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Secret Ingredient Christmas Cookies

These Secret Ingredient Christmas Cookies are incredibly delicious! They’re soft snickerdoodles that are packed with pecans, brown sugar and cinnamon flavor!

Have you tried the Kevin & Amanda Secret Ingredient Christmas Cookies? They are PERFECT for cookie swaps and will have everyone trying to guess what the secret ingredient is!

It may be a little early to start talking about Christmas cookies, but honestly, these cookies are amazing any time of year! For me, Christmas means these cinnamon-toasted candied pecans. I love them, and I especially love the way they fill the entire house with a delicious, nutty, toasty, cinnamon-y fragrance. Put them in an hour before company comes over and your whole home will smell amazing! Plus your guests will have delicious candied pecans to snack on. :)

I love nuts (especially when they’re candied) but I can’t stand nuts in my cookies!! It’s a texture thing. I want my cookies to be soft and chewy, and I don’t want any little hard crunchy pieces getting in my way, lol! But I love the flavor of nuts, so I wanted to find a way to incorporate my favorite candied pecans into a cookie.

Have you tried the Kevin & Amanda Secret Ingredient Christmas Cookies? They are PERFECT for cookie swaps and will have everyone trying to guess what the secret ingredient is!

What happened next are these decadent, Brown Butter, Cinnamon Toasted Pecan, Oatmeal Snickerdoodles. I don’t even know what to call them. They’re amazing!!

Have you tried the Kevin & Amanda Secret Ingredient Christmas Cookies? They are PERFECT for cookie swaps and will have everyone trying to guess what the secret ingredient is!

I am so, so thrilled with how these cookies came out. They’re incredibly chewy and soft. The inside is packed with that wonderful, cinnamon toasted pecan flavor. But the texture is smoooooth. No hard little pieces of nuts to be found anywhere! The outside is dusted in cinnamon sugar so they even have that sugary-crisp outer shell like candied pecans. They’re perfect!

They were a huge hit with my friends and neighbors. Everyone was trying to guess the secret ingredient! :)

You’ve got to try these at least once. :) Put these on your cookie to-do list! :)

Have you tried the Kevin & Amanda Secret Ingredient Christmas Cookies? They are PERFECT for cookie swaps and will have everyone trying to guess what the secret ingredient is!

Here’s how I made them. Just a few simple ingredients: flour, oatmeal, pecans, butter, sugar, eggs, baking powder, cinnamon and vanilla.

How to Make The Best Christmas Cookies

The first step is to brown the butter. Brown butter is fabulous in cookies!! Seriously, I think brown butter was invented just to be used in cookies. :) It gives cookies a deep, rich, buttery flavor. It’s perfect for these cookies in particular because it enhances the nutty flavor of the cinnamon toasted pecans.

Browning butter is so easy. You basically just melt it and whisk it until it becomes brown and has a rich nutty fragrance. Here’s a helpful “pin-able” graphic I made of the 5 stages of brown butter:

How to Brown Butter

And that’s it! Next time you make cookies try swapping out regular butter for brown butter. See what a huge difference it makes! :)

Have you tried the Kevin & Amanda Secret Ingredient Christmas Cookies? They are PERFECT for cookie swaps and will have everyone trying to guess what the secret ingredient is!

The next step is to toast the pecans. Measure out a generous cup of whole pecans. You can usually find these on the baking aisle. I like to buy the big bags from Sam’s or Costco and keep them in the freezer so I always have them on hand.

How to Toast Pecans

Place the nuts in a large skillet over medium heat. Cook, stirring frequently, for about 4-5 mins until they are dark, brown, and just start to smell toasty.

Have you tried the Kevin & Amanda Secret Ingredient Christmas Cookies? They are PERFECT for cookie swaps and will have everyone trying to guess what the secret ingredient is!

Immediately transfer the nuts to the bowl of a food processor.

Have you tried the Kevin & Amanda Secret Ingredient Christmas Cookies? They are PERFECT for cookie swaps and will have everyone trying to guess what the secret ingredient is!

Add one cup quick 1-minute oats.

Have you tried the Kevin & Amanda Secret Ingredient Christmas Cookies? They are PERFECT for cookie swaps and will have everyone trying to guess what the secret ingredient is!

And pulse until the pecans and oatmeal are smooth and combined.

Have you tried the Kevin & Amanda Secret Ingredient Christmas Cookies? They are PERFECT for cookie swaps and will have everyone trying to guess what the secret ingredient is!

Add the pecan and oatmeal mixture to 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, along with your salt and baking powder.

Have you tried the Kevin & Amanda Secret Ingredient Christmas Cookies? They are PERFECT for cookie swaps and will have everyone trying to guess what the secret ingredient is!

And whisk to combine.

Have you tried the Kevin & Amanda Secret Ingredient Christmas Cookies? They are PERFECT for cookie swaps and will have everyone trying to guess what the secret ingredient is!

Add to your brown butter, sugar, and eggs, and mix until just combined.

Have you tried the Kevin & Amanda Secret Ingredient Christmas Cookies? They are PERFECT for cookie swaps and will have everyone trying to guess what the secret ingredient is!

Oh mama mia. This cookie dough is UN.real!! Use a medium (1.5 tbsp) cookie scoop to form dough into balls and roll in a cinnamon sugar mixture to coat. Bake at 350 for 10 minutes and prepare to be in love.

Have you tried the Kevin & Amanda Secret Ingredient Christmas Cookies? They are PERFECT for cookie swaps and will have everyone trying to guess what the secret ingredient is!

They’re sweet, cinnamon-y, and wonderfully nutty.

Have you tried the Kevin & Amanda Secret Ingredient Christmas Cookies? They are PERFECT for cookie swaps and will have everyone trying to guess what the secret ingredient is!

They’ve got a sugary-crisp outer shell.

Have you tried the Kevin & Amanda Secret Ingredient Christmas Cookies? They are PERFECT for cookie swaps and will have everyone trying to guess what the secret ingredient is!

And the inside is soft, chewy, and gooey. If you love candied pecans and cookies, make these cookies ASAP!! You will love them!! :)

Have you tried the Kevin & Amanda Secret Ingredient Christmas Cookies? They are PERFECT for cookie swaps and will have everyone trying to guess what the secret ingredient is!

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Secret Ingredient Christmas Cookies

  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 25 minutes
  • Yield: Makes 12 Large Cookies 1x
  • Category: Dessert
  • Method: Oven
  • Cuisine: American

Description

These Secret Ingredient Christmas Cookies are incredibly delicious! They’re soft snickerdoodles that are packed with pecans, brown sugar and cinnamon flavor!

Scale

Ingredients

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter
  • 1 cup whole pecans
  • 1 cup quick one-minute oats
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract

For the Rolling Mixture

  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon

Instructions

  1. Melt butter in a heavy bottomed sauce pan over medium to medium-high heat. Once the butter has melted and begins to foam, start whisking constantly. Once the butter is brown and has a nutty fragrance, transfer to a large mixing bowl to cool.
  2. Meanwhile, toast the pecans in a large skillet over medium heat. Cook, stirring frequently, for about 4-5 minutes until the pecans are dark brown and smell toasted. Immediately transfer to the bowl of a food processor. Add the oats and pulse until the oats and pecans are smooth and combined. Transfer the mixture to a mixing bowl and whisk in the flour, baking powder and salt until well combined.
  3. Next add the sugar and brown sugar to the cooled brown butter and beat on medium to medium-high speed for 2-3 minutes. Add the eggs and vanilla and beat for another 2-3 minutes until well combined. Add the flour mixture and beat on low speed until just combined.
  4. Use a medium (1.5 tbsp) cookie scoop to form dough into balls, then roll in cinnamon sugar mixture. Place on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake at 350 for 10 minutes until edges just start to turn golden brown. Cool on a wire rack.

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79 Responses
  1. Sherri

    I bake quite often, made these at the holidays and I don’t think I’ve EVER gotten more compliments on something I made. People were like “what’s IN these?”. Definitely a keeper and will make again and again – holidays or not.

  2. Sue

    Do you think there is a way to make these crispy? I live in Mexico in high humidity and soft and chewy cookies always fall apart. Yet I would love to add these to my Christmas boxes. I wonder if I could roll and cut them and then sprinkle them with cinnamon sugar?

  3. Katie

    Is the measure of a tablespoon of vanilla correct, it seemed to overpower the flavor. I put my batter in the fridge for a while and they came out perfect.

  4. kathleen babbitt

    how do you think coconut would be as a replacement for nuts? should I brown the coconut? this cookie looks amazing and i have never seen anything about browned butter. I’m anxious to give this cookie a try at thanksgiving.

  5. Kelly

    wow~I just made these cookies and it was amazing! I like the full nutty flavor which has crunch outside and chewy inside! This cookie recipe became one of my favorite cookie recipes!!!! Thanks for sharing great cookie recipe Amanda!:)

  6. Leslie

    Finally got around to making “our new favorite” cookies a few weeks ago. My husband cannot stop taking about these cookies. They disappeared in the shortest amount of time. And now he keeps asking me to make more. Little does he know that I packaged some up and placed in the freezer – my secret stash. Shhh… don’t tell him. Thanks for sharing this wonderful cookie recipe.

  7. Kim

    Wonderful cookies! I made these tonight after pinning them before Christmas. Suggestions – really let the butter cool – so it starts to solidify. Chill the dough before rolling! The flavour in these cookies is wonderful.

  8. Jackie

    Hi! Thank you–the cookies taste great and browning the butter was like a science experiment (that actually worked)! I have maybe the same question as china– the cookies hardly flattened out in the oven. Could be an oven issue–maybe not hot enough? I left them on a few extra minutes but that didn’t change their shape.

    1. Kate

      I’ve made these a bunch of times and here’s what solved the issues for me:

      – mixing in the butter before it cools very much — *almost* right away
      – using baking SODA instead of powder
      – mixing everything together BY HAND, and stopping just when it’s mixed – don’t overmix
      – if the dough is SUPER runny, let it sit and cool (don’t touch) for a couple minutes before scooping and rolling in sugar

      Hope that helps :)

      Kate

  9. china

    Hi Amanda. I am baking these cookies as I type. The dough is quite delicious. However my dough isn’t forming into cookies in the oven. Do you have any idea why I might be having this issue? Thanks

  10. Kelly CookingQueen Perkins

    LOVE the brown butter steps and love this recipe!! Will be making soon!!
    PS> I have noticed that there isn’t a pic with the “print recipe” option. I love to see pics when I go to make a recipe. Just a thought…thanks! =)

  11. Mindy

    It’s almost 11pm and I an waiting for my last pan to come out of the oven. These copies are fantastic!!! I knew butter would do that but never tried it myself. This is the coolest thing ever! Can’t wait to share these at a cookie exchange tomorrow! Thank you for this wonderful recipe and the detailed tutorial!

  12. Kate

    So I made these when you first posted, and used baking soda – the cookies came out just like the pictures. Today I made them again and used baking powder and they came out much more snicker-doodle-y, puffed up and thick. Just a note in case anyone prefers one or the other! SOOOOO DELICIOUS either way :)

  13. Traudel Tipton

    My son said they taste like christmas. And took a few more.. OMG these are so delicious. And your pictures are exceptional. Since I have a lot of hazelnut flower I will try that instead of the pecans next time. Love your recipes, thank you
    Toni

  14. sissi

    Ciaoo, complimenti per il vostro blog e per i vostri biscotti!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    Se vi fa piacere, passate a trovarmi!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    Sissi

  15. SAM

    Cookies turned out perfectly. Valerie and Shannon, maybe you did not let the browned butter cool enough? I had no problems whatsoever with the batter’s consistency. Thanks for sharing! I will make them again.

  16. Donna Gaschel

    LOVED these cookies! I’ve made them twice now. The second batch I added an additional 1/2 to 3/4 cup of pecan pieces since I like the crunch and also some chocolate chips. I loved the recipe both ways! Have never used burnt butter in my recipes, what a fantastic difference. Thanks for sharing!

  17. Katherine

    Hi Amanda! I’m working on baking these cookies right now! I have a question though…the picture of ingredients shows baking powder, but the ingredients list says baking soda. Which is it? Thanks so much!

  18. Raina Lowry

    These cookies are amazing. Just the right amount of crisp, just the right amount of chew. Like deep nutty chewy snickerdoodles. Made them just as listed except subbed in some nutmeg with the cinnamon in the dip. Will absolutely make again.

  19. Emily @ Life on Food

    These cookies scream Christmas. I feel all warm inside already. I am adding them to the list of baking I need to do in December.

  20. Grace

    I’m sure these are great but I think you’ve never tried browned butter FROSTING. It’s seriously heavenly and nothing will compare once you try it

  21. Valerie

    just made the batter for these and it is delicious!! but, it’s definitely not thick enough to make into balls for rolling. ?? very gloppy. I will freeze the batter so I can proceed. but I am wondering if anyone else noticed this. I re-read the ingredients several times to be sure I did it correctly.

  22. Barb

    These cookies look wonderful – I’m going to give them a try too. (Full confession: I’ve never made cookies with browned butter before but that’s about to change :-)!!)

    Thanks for sharing the secrets!!

  23. peggy whisenhunt

    never knew to do the butter like that. cannot wait to try these because I love love love the ingredient, all my favorite things. Gonna make these for thanksgiving for sure. best part you say they are soft on the inside. love that.

  24. emily

    These look so yummy! I love candied pecans also….so I’m definitely going to try these for my cookie exchange! Maybe I missed it, but how many cookies does this recipe make? I have to make quite a few for the cookie exchange I’m in, so I would want to be sure to have enough! Thanks for the recipe!

    1. Amanda

      Hi Emily! It makes between 2-3 dozen. I need to stop eating so much cookie dough so I can get an accurate count!! ;)

  25. Karen B

    Up really early – getting a chance to read the recipe. Yum! Do you think I can use regular oats-old fashion-since that is all I have. Want to do this for a weekend event.

  26. Ashley | Spoonful of Flavor

    I love the flavor and crunch that nuts add to cookies. Combined with the brown butter, these cookies are perfect for Christmas!

  27. Susan

    These look and sound like they will be amazing!!!! I can’t wait to make these and let me tell you, it WILL be soon!! Thanks for sharing.

  28. Katherine

    I’m seriously allergic to pecans/walnuts/almonds so I am always sure to ask if they are in cookies before I indulge. These look completely non suspicious of containing nuts so I will have to remember to always ask now no matter what the surface looks like! But in all seriousness, the cookies are beautiful. I would just omit the pecans for myself.

    1. Amanda

      Great advice Katherine! It’s always a good idea to be diligent about checking ingredients, especially if you have a food allergy! Peanut Butter cookies are the same way — no visible nuts! These cookies would still be great if you left out the nuts. I would swap 1 cup pecans with 1 cup oats. And you can still call them “secret ingredient” cookies because of the brown butter! ;) It really is a secret ingredient to cookies!! :) Happy baking! :)

  29. Beth @ bethcakes

    Love your step by step tutorial for browning butter! And that these cookies are rolled in a cinnamon sugar mixture. Sounds amazing!

    1. Amanda

      Yes! :) I have done it both ways — I have baked them and put them in the freezer after baking and also at the step just before baking (after rolling in the cinnamon sugar) so all you have to do is take them out of the freezer and bake. Either way they come out great! Hope this helps! :)

  30. Laura (Blogging Over Thyme)

    These look wonderful! Love the addition of pecans–and all that cinnamon sugar. Totally my kind of cookie.

  31. Tieghan

    These are like a dream cookie! I love grinding pecans in pecan butter this time of year, since pecans tend to be my nut of choice as the holidays roll in! These are simply amazing amanda!! I will be making these for sure!

  32. Jocelyn @BruCrew Life

    Those do sound way too good…I’m pretty sure it would be dangerous for me to be around those cookies! Browned butter in cookies is my favorite!!!

  33. Anele @ Success Along the Weigh

    These look INSANELY good! I’m going to put these in my Christmas cookie rotation that I bake for others this year. I’m always looking for good ways to shake it up!

  34. Cookbook Queen

    I am seriously WAY too excited about these cookies!! And I am LOVING your step by step photos for browned butter — I’ve never had it in my cookies and that is changing ASAP!!

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Kevin and Amanda

We love to travel and to eat! Here we share our favorite quick and easy recipes, plus travel tips and guides for our favorite places around the world. Meet our Boston Terriers. Take a tour of our house. If you have any questions about what camera I use or how I edit my photos, check out my photography tutorials.

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