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Butter Pecan Shortbread Cookies

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Nothing says “holiday baking” quite like these Butter Pecan Shortbread Cookies — they are rich, buttery, and nutty, and a wonderful Christmas cookie treat.


Hi Bold Bakers!

From giving them as gifts, to making them as a fun activity with friends and family, I love how baking cookies is a way to bring people together during the holidays.  And nothing says “holiday baking” quite like these Butter Pecan Shortbread Cookies — they are rich, buttery, and nutty, and a quintessential Christmas shortbread cookie.

As you know, shortbread is a staple for this festive season, but these aren’t just your average shortbread cookies, because they incorporate one of my favorite nuts: pecans. Easy to make in a large batch, and great to make ahead, these are lovely cookies to add to your holiday repertoire.

What is a shortbread cookie?

Shortbread cookies — not to be mistaken with a sugar cookie — are dry-yet-buttery cookies that are usually made of mostly butter, a bit of sugar, and a bit of flour. The reason it’s referred to as “short” bread is because of the nature of the crumb of the cookie.

The texture of my Butter Pecan Shortbread Cookie is on the cracker-like and crumbly side, making it delicate without much chew. One of the best parts about shortbread is that it always starts out the same, by creaming butter and sugar until light and fluffy, then adding in flour. My Butter Pecan Shortbread Cookies combine both brown and white sugar, making all the difference in the flavor and aroma.

Then, of course, I add pecans — which take this cookie above and beyond. The added crunch and flavor from the toasted nuts is so lovely, making these truly special enough from any holiday occasion.

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Can shortbread cookies be frozen?

When the holidays hit, the key to culinary success is always preparation.

My Butter Pecan Shortbread Cookie can not only be made ahead, but they should be! Because the butter content of the butter pecan shortbread is so high, they can’t be shaped when the dough is fresh — they need to be chilled or frozen in the shape of a log, then sliced into discs to be baked. These shortbread cookies need to be chilled for a minimum of 2 hours to overnight.

If you do choose to make the dough ahead of time, it will also freeze beautifully. To bake from frozen: simply defrost, slice, and bake away!

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How to Make  Slice and Bake Butter Pecan Shortbread Cookies

The best part about my Butter Pecan Shortbread Cookies is how easy they are to bake off. Once the dough has been whipped up, I turn it out of a bowl and then use my hands to shape it into a log. I wrap the log in plastic wrap, then twist each end like you would a piece of hard candy.

The result is an even shape that allows you to slice the cookies into really uniform discs. I love this effect, as it makes each cookie comes out perfect. The more uniform the cookie, the more evenly they bake, too. The finished cookies looks so professional and stack up perfectly making a great little stocking stuffer or gift.

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4.6 from 5 votes
Butter Pecan Shortbread Cookies Recipe
Prep Time
25 mins
Cook Time
11 mins
Total Time
36 mins
 

nothing says "holiday baking" quite like these Butter Pecan Shortbread Cookies — they are rich, buttery, and nutty, and a quintessential Christmas shortbread cookie.

Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Servings: 25
Author: Gemma Stafford
Ingredients
  • 1 cup (8oz/225g) butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup (3oz/85g) brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup (2oz/57g) sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 egg
  • 2 1/2 cups (12 1/2oz/355g) all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup (2 ½oz/71g) pecans, roughly chopped
Instructions
  1. In a large bowl, cream together the butter, brown sugar, and white sugar until light and fluffy.

  2. Add in the egg and vanilla and mix until combined. 

  3. Fold in the flour and chopped pecans.

  4. Bring the dough into a ball and divide in half. Roll each half into an 8 inch log, then wrap it in plastic wrap. Twist the ends of the plastic wrap tightly to create a compact even log. Chill the dough for 2 hours to over night. 

  5. When ready to bake, pre-heat your oven to 350°F (180°C) then line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper. 

  6. Remove the logs of dough from the fridge and unwrap them. Using a large sharp knife slice each log into 1/2 inch rounds.

  7. Arrange the sliced cookies on the cookie sheets about 1 inch apart. 

  8. Bake the cookies for 18-20 minutes or until lightly golden and slightly crispy.

  9. Transfer the cookies to a wire rack and allow the cookies to cool completely.

  10. Cover and store the cookies in an airtight container for up to 3 days. 

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Katherine Cowgill by Teren Oddo Oct. 2015

Meet Gemma

Hi Bold Bakers! I’m Gemma Stafford, a professional chef originally from Ireland, and I’m passionate about sharing my years of experience to show you how to make game-changing baking recipes with over-the-top results! Join more than 1 Million other Bold Bakers in the community for new video recipes every week!

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19 Comments

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  1. Millie Fleck on December 21, 2018 at 7:36 am

    Hi Gemma, I was just wondering if vanilla sugar could be used instead of adding in the vanilla extract? as have some I made in the cupboard.
    Best wishes,
    Millie

    • Gemma Stafford on December 21, 2018 at 7:49 pm

      Sure if that is what you have on hand ;D

  2. Haley on December 18, 2018 at 9:26 am

    My two favorite cookies combined, pecans and shortbread. Need to make these ASAP.

    • Gemma Stafford on December 18, 2018 at 5:35 pm

      They are YUMMY! Do give them a try! Happy Holidays!

  3. Carol on December 15, 2018 at 6:30 am

    Hi Gemma,
    Can you toast the pecans before chopping them and putting them into the batter?
    Best,
    Carol

    • Gemma Stafford on December 16, 2018 at 5:41 am

      Hi Carol,
      YES! lightly toast them, on a flat tray in the oven at 180C/350F for about 15 minutes, or on a try pan, stay with them, toss them on the pan, it is quick!
      Pour them into a towel or kitchen paper to go cold before chopping, very delicious!
      Gemma 🙂

      • Carol Silberfein on December 18, 2018 at 6:38 pm

        Hi Gemma,
        I always have a question, but this time I have a comment…these cookies are delicious!! I did toast the pecans as you advised. I also used Kerry Gold unsalted butter straight from Ireland and boy that made the dough easy to work with and the cookies taste beyond delicious. Thanks for all of your recipes and advice. Merry Christmas to you and Kevin!!

        • Gemma Stafford on December 18, 2018 at 10:44 pm

          I’m thrilled to hear that, Carol!! You can’t go wrong with Kerry Gold 🙂

          Best,
          Gemma.

  4. Grace Ogechi on December 15, 2018 at 1:42 am

    Wow is beautiful

  5. Nancy M on December 14, 2018 at 11:57 am

    I was trying to measure by grams instead of cups but I think your conversions must be off. For example, One cup of flour, depending on the type, runs between 110 and 120 grams. All purpose runs 120 grams per cup. This recipe indicates 2.5 cups is equal to 355 grams when, in fact, it’s closer to 300. I’ve decided to use cup measures instead, but would appreciate an update so I can use grams in the future.

    Love your recipes! Going to try the ladyfingers next.

    • Gemma Stafford on December 16, 2018 at 5:14 am

      Hi Nancy,
      Cup measurements are based on an informal system of measurement, prior to home weighing scales. People would share recipes based on their kitchen cups, it did not matter the weight of the ingredients, or the size of the cup, as long as the same cup was used to measure all of the ingredients, in any one kitchen. It a measure of volume. Once the balance is right, then all will be well. Different ingredients have different equivalent weights too, so rice will be different to sugar, cocoa to flour, and different flours will have a different weight too. Think Rocks and Feathers! So, the rule is simple, fill your cups in the same way, scoop/level/compress, however you choose, and the balance in the recipe will be good. It is not a good idea to mix cup measurements with another method, it is unnecessary, and will not be good for your recipes. You have to trust this system!
      I tend to scoop my cups, which gives me a weight of about 140g/5ozs for flour, and this is why you must not compare, it is not a specific thing.
      I hope this is of help to you,
      Gemma 🙂

      • Nancy M on December 16, 2018 at 8:21 am

        Excellent analogy, Gemma. Thank you for the clarification! The cookies were delicious and the family inhaled them — and LOVED them. I managed to get my hands on one of them and it as delicious. I did use cups instead of grams / weights before getting your response and they were perfect!

        • Gemma Stafford on December 16, 2018 at 6:24 pm

          Fantastic Nancy 🙂

          Best,
          Gemma.

  6. Char Thompson on December 14, 2018 at 7:26 am

    Thank you for all the wonderful recipes and ideas. I haven’t had a chance to make too many, however I am going to once we get settled.

    • Gemma Stafford on December 15, 2018 at 3:14 am

      Hi Char,
      Now I am intrigued! Haha, I want to ask, settled where? Wherever it is I hope it all goes smoothly for you, and that very soon you will be baking contentedly.
      Seasons greetings to you an yours,
      Gemma 🙂

      • Char Thompson on December 15, 2018 at 3:17 pm

        We are settled in the UP. The upper portion of Michigan sitting over the state of Wisconsin. Merry Christmas to you and yours as well!

        Char

        • Gemma Stafford on December 16, 2018 at 6:53 am

          Hi Char,
          well how lovely, a state I would love to visit, but in summertime! Good for you, I hope you have a very happy Christmas and New Year,
          Gemma 🙂

  7. Garima on December 14, 2018 at 6:51 am

    Love your recipies Gemma. Planning to try a few this Christmas. Can i freeze these slice and bake cookies so i can use them maybe a month later.

    • Gemma Stafford on December 15, 2018 at 2:44 am

      Hi Garima,
      YES! that is the great thing about this type of cookie, so easy to freeze, they will defrost really quickly for slicing too.
      Thank you for being here with us,
      Gemma 🙂

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