Pecan Sandies

published Dec 11, 2023
Pecan Sandies Recipe

Make classic pecan sandies with a buttery, tender texture and rich nutty flavor.

Serves12

Makes24 (2-inch) cookies

Prep22 minutes

Cook25 minutes

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Pecan sandies on wire cooling rack.
Credit: Kelli Foster

I love pecan sandies because it’s like eating a really good shortbread cookie with a little something extra. The buttery, tender texture combined with the nutty pecans makes them a must-grab on any cookie plate. I like to add just a teensy bit more salt than you normally would because it helps boost the pecan and butter flavors. This cookie is a classic for a reason — the reason being that they’re delicious.

Why Are They Called Pecan Sandies?

The name ‘sandies” was registered by the Keebler Company in 1955 for their line of flavored shortbread cookies, including the pecan sandy. However, the origins of the sandy cookie can be traced back to medieval France with the creation of the sablé cookie –– French for sandy, which refers to the cookie’s texture. 

Ingredients in Pecan Sandies

  • Unsalted butter. Their rich flavor starts with a generous amount of butter in the cookie base.
  • Pecans. Toasted pecans on top and in the dough add an extra nutty flavor.
  • Flour. You can use a gluten-free all-purpose flour blend here if you like.
  • Powdered sugar. Contributes to that signature tender texture.
  • Vanilla. A tiny splash makes the cookies better.

How to Make Pecan Sandies

  • Toast and chop the pecans. Bake pecan halves until lightly toasted and fragrant, then let cool completely. Finely chop them, reserving some for rolling the log in later. Transfer the rest of the pecans to a bowl and combine with all-purpose flour and kosher salt. 
  • Make the dough. Beat together softened butter and powdered sugar until fluffy. Add water and vanilla extract and beat until combined. Mix in the pecan-flour mixture in two batches. Shape the dough into a log and roll it in the reserved pecans to coat. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate until firm, at least 2 or up to 24 hours.
  • Bake the cookies. Unwrap the log and slice crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick rounds. Place on a baking sheet, and top each with a raw pecan half. Bake at 350ºF until dry to the touch and just barely golden brown around the edges, 16 to 18 minutes. Let cool slightly before serving. 

Can You Freeze Pecan Sandies?

You can make the pecan sandy dough and freeze the log for up to a month if you want to get ahead on your prep. Their sturdy texture makes them ideal for holiday cookie gifting and shipping. As long as the recipient doesn’t have a nut allergy, it makes the perfect addition to any cookie tin.

Pecan Sandies Recipe

Make classic pecan sandies with a buttery, tender texture and rich nutty flavor.

Prep time 22 minutes

Cook time 25 minutes

Makes 24 (2-inch) cookies

Serves 12

Nutritional Info

Ingredients

  • 2

    sticks (8 ounces) unsalted butter

  • 2 cups

    pecan halves

  • 2 cups

    all-purpose flour

  • 3/4 teaspoon

    kosher salt

  • 1/2 cup

    powdered sugar

  • 1 tablespoon

    water

  • 1 teaspoon

    vanilla extract

Instructions

  1. Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat the oven to 350ºF. Place 2 sticks unsalted butter in the bowl of a stand mixer (or large bowl if using an electric mixer). Let sit at room temperature until softened. Meanwhile, toast the pecans and prepare the flour mixture.

  2. Measure out 2 cups pecan halves. Reserve 24 of the halves (about 1/2 cup) for topping the cookies. Place the remaining pecans on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake until lightly toasted and fragrant, about 9 minutes. Let cool completely. Finely chop the roasted pecans (alternatively, pulse in a food processor to chop). Reserve 1/4 cup, then place the remaining chopped pecans in a medium bowl. Add 2 cups all-purpose flour and 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt to the bowl and stir to combine.

  3. Add 1/2 cup powdered sugar to the bowl of butter. Beat with the paddle attachment on medium speed until pale and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add 1 tablespoon water and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, and beat until combined.

  4. Add half of the flour mixture and beat on the lowest speed until just combined. Repeat beating in the remaining flour mixture. If needed, use a flexible spatula to fold in any remaining flour by hand.

  5. Transfer the dough onto a sheet of plastic wrap. Gather the dough together and shape into a 12-inch log about 2 inches wide. Sprinkle the reserved chopped pecans over the log and onto the plastic wrap, and roll the log to coat (it’s okay for it to be uneven). Wrap the log tightly in the plastic wrap. Refrigerate until firm, at least 2 or up to 24 hours.

  6. Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat the oven to 350ºF. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. Unwrap the dough log. Cut crosswise into 1/2-inch thick rounds (about 24). Place on the baking sheet, spacing them evenly apart. Gently press 1 reserved pecan half into the center of each cookie.

  7. Bake until dry to the touch and just barely golden brown around the edges, 16 to 18 minutes. Let cool for 5 minutes on the baking sheet. Transfer the cookies to a wire rack and let cool completely.

Recipe Notes

Make ahead: The dough log can be made up to 1 week ahead and refrigerated. Alternatively, the wrapped dough log can be frozen for up to 1 month; thaw in the refrigerator for a few hours before slicing and baking.

Storage: Store leftover cookies in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week.