This Pecan Cookie Recipe produces delicious cut-out cookies that are speckled with pecans and can be topped with a simple cinnamon icing for an extra flavorful treat! This recipe is easy to do and perfect with a cup of coffee or tea!
I love a good cut-out cookie but one that has a nutty flavor to it is so much better! This Pecan Cookie Recipe is one of my favourite cookies to make during the holiday season and year round, to be honest.
Buttery, lightly sweet, and with a delicate pecan flavor, these cookies are downright irresistible. Think of them as a classic sugar cookie, but nuttier and, therefore, better!
As with all of my favorite recipes, this one is simple, easy and delicious. This recipe uses simple ingredients you likely already have on hand.
And with the help of a food processor and stand mixer, the job couldn’t be simpler.
I love pairing them with a cup of hot coffee, but a mug of hot chocolate, tea or even a cold glass of milk wouldn’t be a bad idea either!
Ingredients in this Pecan Cookie Recipe
- Ground pecans: I buy pecan halves and grind them in the food processor. The recipe requires 1/2 cup ground which requires about 3/4 cups of pecan halves.
- All purpose flour
- Unsalted butter: softened, room temperature butter. You will need 1 stick of butter or 1/2 a cup. I prefer to use unsalted butter to have better control over the salt content in cookies, as some salted butters can be quite salty. If you are using a salted butter you like, you can omit the salt in the recipe.
- Sugar: granulated white sugar is used in the cookies. If you choose to make the cinnamon icing, you will also use icing sugar (or confectioner’s sugar). If you are not icing them, I recommend sprinkling the tops of the cookies with coarse sugar or sanding sugar before baking.
- Egg yolk: The yolk of 1 large egg is all you need for this recipe. If you decide to double the recipe, you can use 1 whole large egg instead of using 2 egg yolks.
- Vanilla extract: adds flavor to the cookie.
Note: Ingredient quantities and full instructions are in the recipe card at the end of this post.
Ingredients in the Cinnamon Icing
- Icing sugar: aka confectioner’s sugar
- Cinnamon: a little goes a long way here. I use just 1/8 of a teaspoon but you can increase this a bit to suit your own tastes.
- Water: Can also use milk instead.
- Chopped pecans: These are not in the icing themselves, but rather sprinkled on top of the icing. They are optional, but add a nice crunch and extra pecan flavor which is delightful.
How to make the Dough for these Pecan Cookies
The full instructions for these cookies is in the recipe card at the end of this post
1. Make Pecan Meal: Place the pecans in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until finely ground. You should end up with 1/2 cup of ground pecans.
2. Mix the dry ingredients: In a large bowl, mix flour, ground pecans, and salt. Set the flour mixture aside.
3. Cream the butter and sugar: In the bowl of a stand mixer (or using a large mixing bowl and a hand mixer), cream butter and sugar with medium speed for a couple of minutes until light and fluffy.
4. Mix all the wet ingredients: Add the egg yolk and vanilla extract to the butter mixture and blend until combined.
5. Add the dry ingredients and chill the dough: With the mixer running on low speed, slowly add the dry ingredients until combined. Shape the dough into a 1 inch thick disk. Wrap it up in the plastic food wrap and refrigerate for 1-2 hours or until the dough is chilled and firm.
Rolling out the Pecan Cookies
1. Roll out the dough: Once the dough chills, remove the plastic wrap from the dough disk and transfer it to a floured surface. Use a rolling pin to roll out the dough to 1/4 inch thickness.
2. Cut out your shapes: Use a cookie cutter to cut out the cookie shapes and transfer them to a prepared baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Leftover dough scraps can be re-rolled to make more cookies.
3. Chill: Is your dough warming up and becoming a sticky cookie dough? If the dough becomes soft while working with it, pop the entire cookie sheet into the fridge to set it up again.
4. Add coarse sugar: If you do not plan to ice these cookies, sprinkle the cookies with coarse sugar or sanding sugar. If you are icing the cookies, skip this step.
4. Bake and cool: Bake the cookies for 10-12 minutes or until lightly golden brown on the edges. [Note: Bake time can vary depending on how hot your oven runs and the size of your cookie cut-outs. Check on the cookies at about minutes and add extra minutes to the bake time as needed.] Remove from the oven and let them cool for a few minutes on the sheet pan. Then transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely.
Topping Pecan Cookies with Cinnamon Icing
This cinnamon icing is entirely optional. I often ice half and leave the other half without icing. I personally love the flavor it adds and they cookies look so darn cute with the icing! To add the icing, follow the simple steps below.
1. Whisk the icing together: Add the icing sugar and cinnamon to a bowl and whisk them together. Then add the water, whisking until it comes together and adding more water as needed to reach the correct consistency (it should be thin enough to spread but not too runny as to soak into the cookie and disappear).
2. Top the cookies: Use a teaspoon to add some icing into the center of the cookie and then use the back of the spoon to spread it out, leaving a bit of border around the cookie.
3. Add chopped pecans: Sprinkle with chopped pecans, if desired. Allow them to set before serving.
Tips for making the Best Pecan Cookies
- Finely grind the pecans. Large chunks of pecans will affect the texture of your cookies as well as its integrity as it will be more prone to crumbling. You want to grind them up until it resembles a pecan flour (think almond flour).
- Toast the pecans. Toasted pecans can add another level of flavor to this simple cookie recipe. Try toasting the pecans first before grinding them to add more flavor.
- Use the scoop and level method. The scoop and level method works well for measuring out the flour in baking recipes. To do this, scoop the flour into the measuring cup using a spoon and then use the back of a knife to scrape across the top of the measuring cup to level it. This method prevents the flour from getting packed in, which would mean you are using too much flour.
- Don’t over mix your dough. As with almost all baking recipes, once you add the dry ingredients to your dough, mix only until they are incorporated and then stop. Over mixing the dough will result in a tougher cookie.
- Cool completely before icing cookies. Before icing the cookies, you will want to ensure the cookies are completely cooled. Otherwise, the icing will melt as soon as it hits the cookie and start dripping down the sides of the cookie.
- Add water slowly to the icing. The cinnamon icing doesn’t require too much liquid as you will want to keep it thick like a paste (I aim for a toothpaste-like consistency). Add water slowly to the bowl to prevent adding too much and making it too liquid. If you have added too much water, don’t fret. You can add a little more icing sugar to thicken it up if needed.
How to Store this Pecan Cookie Recipe
These pecan cookies can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for a few days.
This recipe can also be frozen. To freeze baked cookies, ensure they are cooled completely and then transfer them to a freezer safe container, layering parchment paper between layers to ensure they do not stick to one another. Then when you are ready to enjoy them, just thaw as many as you like.
If you know you are going to be freezing these (I often make these ahead of time for the holidays), I recommend leaving off the icing and completing that step after you thaw them. While the cookies themselves freeze beautifully, the icing can sometimes get little blemishes (they are still edible and it is not terribly noticeable, but if you can avoid it, why not?).
I hope you enjoy this pecan cookie recipe as much as I do! They are perfect to enjoy year-round and I especially love making these around the holidays. They make a great addition to my trays of Christmas cookies and are perfect to bring along to a holiday cookie exchange!
You may also like these other cut-out cookie recipes:
Pecan Cookie Recipe
- 1/2 cup ground pecans (about 3/4 cups to 1 cups pecan halves)
- 1 1/4 cups all purpose flour + more for flouring the work surface
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter softened
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 1 large egg yolk*
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- coarse sugar or sanding sugar for decorating, optional. Omit if you are going to ice these cookies instead.
Cinnamon Icing (Optional)
- 1 1/2 cups icing sugar aka confectioner's sugar
- 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
- 2 tablespoons water
- chopped pecans optional, to decorate
- Place the pecan halves in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until finely ground. You should end up with 1/2 cup of ground pecans. [Note: you do not want small pieces of pecan in the cookies so you are aiming for a pecan meal that is finely ground.]
- In a large bowl, mix flour, ground pecans, and salt. Set the flour mixture aside.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer (or using a hand mixer), cream butter and sugar with medium speed for a couple of minutes until light and fluffy.
- Add the egg yolk and vanilla extract to the butter mixture and blend until combined.
- With the mixer running on low speed, slowly add the dry ingredients until combined.
- Shape the dough into a 1 inch thick disk. Wrap it up in the plastic food wrap and refrigerate for 1-2 hours or until the dough is chilled and firm.
- Preheat oven to 350F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Remove the plastic wrap from the dough disk and transfer it to a floured surface. Use a rolling pin to roll out the dough to 1/4 inch thickness. Use a cookie cutter to cut out the cookie shapes and transfer them to the parchment lined cookie sheet. Leftover dough scraps can be re-rolled to make more cookies.**
- If the dough becomes soft while working with it, pop the entire baking tray into the fridge to set it up again. [Chilled dough will prevent the cookies from spreading and losing their shape.]
- Sprinkle the cookies with coarse sugar or sanding sugar (if you are not going to ice these. If you are icing the cookies, skip this step). Bake the cookies for 10-12 minutes or until lightly golden brown on the edges. Remove from the oven and let them cool for a few minutes on the baking sheet. Then transfer them to a wire cooling rack to cool completely.
- If you are icing the cookies with the cinnamon icing, whisk together the icing sugar and cinnamon until incorporated. Then add the water, whisking until it comes together and adding more water as needed to reach the correct consistency (I aim for a toothpaste-like consistency).
- Use a teaspoon to add some icing into the center of the cookie and then use the back of the spoon to spread it out, leaving a bit of border around the cookie. Sprinkle with chopped pecans, if desired. Allow them to set before serving.