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Pecan Shortbread Cookies

pecan shortbread cookies
These gluten free pecan shortbread cookies are a quick and easy high protein treat!

Gluten free cookies are very important to the newly diagnosed celiac. These gluten free shortbread cookies are made with high protein almond flour, a nutritious and satiating ingredient. This quick and easy shortbread recipe also makes great gluten free Christmas cookies.

These cookies are so good my friend Elizabeth tells me they’re addictive. Go ahead, bake these buttery treats and see for yourself.

Pecan Shortbread Cookies

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  1. In a large bowl combine almond flour, salt, baking soda and pecans
  2. In a smaller bowl, mix together agave, butter and vanilla
  3. Mix wet ingredients into dry
  4. Place dough in the center of a large piece of parchment paper and form into a large log approximately 2½ inches in diameter
  5. Place in freezer for one hour, until firm, unwrap and cut into ⅛ inch thick slices
  6. Place slices on a parchment lined baking sheet
  7. Bake at 350° until lightly golden, 7-10 minutes
  8. Cool and serve

Makes 24 cookies


posted on May 8, 2007, 72 comments

  1. Jenna

    I made these last weekend and they are delicious! I made half the batch the weekend before last and kept the other half of the dough in the freezer. I was able to just take the rest of the dough out and let it sit for a few minutes then pop them into the oven this weekend for a quick treat! I used half Agave and half stevia powder and they were perfectly sweet!

    Thank you so much for all of your fantastic recipes, Elana! You have helped me feel as though I can eat like a ‘real person’ again! :)

    • Jenna

      I made these again this week to cure my sweet tooth :). This time I doubled the vanilla, added an extra pinch of salt, used only 3 TBS of Agave and 3/4 tsp Stevia powder and added 1/2 cup of creamy salted Whole Foods brand peanut butter instead of butter. They are so yummy! I haven’t had a peanut butter cookie in at least 6 years! What a treat!

  2. Gail

    I added 1 tablespoon each of orange peel and orange extract, doubled the pecans, and substituted 2 tablespoons of the agave with brown sugar. Sprinkled lightly with cinnamon sugar. This is such a yummy basic recipe that lends itself to all kinds of possibilities, depending on what ingredients are on hand. Thank you for your great inspirations.

  3. wow! I had my doubts about this cookie, but I was soooo wrong. delicious. thanks so much.

  4. Donna

    Love the taste of pecans in cookies but hate making cookies so always find short cuts. Made these with quite a few shortcuts but they still came out delicious, chewy instead of crisp.
    Had to skip the vanilla (doesn’t work for my body).

    Creamed my room temp. butter with 1 1/2 c. almond flour. Stirred the rest of the dry ingredients into another bowl. Added the agave to the creamed mixture and blended well. Then added in the dry mixture. Scooped onto parchment lined sheet. 10 minutes at 350 degrees was perfect. 24 cookies exactly.

    Getting them off the sheet without crumbling was a bit of trouble. They wanted to fall apart. So..I let them cool on the parchment and the pan for 2 minutes, then carefully slid the parchment onto a rack for 2 minutes, before removing from the parchment. Saved them from any more crumbles. They can now be picked up whole.

    Will try these the proper way some time because I love shortbread too!

  5. Donna

    The coconut sugar I ordered came in yesterday and I decided to test it out today.

    I made this recipe and substituted toasted chopped almonds for the pecans and the coconut sugar for the agave nectar. I wasn’t sure they would turn out because of using a dry sweetener in place of the liquid but they came out GREAT!

    I don’t follow Elana’s directions, just the ingredients list. This time I rolled the batter into 24 balls and flattened them on my parchment paper to about 1/4 inch thickness, baked for 12 minutes. The batter held together well and was just the right texture to roll. They came out dry and crispy just like shortbread but the cookies are not crumbly and I didn’t have to let them cool on the sheets before removing to the racks. They worked just like a “regular flour” cookie.

    Best of all is, even 2 hours after eating some, I still don’t have heart palpitations or racing heart! No negative effects like with real sugar, honey, and other stuff for me. I hope this continues and in a few days I can say I have finally found a sugar substitute I can use!

    I post as “bakingfool” in the forums as my name was already taken.

  6. locarbjen

    These cookies were delicious. I too don’t want to use agave so I used 1/2 stevia and agave. Also used 1/2 vanilla and 1/2 almond extract. Crumbled cookies make a great crust for pumpkin cheesecake bars.

    • Jamie

      Thanks locarbjen,
      I am not supposed to have Agave on my diet but I cheated just a little ;) I took your recommendation and used 3T Stevia and 2T agave. Needless to say I got sick because I ate way too many cookies. They are great! Thanks for the recipe Elana!

      Jenna,
      Thanks for the peanut butter tip. I will be sure to try it next time!

  7. locarbjen

    These cookies were delicious. I too don’t want to use agave so I used 1/2 xylitol and agave. Also used 1/2 vanilla and 1/2 almond extract. Crumbled cookies make a great crust for pumpkin cheesecake bars.

  8. Lynne

    We just made our first almond flour recipe… the Pecan Shortbread Cookies. They are delicious. We substituted grade B Organic Maple Syrup for the agave nectar. No problems… just yummy!

  9. Aura

    This cookie is my family’s new favorite!

  10. Susan

    I’m newly diagnosed as diabetic and am searching like crazy for recipes that I can use instead of the things I’ve been making for years that got me to this point, especially baking. This site looks wonderful and I’ve already ordered The Almond Flour Cookbook.

    My question: why are people opposed to agave? What research I’ve done seems to be very positive about the use of this low-glycemic sweetner. What am I missing?

    • Sarah

      I don’t use agave because it gives me headaches; same with cane sugar. But probably many people don’t use it because of the cost. (I know… when you’re so limited in what you can eat anyway, it would be nice if price were a non-issue.)

    • Shannon

      Susan ~ there is much debate about agave nectar. Research has shown that agave nectar is high in fructose and elicits the same insulin response in the body that sugar does. I have Lyme disease and cannot have grains or sugar because the Lyme bacteria feeds on sugar. I can use stevia, which is a very safe, natural sweetener. I wish we would see more recipes with stevia….thank you, Elana, for your yummy recipes!

      • Ana

        Can’t quite figure out how to lower the agave in my recipes. I am needing less carbs. We love agave, but if I want a special treat for me I need something with less carbs. Any wisdom? I notice some of you use stevia with the agave, that is a great idea, but when you say you used 1/2 agave 1/2 stevia that didn’t seem right. Maybe I read it wrong?

        • Karen L

          above, Jamie wrote:
          August 30, 2010 at 7:02 pm

          …I am not supposed to have Agave on my diet but I cheated just a little ;) I took your recommendation and used 3T Stevia and 2T agave.

          Karen

          • Trish B

            I just discovered organic coconut (nectar) syrup, harvested in a similar way to maple syrup. It’s quite gelatinous in texture but it’s a good substitute for agave nectar. According to the label, it’s easier on the endocrin (insulin) system.

    • Coco

      I don’t use agave because of the process. It also raises blood sugar much like cane sugar. I use raw honey or stevia.

  11. Ana

    Well, my husband who hates health food swears that the frozen dough tastes like his moms divintiy. Don’t ask me how, but all I care about is my healthy food hating husband loves these!!! I use 2 TBS agave, 3 TBS xyiltol

  12. Trish B

    This is a fabulous recipe. Although not celiac, I like the richness and texture of almond flour. I have a couple of hints and can never resist making a recipe “my own.” The “dough” was quite sloppy, so I put the entire batch in the bowl in the freezer for about 15 minutes to make it more malleable. Then I put it into the baking parchment (natural wax paper would do and the dough would come off more easily) to form the log.
    I had just bought some hemp seeds so I used 1 tablespoonful of those instead of the pecans. I also had some organic raw cacao powder and added 2 teaspoons of that to the dry ingredients. The results were very good. May cut back on the agave next time. I baked them for 10 minutes. Essential to follow directions and cool on the baking sheet! I baked half the dough and left the rest in the freezer for another batch. What a great dessert with some simple vanilla ice cream – just on their own with a cup of tea. Amazing! Thanks Elana.

  13. Jocelyn

    These were fabulous! I substituted coconut oil and they turned out beautifully. I gave then to my family just telling them they were shortbread cookies and they loved them- no idea they were grain free and vegan! Thanks for the great recipe!

  14. Eliana

    I made these with palm oil and only 4T of silan instead of agave. Turned out great! Thanks

  15. Jeanne J

    Hi Elana, I just made these. I followed the recipe exactly and felt that cookie didn’t have the same kind of texture as shortbread. It was more cookie-like. I thought they were very tasty, though. I am wondering if less fat in the recipe would give it more of the sandy texture of shortbread. (I thought that the scone recipes with egg had more of a short bread texture…I made mine with dried cherries and organic baker’s chocolate…and they were fantastic!)

  16. Joelle

    Thank you for the wonderful recipe! I substituted honey for the agave and grapeseed oil for the butter. That made for one very rich cookie. I would probably cut back on the oil a bit and only use 3T honey next time.

    Thank you for the great recipe!

  17. Anasthasia

    Do you think this would work as a base for Rum balls?

  18. I love your site!! I have for a very long time. You were the first site I found when I learnt that 4 members in my family had “C” I made some candy bars today and wanted to share the recipe with you because I used these great cookies in them. Thank you so much for all you do you were my shinning star in the begining darkness. http://perfectlynaturalfamilysoaps.com/1/post/2011/12/gluten-dairy-processed-sugar-free-candy.html

  19. ChristySinTX

    YUMMY! YUMMY! YUMMY!

    Thank you!

  20. Edda

    Well, I’m trying these out for the first time, but I had a lot of trouble forming the log to place in the freezer. I followed the recipe from the book, using 1/2 c. grapeseed oil. It just kept crumbling and crumbling. I finally just sort of rolled it up in the parchment as best I could and squeezed it down to form a long mound. How is everybody making a log???

  21. Edda

    P.S. I’ll let you know if I’m even able to slice the mound to bake them in about an hour. Wish me luck.

  22. Edda V.

    OK, so I made them, but they certainly weren’t what I expected. They were crumbly and sort of tasty, but still not easily made, as trying to cut the frozen “dough” still was messy. Could it have been that I used coconut flour AND blanched almond flour instead of just almond flour? Maybe I should use butter instead of grapeseed oil? I truly want almond flour to be something I can use.

    • Traci

      These are delicious! Found them on a GAPS recipe round-up. Only thing I had to do to make them GAPS friendly was to soak the pecans in salt water and dehydrate them before toasting and use only honey. Followed the recipe exactly. The dough was a little loose, but I was still able to form it into a log in the parchment (it ended up having a flat side instead of being perfectly round). I liked that other comment of putting the whole bowl of dough in the freezer a bit before shaping it.

      My non-GAPS family thought these tasted just like a wheat flour cookie. I thought they were perfectly sweet, which might not be sweet enough for most. These were the first cookies we’ve made since starting GAPS 10 months ago and I’ll be making them again (and so will my SIL).

  23. Trish

    Made these tonight! Wonderful!! I switched the agave necter for raw honey very good.

  24. Rao

    I made a small batch of these today and am very pleased! As a low-carb diabetic, being able to have relatively healthy cookies on hand is so wonderful. I made a few mods/substitutions which may help others – I made a 1/4 batch, so keep that in mind when noting the amounts I used. Instead of the agave, I used 2 scant tbsp splenda and 1 tbsp beaten egg. I will try stevia and egg next time. Also, I left out the baking soda. Since there is no acid used in the recipe, the baking soda will actually remain un-reacted sodium bicarbonate and leave your cookies with a “soapy” taste. I meant to add a tiny pinch of salt but forgot. It is essential to freeze the dough for 20-30 min because this helps it keep its shape while baking. The egg also helps bind the cookie. I baked at 350 for 9 min, and they turned out awesome! Perfect texture and just right sweetness. FYI – I’m at 5000ft. Thanks Elana for posting your recipe!

  25. Brenda

    YUM! Made these today. It’s the second recipe I’ve tried of yours, and the second success! :) THANK YOU!

    (I used honey instead of agave nectar, and added a bit of cinnamon.) I love the little bursts of salt flavour when eating the cookie (from using the more coarse sea salt).

  26. Leanne

    I made these for a get together with gluten intolerant friends, along with your lemon curd. Wow. Can’t stop eating them!

  27. Shannon

    Just curious, if I wanted to use stevia in place of the agave nectar, what would the conversion be?

  28. Melissa

    OHHH Elana! Major Yummy! I just managed to come across your lovely site and promptly started to prepare these cookies. I am so glad to see your lovely readers had ad-libbed some of the ingredients so I did as well as my pantry was lacking agave.

    I used 4 tblsp organic maple syrup and 1 tblsp Lucuma

    added into the liquid ingredients 2 drops Medicine Flour Coffee Extract and 2 drops
    English Toffee Stevia

    I also added in abut an 1/8 teaspoon of nutmeg and 1/2 Chinese Five spice

    I’ve been wishing for shortbread or spice like cookie….I got both.

    Thank you, for sharing your talents and your lovely readers for their adjustments…especially the reader mentioning Silan…didn’t know what it was but I do now and now know how to make my own at home.

  29. This site is epic, I’m going to put this in the bookmarks before I lose the address, I don’t think I’ll ever make it back here again otherwise :)

  30. Loll

    I am following the Paleo/Primal eating plan, but TTC so I can’t have chocolate or caffeine. Was searching for a delicious cookie recipe to take camping (so we can have treats just like the others on SAD) This recipe is AMAZING, thanks very much Elana! And an added bonus is the batter can be eaten raw, which a lot of it was!

    P.S. I made your salmon burgers out the recipe book and they went down very well.

  31. Tressa

    These are yummy! I too ate a lot of the batter raw, and plan to dip them in melted chocolate before bringing them to my work Christmas party on Monday. I also subbed honey for the agave. I will make these again and use them in rum balls! Your cookies are always my favorite out of all the paleo sites.

  32. kim

    does anyone know if you can substitute vegan shortening with coconut oil for all these cookie recipes?

    • Tressa

      Yes you can. I used grass fed butter because they are for a work party and they turned out great. I think all fats are interchangeable. Regular coconut oil might give them a hint of coconut flavor but refined wouldn’t.

  33. Gwen B.

    These are a hit. My husband is an Executive Chef in an upscale boutique hotel and he liked my batch of these so much he asked for more! I plan to dip half in chocolate for Santa on Christmas eve and will make extra dough for the freezer. THANK YOU!

  34. Debbie

    I made these using coconut sugar and adding a little maple syrup and maple flavoring. They are baking now and I can’t stop eating the dough. If they taste as good after being baked, the are a winner! I also rolled them into balls and flattened them to make them faster.

  35. veronika

    I wouldn’t compare these cookies to the shortbread cookies I used to make before going GF except that they are just as absolutely as addicting! I just cannot stop eating them until they are all gone!!!!!!!!!! And like all of Elana’s recipes they require few ingredients and come together very quickly.

  36. Chris

    Thank you Elana for making my SCD life easier and creating my new favourite cookie! It was so easy and so delicious!!! Came out perfect (though my oven is a bit hot and realizing that almond flour burns easily, had to turn down the temperature a bit and take it out a wee bit earlier)!

    PS: LOVE your website!

    C.

  37. Mary Beth Hustoles

    Just made these as my first step into gluten free baking for a spring potluck at my daughter’s. Absolute hit! Made them with honey and butter, and made some lemon curd to serve with in case they were too bland. Needn’t have worried — had multiple compliments, including, “This is the best gluten free cookie I’ve ever had.” Pecans and almond flour made them a little spendy, but it was worth the splurge. Thanks!

  38. Shawn

    Hi. I’m looking for a good shortbread recipe for the holidays. Can I omit the pecans and decorate these for Christmas??? I’m famous for my santa shortbread cookies but the recipe I use is very sugary and I’m looking for a healthier option

  39. Marie

    Elana, I made these (alongside regular scottish shortbreads) for my sister’s bridal shower. I used Maple Syrup in place of the honey (my husband boils his own, so we have GALLONS). Now, before I went GF, I LOVED shortbreads.

    These, hands down, were amazing. They went faster than the regular shortbreads. I can’t get rid of the other shortbreads, but these are long gone. Thank you for an awesome recipe, which will likely become my go-to for many things that I used to use a shortbread crust for.

    • QueenJellyBean

      Thanks Marie, for mentioning the maple syrup that you used. I am making cookies tonight to send back to Italy to a very foodie Italian friend. This recipe was perfect for my friend as Elana wrote it, but then I wanted to somehow add an ingredient that isn’t common in Italy, more American-continental. I am SO jealous that you have access to gallons of maple sryup, as it is expensive here on the West Coast. Can’s wait to taste these with maply goodness :-]

  40. Elipants

    These sound really yummy. I was wondering…if you substitute coconut oil for butter in the recipe, should it be 1/2 cup as well? I also would like to use coconut palm sugar since that’s all I have right now and have no time to go food shopping. Any feedback helps. Thanks!

  41. Sandra

    Oh wow!
    Now I know why some reviewers mentioned using this recipe for rum balls.
    I just mixed up a batch, rolled it into a log and placed it in the freezer to harden. But I left some in the mixing bowl because I wanted to taste the raw cookie dough. OMG too good! I may have to make a batch just so that I can eat it raw.
    Adaptations/ substitutions to the recipe:
    3 cups of almond flour instead of 2.5
    Raw coconut nectar instead of agave
    Chocolate chunks and date crumbles instead of pecan pieces.
    Can’t wait to bake and try the finished product.
    Thank you, Elena!

  42. Michelle

    I love these pecan shortbread cookies! And I had a hunch these would make great Mexican Wedding Cookies. After some searching on your site, it appears a friend of your’s did just that for the holidays, although you called them nut cookie balls or something like that ;-) Anyway, glad I remembered these – it will keep me from being tempted by the flour versions at Whole Foods. Thanks and happy holiday!

  43. Christina

    Can I make these with swerve instead of honey and expect the same texture?

  44. Ariel

    Does anyone know how long these will be good for once baked? I’m looking for a recipe to give as a gift to some family members who eat paleo, but I’m not sure how far in advance I can make them or how long they will last once I gift them. :)

  45. Andrea

    After looking at your recipe, I decided to try to make a healthier version of “thumbprint cookies” (a classic Christmas cookie our family made when I was growing up!). After slicing the cookies, I made a little indentation in the middle of each cookie before popping them in the oven. Once they cooled, I placed a small amount of seedless raspberry jam on the indentation. They turned out great and look very festive! Thanks for the recipe! You are so creative!

  46. Becky

    Made these cookies and they were a hit with the whole family, even the kid that doesn’t like nuts in cookies!
    *i used coconut sugar and they came out great!! I used same amount as recipe says.

  47. Meg

    I was dying for thumbprint cookies this Christmas and so I adapted this recipe to fit the bill. It was great! I used maple syrup for the sweetener (and then added 1/4 cup of sugar to please the crowd), I chose butter as my oil, and I omitted the pecans from the batter. I rolled the dough into 1/2-inch balls, dipped them in egg whites, and rolled the balls in ground pecans. I then pushed in a small, deep hole in the center of each ball and added a dab of raspberry jam. I undercooked them JUST until firm to the touch–a little undercooked. They were a huge hit at my Christmas party and very beautiful! Having put some remaining dough in the freezer (I made a huge batch), I pulled it out a week later and used it to make cookie cutouts with my kids for Santa. They were even better! So buttery and sweet. Thanks for the versatile recipe!!

  48. jade

    hi, i just made these with honey and grapeseed oil and they were delicious! thx so much! Do you know if these would work if I omitted the oil/butter completely, and maybe add some non dairy milk instead to maintain the texture? I am searching for oil free cookie recipes.

  49. Connie

    Just have to add my two cents . . . these are WONDERFUL! I made them exactly as directed; they held their shape beautifully in the oven and I am delighted. I plan to make a variation as a cracker with bleu cheese, omitting the sweetener of course. Thank you, Elana!

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Comments are greatly appreciated! Unfortunately Elana is not able to answer substitution questions, as the only way to know if something works is to test it, and she does not provide this service. If you have a substitution question, please don't hesitate to leave a comment here, and another reader may jump in to answer. ↑ back to top