Use this Pecan Sandies recipe to create the most delicious, melt-in-your-mouth shortbread cookies that will fill your home with the sweet, warm, nutty scent of pecans and vanilla while they bake.
Did you love Pecan Sandies as a kid? I sure did! We got them from the grocery store (the ones that the Keebler elves made), and they were delicious.
I had no idea back then that they could get any better than that, but let me tell you, Homemade Pecan Sandies are SO much better!
These pecan sandies are made from scratch with real butter, pure vanilla extract, freshly chopped nuts, and lots of love. They will be 100 times better than any storebought cookie, and they’re really easy to make with simple ingredients that you probably already have.
Shortbread cookies like Pecan Sandies are made without eggs or baking powder, so they have a dense, crisp texture. The ratio of butter to flour is what makes the perfect shortbread pecan sandies cookies, and this recipe has it!
If you like nuts in your cookies, make sure you check out my recipe for Pecan Meltaways too. They have a similar flavor but a slightly softer texture and they’re rolled in powdered sugar.
These Banana Bread Cookies with cream cheese frosting are topped with chopped pecans too!
Why You’ll Love This Recipe
- Crisp Texture: The dense, crisp texture of pecan sandies makes them delicious, but it also makes them the perfect cookie for sharing. Sturdy sandies store well without breaking and look beautiful wrapped up in a bag with ribbon for the holidays.
- Easy to Make Ahead: The pecan sandies cookie dough needs to chill for a bit before baking it, so it’s a great recipe that you can make a few days early and then bake off when you’re ready.
- Extra Nuts! I like to press a pecan half into the top of each cookie. It’s a decoration but also a tasty flavor addition. This is optional, but I highly suggest that you try it.
Ingredients in Pecan Sandies
Complete list of ingredients with quantities and instructions is located in the recipe card below
- Unsalted Butter: I always reach for unsalted butter when I’m baking. Each brand of butter has a different amount of salt in it, and it just can’t be counted on. We will add our own salt later. Let the butter soften to room temperature.
- Sugar: Regular white granulated sugar is the perfect choice for these classic cookies.
- Water: A small amount of water gives the cookies needed moisture since there are no eggs in the recipe to hold everything together.
- Vanilla Extract: Always use pure vanilla extract for baking cookies! I suggest that you buy the best quality vanilla extract that you can reasonably afford. It really makes a difference.
- Flour and Salt: The basic dry ingredients in shortbread cookies. Remember, there is no baking powder or soda in these cookies.
- Pecans: You’ll need ¾ cup of very finely chopped pecans to mix into the cookie dough. You can do this with your food processor, or very, very carefully with a sharp knife. If desired, you’ll also need pecan halves to decorate the cookies. This recipe makes about 27 cookies, so you’ll need that many.
How to Make Pecan Sandies Cookies
- Mix Wet Ingredients: In the bowl of your stand mixer (or in a mixing bowl with a handheld mixer) cream together the butter and sugar until smooth and creamy. Add the vanilla extract and water and beat again for 30 seconds. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl with a spatula to get everything well mixed.
- Add Dry Ingredients: In a separate bowl, mix together the flour and salt, then add that to the butter mixture and mix until combined. Fold in the chopped pecans.
- Chill: Refrigerate the cookie dough for at least 30 minutes, and up to a day or so.
- Form Cookies: Preheat the oven to 325°/160°C. Line baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats. Then use a 1-tablespoon cookie scoop to form the dough into 1-inch balls (20 grams if you’d like to weigh them). Roll the balls between your hands to smooth them, and place on a cookie sheet about 2 inches apart. Use a flat bottomed glass to press the dough into ½ inch thick cookies. If desired, press 1 pecan half into the center of each cookie.
- Bake: Bake for 18-22 minutes. Allow cookies to cool down for 5 minutes on the baking pan, then remove to a wire rack to cool completely.
Pecan Sandies Recipe Tips
- Adjust the flavor. As written, these cookies taste like butter, vanilla, and pecans, which is totally decadent and delicious! You can amp up the flavor a bit if you want to by adding ¼ teaspoon of cinnamon.
- Sticky Dough? Sometimes you might find that the cookies stick to the glass while you’re flattening them. a small amount of cold water on the glass should fix that problem.
More Homemade Cookie Recipes
Yes, it’s important to chill the dough before baking it. If it’s too warm, the cookies will spread too much in the oven. The dough can sit in the fridge for about 48 hours, making this recipe great for planning ahead.
Yes, pecan sandies cookie dough freezes well. Wrap the dough into a log, or roll into individual balls, and freeze it in an airtight container for up to 2 months. Let the dough thaw in the fridge overnight before baking.
Yep! Freeze baked pecan sandies in an airtight container or ziploc bag and freeze for 2-3 months.
Meltaways (aka) Mexican wedding cookies are very similar to pecan sandies. The biggest difference is that meltaways use powdered sugar rather than granulated, and they are formed into balls rather than flat cookies. This means that they have a softer texture.
You are going to be amazed at how good these homemade Pecan Sandies cookies are! You won’t be able to back to the store-bought ones. Be sure to Pin the recipe so more people can find this amazing cookie recipe!