopped, then measured)
- ½ cup pecan halves for garnish
- In the bowl of a stand mixer (a stand mixer works better with the cold butter), beat cold butter, brown sugar, confectioners’ sugar, cinnamon and salt together until combined. Scrape down the bottom and the sides of the bowl as necessary. Add egg yolk and mix until combined.
- Add flour and mix just until combined, then add the chopped pecans and mix until incorporated. The dough may be a little crumbly (see notes).
- Transfer dough to a lightly floured work surface and roll into a 12-inch log about 2 inches in diameter. Wrap dough log in plastic wrap and chill for at least 1 hour and up to 48 hours.
- Preheat oven to 350℉. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
- Remove dough log from the refrigerator and discard the plastic wrap. Use a sharp knife to cut into discs about 1/4-inch to 3/8-inch thick. Place discs on the prepared baking sheet and garnish with a pecan half.
- Bake at 350℉ for 10 to 12 minutes or until golden around the edges. Allow cookies to cool on the pan for a few minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.