These Pecan Shortbread Cookies are every bit delicious as they are gorgeous. Made from light, tender shortbread filled with nutty pecans and dipped in a sweet maple glaze, make them the perfect afternoon treat.
A batch of Pecan Shortbread Cookies are seasonal favourites in Fall and sit firmly in the 'I love baking cookies' basket!
I've used the traditional method of making shortbread, like my Cranberry Orange Shortbread. There's no egg or baking powder. The core ingredients are butter, sugar, and flour, with the addition of maple syrup as the flavouring.
These incredible Pecan Shortbread Cookies rely on the perfect balance and quality of their ingredients. Check out my How To Make Shortbread guide for lots of useful info.
🌟 Why You'll Love This Recipe
- Basic Ingredients. Using only 5 ingredients for the basic shortbread cookie recipe, these are a dream to make and bake.
- Incredible flavour. Maple and toasted pecans within that buttery, crumbly shortbread is an absolute wonder in the flavour department. Nutty, sweet, buttery = perfection.
- Optional Extras. I've recommended maple glaze, candied pecans and candied bacon as extras to the shortbread cookie if you want to elevate the flavours.
- Perfect for gift giving. With the lead-up to the holiday season nearly here, these Maple Shortbread Cookies make the perfect gifts for family and friends.
🧾 Ingredients Needed
Made with only a handful of ingredients, you'll have the majority available in your pantry. Bonus!
Whilst the shortbread on its own is stand-alone great, I recommend the maple glaze, candied pecans and bacon too. It creates an amazing Pecan Shortbread Cookie flavour combination!
Pecan Shortbread Cookies
- Butter- I recommend unsalted butter, as when adding the candied pecans or bacon, the additional salt is enough. Ensure the butter is at room temperature so it can be creamed well.
- Sugar - Granulated or caster sugar is used. The recipe states granulated as its mainstream, but either can be used.
- Flour - Plain (all-purpose) flour creates the perfect structure for the cookies to maintain their shape.
- Pecans - I recommend toasting the pecans before adding them to the shortbread. This isn't a pre-requisite, but I find the toasty, nutty flavour shines through.
- Maple syrup - Just enough to add more flavour to the cookies; use proper maple syrup rather than the flavouring. Alternatively, add in vanilla extract.
- Powdered icing sugar- Sift well to remove any lumps
- Maple syrup - For the ultimate maple flavour, quite a bit of maple syrup of used to create a thick maple glaze.
- Butter - A small amount of butter added to the glaze creates a lovely gloss and helps the glaze set as the butter solidifies.
Candied Pecans and Bacon (optional)
- Maple syrup - Both the bacon and the pecans get coated in maple. I brush it onto the bacon with a pastry brush and then just toss the pecan halves.
- Bacon - My preference is to use smokey bacon rashes. (the thin strips as in my image) they go beautifully crispy in about 15 minutes.
- Pecans - No need to toast these pecans as they are going into the oven, and the heat, along with the maple syrup, will toast and caramelise them all at the same time.
- Flaked Sea Salt - For the ultimate sweet, salty, nutty combination, sprinkle a small amount onto the caramelised pecans when fresh from the oven. It's the best!
This Pecan Shortbread Cookies recipe uses the base of a great shortbread recipe so that you can customise and create any other recipe you can imagine.
Below are some ideas of other flavourings that you can add to the base. Note replace the maple syrup with vanilla extract.
- Nuts: Any and all chopped nuts make a beautiful addition to shortbread. Along with pecan, my favourites are almond, walnut and hazelnuts. Toast and chop them finely too.
- Citrus: The zest of lemon, lime, orange, mandarine or grapefruit would add a real zing to the buttery shortbread. Use the juice for a tangy glaze.
- Dried fruit: Finely chopped dried cranberries, apricots, figs, or dates and add them for a deliciously sweet, chewy factor.
- Chocolate: A chopped chocolate bar, chocolate callets or chocolate chips in white, milk or dark will go down a treat. Drizzle the tops with melted chocolate for a decorative touch on top of your chocolate chip shortbread.
Shape: As seen in the image below, I used a standard 5cm (2inch) round cookie cutter. Choose any shape cutter. The smaller the cutter, the more cookies you'll yield.
👩🏻🍳 How to Make Pecan Shortbread Cookies
*Be sure to see the recipe card below for the full ingredients list & instructions!*
These are the best shortbread cookies as they come together so quickly. Made with handheld beaters or a stand mixer, the dough whizzes up in minutes.
I provide instructions for the recommended maple syrup glaze and the optional candied pecan or chopped bacon, which can be prepped whilst the cookies are chilling.
Pecan Shortbread Cookies
STEP 1. Cream together the butter, sugar and maple syrup. Cream until the butter is pale. Add the maple syrup in and give it a quick mix together. Make sure to scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl (Images 1 & 2).
STEP 2. Add in flour and pecans and beat them together. Add the flour and pecans into the creamed butter and, on low speed, mix them all together until they just combine. The dough will look quite raggedy (Images 3 & 4).
Note: Chop the pecans finely. Larger pieces will create rough, uneven edges on the cookies. Smaller pieces also distribute throughout the dough.
STEP 3. Form a dough and roll it out. With your hands, squeeze the cookie dough together, making a ball. Press it into a rough disc. Then on a lightly floured surface, roll it out (Images 5 & 6).
TIP: Air temp
It's important to note that dough that's too soft will be tricky to cut out. Factors like air temperature, how soft the butter was to start off with, and any over-measuring of flour all play into how soft the dough is.
If it's too soft to roll out, pop it in the refrigerator for 10-15 minutes to firm up a little (but not too much otherwise, the dough will crack when you try to roll it out).
STEP 4. Cut out cookie shapes and chill. Use a floured cookie cutter, I have my leaf-shaped one here, and stamp out as many shapes as you can fit in the dough. Lay shortbread cutouts onto a baking tray lined with parchment paper.
Bring together any scraps, re-roll and stamp out more cookies. And then again, if needs be. When you re-form the dough, it pulls flour from the benchtop and may dry out the dough. A couple of drops of water to the dough helps (Images 7 & 8).
Now refrigerate the shortbread cutouts on the tray for 30 minutes or until the cutouts have hardened. This means the butter has resolidified and gives you the best chance of the cookies retaining their shape in the oven.
TIP: Chill the dough
It's so important to chill the dough after cutting out the cookie shapes. Refrigerating allows the soft butter to re-solidify, the flour to hydrate, and the gluten to relax.
By doing this, the butter won't melt when it hits the hot oven, and the cookies will retain their shape. The result will be perfectly shaped buttery cookies.
STEP 5. Bake. The cookies are baked until they're just turning golden on the edges. I like my shortbread soft and buttery. But if you'd prefer yours on the crisper side, leave them in the oven for a couple of minutes longer.
Candied Bacon and Pecans
If you choose to decorate your cookies with candied bacon bits or chopped pecans, prepare them when the cookie cutouts are chilling before baking or when the shortbread has been removed from the oven.
I pop the bacon and pecans on two different baking trays but cook them simultaneously in the oven. The bacon takes longer to crispen up, so I just take out the pecans once they are done.
STEP 1. Prepare bacon and bake. Brush the bacon with maple syrup for caramelises and the perfect smokey sweetness. Once out of the oven, let the bacon cool. Chop it into little pieces once crispy (Images 9 & 10).
STEP 2. Prepare pecans and bake. Toss the pecans in any remaining maple syrup and bake until toasted and the maple is bubbling. Sprinkle salt onto them straight from the oven and then chop them finely (Images 11 & 12).
Maple Glaze & Assemble
STEP 1. Make the Maple Glaze. Pop all the ingredients into a bowl and stir until smooth and lump-free. It's a thick glaze, but you can pop it in the microwave for ten seconds to loosen it up (Images 13 & 14).
STEP 2. Dip Pecan Shortbread Cookies into the glaze and decorate. Dip the top of each shortbread into the glaze and let any excess glaze drip off. Sprinkle the candied pecans or bacon onto the cookies as you wish. (Images 15 & 16).
Now all you have to do is enjoy these Pecan Shortbread Cookies to the max!
💭 Recipe Pro Tips
- Re-roll the dough. Make sure to bring the dough back together after the first round of cutouts. Re-shape it, and then re-roll and cut out more cookies. I do this twice to get the maximum number of cookies.
- Flour your cookie cutters. This stops the dough from sticking to them and avoids you having to peel the dough from the cutter, ruining the cookie shape.
- Refrigerate the cookie dough. Unless you what a tray of odd-shaped cookies spread all over the place, the dough must be chilled.
- Keep an eye on the bake time. Everyone's oven runs at a slightly different temperature. With such a short bake time, a minute or two, either way, will make a difference.
📋 Recipe FAQs
The main difference is in the ingredients list. Sugar cookies have baking powder acting as a leavener, making them lighter in texture. Shortbread doesn't have this making them crumbly and denser.
It's all in the quality of the ingredients. With such a short ingredient list, the quality makes a big difference. The perfect shortbread cookie should be crumbly but not dry, buttery but not greasy and sweet but not sickly. Go for a European-style butter if you can.
Absolutely not! That's why I've included it as an option for the recipe. If meat isn't your thing or you don't have time for this extra step. You do you here; that's the joy of these Pecan Shortbread Cookies- you can create your own adventure with them.
To store: Glazed Pecan Shortbread Cookies can be stored in an airtight container for up to one week. Any cookies decorated with candied bacon will have to be stored in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
To Freeze: Undecorated shortbread can be stored in a freezer-safe container and frozen for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight at room temperature.
🍪 More Cookie Recipes You'll Love
If you tried this Pecan Shortbread Cookie Recipe or any other recipe on my website, please let me know how you go in the comments below. I love hearing from you. Also, please leave a 🌟 star rating too!
Pecan Shortbread with Maple Glaze Recipe
- 125 g unsalted butter, room temperature
- 180 g plain flour (all-purpose)
- 60 g caster sugar
- 1 teaspoon maple syrup
- 40 g pecans, toasted (recommended) and finely chopped
Candied bacon and pecans (optional)
- 4 bacon rashes
- 40 g pecans
- 2 tablespoon maple syrup
- ¼ teaspoon flaked sea salt
- 110 g powdered icing sugar (confectioners' sugar)
- 120 ml maple syrup
- 1 teaspoon unsalted butter, melted
- Cream together the butter, sugar and maple syrup. Line 2 baking trays with parchment paper. In the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, add the butter and sugar and cream on medium speed until pale and light. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl. Add in the maple syrup and mix again.
- Add in flour and pecans and beat them together. Add the flour and pecans into the creamed butter, and, at low speed, mix until combined. The dough will look quite raggedy.
- Form a dough and roll out. With your hands, squeeze the cookie dough together making a ball. Press it into a rough disc. Then on a lightly floured surface roll it out to a ½ cm thick. Note: if the dough is too soft at this point then wrap it in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 10-15 minutes or longer until it firms up slightly and makes it easier to roll out. Keep an eye on it as if the dough is too hard, it will crack when you try to roll it out.
- Cut out cookie shapes and chill. Once the dough is rolled out, use a cookie cutter (I used a leaf shape) to stamp out the cookies. Lay them onto the prepared baking tray. Bring together any scraps, re-roll and stamp out more cookies. If the dough starts to dry out when re-rolling- add a couple of drops of water.Refrigerate stamped cookies for 30 minutes minimum or until the cutouts have hardened.
- Bake. Preheat the oven to 170°C (335°F). Remove the cookies from the fridge, bake for 10-12 mins or until golden around the edges. Cool on the tray for ten minutes before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely. Keep the oven on and turn it up to 180°C (350°F).
Candied bacon and pecans (optional)
- Prepare bacon and bake. Brush the bacon rashes with maple syrup then lay them on a lined baking tray. Bake for 15 minutes before turning and baking for a further 5 minutes until golden and crispy. Remove from the oven and lay on paper towel until cool. Chop into fine bits.
- Prepare pecans and bake. In a bowl toss the pecans in maple syrup then lay out on a lined baking tray. Place in the oven and bake for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool on the baking tray. Chop into small pieces and toss through a pinch of flaked sea salt.
- Mix ingredients together. Add the icing sugar, maple syrup and butter to a medium-sized bowl and whisk until thoroughly combined and smooth. If the glaze is too thin, then add a tablespoon at a time of icing sugar until it reaches the right consistency. If it’s too thick, add a teaspoon of maple syrup until the correct consistency is reached.
- Dip cookies into glaze and decorate. Dip the face of the cookies into the glaze and gently lift, letting the excess glaze drip off and place on a wire rack.Sprinkle with candied bacon or candied pecan and leave to set for 15 minutes. Or enjoy straight away!
All recipes are developed and tested in Metric grams. I strongly recommend that you bake using digital scales for a more accurate result. I have provided a conversion to US customary in the recipe but please note that I haven’t tested using this method.