These brown butter pecan cookies are thick and chewy and packed with toasted pecans. The browned butter gives a deep, delicious flavor that complements the pecans perfectly.
I never thought I would enjoy a cookie that didn't contain chocolate chips, but these amazing brown butter pecan cookies are so full of flavor and amazing texture that they don't need any chocolate! In fact, chocolate would distract from the delicious nutty flavor of the browned butter. I know, I can't believe I just said that either - but it's true.
I am a big fan of taking a regular cookie recipe and elevating them to the next level to make something spectacular. Cookies are not just a snack for kids, they can be exquisite examples of the texture of flavor, such as my Dark Chocolate Sea Salt Cookies, or my Strawberry Cheesecake Stuffed Cookies. And these Brown Butter Pecan Cookies are no exception! Sure, the extra step of browning the butter sounds like a hassle, but it's a super easy recipe and boy is that wonderful toasty flavor worth it!
- Butter - You can use salted or unsalted butter for these cookies, depending on how salty you want them to be. There is no need to bring the butter to room temperature as we will be melting it into a lovely nutty brown butter anyway.
- White Sugar - We'll use a combination of sugars in this cookie, for texture, and for flavor. For the white sugar, make sure you use superfine sugar (caster sugar in the UK).
- Light Brown Sugar - The other sugar is light brown sugar, also known as golden sugar. It's the pale brown colored sugar that looks a bit like wet sand. I prefer light brown sugar to dark brown sugar, as it has a less strong molasses taste, but you could also use this too.
- Egg - Use large eggs in baking and always free-range if you can.
- Vanilla - Use a high-quality vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste. Try to avoid vanilla essence.
- Flour - All-purpose flour works best for these brown butter cookies (plain flour)
- Baking Soda - Make sure you use baking soda and not baking powder (bicarbonate of soda in the UK)
- Salt - We'll use a little salt in the cookie dough and also, optionally, some flaky salt on top of the cookies.
- Pecans - Of course we need pecans! We'll be mostly chopping them up, but make sure you find a few pretty ones to go on top of the cookies.
See recipe card for quantities.
How to Make Brown Butter
I have a whole blog post about how to make brown butter if you'd like a more in-depth guide.
- Heat butter in a small saucepan over medium heat.
- Once the butter melts, it will begin to bubble and make a 'crackling' sound, this is the water coming out of the butter. Just stir occasionally and keep going.
- After the crackling subsides a little, the browning will happen fairly quickly, so keep a close eye on the color of the butter. It will start to darken in color quickly. Once the butter has turned brown and you can smell a wonderful nutty aroma, remove the pan from the heat.
- Pour the butter into a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, to let it cool slightly while we prepare the pecans. As it sits, it will separate into brown melted butter and a lot of little brown bits on the bottom of the bowl - this is good! These are the milk solids and they are what will give the cookies their amazing rich flavor.
Make the Cookies
- First, we need to toast pecans! In a clean, dry frying pan, heat the pecans with no oil or fat. Let them toast gently on medium heat until you can start to smell the lovely nutty smell of the pecans, this usually takes about 5-7 minutes. Stir and toss the pecans occasionally to avoid burning and ensure even toasting.
- Transfer the pecans to a chopping board and let them sit for two minutes so they are cool enough to touch. Reserve a handful of good-looking pecans to put on top of the cookies and then chop the rest roughly with a large knife.
- By now, the brown butter should have cooled slightly, it will still be warm but that's okay. Add both sugars to the mixing bowl and whisk at medium speed until combined. I used a stand mixer with a whisk attachment, but you could also use a large mixing bowl and a handheld whisk, or an electric whisk, it will just be a little more effort.
- Once the brown butter and sugar are combined, add the egg and vanilla, and then whisk vigorously for one minute. (High speed if using a mixer, or full strength if you are whisking by hand).
- After a minute of whisking, the mixture should be thicker and paler in color, and you should see lots of little specks of the brown butter in there - so pretty!
- Add the dry ingredients - flour, baking soda, and salt and mix until combined. If you are doing this by hand, it may be easier to switch to a wooden spoon for this part.
- Finally, add the chopped pecans and mix them in by hand, using a wooden spoon, until they are evenly distributed. You could continue to use your whisk for this but you'll have to scoop the dough back out of the whisk after as it will get stuck.
- Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place the cookie dough in the fridge to chill for 30 minutes (or up to 48 hours).
- Once you are ready to bake, preheat the oven to 335°F / 170°C and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Scoop even-sized cookie dough balls onto the cookie sheet. You can use a medium cookie scoop for this or just use large tablespoons of dough and roll them into balls with your hands. I recommend not trying to fit more than 6 cookies on your sheet pan at a time, to allow them enough room to spread.
- Use the bottom side of a measuring cup, or some other flat utensil, to flatten the cookies slightly. Don't press too hard and make them super thin, it's just enough to give them a head start (see picture).
- Sprinkle the tops of the cookies with a little extra brown sugar and a sprinkle of sea salt if you like. Then press one or two of the reserved pecan pieces into the top of the cookie.
- Bake for 10-12 minutes or until the cookies are golden brown around the edges. This bake time will give your cookies nice crispy edges and soft centers, which I think is perfect. But if you like more crunchy cookies than chewy cookies, then give them an extra minute in the oven.
- Remove from the oven and let the cookies sit on the cookie sheet for 5 minutes. Then move the baked cookies to a wire rack to cool completely. If you were doing multiple batches, you can put your second batch on the pan right away.
Chocolate Chips - If you like you could turn these into pecan chocolate chip cookies, just add your favorite chocolate to the cookie dough at the same time as the chopped pecans. (Chocolate chips should be measured with your heart).
Other Nuts - This brown butter cookie recipe would also work really nicely with other nuts, try walnuts or even almonds.
Store your brown butter pecan cookies in an airtight container. They will be good like this for up to a week, though cookies are always best when eaten within 3 days.
More Pecan Recipes
If you love these pecan cookies, give some of these other pecan desserts a try.
Brown Butter Pecan Cookies
- ⅔ cup Butter 150g
- ½ cup White Sugar 100g
- ½ cup Light Brown Sugar 100g
- 1 Egg
- 1 teaspoon Vanilla
- 1 ½ cups All-purpose Flour 175g
- 1 teaspoon Baking Soda
- ½ teaspoon Salt
- 1 ½ cups Pecans 170g
- Start by browning the butter, I have a whole blog post about how to brown butter if you'd like more information. Put the butter in a small saucepan and heat over medium heat. Once it has melted it will start making a 'crackling' sound, keep going, stirring occasionally.⅔ cup Butter
- When the crackling subsides a little, the butter will quickly start to turn a toasty brown color. Once the butter is brown and you can smell a lovely nutty aroma, remove the butter from the heat.
- Pour the butter into your mixing bowl and set aside to cool while you prepare the pecans.
- Put the pecans in a dry frying pan and heat over medium-high heat. Let them toast, stirring occasionally until you can smell a lovely toasted pecan smell (about 5-7 minutes). Remove from the heat.1 ½ cups Pecans
- Reserve a handful of pecans for decorating. Roughly chop the rest of the pecans and set aside.
- The butter should have cooled slightly by now, it will still be warm but that's okay. Add both sugars to the browned butter and whisk together until combined.½ cup White Sugar, ½ cup Light Brown Sugar
- Add your egg and vanilla and then whisk vigorously for one minute (high speed if using an electric or stand mixer).1 Egg, 1 teaspoon Vanilla
- Add the flour, baking soda, and salt and mix until combined.1 ½ cups All-purpose Flour, 1 teaspoon Baking Soda, ½ teaspoon Salt
- Pour the chopped pecans into the cookie dough. Mix them in by hand until evenly distributed.
- Put the cookie dough into the fridge to chill for 30 mins.
- Preheat oven to 335°F / 170°C and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
- Scoop balls of cookie dough onto the cookie sheet and then flatten them slightly with your hand.
- Press one or two pecans into the top of each cookie for decoration.
- Optional: Sprinkle with a little brown sugar and sea salt.
- Bake for 10-12 minutes or until the edges are golden brown. Remove from the oven and let sit on the baking sheet for a few minutes before transferring to a wire rack - or munch them while they are still warm and gooey!