pecan fingers

Happy cookie week to you!

This week I picked a few of my all time favorite Christmas cookie recipes to share with you guys—I think you’re going to love them! And to kick it all off, I bring you pecan fingers. If you’ve never tried a pecan finger before, you’re in for a real treat. These cookies are pretty old school and go by a bunch of different names— Mexican wedding cakes, Viennese sugar balls, Russian tea cakes—we’re just keeping it simple with “pecan fingers”.

The best part about these little cookies is that they literally crumble and melt in your mouth aaaaand I’m pretty sure it’s impossible to eat only one. Try it. Or don’t. You might inhale the entire batch in one sitting…it’s not hard to do (not that I know from experience or anything like that…).

You start off with a pecan filled cookie dough! There’s not a lot of sugar in this dough because after baking, the cookies are rolled in powdered sugar. Just typing this my mouth is watering!

Aren’t they the cutest? I don’t have a food processor so I just grind my pecans in my Vita-Mix, but you could even use a plastic bag and a meat mallet. Just be sure to smash the pecans really, really, really well. They should almost be like a pecan flour—you really don’t want any large pieces of nuts in the dough.

They bake a long time. A really long time. And many recipes require a much shorter baking time but I’ve found that baking these little guys at a very low heat for a very long time produces the crumbliest cookies ever. Promise.

You’re going to LOVE these cookies!

Pecan Fingers

makes about 2 dozen cookies

Print this recipe!


1 stick butter, softened

2 tbsp powdered sugar

pinch of salt

1/2 tsp vanilla

1 1/2 tsp water

1 cup flour

1 cup roughly chopped toasted pecans

powdered sugar for rolling


Pulse nuts in either a food process or a high speed blender until very finely ground. Remove and set aside.

Cream the butter until light and fluffy and then add the 2 tbsp powdered sugar, vanilla and water. Blend until smooth.

Add the finely ground pecans, flour and salt to the butter and mix until combined. Refrigerate dough for 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 250 degrees.

Roll small balls of dough into finger-like shapes and place on a lined baking sheet. Bake for 90 minutes.

Let cookies cool briefly before rolling in powdered sugar.


3 hours

You Might Also Like

  • Emily @ Life on Food
    December 19, 2011 at 3:45 am

    Lovely cookies. I am not sick of seeing all of the recipes for Christmas cookies. I always want to add a few new ones to the list each year.

  • Bethany @ More Fruit Please
    December 19, 2011 at 3:49 am

    Mmmm…. I love classic holiday cookies like these. My mom makes a similar cookie every year except rolls them into balls. When I was little, she would put the cookies into a large ziploc bag with the powdered sugar and then let me shake the bag up to coat the cookies. It was pretty much my favorite part of cookie baking ever! Well, except for eating the peanut butter cookie dough leftover in the bowl.

  • Emmy (Wine and Butter)
    December 19, 2011 at 4:04 am

    I love these cookies!! I’m just about to post a recipe for a whole wheat version today… they are so insanely good!!!

  • Molly @RDExposed
    December 19, 2011 at 4:06 am

    Someone needs to be asking Santa for a food processor for Christmas!

  • kathleen @ the daily crumb
    December 19, 2011 at 4:17 am

    i have never seen anything like this! 90 minutes in the oven for cookies sounds crazy!!… but i’ll try it.

  • Amanda
    December 19, 2011 at 4:21 am

    I love any cookie that has a thick coating of powdered sugar. 🙂

  • Erika - The Teenage Taste
    December 19, 2011 at 4:24 am

    These look fabulous! Do you think walnuts could be subbed for the pecans though? My Mom is allergic…

    • Alexandra
      December 19, 2011 at 5:58 am

      I have made these cookies before, and walnuts will work just fine! they have a very similar texture to pecans.

  • Ange
    December 19, 2011 at 4:33 am

    I just had a big bowl of cereal with banana, milk, granola, peanut butter…and topped with 2 crumbled christmas cookies. Tis the season!

    On reading: I tried to start reading “A Stole Life” by Jaycee Dugard (a book you mentioned in a past post) and I have to stop reading it. My heart breaks for what she had to endure and I find myself angry toward her captor. I’m amazed at how brave she. Amazing. Unfortunatley, I just can’t keep reading it – it feels too hard.

  • Averie @ Love Veggies and Yoga
    December 19, 2011 at 4:54 am

    I grew up in a family where they were called Russian Tea Cakes and I spend many a December day as a kid helping my mom and grandma make tea cakes.

    Yours look so good!

  • Lauren @ What Lauren Likes
    December 19, 2011 at 4:55 am

    These sound so good! Yum 😀

  • Heather (Heather's Dish)
    December 19, 2011 at 4:58 am

    aw, we used to make these all the time growing up! sounds incredible!

  • Angela @ Eat Spin Run Repeat
    December 19, 2011 at 4:59 am

    Mmm I’ve never tried a pecan finger but there’s a first time for everything!

  • Joelle (on a pink typewriter)
    December 19, 2011 at 5:12 am

    These sound fun! My mama would like them..

  • Sally @ Spontaneous Hausfrau
    December 19, 2011 at 5:17 am

    Oh, do I love these cookies! I like that you shaped them into a finger instead of a ball. I’m all about something that will fit into my mouth easier!!

  • Haleigh
    December 19, 2011 at 5:21 am

    It’s sad really, I haven’t had the time to bake my first batch of Christmas cookies yet, but soon! Those little cookies look delicious! I can’t wait to give them a try.

  • Blog is the New Black
    December 19, 2011 at 5:22 am

    Look at that powdered sugar! YUM!

  • Katrina (gluten free gidget)
    December 19, 2011 at 5:33 am

    These are my favorite cookies, too! Last year, I figured out how to make them GF and Vegan! WIN!!!!

  • Kristen @ Popcorn on the Stove
    December 19, 2011 at 5:52 am

    These cookies look like fun! I really need to get on the wagon for baking Christmas cookies soon!

  • Alexandra
    December 19, 2011 at 5:58 am

    Yummy! I make these EXACT SAME COOKIES but I call them russian tea cakes. They are so yummy!

  • Gina @ Running to the Kitchen
    December 19, 2011 at 6:07 am

    We make these with almonds in my family and they’re my dad’s absolute favorite. He gets PISSY if they’re not in the cookie rotation for the year! 😉

  • Jennie
    December 19, 2011 at 6:29 am

    I can’t wait for cookie week! I always make these cookies (I call them pecan balls). I love them!

  • Elisabeth
    December 19, 2011 at 6:38 am

    These look delicious! When I was a kid, my mom & I always bought the Archway wedding cakes at Christmas, but I never thought of making them…’til now 😉 We also always got the pfeffernusse ones.

  • Katrina
    December 19, 2011 at 6:51 am

    Aww yeah! Yum!

  • DessertForTwo
    December 19, 2011 at 6:52 am

    I love Mexican wedding cookies! I’ve got to scale these down!

    My grandma dyes them green for Christmas. One year she dyed them red and they looked like meatballs…we stick with green now 😉

  • Cait's Plate
    December 19, 2011 at 6:55 am

    Based on that last picture I think they should be called “powdered sugar” fingers 😉

  • Deborah
    December 19, 2011 at 6:57 am

    I thought I was done with my holiday baking, but now I’m thinking that I need to make some more cookies!!

  • Nicole @ Giraffelegs
    December 19, 2011 at 7:25 am

    For some reason I always associate these cookies with xmas..

  • Rachel
    December 19, 2011 at 7:55 am

    I made these a few weeks ago on my blog, so yummy! I toasted my pecans, added a great extra flavor! Also made my house smell great!

  • Sarah (I Dream of Beets)
    December 19, 2011 at 7:58 am

    No! Not another reason I can’t clean my house!

    These look beautiful.

  • Lauren
    December 19, 2011 at 8:23 am

    Hi Jenna, I read you blog every day, but never comment, but I just had to when I saw these cookies. My family calls them cocoons (I just wrote a post about them last week!) and my recipe comes from my grandma. Most of my friends think these are dry and bland, but I love them! Glad to see someone else who likes them 🙂

  • Amanda
    December 19, 2011 at 8:27 am

    I’m traveling from now until the 27th, but I keep bookmarking your posts, for some major baking when I get home!

  • sarah@spinach and spice
    December 19, 2011 at 10:21 am

    Perfect timing! These are one of my momma’s favorite cookies and I was just about to google some recipes, when I decided I’d check to see if you or jessica had any recipes first! 🙂
    I read a tip that if you sift the powdered sugar over the tops after baking, it’ll keep the bottom of the cookies from getting soggy if you plan on storing them for a day or more. But these look delicious.. they wouldn’t last more than a day at our house!

  • Laura @ She Eats Well
    December 19, 2011 at 10:22 am

    These look delicious and extra buttery. Just the way I like my cookies! Dare I say I might dip them (or half of them) in chocolate…

  • Deanna B.
    December 19, 2011 at 10:53 am

    Nothing says festive quite like a cookie covered in powdered sugar. Unless they’re covered in sprinkles.

  • Stellina @ My Yogurt Addiction
    December 19, 2011 at 11:53 am

    Those look scrumptious! Love your blog, Merry Christmas! 🙂

  • Cat @Breakfast to Bed
    December 19, 2011 at 2:07 pm

    I am one batch away from having made 30 batches of different Christmas cookies. I am still not over seeing new ones!!

  • Sonia (the Mexigarian)
    December 19, 2011 at 3:04 pm

    Love these cookies. I look forward to them every year 😀

  • Jessica
    December 19, 2011 at 5:43 pm

    We make them into balls and call them snowballs in my family. That brings back memories!

  • katryn@rampantcuisine
    December 19, 2011 at 6:06 pm

    My mom makes cookies like these! She calls them sand tarts.

  • jenna k
    December 19, 2011 at 6:24 pm

    these are one of my favorite kinds of christmas cookies! we call them pecan sandies, so it’s funny to see all the different names

  • Cookin' Canuck
    December 19, 2011 at 9:27 pm

    This is exactly the kind of cookie I could gladly eat every single day of the holidays. What a great classic recipe.

  • Jenn from Much to My Delight
    December 20, 2011 at 5:11 am

    Those are my favorite! I didn’t know they were called Russian Tea Cakes. My mom made them every year, shaped them like little arcs and called them Pecan Sandies. Thanks for the recipe!!

  • Maria
    December 20, 2011 at 6:32 am

    Yay for cookie week! These are a holiday must!

  • Jen
    December 21, 2011 at 6:01 am

    Can margarine be substituted for butter in this reCipe? I want to make them today but don’t have any real butter on hand.

  • Stephanie
    December 22, 2011 at 5:39 pm

    Hey, can I substitute toasted hazelnuts for the pecans? Love your site!

    • jenna
      December 22, 2011 at 5:47 pm


  • Marie
    November 30, 2012 at 7:35 am

    Just tried this recipe: it’s impossible to eat just six…

  • Sugar Cookie Butter
    February 17, 2013 at 8:40 pm

    […] remember, I dedicated an entire week to them last year {sidenote: if you just make ONE, make these pecan fingers…they are to die for!}. Anyway, I haven’t done too much Christmas baking this year. I […]

  • Lisa
    December 21, 2017 at 8:44 pm

    My family has made these for generations but we call them “lady fingers”. It just isn’t Christmas until these cookies have been baked and shared. I always double the recipe and bake them at least twice during the week before Christmas . (Fudge has to be made as well.) Now I am the grandmother making sure that these delicious Christmas traditions are passed down.