Classic Pecan Sandies
Classic pecan sandies are a simple, traditional cookie made from shortbread cookie dough and chopped pecans. These slice and bake cookies are a classic for holiday gift giving or to enjoy yourself with a warm cup of coffee.
- Skill Level: Beginner
- Technique Used: Creaming Method for Cookies
This recipe for pecan sandies is a classic! Toasted pecans are mixed into buttery shortbread cookie dough and baked until golden. They are crispy, crumbly, and so cozy. Form the dough into a log, wrap it up, and store for several days in the refrigerator until you’re ready to bake them off.
Classic pecan sandies are a perfect addition to a holiday cookie tin and are wonderful to enjoy with a warm cup of coffee.
What makes these cookies a classic
- Buttery shortbread cookies are a tried-and-true classic cookie recipe made with simple ingredients.
- Slice and bake cookies have become a staple in most homes because the dough is easy to store and can be sliced and baked off fresh.
- Pecans are such a great nut to bake with – they’re wonderfully toasty and fragrant.
- Butter is used in a high ratio in shortbread-style cookies (like these pecan sandies) to create a very buttery flavor and crumbly texture. The butter also makes the cookies very tender.
- Granulated sugar sweetens the cookies and when creamed with the butter, creates a light texture for the cookies.
- Salt rounds out the flavors and offsets the sweetness.
- Flour provides the main structure for the cookies and helps them hold their shape.
- Vanilla extract is used solely for flavor.
- Pecans are the star of this cookie providing delicious nutty flavor and a crunchy texture.
Cinnamon Pecan Sandies: Add 1-1 ½ teaspoons ground cinnamon to the flour mixture.
Nut Sandies: Swap the pecans in this recipe for another type of nut like chopped walnuts or pistachios.
Chocolate Pecan Sandies: After the cookies have completely cooled, dip them in melted dark chocolate (here’s how to melt chocolate in the microwave).
How to make classic pecan sandies
This pecan sandies recipe is made from a shortbread cookie dough base. These buttery cookies are similar to sugar cookies but they have a higher ratio of butter which gives them an even more buttery flavor and a crumbly texture.
Toast the Nuts
While technically an optional step, toasting the pecans before adding them to the dough enhances the nutty flavor of the cookie.
There are 2 ways to toast nuts. I prefer to use the stovetop method because it is quicker, but if you prefer a more hands-off method, use the oven.
- Pour the chopped nuts into a dry skillet. Choose a skillet that is wide enough to spread the nuts in a thin layer on the bottom of the pan.
- Heat over medium-low heat, stirring frequently, until the nuts smell fragrant and nutty. This will take about 3-4 minutes.
- Place the chopped nuts on a sheet pan and spread into a thin even layer.
- Toast in the oven at 325°F/165°F, stirring about every 4-5 minutes.
- Remove from the oven when the nuts smell nutty and very fragrant. This should take about 10-15 minutes.
MAKE THE SHORTBREAD DOUGH
It is very important to start with room temperature butter for shortbread cookies. This is essential for properly creaming the butter together with the granulated sugar. Cream the butter and sugar together until the mixture is very light and fluffy. Periodically scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula to make sure everything is properly incorporated.
Add in the vanilla extract and mix until incorporated.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the salt, flour, and chopped nuts.
Add the flour/nut mixture to the creamed butter mixture. Mix on low speed until just incorporated. The dough will look a bit crumbly, but should feel moist and hold together if pressed in your hand. If it does not hold together,add about 1-2 tablespoons of milk or water until the dough holds together when pressed.
Transfer the dough onto a lightly floured surface. Push the dough together with your hands and roll it into a log that’s about 8 inches (20 cm) long and 2 inches (5 cm) in diameter. Wrap in parchment paper or plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1-2 hours, overnight, or up to 3 days. The dough is ready to use once it’s very firm.
BAKE THE COOKIES
Remove the dough log from the refrigerator. Use a sharp knife to slice the log into cookies about ¼ inch (0.6 cm) thick. They can be a little thicker than ¼ inch, but don’t go any thinner. Place the cookies onto the prepared cookie sheet at least 2 inches (5 cm) apart. Make sure the dough is still very chilled before going into the oven.
Bake the cookies for 12-16 minutes until golden brown, rotating the pans halfway through baking from top to bottom and front to back.
Let the cookies cool on the baking sheets for 5 minutes before removing and transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
Why are they called “sandies”?
Pecan Sandies are made from a type of crumbly cookie called shortbread. The ratio of butter to flour gives these cookies a crumbly, almost sand-like texture.
Make-Ahead Classic Pecan Sandies
Slice-and-bake cookies are the perfect cookie dough to prep in advance! The cookie dough log keeps well in the refrigerator or freezer.
How to store in the refrigerator or freezer: After rolling the dough into a log, wrap it in either parchment paper or plastic wrap, and place the log in a large zip-top bag. Refrigerate the dough for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 2 months before baking.
How to bake from frozen: Remove the frozen log of cookie dough from the freezer and thaw overnight in the refrigerator. When ready to bake, remove from the refrigerator, slice, and bake. The cookies should be baked while still cold.
How to Store Baked Homemade Pecan Sandies
Room Temperature: Store cooled cookies in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 weeks.
Freezer: Store baked cookies in an airtight container in the freezer for up to 3 months. Use parchment or wax paper in between layers of cookies so that they do not stick together.
MORE RECIPES FROM BAKER BETTIE!
If you enjoyed this recipe, try these other delicious nutty cookie recipes.
- 226 grams (1 cup, 2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 100 grams (½ cup) granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- 256 grams (2 cups + 2 tablespoons) all-purpose flour
- 100 grams (1 cup) chopped pecans
- At least 30 minutes before mixing your dough, set out the butter (226 grams/ 1 cup) to come to room temperature. Measure out the rest of the ingredients.
- Toast the chopped pecans (100 grams/ 1 cups) by pouring them into a dry skillet that is wide enough to allow them to be spread in a thin layer on the bottom of the pan. Heat over medium-low heat, stirring frequently, until the nuts smell fragrant and nutty. This will take about 3-4 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside.
Make the Shortbread Dough:
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, or in a large mixing bowl with a hand electric mixer, cream together the butter and sugar (100 grams/ ½ cup) on medium speed until light and fluffy (about 2 minutes). Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl halfway through.
- Add in the vanilla extract (1 teaspoon) and mix until incorporated.
- In a separate mixing bowl, whisk together the salt (½ teaspoon), flour (256 grams/ 2 cups + 2 tablespoons) and chopped pecans.
- Add the flour/nut mixture to the mixing bowl and mix on low speed until just incorporated. The dough will likely be a bit crumbly looking, but should still look moist and hold together if pressed together in your hand. If it does not hold together, you can add about 1-2 tablespoons of milk or water until it holds together when pressed.
- Pour the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Push together the dough with your hands and roll it into a log that's about 8 inches (20 cm) wide. This will be about 2 inches (5 cm) in diameter. Wrap in parchment paper or plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1-2 hours, overnight, or up to 3 days.
- Position oven racks in the top and bottom thirds of the oven. Preheat the oven to 350°F/175°C. Line two sheet pans with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.
Bake the Cookies:
- Remove the dough log from the refrigerator and using a sharp knife, slice into cookies about ¼ inch (0.6 cm) thick. Place the cookies onto the prepared baking sheets at least 2 inches (5 cm) apart.
- Bake for 14-16 minutes until golden brown, rotating the pans halfway through baking from top to bottom and front to back.
- Allow to cool on the baking sheets for 5 minutes before removing and transferring to a cooling rack to cool completely.
- Store cooled cookies in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 weeks.