Pecan Pie Cookies

Pecan Pie Cookies deliver all of the rich, nutty, caramel-like flavors of pecan pie but in easy, thumbprint cookie form! 

These Pecan Pie Cookies will steal the show at every cookie exchange and Christmas get together! They taste just like pecan pie (or better!) in sharable, bite-size form. These soft, thumbprint cookies are filled with a buttery, nutty, caramelly, gooey, pecan pie filling that is so easy to make in minutes. These Pecan Pie Cookies store and freeze beautifully for the idyllic stress-free, make ahead recipe, the perfect cookie for every occasion!

Christmas cookies bring out the very best! Don’t miss Chocolate Crinkle Cookies, Gingerbread Whoopie Pies, Chocolate Peanut Clusters, Egg Nog Cookies or Nutella Cookies.

This Pecan Pie Cookie post is sponsored by Danish Creamery, all opinions are my own.

How to Make Pecan Pie Cookies Video

serving pecan pie cookies on a white platter
pecan pie cookies with thumbprints on a baking sheet with pecan pie filling

Pecan pie cookie INGREDIENTS

This Pecan Pie Cookie recipe begins with basic thumbprint cookie ingredients with the addition of brown sugar to help keep the cookies soft and chewy. Here’s what you’ll need to make the pecan cookie recipe (full measurements in the printable recipe card at the bottom of the post):

FOR THE Thumbprint cookies:

  • Unsalted butter:  I recommend Danish Creamery’s European Style Butter in this recipe for its luxurious creaminess – you can literally taste the’ difference! Slow churned the old-fashioned way in small batches, Danish Creamery’s European Style Butter is a rich velvety butter that has 85% butter fat — the secret to flavorful cookies, syrups, sauces, glazes and more!
  • All-purpose flour:  Spoon and level the flour (instead of scooping the flour up with your measuring cup) to avoid compact flour.  Too much flour/inaccurately measuring the flour will result in dense cookies.
  • Sugars: A mixture of brown sugar and granulated sugar add both sweetness and flavor.  Brown sugar adds the caramel undertones while creating a more tender, moist cookie.
  • Cornstarch:  This is the secret ingredient to soft and thick cookies without having to chill the dough first.  It binds with the liquids in the dough, so the cookies spread less. 
  • Baking powder: This helps leaven the cookies while remaining thick and chewy.
  • Egg: You will need one egg and one egg yolk.  The extra egg yolk adds fat, richness and flavor and creates a chewier cookie.   
  • Salt: Use good old table salt or twice as much kosher salt. If you’re using salted butter as opposed to unsalted butter, reduce the salt in the recipe.
  • Vanilla extract: This adds a depth of flavor. Use quality extract for the best results.
showing how to make pecan cookies with thumbprints by mixing the pecans with the caramel-like sauce

For the Pecan Pie filling: 

  • Pecans: Use raw, unsalted pecan halves, and chop into 1/4-inch pieces. 
  • Unsalted butter: Again, I recommend Danish Creamery’s European Style Butter for its superior creaminess.
  • Brown sugar: This sweetens the filling while adding a rich caramel-y flavor.
  • Granulated sugar: This helps balance the brown sugar and corn syrup so they aren’t overpowering.  
  • Corn syrup: This helps sweeten the filling, glue it together and prevents it from hardening. I prefer dark corn syrup for its richer, robust toasty flavor, but light corn syrup will also work (the flavor just won’t be as intense). 
  • Vanilla extract: Use pure vanilla extract for the best flavor if possible.
  • Spices: A little ground cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves flavor the rich filling with exciting dimension.
  • Salt:  A good pinch of salt balances out the sweetness in the filling.
  • Heavy cream:  This finishes off the filling, keeping it luxuriously rich, creamy and pliable.

How do you make thumbprint cookies?

This recipe comes together quickly by making traditional thumbprint cookies, then filling them with easy pecan pie filling.  Here’s how to make the cookies (full recipe with measurements in the printable recipe card at the bottom of the post):  

  • Step 1: Combine the dry ingredients. Whisk the flour, baking soda, cornstarch and salt together in a medium bowl, or I like to use a liquid measuring cup.
showing how to make pecan pie cookies by whisking the flour, baking soda and baking powder together in a bowl
  • Step 2:  Cream butter and sugars.  Beat the butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar together until combined and creamy.
showing how to make pecan pie cookies by creaming butter and sugars together in a mixer until fluffy
  • Step 3:  Add eggs.  Add egg, egg yolk, and vanilla extract, then beat on medium-high speed until combined. Next, beat in the dry ingredients on low speed, until combined, taking care not to overmix. The batter will be very thick.
showing how to make pecan pie cookies by adding the eggs and mixing until combined
  • Step 4:  Make balls. Using a large cookie scoop, scoop and roll the balls, then line them 3 inches apart on a silicone or parchment paper lined baking sheet.
showing how to make pecan pie cookies by scooping the dough using a cookie scoop then rolling into a large ball
  • Step 5:  Make thumbprints. Using the backside of a tablespoon (or even your thumb, or wooden spoon), gently make an indentation in the center of each cookie.
showing how to make pecan pie cookies by making a thumbprint in the cookie dough with the back of a tablespoon
  • Step 6:  Bake.  Bake until the center is just set. The cookies will spread quite a bit in the oven and the center will fill in a bit.  
showing how to make pecan pie cookies by baking the cookies in the oven until set
  • Step 7:  Make indentation.  While the cookies are still on the baking sheet, use the back of a ¼ cup measuring cup and gently press down on the center of each cookie to make the impression deeper to make room for the filling.  
showing how to make pecan pie cookies by making a larger thumbprint in the baked cookies

  • Step 8:  While the cookies cool, make the pecan pie filling:
showing how to make pecan pie cookies by cooling the cookies before filling with pecan pie filling

How to Make Filling for Pecan Pie Cookies

  • Step 1:  Combine ingredients. Add the pecans, butter, sugars, corn syrup, and spices to a medium saucepan.
showing how to make pecan pie cookies by adding pecans, butter, brown sugar, granulated sugar and corn syrup to a saucepan
  • Step 2:  Simmer.  Bring to a gentle simmer for 2 minutes, stirring often. 
  • Step 3:  Add heavy cream.  Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla and heavy cream. 
showing how to make pecan pie cookies by simmering pecans with sugar, butter and corn syrup
  • Step 4:  Fill cookies. Fill each cookie with a heaping tablespoon of pecan pie filling.   
pecan pie thumbprint cookies cooling on a wire rack
  • Finely chop the pecans.  The thumbprints aren’t very big, so you want to chop the pecans small, about 1/4-inch, so you fit the maximum amount in each cookie for maximum CRUNCH.
  • Measure the flour correctly.  When measuring your flour, don’t scoop it out of the container with the measuring cup. Instead, stir the flour around, spoon it into your measuring cup, and level it off with the back of a knife.
  • Use dark corn syrup. I prefer dark corn syrup for its richer, robust toasty flavor, but light corn syrup will also work (the flavor just won’t be as intense).
  • Don’t over-mix the dough. After you add the eggs, mix the dough as little as possible, stopping the mixer when a few streaks of flour remain, then mixing the last bit by hand. When cookie dough is over-mixed, it tends to bake into dense, tough cookies.
  • Don’t simmer the filling too long.  If you cook it longer than the two minutes, it will start to become too thick.  If it does become too thick, you can stir in additional heavy cream a little at a time.
  • Use a cookie scoop for uniform pecan cookies.  Uniform cookies = evenly baked cookies. 
  • Space out the balls of cookie dough on your sheet pan.  The cookies will spread a lot, so make sure to leave about 3 inches in between each ball. 
  • Feel free to reshape unruly cookies.  Use the edge of your spatula to push the edges back into a circle when the cookies are still soft fresh out of the oven.
  • Don’t wait too long to indent the cookies. After the cookies come out of the oven, immediately use the back of the measuring cup to make room for the filling. If you wait too long, the cookies will be firmer and more likely to split with the pressure.
pecan pie thumbprint cookies made filled with pecan pie filling
  • Swap nuts:  Swap some or all of the pecans for any nut of your choice – cashews, macadamia nuts, walnuts, etc.
  • Swap sugar:  Use dark brown sugar instead of light brown sugar for a deeper molasses flavor.
  • Make the Gluten-Free:  Make the recipe gluten free by using 1 to 1 gluten free baking flour.
  • Get toasty:  Toast your pecans first.
  • Make chocolate filling:  Swap some of the butter and sugar for baking chocolate.
  • Make them smaller:   Use a smaller cookie scoop and bake for less time.
  • Add a Drizzle:  Drizzle the baked pecan cookies with melted chocolate (melt chopped baking chocolate with 1 teaspoon vegetable oil in the microwave).
pecan pie thumbprint cookies stacked on a plate
up close of a pecan pie thumbprint cookie with a bite taken out showing the gooey filling

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serving pecan pie thumbprint cookies on a white platter

Pecan Pie Cookies

These Pecan Pie Cookies will steal the show at every cookie exchange and Christmas get together! They taste just like pecan pie (or better!) in sharable, bite-size form. These soft, thumbprint cookies are filled with a buttery, nutty, caramelly, gooey, pecan pie filling that is so easy to make in minutes. These Pecan Pie Cookies store and freeze beautifully for the idyllic stress-free, make ahead recipe, the perfect cookie for every occasion!
Servings: 15 cookies
Total Time: 1 hr 9 mins
Prep Time: 45 mins
Cook Time: 24 mins

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Ingredients

Large Thumbprint Cookies

  • 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (16 TBS) unsalted Danish Creamery European Style Butter  at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 egg + 1 egg yolk at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Pecan Pie Filling

Add Later

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream

Instructions

Cookies

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line 3 baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats (or bake the cookies in batches.)
  • Whisk the flour, baking powder, cornstarch and salt together in a medium bowl (I like to use a large liquid measuring cup).
  • Using a handheld or stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar together in a large bowl on medium-high speed until combined and creamy, about 2 minutes.
  • Add egg, egg yolk, and vanilla extract, then beat on medium speed until combined. Scrape down the sides and up the bottom of the bowl as needed.
  • Beat in the dry ingredients on low speed, until just a few flour streaks remain. Stir by hand just until combined. Batter will be very thick.
  • Using a large 3 tablespoon cookie scoop, scoop and roll balls, then line them 3 inches apart on the prepared baking sheets (6 per sheet).
  • Using the backside of a tablespoon (or even your thumb or end of a wooden spoon), gently make an indentation in the center of each ball (see photos or video).
  • Bake at 350 degrees F for 10-12 minutes or until the center is just set (the cookies will spread quite a bit in the oven).
  • As soon as you remove the cookies from the oven, while still on the baking sheet, use the back of a ¼ cup measuring cup to gently press down on the center of each cookie to make the impression deeper to make room for the filling.
  • Let the cookies cool for 2-3 minutes, then carefully transfer to a wire rack to finish cooling. Once the cookies are cool, make the Pecan Pie Filling:

Pecan Pie Filling

  • Add all the Filling ingredients to a medium saucepan EXCEPT the vanilla and heavy cream. Stir over medium-low until the butter is melted. Bring to a gentle simmer for 2 minutes, stirring often.
  • Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla and heavy cream.
  • Working somewhat quickly, fill each cookie with a heaping tablespoon Filling. If it gets too thick, return to heat to thin. Add a splash of heavy cream if needed. Enjoy!

Video

Notes

  • Corn syrup: This helps sweeten the filling, glue it together and prevents it from hardening. I prefer dark corn syrup for its richer, robust toasty flavor, but light corn syrup will also work, the flavor just won’t be as intense.
  • Storage:  The cookies can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 4 days or refrigerated for up to 7 days. If chilled, bring the cookies to room temperature to soften the filling or microwave for 10 seconds to soften.  Freeze for up to 3 month, then thaw overnight. 

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