Pistachio-White Chocolate (No Butter!) Butter Cookies

This Recipe Is:     Freezable    Make Ahead    Vegetarian  

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The luxurious nuttiness of pistachios and the creamy decadence of white chocolate. Slightly crispy, yet satisfyingly chewy … Mmmmmmmm … I love these cookies. So, so much.

These are cookies to celebrate. At Christmas … or any time of year.

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My daughter says emphatically that these might be the best cookies she’s ever had. (And she doesn’t joke about cookies!)

My mom actually texted me “OMG the cookies are delicious.” OMG? No kidding. My mom actually texted that!

And, judging by the incredible response we’ve had to our Blueberry-White Chocolate Muffins, lots of you are definitely as crazy about white chocolate as I am. So, I just had to share this recipe with you! Did I mention that I looooove it?!?!

Healthifying cookies can be tricky, though. The typical butter (or shortening *gasp*) plays a specific role not only in cookies’ flavor but also in the chemical transformations that happen in the oven to make cookies into … well, cookies.

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These buck the system and replace the usual vehicles of fat with healthier mono- and polyunsaturated fats from the nuts. Brilliant!

All you have to do is give your pistachios a quick joy ride in your mini food processor!

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The pistachios may look a bit grainy or clumpy in the food processor (and also in the next step as you mix the “batter”). Don’t worry! The thick nut butter is a little unusual to work with, but it comes together beautifully! In the photo above, you can see that the pistachios look like wet sand in the food processor, yet easily press together into a firm nut butter.

These will be a runaway hit on holiday cookie trays (and everyone will be shocked and think you’re a total rock star if you admit how you made them!). But they’re so nutritious that you won’t feel guilty sneaking one when you crave a sweet treat (hint hint … keep some in the freezer for emergencies!).

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Oh – which brings up an important point! One more reason these cookies are utterly amazing? They’re great make-aheads! Such time-savers!

Make-Ahead Tips:

  • You can prep the nut butter a few days ahead, or make the dough a day early. Either way, wrap what you’ve got tightly (to keep it from drying out) and store it in the fridge until you’re ready to continue.

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  • Or, you can even go as far as shaping the balls and rolling them in sugar. Just place them in an air-tight zipper bag in the fridge, and then you can pop them on the cookie sheet to bake later that day or the next – whenever you get the time.
  • And, of course, these freeze beautifully once they’re baked.
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For quick and easy flattening, simply use the bottom of a glass! Works like a charm!

Gretchen and I totally admit that the white chocolate is a bit indulgent, but a few chips go a very long way. And, since we’ve ditched the butter and shortening, we’re feeling ok with a little splurge!

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You can also add dried cranberries for a tangy-tart counterpoint (and some fruity antioxidants!).

We’ve had heated debates among our taste-testers on whether or not the cranberries should be included. Some of our testers are purists and love the simplicity of flavors with just the pistachios and white chocolate, while others prefer the added complexity of flavor that the cranberries bring to the party.

Definitely, the burgundy-red color of the cranberries adds to the Christmasy, festive appearance. (If you’re making these around the holidays, that is – Christmasy colors aren’t such a bonus in April or September!)

So … we’re gonna let you decide the cranberry issue for yourself (that’s why it’s listed as optional!).

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Cranberries or not – make these. They’ve become an absolute, please-mommy-bake-these-all-the-time favorite at my house, and Gretchen’s house, too.

So much decadence … so little guilt – my present to you, friends!

Happy holidays!

THK By Shelley

We’d Love to Hear From You!

Ok, let’s talk tunes! What’s your favorite Christmas song? A breathtaking “Ave Maria”? Or maybe you’d rather warble along with Straight No Chaser or jam to Relient K (they’re from Ohio, you know!)? Or are you a traditional Bing Crosby, Anne Murray and Mannheim Steamroller kinda caroler? Two of my families’ absolute faves are “Dominick the Donkey” and the theme song from National Lampoon’s “Christmas Vacation” (hey, now – no judging!).

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Pistachio-White Chocolate (No Butter!) Butter Cookies

Preparation 25 min. 2017-07-22T00:25:00+00:00 Cook Time 6-7 min. (plus cooling) 2017-07-22T00:00:00+00:00
Serves About 3 dozen     adjust servings


  • 2/3 cup roasted, shelled and salted pistachios (see note)
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 1/4 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/8 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/3 cup white chocolate chips
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries (optional)
  • 1 - 1 1/2 tablespoons granulated white sugar (or colored sugar, if desired)


  1. Preheat oven to 350°. Prepare baking sheets by covering each with parchment paper.
  2. In a mini food processor, process pistachios and water until smooth (about 3 minutes), scraping sides of processor occasionally as needed. (The consistency will be similar to very wet sand but will be able to be formed with your scraper or hand into a thick, smooth paste like very, very thick natural peanut butter.)
  3. Transfer pistachio butter to a large mixing bowl and add brown sugar, egg and vanilla and beat on medium speed for about 3 minutes until very well incorporated, scraping bowl once or twice as needed.
  4. In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking soda and salt, stirring with a whisk to thoroughly combine.
  5. Add flour mixture to pistachio mixture and beat on medium-low just until combined, about 1 minute. Do not over-mix. (Dough will form clumps and will not be smooth.)
  6. Stir in white chocolate chips and cranberries (if using).
  7. Shape dough into 36 balls. (About a rounded ½ tablespoon of dough will form 1 - 1¼ inch balls).
  8. Roll each ball lightly in white (or colored) sugar. (Or, if you're in a hurry, just sprinkle some sugar on top after you've flattened the cookies in the next step.)
  9. Place on prepared baking sheets and flatten to about 1½ - 1¾ inches in diameter, using the bottom of a drinking glass. (If you're having trouble with the glass sticking to the cookies, you can place wax paper between the cookies and the glass as you press.)
  10. Bake for about 6-7 minutes, until only slightly golden, and then allow to cool on cookie sheets for 2-3 minutes before transferring to cooling racks to cool completely.
  11. Store in an airtight container.


Recipe Notes

You can also use unsalted pistachios if that's what you have on hand. If so, then increase the salt in the recipe from ⅛ teaspoon to ¼ teaspoon.

These cookies can be made ahead. You can prepare the nut butter several days in advance, or completely make the dough a day early, and then wrap whatever you have and refrigerate until you're ready to continue. You can also shape the dough balls and roll them in sugar a day ahead, and then refrigerate those in a zipper bag until you're ready to bake. If your dough is cold, straight from the refrigerator, you may need to add 1 minute to your baking time. After baking, these can be frozen in an air-tight freezer bag.

We'd love to see your photos of this recipe! Follow us on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter and tag @TwoHealthyKitchens!


This was inspired by a recipe I’ve loved for years – Cooking Light’s October 2002 Macadamia Butter Cookies with Dried Cranberries.


Pistachio-White Chocolate (No Butter!) Butter Cookies — 54 Comments

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    • Deryn, that’s a really great question – and it may just send me into the kitchen to try! Being a vegan, I’m sure you have used flax eggs (one tablespoon of flax seeds and three tablespoons of water) in baking before, and I don’t see why it wouldn’t work in this recipe. You may need to watch the bake time – as it may bake slightly differently than the cookies with eggs. These cookies aren’t particularly fluffy, so the flax eggs won’t have any real effect on how much they would rise. Additionally, I think the slightly nutty flavor of flax would work perfectly in these cookies with the pistachios. If you try it out, let me know … and if I try it, I’ll let you know! Deal?!? 😀 ~Gretchen

  11. Wow! These are so delicious! I tried these and they are definitely my favorite cookies! I would pick these over other Christmas cookies anytime! 😀

    • It’s no lie that dozens of these cookies were made and eaten this holiday season at both of our homes! Our favorite part was that we could happily nibble on these and not feel too guilty!
      And yes, the tang from the cranberries with the creamy white chocolate – it’s a dream come true! 🙂 ~G&S

    • Thanks, Cailee! People seriously love these! After we posted this recipe, I found my dad (who’s married to my “OMG texting” mom! 😀 ) hovering in the corner of my kitchen near a plate of these cookies. He had eaten at least three straight-away before I caught him (we hadn’t even had dinner yet, the thief!). What’s impressive about this is that my dad is uber, uber picky and he is highly skeptical of any food that’s billed as “healthy.” The fact that even HE loves these cookies so much, and gleefully eats them hand-over-fist even though he knows they’re healthy? Yeah – that’s saying somethin’! 😀 ~Shelley

  12. I am in love with this cookie recipe. I’d MUCH rather have pistachios than butter. Any. Day. Also, I grew up in a ridiculous Christmas themed town in Michigan, so my life has been pretty saturated with Christmas music (all year long!). It’s rare that I find a Christmas song I haven’t heard 4 million times, but I just discovered Dominick the Donkey like 3 years ago — OBSESSED with it!

    • Awwwww … your childhood town sounds so happy and fun! 😀 But I totally get it about how you can grow very tired of even the most awesome Christmas songs! I’m so bummed that radio stations not only play Christmas songs ALL through December, but now they’re starting even before Thanksgiving! It just makes them somehow a little less special, and I sure do get sick of hearing some of them! But Dominick the Donkey??? Never! Hee haw … hee haw … hee haw … 😀 ~Shelley

    • Thanks, Sarah! And, psssssst … stop imagining and just make a batch! You’ll be so, so glad you did! My brother and his family are home from London for the holidays, and everyone was over at my house last night (including my OMG mom!!!). So, so fun … except we polished off my frozen reserves of these cookies! I gotta bake some more ASAP! 😀 ~Shelley

  13. I cannot believe that these are actually healthy!! They look so so decadent and delicious! The sprinkles addition is great as well, they make the cookies look so fun and festive!
    Thanks for sharing, girls! Healthy sweets are a must this season. Moderation is the key, isn’t it? ;–)

  14. These look so festive! I have the same feeling re shortening, ugh it is just so gross to me which is sad since I have to use it when making fondant! And I KNOW when mom texts you that they are delicious, they really are! Pinning, so cute.

  15. I love the little hint of green in the cookies! My parents would love them; they’re huge pistachio fans. And your mom’s text is absolutely adorable. My mom does the same thing where she abbreviates things (OMG, 2, u, thx…) whereas I always type it out. Too funny!

    • You know, it’s funny about the green color. I always think of pistachios as being green, but they’re really not very green at all. (We actually picked through to find the greenest ones for our photo shoot so people would relate to them as being pistachios!) They’re actually a lot more reddish-brown than green! When I dreamed up these cookies, I sort of imagined that they’d have more festive green color, and quickly realized that wouldn’t be the case – like you said – maybe just a hint. Ah, well … they taste so amazing that it just doesn’t matter what color they are! 😀 ~Shelley

  16. Going to make a batch of these cookies tomorrow while belatedly decorating the tree and listening to the “Little Drummer Boy”. Merry Christmas THK!

    • Awwww … thanks! Hope your little decorating and baking party is wonderful! And hey – it’s only December 13 – that’s not belated! Dare we say you’re even ahead of the game!?!?!? 😀 Merry, merry Christmas to you, too! ~G&S

  17. You’re a genius!! I can’t stand when I see a recipe that has shortening. I’m like, really?! You don’t need to use that to have good baked goods. OMG, (that’s for your mom :D) I was teaching a culinary class and the kids were making frosting for this upcoming bake sale. Well, anyway they kept coming up to me asking for the shortening. What?! They all said oh yeah, that’s what the other teacher told us to use. Blah!! Yack!! I never wanted to eat another one of their cupcakes again. This was truly one of those…when you really know what’s in there, you probably don’t want to eat it. Now, what I would love to eat is some of these yummy looking cookies. I love that you make pistachio butter! Clever ladies 😀

    • I think it’s just hilarious that my mom and her OMG (a phrase I have never, never heard her utter in person!) have become the runaway stars of this little post! She’s the best! And yeah – I absolutely get your shortening “ick”! One of the great joys of being a healthy food blogger is finding ways to create recipes that are just as delicious as traditional ones (maybe even more so!), but that use healthier ingredients and methods. I feel so good knowing that I can offer that option to others and inspire them to find ways to eat more healthfully (and loooove it!). Thanks so much, Cindy – you always have the most insightful comments! 😀 ~Shelley

    • I know, right?!?! So amazing that this actually works, but it totally, 100% does (trust me – I have baked many, many batches!). And yes, they are so, so, so good! Especially if you are a fan of white chocolate (like me!!) or love the classic white chocolate macadamia cookies, you will absolutely adore these! When my daughter says she would choose these first off the cookie plate from among all her other faves – well, that is seriously high praise! 😀 ~Shelley

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