Grandma Clayton’s Sand Tarts – butter cookies filled with pecans and rolled in powdered sugar. Yum!

Ruffled plate filled with Grandma Clayton's Sand Tarts

(Photo by Laurie Smith)

September 21st is National Pecan Cookie Day! My absolute favorite pecan cookies are my maternal grandmother’s Sand Tarts – scrumptious butter cookies filled with chopped pecans and rolled in powdered sugar. With only 6 ingredients, these tasty morsels are super easy to prepare, and packed with flavor.

Every bite takes me back to grandma’s kitchen in Tucson, Arizona. Her kitchen wasn’t large, but it was full of love – and delicious aromas. As a kid, I used to love helping her make these cookies, when my family would visit her for Easter during spring break. So, celebrate National Pecan Cookie Day by preparing these delectable morsels for your family – and yourself!

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green ruffled plate filled with Grandma Clayton's Sand Tarts

Grandma Clayton’s Sand Tarts

  • Author: (From "A Well-Seasoned Kitchen®" by Sally Clayton and Lee Clayton Roper)
  • Yield: 3 1/2 dozen 1x
  • Category: cookies, desserts, make ahead, picnics, potlucks


These cookies are the perfect dessert for any outdoor BBQ or picnic because you won’t have to worry about them melting the second they’re outside.


  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar, divided
  • 1/2 pound butter, softened
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans


  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly grease two large cookie sheets (or line with parchment paper).
  2. In a large mixing bowl, sift together the flour, salt and 1/2 cup of the sugar twice. Set aside.
  3. Using an electric mixer with the paddle attachment, beat together the butter and vanilla just until the butter is soft. With the machine on low, slowly add the flour mixture, beating until incorporated and the dough is starting to hold together. Stir in chopped pecans.
  4. Using a small spring-release ice cream scoop (around 1 inch in diameter), scoop the dough into balls, pressing down to ensure the dough is staying together, and place around 1 inch apart on the prepared cookie sheets.
  5. Bake about 12 to 15 minutes or until just lightly brown. Cool slightly on cookie sheet, then roll in remaining 1 cup of powdered sugar. Store in an airtight container at room temperature.


Note: If you don’t have a paddle attachment for your electric mixer, work the butter and vanilla into the flour mixture by hand until all the flour is incorporated (this is how Grandma did it!). Also, in dry climates such as Colorado and Arizona, reduce the flour slightly, by about 2 tablespoons, if the batter seems too dry.


Lee Clayton Roper


I’m Lee Clayton Roper, and I’m passionate about making cooking and entertaining easy, elegant and fun. Here you’ll find scrumptious recipes, helpful tips and seasonal menus that will spark inspiration in your kitchen!
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Access more recipes in Lee's award-winning book, Fresh Tastes!

4 Responses to “Grandma Clayton’s Sand Tarts”

    • Lee Roper

      Sorry for the confusion! It’s 1/2 cup sugar at that step. You sift all the ingredients listed in that step twice – twice applies to the number of times you sift, not the amount of sugar.


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