Pecan Sandies are incredibly easy to make yet have a rich, buttery flavor that is worthy of a gourmet bakery. With a perfectly crumbly texture, these nutty shortbread cookies are always a crowd-pleasing treat!
Pin this recipe now to save it for laterPin Recipe
These little cookies are a true classic and extremely popular around the holidays. Once baked, you can roll them in powdered sugar to make snowball cookies. Or, enjoy them plain as a buttery shortbread cookie. No matter how or when you serve my easy Pecan Sandies, they’re sure to become one of your family’s favorite dessert recipes!
Pecan Sandies Recipe
I just love having homemade sweets on hand for my family and friends. So, I usually end up baking something nearly every day. As a result, easy, quick dessert recipes are definitely my favorite, and this Pecan Sandies recipe never disappoints! Rich and buttery, it tastes like a sweet treat from a high-end bakery.
Even better, it uses just a few very simple ingredients you probably already have in your pantry! As you assemble the ingredients, look for pre-chopped pecans in the grocery store to save yourself a step. The chopped pecans also often cost less. So, you get another little bonus when you buy chopped instead of whole nuts!
Go ahead and stock up, too, because you’re probably going to want to make a double batch of this Pecan Sandies recipe every time you bake. They tend to disappear quite quickly, and they stay fresh for quite a while. Plus, it’s always nice to share! Bring a few Pecan Sandies to your neighbors, and you will be the hero of the block!
Ingredients for Pecan Sandies
See recipe card below this post for ingredient quantities and full instructions.
- Butter – I use unsalted butter for these cookies since there is already the perfect amount of salt added to the cookie dough later on
- Powdered sugar – Have a little extra powdered sugar on hand to dust the cookies
- Vanilla extract
- Ground cinnamon – Not all pecan sandie recipes use cinnamon, but I love the subtle hint of spice. Cinnamon pairs wonderfully with pecans and gives the cookies a fall-like flavor.
- All-purpose flour
- Chopped pecans – I prefer finely chopped pecans, but you can leave the pieces a little bit larger if you like larger chunks of nuts. Use a food processor to pulse the nuts and make them very finely chopped. A regular knife and cutting board will also work!
Here are a few tweaks and ingredient substitutions you may want to try for this easy cookie recipe.
- After you scoop the cookie dough, use your hands to roll the scoop into a small cookie dough ball, and place it on the cookie sheet to bake. Do not flatten the cookies but keep them round. After the cookies have been baked and cooled, roll them in powdered sugar to make snowball cookies. These are perfect for a Christmas cookie tray, a winter cookie exchange or just to add a little bit of extra, delicious sugar.
- Replace the vanilla extract with 1 teaspoon of almond extract to make cookies that are bursting with nutty flavors.
- Replace the powdered sugar with the same amount of brown sugar. This will give the cookies a richer, molasses taste. When using different sugars, the cookies won’t have the same, melt-in-your-mouth texture but they are still very delicious!
- Add 1/2 cup of mini chocolate chips for a whole new take on buttery pecan sandies. Chocolate and pecans are the perfect combination and give this classic cookie an exciting and unique twist.
How to Make Pecan Sandies
- Cream the butter: Beat the butter and powdered sugar together with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Be sure to scrape down the bowl so the ingredients are evenly blended.
- Add remaining ingredients: Add the water, vanilla, salt, flour, and cinnamon and mix on low speed. Gently stir in the pecan pieces.
- Chill: Refrigerate the dough for about an hour. This will make it easier to scoop the stiff cookie dough.
- Prepare: Preheat your oven to 350ºF and line two baking trays with parchment paper.
- Scoop: Use a spring-loaded cookie scoop to scoop the chilled cookie dough into balls. Roll the dough balls with your hands and place them on the parchment-lined baking sheet. Flatten them with your palm so they are about ½ inch thick.
- Bake: Bake the cookies for about 12 minutes. The edges will be golden brown, but the tops will still be pale.
- Cool: Cool the cookies on a wire rack for about 10 minutes then enjoy!
Let the cookies cool for about 5 minutes on the baking tray before moving them to a cooling rack. If you try to move them while they are still very hot, they tend to crumble. Waiting a few minutes will help them firm up and make them easier to move.
How to Store Pecan Sandies
Once your homemade Pecan Sandies have cooled, store them in an airtight container, or wrap them tightly with plastic wrap. Stored at room temperature, they’ll stay fresh for about two weeks!
Pecan Sandies also freeze well. I like to put the baked, cooled cookies in plastic zippered freezer bags and store them in the freezer for up to three months. You can thaw the frozen cookies at room temperature for about 30 minutes, and they will taste as good as the day they were baked!
Pecan sandies go by a variety of different names. When rolled in powdered sugar, they are called snowball cookies or Mexican wedding cookies. They are also simply referred to as pecan shortbread cookies. No matter what they are called, they are delicious!
The term “sandies” comes from the texture of the cookies. After they bake, they crumble like sand in your mouth before melting into buttery perfection. The finely chopped pecans also have a sandy texture. While these may be a popular winter cookie, they are pretty beachy, too!
Sandies are typically made with chopped nuts while a classic shortbread cookie has no nuts. Simple as that! Both are tasty, buttery cookies with just one simple difference.
- rimmbed baking trays
- Parchment paper
- Medium sized mixing bowl
- Electric mixer or stand mixer with paddle attachment
- Measuring cups
- measuring spoons
- 1 cup butter, softened
- 1/2 cup powdered sugar
- 2 teaspoons water
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- 1 cup chopped pecans
- Beat the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.1 cup butter, softened, 1/2 cup powdered sugar
- Add the water, vanilla extract, salt, cinnamon, and flour to the bowl and stir to make a stiff dough.2 teaspoons water, 2 teaspoons vanilla extract, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 2 cups all purpose flour
- Use your hands to knead in the chopped pecans.1 cup chopped pecans
- Chill the dough in the fridge for at least 1 hour.
- Preheat your oven to 350ºF. Line two baking sheet trays with parchment paper and set aside.
- Use a spring loaded cookie scoop to scoop 1 inch balls of dough. Roll the dough into balls using your hands then place them on the lined baking trays. Gently flatted in cookie dough balls with your hands so they are about ½ inch thick.
- Bake for 12 minutes in the preheated oven. The cookies will still look a little pale but the edges will be golden brown.
- Move the cookies to a cooling rack to cool for about 10 minutes then enjoy!
- You can roll the cookie dough into crescent shapes rather than balls if desired.
- Toss the cooled cookies in powdered sugar for a little extra sweetness.