Easy Maple Pecan Shortbread Cookies (Pecan Sandies)
Easy maple pecan shortbread cookies that you slice and bake! I roll the log in coarse sugar and pecans for added texture. Trust me; these pecan sandies are so easy to make, you’ll make them all the time!
Buttery pecan shortbread cookies or pecan sandies if the Keebler elves were as big of a part of your childhood as they were mine.
I remember pecan sandies were my dad’s favorite or one of them at least. He doesn’t discriminate when it comes to cookies. He’ll pretty much eat them all. And as a child, I grew quite fond of the nutty, buttery deliciousness of a pecan shortbread.
Until now, I hadn’t attempted making homemade pecan shortbread, but when I was working on my Twix shortbread cookies a couple of years ago, my mind drifted from the sweet caramel and chocolate drizzle over to a nutty and crunchy pecan and sugar-crusted version. So this year, I made a batch of my basic shortbread cookie recipe and threw in a handful of chopped pecans and a splash of maple extract. And then, for good measure, I mixed sparkling sugar and finely chopped pecans and rolled my shortbread log in them to make them even more delicious. And the results were phenomenal.
We shared these with both sides of our family, and they were a huge hit with our parents. These are undoubtedly more sophisticated, grown-up cookies, and I don’t think Santa will complain about that!
What do you need to make homemade pecan shortbread cookies?
- Softened butter: I like to use salted butter for this recipe as it gives these cookies that perfectly buttery, sweet flavor. If you don’t have salted butter on hand, you can add in ½ teaspoon of kosher salt.
- Powdered sugar: I prefer powdered sugar for this recipe instead of granulated sugar because it contains a teeny tiny amount of cornstarch. The cornstarch makes the cookie dough easier to handle and prevents it from spreading too much in the oven.
- Extracts: I use a combination of vanilla and maple extract for this recipe. Along with the ground cinnamon, these flavors really amp up the natural pecan flavor.
- Ground cinnamon: Just a hint of ground cinnamon to bring out the natural flavors of pecan. You can omit this if you aren’t a fan, but I shared these cookies with someone who doesn’t like cinnamon, and they thought these cookies were delicious as is!
- All-purpose flour: both bleached and unbleached flour will work for this recipe. I usually have unbleached flour on hand, and that’s what I used!
- Finely chopped pecans: we’ll use these both in the actual cookie dough and then to make them extra nutty and indulgent, we’ll roll the logs of cookie dough in coarse sugar and pecan mixture before we slice and bake.
- Coarse sugar: The coarse sugar is purely for decoration. I usually have sparkling sugar on hand, so I used that, but Demerara (turbinado) sugar would also work!
How to make slice and bake pecan shortbread cookies (aka pecan sandies):
- Make the dough. In the bowl of a stand mixer or with a hand mixer, cream the butter until soft. Then add the powdered sugar and continue to cream for a minute. Add the extract and combine. Sprinkle in the cinnamon and flour until the dough is mixed and shaggy. Then, fold or beat in the chopped pecans until evenly distributed.
- Roll it into logs so we can slice and bake. Sprinkle a clean work surface with a couple of tablespoons of flour. I like to do this on a silicone mat to make for easy cleanup! Dump the dough out, and with your hands, gather it into a large disc. Divide the disc in half and roll each half into a log. You want to combine the remaining chopped pecans and sugar in a bowl. Spread the sugar and pecan mixture over your clean work surface and roll the logs in the sugar mixture until both logs are coated. Don’t worry if you have leftover pecan sugar mixture! Save it: you can sprinkle some on the cookies before baking. Wrap each log in plastic wrap and refrigerate for as little as 1 hour.
- When you’re ready to bake: preheat the oven and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. When the oven is hot, remove a log from the refrigerator, cut the log into 14 equal pieces. Place the cookies on the lined baking sheet about 1 ½ inches apart. You can sprinkle the cookies with the pecan sugar mixture if you’d like; I did. Bake the cookies until golden around the edges. You want to let the cookies cool on the cookie sheet for at least 5 minutes before attempting to move to a wire cooling rack.
FAQs about pecan sandies:
- How far in advance can I make the cookie dough? You can make the cookie dough up to 4 days in advance and refrigerate. You can also make it and freeze it for 1 month. Just be sure to defrost the dough in the refrigerator overnight before baking.
- How long to the baked cookies last? The cookies taste best the day they are made and 1-2 days after. You can also bake the cookies, allow them to cool, and freeze them in a single layer. Just be sure to defrost the cookies at room temperature for several hours (or in the refrigerator overnight) before serving.
Other cookie recipes you might like:
- Twix shortbread cookies
- Extra Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies
- Loaded Dark Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies
- Raspberry Almond Linzer
- Thumbprint Cookies
- Homemade Fudge
- 1 ½ cups salted butter, softened
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ½ teaspoon EACH: maple extract AND ground cinnamon
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- ¾ cup finely chopped pecans
- 3 tablespoons coarse sugar
- 1/4 cup fine chopped pecans
- DOUGH: In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the butter for 1 minute. Then add the powdered sugar and cream them together, for another minute. Add the maple and vanilla extracts and combine. Then add the ground cinnamon and flour until the flour is mostly mixed in. The dough will be shaggy and that’s okay. Add the chopped pecans with the mixer on the stir setting until evenly dispersed. Expect the dough to be quite thick!
- ROLL: Flour a clean work surface, I like to do this on a silicone mat placed on the counter. Dump out the dough and pull it together into a disc without working it too much, sprinkling with a little bit of flour if it’s sticking. Divide the dough into two equal pieces then roll each piece into a 10-inch log that is about 2 inches in diameter. In a bowl, combine the coarse sugar and chopped pecans. Spread the sugar and pecan mixture over your clean work surface and roll the logs in the mixture until both logs are coated. Wrap each individual log in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or longer. It's easier to slice the dough if it's chilled. You can make this up to 4 days in advance and refrigerate. Don't discard pecan sugar mixture; you can sprinkle a pinch on each cookie before baking, if desired.
- BAKE: Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350ºF. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. When the oven has reached 350ºF, remove one log from the refrigerator and cut the log into 14 equal pieces using a sharp knife. Place the cookies on the lined baking sheet, about 1 ½ inches apart. You can sprinkle the cookies with the remaining pecan sugar mixture if you’d like. Bake for roughly 14 - 17 minutes or until golden around the edges. Allow the cookies to rest on the cookie sheet for 5 minutes before moving to a cooling rack.