If you’ve ever made my chocolate chip cookie dough fudge you know the warm, toffee-like flavor that browned butter infuses. I love adding it to desserts, especially these rich, nutty, melt-in-your-mouth delicious gluten-free butter pecan cookies. They taste a little like pecan shortbread – only chewy instead of a little crumbly – and you only need seven ingredients to make them.
As a bonus, if you let yourself slow down and take the whole baking process in with your senses – the aroma of vanilla as it mixes into the dough, the texture of the flour, and the crackling of the parchment paper as you place each cookie to bake – it basically counts as a mindfulness practice.
A mindfulness practice that results in delicious cookies, that is. (And seriously, it counts.)
If you’re avoiding butter right now and wondering if there’s a good substitute, the answer is yes and . . . kind of. I’m mostly dairy-free right now with the exception of ghee, and I’ve found that browned butter ghee works beautifully.
If that’s not an option, you can use a neutral-flavored coconut oil instead. Although you won’t get the browned butter flavor they’ll still be delicious . . . in fact, I’ve been making these for 8+ years now and have been using browned butter for less than half of that time.
Gluten-Free Browned Butter Pecan Cookies
- stainless steel skillet
- cookie sheet
- measuring spoons
- 1 cup pecans (roughly chopped)
- 12 pecan halves (for topping)
- 1 cup blanched almond flour
- ¼ tsp baking soda
- pinch sea salt
- 4 tbsp unsalted butter
- 3 tbsp maple syrup
- ¼ tsp vanilla extract (how to make your own vanilla extract)
To Brown The Butter:
- Cut the butter into four equal chunks and place in a stainless steel shallow pan. Don't use a dark cast iron skillet because you won't be able to see when the butter has turned golden brown.
- Heat the pan over medium high heat and stir the butter until it is light brown and smells a little like hazelnuts. It's important to watch it closely or it will burn, but browning the butter is what makes the dough so delicious. See this tutorial if you're not quite sure what to look for. Allow the butter to cool a little before moving on to the next step. It can be warm but not hot, and you can put it in the fridge if you're in a hurry.
To Make Browned Butter Pecan Cookies:
- Preheat your oven to 350F and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
- Place all dry ingredients (except 12 whole pecans) in food processor and pulse a few times to mix.
- Add the wet ingredients to the food processor and pulse until it forms a soft dough. I like some pecan chunks in my cookies so I don't mix it too much, but it should be easy to form into a ball when it's ready.
- Scoop out the cookie dough in 1 tablespoon increments, roll each one into a ball, and place it on the cookie sheet.
- Press the whole pecans into top of the cookies.
- Place the baking sheet in the oven and bake at 350F for 12 minutes.
- Allow the cookies to rest for 5 minutes, then transfer them to a wire cooling rack or other surface to continue cooling. Store in an airtight container.
Frequently Asked Questions
Below are some answers to the most common questions I receive about gluten-free baking.
Can I make this cookie recipe with gluten-free all purpose flour?
All purpose flour absorbs liquid differently than almond flour and unfortunately cannot be used as a substitute in this recipe. The cookies, would be really, really dry.
I’m allergic to almonds. Is there any other flour I can use?
Sunflower seed flour (aka Sunflour) can usually be substituted for almond flour in recipes, but I have not tested it in this specific recipe. Something to keep in mind is that it can sometimes turn baked goods green due to a chemical reaction between a component of sunflower seeds and baking soda or baking powder.
More Similar Recipes
Paleo Butter Pecan Ice Cream – This dairy-free take on one of my childhood favorites looks delicious.
Chocolate Maple Pecan Pie Bars – Love this chocolatey, mapley twist on traditional pecan pie from cafe owner Megan of Eat Beautiful!
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i now think i could feed my kids cookies & milk for lunch! love it! thx!
I can’t write the recipe yet because I haven’t tried it yet. But I definitely plan to! It looks amazing. but I did want to let you know that the nutritional information did not work on this page. It shows zero carbs. I’m sure it’s low carb, but it’s not zero.
Julie – A friend paid me the highest compliment the other day. She’s been loving these recipes so much she said she may accidentally end up on GAPS just because she makes them so often, lol! I know I’ve been going a bit overboard on the recipe sharing lately, but GAPS has had the opposite effect from what I was imagining . . . far from boring and limited, every new day brings a culinary discovery!
Dude!!! This recipe looks amazing! Adding to my meal plan for next week 😉
we aren’t GAPS but we will go days without grains or sugar and we do look for nutrient dense foods and i try to make meals new and interesting and yes, even ‘abnormal’ — so this definitely fits what we are looking for — as do a lot of your GAPS recipes! (love the pancakes!!!)
What’s the measurement on the salt? It just says 1/2.
Just made these. They are so delish! Thanks for the recipe; definitely adding it to my recipe notebook!
So happy you liked them, Yvonne! ❤️
@Sharmista – Oops! Thanks for catching that. It’s teaspoon! Correcting now . . .
Do you think these would work with almond instead of walnut? Walnut allergy here, but these look so good!!!!!
@Ana – Yes, I think they would, but walnuts have more oil so the almond versions might be a little more dry. You could try pecan/almond/macadamia nut blend to get them a little more moist!
I have a recipe for Pecan Sandies too and I just love them. So easy to make and wonderful maple syrupy goodness!
I awesome! Thanks Heather!
what are crispy pecans? and could i do it with pecans only? it seems to be the only nut i am not allergic to raw. all others if i eat in their raw state i get itchy and my health car professional has suggested i stay away from all nuts i am allergic to in their raw state.
Hi Heather! Crispy pecans are prepared using an old traditional method described here: http://kellythekitchenkop.com/2008/02/recipe-for-crispy-nuts-healthy-snack.html
I think you could probably use just pecans!
There aren’t any crispy pecans in this recipe….not that I can see, just plain pecans.
No walnuts, either as someone above and below mentioned…
I also read people talking about ghee, but again, there is no ghee in this recipe!
If recipes have changed since the original post was made, that should be mentioned in the ‘new’ post! otherwise people like me will tend to get very confused reading about ingredients that are no longer in the recipe.
Thank you, I hope now the carbs are correct as I may be able to make and eat these.
VERY nice looking recipe!
wow…these look dangerous!!! I would have to eat the whole batch!!! LOL
Lol. I was thinking the same thing!
@Primal Toad – Yeah, these might make using nuts only as condiments a real challenge 🙂
WOW, YUMMMMMMY! I made these last night, and they are quite possibly the yummiest (and definitely the easiest) cookies I’ve ever had! Gotta love it when you can give them to your family for breakfast too without any remorse. 🙂 I’m on the “accidental GAPS” track too! If I get organized I may do it for real. 😉
This is one of the best comments I’ve ever received! Thank you Kirsten — I’m so glad you liked them!
Just to add my endorsement – I had (too many of) these the other evening. Totally awesome dessert. I would never have guessed they used so few ingredients.
These were just amazing! The small group at church loved them! I didn’t have quite enough of the pecans or walnuts, so I added some almonds and they still turned out delicious. Thank you for this yummy recipe
Ahhh, I’m so glad Kim!
If they don’t freeze well, you can overnight some to me in NC! ;D
Seriously, though, have a great party! 😀
Wished we lived closer to come – GA is a just a little far 🙂 Have a fun party!
I’m pregnant, I’ll try to save some for other people haha!
Perfect timing – planning a GAPS afternoon tea soon and they’ll be perfect!
Sunny Britting Espanet
They were all three soooooo yummy! Thanks for the inspiration to make them. My kids loved them all!
Heather, I just made these and they taste great! Mine aren’t standing up quite the way yours are…what do you think I’ve done wrong?
Yay, so glad you like them! My guess is that the nuts I used were more densely packed so the ratio to butter was higher (butter causes them to spread out). Mine sometimes do that 🙂
Oh my goodness, everything you brought was amazing!! Thank you! My daughter and I had to be rolled out to the car we were so full! ( That plus the Jasmine kombucha!!)
Instead of butter would coconut oil work for us dairy free folks?
Amanda @ Mommypotamus Support
Tami, Yes it would!
Another batch coming out now. They are wet, falling apart, not good at all.
Was I supposed to melt the butter on the stove? Is it because I doubled the recipe?
I am really determined to make these correctly. Before I try these again, can someone please let me know what they think… was I supposed to melt the butter on the stove? Was I supposed to roll them by hand, instead of just spoon them? Can I use a mixer, instead of a food processor?
Josephine, can you walk me through exactly what ingredients you are using? Like what kind of almond flour and what country you’re in? I am really puzzled by your results. Perhaps it has to do with a difference in ingredients, or how a tablespoon means different things in different countries.
Josephine, can you walk me through exactly what ingredients/measurements you are using? Like what kind of almond flour and what country you’re in? I am really puzzled by your results. Perhaps it has to do with a difference in ingredients, or how a tablespoon means different things in different countries.
I really wanted to like these. I made them to mail to my mother-in-law who has celiac (a little early Christmas treat). I almost didn’t send them. They are really lacking in sweetness….I read and re-read the recipe multi times to see if I missed something or didn’t put in enough syrup…neither of which I did. To try to save them, I dusted them with powered sugar. It helped a tad. I don’t think I’ll make these again.
I do melt the butter on the stove before adding it in.
Josephine, I am so sorry you’re having trouble! When you say they fell apart, was that while they were still warm? They get more firm as they cool. Can you tell me how they look different?
They were wet, like I used too much butter, or syrup. I checked, & I used the correct amount. They were not formed like a round cookie. I thought maybe my food processor was not strong enough, or I need to roll them more. They were even a different color, (darker). I am going to try again because they look simple. I have digestive issues, & I am trying so hard to adopt a different lifestyle. I really enjoy your posts, & reading about you, & your beautiful family! I appreciate the quick response. 🙂
My guess is that you didn’t roll them into balls and then press a bit flat when placing the pecan on top. My batch of 15 cookies were perfect except for 2 of them that spread on one side and got thin and brown where I had added some additional dough just before baking.
Hi Heather, It’s been a couple of years since anyone commented or maybe you took down more recent comments. Anyway, this recipe was just what I was looking for to make for holiday cookie gift plates. After the first batch I played around with the ingredients because I’ve been cooking Paleo for four years and pretty much know what I can sub for ingredients and what won’t work.
Second time around with your recipe as a base I doubled it, then added 2 tbsp organic cane sugar, cut the almond flour by 1/4 cup and replaced with flax seed meal, added 2 tbsp of melted coconut oil and 1 tbsp coconut flour. Because I needed a tad more liquid, I put in a tablespoon of Tazo Chai. These actions add up to a pretty creative time in the kitchen and I’m happy to say the result is magnificent! Thank you for the inspiration!
So glad it inspired you! <3
Hi there. I’m really looking forward to making these for my family, but maple syrup is not GAPS legal. Do you think these would work with honey? Thanks.
Best healthy cookie recipe ever. Tried it for the first time for the holidays this year, have made it 2 more times since, so delicious!!!
I love these! I’m looking to make them for some people on a very anti-inflammatory diet and I’m not sure they can do butter. Do you think they would work with coconut oil instead? Thanks!
It will change the flavor but yes 🙂
Would it be possible to put a chocolate star on top of this cookie instead of the nut? Would you put it on before baking same as the nut, or wait until after it is baked?
These were amazing! Easy to make and have a smooth, rich flavor. Today was a test run. We will be making them again this weekend for family.
I see only 3T of sweetener (maple sugar). These look like something I can eat! I absolutely cannot do sugar and pay for it every time a little is mistakenly consumed. Thank you for this recipe. I am anxious to try it.
Have you tried to buy sunflower seed? Boob’s Red Mill is not carrying them right now. It may be weather related?
These were terrific. If I had realized I could make and eat them in under 30 minutes I wouldn’t have waited a week to try the recipe. I was fortunate to save time as I always have homemade ghee on hand. Delicious! Thank you!
Heather, I am 73 years old and 90 % of my meals have been cooked from scratch since I left home at 19 and was married. I am a good cook. I’m only gluten-free the past couple of years. Most recipes I find have been very unsatisfactory. These are one of the best gluten-free cookies I have ever tasted! One of my other favorites is a dehydrated oatmeal chocolate chip cookie I make in my dehydrator. It uses oat flour and oats, along with almond butter, a little honey and vanilla. They are a cross between cookie dough and a hot cookie right out of the oven! Thank you for sharing this incredible recipe. I was wanting some pecan Sandies like I used to make years ago. However they had wheat flour, powdered sugar , butter, and vanilla. I like these much better! Thank you so much!