These butter-pecan cookies are DA BOMB: No brag, just fact

Ohhhh….. my!

What can I say? These just might be the best cookies I’ve ever baked.

Well – maybe they’re co-champions. I’d name Fudge Drops the winner in the chocolate division, with these newcomers taking top honors in “not chocolate.”

As fellow blogger Susan Reid would say, Salty-Sweet Butter Pecan Cookies are DA BOMB.

How do I dare make these claims? I’m usually a self-effacing sort; I don’t like to beat my own drum. But in this case, others are beating it for me. Every time I make them – and that’s been often in the past few weeks – they disappear almost before they’re cool.

I mean, I pull the half-sheet pans of baked cookies out of the oven, and slot them into the rolling rack in the center of the test kitchen. Twenty minutes later, I come back and find half-cookies, third-cookies, whole rows gone… What, you guys think I wouldn’t notice? (Sheepish grins all around.)

You know when your dog eats the pepperoni off the counter, and he gives you that  “I know, I know, I couldn’t help myself” look?

Same thing, human version.

Here at King Arthur, we’ve been exploring the theory of “bragging rights” lately. Marketing studies show that home bakers derive a lot of their pleasure from “bragging rights” — believing that their (brownie, cookie, loaf of bread) is awesome and admirable and, well, DA BOMB.

There are some here who hesitate to embrace that concept. Isn’t bragging kind of, well… obnoxious?

Nope, not in my opinion. After all, it’s not like we go around saying “Hey, gotta love these brownies, they’re the best ever. NO ONE makes brownies better than MINE.”

But we do enjoy seeing our chocolate cake be the first dessert to disappear at the potluck. We love watching our friends at work go back for seconds and thirds on those cranberry-nut muffins. And it’s wonderfully satisfying when you’ve brought molasses cookies to the senior center, and a 90-year-old closes her eyes, sighs, and says, “These remind me of the ones my mother used to make.”

Call it inner bragging rights. You KNOW you’ve made someone happy. And that feels good.

Want to make someone in your world happy? Bake Salty-Sweet Butter Pecan Cookies.


Little things mean a lot. These extra-strong flavors push your cookies over the edge from good to great. I happen to love the vanilla-butternut flavor.


Here’s another ingredient that changes these cookies from four-star to five-star: Guittard butterscotch chips. Their reputation around the King Arthur test kitchen is simply “best butterscotch chips ever.” If you can’t find them in the grocery store, we sell them here.


One more secret ingredient (though not so secret, since I keep beating the drum for it): espresso powder. In these cookies, it doesn’t lend flavor so much as color – just a touch of gold, to avoid that “bleached blonde,” wan look cookies sometimes take on.

The first thing you want to do is toast 1 1/3 cups pecan halves. Bake them in a preheated 375°F oven for 8 to 10 minutes, till they’re starting to brown. Pour them out of the hot pan onto your counter (or into a shallow pan) to cool while you make the cookie dough.


OK, everyone into the pool – er, bowl! Here we go:

2/3 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
2/3 cup granulated sugar
½ cup butter, unsalted preferred
½ cup vegetable shortening
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon espresso powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon vinegar, cider or white
¾ teaspoon extra-strong butterscotch, butter rum, or vanilla butternut flavor

Note: for weight measurements, follow the recipe, toggling to “weight” at the top of the ingredients list.


Beat till smooth.


Add 1 large egg…


…and beat till smooth again.


Add 2 cups (8 1/2 ounces) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour.


Beat in, then add the toasted pecans…


…and 1 1/3 cups butterscotch chips.


Stir to combine. Be gentle and brief; you don’t want to break up the pecan halves.

At this point, I like to chill the dough for 4 to 5 hours, to control the spread. If you like puddle-like cookies, bake immediately. More on that later.


Cover the dough…


…and in the fridge it goes.

Towards the end of the chill, preheat your oven to 375°F.


Scoop the dough into balls, using a cookie scoop, if you have one. A tablespoon scoop will scoop 1 1/2” balls of dough, which will yield 3” to 3 1/4” cookies, if the dough has been chilled. A teaspoon scoop makes 1 1/4” dough balls, which make 2 1/4” cookies.


Drop the balls into a coating mix of 1/2 cup granulated sugar mixed with 1 3/4 to 2 teaspoons table (not kosher or sea) salt. Use the full 2 teaspoons if you’re lovin’ the salty-sweet thing. Use less salt for any audience you think might not be into it.


Shake the balls in the sugar/salt to coat, then space on a parchment-lined or lightly greased cookie sheet.


If you’re feeling particularly fussy, roll the dough balls between your palms to make them nice and round. This will result in round (rather than “rustic”) cookies.

Bake unrefrigerated cookie dough for 11 to 12 minutes – 11 minutes for the smaller cookies. If you’ve chilled the dough, bake for an additional 30 seconds to 1 minute.


So, back to the chilling the dough vs. not. You can see that you’ll get all kinds of results, depending on whether (and how long) you chill.


Left to right, dough baked with no refrigeration; after 3 1/2 hours in the fridge; and overnight in the fridge. My advice, unless you like really flat, puddle-like cookies (and some of you do, I know), is to refrigerate the dough for at least 4 to 5 hours. For slightly chunkier cookies, ones where the dough, chips, and nuts are more closely amalgamated, refrigerate overnight.


Here are cookies made with dough refrigerated for about 20 hours. Notice how heaped up they are, compared to the non-chilled version. Oh, by the way, the cookie on the right was rolled in coarse sparkling sugar and coarse sea salt. Consensus in the kitchen is that this is just too much of a good thing – the salt is too assertive. So stick to granulated sugar and table salt.


Anyway – chilled dough or not; no brag, just fact – they’re ALL DA BOMB.

Read, rate, and review (please!) our recipe for Salty-Sweet Butter Pecan Cookies.

Buy vs. Bake

Buy: Pepperidge Farm Chesapeake Chocolate Chunk Pecan cookies, 47¢/ounce

Bake at home: Salty-Sweet Butter Pecan cookies, with Guittard butterscotch chips and vanilla-butternut flavor, 25¢/ounce

PJ Hamel

PJ Hamel grew up in New England, graduated from Brown University, and was a Maine journalist before joining King Arthur Flour in 1990. PJ bakes and writes from her home on Cape Cod, where she enjoys beach-walking, her husband, two dogs, and really good food!


  1. Mike T.

    Looks great! I just added the vanilla-butternut to my shopping cart for my next purchase, and sent this blog entry to my sisters and sister-in-law as a cookie to think about adding into our yearly holiday bake… 😀

    Can’t wait to try them out. Thanks PJ!

    Enjoy, Mike – I see you as an “extra salt” (adventurous tastes) kind of guy… PJH

  2. BAKING is my ZeN

    I CAN”T WAIT to try these. I really like the tips on ‘refrigerated vs non-refrigerated dough. LOVE it. I personally, prefer a heaped up cookie, not a flat cookie. Will be trying this soon!
    This deserves a hug to you! Thanks! Carmen

    Thanks, Carmen – hugs back at you- PJH

  3. BigSis

    These look awesome! I happen to have some butternut flavoring, so I’m making these this week! Thanks for a great idea! I’m always looking for a good caffeine-free cookie for an after-dinner treat that won’t keep me awake all night.

    And don’t worry, the 1/2 teaspoon espresso powder won’t keep you awake… PJH

  4. ellen

    I can’t wait until it cools off enough for me to bake cookies again. I love the salty-sweet cookies (potato chip cookies are now on my list of easy to make popular cookies) However, looking at the recipe you link to it seems the sugar salt mixture step is missing.

    Thanks, Ellen, all fixed. PJH

  5. Jody

    I’m thinking the espresso powder might add a little a caffeine, so BigSis might be in trouble, especially if they taste as good as they look! Can’t wait to give them a try. I ALWAYS have vanilla-butternut flavoring in the pantry it’s my secret to fabulous Pralines…and I’m sure will be a great addition to this recipe too. Thanks!

    Don’t worry about the espresso powder, Jody – with 1/2 teaspoon spread among 84 cookies, it won’t keep anyone up at night – PJH

  6. Jeri Hurd

    Wow, you guys are just KILLING my diet this summer! Will have to try these. Question: Why shortening v. a full cup of butter?

    Shortening prevents spread, and adds crispy/crunchiness. Substitute 1/3 cup butter for the 1/2 cup shortening if you like – the cookies will be different texture, but still yummy. PJH

  7. Marcia

    I was thrilled to see a FULL PAGE ad for King Arthur in the new issue of Eating Well magazine. I am an original charter subscriber; having ads is not always a bad thing in the magazine.

  8. Carolyn

    Boy!! You sure know how to push my buttons. Just put in an order to the Baker’s Catalog. Now I’ll have to order pecans, again (from the grower in Georgia that I like. I may just have to send this recipe to them too.) I would expect that the refrigeration technique would work similarly for other similar cookies (Choc chip, etc.)? Liked the tip on espresso powder for color. Don’t like gray cookies!!!

    You’re right, Carolyn, the refrigeration tip works well for many drop cookies, as far as spread – AND intensifying the flavor. PJH

  9. Eric

    Am I to assume that you use the Super Popular Shortening In The Blue Package? *glares a death glare due to their lawyerly use of the language in claiming zero trans per serving while having something like .49 grams*

    These look fantastic; I’m tempted to try them with coconut oil for the shortening, or clarified butter.

    Eric, how about Spectrum shortening? Have you tried that? PJH

  10. A Bread Baker

    Looks like someone missed the “roll in the topping” instruction before scoop onto prepared baking sheet. Maybe I’m the only one in the world who heads straight for the ingredients and directions and doesn’t read the blurb at the top. If the recipe sounds good and the picture looks good, I want to know if I have the stuff to make it.

    “Someone” would be me. Sorry ’bout that, all fixed. Thanks for the heads-up – PJH

  11. Sue

    When you say, “These just might be the best cookies I’ve ever baked.”, you have my complete and total attention. No doubt you’ve made 100’s of dozens of cookies. (100’s of dozens sounds funny doesn’t it!?) Anyway! These call for a number of things I don’t have on hand but I will definitely try them eventually. I’ve always been meant to make chocolate chip cookies with just pecans, thinking butter pecan in the back of mind, but no doubt butterscotch pecan would be even better.

    I know there’s a lot of unusual ingredients, but they’re worth having in your pantry for all-purpose goodiness… PJH

  12. Mrs. Hittle

    BigSis, the espresso powder in here will have caffeine in it. You could just leave that out if you’re concerned, but i doubt that the amount in one or two cookies would be enough to keep you up.

  13. Anne

    I am a fan of the sweet/salty combo and these cookies look particularly yummy! Can I safely use all butter and eliminate the shortening? Thanks so much for these blog entries and all that you and everyone else does at KA! YOU are the BEST!!

    Anne, the cookies will be different with all butter – softer, and they’ll spread more. If you use all butter, cut back to 1/3 cup as a replacement for the 1/2 cup shortening, that should help. Give it a try – PJH

  14. Deb in MN

    I’m putting the flavoring on my list, but I really would like to make these for a camping trip this coming weekend-is there anything I can substitute for the vanilla butternut in the meantime? (I know it won’t be as good, but I have to try the sweet salty combo ASAP!)
    Thank you!!!

    Sure, Deb – add extra vanilla (a teaspoonful or two), or a tablespoon of rum, perhaps? I do recommend the vanilla butternut flavor for a future purchase, though – it’s YUM. PJH

  15. Mike T.

    PJH wrote:
    Enjoy, Mike – I see you as an “extra salt” (adventurous tastes) kind of guy… PJH

    Ahhhh, I always love adding a twist, and the salt should do just nicely! 🙂

  16. Brenda

    PJ, PJ; you’re on a roll! GOTTA try these, too (as she adds 2 more items to her current KAF order-list-in-progress). And I had been doing so well resisting ’til the bialys (and still gotta try those gruyere-stuffed crusty loaves)… Suspect it’s gonna be another all-out baking weekend soon like in February when I HAD to do lemon bliss cake, surprise in the middle cookies, sourdough carrot cake (with minced ginger in the frosting, of course), Vermont cheese crackers, and lemon pancakes with honey butter (which were ALL MINE and actually made it to the freezer!). Everyone I shared with loved it all, although my daughter’s great dane ate ALL their cheese crackers and most of the lemon cake, so he obviously approved, too.

    That dog must have a VERY refined palate… 🙂 PJH

  17. cjsmama

    PJ, what does the vinegar do? Also, I am so happy to find some good butterscotch chips and will be ordering some along with the butternut flavoring. I think I may sprinkle these with some finely ground kosher salt mixed with some demerara sugar — my new favorite cookie topping.

    Vinegar cuts the sweetness just a bit; and reacts with the baking soda to make cookies that are crunchy, not hard. Since you’ve tried it, I guess you know to be judicious with the coarse salt – a little goes a long way… PJH

  18. Jana

    Wow sounds great and need a dessert for the swim team picnic. Since I need to bake this week and don’t have the special flavoring what can I sub? I will definatly put the vanilla butternut flavor on my next cart.

    Add another teaspoon of vanilla, Jana. Or a tablespoon of rum, if the kids don’t mind! PJH

  19. SoupAddict Karen

    Okay, you had me at “Salty-Sweet.” Now, which do I make first – the bialys, or these…? Choices, choices…. I can totally attest to the goodness of the Vanilla Butternut flavoring. Also, not to sound like a shill for KAF, but, for bragging-rights-quality goodies, ya’ll might want to check out the following flavoring ingredients that I personally LOVE to use in my baking: Fiori Di Sicilia (oh-em-gee … my favorite), Buttery Sweet Dough Flavor, Princess Cake Flavor, Vanilla Bean Paste, and Almond Emulsion (not extract). Once you try these – once you get that first wide-eyed, O-M-G look from your baked goods recipients – you’ll never look back. I [heart] KAF. 🙂

    Thank you, thank you, thank you! We [heart] our customers! Elisabeth @ KAF

  20. Dawn

    Wonder how these would taste with toffee bits in them in addition to the butterscotch chips, or maybe even in place of them???? I bake for the guys at work all of the time, and I think they are getting the salty-sweet thing tomorrow! 🙂

    Toffee bits would be absolutely fine, Dawn – sounds like a great variation. Hope those guys appreciate you!! PJH

  21. Joan Grotelueschen

    I’ve just read my first KAF blog … it’s fantastic (and fun). Last week I filled out a KAF survey, and I marked that I didn’t know you had a blog – how dumb. I always see that blog line on your front page, and know you have a blog – but I had never looked at it until today. Sorry. I clicked the wrong circle … no big deal, I know.
    You have a marvelous company – one of the best. Thanks for all the inspiration to bake – and create – and bring joy to others in this way!

    PS I have Butter Rum & Buttery Sweet Dough & Eggnog & Natural Raspberry flavorings that are a year or MORE old … how long are they okay to use??? With all the alcohol, they may be well-preserved??? Thanks. (Also, I bake in Colorado Springs at an altitude of 7000 ft … which affects some baking – not cookies. It would be very helpful to have that concern addressed by your experts sometime.)

    Joan, so glad you discovered our blog via the survey! Welcome. The flavors/extracts are fine; they don’t go bad. And as for altitude – take a look at our Guide to High-Altitude Baking. Come visit again! PJH

  22. Kimberly D

    Sorry to keep asking, is there anything else I can use besides espresso powder? I cannot have any coffee of any kind, even decaf.

    Just leave it out, Kimberly – it won’t affect the integrity of the cookie, just its look and perhaps a tiny bit of its taste. PJH

  23. Sarah

    Oh, refrigerated vs. non-refrigerated. That explains my great aunt’s chocolate chip cookies!!! I noticed they didn’t spread as much if I let the dough sit…

    Thanks for the tip, and this recipe sounds divine! Bragging rights are all yours.

    Braggin’ rights are all OURS. That’s what I love about baking – as we share recipes, tips, information, we all build on one another’s success. Thanks for connecting, Sarah – PJH

  24. Jo

    I have a bottle of the vanilla butternut flavor, but I have no idea what to use it in. Besides these wonderful cookies, any suggestions? Are there any other recipes on this site that call for the vanilla butternut flavor? Thanks for your help.

    Jo, use it anytime you want a butterscotchy-nutty flavor. Cookies, of course. But how about cake icing? Scones? The cake itself? Blondies, biscuits for fruit shortcake… Let your imagination run wild… PJH
    Just had to jump in here and put in my 2 cents for using the vanilla butternut flavor in French toast. 5 to 6 drops in the egg batter and you will have your audience seduced, mystified, and clamoring for more! Susan Reid

  25. Darryl

    I can’t seem to find the vanilla butternut flavoring that you mention. Can I purchase this flavoring from your catalog or would I be able to find it at any specialty food market? I don’t recall ever seeing these flavorings in the regular super markets? You also mention using expresso powder, I have been using instant espresso coffee in my brownies and other cookie receipes and they come out delicious. Is this the same as espresso powder?

    Darryl, you should be able to purchase a variety of strong flavors at any specialty store that sells candy-making supplies. Of course, you can buy the vanilla butternut here, too. PJH

  26. Lee

    These cookies sound delish – we are on a hunt for butterscotch chips without artificial flavors or colors. Have any idea if such a chip exists? I was hopeful with the Guittard ones you mentioned but no such luck. We have a brownie recipe here that we love that calls for them but we are changing our eating to eliminate artificial flavors, colors and sweeteners. So we haven’t been able to make them lately.

    Lee, I’ve googled around a bit, and it seems no one can find all-natural butterscotch chips. Maybe make a hard variation on butterscotch fudge that can be chipped up? I wonder what would happen if you stirred heavy cream into the toffee part of Buttercrunch? PJH

  27. Teresa

    Question – what is the purpose of using two kinds of sugar in the cookies? Why not use all brown sugar, get a darker color and skip the white sugar? Just curious.

    Teresa, brown sugar is moister and makes the cookies softer; it’s also acidic, and reacts with the baking soda to make the cookies a bit lighter and crunchier. I just like the balance between white and brown, but go ahead and try subbing all brown, if you like. Experiments are always welcome! PJH

  28. Aulani

    You folks did it again! Was just about to bake today when the email arrived! Since I didn’t have pecans (family doesn’t care for them) and since I live in Hawaii where Macadamia Nuts are KING…. I substituted! OMG….they are wonderful with mac nuts!! I am a property manager and I use cookies as a “drop by unannounced to drop off cookies and see how you are keeping the place” excuse. Works every time!! Thanks so much for another great recipe!!

    WOW, Aulani, you’re so lucky to have good access to macadamias! Bet you can mimic Pepperidge Farms’ white chocolate/macadamia cookies with this recipe… Thanks for starting my day (4:40 a.m. here) with a smile! PJH

  29. Pat

    These cookies sound like they would be a candidate for freezing on a tray then put in a bag for baking as needed. Is this correct? How long will cookies stay in the freezer without losing integrity? I am getting my new freezer this week and planning my Christmas baking.

    Thanks for a wonderful blog,

    Pat, the rule of thumb is freezing longer than 2 months can compromise flavor and texture of just about anything. So I wouldn’t make the dough for these till about the beginning of November, OK? Enjoy your new freezer! PJH

  30. Anita in MD

    Being a southern girl, love those pecans!! And, I love sweet- salty.
    Speaking of this blog…it is the first thing I hit every morning when I get up!! That is bad (or good 🙂 ). My son in law was using my computer the other day and sait, “What is with this KAF homepage? Wouldn’t you rather have something like Google or a news page?” My answer,”NO”. This is my favorite website!

    You GO, Anita! Thanks for making us your home page!! PJH

  31. Jeri Hurd

    OK, so I ordered the chips, flavoring and about 100 other things yesterday. Can’t wait to try these. I bake for our faculty every week, so I’m always looking for something new to try that will wow them. As you said, love those kudos–though I’m not above saying I make the best chocolate chip cookies ever. (grin) It’s the recipe, though!

    Here’s a suggestion with the flavoring oils. I have a couple of the Boyjian bottles, as well as the fiori di sicilia (or however it’s spelled). A bit pricy, so it’s disconcerting that every time I try to pour the stuff, half of it leaks down the side of the bottle. I was thinking about this, and wondered if there are little pouring spouts available that would just fit in the bottle–kind of like the ones for olive oil bottles. Or one tsp eye-droppers with measures for 1/4 and 1/2 tsp?

    Just an idea.

    We used to carry the screw-top eyedroppers, Jeri – I’ll forward this to our merchandise team, see what they say. Ones marked with 1/4 teaspoon would be ideal, as you say. PJH

  32. Jeri Hurd

    Sudden thought as I was re-reading the recipe. If the espresso powder is for color more than flavor, how would the caramel color work? And would it enhance the buttery-pecany aspect a bit more than the espresso powder?

    Caramel color would work, sure – but caramel color has no caramel flavor, it’s just purely bitter, so use it sparingly… PJH

  33. MaryJane

    I loved, loved, loved these cookies. I wear my saintly halo when I say that I ALWAYS waited until PJ put them in the employee kitchen, but were I wearing my devil horns, I would have eaten the whole panful the minute they came out of the oven.

    For those who don’t care for coffee or espresso powder, I honestly never knew until today that there was any in the recipe, and I usually notice it right away, so it is not really noticeable in this recipe.

    Bravo PJ!

    Thanks, MJ – you’re setting lots of minds at ease re: espresso powder. With 1/2 teaspoon for 84 cookies, you really don’t notice the flavor, and it won’t keep you awake. It’s pretty much just to enhance the color. And I KNOW you weren’t the main culprit with the disappearing test-kitchen cookies… 😉 PJ

  34. cindy leigh

    Awesome! I have to make cookies for a funeral this weekend, and I have all these ingredients.
    I love the vanilla butter nut (as well as all your other flavorings). In addition to the usual things, I add a few drops to my Keurig-made morning coffee. No more $4 cups of coffee for me, I make mine as I head out the door. I also like Pecan & Pralines, and Pecan, for coffee, too.
    And oh, oh, OH, that lemon emulsion that I just bought- terrific! In addition to baking, I used some in lemondade. I only had one lemon but wanted a good sized pitcher of lemonade. I made a simple syrup, juiced the lemon, and added the lemon emulsion until I got the flavor intensity I needed for the volume. It was great! All the lemon flavor without adding extra acid. Ended up not needing as much sugar. Worked great for the pinch I was in.
    I dont have butterscotch flavoring and wonder if the Pecan & Pralines or Pecan would be overkill in this recipe? Maybe I’ll just stick to the vanilla butter nut.
    Ditto on the eyedroppers for the flavorings. Id buy a bunch. I might try saving a bottle when it’s empty and taking it to the crafts store to see if I can find eyedroppers that fit. They’ve usually got some.
    Now I have to look up that cranberry white choc orange oil recipe someone mentioned. I’ve got those ingredients, too.
    Thanks for posting the difference in the refrig time. I don’t like puddled cookies. I also like that you explain the “science” of the butter/shortening, white sugar/brown sugar, vinegar ingredients.

    Cindy, the pecans & praline, or pecan, would be just fine – not butterscotch-y, but yummy nonetheless. And I’ll pass your eyedropper comments along to the merchandise team, see what they can do about bringing those eydroppers back. Thanks for connecting – PJH

  35. jessica

    I work for Bass Pecan Company we are having a Pecan Recipe Contest.
    Enter in a chance to win $1000 with one of your Pecan recipes.

    Readers, note that according to the Bass company Web site’s fine print, any recipe you enter becomes property of the Bass Pecan Company to do with as they wish. So I’d suggest not entering the recipes you read here, as Bass would be unable to appropriate them for their own sole use… PJH

  36. Colleen

    Would like to comment on the eyedropper idea….It works great. I have one attached to my bottles from KAF with a rubberband so it’s always handy. I love this recipe….can’t wait to try it.

  37. Lish

    Butter pecan is one of my favorite flavor combinations! Nothing is quite as satisfying as that sweet salty crunchy mixture. I can’t wait to try these, and they will definitely be on my Christmas cookie trays! I even have everything on hand. I have butter rum flavoring, but not the vanilla butternut, would that do well? Can’t wait to try them! Thanks for an awesome and informative blog. Give the butter rum flavoring a try and let us know how it is. Molly @ KAF

  38. Vicki

    I have a question about the spreading of the cookie dough after chilling for a long time. Why I was pondering it I don’t know but does the chilling of the dough overnight affect the composition or chemistry of the dough? Because if you pull all your dough out, put it on the pans yet only cook one pan at a time, wouldn’t the last pan of cookies cooked spread more than the first pan? Just curious!

    Thanks for answering all our questions, giving us great hints and tips and of course, creating great recipes that will succeed. Though unfortunately they provide way too much temptation to go YUM! and devour everything right away.

    Vicki, the key is baking and GIVING AWAY. That’s the only way i survive here. And it’s such fun to light up people’s lives with treats…

    Chilling makes the fat solid, basically raising its melting point, so that cookies hold their shape longer before spreading; thus they spread less, since at a certain point they set and stop spreading. Also, the flour absorbs any liquid overnight, and is slow to release it, which is another reason chilled cookie dough doesn’t spread as much. Does chilling change their chemistry? That I don’t know… So yeah, if you pull all your dough out at once, and only bake one sheet at a time, the cookies on that last sheet will spread more than the cookies on the first. I actually kind of made that mistake the other day – put the cookies on the baking sheet before the oven was preheated, had to wait abut 15 minutes for the oven, and the cookies spread more than I wanted them to. Good questions, Vicki! PJH

  39. Lee

    I read through the buttercrunch recipe link (in place of butterscotch chips) and in my mind’s mouth (instead of mind’s eye?) just making the toffee part and putting chips of that in the cookies would be mighty good! Kind of a pecan-Heath bar sandie thing. Thanks for the idea – I think that buttercrunch would be good crumbled up in all sorts of places, we make lots of homemade ice cream around here….

    Lee, you’ve got that right – the buttercrunch would be AWESOME in/on ice cream, stirred into cake, cookies, muffins… PJH

  40. jules

    I cant wait to try these!! Also, how did I miss the white chocolate, cranberry, orange oil cookie recipe? MY favorite incredients!!

  41. Joni M

    I had about 45 free minutes this morning before leaving for work, so I whipped up this cookie dough, balled it and stuck MOST of the balls in my fridge for baking tonight. I didn’t have butterscotch chips so used a whole bag of toffee chips, don’t have the vanilla butternut flavoring so used my pralines and cream flavoring, and did take the time to roast and cool the pecans before adding to the dough…I brought with me to work 6 cookie balls and baked them after lunch in our itty bitty toaster oven and whoa–let me tell you–these cooking are absolutely THE BEST!!! I just love it when you all encourage substitutions when we don’t have something on hand–as I made two of them this morning, but the results are so good, I’m not sure I’ll ever be making them just like you did! At any rate–this recipe is definately a keeper, and keep up the great work, you all are the bestest!

    Baking in the toaster oven at work – now THAT’S devotion! You go, girl… PJH

  42. Jeri Hurd

    I made these last night. Great cookies–I love the crunchy on the outside but still chewy texture. Now, the oatmeal chocolate cherry chunk (from a rival…ummm…test kitchen, shall we say) are still my all time favorite. But these may rate second, and I’ll definitely be taking these to the faculty. They’ll go nuts over these. I have always loved the salt/sweet combination, but it never occurred to me to add salt to a sugar dusting. Great idea.

    Interesting note. I used my Chicago metallic half sheet pan and a stoneware pan to bake these. COMPLETELY different results. The stoneware pan needed an extra 2-3 minutes, and they were still a little doughy, w/ that slightly underdone texture and minus the crispy exterior.

  43. Janet

    This is a technical question about the blog, but I wasn’t sure who else to contact. I use Evernote to clip recipes and ideas that I want to bake later. Every time I clip something from this blog, the text is fine but the pictures are not the ones shown, but always the same picture of what appears to be a strawberry shortcake. It’s delicious looking, but not the picture in the blog. Any suggestions?

    Janet, I’m passing this along to our IT folks to see what they think… PJH

  44. Bernadette

    Okay — I had some doubts about the espresso powder… you could definately taste it in the raw dough, but, miraculously, once baked, it only served to enhance the butterscotchy-ness. I baked a dozen with the ‘fresh’ dough, then another 5 hours later and the remainder the next day. The ‘rested’ doughs baked up darker, richer, more flavorful, but the ‘fresh’ dough was fantastic, too. I didn’t have the vanilla butternut, so just went ahead with your Vanilla Crush and used macademias. Am heading out for a pound of pecans in the morning. Actually, the supermarket is open 24 hours….

  45. Lauran

    These are a great addition to my holiday cookie give-away list. Preferred the overnight chilled cookies because they will stay intact easier for shipping, but either way these were “Da-Bomb”!

  46. Gina

    Just got around to trying this recipe today. I LOATHE the overpoweringly artificial taste of butterscotch chips, so I went with one cup of toffee bits and and extra 1/3 cup of pecans. I also used Princess Cake flavoring (which is mildly nutty), and because I only had iodized table salt, I used plain (canning salt) in the rolling mixture. I baked off six cookies right away–because I couldn’t wait–and the rest of the dough is chilling as I type.

    The cookies are DELICIOUS! However, even though I used only a teaspoon of salt (in 1/3 cup sugar) to roll them in, they were a little too salty for my tastes (and I LOVE salty-sweet things). Plain salt is so fine-grained, I suspect you need less of it. I would cut it back to 3/4 teaspoon next time.

    Great recipe! THANKS!

  47. Suzanne Wilcox

    I made these this morning, or rather I made them yesterday and refrigerated them overnight and baked them this morning. They still puddled, rather than sitting up perky. Any idea why?

    Did you use shortening? King Arthur all-purpose flour? One other thought – if it’s very humid where you live, it might just be that the flour (which is like a sponge) has absorbed a lot of liquid and is just plain wetter than usual. Because lately, with the humidity we’ve been having, I’m noticing my cookies are spreading more, too. It’s a typical late summer issue, so that might just be it. It’s certainly a challenge writing recipes that’ll work throughout the year and throughout various climates… every now and then I find things not working right, and I usually attribute it to the weather. Hope you’ll try them again in the fall – or add a few tablespoons of flour it you’re baking again soon. Thanks for your feedback, Suzanne – PJH

  48. Holly Steiner

    I made these cookies right after you posted them. Wow! Great receipe. I used vanilla and the vanilla-butternut flavors. My husband couldn’t wait until they cooled. He was drooling in the kitchen. Took most of them into work the next day, those on a diet were quite upset with me. Everyone loved them. Hurray for you girls in the kitchen at KAF!

  49. Shirley Smith

    I don’t see the measurement for how much butterscotch chips to use???
    I’m guessing a cup.

    Thank you

    Close guess, Shirley – I like to use 1 1/3 cups, 8 ounces. But a cup is fine, too – these are quite deluxe. Thanks for pointing out that omission – I’ll fix it. PJH

  50. Penny

    These cookies are yummy, yummy, yummy! I didn’t have the espresso powder or the vanilla-butternut or butter rum flavoring and they were still great. I can’t imagine how much yummier they will be when I order them up and try them again. LOVE the salt/sugar coating. Tried some with and without the salt, in case the grandkids didn’t like the salt and have to say I definetely favored the salt/sugar ones.

    Great job! Great blog!

    I enjoy the Baking Sheet, but the blog holds me in between issues :).

    Thanks for sharing your substitutions and successs! The magic of our blog and recipe reviews is the sharing that happends with our customer/bakers! Irene @KAF

  51. Ali Cakes Cupcakery

    Made these for a huge BBQ and people were blown away. They were eating them before the food was even served. Many comments how they are taking first place over their belove Snickerdoodle as top cookie. I’m sorry I won’t give out the recipe but I sure am glad you did. Thanks for all your recipes.
    Best Cuppies,


  52. Barb Green

    Thought I would try this recipe as you always have such interesting combinations in your baking. This one takes the prize. Made one batch of these and they were gone in no time. Family has always wanted chocolate chips cookies but I think the way these disappeared chocolate chip ones now will take a back seat. Great work from KAF kitchens. Keep up the great job and the interesting recipes.

  53. Pcsha

    I made the dough on Tuesday and baked the cookies on Wednesday. They looked great when I took them out of the over (chestnut brown around the egde and golden brown in the middle). Unfortunately, they all collasped after cooling. What did I do wrong? Help!!

    You didn’t do anything wrong – they’re supposed to collapse. If they’re flatter than you like, it may be because this time of year, at the end of the summer, the flour has absorbed a lot of moisture, so it’s “wetter” than normal. If you make them again soon, add maybe 3 tablespoons additional flour, and that should help. Keep experimenting – it’s a tasty process! PJH

  54. Anne

    WOW!! Are these fabulous or what?? I substituted 1/3 cup of unsalted butter for the shortening and half of the AP flour with KA white whole wheat. I chilled the dough for about 6 hours prior to baking. Yummy!

  55. Dianne

    Just made these but used 1 cup toasted chopped pecans, and used maple flavor instead. I even converted the toughest chocolate lovers in my family and it is unanimous…these are the favorite #1 cookie now. My kids would never eat nuts before, and they did not even realize there were nuts in these cookies. This recipe is a keeper! I am going to invest in vanilla-butternut flavoring and try it in cakes, waffles, etc.. Love the recipes and blog….nothing worse than trying a recipe with disappointing results just to discover it was a bad recipe to begin with, and am delighted that I don’t have to worry about that here!! America’s Test Kitchen and King Arthur Flour are my new go to spots for tried and true recipes that are fabulous!!

  56. Daria

    I made these last night with the butterscotch flavor, and used a few extra pecans and chips, well, because excess might be my middle name. They are delicious and my husband loves them!

    I ended up with “B” shaped cookies despite not chilling the dough – probably because of the extra chunks. So that’s one way to control the spread. The recipe made 52 cookies for me – again, extra chunks.

    Also, I used half light-brown sugar and half dark-brown, because I didn’t realize my light-brown sugar supplies were so short. It didn’t seem to have a negative effect.

  57. Jim Phillips

    I printed the recipe August the 30th and baked the cookies the next day. Vinegar as an ingredient intrigued me. I baked them the first time with no variations in the recipe and chilled the dough overnight. I had a jar of Butter Rum flavor in the kitchen. I couldn’t have been more pleased with the results. Every couple of days afterwards I’d bake another batch. We had no trouble finding friends to share them with. I decided to enter them in the Tri-State Fair and won a second place red ribbon…..second place I’m sure because I forgot the vinegar in that batch. Everyone who’s tried them say they are the best cookies they have ever eaten. Thanks to whowever came up with the recipe.

    Jim, thanks for sharing your success! I cobbled this recipe together from a few other favorites, using the refrigeration technique from a NY Times article; the vinegar addition from my belief that vinegar both cuts the sweet a tiny bit, and helps the rise by reacting with the baking soda; and the salt on top from my addiction to sweet/salty stuff (chocolate-covered pretzels, et. al.) So I guess you’d say “it takes a village” to make a cookie! Again, congrats on that red ribbon! PJH

  58. Judy

    Question. The recipe says 1/3 cup of sugar combined with salt, but you write 1/2 cup here in the blog. Just wanted to know which is correct. Thanks!

    1/3 to 1/2 cup is fine, Judy – smaller cookies will use closer to 1/2 cup, larger cookies, closer to 1/3 cup. PJH

  59. Clarissa

    I have been salivating over this recipe ever since I found it, but have delayed making them because I didn’t have some of the ingredients on hand. By chance, I found butterscotch chips last weekend, and I can’t wait to finally test this recipe out. The recipe makes a lot of cookies, and I would like to freeze a portion of the dough for future eating. Since the chilling of the dough makes a lot of difference in how the cookies bake-out, do you have any tips/reminders/warnings on how to freeze the cookies, defrost the cookies or bake the cookies? Thanks in advance!

    Actually, Clarissa, these are very easy to freeze and bake. Just deposit close together on a baking sheet, put the sheet in the freezer and, once they’re frozen, bag the balls of dough. To bake, take them out and out on a baking sheet while your oven preheats. Bake perhaps a minute longer than the recipe says… depends on how long it took your oven to preheat/how much the dough thawed. For more info., take a look at our FREEZE post. Good luck – PJH

  60. Daphne

    I have been making LOTS of these wonderful cookies – they are a favourite of my son – until my butterscotch chips ran out. Now I am told you are no longer going to be offering the Guittard Butterscotch chips for sale… how am we going to get our butter pecan cookies fix? HELP!!!!

    I’m with you, Daphne – we’re hoarding the last little bit of chips in the test kitchen. I’ll find out if there’s any chance of getting them back; it’s often a case, with chips, that a larger user has stopped using them, and so they stop making them and we’re unable to get them. But I’ll find out- PJH

  61. Lisa Brooks

    Wow, these cookies are awesome! Definitely my new favorites, and I bake a LOT. I knew they’d be good once I smelled the mixed dough. I love the sweet and salty combination. Rolling the balls of cookie dough in a sugar/salt mixture before baking is pure genius! Thank you, PJ!

    You’re most welcome, Lisa… PJH

  62. Deneen R.

    I make cookies every week for a group I volunteer for, so, yeah, I bake like crazy. I was a little hesitant to try these cookies because they sounded so labor intensive. I ordered the espresso powder and vanilla butternut flavoring, used all butter instead of shortening, and chilled the dough overnight. My testers (husband and daughter) enjoyed them, even though they don’t rank on the top 10 list of their favorites, it’s definitely a great addition to the family of non-chocolate cookies I’ve been asked to bake here and there for variety. What I learned from this trial is the value of espresso powder to enhance cookie flavor (especially in the chocolate variety cookies). Looking forward to trying more cookies from the blog. Thanks, KAF!

  63. Daphne

    I was SO INCREDIBLY PLEASED to see the Guittard Butterscotch chips are back!! Have ordered my 3 bags of them, and I hope they will still be in stock when it’s time to re-order! Please, NEVER allow yourselves to run out of these, or Guittard to stop making them! I make these cookies with all butter because I didn’t like the crunch from the shortening. YUMMMM.

  64. Jane Dough

    I used the Guittard Butterscotch chips for this recipe. They are the best chips I’ve ever tasted and couldn’t wait to try them in the cookies. The cookies turned out great. (I posted a photo on my page!!) My son who doesn’t like nuts, asked for a baggie of just the Butterscotch chips for his lunchbox. Thanks for all the great recipes and the advice on finding the best ingredients.

    Glad you found these, Jane – I just baked them yesterday, and immediately remembered why I’d bookmarked the recipe… Thanks for connecting here. PJH

  65. servinhim

    Hi I am wondering if I could use coconut oil in place of the shortening? Thank you!! They look yummy!
    You’ll get more spread, but if that’s good with you, it should be fine. ~ MaryJane

  66. Julie

    Hi there……for the salt in the coating, surely you don’t mean iodized table salt, do you? I have always found it to have a weird taste to it. So is this what you used, or just a sea salt that is finely grained? Thank you!!

    Use plain table salt, Julie, not iodized – I agree, iodized has a slight chemical flavor. You can also use sea salt – I think that’s what I did, crushing it in my fingers before sprinkling it on… PJH

  67. jean18724

    These are sooo good, we call them “crack” cookies. I’ve made them weekly and for every summer event. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve printed out the recipe for fans. Thanks again for another perfect recipe.
    Thanks for helping us to expand the fan club! ~Amy

  68. gpyrocat

    I made these right before lunch (mistake 1) and no one but my dog was home (mistake 2). These are amazing!! I don’t like butterscotch, especially the chips, so I substituted white chocolate and I used the vanilla butternut flavoring. The only other change I made was using light brown sugar and pink Himalayan salt to roll the dough in. The brown sugar had dried and not even my “sugar bear” could return it to it’s moist state, so I crushed it with a mortar and pestle and then ran it through a sieve. I only used 1 1/2 teaspoons of the salt because it’s so fine. Perfection! I’ll confess I snarfled two right off the cookie sheet but I’ll have a light lunch. OK? I know the dog won’t tell on me…

  69. Cathleen

    Thank you for alerting us to these today (via Facebook), these look like they are going to be amazing. I’ve got the dough chilling right now, with one possibly meaningful change — after failing to locate any butterscotch chips after a day-long search in Manhattan (Fairway Market; C-town; Whole Foods; Gourmet Garage; Citarella; and Dean & DeLuca), I tried to make some butterscotch chips. The recipe I used was a random one off of the internet, which seemed to combine reasonably traditional butterscotch with white baking chocolate, and then dropped in chip-size droplets onto wax paper for chilling. Unfortunately, I underestimated how long I would need to chill the chips for them to become truly firm, and ended up mixing in something more along the lines of a soft, butterscotch/white chocolate spread into the cookie dough. I have no idea how this will affect the outcome, but I just kept saying to myself, how bad could it be???

    1. PJ Hamel, post author

      BAD?! That sounds absolutely scrumptious, Cathleen. Maybe more a swirl than distinct chips, but with that salty topping – they sound fabulous! Let us know, OK? PJH

  70. Tony

    Should I put two cookies sheets in the oven and rotate them midway, or just one sheet at a time? Making the dough tonight and will be baking tomorrow. Thanks

  71. Brooke

    If you happen to see this comment, can you make these as a pan cookie & sprinkle a layer of sugar/salt on top? In interest of time, I’m looking for a shortcut. How long would you cook them for if you did so? I was thinking about using a jelly roll pan.

    1. PJ Hamel, post author

      Brooke, most cookies can be made into bars – depending on how thick (pan size vs. amount of dough), they’d probably bake anywhere from 20 to 30 minutes. Test, and take out when a toothpick comes out clean, or with just a few crumbs clinging to it. Good luck, and enjoy! PJH

  72. gacuk ruhture

    I wanted to thank you for this great read!! I definitely enjoying every little bit of it I have you bookmarked to check out new stuff you post

  73. Karen McCreary

    Made several batches of these at Christmas and chilled well into the second day and still had trouble with them puddling. Here is the big question, what kind of shortening should be used (please, no Crisco!). Is Earth Balance acceptable? I’m almost positive coconut oil is a giant “NO”. Melting too quickly etc.? Love these cookies actually with a bit of fleur de sel on top ! We are crazy for salty/sweet here! Thanks for all the great work!!

    1. MaryJane Robbins

      HI Karen,
      Here in the test kitchen we do use trans-fat free Crisco. We haven’t tested the Earth Balance, but their margarine is a good butter substitute, so you may want to give them a try. ~ MJ

    1. PJ Hamel, post author

      Joe, I usually do mine at 350°F (just so I don’t have to keep quite as close an eye on them), but yes, you do have to watch closely as they can go from perfect to burned in a flash. Try 300°F for a slower roast; I’m sure you’ll be pleased with the result. PJH

  74. Candy

    HI PJ, I’m definitely going on to try these!
    Can I use rum flavoring or will I be better off just omitting he flavoring completely? None of those you mentioned are available where I live 🙁

    Thank you!

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Thanks for your interest in giving these sweet and salty delights a try, Candy. Rum extract or flavoring is going to taste more like rum than the suggested options, so if you decide to give it a try, we’d try starting with a smaller amount – say 1/4 tsp – to keep the rum flavor from overrunning the sweet, nutty, buttery notes. Mollie@KAF

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