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Pecan Brown Sugar Cookies

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This small batch of Pecan Brown Sugar Cookies have soft and chewy centers with crispy caramelized edges.  The sugar cookies are made with dark brown sugar for a deep flavor and chew.  Pecans add sweet and buttery nut flavor, and a little cinnamon brightens the cookies.  This is a cookie must to celebrate all the flavors of the holidays!

Pecan Brown Sugar Cookies

This recipe for Pecan Brown Sugar Cookies is like a grown-up version of the classic sugar cookie.  Sugar cookies are traditionally made with all granulated sugar.  There are a few things we do different with this cookie recipe

  • All Dark Brown Sugar – Typical sugar cookies are made with all granulated sugar (white sugar).  These cookies are made with all dark brown sugar.  This gives the cookies a chewy center and crispy caramelized edges.
  • Toasted Pecans – Pecan have a sweet and buttery nut flavor.  Making them the perfect flavor combination for a cookie with a rich flavor.  And toasting the pecans brings out the flavors even more.
  • Rolled In Sugar – For a little extra texture and support the caramelized edges, the cookies are rolled in sugar before baking.  Not to mention, it gives the cookies a little sparkle!

What Do Brown Sugar Cookies Taste Like

I love a good sugar cookie, but I’m in love with these Brown Sugar Cookies.   These cookies have a more complex (translation:  interesting) flavor than your classic sugar cookie.

  • Rich and Buttery – The dark brown sugar makes these cookies far more rich in flavor.  I find that it also highlights the butter flavor in the cookie.  Double win.
  • Deep Flavor – Dark brown sugar has a much more intense flavor than granulated sugar.  Thanks to the molasses in the sugar.  
  • Chewy Centers, Crispy Edges – Not only does the brown sugar add a depth of flavor, it also makes the cookies chewy.  And as the sugar bakes, it gives the cookies caramelized crispy edges.
Pecan sugar cookie close up

What You Need To Make Pecan Brown Sugar Cookies

Ingredients

  • Pecans – The pecans are a nice flavor to include for the holidays, and I like to toast the pecans to bring out their delicious flavor.  This is completely optional though.  And you can swap in any nut you prefer.
  • Unsalted Butter
  • Brown Sugar – Dark brown sugar is what I recommend to add a stronger molasses flavor.  Though, light brown sugar will work too.
  • Granulated  Sugar
  • Egg Yolk
  • All-Purpose Flour – I have only tested the cookies with gluten flour.  Though, you could try the Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Cookies recipe on the blog and add in pecans.
  • Baking Soda
  • Salt
  • Cinnamon – The cinnamon adds another layer of flavor, but is optional.

Baking Equipment

  • Mixing  Bowl
  • Wooden Spoon – This is a thick cookie dough and I find stirring it by hand with a wooden spoon (or any sturdy spoon) makes mixing it easier.  
  • Baking Sheet With Parchment Paper
  • Cookie Scoop – A cookie scoop is almost a must have when making cookies.  I use a medium #40 cookie scoop.

Small Batch Christmas Cookies

If you are in full-on Christmas cookie baking, these Pecan Brown Sugar Cookies represent the flavors we love about the season.  Toasted pecans will have you thinking about the holidays as you make (and eat these cookies).  Pecans and buttery and sweet, and they seem to show up in quite a few holiday baking recipes.  Hello pecan pie! 

And, if that full on Christmas cookie baking has you making a platter for a cookie swap, the small batch of 9 cookies may just be the perfect amount.  And you can make that cookie yield more or less depending on how big you make your cookies!

But don’t let the holiday inspired ingredients stop you from enjoying these buttery and delicious cookies year round!

Tips For Making Pecan Sugar Cookies

  • Toast the pecans – Toasting the nuts brings out the buttery sweetness of them.  You can toast them easily while the oven is pre-heating.
  • Use dark brown sugar – The dark brown sugar is what gives these Pecan Brown Sugar Cookies a deep flavor.  Though, light brown sugar will work if that is all you have on hand.
  • A wooden spoon makes mixing the dough easier – This is a sticky dough, and using a sturdy mixing spoon – like a wooden spoon – makes mixing the dough so much easier.  I don’t recommend a hand mixer or stand mixer.  The dough is thick, and will likely stop up the hand mixer.  And there is just not enough batter to make using the stand mixer work.
  • Don’t omit the cinnamon – Unless you have a severe opposition for cinnamon, I recommend using it to add another layer of flavor to the cookies.
  • Chill the dough – We don’t want the cookies to melt and spread when they are baking.  And because we use melted butter for this recipe, this is especially important.
  • Roll the cookies in sugar – This step isn’t necessary, but it does add more flavor and texture to the cookies.  And a festive look!
  • Use a cookie scoop – If you want to make sure your get evenly sized cookies, a cookie scoop is your best friend!  And equally sized cookies will bake the same.
  • Bake a minute or two longer if you prefer a crispy cookie – These Pecan Brown Sugar Cookies are intended to be chewy.  But if you prefer a crispy cookie, bake them for 1 to 2 minutes longer.
Plate of pecan brown sugar cookies

Common Questions For Making Pecan Sugar Cookies

Can this recipe be doubled?

I have not tested it, but I think it would work. Let me know if you try it!

Do I have to use dark brown sugar?

I recommend dark brown sugar to add a stronger molasses flavor. Though, light brown sugar will work too.

Can I make these cookies gluten free?

I have not tested this particular recipe as gluten free. Try the Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Cookie or Gluten Free Sugar Cookie recipes on the blog and add in pecans!

Can I substitute the sugar for a sugar alternative?

I’m going to say no since the sugar in these sugar cookies is brown sugar.

Do I really have to chill the dough?

If you don’t want your cookies to spread and melt, then you should chill the dough!

Is it necessary to roll the cookies in the sugar before baking?

It is not, but it adds a nice texture, a little extra sweetness, and a caramelized exterior.

Are these sugar cookies soft and chewy, or crispy?

These Brown Sugar Cookies are soft and chewy on the inside with crispy caramelized edges.

What do these sugar cookies taste like?

The cookies taste like an adult version of the classic sugar cookies. The brown sugar adds more depth of flavor, the pecans add extra texture and sweet nutty flavor, and a little cinnamon adds a bright note.

My cookies didn’t turn out chewy. What did I do wrong?

Chances are you over baked them. Additionally, any ingredient swaps, specifically the dark brown sugar, can alter the texture of the cookies.

I prefer a crispy cookie. Can I bake the cookies longer to make them crispier?

You can, and I recommend 1 to 2 minutes longer for a crispy cookie.

How long will the cookies stay chewy?

Store the cookies in a covered container at room temperature, and they should stay chewy for about 2 days. Beyond that, they may start to harden.

Stack of pecan sugar cookies for christmas

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5 from 1 review

Pecan Brown Sugar Cookies

Yield: 9 Cookies
This small batch of Pecan Brown Sugar Cookies have soft and chewy centers with crispy caramelized edges.  The sugar cookies are made with dark brown sugar for a deep flavor and chew.  Pecans add sweet and buttery nut flavor, and a little cinnamon brightens the cookies.  This is a cookie must to celebrate all the flavors of the holidays!
Prep20 mins
Cook10 mins
Chill30 mins
Total1 hr
High Altitude Adjustment: May not require full bake time. Start checking for doneness at minimum bake time if noted.

Ingredients

  • 4 and 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon - optional
  • 1/3 cup pecans, chopped - toasting the pecans is optional
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar - for rolling the cookies

Instructions

  • If you are not toasting the pecans, wait to preheat the oven until the cookie dough is chilling in the refrigerator.
  • Preheat the oven to 350F degrees and adjust the oven rack to the middle position. Line a baking sheet with a piece of parchment paper
  • Optional – While the oven is preheating, sprinkle the whole pecans on another small baking sheet, and toast for 5 to 7 minutes. You will start to smell the pecans toasting. Rough chop the pecans.
  • In a small mixing bowl, add the flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon.
  • In a medium mixing bowl, add the brown sugar and melted butter. Stir until smooth. Add the egg yolk and vanilla extract and stir until combined..
  • Sprinkle half of the dry ingredients over the wet ingredients and stir until just combined. Add the remaining dry ingredients and stir until no dry streaks remain. Stir in the chopped pecans until just combined. Note – The dough will be sticky and thick. Using a wooden spoon will make mixing the dough easier.
  • Cover the dough with plastic wrap and refrigerate the dough for at least 30 minutes.
  • In a shallow baking dish, add the granulated sugar.
  • Using a cookie scoop (I use a #40 cookie scoop), scoop the dough into 9 equal dough balls. Roll the dough balls through the sugar and place on the baking sheet at least 2 inches apart.
  • Bake the cookies for 8 to 10 minutes until the edges are set and start to turn light golden brown. For a crispier cookie, bake for 1 to 2 minutes longer.
  • Cool the cookies on the baking sheet set on a wire cooling rack for 5 minutes before transferring the cookies to the wire rack to cool completely. Enjoy!

Notes

  • Freezing the Cookie Dough – The cookie dough can be frozen – for up to 3 months.  Shape the dough into a disc, wrap generously in plastic wrap, and place in a Ziploc bag to freeze.  Defrost the cookie dough in the refrigerator.
  • Freezing Baked Cookies – Baked cookies can be frozen for up to 3 months.  Either in a Tupperware, or gently placed in a Ziploc bag.  Defrost the cookies at room temperature – may take 1 to 3 hours.
Check out the blog post for more Tips and FAQ’s!
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Author: Erin Cernich
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