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Stack of pecan cookies on a green wooden surface. Top one is bitten.

Pecan Sandies (shortbread cookies)

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Old-fashioned pecan sandies are melt-in-your-mouth cookies that will bring raves. They're similar to snowball cookies, with an intense nut flavor and crumbly texture. With few ingredients, the cookie dough can be made ahead, and the baked cookies keep well for a few weeks. 

  • Total Time: 3 hours 30 minutes
  • Yield: 25 cookies



For the cookies:

  • 1 cup butter, at room temperature
  • 4 tablespoons (60g) brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup ground pecans

For the coating:

  • 1/2 cup (or more) powdered sugar, for rolling


  1. In a large bowl, beat butter and sugar until creamy and smooth.
  2. Add vanilla extract and beat well.
  3. Add flour in 2 parts, and then the ground pecans. Mix just until smooth. I use a spatula. 
  4. Gather into a ball, cover in plastic wrap and chill or refrigerate for at least 3 hours.
  5. Preheat oven to 350ºF/180°C.
  6. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
  7. Roll portions of cold dough between your palms to form balls.
  8. Place 1 inch apart on the lined baking sheet and flatten them slightly.
  9. Bake for 15-18 minutes, depending on the thickness until they are a bit golden and slightly cracked. 
  10. Let cool on a wire rack.
  11. Roll in confectioners' (powdered) sugar to coat. Don't skip this step, as it adds an extra sweetness that is needed, as pecans can have a bitter tone sometimes. 
  12. These cookies freeze well unbaked. When you need them, line them up on a parchment-lined or greased baking tray, thaw, and bake.

Test run: I always recommend baking a couple of cookies first to check the temperature and baking time. All ovens are different, and the dough's temperature is also a variable, so you might need more or less time. 


  • Organization: read the recipe first and ensure you have ingredients at the correct temperature, equipment, and enough workspace. This will make the process so much easier.
  • Baking time: keep in mind that all ovens and pans are different, even if they look the same or very similar. The baking time in my recipes is as accurate as it can be, but it might take you more or less time. You can use a thermometer(like the OXO oven thermometer) to check that your oven is at the right temperature. I recommend you keep track of how your oven works and what tiny details you might need to adjust. 
  • Mixing: you should be able to make this recipe by hand with a whisk and spatula, so make sure the butter is soft, at room temperature.
  • Pecans: lightly toasting the nuts adds flavor to the cookies. Be aware that they take a few minutes to toast and a few seconds to burn. So once they go into the oven, keep an eye. They will crack open here and there. Let them cool down completely before grinding, or they might clump. Don't use coarsely chopped pecans, they need to be ground. 
  • Storing: the baked cookies keep very well for a few weeks if stored in an airtight container, tin, or cookie jar.
  • Make ahead: the dough is similar to shortbread and can be frozen, well wrapped, for a month. Bake directly from the freezer.
  • Variations: use different nuts. In addition to the pecans, add citrus zest (lemon and orange work very well) or mini chocolate chips. Add a spice, such as ground cinnamon or cardamom.
  • Author: Paula Montenegro
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Refrigeration time: 3 hours
  • Cook Time: 15 minutes
  • Category: Cookies
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American


  • Serving Size: 1/25
  • Calories: 126
  • Sugar: 3.9 g
  • Sodium: 2 mg
  • Fat: 7.5 g
  • Carbohydrates: 14.5 g
  • Fiber: 2.3 g
  • Protein: 1.3 g
  • Cholesterol: 19.5 mg