Butter Pecan Cookies

A buttery, brown-sugar-rich shortbread dough, nestled under a pecan half. These Butter Pecan Cookies are a Swedish classic! They are perfect for cookie plates or to enjoy with some coffee or milk. Only 6 ingredients! So easy. 

Butter Pecan Cookies

Butter Pecan Cookies

It’s Christmas cookie season!! All the cookies, all day long! These Butter Pecans are the FIRST Christmas cookie I bake every year, without fail. They are a HUGE family favorite. It’s seriously impossible to eat just one. They are nice for cookie swaps because one batch makes 50-60 small cookies.

I started my blog in October of 2011, and posted this recipe for Butter Pecans just a couple months later on December 12, so you can tell that they are a priority recipe!

Butter Pecan Cookies

My blog is still somewhat of a journal for me, and I can’t handle deleting my old “entries” when a post needs updated photos. (My thoughts on tomato aspic have not changed one bit, so here they will stand.) Here is the original post from 2011:

Eric’s great-grandmother was Swedish. Grandma Prudy cooked a lot of traditional recipes from her native country that have been passed down. Eric’s family still uses many of the recipes*, especially around Christmas. They have a special dinner on Christmas Eve with traditional Swedish meatballs, boiled potatoes, rye bread, and of course tomato aspic.

Butter Pecan Cookies
I am all about tradition, don’t get me wrong. Traditions are about family togetherness and I love them. I especially love them when they are delicious. Unfortunately tomato aspic does not fall under this category. How can you love what is essentially a tomato jello, even if it is dressed up in a bundt mold? I am not alone; even Eric admits that tomato aspic is revolting. In fact, I’m pretty sure that Bumpa (Eric’s grandpa, Prudie’s son) is the only one who eats the stuff every Christmas. This is the same man who also eats pickled herring on a regular basis. Just sayin’.

Butter Pecan Cookies

The first year we were married, Eric and I went to my parent’s house for the holidays. We have our Christmas traditions too, and those traditions usually include lots of mashed potatoes and tri-tip. But to make Eric feel more at home, I decided to try to recreate his family’s Christmas Eve dinner, even down to the tomato aspic.

The meatballs turned out awesome. I even won the meatball contest. (My brother-in-law, whose family is hardcore Italian, insisted on having a meatball contest to prove “once again” that northern Europeans (and their meatballs) are inferior to their southern neighbors. Boo-ya.)

Butter Pecan Cookies

Meatballs, check. The potatoes were good. The rye bread was good. The tomato aspic? Didn’t set up. So when we flipped that bundt mold over, instead of revealing our magnificently shaped (if nothing else) tomato jello, out came tomato soup with chunks of gelatin floating in it. Yum.

Butter Pecan Cookies

Even if the tomato aspic tradition is doomed to die on this generations watch, Grandma Prudie’s Swedish cookie tradition is one that is bound to stick around. These Butter Pecans have 6 ingredients and are incredible. I’m usually not one for pecans (or any nuts, for that matter), but these cookies are addictive. Especially since they are tiny; it’s easy to throw down 8 or 9 before you’ve even realized what’s going on. Long live Butter Pecans. Tomato aspic, rest in peace.

*Karen from Christmas Present chiming in. Here are some of Prudy’s famous cookie recipes I’ve shared since Butter Pecan’s original publication in 2011: Spritz, Gingersnaps, Sour Cream Twists, and Cardamom Cookies. There are so many more, I need to get on it!

Here’s one of the original photos from 2011:

Butter Pecan Cookies

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One year ago: Candy Christmas Tree Craft
Two years ago: Chocolate Honey Chiffon Pie << a seriously underrated recipe. Huge favorite!
Six years ago: Spaghetti and Meatballs

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Butter Pecan Cookies

Yields 50-60 small cookies     adjust servings

A buttery, brown-sugar-rich dough nestled under a pecan half. They never disappoint! 


  • 1 cup salted butter, softened
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour, spooned and leveled
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt (I use kosher salt)
  • 50-60 pecan halves


  1. In a large bowl or stand mixer, cream butter and brown sugar. Beat it for at least 2-3 minutes, stopping to scrape the sides and bottom.
  2. Add the egg yolk and beat well.
  3. Add the flour & salt. Mix until it forms a ball, scraping the sides and bottom of the bowl. When all the flour is incorporated, stop beating. (Over beating makes for a tough dough.) 
  4. Cover the bowl and chill for about an hour. (If you are doubling the recipe, be sure to chill for more like 2-3 hours. They will bake flat if the dough is not cold. You can freeze the dough too, if you want.)
  5. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Line 2 large baking sheets with silicone baking mats or parchment paper.
  6. Form the dough into 1 inch balls. Place on the cookie sheet with one inch of space in between each cookie.
  7. Flatten each ball once with a fork. If the fork is sticking, dip it in flour, then press on the cookie.
  8. Press a pecan on top, perpendicular to the fork marks.
  9. Bake at 350 for 6-8 minutes or until they are no longer shiny on the top or edges.* I don’t let mine get brown, or if they do, it is a very small amount on the bottom edges. 

by The Food Charlatan

Recipe Notes

This recipe is from Grandma Prudie, Eric’s great-grandmother.

*The cook time on this recipe is MUCH DEBATED. I like to cook for a minimal amount of time (6-8 minutes) until the cookies are just cooked through. This way they are soft and stay that way for a few days. Kris, Eric’s mom, likes very crunchy cookies and will leave them in the oven until they are brown and very crispy. The choice is yours!

You can chill the dough for up to 3 days before using. If you need longer than that, throw it in a ziplock in the freezer. It will keep a long time! Let thaw on the counter until cold, then shape into balls. You can even shape the cookies, including the fork marks and the pecans, then store them in a tight container in the fridge or freezer, then bake up to 2-3 days later.

All images and text © The Food Charlatan

If you make this recipe, share it on Instagram using the hashtag #TheFoodCharlatan so I can see it!

More Christmas cookies to love! 

Soft Cinnamon Cookies with Maple Pecan Frosting 

Butter Pecan Cookies

Caramel Pecan Thumbprint Cookies << these are a Better Homes and Gardens classic, they are perfect for cookie plates!

Butter Pecan Cookies

Spritz << these are a Swedish classic from Eric’s Grandma Prudie. We make them every year!

Butter Pecan Cookies

Other Butter Pecan-ish recipes that you will love!

Butter Pecan Cookies from Sally’s Baking Addiction
Butter Pecan Shortbread from The View from Great Island (Sue is the shortbread QUEEN)
Browned Butter Pecan Sandies from Melissa’s Southern Style Kitchen

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