My Mom’s Pecan Sandies have a shortbread-like cookie base that is studded with pecans and dusted with powdered sugar. This vintage Christmas cookie recipe 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 nice, simple 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.
I’ve been putting the dining room space in our new house together over the course of the last few weeks. It may be the most important room in the house. It will house my grandmother’s china that was handed down to my mom and then to me. I went to great lengths to carefully pack each and every piece of that china for the trip from California to Oregon. I held my breath as I opened the boxes and pulled each piece from the packing materials. I’m relieved to say that not one piece was harmed and it is now safely on display in our new dining room.
How to Make Pecan Sandies
A short list of ingredients and a unique baking method creates these tasty cookies.
- Using an electric mixer, combine the softened butter the powdered sugar, a very small amount of water, and some vanilla extract.
- 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.
- Stir in some chopped pecans and cover the bowl and chill the cookie dough for an hour.
- 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.
How To Freeze Cookie 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 Cookies
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 vanilla
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 cup finely chopped pecans
- Use an electric mixer to cream together the butter, sugar, water, and vanilla in a large mixing bowl. 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.
Questions and Reviews
They burned, I cooked them for less than 50 minutes and their black. DO NOT BAKE FOR 55-60 MINUTES!!!!!
Hi Morgan. This is a vintage recipe that has been made more times than I could ever count – by mom, myself and readers. The cookies bake in a very low oven (250 degrees F) for a long time. If you’re cookies turned black, is it possible that you baked them at 350 degrees F instead of 250 degrees F?
This recipe was super easy to follow and the cookies are delicious!
Yay! So glad the recipe worked well for you. Thanks, Ashley. 🙂
How much regular sugar are you using with the butter, water and vanilla? It doesn’t say how much regular sugar.
Thanks! Can’t wait to make them!
There is no granulated sugar in the recipe. Powdered sugar is what lends to the amazing texture!
This is the way my mom made the best pecan sandies! I made them and they are so good. Hard to find a recipe using powdered sugar.they won’t last long!
great recipe for sundae pecan cookies!!!!