Pecan Sandies? Meet your upgraded, revamped competition.

Caramel Shortbread Cookies

Even if you think you don’t like pecan sandie cookies, I know you’ll like these. How do I know? Because I don’t really care for pecan sandies myself. They might possibly be my last cookie of choice, but these homemade caramel-filled pecan cookies are heads and tails above the store-bought version I’ve tasted before.

Toasted coconut and pecans are ground together and added to the shortbread cookie dough. Rolled out and baked, the cookies turn out delightfully crisp but still buttery and tender. Filled with chewy, creamy caramel and drizzled with caramel and chocolate, these cookies were a huge hit with my family. I can’t lie – I was kind of surprised. I thought they would be just average, but instead they were phenomenal.

To top it off, they are beautiful and have a cute yet elegant presentation. Perfect for a holiday platter or goodie plate!

Make Ahead: Cookies can be made 1 day ahead and kept in an airtight container at room temperature before filling. Once filled, they will store, covered for up to three days.

Caramel Shortbread Cookies

Caramel Shortbread Cookies

Yield: Makes about 2 1/2 dozen cookies (depending on the size of your cookie cutter)

Caramel Shortbread Cookies


  • 1/4 cup sweetened shredded coconut
  • 1/2 cup pecans
  • 2 sticks butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Caramel Filling:
  • 1 1/3 cups sugar
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons water
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 4 tablespoons butter, cut into small pieces


  1. For the cookies: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spread the coconut in an even layer on one half of a rimmed baking sheet and the pecans on the other. Toast, stirring coconut halfway through, until nuts are fragrant and coconut is light golden, 5 to 7 minutes. Place coconut and pecans in a food processor and pulse until finely chopped (alternately you can chop very finely by hand).
  2. In a large bowl beat the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Beat in vanilla. Add flour and salt; beat until combined. Beat in chopped coconut and pecans. Turn out the dough onto a piece of plastic wrap and shape into a flattened disk. Wrap in plastic. Chill the dough until firm, about 30 minutes.
  3. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper or slipat liners. Set aside. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough to about 1/8-inch thickness. Using a 2-inch flower (or round) cookie cutter, cut out shapes and place 1 inch apart on baking sheets. Chill until firm, about 10 minutes.
  4. Remove from fridge or freezer and using a smaller (about 3/4-inch) round cookie cutter or wide end of a pastry tip cut out and remove the centers from half the cookies.
  5. Bake the cookies until golden brown, about 12 minutes. Transfer cookies to a wire rack to cool completely. Cookies can be made 1 day ahead and kept in an airtight container at room temperature.
  6. For the caramel filling: Place the sugar and 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons water in a medium heavy-bottom saucepan. Set over medium-high heat and stir to combine. Without stirring, bring the mixture to a boil, and cook until dark amber in color, about 5 minutes, washing down the sides of the pan with a wet pastry brush to prevent crystals from forming (click here and scroll down about halfway for a good visual image of this process).
  7. Remove from heat. Carefully pour the cream down the sides of the pan (it will spatter), stirring constantly, until fully combined. Add the butter and stir to combine. Transfer to a heatproof bowl and let cool slightly before filling the cookies.
  8. When cookies have cooled (don’t start the caramel until they are cool), spoon or pipe about 1 teaspoon caramel filling onto the flat side of each of the whole cookies. Top with cut cookies, keeping flat sides down. Drizzle the remaining caramel over the tops. Let caramel set for at least 2 hours. The cookies can also be drizzled with melted chocolate, if desired. Cookies can be kept, layered between sheets of parchment paper in an airtight container at room temperature for up to three days.

Recipe Source: adapted from Martha Stewart’s Baking Handbook

15 Responses to Caramel Shortbread Cookies

  1. karen says:

    Hi Mel! Do uou think these would freeze okay? I ask because I made shortbread bites last year and after thawing they lost their crunch and weren’t nearly as good. Just wondering if you’ve ever had success freezing these or any other shortbread cookie. Thanks!!!

    • Mel says:

      Good question, Karen. Unfortunately I’ve never frozen them so I’m not sure. The best way would be to test it out with a small batch and see how they fare. Sorry I’m not more help.

      • karen says:

        Okay, thanks for responding. You the best, Mel!

        • Betsy says:

          I made these last week and froze them, had the same concern based on previous experience. They thawed out beautifully, still crunchy. I made sure to get them golden brown – so if not crispy to start they might get soggy. BTW, these are fabulous – not the easiest recipe, but worth the effort. Thanks for the recipe!

  2. Sherry Connelly says:

    These were a new favorite. I have to tell you, I am a cookie snob. Not very many new recipes excite me cause my cookie collection is awesome, but these are probably my second favorite cookie ever. The caramel did not work well for me, so I used my own caramel recipe, but the shortbread was to die for. I highly recommend these. The pecan and coconut ground and mixed into the dough is what made it a superb cookie. The taste is out of this world!

  3. Annie says:

    These cookies were amazing! The people I made them for were so impressed, and I was so amazed that such a nice cookie actually came out of my kitchen! Great recipe!

  4. Emmy says:

    I made these for a baby shower, placing them in clear baggies tied with ribbons for the favors. They were amazing!! Everyone was completely wowed that I’d actually made them. They were a lot of work, but totally worth it. The caramel didn’t work for me, not sure what I did wrong, it just didn’t set up! I subbed my own recipe for caramel and drizzled the tops with milk chocolate. It reminded me of a gourmet twix bar. Thanks for the recipe, and the super cute cookie shape idea!

  5. Sook says:

    I Love shortbread and wow, why haven’t I thought of adding caramel to it?? This one, I have to try!!

  6. teresa says:


  7. Kara@ Creations by Kara says:

    You’re killing me. I want to try every single sugary recipe you have posted! πŸ™‚

  8. Cammee says:

    I can’t wait to try these! I’m a huge fan of shortbread, not to mention shortbread with cocnut in it and then slathered with caramel.

  9. Melanie Anne says:

    I Love shortbread! These are beautiful! Wow you have been a busy little baker lately! I am impressed with your sugar rush! All the treats look professional!!

  10. grace says:

    pecan sandies definitely don’t tickle my fancy, but the very presence of coconut in these automatically makes them more appealing. the caramel doesn’t hurt either. πŸ™‚

  11. Your Homebased Mom says:

    I am so making these – I try a few new cookie recipes each year and this will be one of them – shorbread, chocolate and caramel – yum!!! You never disappoint Melanie!!

  12. Anonymous says:

    Oh, do I love caramel! I’m making these for a cookie exchange this Saturday. Each morning I can’t wait to see what you’ve posted. Thanks for sharing. Teresa

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