These oat and pecan brittle cookies have it all. Crisp edges. Chewy center. Caramelized taste. And a marginal healthfulness from oats that makes it entirely too easy to justify having just one more.
Large, lacy, crisp yet chewy, buttery, butterscotch-y, and a little bit salty. These gorgeous cookies have it all. The recipe creator, Claire Saffitz, admits that you could skip the step of making your own brittle, but let us just say this – don’t even consider it. Our testers unanimously agreed that the homemade brittle took these cookies from excellent to incredible. The dough’s overnight rest in the fridge increases the chew factor and the stunning, wrinkly texture. Patience is, obviously, the most delicious virtue of all.–Jenny Latreille
Oat and Pecan Brittle Cookies
For the pecan brittle* (see *How to Make This Recipe a Little Easier below)
- 1 1/4 cups (5 oz) coarsely chopped pecans
- 3/4 cup (5.3 oz) granulated sugar
- 4 tablespoons (2 oz) unsalted butter
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon Diamond Crystal kosher salt (or 3/8 teaspoon Morton kosher salt)
For the cookies
- 2 sticks (8 oz) unsalted butter cut into tablespoons
- 1 1/3 cups (6.1 oz) all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons Diamond Crystal kosher salt (or 1 1/4 teaspoons Morton kosher salt)
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 2 cups (7 oz) old-fashioned rolled oats not quick-cooking
- 3/4 cup (5.3 oz) packed dark brown sugar
- 1/2 cup (3.5 oz) granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs cold from the refrigerator
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
Make the pecan brittle
- Preheat the oven to 350°F (177°C) and adjust the oven rack to the center position.
- Scatter the pecans on a rimmed baking sheet and slide them into the oven, tossing or stirring halfway through, until they’re golden and nutty smelling, 8 to 13 minutes. Remove the baking sheet from the oven, slide the pecans onto a plate, and let cool.
- Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
- In a small saucepan over medium-low heat, combine the granulated sugar, butter, and 2 tablespoons of water and cook, stirring gently with a heatproof spatula to dissolve the sugar.
- Increase the heat to medium and bring the syrup to a rapid simmer. Cook without stirring, swirling the pan often, until the syrup turns a deep amber color, 6 to 10 minutes.
- Immediately remove the saucepan from the heat and stir in the pecans. Once the pecans are well coated, add the baking soda and salt and stir quickly to incorporate—the mixture will rapidly foam and sputter as the baking soda aerates the caramel. Quickly scrape the brittle out onto the prepared baking sheet and spread into a thin layer, if possible, before it starts to harden (which happens very quickly). Let the brittle cool completely, 10 to 15 minutes. Once cool, chop the brittle into pea-sized bits.
☞TESTER TIP: If you’re using a large baking sheet, don’t try to spread the mixture to fit the baking sheet. Just spread it into a thinnish layer and let it cool.
Make the cookies
- Into the bowl of a stand mixer, place 4 ounces (113 g) of the butter.
- In a small saucepan over medium-low heat, place the remaining 4 ounces of butter and cook, stirring frequently, until the butter comes to a boil. Continue to cook, scraping the bottom and sides of the pan constantly with a heatproof spatula, until the butter sputters, foams, and eventually you see browned bits floating about, 4 to 7 minutes.
- Add the browned butter to the stand mixer bowl, making sure you scrape in all the browned bits. Let the butter cool until it begins to resolidify, 25 to 35 minutes.
- In a food processor, combine the flour, salt, and baking soda, then add half of the pecan brittle bits and 1 cup of the oats. Blitz the mixture in long pulses until the oats and brittle are broken down and finely ground, 30 to 45 seconds.
- Set the bowl of cooled butter on the mixer and attach the paddle. Add the dark brown and granulated sugars and beat on medium speed until the mixture is light and smooth but not fluffy, about 2 minutes.
- Scrape down the sides of the bowl, add the eggs and vanilla, and continue to beat until you have a very light and satiny mixture, about 1 minute more.
- Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add the flour/ oat/brittle mixture and beat on low until no dry spots remain and you have a soft, evenly mixed dough, about 1 minute.
- Add the remaining pecan brittle bits and remaining 1 cup oats and mix on low again just until dispersed. Fold the batter several times with a flexible spatula to ensure everything is evenly mixed.
- Using a 2-ounce scoop or 1/4-cup measure, scoop level portions of dough and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet as close together as possible (you’ll space them out before baking). Cover the dough tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 12 hours and up to 48. The cookie dough can be portioned and refrigerated up to 2 days or frozen for up to 2 months. (Bake the cookies directly from the freezer without thawing first, adding a minute or two as needed to the baking time.)
☞TESTER TIP: If you’re pressed for time, a couple of hours in the refrigerator will do. Just know that the baked cookies won’t be as chewy.
- When you’re ready to bake, arrange two oven racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven and preheat to 350°F (177°C). Line two large rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper.
- Place 6 pieces of chilled cookie dough on each of the prepared baking sheets, spacing so they’re at least 3 inches (8 cm) apart. Bake the cookies on the upper and lower racks until they are dark golden brown around the edges, 16 to 18 minutes, switching racks and rotating the sheets front to back after 12 minutes.
- Allow the cookies to rest for 5 minutes on the baking sheets, then use a metal spatula to transfer the cookies to a wire rack to cool.
- Repeat with the remaining cookies, dividing them between the 2 baking sheets (it’s okay if the sheets are still warm). The cookies will keep, stored airtight at room temperature, for up to 5 days or can be frozen up to 1 month.
*How To Make This Recipe A Little EasierIf you’d like to skip the step of making the pecan brittle, you can swap out the homemade brittle for 8 ounces (227g) of toffee bits, such as Heath brand “Bits o’ Brickle” (often found in the baking aisle of the supermarket) or simply smash 8 ounces of toffee bars. You’ll still want to toast the pecans and grind half into the flour mixture, then add the rest to the dough along with the toffee bits and remaining oats.
Recipe Testers’ Reviews
This is THE cookie. The one that you’ll be known for. Is this cookie a bit more complex to make than your average cookie? Yes. Is it absolutely worth taking the time to do each step? Also yes.
This cookie balances both a comforting homemade feel and complexly rich undertones that few drop cookies even attempt. The finished product looks so simple that it may be overlooked on a holiday cookie table, but that would be a severe mistake. The texture of the cookie is crisp on the edges and soft in the middle, but with the added bonus of small pockets of the most delicious pecan brittle you’ve ever had sprinkled throughout.
This cookie has become a freezer-stash staple in my house, and is perfect for the job since the dough is easily doubled and bakes perfectly from frozen with just an extra minute or two on the bake time.
If you are looking for a sophisticated upgrade to a plain oatmeal cookie, this is an excellent choice. An upgrade in the final product requires some extra work, but it is worth the effort. Plus the pecan brittle alone merits a standalone recipe—it is highly addictive. Browning butter and making your own pecan brittle and oat flour are little steps that add up to create a rich, flavorful, complex cookie.
I also use my nose when I make caramel. I think the color was a little less dark than what I would call dark amber, perhaps due to the foaminess from the butter, but it was smelling more and more caramel-y and toasty, so I removed it before it got too dark and into the burnt flavors.
The brittle does set up quickly, so have your parchment paper-lined sheet pan ready. I scooped out the nuts and tried to arrange them into as flat of a sheet of caramel as possible. The actual shape is not so important though, since you will chop it into bits later.
I recognized this recipe from Bon Appetit and some commenters said they spread a lot so I made mine smaller. The cookies do indeed spread so provide lots of room on the cookie sheet—don’t overcrowd or you’ll end up with one giant cookie!
The cookies had layers of flavor and texture—lots of chew from the oats, but also pockets of softness and crunchiness. The deep caramely toffee combined with the toasty pecans and oat notes were a nice upgrade from a regular oatmeal cookie, and well-balanced between buttery, sweet, and salty.
If I could change one thing, I would have kept some of the chopped pecan brittle chunks larger because I liked the contrast they provided mixed in the oatmeal dough.
A new twist on the classic oatmeal cookie that has amazingly chewy texture with perfectly crisp edges. This cookie is both salty and sweet with a bold pecan brittle flavor and goes amazing with a cup of coffee.
I found that the amount of salt in the brittle seemed to be fine but the cookies did turn out to be quite salty. The sweetness of the brittle does balance it out but it may be too much salt for some. Could probably get away with less salt in the cookie dough.
Oh yes, please take my word and make these cookies!!! They are deeply flavored in the most decadent, satisfying way and are enticingly delicious. I loved the chewy texture. I found myself pulling off gooey buttery pieces bite after bite, savoring the amber puddles of baked brittle. Altogether the pecan brittle and the browned butter are deeply layered, not overly sweet or one-note.
The recipe does have multiple steps and some complexity but they are well worth the time and are easy to execute. You definitely want the chewy texture and melded flavors that an overnight rest in the fridge creates. If short on time, one could substitute store bought toffee or butterscotch chips for the pecan brittle; however, I found making the brittle rewarding and fun. I had never made caramel before because I was intimidated. Making the caramel for the brittle was straightforward and anxiety free. My only change was sprinkling Maldon’s flaky sea salt on the cooling cookies. The salt tied everything together. All in all, these are my perfect cookies and a hit with all who tried them.
The only addition I think worth noting is that I used my food processor to chop the brittle into pea-sized bits. This process was 30 seconds. The crushed brittle smell was intoxicating. Before processing the dry ingredients, I suggest weighing the brittle so it’s easily divided in half.
Next time, I would use the 2-ounce scoop for speed and less waste. The dough balls rested in the fridge on a half sheet tray wrapped with plastic wrap for the recommended 12 hours.
I would cool the cookies on the trays for at least 10 minutes. These cookies are wider than my regular metal spatula and bent and tore when moving. For the next batch, I let the cookies cool longer on the tray and used a wider and solid metal spatula for the transfer. Resist the temptation to taste right away. I think the cooled cookie has more flavor and an improved texture than the right-out-of-the-oven cookie.
Originally published January 09, 2021