Walnut cookies are a buttery shortbread cookie made with cream cheese and coated in walnut pieces. They’re a decadent treat. Warning, biting into just one walnut shortbread cookie won’t do the trick, they’re addicting.
Need to bring cookies for a cookie exchange, look no further!
Growing up we always had walnuts, my California grandparents had walnut trees in their yard, so walnuts were the nut of choice for any baked goods. This walnut cookies recipe is a great way to showcase my favorite nut.
They’re chock full of toasted walnuts and then coated with more walnuts. Inside all this nutty goodness is a rich, melt-in-your-mouth, cream cheese shortbread cookie. They’re simple to make with just a couple of ingredients. After all when you have butter, cream cheese and nuts, you don’t need much else.
There’s just something about the richness of walnuts and the flavor they add to a cookie. However, living in the South all my life, pecans are the nut of choice for most and you can definitely substitute pecans in this recipe.
These are a great cookie to take to a cookie exchange, I’m always looking for something a little different. I also love to give them as a hostess gift or to friends around the holidays. While they taste great, they also look pretty on a platter so they’re a nice addition to a plate of cookies at your next party.
A favorite cookie to keep in the freezer, they thaw very quickly and go great with an afternoon cup of tea or after-dinner coffee.
Why should you toast nuts
Toasting nuts before adding them to a recipe reduces the moisture in them and intensifies the rich nutty flavor. Roasting nuts will also give your baked goods more flavor and crunch. It only takes a few minutes and well worth the effort.
How do you toast nuts
I love using a toaster oven if you have one handy but if not then an oven will work the same. Just place in a pan and bake at 350º for a couple of minutes. The time will vary on the type of nut and whether they are whole or chopped. It doesn’t take long, so watch them carefully. I can’t tell you how many times, I start to do something else and forget about the nuts in the oven and end up with black nuts. 🙀
You can also toast them in a dry skillet on the stove. Just stir them around until they are browned.
What makes a cookie a shortbread cookie
Shortbread is a dense cookie without any baking soda or baking powder. Just a few simple ingredients. Shortbread cookies have more butter than sugar so they won’t be overly sweet. You’ll need to refrigerate the dough before baking to firm up the butter so plan ahead.
Why you’ll love it
- These look simple but they taste amazing – very addicting!
- Great use of walnuts in a cookie – walnuts are under used in baking.
- It’s nice to have a cookie that will surprise everyone as being so delicious and not the same ol’ same ol’ in the cookie exchange.
- You can prepare the dough and bake it whenever you’re ready – no rush!
What you’ll need
- Cream cheese – set the cream cheese out and let it come to room temperature so that it’s easier to work with.
- Walnuts – you’ll need some coarsely chopped and some finely chopped so be sure to get plenty.
- Butter – you need lots of butter for shortbread cookies
- Flour, sugar, and vanilla
Pro tip: Make sure the butter and cream cheese are at room temperature so that they’ll mix together and beat until light and fluffy with the sugar. This will give you tender and not dry shortbread cookies.
How do you make walnut shortbread cookies
Whisk together flour and salt.
In an electric mixer, combine butter and cream cheese and mix until light and fluffy. Add sugar and vanilla and slowly add flour until just combined. Don’t over mix. Add in toasted walnuts that have been coarsely chopped.
Divide dough in half and shape into 2-3 logs, 2 inches in diameter. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm. (You can freeze at this point) You can make small shortbreads or larger ones by adjusting the size of the logs.
Remove from the refrigerator and let the log soften just enough that the finely chopped walnuts will stick to the log. Cover each log with walnuts and slice into ¼ inch slices and place on parchment paper.
Bake until golden brown around the edges. Don’t over bake these cookies, remove them when they are just starting to turn brown.
I admit that I may be a little over the top when it comes to nuts. I blame my grandparents and their walnut trees. We put walnuts or almonds in everything growing up. Now I lean more towards pecans, but I can’t resist making these cookies using walnuts. While you can substitute pecans, I think walnuts are perfect with the buttery dough.
FAQ’s and tips
Shortbread cookies tend to be more dense than sugar cookies. A sugar cookie is light and often can be made to use in cutting out shapes and decorating. Sugar cookies have a leavening ingredient while shortbread cookies tend to be rustic and don’t have a lot of ingredients.
Since there aren’t many ingredients called for in this recipe, you should buy good quality butter. This shortbread recipe also has cream cheese which adds to the flavor.
No, these cookies don’t have that softness that you come to recognize with many other cookies. They also shouldn’t be browned so keep an eye on them.
Make sure to give it at least 30 minutes but you can even leave it overnight!
So many cookie options
Adapted from Martha Stewart’s Cookies
Walnut Cookies Recipe
- 4 cups flour
- 1 ¼ teaspoons salt
- 2 cups butter 4 sticks at room temperature
- 6 ounces cream cheese room temperature
- 1 ¼ cups sugar
- 2 tablespoons vanilla plus ½ teaspoon
- 1 ½ cups walnuts toasted, coarsely chopped
- 1 ½ cups walnuts finely chopped
- Whisk together flour and salt.
- In an electric mixer, combine butter and cream cheese and mix on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add sugar and vanilla and reduce speed to low. Slowly add flour until just combined. Mix in toasted walnuts.
- Divide dough in half and shape into 2-3 logs, 2 inches in diameter. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm. (You can freeze at this point)
- Preheat oven to 350º and line pans with parchment paper.
- Remove from the refrigerator and let the dough soften just enough that the finely chopped walnuts will stick to the log. Cover each log with walnuts pressing the nuts into the dough. Slice into ¼ inch slices and place on parchment paper.
- Bake for 20 minutes, until golden brown around the edges, about 18-20 minutes
Barbara’s Tips + Notes
- Use a serrated knife to cut the dough.
- You can substitute pecans for walnuts.
- You only need to toast the walnuts that are going inside the cookies, the walnuts on the outside will toast as they are baking.
- You can freeze the logs of dough. Let thaw before slicing.