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Rows of glazed pistachio cookies on a wire rack.

Pistachio Butter Cookies

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These pistachio cookies are buttery, sensationally nutty, with a hint of lemon. They almost melt-in-your-mouth, and make great holiday gifts.

  • Total Time: 65 minutes
  • Yield: 3 dozen



For the cookies:

  • 1 cup butter, at room temperature
  • 4 tablespoons (60g) powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract (optional)
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup ground toasted pistachios

For the coating:

  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar, for rolling
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice, if glazing them


For the cookies:

  1. In a large bowl, beat butter and sugar until creamy and smooth.
  2. Add lemon zest and vanilla and beat well.
  3. Add flour, 1 cup at a time, and then the pistachios. Mix just until smooth.
  4. Gather into a ball, wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least 3 hours.
  5. Preheat the oven to 350ºF/180°C.
  6. Line a baking tray with parchment paper.
  7. Roll portions of cold dough between your palms to form balls.
  8. Place 1-inch apart on the lined baking tray. At this point, they can be frozen (see Notes below).
  9. Bake for about 15 minutes, until they begin to brown on the edges and crack. 
  10. Let cool completely on a wire rack. 

For the coating:

  1. First option: roll the cookies in extra powdered sugar while still warm, to coat completely.
  2. Second option: prepare the glaze by mixing the sugar with a few teaspoons of lemon juice until smooth. Adjust the amount of juice so it's like thick honey. Drizzle over the cool cookies and sprinkle with chopped pistachios. 


  • 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. 
  • Freezing: you can make them ahead, form the balls, and freeze them in a tray. When completely frozen, transfer them to a bag or smaller container. You can bake them directly on a parchment-lined or greased cookie sheet, no need to thaw them. They might need an extra minute or two in the oven. 
  • Storage: they keep well for 2-3 days at room temperature in a tin, cookie jar, or an airtight container. After that, refrigerate them for a week or freeze them for a month.
  • Gift giving: these are very popular during the holidays because they're crowd-pleasers and travel well.
  • Flavorings: add another extract, such as orange blossom water, to the batter. Or spices, such as cardamom or cinnamon, that pair well with pistachios. 
  • Author: Paula Montenegro
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 45 minutes
  • Category: Cookies
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: International