These Easy Pecan Cookies are to die for delicious! They’re bursting with nutty pecans and overflowing with warm cinnamon, buttery maple and sweet brown sugar flavors! These cookies are meltingly soft and subtly chewy with an addictive sugary-sweet exterior! They are crazy addictive and perfect for the holidays and birthday parties, or as a sweet snack or after-dinner dessert!
Made with just 11 simple ingredients, these brown sugar cookies are SO easy to prepare! Plus, you can make this recipe in advance and it’s freezer friendly too! Continue to read on for simple tips and helpful tricks for preparing the perfect maple cookies every single time! And, don’t miss the in-depth step-by-step photo collage in the middle of the post!
Update: This post was originally published in November 2018. I’ve made updates to include more information about maple cookies. Plus, I’ve included in-depth step-by-step photos to show you how quick and easy these meltingly soft cookies are!
Hi, friends! I hope all my fellow Americans had a wonderful Turkey Day!!
Now that Thanksgiving, Black Friday, small business Saturday, cyber Monday and all the other shopping related shenanigans are officially in our rear view window, we are going to keep it moving! It’s time to celebrate the next holiday craze, which also happens to be my favorite aspect of the holidays – cookies!! Because, tis the season for copious amounts of cookies and confections!
Fair warning, these cookies are crazy addictive and ridiculously delicious!! I’ve made these cookies twice in the past two weeks and my better half, Boy, keeps requesting more! Keep in mind the recipe for these pecan cookies yields 30 cookies. He is giving an entirely new meaning to the phrase ‘can’t just have one’. 😉
Super soft, buttery, rich and tender cookies bursting with nutty pecans, warm cinnamon, delicate brown sugar and sweet maple. Rolled in sparkling sugar for a glittery, crunchy exterior, these maple pecan cookies are seriously too legit to quit!
Thankfully they are also easy to make, plus both the raw cookie dough and baked cookies are freezer-friendly!! Because, trust me, you are always going to want to have these on hand!
Why you’ll love this cookie recipe
- Super soft and incredibly chewy!
- Bursting with warm, rich and buttery flavor!
- Overflowing with crunchy pecans!!
- Thick, bakery-style with a slightly under-baked center!
- They are perfect for snack-time and dessert! Plus, they taste amazing with a hot cup of coffee!
- Wonderful addition to your holiday cookie boxes and cookie exchanges!
- Best part of all – they’re so easy to make!
- Plus, the cookie dough can be made in advance!
What are pecan cookies?
Pecan cookies are thick, soft and chewy cookies that feature crunchy toasted pecans as a main ingredient. They’re rich, buttery and complex in flavor. Pecan cookies make a delicious snack or dessert! Plus, they are perfect for the holidays and cookie exchanges!
What is in brown sugar pecan cookies?
This cookie recipe is made with simple, easy-to-find ingredients! While the ingredients may be basic, when combined they yield addictively delicious cookies!!
Ingredients for this cookie recipe
- Flour: All-purpose flour forms the foundation of these cookies. Flour helps the dough remain sturdy and thick. You can substitute a gluten-free flour blend if needed. Look for brands that can be substituted in a 1:1 ratio for regular flour.
- Baking Soda: This chemical leavening agent provides lift and helps the cookies rise.
- Cornstarch: Cornstarch helps give the cookies an ultra tender and soft texture. Plus, it keeps the cookies nice and thick!
- Cinnamon: Ground cinnamon adds a touch of warm, inviting flavor.
- Salt: A touch of coarse kosher salt is needed to enhance all the flavors!
- Unsalted Butter: Butter adds moisture and creates a melt in your mouth texture!
- Sugars: A combination of brown sugar and white granulate sugar helps keep the cookies extra soft and chewy with a little bit of spread!
- Egg: One large egg binds all the ingredients together and provides structure.
- Extracts: Maple and vanilla extract provide delicious, complex flavor. Make sure are using pure (not imitation) extracts.
- Rolling Sugar (optional): While this is entirely optional, I like to roll my cookie dough balls in either sanding sugar or granulated sugar before baking. The sugar coating provides a little sparkle and adds an extra special touch of sweetness to the cookies!
Why toast the pecans before baking cookies?
While toasting the pecans can feel like an extra unnecessary step, it helps produce cookies with a superior flavor! Therefore, don’t skip this step unless you absolutely have to!
- Toasting improves flavor: Raw pecans are lackluster in flavor and don’t taste like a whole lot. On the other hand, toasted nuts have a dynamic depth of intense flavor!
- It also improves texture: Pecans that have been toasted will stay crisp even once they’re mixed in cookie dough!
Bottom line: Toasting the pecans really enhances their flavor and texture! And, since these are pecan cookies after all, you want the pecans to shine!
How to toast nuts
Toasting nuts is incredibly easy! You don’t need to add any butter or oil to improve the texture of flavor of nuts!
- Oven: Preheat oven to 350°F (175°C). Spread the pecans in a single layer on a baking sheet. Toast for 8-12 minutes, tossing the pecans occasionally to ensure even browning. The nuts are done toasting once aromatic and they appear about a shade darker.
- Skillet: Add pecans to a large, dry skillet. Place the skillet over medium-low heat. Cook, tossing frequently, until aromatic and toasted, about 6-8 minutes.
Storage: You can toast nuts up to 1 week in advance. Allow the nuts to cool completely and store them in an airtight container at room temperature.
What is maple extract?
These Brown Sugar Pecan Cookies are flavored with both vanilla and maple extract.
Maple extract is simply concentrated maple syrup in an alcohol base. Maple extract packs a flavorful punch and adds full maple flavor to whatever you add it to – cookies, glazes, frostings, etc.
When purchasing maple extract, make sure you look for “pure” maple extract. Pure maple extract contain the byproduct of actual maple trees, while those marked simply as maple extract or natural maple extract are not a byproduct of maple trees.
What can I use instead of maple extract?
If you don’t have maple extract, there are a few substitutions you can make. Since the recipe for these pecan cookies only calls for 1 teaspoon of pure maple extract, substituting pure maple syrup is not recommended. Maple extract has a concentrated maple flavor, therefore maple syrup will not yield the same warm, sweet taste.
Substitutions for maple extract:
- Rum extract. While you will change the flavor profile of these pecan cookies slightly, rum extract is a delicious substitution.
- Almond extract. Almond extract will change the flavor of these cookies; however, almond flavor will definitely complement the pecans and brown sugar!
- Vanilla extract. If you can’t find maple extract, you can simply use extra vanilla extract in the recipe below. However, keep in mind the cookies will lack a certain complexity.
Chilling the cookie dough
When making these cookies, it’s important to chill the dough! While you may be inclined to skip the chilling process – don’t do it! Taking the time to chill your cookie dough is a critical step that will transform your cookies from pretty great to epic!
Why chill cookie dough?
- Richer Flavor: Chilling allows the ingredients in the dough to settle together after the mixing step. As the dough sits in the refrigerator, the dry ingredients soak up the moisture of the wet ingredients. This process subtly hydrates the dough which concentrates the flavors! At the same time, this process of hydration makes the carbohydrates in the flour break down into sugar, resulting in a more mellow, yet distinct sweetness!
- Thick Cookies: Cold cookie dough results in thicker cookies! Chilling the dough before baking solidifies the butter (fat) in the cookies. As the cookies bake, the chilled butter takes longer to melt, resulting in thicker cookies with less spread.
- Brown Color: When the carbohydrates in your flour break down into sugar during the hydration process, this results in an abundance of sugar. That excess sugar in your dough results in even, beautiful browning.
How to chill dough?
- Make the dough. Prepare the cookie dough following the instructions provided in the recipe.
- Cover. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap, pressing the wrap onto the bowl to seal.
- Refrigerate. Transfer the bowl to the refrigerator and chill the dough for at least 3 hours, or up to 3 days.
- Remove chill. After chilling, remove the bowl from the refrigerator and let the dough sit at room temperature for about 20 minutes. Removing the chill makes the dough easier to work with.
How to make pecan cookies from scratch?
- Mix the dry ingredients: In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, cornstarch, cinnamon and salt. Set aside.
- Mix the wet ingredients: In a large bowl using a handheld mixer, or a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter until smooth and creamy. Add in both sugars and beat until light in color and fluffy. Stop and scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed while making the cookie dough. Add in the egg and both extracts. Beat until combined.
- Add dry ingredients to the wet: Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients. Mix on low speed until almost combined. Use a rubber spatula and gently fold until the ingredients are just combined to form a cohesive ball. The dough should be thick and sticky. DO NOT over-mix.
- Add pecans: Add the pecans to the dough and fold until just distributed throughout the dough.
- Chill: Cover the dough with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 3 hours and up to 3 days. Then, Remove Chill: Remove the cookie dough from the refrigerator and allow it to sit at room temperature for 20-30 minutes, until the dough is easy to handle.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Scoop and roll: Use your hands or a cookie scoop to roll the dough into balls. Roll each ball in sanding sugar. Transfer the cookie balls onto the prepared cookie sheets, arranging them 2-3 inches apart.
- Bake the cookies for 10-13 minutes, or until slightly golden around the edges.
- Cool and Enjoy: Remove from the oven and allow the cookies to cool on the cookie sheet for 5 minutes. Transfer the cookies from the cookie sheet to the wire rack to cool completely. Serve and enjoy!
Tips for the best homemade soft cookies with pecans
- Pecans: Toasting the pecans is optional, but highly recommended. Toasting them brings out their nutty flavor and makes them irresistible!
- Maple extract its not the same thing as maple syrup. If you can’t find maple extract you can simply use more vanilla extract, or you can substitute almond extract or rum extract. If you skip or substitute the maple extract the cookies will have a different flavor, but they will still be delicious!
- Chill the dough: Chilling the dough produces a richer, thicker cookie! Don’t skip this step!
- Don’t over bake: Baked cookies will look very soft when you remove them from the oven, but they will continue to harden as they cool on baking sheet. Do not over bake!
How to make brown sugar cookies with nuts step by step photos
Tips for storing, making in advance and freezing pecan cookies
Can I make the cookie dough in advance?
Absolutely! You can make the dough and store it in the refrigerator, covered, for up to 3 days ahead!
How to store these cookies?
Properly storing cookies in important for preserving their soft and chewy texture! Store cookies at room temperature to help keep them fresh!
- Storing cookies at room temperature: Allow cookies to cool completely after baking. Store the cookies in an airtight container at room temperature. To keep the cookies at their softest, place a slice of soft white sandwich bread inside the container with the cookies. The moisture in the bread will help the cookies retain moisture, which keeps the brown sugar nice and soft! Tip: If you are making a bunch of different variety of cookies for the holidays, be sure to store these pecan cookies separately from crispy cookies or other cookies with a strong flavor.
- Don’t refrigerate: Do not store cookies in the refrigerator. Cold air strips the moisture from cookies, causing them to taste stale and bland.
Properly stored, cookies will keep and stay fresh for up to 5 days.
Can I freeze brown sugar cookies?
Both unbaked cookie dough and freshly baked cookies freeze beautifully! I recommend doubling the recipe and storing half of the dough in the freezer so you have quick freezer-to-oven cookies on hand whenever a cookie craving strikes!
- Raw cookie dough: Scoop and roll cookie dough into balls according to the recipe instructions. Place the balls on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet and flash freeze in the freezer for 30 minutes, or until frozen. Transfer the frozen cookie balls to a freezer-safe resealable bag. Store in the freezer for up to 3 months. When ready to enjoy, do not thaw the dough; instead, bake straight from the freezer and add an extra minute or two to the bake time.
- Baked cookies: Allow baked cookies to cool completely. Arrange cooled cookies in a single layer on a parchment paper-lined cookie sheet. Flash freeze for 30 minutes, or until cookies harden. Transfer cookies to a freezer-safe resealable bag and store in the freezer for up to 1 month. When ready to eat, remove as many cookies as you would like to enjoy. Place cookies in an airtight container and thaw at room temperature for 2 hours, or in the refrigerator overnight prior to serving.
Crazy delicious and highly addictive, these Maple Brown Sugar Pecan Cookies will definitely satisfy your sweet tooth!
Until next week, friends, cheers!
Looking for more cookie recipes?
If you love these pecan maple cookies, try one of these delicious family favorites next:
The best Pecan Cookie recipe👇
Brown Sugar Pecan Cookies
- Mixing bowls (2)
- Handheld or Stand Mixer
- Cookie Sheet
- 2 Cups All Purpose Flour - spooned & leveled (SEE NOTES)
- 1 tsp Baking Soda
- 1 1/2 tsp Cornstarch
- ¾ tsp Ground Cinnamon
- ¼ tsp Salt
- 1 Cup Unsalted Butter - sliced & softened to room temperature
- ¼ Cup Granulated Sugar
- ¾ Cup Brown Sugar - packed (light or dark)
- 1 large Egg - room temperature
- 1 1/2 tsp Maple Extract (SEE NOTES)
- ½ tsp Vanilla Extract
- 1 1/4 Cup Pecans - chopped, toasted & cooled (SEE NOTES)
- 1/3 Cup Sanding Sugar (or Granulated Sugar) - for rolling (Optional)
- Mix the dry ingredients: In a medium sized bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, cornstarch, cinnamon and salt until combined. Set aside.
- Mix the wet ingredients: In a large bowl using a handheld mixer, or a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter for 1 minute on medium speed until smooth and creamy. Add in both sugars and beat on medium high speed until light in color and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Stop and scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed when making the cookie dough. Add in the egg and both extracts. Beat on medium-high until combined.
- Add dry ingredients to the wet: On low speed, slowly mix in the dry ingredients until almost combined. Use a rubber spatula and gently fold until the ingredients are JUST combined to form a cohesive ball. The dough should be thick and sticky. DO NOT over-mix.
- Add pecans: Add the pecans to the dough and fold until JUST distributed throughout the dough.
- Chill: Cover the dough with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 3 hours and up to 3 days.Then, Remove Chill: Remove the cookie dough from the refrigerator and allow it to sit at room temperature for 20-30 minutes, until the dough is easy to handle.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.Scoop and roll: Use your hands or a cookie scoop to roll the dough into balls (about 1 1/2 tablespoon or 1 ounces in size each). Roll each ball in sanding sugar (optional). Transfer the cookie balls onto the prepared cookie sheets, arranging them 2-3 inches apart.(Note: If you are baking one sheet of cookies at a time, keep the remaining cookie dough balls in the refrigerator until you are ready to bake them.)
- Bake the cookies for 10-13 minutes, or until slightly golden around the edges and set (the cookies shouldn’t be glossy in the in the middle).
- Cool and Enjoy: Remove cookies from oven and place the cookie sheet on a wire rack. Allow the cookies to cool on the cookie sheet for 5 minutes. Transfer the cookies from the cookie sheet to the wire rack to cool completely. Serve and enjoy!
- Flour: For the best results, make sure you properly measure the flours. Use a spoon to fluff the flour within the container or bag. Use a large spoon to scoop the flour into the measuring cup. Use the straight side of a knife to level the flour across the measuring cup.
- Maple extract is not the same thing as maple syrup. If you can't find maple extract you can simply use more vanilla extract, or you can substitute almond extract or rum extract. If you skip or substitute the maple extract the cookies will have a different flavor, but they will still be delicious!
- Pecans: Toasting the pecans is optional, but highly recommended. Toasting them brings out their nutty flavor and makes them irresistible!
- To toast in a skillet: Add the pecans to a dry skillet. Place the skillet over medium-low heat. Brown, tossing the pecans frequently, for 6-8 minutes or until toasted. Transfer to a plate and let cool completely before using.
- To toast pecans in the oven: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake pecan pieces for 15 minutes, or until toasted, stirring once halfway through. Transfer to a plate and let cool completely before using.
- Cooking Time: Baked cookies will look very soft when you remove them from the oven, but they will continue to harden as they cool on baking sheet.
- For thin and crispy cookies: If you prefer flat, thin and slightly crispy cookies, use the back of a spoon to gently press down on the cookies immediately after you remove them from the oven. Let cool on the cookie sheet 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
- Make ahead: Cookie dough will keep, covered, in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Cookie dough can be rolled into balls and frozen for up to 3 months. (Do not thaw cookie dough before baking, simply add an extra minute to bake time.) Baked cookies will keep in the freezer for up to 3 months.
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