Salty-Sweet Butter Pecan Cookies

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Yield: about 4 dozen 3" cookies, or 7 dozen 2 1/4" cookies

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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.

There are a few of options once you have the dough made. If you bake the cookies right away, you'll have a flatter, lighter-colored cookie. Refrigerate it 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.

Also, these cookies are a good candidate for the "tablespoon vs. teaspoon" scoop choice. A tablespoon cookie scoop (actually 4 level measuring teaspoons) will yield big, 3" cookies; a teaspoon scoop (1 3/4 level measuring teaspoons) will make smaller (2 1/4") cookies.

Salty-Sweet Butter Pecan Cookies

star rating (105) rate this recipe »
Hands-on time:
Baking time:
Total time:
Yield: about 4 dozen 3" cookies, or 7 dozen 2 1/4" cookies
Published: 01/01/2010


  • 1 1/3 cups pecan halves
  • 2/3 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup vegetable shortening
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon espresso powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3/4 teaspoon butterscotch, vanilla-butternut, or butter-rum flavor
  • 1 teaspoon vinegar, cider or white
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
  • 1 1/3 cups butterscotch chips
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar mixed with 1 to 1 1/4 teaspoons salt, for topping*
  • *If you're making smaller (teaspoon cookie scoop-sized) cookies, increase the coating to 1/2 cup (3 1/2 ounces) granulated sugar mixed with 1 3/4 to 2 teaspoons salt.

Tips from our bakers

  • 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.


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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 till they've darkened a bit and smell toasty, about 8 to 9 minutes. Set them aside.

3) In a large bowl, 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 till 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 refrigerate for about 4 to 5 hours; or overnight. Cookie dough refrigerated for 3 1/2 to 4 hours will spread moderately; chilled overnight, it will spread much less.

7) Mix the 1/3 cup 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 11 minutes — 11 minutes for smaller cookies, 12 for larger ones. Their edges will be chestnut brown and their tops a lighter golden brown. (For dough that's been refrigerated, add 30 seconds to 1 minute to those baking times.) Remove them from the oven, and cool on the pan till they've set enough to move without breaking. Repeat with the remaining dough.

Yield: about 4 dozen 3" cookies, or 7 dozen 2 1/4" cookies.

Nutrition information

Serving Size: 1 cookie Servings Per Batch: 48 Amount Per Serving: Calories: 130 Calories from Fat: 70 Total Fat: 8g Saturated Fat: 3g Trans Fat: 0g Cholesterol: 10mg Sodium: 120mg Total Carbohydrate: 14g Dietary Fiber: 0g Sugars: 10g Protein: 1g

* The nutrition information provided for this recipe is determined by the ESHA Genesis R&D software program. Substituting any ingredients may change the posted nutrition information.


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  • star rating 03/26/2015
  • Ku from IL
  • A great cookie alternative to those who are tired of the CCC (or not!). I was a bit skeptical of the sugar/salt coating but it really does come out as a cookie with a great sweet/salty contrast. I would, however, break the pecan halves into quarters. Great cookie!
  • star rating 03/25/2015
  • Mary from Star, Idaho
  • Made these cookies about two weeks ago for the first time. Don't like butterscotch chips and didn't have any so I substituted one and a third cups of Heath's toffee bits and coarsely chopped the toasted pecans. Although the toffee bits melted into the cookie, there was still a bit of toffee crunch in each bite. Talk about heaven....really, really good cookies. Even my die-hard chocolate-chip-cookie-fan husband loved them. Great recipe KAF! Thank you!
  • star rating 01/09/2015
  • Nancy from Columbia, SC
  • These cookies are awesome! I brought them to a meeting and everyone wanted the recipe. I like to use rum extract as I found the butter rum to be too strong. Very nice sweet/salt combination.
  • star rating 12/20/2014
  • JessLovesToBake from KAF Community
  • Great!!! A very nice salty-sweet cookie without being too salty. I made half with vanilla butternut flavor and half with butter-rum flavor, and we loved the vanilla butternut base but not so much the rum (it's just personal taste, I'm sure). I didn't have butterscotch flavoring to try. Thanks to the reviews, I also tried different mix-ins. Some plain, some with chocolate chips or butterscotch chips or heath toffee bits. They were all delicious. However, I could mostly just taste the mix-ins, whereas the plain cookies (just with pecans) had a delicious salty-sweet taste that wasn't covered up by the mix-ins. Next time, I'll add things to just part of the batch, if at all (they're good though). Thanks for this great recipe!
  • star rating 12/15/2014
  • Sally from MN
  • Love these! I'm always asked for the recipe.
  • star rating 12/06/2014
  • Pat from Honey Brook, PA
  • I was a bit afraid to make these since I need to maintain a low-salt diet and I avoid caffeine. But I tried anyway. I omitted the espresso powder and halved the salt in the recipe. Still delicious! Thank you for a great new recipe. Recommendation to readers - if you can find Guittard Butterscotch chips, they taste much better than other brands.
  • star rating 12/04/2014
  • Mary C. from Seneca, SC
  • These cookies are GREAT!! I made as directed except used dark brown sugar instead of light, chose rum flavoring and used toffee bits instead of butterscotch chips (my preference). The salty-sugary coating put them over the top. Had to bake these twice in 3 days and all my cookie tasters begged for more. I bake a LOT and these will go right up in my very favorites file. Thank you for this recipe!!
  • star rating 10/07/2014
  • Flour Floozie from Tulelake, California
  • I made this yesterday for the first time. Great recipe and even better cookies. I made the recipe exactly as written. They were outstanding... Next batch I am going to add a little more salt to the salt-sugar roll.
  • star rating 10/02/2014
  • Margie from Maine
  • easy and delicious. and flexible - I added cappuchino chips and mini-chocolate chips.
  • star rating 09/27/2014
  • Jill from Williamsburg, VA
  • Love the crispy salty-sweet combination.....i'm thinking would make a great ice cream cookie with butter pecan ice cream!
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