This is one of my staple cookie recipes for holiday baking. I’m sure I’m not the only one who bakes similar cookies around Christmas. Nevertheless, I thought I’d share the foolproof recipe that’s been tweaked and perfected over the years.

I love using a combination of toasted (always toasted) walnuts and pecans, but either one will work well. When I grind the nuts in a food processor, I pause to take some coarsely ground nuts out to add them later, and then grind the rest finely; it makes quite a difference in taste. I don’t cover the cookies with icing sugar until they are completely cool since I find a melted grease-like thick layer of icing sugar unattractive. I bathe them in icing sugar once they are cool.

Makes 5 dozen


  • 1 cup lightly toasted pecans
  • 1 cup lightly toasted walnuts
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 8 oz (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • ½ cup fine granulated sugar, divided
  • 1½ tsp pure vanilla extract
  • About 1 cup icing sugar, sifted


Center the oven rack. Preheat the oven to 325 F. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone mats.

In a bowl of the food processor, combine the nuts and 2 tbsp sugar. Pulse until coarsely ground. Stop the processor and take out ½ cup of coarsely chopped nuts, set them aside. Continue pulsing the remaining nuts until they are finely ground but not oily (don’t over-process). Transfer to a big bowl, sift the flour and salt over the nuts, add the coarsely ground nuts. Whisk to combine all together.

In another big bowl, beat the butter and the remaining sugar with an electric mixer until creamy. Beat in the vanilla extract. Reduce the speed to low, add the nut-flour mixture and beat just until combined. Finish mixing with a wooden spoon.

Using a small ice-cream scoop measure out equal portions of the dough (each about a scant tablespoon) and roll into balls. Place the balls onto the prepared baking sheets spacing them about 1 inch apart. Once the first sheet is full, cover it loosely with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 20 minutes before baking, while rolling the remaining balls. Bake the cookies in batches for 20 to 22 minutes, until they appear dull and set, but not colored (only the bottoms should be golden brown). Cool on the baking sheet on a rack. Once cooled completely, drop the cookies (about half dozen at a time) into a wide bowl with the sifted icing sugar. Turn and toss the cookies until they are completely covered in the confectioners’ sugar. Store in an air-tight container at room temperature for up to several days. You can bathe the cookies in the icing sugar again right before plating them to freshen up their look.