Salty-Sweet Butter Pecan Cookies
Salty-Sweet Butter Pecan Cookies

Salty-Sweet Butter Pecan Cookies

Recipe by PJ Hamel

Salt and sugar go together like coffee and cream — each brings the other to new heights. These butterscotch cookies are heavily laced with toasted pecans and butterscotch chips. Love salty/sweet? They're rolled in a mixture of sugar and salt before baking, which gives them over-the-top flavor.

18 mins
10 to 12 mins
30 mins
about 4 dozen 3" cookies, or 7 dozen 2 1/4" cookies
Salty-Sweet Butter Pecan Cookies on a rack - select to zoom
Salty-Sweet Butter Pecan Cookies on a rack - select to zoom
Salty-Sweet Butter Pecan Cookie broken in two - select to zoom
Salty-Sweet Butter Pecan Cookie getting dipped in salt-sugar - select to zoom


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  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Lightly grease (or line with parchment) two baking sheets.

  2. Place the pecans in a single layer in a pan, and toast until they've darkened a bit and smell toasty, about 8 to 9 minutes. Set them aside to cool, then chop coarsely.

  3. In a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the sugars, butter, shortening, salt, espresso powder, baking soda, vanilla, flavor, and vinegar, beating until smooth and creamy.

  4. Beat in the egg, again beating until smooth. Scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl with a spatula to make sure everything is thoroughly combined.

  5. Mix in the flour, then the chips and toasted nuts.

  6. If you're going to refrigerate the dough, cover the bowl, and chill for about 4 to 5 hours; or overnight. How long you chill the dough will affect how much the cookies spread; see "tips," below for details.

  7. Mix the 1/3 cup (67g) sugar and salt for the coating, and put it in a bowl. Use a spoon (or a tablespoon cookie scoop) to scoop 1 1/2" balls of dough into the sugar/salt mixture, rolling to coat. Then transfer to the prepared baking sheets, leaving 2" between them on all sides; they'll spread quite a bit. Or use a teaspoon cookie scoop to scoop 1 1/4" balls of dough.

  8. Bake the cookies for 10 to 12 minutes — 10 minutes for smaller cookies made from unrefrigerated dough, 12 for larger cookies whose dough has been refrigerated (and something in between for other iterations of size and refrigeration). Their edges will be chestnut brown and their tops a lighter golden brown. Remove them from the oven, and cool on the pan until they've set enough to move without breaking. Repeat with the remaining dough.

  9. Store cookies, well wrapped, at room temperature for up to 5 days; freeze for longer storage.

Tips from our Bakers

  • Looking for a gluten-free version of this recipe: Find it here: Gluten-Free Butter Pecan Cookies. 

  • The sugar-salt coating can be made more or less assertive: your choice. Use the lesser amount of salt for a less adventuresome audience; the greater amount for those who love the salty/sweet experience. It's easy to make some of both; just divide the dough in half, and make the coating both ways, rolling half the cookies in the saltier coating, half in the milder.

  • You have various options for tweaking the cookies' texture and shape once you've made the dough. If you bake cookies right away, you'll have a flatter, lighter-colored cookie. Refrigerate the dough for 4 to 5 hours, the cookies will be flat, but not "puddle-y." Chill overnight and the dough dries out, with some of the starch in the flour turning to sugar. The cookies will be darker, more "caramel-y," and won't spread nearly as much.