We make these pecan crescent cookies every year as a Christmas treat – the melt-in-the-mouth, nutty, crumbly treats will please any crowd. 

Pecan Crescent Cookies

You know a cookie is a classic when every person who tastes one says “Ermahgerd, gramma’s kerkies!” (translation: Oh my god, my grandmother used to make those cookies). Whether your grandmother was Italian, Jewish, Latin American, Scandinavian, or Asgardian, chances are, she made these cookies (Well, not my grandmother, who was a famously terrible cook).

Sometimes it’s just nostalgia that makes us swoon over a taste of the past but in this case, familiarity is unnecessary. These pecan crescent cookies are good. They have a melt-in-your-mouth shortbread-like texture and a lovely deep nuttiness.  It just doesn’t feel like Christmas without them.

Nerd Tips

  • Toast the pecans well, but don’t scorch them. I like to do them in a skillet (medium heat, tossing often, about 5-7 minutes until you can smell a nutty aroma). You can also do them in them oven on a baking sheet (325 degrees F, 10-15 minutes, turn them once).
  • Make sure the dough is fully chilled before shaping the crescents. Also chill them at least 20 minutes after shaping, since they’ll warm up considerably as you handle them.
  • They won’t really change color much in the baking process, but do make sure the very edges turn a light golden brown. 18 minutes might be enough, but don’t be afraid to leave in a few minutes longer if needed.
  • Don’t try to sugar the pecan crescent cookies until they’ve completely cooled (overnight is best) or the sugar will melt. Sometimes I sugar them twice to make them extra perty. If you’re serving to fancy people, you’ll probably want to arrange them using tongs, since fingers will very easily melt the sugar.

Pecan Crescent Cookies

The Recipe

Pecan Crescent Cookies
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Recipe type: Dessert
Serves: 3 dozen
  • 2 cups all purpose flour, sifted
  • 1 cup pecans, toasted
  • ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • ¾ cup powdered sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • Additional powdered sugar
  1. (Note: You'll need to prepare the dough, then chill for at least 8 hours.) Combine 1 cup all purpose flour, toasted pecans and salt in food processor. Using on/off pulses, finely chop pecans. Using a mixer, beat butter, ¾ cup powdered sugar and vanilla extract in large bowl until well blended. Add pecan mixture and remaining 1 cup flour and mix thoroughly. Divide dough in half. Wrap each half in plastic and refrigerate 8 hours or overnight.
  2. After chilling the dough, preheat oven to 325°F. Working with 1 tablespoon of dough at a time, shape dough into 3-inch-long logs. Pinch ends of logs to taper and turn in slightly, forming crescents. Place cookies on un-greased baking sheets, spacing 1 inch apart (cookies will not spread).
  3. Bake cookies until light brown around edges and firm to touch, about 18-22 minutes. Cool cookies 10 minutes on baking sheets. Roll cookies in additional powdered sugar. (Cookies can be prepared 2 weeks ahead. Store in airtight container.)