Butter Pecan Shortbread is a classic buttery shortbread loaded up with crunchy pecans and plenty of brown sugar…the flavor will make you swoon!
butter pecan shortbread is a pecan lover’s dream
Trust me here readers…if this sounds at all good to you, please try it, it’s one of the best things I’ve ever tasted. Melt in your mouth shortbread is fabulous enough on its own, but when you combine it with toasted pecans, brown sugar, Have a warm square for breakfast with your coffee, take a piece or two to work, make a batch as an offering to a neighbor, or bring a pan to the book group, you won’t regret it!
gather your ingredients
- butter ~ an all important ingredient in shortbread and butter pecan. I use unsalted butter so I can control the amount of salt going into the bars. If all you have is salted butter, just leave out the extra salt in the recipe.
- pecans ~ I use halves and toast them first. Why halves? Because they’re higher quality and fresher than bits and pieces. I toast them before chopping because that brings out phenomenal flavor.
- brown sugar ~ essential for the butterscotch-y flavor
- molasses ~ my secret ingredient!
- flour ~ all purpose
- cornstarch ~ cornstarch is a classic ingredient in shortbread that lightens and tenderizes the bars.
- almond extract ~ I have not found a pecan or a butter pecan flavoring that works for me, so I use almond extract. The flavor is perfect in these bars.
- butter extract ~ this was an experiment and I think it made a difference in the flavor so I do recommend it. The one I used is from McCormick.
- salt ~ super important to bring all these rich flavors together.
There aren’t all that many times when I’d reach for a butter extract, but it really works well in this recipe to impart an extra buttery flavor that characterizes butter pecan.
Yes, use a good quality vegan butter in place of dairy butter.
Use a good quality gf baking mix like King Arthur Flour’s, or Bob’s Red Mill brand.
Yes, lots of different nuts will work, use what you like (hazelnuts would be delicious.) Don’t forget to toast them first!
It freezes especially well due to the low moisture content. Just allow it to cool completely before wrapping in plastic, and then again in foil. Label and plan to use within 6 months.
Yes, use your favorite sugar substitute. It works best if you have a granulated variety made for baking.
Yes, white granulated sugar will work, but you’ll lose some of that lovely flavor. Did you know you can make your own brown sugar super quick and easy? Check it out here.
Yes, you can roll the dough out and make cut out cookies, or form the dough into a log, chill it, and slice and bake. Depending on size, they’ll bake for 13-18 minutes.
tips for making butter pecan shortbread
- Be SURE to toast the nuts before adding them to your dough. It makes a big difference.
- The extracts are important in this recipe because while toasted pecans have great flavor, the nuts alone are not enough to give you that great butter pecan vibe.
- I used a combination of almond extract and butter extract, but you can experiment with butter pecan flavor extract You can find it here. Note: I have found that butter pecan extract has an artificial flavor so I don’t use it.
- If you like your shortbread on the soft side, take it out right at the suggested time, and if you love it a little more crunchy, cook a bit longer.
- If you’d like to remove the shortbread for neater cutting like I did, line your pan with parchment, leaving the ends long on two sides so you can lift it out of the pan after it has cooled. Note: Don’t try to lift it out while it is still warm, the shortbread may crack.
“These are perfect — buttery and nutty, just right! Sooo good with a cup of coffee and I’m sure just as good with hot chocolate.”Patti
The list of shortbread recipes on my blog is always growing!
- If you love citrus, try my Lemon Sugar Shortbread, it’s made with a special lemon infused sugar.
- Peanut butter fans need to try my Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Shortbread Cookies.
- For another nutty recipe, check out my Pistachio Shortbread Cookies or my Chocolate Walnut Shortbread Cookies.
Butter Pecan Shortbread
- 1/2 pound unsalted butter, melted
- 1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar.
- 1 Tbsp molasses
- 1 tsp almond extract
- 1 tsp butter extract, optional
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- 5 Tbsp cornstarch
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 1/4 cup toasted pecans, rough chopped
- Set the oven to 350F
- Lightly spray a 9×9 square baking dish. I like to line mine with parchment paper so I can easily lift the shortbread out for slicing, but this is optional.
- Whisk the melted butter with the sugar and molasses in a large mixing bowl. Make sure to work out any lumps in the sugar.
- Blend in the extracts, and then stir in the flour, cornstarch, and salt. Stir just until the dough starts to come together.
- Fold in the nuts so they are evenly distributed and there is no dry flour left.
- Crumble the dough evenly across the bottom of the prepared pan.
- Pat the dough down with your hands, nudging it out so it fills the pan and is all even. You don't want a mound of dough in the middle, you want to flatten it out from side to side, evenly. I like to use an offset spatula to smooth the surface of the dough. If you like you can sink a few extra pecan halves into the top of the dough for a pretty look.
- Bake for about 25 minutes. The top will still look pale, but the dough will be just beginning to turn golden around the edges.
- Cool on a rack for about 15 minutes before cutting into squares.
notes and variations
- To toast pecan halves, lay them out in a single layer on a baking sheet and toast for about 10-15 minutes at 350F. Give the pan a shake once or twice during cooking. Let the nuts cool before chopping.
- Recipe was revised and updated in 2021.