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Pecan Sugar Cookies with Brown Butter Icing

Makes: 24 cookies


  • 1 ¼ cups (150g) pecan halves
  • 2 ¼ cups (281g) all-purpose flour plus more as needed for rolling and work surface
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ¾ cup (12 tbsp; 170g) unsalted butter, room temp
  • ¾ cup (150g) packed dark brown sugar
  • 1 large egg, room temp
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract

Brown Butter Icing Ingredients:

  • 6 tbsp (85g) unsalted butter
  • 1 ½ cups (180g) powdered sugar, sifted
  • 3 tbsp (45ml) milk
  • ½ tsp pure vanilla extract
  • pinch of salt


  • Preheat oven to 300°F. Toast the pecans: Spread the pecans on a lined baking sheet and bake for 8-10 minutes. Let cool for a few minutes, then chop, either with a knife or a food processor. You’ll use ¾ cup (about 90g) in the dough, and save the rest for garnish. You can turn off the oven for now.
  • Make the cookie dough: Whisk the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt together in a medium bowl. Set aside.
  • In a large bowl using a handheld or a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter and brown sugar together on high speed until completely smooth and creamy, about 2 minutes. Add the egg, and vanilla, and beat on high speed until combined, about 1 minute. Scrape down the sides and up the bottom of the bowl and beat again as needed to combine. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix on low until combined. Stir in ¾ cup (90g) toasted chopped pecans. Dough will be a bit soft. If the dough seems too soft and sticky for rolling, add 1 more tbsp of flour.
  • Divide the dough into 2 equal parts. Place each portion onto a piece of lightly floured parchment paper or a lightly floured silicone baking mat. With a lightly floured rolling pin, roll the dough out to about 1/4-inch thickness. Use more flour if the dough seems too sticky. The rolled-out dough can be any shape, as long as it is evenly 1/4-inch thick.
  • Lightly dust one of the rolled-out doughs with flour. Place a piece of parchment on top. (This prevents sticking.) Place the second rolled-out dough on top. Cover with plastic wrap or aluminum foil, then refrigerate for at least 1–2 hours and up to 2 days.
  • Once chilled, preheat oven to 350°F bake or 325°F convection if doing multiple pans. Line 2–3 large baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats. Carefully remove the top dough piece from the refrigerator. If it’s sticking to the bottom, run your hand under it to help remove it. Using a cookie cutter, cut the dough into shapes. Re-roll the remaining dough and continue cutting until all is used. Repeat with second piece of dough.
  • Arrange cookies on baking sheets about 3 inches apart. Bake for 10-13 minutes or until lightly browned around the edges. If your oven has hot spots, rotate the baking sheet halfway through bake time. Allow cookies to cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before decorating. No need to cover the cookies as they cool.
  • To make the brown butter icing: Slice the butter up into pieces and place in a light-colored skillet. (Light colored helps you determine when the butter begins browning; Melt the butter over medium heat, stirring constantly. Once melted, the butter will begin to foam. Keep stirring. After 5–8 minutes, the butter will begin browning—you’ll notice lightly browned specks begin to form at the bottom of the pan and it will have a nutty aroma. Once browned, immediately remove from heat and cool for 5 minutes.
  • Whisk in the remaining icing ingredients until smooth. Immediately dip the top of each cookie into the icing, or wait 10–15 minutes for the icing to thicken at room temperature. Then, spread on with a knife or icing spatula. Do not use piping tips because this icing thickens and they will clog. Garnish with remaining toasted chopped pecans right after applying the icing. Icing sets after a few hours at room temperature, so you can easily stack and transport these cookies. Cover and store decorated cookies for up to 3 days at room temperature or up to 10 days in the refrigerator.