Recently Jules of GF Jules sent me an invitation to join in on her Gluten-Free Cookie Exchange. I was pleased to be asked and happy to get into some cookie baking and these naturally gluten-free Flourless Pecan Sandies are the result!
Cookies have long been one of my favorites and are considered my baking specialties. Baking cookies makes me happy.
I make them all year long, not just for the holidays. I’ve been known to play hooky from work before when I was in a funky mood just to bake cookies and get “recalibrated.”
Once, during my teaching days, I wasn’t feeling that great, but I wasn’t feeling awful or feeling sick necessarily either. Just very blah. The assistant principal, who was very familiar with my love of baking homemade cookies and was a kind person as well, told me that I needed to take a day off to bake cookies.
So I did just that and afterward, all was good again. A few hours spent in the process of mixing cookie batter with my favorite wooden spoon, spooning cookie batter onto cookie sheets (I have another favorite, perfectly-sized stainless steel spoon for this task), breathing in the different aromas that fill the house, removing the cookies from the oven at just the right moment, sliding them off the cookies sheets to cool, and then finally tasting the results of my efforts … well, it’s just the best! For me, it’s a calming, restorative process.
So I had Jules’ Gluten-Free Cookie Swap on my mind. Plus there was the 12 Days of Christmas Cookies event that Maggie (She Let Them Eat Cake) has been hosting with many of your other favorite gluten-free bloggers serving as daily hosts.
And, my friend, Nancy (The Sensitive Pantry, which sadly is no longer operating)—who is without a stove at all for the moment, but is tackling that crisis with an admirably calm demeanor—decided to host a cookie roundup, Calling All Cookies, since she can’t do any baking right now herself. (There are almost 40 recipes so far; go find your “new favorite” recipe and link one, too.)
My friend Diane made Captain Jack’s Chocolate Rum Cookies for another holiday cookie blogging event. I’m all for those, but as Diane said, if Johnny Depp (“Captain Jack,” himself) shows up, forget the cookies!
Then Linda (Gluten-Free Homemaker, which is no longer active) issued her monthly challenge—Make A Gluten-Free Cookie.
With all those events in mind and my gfe reader-assigned label of flourless and crustless queen, I’ve been thinking about these Flourless Pecan Sandies.
Well, it all really started when I made Desi’s (The Palate Peacemaker, which is no longer active) Spiced Maple Pecan Butter to spread on my Classic Pumpkin Bread. I love pecans, so I loved her recipe.
Pecan butter … hmmm, another nut butter, I thought. Nut butter, well, peanut butter really (peanuts are legumes, not nuts actually) is the basis of the Flourless Peanut Butter Cookies.
It’s the consistency of the nut butter and its natural fat content when mixed with egg and sugar that allows one to make a successful and incredibly delicious cookie—totally without flour. I’ve also partially substituted natural almond butter in that recipe to create Almond Peanut Butter Cookies (which then went on to become Almond Peanut Butter Cookie S’mores). (Or sometimes, I substitute all almond butter for the peanut butter.)
So the idea of using pecan butter in flourless cookies was sort of hanging around in the back of my head. Such cookies are even better than ones with flour because the flour doesn’t compete with the main flavors.
My good friend, Debi (Hunter’s Lyonesse) whose personal story I shared recently here at gfe, just adopted me for the Adopt a Gluten-Free Blogger event. She made both the Flourless Peanut Butter Cookies and the Flourless Almond Butter Cookies.
Debi wrote an incredibly lovely and generous post (I’m still blushing!). And she told me on Facebook that her husband said that those cookies were her best gluten-free baking yet!
Back to how these cookies came about … a short time after making Desi’s Pecan Butter, I adopted Ricki (Ricki Heller) and made her Cashew Chocolate Chip Cookies. This time, natural cashew butter was the basis for a flourless cookie.
Ricki’s cookies were surprising because they were flourless and successful without even the benefit of an egg or refined sugar. Flax seed meal, maple syrup, and coconut oil worked with cashew butter to make her recipe work.
So earlier today, I went for it. I made a version of pecan butter, only slightly adapting Desi’s’ recipe by omitting the spices and adding some coconut oil as Ricki had used in her cookie recipe. The amount of pecan butter that resulted was slightly less than one cup, but I wasn’t too worried about it because Ricki’s cookie recipe had used less than a cup of nut butter.
To keep this recipe more “mainstream” (i.e., readily available ingredients and flavors folks are used to), I matched the pecan butter with the same amount of brown sugar. (Note: Every instinct tells me that palm or coconut sugar will be wonderful in this recipe, giving these gluten-free Flourless Pecan Sandies more of a buttery, rich taste, but I have none on hand at the moment.)
I added the remaining ingredients that I’d used in my other peanut butter/nut butter cookies—one egg, vanilla extract, and baking soda—to the pecan butter and brown sugar. To make these cookies look and taste more like traditional Pecan Sandies, I toasted some pecans in the oven, chopped them a bit, and used them to top the cookies before baking.
Because there is no flour in these cookies, they are the color of the natural pecan butter and the brown sugar, so they are much darker in appearance than your average pecan sandy. They are also slightly different in taste and thickness than a typical pecan sandy. They are a little crunchy on the outside, chewy on the inside, and chock full of pecan goodness!
The fact that they are naturally gluten free, grain free, and dairy free is just fabulous. I’m still aspiring to eat that way all the time. Eating grain free can also reduce one’s exposure to gluten cross contact.
Okay, that’s what recipe development is all about … letting just the kernel of an idea develop into something good over time. Well, in this case, something really good!
Incidentally, I don’t personally care for the term “recipe development.” It sounds a bit hoity-toity, like such an unattainable goal for the average person. Recipe development sounds like something reserved for culinary geniuses, you know?
However, creating recipes doesn’t have to be at all. Any of us can come up with great ideas and recipes in the kitchen. We just have to be willing to play around a bit and always keep it real.
Another good friend, Heidi (Adventures of a Gluten-Free Mom), is outstanding in the area of recipe development. She’ll completely deny this, of course, but she doesn’t fully recognize or acknowledge her own talents (love you, Heidi!).
Every day her readers (and I’m one of them) are amazed at the things she accomplishes. Often, she’ll start with just an idea … a recipe she’s seen elsewhere that makes her think about a baking method differently perhaps.
Then she’s off! She tinkers and plays until she has something she’s sure her own family will love and can eat safely (given each of their intolerances). And, she shares all of it with her readers—even the missteps along the way—to help others avoid those so that they may have outstanding results only.
Okay, this recipe is Version 1.0 of these cookies. Now don’t get worried, these are good … really good. They have a good texture with nice chewiness, have lots of pecan flavor and even the crunch of the pecans with the toasted bits on top, and they are plenty sweet. But one day I would like to make them egg free and/or refined sugar free.
The latter version would be a little healthier and would work for my other readers who have additional intolerances. Using flax seed meal and hot water to make a flax gel egg would make for a slightly chunkier cookie, too.
Pecan sandies are typically thicker than this flourless version. In addition, I’d like these to have more of that buttery mouthfeel, which traditional pecan sandies have.
But, I’m thinking of “modifying” these cookies another way, too. I think if I “under baked” these cookies slightly, Pecan Sandy Granola (similar to my Oatmeal Raisin Cookie Granola) could be in my family’s future. Ah, more “recipe development”—see … it’s not so hard!
Until then, I think you’ll be happy with these yummy cookies. Santa definitely was!
Gluten-Free Flourless Pecan Sandies Recipe
Flourless Pecan Sandies
These gluten-free Flourless Pecan Sandies are a little crunchy on the outside, chewy on the inside, and chock full of pecan goodness!
Original recipe from Shirley Braden, but inspired by Desi Domo and Ricki Heller.
If cookies are left on baking sheet longer than a minute after removing from the oven, they may be difficult to remove. However, if you place the baking sheet back in the oven for about 30 seconds and then let it set outside the oven a few seconds, you can then remove them easily.
Day 1 – Gluten-Free Holiday Giveaway Galore x 10—Giveaway of the new book, Mommy, What is Celiac Disease? plus gluten-free treats and fun stuff.
Day 2 — Guest Post from Debi Smith (Hunter’s Lyonesse)—My Journey Back to Healthy Living
Day 3 — Corn and Butter Bean (or Lima Bean) Casserole for A Gluten-Free Holiday
Day 4 — Little Cayman Beach Resort Review
Day 5 — 20 (Plus) Thoughts on International Food Bloggers Conference
Day 6 — Nutiva Products (Coconut, Hemp x 2, & Chia) Review and Giveaway
Day 7 — Reindeer Antlers Punch for Share Our Holiday Table
Originally published December 8, 2010; updated June 23, 2022.
When is your flourless cookbook coming out? You are definitely the queen of flourless baking. Well, pecans are my favorite nut, most likely because they are so sweet. “Sweet” is my weakness, even in veggies, hence my love of beets. =) My mom used to make little pecan sandies during the holidays. Gosh, I had totally written them off after going GF, but you’ve just reminded me how much I loved those little treats. You have the GFE thing down, Shirley! Thanks for the renewed interest in pecan sandies (I think). You’ll be hearing from me if I make these and eat them all myself! They do look crunchy, which I love!
Good morning, Melissa! I’ll take the flourless (and don’t forget crustless! LOL) baking queen title, but really think I need a few more recipes to deserve it. I’ll keep working on it though. 😉
Now most folks would not say that someone loves beets does so because they have a weakness for “sweet.” That kind of sweet weakness we could all use!
Your mom made pecan sandies?! Nice. I don’t know that these taste like the original ones where flour plays a big role, but they work for me. 🙂 They’re crunchy on the outside a bit and chewy on the inside (I even updated the post to say that). I think as I tweak them, they’ll be just the right balance of the two. 😉
Gluten Free Diva says
Oh Shirley, these look darn delicious. Perfectly dunkable, if you ask me. I love your explanation of “recipe development”. Ha! Hoity toity – you’re so right about that! As for me, I LOVE developing/creating/figuring out (whatever you wanna call it) new recipes. It’s so much fun to study a whole slew of different recipes (for the same thing) and then come up with something that is clearly your own take. Anywaysssss, your version #1 looks great. Say no more!
Well, hello to the new Gluten Free Diva! 😉 Ellen, you’re a sweetheart! “Perfectly dunkable” … now that’s a high compliment! 🙂
Oh, and I just love your new blog, Gluten Free Diva. I like your progression from I Am Gluten Free (sort of channeling Helen Reddy there, I think) to Gluten Free Diva! From take charge to “yeah, I’m all about it” kind of approach. 😉
There’s nothing hoity toity about either of us, is there, Ellen? But boy do we have fun in the kitchen! And, hopefully, our readers benefit!
xo … sending you a big hug!
Oh. My. Goodness. Shirley, I think you’ve just created my dream cookie. I cannot wait to make these!!!! Plus, I do happen to have palm sugar on hand, so I’m going to try using it instead of the brown sugar! Yummmmmmmmmm….
Hi Desi–Glad you felt the pecan vibes/love and came over to gfe! 😉 I can’t wait to find out if I am right on the palm sugar … fingers crossed, dear. 🙂
Thanks for being my inspiration! The egg-free version will be next …
I LOVE pecans, these sound and look fantastic! Thanks for sharing!
Hi Ashlie–Thanks so much, and great to see you! 🙂 I hope you’ll enjoy these pecan-packed goodies!
Heidi @adventuresofaglutenfreemom.com says
You are too funny, thank you for the kind words, they mean so much to me. 😀
As for your AWESOME “no need for me to tweak” Flourless Pecan Sandies recipe, I’m with Melissa, when is your flourless cookbook coming out?!
I just love your recipes and your whole approach to living gluten-free…easily! I know I can always count on you to bail me out when I am in a time crunch. 😀
Hope you’re feeling better, I just started coming down with the crud myself. Guess I better start downing more green smoothies, there is no time for this in December!
Good morning, Heidi! You’re welcome, dear. And, I’m so grateful to you for pointing out my egg omission in the ingedients listing. Hate it when that happens!
You know … I definitely think I want a flourless cookbook in my gfe series (think big, right?). I’m eating a flourless blackened black bean burger right now for breakfast. 😉
You’re such a sweetie with all the “warm fuzzies” on my recipes and approach … thank you!
No, no, no on you getting the crud! It’s still hanging with me a bit. I’m emailing you some possible remedies right this very minute. If I’d done them early enough, I might not still be suffering. Aaargh.
Shirley, you’re killing me with cookies! *adds pecans to the next shopping list*
Hi Debi–Smart girl to add the key ingredient to your shopping list right away! 😉 Hope you like them if you make them … stay tuned for the other versions. The flax seed meal one might be even better. 🙂
I immediately spotted these on the Gluten Free Cookie Swap fanpage- they look wonderful! Thanks for the recipe- these are a bright spot on this afternoon’s ‘to-do’ list 😉
Hi Rhonda–It looks like you are new to gfe–welcome! 🙂 Jules’ Cookie Swap is great, isn’t it? Thanks so much for the kind feedback! Sure hope you like these. 😉
Hey, even uncensored under your harsh stove light, the cookies look great! The recipe also sounds good and tasty – although I’ve used nut butter in baking a number of times, I’ve never thought to use pecan butter. It sounds interesting. I like the sound of you having a flourless baking cookbook as well. 😉 You have to tell us as soon as your hat’s in the ring, Shirley!
Hi Zoe–Awwww, thanks, dear! I would never have thought of pecan butter either, it was only because of Desi’s recipe, that it clicked for me. I’m thiking that walnut butter would be really good in certain recipes, too.
A flourless cookbook for baking and other recipes that would normally require flour sounds like fun, doesn’t it? Might have to add crustless in there, too, but that could get confusing since most crustless recipes require a small amount of flour. Well, I’m watching a seminar this weekend on how to write a cookbook in a weekend, so I’ll let you know how that goes. 😉 Step 1!
Thanks for all your encouragement and sweet words, Zoe!
Pat @ Elegantly, Gluten-Free says
My favorite nut – pecans! How much more awesome can a cookie be than to be GF and include pecans and brown sugar?
Hi Pat–Happy Friday! It seems there are a lot of us pecan lovers around. 😉 As soon as you said pecans and brown sugar I thought of pecan pralines … another favorite of mine. But yes, that same awesome combo is in the these cookies. 🙂
Shirley- love the way you let inspiration take you away to a great cookie place! And we’re all the beneficiaries! I’m really excited to do my own experimenting with your version as my inspiration!
Thanks for sharing on the Gluten Free Cookie Swap on Facebook, too! : ) I hope lots of folks go there to “like” this recipe so you can win!
Hi Jules!–“A great cookie place”—love that! I think we all want to go to a great cookie place … ha ha … I know you didn’t mean exactly that, but you did use the word beneficiaries, too. LOL Seriously, thanks for the kind words. I bet you’ll come up with your own great version. And, while I wanted to make these cookies flourless, I bet a little of your flour mix added to them would make them even more like traditional pecan sandies. Can’t wait to hear how you fare with your experimenting! I’m not so worried about winning, but I do hope folks go to the Gluten-Free Cookie Swap and “like” the ones that appeal to them the most. I’ll see if I can stir them up and I’ll make sure the post has all the links. 🙂
I love both your pecan butter and then the resulting cookies.
I have bought ready-made (shame on me) cashew butter and almond butter. I like the idea of making my own, especially pecan.
I love reading your “columns” with all the news of the gluten-free world. Not only should you write a GF cookbook, you should also write a GF column, in a newspaper or do you do this, already?
Hi Chaya–Do you want a part-time job as a publicist for gfe? 😉 It’s sure great having you in my corner–thanks so much! No actual newspaper or online column yet, but I’m totally game. 🙂 I feel like I write a column at least once a week either via gfe or my email newsletters to my support group, and I love doing it.
This is the first nut butter I’ve ever made myself. It was so easy, but if pecan butter was avialable at the grocery store, I’d probably buy it, so don’t feel bad at all.
Thanks for all the sweet kudos, dear! xo,
Did you know if you use google blog search and type in “gluten-free, egg-free, sugar-free, nut-free cookies,” this post is the first thing to come up? I guess they got half of it right! LOL
Hi Iris–That is too, too funny! I don’t know what it means … Google is broken? there’s a gfe “virus” in Google? LOL, but I must go check it out. Thanks for sharing!
Hi Shirley – Can I live with you for a week so I can watch you in action? I’ll bake with you 🙂 These pecan sandies look amazing. I’ve never had one before but I am hooked on yours. And I will be making pecan butter. Pete will LOVE it! I too am a cookie girl. From start to finish, I love baking cookies. And eating them fresh out of the oven! xo
Good morning, Maggie–Chuckling here … you might be disappointed when you see me in action. There are periods of bursts of energy with lots of activity in the kitchen and then there are long boring periods of me sitting behind this laptop. 😉 I’m smiling and laughing out loud during those latter times, but they would probably not be too exciting for someone watching. LOL
I think this recipe will be one that I will make a ton of different ways, much like the flourless peanut butter cookies. I really hope you and Pete enjoy them when you make them. Of course, yours will be egg free so if you make them before I get to them, I want feedback! 🙂
xo from your sister in “cookiedom” …
And thanks AGAIN for pointing your readers to our event. xo
And, you’re welcome! But I forgot to put in your badge … off to do that now. 🙂
Wow, do those ever look great! I loved the recipe development story, too (and maybe next time these pecan sandies will even be egg-free!). I don’t know how you do it. . . so many posts, so many fab recipes and info! Do you ever sleep? 😉
And it always amazes me how many food bloggers are former teachers!
Hi Ricki–Thank you, my dear! 🙂 As I’ve been saying to others here, I believe the egg-free version might be even better … a little chunkier and nuttier.
Hey you should talk as someone who just came off of keeping up with Vegan MoFo for a month! I’m only doing my event for 25 days. 😉 It’s taking up quite a bit of time (and my house is showing it LOL), but I’m totally enjoying it! And, on the latter question … let’s just say I sleep more on weekends.
Former teachers are “sharers” who like to have a bit of an audience, so the teacher/food blogger connection sort of makes sense, right? 🙂
I’ve made my share of flourless nut butter cookies. Since my husband can’t have peanut butter, I’ve tried different ones, but never pecan. What a great idea! I’m sure it’s delicious.
Hi Linda–I think you and your family will enjoy these. 🙂 The pecan butter totally changes the cookie possibilities. After the holidays, I might try some other non-peanut nut butters. 😉
Oh man, I love pecan cookies! Since you mentioned wanting a recipe with less refined sugar, you may be interested in this version, which has only 2T maple syrup, and I promise they are plenty sweet!
http://themommybowl.com/2010/09/21/pecan-slices-grain-free-vegan/ and it came out PERFECT. The first time I made them, I pressed the balls down before baking, as suggested, and they came out beautiful and delicate and perfect. They were rather fragile, though. The next time I made them, I left the balls intact, so they came out thicker and a little homlier, but they were just as delicious and explode-in-your-mouth crunchy. And they transported to a party a little more intact!
Hi Gigi–Welcome to gfe! 🙂 Thanks for sharing the link for Deanna’s recipe. 2 tbsp of maple syrup does sound yummy. Will definitely check them out! Haha on the homeliness version being sturdier … sounds about right? 😉 And, like you said, still delicious. I’ll try Deanna’s recipe and keep playing with mine. I think coconut sugar and flax seed meal will be terrific in this recipe. 😉
Oh, I see, they’re like those flourless pb cookies. What a great idea, I’ve never thought to make those with another nut butter. Thanks for sharing a great gluten-free cookie recipe with the Hearth and Soul hop.
Hi Butterpoweredbike–Yes, exactly … another nut butter cookie option. 🙂 Happy to participate in Heath & Soul this week. Unfortunately I missed you guys a few weeks. 🙁
[email protected] says
Shirley you have posted this recipe at the perfect time….as I just finished picking about 15 gallons of native pecans. Now I’ll have to rush them to get cracked so I can try your recipe! Thanks so much for sharing with the Hearth and Soul hop.
Hi Jason–Good to see you here at gfe! 🙂 You are totally ready! I love pecans. We used to have a pecan tree in our back yard at our previous house. It was wonderful, although the tree mainly produced enough th enjoy as you went vs picking a bunch to store away. So many possibilities for you for baking/cooking! 😉
I love these are made with pecan butter. Yum! Thank you for sharing this on Real Food Weekly.
These are my moms favorite type of cookie, I have to make them for her!
Hi Melanie–I really hope your mom likes these. 🙂 These cookies turned out a little harder than I would like, so I’d like to revisit the recipe again. It may just be a matter of undercooking them more. Still, I enjoyed these cookis and I loved being able to make them flourless. 😉
Your flourless Pecan Sandies sound wonderful. The flourless Peanut Butter are ok , but I’m not a real peanut butter fan,really looking forward to trying these .
Shirley Braden says
Hi Donna–I know you left this comment a month ago, but welcome to gfe, albeit a bit belatedly! 😉 It’s been a while since I’ve made these cookies. Now I want to make them again! Hope you enjoyed them if you made them. 🙂