Pistachio-White Chocolate (No Butter!) Butter Cookies

by Shelley · May contain affiliate links

Published Updated July 31, 2021

~ These Pistachio-White Chocolate Cookies are amazingly delicious! But – thanks to a clever trick that requires no butter or shortening – they’re so much healthier than normal 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!

Pistachio-White Chocolate (No Butter!) Butter Cookies

Pistachio-White Chocolate (No Butter!) Butter Cookies

Yield: 3 dozen
Prep Time: 25 minutes
Cook Time: 6 minutes
Total Time: 31 minutes

These decadent Pistachio-White Chocolate Cookies have a surprising secret ... a clever trick eliminates all the butter and shortening, so they're much healthier than typical butter cookies!

  Freezable  •  Make Ahead    Vegetarian  


  • 2/3 cup roasted, shelled and salted pistachios (see note)
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 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°F. 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 1/2 tablespoon of dough will form 1 - 1 1/4 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 1 1/2 - 1 3/4 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.


Pistachios: You can also use unsalted pistachios if that's what you have on hand. If so, then increase the salt in the recipe from 1/8 teaspoon to 1/4 teaspoon.

Make-ahead tips: 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 and refrigerate it 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.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 36 servings Serving Size: 1 cookie
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 60Total Fat: 2gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 5mgSodium: 39mgCarbohydrates: 10gFiber: 0gSugar: 6gProtein: 1g

Nutrition information does not include optional cranberries, which add about 3 calories per cookie. Nutrition information should be considered an estimate only, and may additionally vary depending on your choice of ingredients or preparation. No guarantees are made regarding allergies or dietary needs. Always consult a physician or dietician for specific advice and questions.

Did You Make This Recipe?

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

62 thoughts on “Pistachio-White Chocolate (No Butter!) Butter Cookies”

    • Hi, Lois! I’ve never specifically tried that swap, and I personally love the flavor of pistachios in this cookie recipe. I’m sure that almonds would work technically, but I don’t know if they would have the same depth of flavor or if you might need to make a few ingredient tweaks to get a delicious flavor profile. If you give it a try, though, I’d be so curious to hear how it goes – good luck! (And Happy, Happy New Year! 😀 ) ~Shelley

  1. I think these may be my new favorite!! The white chocolate & pistachio flavor is the best combination!! Super easy to make & will be great for holiday cookie plates!

  2. Really good! So surprising that these are as healthy as they are! I totally would have pegged these as being a more “unhealthy” fat cookie. Yum!!

    • It’s seriously surprising, isn’t it? I love the technique for simultaneously improving the fat profile, while also adding great flavor! Nobody suspects that these are somehow healthier. 😉 Double win! ~Shelley


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