Browned Butter Pecan Cookies are packed with buttered pecans, nutty browned butter, and caramely brown sugar – with crisp edges and rich, chewy centers. If a pecan praline were to turn itself into a cookie, this is exactly what it would taste like!
Thick and chewy Butter Pecan Cookies
With crisp, caramelized edges and rich, chewy centers, these Butter Pecan Cookies are irresistible! Brown sugar and melted butter make them extra chewy.
What are butter pecans and how do you make them?
Butter pecan isn’t just an ice cream flavor – although it is one of my faves. Butter pecans can also be found in cakes and cookies.
Butter pecans are made by toasting pecans in butter, either in a skillet or roasting them in the oven.
Butter Pecan Cookies have amazing praline flavor
Butter + pecans + brown sugar + milk = pralines
Butter + pecans + brown sugar + cookie dough = the most amazing praline flavored Butter Pecan Cookie ever!
Browned butter adds nutty, toasty flavor
Browned butter adds a wonderful depth of flavor to these Butter Pecan Cookies. Because they’re not loaded with chocolate or other strong flavors, the nutty flavor of the browned butter really shines through.
Using browned butter in these Butter Pecan Cookies is perfect, because melted butter in cookie dough gives chewy, dense, and fudgy interiors.
How to brown butter
Browning butter takes only a few extra minutes than melting butter, but it adds a lot of flavor.
I like to use a light colored pan so that I can see exactly what’s happening on the bottom. It’s much harder to see the milk solids turning golden brown in a dark pan.
Melt the butter over medium-high heat and let it come to a boil, stirring occasionally. After it boils for a few minutes, you will see the milk solids on the bottom of the pan start to turn golden. I often notice this on the sides of the pan first.
When it starts turning golden in color, turn the heat lower and let it cook until the solids are a golden brown. This takes less than a minute and it burns fast so keep an eye on it. Pour the browned butter into the mixing bowl, scraping in all the yummy browned bits, so that it stops browning.
A note on measuring flour
Measuring flour correctly is essential to the success of a recipe.
There is no one correct way to measure flour other than weighing it. If you don’t have a scale, or if the recipe you are following doesn’t give weight measurements, it’s important to measure the flour the same way the recipe writer measured. Hopefully the author provides either a weight or a method.
Two ways of measuring flour are the dip and sweep method and the spoon and level method. One is not more correct than the other, however there is a significant difference in weight between the two.
In the dip and sweep method, dip the measuring cup into the flour and scoop it out. Run the flat edge of a butter knife over the top to level off the flour.
My weights correspond to the dip and sweep method because that’s the method I learned from Cook’s Illustrated, Julia Child, and other cooks and cookbooks.
For the spoon and level method, fluff the flour in the top of the bag, then spoon the flour into the measuring cup. Run the flat edge of a butter knife over the top to level off the flour.
How to make Butter Pecan Cookies
Once you’ve got the pecans toasted in butter and the butter browned, these cookies come together quickly.
Combine the dry ingredients (the flour, cornstarch, baking soda, and salt) in a bowl.
In another large mixing bowl – the one you’ve poured the browned butter into – whisk together the browned butter, sugars, vanilla, and eggs.
Stir in the dry ingredients until no streaks of flour remain, then stir in the butter pecans.
Chill the dough
I’m all for shortcuts, but this dough will need to be chilled for at least two hours or overnight. If the dough chills for longer than 4 hours, let it rest at room temperature for about 30 minutes so the dough is more workable.
How to bake Butter Pecan Cookies
When the dough has chilled, roll it into balls. You can make them as big or small as you want. 3 tablespoon dough balls (60 grams) yields about 18 cookies.
Bake on a parchment lined baking sheet until the edges are set and just turning golden, about 9-12 minutes. The tops of the cookies should still be quite soft when you remove them from the oven, and may even appear slightly underbaked in center. They will firm up while cooling.
Tips on baking perfect Butter Pecan Cookies
Do you ever have trouble with your cookies spreading out too far or not far enough? The temperature of the dough and the temperature of the oven plays a role it this.
First, always weigh your ingredients carefully. Too little flour can make them spread too far, too much flour can prevent them from spreading enough. While there are differences in measuring methods, weighing the ingredients is exact.
Second, make sure your oven has had time to preheat. If your second batch comes out differently than your first batch, your oven may not have fully heated when you started.
Since some ovens run hot and some ovens run cold, an oven thermometer is the best way to keep track of the actual temperature.
Once you know your ingredients were measured correctly and your oven is at the correct temperature, let’s take a look at how the temperature of the cookie dough effects the spread of the cookie.
How the temperature of the cookie dough effects the spread of the cookie
Flat, too spread out cookies: Cookie dough that is too warm and hasn’t been chilled long enough will spread out too far making a flat cookie. The butter in the cookie melts before the cookie has a chance to set. A lower oven temperature also allows the dough to spread out.
Puffy mounds that didn’t spread out: Cookie dough that is too cold will set before it has a chance to spread out resulting in a puffy mound. A too hot oven also causes the cookie to set quickly.
To help you get the cookie that’s perfect for you, here are 3 different sets of cookies with varying dough and oven temperatures:
The 65° F cookie dough baked in a 375° oven stayed in puffed mounds with slight spreading.
The 70° F cookie dough baked in a 350° oven had a medium spread and are the cookies in the photos in this post.
The 73° F cookie dough baked in a 350° oven had the most spread, however it was just slighter than the 70° cookie dough.
Optional decorating ideas
- For a pretty, sparkly look, roll the balls of dough in granulated sugar before baking.
- For a salty sweet flavor, instead of rolling in sugar, sprinkle the cookies with sea salt after baking. If sprinkling with sea salt, reduce the salt in the cookie to ½ teaspoon.
- Press a pecan half or chopped pecans onto the top of the unbaked ball of dough before baking.
- For these cookies, I rolled the dough into a ball, pressed chopped pecans into the top half of the ball, gave it another roll between my palms, rolled it in sugar, then pressed a pecan half into the top.
How to freeze cookies or make in advance
You can make the cookie dough and chill it in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Allow to set at room temperature until the dough is workable or at the desired temperature, then roll into balls and bake.
Cookie dough balls can be rolled and kept in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Bake as usual.
Freeze baked cookies for up to 3 months.
Unbaked cookie dough balls freeze well for up to 3 months. Let the dough ball thaw while preheating the oven. Let the cookie dough come to the desired temperature before baking.
Butter Pecan Cookies
For the butter pecans:
- 1 1/2 cups (185g) chopped pecans
- 1 1/2 tablespoons (21g) butter
For the Butter Pecan Cookies:
- 1 cup (227g) unsalted butter
- 2 cups plus 2 tablespoons (287g) all-purpose flour (dip and sweep method)
- 2 tablespoons (14g) cornstarch
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup (99g) granulated sugar
- 1 cup (198g) packed dark or light brown sugar
- 2 large eggs at room temperature
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
To decorate (optional):
- Pecan halves
- Granulated sugar
- Sea salt
For the butter pecans:
- Sauté the chopped pecans and butter in a skillet over medium heat until fragrant and toasted, about 3-4 minutes. Stir frequently and keep an eye on the small crumbs, they will brown quicker than the bigger pieces. Set aside to cool.
For the Butter Pecan Cookies:
- Brown the butter: Heat the butter in a light colored skillet over medium-high heat. It will come to a boil. Continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until the solid particles at the bottom turn golden brown. Keep an eye on it carefully towards the end, it can burn quickly. Immediately pour into a large mixing bowl to stop the browning. Let cool slightly, about 10 minutes.
- Whisk together the flour, cornstarch, baking soda, and salt in a bowl.
- Whisk sugars into cooled browned butter. Whisk in vanilla and eggs until thoroughly combined.
- Pour dry ingredients into bowl and stir until no streaks of flour remain.
- Stir in buttered pecans.
- Cover with plastic wrap, pressing the plastic down on the surface of the dough. Chill for at least 3 hours and up to 3 days. If you chill longer than 3 hours, let dough sit at room temperature for about 30 minutes so the dough is easier to scoop.
To bake the cookies:
- Preheat the oven to 350° F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Roll dough into balls, about 3 tablespoons each (60g) . Place 2 inches apart on baking sheet. For optional decoration see notes.
- Bake on the middle rack until the edges are set and just beginning to turn golden brown, about 9-12 minutes. The tops of the cookies should still be quite soft when you remove them from the oven, and may even appear slightly underbaked in center. They will firm up while cooling.
- Let rest on baking sheet for 5 minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack.
- Store in an airtight container for up to 5 days.
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