Pecan Sandies have a shortbread-like cookie base studded with pecans and dusted with powdered sugar. This vintage Christmas cookie recipe from my mom’s recipe binder is a delicious choice to add to your holiday baking list.
If you like shortbread cookies as much as I do, you are going to love my Mom’s Pecan Sandies. They are not overly sweet and such a nostalgic choice to include among all the fudge and other indulgent sweets on a holiday cookie tray.
Our new Oregon town is so festive we feel like we packed our bags and landed smack in the middle of a Hallmark Christmas movie. There are lights and decorations everywhere you look. Christmas tree farms are abundant and the cooler weather does so much to catapult you straight into the holiday vibe.
I’m sitting to write this post on an especially chilly afternoon. My mom’s old recipe binder is next to me with her typewritten recipe for these Pecan Sandies resting on top. I miss her so much at this time of year and more and more with each big change in our lives that I can’t share with her. Mom would have loved this house and this town and what I wouldn’t give to be able to show it all to her.
But, she is here with me in spirit as I write this post about her recipe for Pecan Sandies. These nostalgic Christmas cookies bring back so many great memories.
Table of contents
A short list of ingredients and a unique baking method creates these tasty cookies.
- Wet ingredients: softened butter, powdered sugar, water, and pure vanilla extract
- Dry ingredients: All-purpose flour and salt.
- Pecans: Finely chopped.
How to Make Pecan Sandies
- Wet ingredients: Using an electric mixer, combine the softened butter the powdered sugar, a very small amount of water, and some vanilla extract.
- Dry ingredients: Combine the flour and touch of salt in a separate bowl. Add the dry mixture to the creamed butter mixture in increments. The dough will come to a coarse crumb-like consistency. Continue beating until it works into a nice, smooth cookie dough consistency.
- Pecans: Stir in some chopped pecans and cover the bowl and chill the cookie dough for an hour.
- Shape: Form the chilled dough into 1-inch balls and place them on an ungreased cookie sheet. These cookies will not spread so you can place them about 1-to 2-inches apart. You should be able to fit all 26 to 28 cookies on one large cookie sheet.
The Secret to the Best Pecan Sandies
Here is where Mom’s Pecan Sandies recipe gets unique. The cookies are baked in a 250 degree F oven for an hour. Yep, an hour! Watch them closely towards the end of the baking time. Remove them from the oven when the bottoms of the cookies are just barely golden brown.
Allow the cookies to cool completely and then roll them in powdered sugar. Sometimes I give them an extra sprinkle of powdered sugar just before serving.
Can You Freeze Pecan Sandies?
Cookie dough with a high fat content, like these Pecan Sandies, will freeze well. The method is called flash freezing and here is how you do it.
Freezing the Dough
- Roll the cookies into balls and place them on your cookie sheet. If you are freezing a lot of dough you can separate layers of cookies with wax paper.
- Place the cookie sheet in the freezer until the balls of dough are frozen solid.
- Transfer the frozen cookie dough balls to a freezer-safe plastic storage bag and store them in the freezer.
- When you are ready to bake them, allow them to defrost completely and then proceed with the recipe as directed.
Freezing the cookie dough balls separately ensures they won’t stick together. You can pull out and bake just as many as you need.
How to Freeze Baked Pecan Sandies
My preference is to flash freeze the dough but you can successfully freeze these cookies after baking as well.
- Allow the cookies to cool completely but DO NOT roll them in powdered sugar.
- Use the same flash freeze method to freeze the baked cookies individually.
- Then, wrap the frozen cookies in plastic wrap to protect them from freezer burn. Place the wrapped cookies in a freezer-safe plastic storage bag and pop them in the freezer.
- Unwrap the frozen cookies and then thaw them completely at room temperature. Be sure you’ve removed all the plastic wrap first to avoid any condensation from making them soggy.
- Roll them in powdered sugar before serving.
Taste of Home has some more good general cookie storage tips.
If you’re missing someone you love, bake something that reminds you of them. Pass those recipes on to your children and other loved ones to help continue the legacy they so lovingly created. It’s the very best way to celebrate the season!
More Holiday Treats from Mom’s Recipe Binder
Mom’s Pecan Sandies
- 1 cup butter, softened
- ½ cup powdered sugar, (plus additional for rolling and sprinkling)
- 1 tablespoon water
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 cup finely chopped pecans
- In a large mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to cream together the butter, sugar, water, and vanilla. Combine the flour and salt in a separate bowl. Add the dry mixture to the wet mixture in increments and mix again for several minutes until the coarse crumb-like mixture comes together into a nice cookie dough consistency. Use a wooden spoon to stir in the pecans. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and chill for 1 hour.
- Preheat oven to 250 degrees F.
- Form the chilled dough into 26 to 28 1-inch balls and place about 1- to 2-inches apart on an ungreased baking sheet (you should be able to fit them all on one large baking sheet).
- Bake 55 to 60 minutes until the bottoms of the cookies are just barely golden brown. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes on baking sheets (or just until cool enough to handle) then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
- Place about ¼ cup powdered sugar in a small bowl. Roll the cooled cookies in powdered sugar until well coated. For a pretty effect, sprinkle with additional powdered sugar before serving, if desired.
Nutrition information is automatically calculated using generic ingredients, and is an estimate not a guarantee. For more accurate results, please refer to the labels on your ingredients at home.