Pecan Sandies are shortbread cookies stuffed with pecans and dusted with powdered sugar. It isn’t the holidays without these buttery cookies.
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Old Fashioned Pecan Sandies
These pecan sandies are like cookies that are often sold as Mexican wedding cookies. In fact, these scrumptious little treats have several names – pecan sandies, Mexican wedding cookies, snowball cookies, tea cookies, Swedish tea cakes, and, who knows, maybe more? What’s important is that these buttery pecan cookies are good no matter what they are called.
It isn’t the holidays at my house without these cookies. These pecan sandies cookies combine crispy, buttery, and nutty goodness to make them all-time favorites. These pecan sandies pack well and are good cookies for edible holiday gifts or for a cookie exchange.
Read this helpful article on packaging cookies.
Pecan Sandies History
Pecan sandies are thought to originate from the sweet treats found in medieval Arab cuisine. The name sandies may have been inspired by the sand-like color of the finished product.
The Keebler Company owns the brand name Sandies, which is used on its line of shortbread cookies.
What Is a Pecan Sandie?
Think shortbread plus crunchy pecans. In a nutshell, a melt-in-your-mouth cookie (pun intended!).
Pecan sandies are tasty treats that are a shortbread cookie bursting with the aroma of real butter, stuffed with roasted pecans, and then dusted with powdered sugar. They’re called sandies because of their crumbly shortbread texture.
Why This is the Best Recipe for Pecan Sandies
This is a tried and true recipe. We have been making this exact pecan sandies recipe in our family for over 60 years. It was passed from my grandmother to my mother and these are the cookies that I grew up enjoying during the holidays.
These cookies are easy to make and require very little from your pantry. And, it’s the butter that makes this recipe for pecan sandies so good.
Sandies have a wonderful nutty flavor from the pecans that toast while you cook the cookies in the oven. After removing them from the oven, you roll them in powdered sugar.
The powdered sugar almost makes its own frosting because, in a day or so, much of the powdered sugar has formed a lovely little crust. These homemade pecan sandies are way better than their store-bought cookie counterparts.
Pecan Sandies Ingredients
This pecan sandies cookie recipe is super easy, requires only a few ingredients, and is a must make for the holidays. This is an egg-free cookie recipe so that you can serve a perfect cookie treat to those with egg allergies. Here is what you will need:
- Vanilla extract
- All-purpose flour
- Powdered sugar
Ingredient Substitutions and Variations
For a vegan pecan sandies cookies recipe, swap out the butter for a vegan butter substitute or vegan shortening.
Brown sugar can give your cookies more depth of flavor. Use 1/2 light brown sugar and 1/2 white sugar.
Leave out the nuts if you want to serve nut-free cookies to someone with nut allergies. You could substitute raisins, dried cranberries, or chocolate chips instead.
How to Make Pecan Sandies
Preparation for these pecan cookies is pretty basic, as follows:
- Use an electric mixer to cream the butter and sugar together in a large bowl.
- Add the water and vanilla. Mix well.
- Add the flour and pecans and mix until combined.
- Chill the dough for 4 hours in the refrigerator.
- Shape the chilled dough into balls and place them on an ungreased cookie sheet.
- Bake at 325°F for about 20 minutes.
- Remove the cookies from the pan and let them cool slightly on a wire rack.
- Roll the cookies in powdered sugar while they are still warm. (The cookies will absorb some of the powdered sugar as they rest.)
CopyKat Tip: Roll or dust again in powdered sugar once the sandies have completely cooled and right before serving. It makes them look like they are covered in newly fallen snow! (Maybe that’s why they are sometimes called snowball cookies!)
Pecan Sandies Recipe Video
Pecan Sandie Recipe Variations
This pecan sandies recipe is quite flexible, and you can choose to have fun with some variations:
- Play around with various nuts – walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts, macadamias.
- Add a touch of almond extract along with the vanilla.
- Try add-ins such as chocolate chips, white chocolate, or dried cranberries.
- Any of your favorite spices will go well in this pecan cookie – cinnamon, allspice, cardamom, cloves.
- For an extra kick, substitute bourbon or rum for the vanilla.
- If you like a minty flavor, stir crushed peppermint pieces into your cookie dough.
Pro Tips for Making Pecan Sandies
- Use pre-chopped pecans, which tend to be a bit less expensive and also save you a step.
- Measure your flour correctly. Adding too much flour to this pecan sandies cookies recipe is a common mistake.
- Chill the dough. The dough for these pecan sandies is easier to work with when chilled.
- When making balls, the dough might be a bit crumbly, so take time to press it together well so that the cookies hold their shape.
- When hand-working cookie dough, it helps to keep the palms of your hands slightly damp with a bit of water or oil. This prevents the cookie dough from clinging to your palms.
- Line your ungreased baking sheets with parchment paper.
- Switching racks and rotating your baking sheet halfway through baking will allow your cookies to cook as evenly as possible. Every oven is different, and many have hot spots.
How to Soften Butter Quickly
Has this happened to you? You get yourself all pumped up to start baking, only to realize you forgot to take the butter out of the fridge ahead of time.
To speed along the softening process, cut the butter into small chunks to increase the surface area. Another idea is to place your butter between two sheets of waxed paper and roll it with a rolling pin into a thin sheet.
Microwaving a cold stick of butter is tricky. Best case scenario: your butter ever-so-annoyingly melts a little bit. Worst case scenario: it explodes! If you decide to risk it, use low power and check the butter every 20 seconds.
What Goes Well With Pecan Sandies
No holiday cookie platter should be without these buttery and nutty pecan sandies. They may not seem to stand out next to chocolatey cookies or those fabulously decorated cookies, but they are sneaky good in the taste department.
These crispy cookies are not overly sweet. These melt-in-your-mouth treats are great for dunking in a cold glass of milk. And, they go really well with a cup of hot tea or coffee or a steaming mug of hot chocolate.
How to Store Pecan Sandies
Store your pecan cookies in an airtight container on the kitchen counter for up to one week. You can freeze baked cookies for up to 3 months.
Make-Ahead Pecan Sandies Recipe
The cookie dough can be formed into a roll, chilled for a few days, and then sliced for baking as needed.
You can freeze the unbaked dough for up to 3 months. Make the dough balls, scoop them onto parchment paper, and freeze.
Once frozen, put the dough balls in freezer bags and pull out a dozen or so to bake when needed. They will be thawed enough by the time the oven preheats. It makes baking for the holidays real easy.
Love Pecans? Try These Recipes
Do you find yourself with an overabundance of pecans during the holidays? Here’s how to use them up:
Favorite Christmas Cookie Recipes
- Cake Mix Cookies
- Chocolate Crinkle Cookies
- Coconut Macaroons with Condensed Milk
- Cream Cheese Spritz Cookies
- Ginger Snaps
- Old Fashioned Oatmeal Cookies
- Rum Balls with Vanilla Wafers
- White Chocolate Covered Oreos
- 1 cup butter
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 2 teaspoons water
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 cup chopped pecans
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- Cream together the butter and sugar.
- Add the water and vanilla, and mix well.
- Mix in the flour and pecans and chill the dough for 4 hours in the refrigerator.
- Preheat the oven to 325°F.
- Shape the chilled dough into balls and place them on an ungreased cookie sheet
- Bake for about 20 minutes.
- Remove the cookies from the pan and let them cool slightly.
- Roll the cookies in powdered sugar while they are still warm.