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Maple Pecan Sourdough Shortbread Cookies

If you love buttery cookies, these sourdough maple pecan shortbread cookies are sure to be a hit. They are light and crumbly with a delightful crunch in every bite from the addition of chopped pecans. To top it off, these sourdough shortbread cookies are dipped in an easy homemade maple glaze that adds the perfect sweet finishing touch. 

These cookies are actually combination of two of my favorite sourdough cookies. I used the buttery cookie dough from my sourdough thumbprint cookies and the maple glaze from my soft sourdough maple pecan cookies. These buttery sourdough discard cookies have become one of my favorite sweet treats and sourdough cookie recipes. They make a great addition to a holiday cookie box (along with my sourdough gingerbread cookies, my sourdough discard orange cranberry biscotti, my gingerbread sourdough biscotti, my sourdough crinkle cookies and my sourdough molasses cookies). 

Several sourdough maple pecan cookies that are glazed and sprinkled with chopped pecans.

How to Use Sourdough Starter 

Sourdough discard recipes are a popular subset of sourdough recipes. These recipes utilize leftover sourdough starter. This prevents waste during the maintenance of your starter, and provides some of the benefits of fermentation in baked goods. 

You can use either active sourdough starter or unfed sourdough starter discard straight from your fridge. Active starter will have a less sour flavor compared to sourdough discard that has been fermenting for a longer period of time in the fridge. Either option works great in this recipe. It is just a matter of your personal preferences and what you have available. 

Why You Will Love This Recipe

In addition to being buttery and delicious, these sourdough discard shortbread cookies are super easy to make. 

  • They only require basic kitchen tools that you likely already have. 
  • They only have a few pantry staple ingredients. 
  • They do not require any refrigeration prior to baking (although you can if you want to). 
  • They are made in 1 bowl. 

Ingredients and Substitutions

sourdough maple shortbread cookie ingredients in individual cups and bowls.

Butter: This recipe calls for unsalted butter but you can use salted butter as well. If you do use salted butter, reduce the salt in the recipe to 1/2 teaspoon. 

Sugar: We use granulated sugar in this recipe. Although I love brown sugar, it adds too much moisture for a shortbread cookie, especially one that already has some extra moisture from the sourdough starter. 

Sourdough starter: You can use either active sourdough starter or unfed sourdough discard. Both will work for this recipe and will produce great results. 

Vanilla: I recommend pure vanilla extract for the best flavor. 


Flour: This recipe calls for all purpose flour but you can also use bread flour. If you would like to add some whole wheat flour, I recommend substituting no more than 25% of the total amount of flour for whole wheat flour. 

Pecans: You can make these cookies with any nut you choose but maple and pecan pair very well together. If you do choose to use an alternative nut, make sure you chop it well so the pieces are evenly distributed throughout the dough. 

Maple syrup: I recommend pure maple syrup as the flavor is superior to maple flavored syrups. 

Powdered sugar: The powdered sugar is the key ingredients for the maple glaze. This ingredients cannot be replaced for other types of sugar. 

You will notice that there is no leavening agent in this recipe. The sourdough starter will not cause these to rise as they are not left at room temperature to ferment. We actually don’t want the cookies to rise so we leave out any baking powder or baking soda for this recipe. 

How to Make Sourdough Shortbread Cookies

Step 1: Cream the butter and sugar

Step 2: Add salt, sourdough starter, and vanilla

Step 3: Add the flour

Step 4: Stir in the pecans

Step 5: Roll into approximate 16 inch log. 

hands rolling out a log of sourdough shortbread cookie dough.

Step 6: Cut the log into 1/3 inch or 8 mm thick discs

Step 7: Bake

Step 8: Make the Glaze

maple glaze being whisked in a small bowl.
finished sourdough shortbread cookies on a wire rack.

How to Make Ahead

You can make the dough ahead of time and either refrigerate it or freeze it. 

To Refrigerate

Wrap the shortbread dough log in plastic wrap, then place it in a zip loc bag. Store it in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. When ready to bake, cut the log into the individual cookies and proceed with the recipe as directed in the recipe. 

To Freeze

Wrap the cookie dough log in plastic wrap, then place in a freezer safe ziplock bag. Store in the freezer for up to 3 months. When ready to bake, allow to defrost in the refrigerator for several hours before cutting the log into individual cookies. Then follow the recipe as directed. 

How to Store 

Store these sourdough shortbread cookies at room temperature in an airtight container or on a plate wrapped in plastic wrap. Make sure you allow the glaze to completely set before storing so they do not stick to each other. I recommend consuming them within one week for best results. 

What If I Don’t Have a Stand Mixer?

No problem! You can use a hand mixer or even mix them by hand. Just make sure the butter is soft enough to adequately mix with the sugar. 


You can add a teaspoon of lemon zest or orange zest to the cookies for a fresh flavor boost. 

Use your favorite cookie cutters like a heart-shaped cookie cutter. Just roll out the cookies like you would with sourdough sugar cookies and cut the dough with the cookie cutters.

You can also use alternative nuts rather than pecans. 

Instead of the maple glaze, melt 1/2 cup chocolate chips and dip the cookies in melted chocolate. I prefer dark chocolate, but you can use any type of chocolate cookies. 

I hope you enjoyed these buttery shortbread cookies. If you love sourdough discard recipes, check out these other popular delicious cookies:

Sourdough Chocolate Chip Cookies with Brown Butter

Several sourdough maple pecan cookies that are glazed and sprinkled with chopped pecans.

Maple Pecan Sourdough Shortbread Cookies

Buttery shortbread cookies will become a favorite sweet treat in your household. These cookies are a perfect combination of sweet, salt, and crunchiness complemented by a slight tang from the sourdough starter.
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 12 minutes
Total Time 22 minutes
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Servings 36
Calories 126 kcal


  • 1 cup unsalted butter
  • cup granulated sugar
  • cup sourdough starter active or unfed discard
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • cup all purpose flour
  • cup chopped pecans

For Maple Glaze

  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon butter, melted salted or unsalted + a pinch of salt


  • Preheat oven to 375℉.
  • Line a large cookie sheet with parchment paper. Set aside.
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer using the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar on medium speed.
  • Add the salt, sourdough starter, and vanilla and mix until smooth.
  • On low speed, slowly add the flour and continue to mix until just combined.
  • Remove the bowl and use a wooden spoon or rubber spatula to stir in the pecans until combined.
  • Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface.
  • Shape the dough into an approximate 14 inch log. (To make ahead, see post under "how to make ahead."
  • Use a sharp kitchen knife to cut the dough into approximate 1/3 inch discs.
  • Place the cut shortbread cookies on the prepared baking sheet, spacing about 1 inch apart.
  • Bake in preheated oven for 12-14 minutes or until the edges are just starting to turn golden brown.
  • Allow to cool in pan for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Make the Glaze

  • In a small bowl, whisk together the melted butter, maple syrup, and powdered sugar until smooth.
  • Dip half of each cookie in the glaze, allowing the excess to drip off. Return the cookies to the wire cooling rack to dry completely. If desired, sprinkle with finely chopped pecans for garnish.


Calories: 126kcalCarbohydrates: 15gProtein: 1gFat: 7gSaturated Fat: 4gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0.2gCholesterol: 14mgSodium: 68mgPotassium: 24mgFiber: 0.4gSugar: 8gVitamin A: 168IUVitamin C: 0.02mgCalcium: 7mgIron: 0.4mg
Keyword Cookies, Egg-free, Sourdough, Sourdough Discard
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