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Brown Butter Pistachio Cookies

Brown Butter Pistachio Cookies have such amazing flavor in a crunchy, chewy cookie. The flavor combination of pistachios, brown butter, and orange is a big-time winner!

overhead view of Brown Butter Pistachio Cookies piled on a beige plate

Brown Butter Pistachio Cookies

One of my all-time favorite cookies is my Brown Butter Salty Sugar Cookies. They’ve long been on my go-to list of share-able sweets. These Brown Butter Pistachio Cookies are a variation of that recipe with lots of crunchy pistachios and a hint of orange. And I adore them every bit as much as the original!

These sweet, nutty cookies are crunchy on the outside and chewy on the inside with amazing flavor from start to finish. The combination of flavors here works so very well. The richness of the brown butter, the nuttiness of the pistachios, the citrus kick of the orange… oh, it’s all good!

These cookies are wonderful any time, but I find that they’re especially a great choice for something a little different during the holiday season.

overhead view of ingredients for Brown Butter Pistachio Cookies

What You’ll Need

Other than the basics, you’ll need an orange, orange extract, and pistachios. While you’ll get a pretty darn good cookie without the orange additions, the flavor the zest and extract add make these cookies something special!

  • Unsalted butter
  • All-purpose flour – Measure by weight for best results. If you don’t have a kitchen scale, use the spoon and sweep method. This dough is a bit crumbly, so inaccurate flour measurement can be the difference in great cookies and okay cookies.
  • Baking soda
  • Salt
  • Orange zest – See my tips for zesting citrus if you need a little help.
  • Granulated sugar
  • Brown sugar – I like light brown sugar for these cookies, but dark brown sugar should work, too.
  • Egg – Set out the egg so it can come to room temperature.
  • Vanilla extract
  • Orange extract – Look for orange extract alongside the other extracts. A little goes a long way, so you won’t need much for these cookies. (Looking for more ways to use orange extract? Try Almond Spice Cookies or Winter Fruit Oatmeal Cookies.)
  • Pistachios – Roughly chop the pistachios. If yours are salted, you may want to decrease the salt in the recipe.
overhead view of Brown Butter Pistachio Cookies on a beige surface and a beige plate

How to Make Brown Butter Pistachio Cookies

There’s one extra step here versus making traditional cookies. Browning the butter takes a short time and is absolutely worth it for the flavor it brings to the cookie party!

Brown the butter. Place the butter in a heavy saucepan or skillet. Cook over medium heat until the butter melts and begins to foam. Continue cooking until brown bits begin to form beneath the foam and the butter has a nutty aroma. (Keep an eye on the butter as it browns. It can go from browned to burned pretty quickly.) Remove the pan from the heat. Transfer the butter to a large mixing bowl and allow to cool until it’s still warm to the touch (about 10 minutes).

Combine the dry ingredients. Whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, and orange zest.

Combine the wet ingredients. Add the sugar and brown sugar to the partially cooled butter. With an electric mixer on medium speed, beat until thoroughly combined. Add the egg, vanilla, and orange extract. Mix well.

Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients. With the mixer on low speed, gradually add the flour mixture to the butter mixture. Mix just until combined or a few streaks of flour remain. Do not over-mix.

Add the pistachios. Stir in the pistachios until well-distributed. The dough will be a little crumbly but should hold together when pinched.

Chill the dough. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes. You can refrigerate longer (like overnight), but let the dough sit at room temperature for about 10 minutes until it’s more easily handled.

Prepare for baking. Heat the oven to 350°F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone liners.

Portion the dough. Using a tablespoonful of dough at a time, squeeze the dough a few times in your hand until it holds together and then roll into a ball. Place the dough on the prepared pans, leaving about 2 inches between cookies.

Bake. Bake the cookies, one pan at a time, for 12 to 15 minutes, or until the edges are browned and the centers appear set. Refrigerate the remaining dough between batches.

Cool the cookies. Place the pans on wire racks to allow the cookies to cool for 5 to 10 minutes. Then transfer the cookies from the pans to a wire rack to cool completely.

overhead view of Brown Butter Pistachio Cookies piled on a wire rack

Tips for Success

  • Keep an eye on the butter while it’s browning. This is not the time for multi-tasking. While browning butter is super easy to do, you need to stay close so you can remove it from the heat once it’s ready. It can go from browned to burned pretty quickly.
  • About those crackly tops… The key to getting the tops to have that crackled look is not to cool the butter all the way to room temperature. About 10 minutes of cooling should leave the butter warm but not hot. It needs to have some warmth to allow the sugar to dissolve some when mixed. Also, be sure not to over-mix the dough.
  • Don’t skip the chill time. That time in the refrigerator helps the dough relax and the flavors meld together. It will also help keep your cookies from spreading too much.
  • Soft or crispy? These cookies will be softer if they’re baked on the shorter end of the time range, and crisper if baked on the longer end.
stack of Brown Butter Pistachio Cookies on a beige surface

How to Store These Cookies

Store the cooled cookies in an airtight container at room temperature. They should keep up to 3 days. If they seem overly crisp, a few seconds in the microwave can help freshen them a bit.

Can These Cookies Be Frozen?

Yes! After the cookies have cooled, wrap them in plastic wrap and then place in an airtight, freezer-safe bag or container. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator or for a couple of hours at room temperature.

To freeze the unbaked cookie dough, portion and shape the cookies into balls. Place in a single layer on a lined rimmed baking sheet. Freeze until solid (2 hours should be plenty). Then place the frozen dough in an airtight, freezer-safe bag or container. When you’re ready to bake the cookies, there’s no need to thaw. Just bake them as directed, adding another minute or two to the baking time.

Brown Butter Pistachio Cookies on a beige plate with a brown and white mug in the background

Brown Butter Pistachio Cookies

Yield 48 cookies
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Additional Time 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour

Brown butter, pistachios, and a hint of orange make these Brown Butter Pistachio Cookies a favorite!

overhead view of Brown Butter Pistachio Cookies piled on a beige plate

Ingredients

  • 1 cup (226g) unsalted butter
  • 2 cups (240g) all-purpose flour
  • 1 & 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 to 1 teaspoon orange zest (from 1 medium orange)
  • 1 cup (200g) granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup (100g) firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon orange extract
  • 1 cup (100g) chopped pistachios

Instructions

    1. Place the butter in a medium saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently. Once the butter melts and begins to foam, continue to cook until brown specks begin to appear beneath the foam. The butter will have a nutty aroma. Remove from the heat and transfer to a glass bowl. Allow to cool about 10 minutes, or until warm to the touch but not hot.
    2. Whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, and orange zest. Set aside.
    3. Using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat the butter, sugar, and brown sugar until combined. Add the egg, vanilla extract, and orange extract, and mix well.
    4. Reduce mixer speed to low. Gradually add the flour mixture, mixing just until combined or a few streaks of flour remain.
    5. Stir in the pistachios.
    6. Cover and refrigerate the dough for 30 minutes.
    7. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone liners.
    8. Using a tablespoonful of dough at a time, roll the dough into balls (squeeze the dough in your hands a few times if it's not holding together) and place on the prepared pans, leaving about 2 inches between cookies.
    9. Bake, one pan at a time, 12 to 15 minutes, or until the edges are brown and the centers appear set.*
    10. Cool the cookies on the pans for 5 to 10 minutes. Then transfer the cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.

Notes

*For softer cookies, bake for the shorter time. For crisper cookies, bake for the longer time.

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    4 Comments on “Brown Butter Pistachio Cookies”

  1. Do you have to use regular butter, brown on stove and cool for this recipe or can you use already mixed in a jar, Brown Butter?

  2. Do you have to use orange extract in this recipe. would extra zest work or some squeezed orange juice? Thanks

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