a plate of chai-spiced crescent cookies

Christmas cookie-baking season continues with these chai-spiced crescent cookies! These moon-shaped, shortbread-like treats are made with classic chai spices — including cardamom, ginger and cinnamon — along with pecans and a generous dusting of powdered sugar to make them ultra-festive. They’re perfectly poppable when paired with a mug of hot tea, coffee or cocoa, and they come together in less than an hour — meaning you can bake them on repeat anytime you’re in need of cookies.

chai-spiced crescent cookies on a sheet of parchment paper

Growing up, one of my favorite parts about the holidays was the tin of my Oma’s Christmas cookies. She would make all kinds of treats — rum balls, apricot thumbprints, sprinkle-topped butter cookies and almond crescent cookies, the latter of which would leave your lips and fingers covered in powdered sugar — and we couldn’t wait to enjoy them year after year.

These crescent cookies are a nod to my Oma’s almond version, but I’ve given them a 2020-style refresh with chai spices and chopped pecans instead of almonds. Every bite is just as buttery and delicious as the original, but with added hints of flavor from cardamom, ginger, allspice, nutmeg and cinnamon. They also leave your lips and fingers covered in powdered sugar, and honestly I love that part the most.

chai-spiced crescent cookies on a sheet of parchment paper

Ingredients You’ll Need for Chai-Spiced Crescent Cookies

Since these cookies are basically a pecan shortbread cookie, your main components include flour, sugar, butter and pecans. The remaining ingredients are equally straightforward, so if you’re looking for a fuss-free cookie, you’ve found it. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • All-purpose flour
  • Ground ginger*
  • Cinnamon*
  • Allspice*
  • Nutmeg*
  • Cardamom
  • Powdered sugar
  • Pecans
  • Butter
  • Vanilla

*Pro tip: You can use pumpkin spice in place of most of the spices called for in this recipe, if that’s something you have on hand! See the Recipe Notes below for measurements.

overhead image of chai-spiced crescent cookies on a plate

How to Make Crescent Cookies

The process to make these cookies is as basic and simple as the ingredient list — there’s no chilling or rolling required! Here’s how we do:

Time needed: 1 hour.

  1. Step One: Mix the dry ingredients.

    Mix together the flour, spices and salt until well combined.

  2. Step Two: Make the pecan meal.

    In a food processor, pulse pecans and powdered sugar until a coarse meal forms.

  3. Step Three: Cream the butter.

    Use a stand mixer or electric hand mixer to beat butter and vanilla until smooth and creamy.

  4. Step Four: Make the cookie dough.

    Once the butter is smooth, beat in the nut mixture, then the flour mixture, until a moist but crumbly dough forms.

  5. Step Five: Shape the dough.

    Gently knead the dough a few times so it comes together, then shape into a rough log. Cut the log into 24 equal-sized pieces. Roll each piece into a mini log, then bend at the center and taper at the edges so each cookie looks like a crescent. Arrange about 1 inch apart on 2 parchment paper-lined baking sheets.

  6. Step Six: Bake the cookies.

    Bake the cookies for 12 to 15 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through, until the cookies are set and golden on the bottoms. Cool the cookies 2 minutes on the baking sheets, then transfer to a cooling rack.

  7. Step Seven: Roll and dust the cookies with powdered sugar.

    Roll each still-warm cookie in more powdered sugar. Allow the cookies to fully cool, then dust with more powdered sugar.

Once the cookies are done, you can store them at room temperature for up to 5 days — if they last that long.

a plate of chai-spiced crescent cookies with a bite taken out of one

Tips for the Best Chai-Spiced Crescent Cookies

If you’re already in full holly-jolly mode and have been baking up a storm since the day after Thanksgiving (or even before — no judgement!), then you know that even the simplest Christmas cookies can throw you a curveball. That’s why I love to give and receive baking tips — there’s always more to learn! Here are a few re: these particular treats:

  • Yes, you absolutely can swap the pecans for almonds in this recipe. The flavor will be slightly different, but still yummy!
  • Please sift the powdered sugar before you roll the cookies in it. Any lumps you leave in the bowl WILL stick to the cookies, leaving you with an extra pocket of powdery sweetness that isn’t all that delightful. If you don’t have a sifter, you can whisk the powdered sugar until all the lumps are bye-bye!
  • You can make this dough up to 24 hours ahead of time — just cover and refrigerate! The next day, let the dough come to room temperature or just warm enough to be able to handle and shape.
  • Yes, these cookies are easy to freeze! If you plan to freeze them, I would save the final dusting of powdered sugar for just before serving — that way they’re as pretty as can be right before you devour them.
  • You can swap, adjust or leave out any of the spices listed in the recipe — just know that if you do, I cannot guarantee the chai-like flavor will still come through.

I may no longer be blessed with Oma’s tin of Christmas cookies each year, but I can definitely still relive the nostalgia of powdered-sugar-covered fingers and the joy of eating holiday cookies via these chai-spiced crescents — and I’m thankful I can share that sentiment via this recipe with you, too.

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chai-spiced crescent cookies on a plate

Chai-Spiced Crescent Cookies

  • Author: Stephanie
  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 12 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour
  • Yield: 24 cookies 1x
  • Category: Dessert
  • Method: Bake
  • Cuisine: American

Description

These moon-shaped cookies are made with classic chai spices, pecans and a coating of powdered sugar for a festive and flavorful treat. Make them for the holidays or anytime you’re craving a really good cookie.


Scale

Ingredients

  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon allspice
  • 1/8 teaspoon cardamom
  • 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup powdered sugar, divided
  • 1/2 cup pecans
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla

Instructions

  1. Heat oven to 350°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, ground ginger, cinnamon, allspice, cardamom, nutmeg and salt until well combined.
  3. In the bowl of a food processor, pulse 1/4 cup powdered sugar and pecans together until a coarse meal forms. 
  4. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or in a large bowl using an electric hand mixer, beat butter and vanilla on medium-high speed until creamy, about 2 minutes. Beat in nut mixture until just combined. Stir in flour mixture until just combined. Dough will be moist but crumbly.
  5. Turn dough out onto a clean countertop; knead a few times to form a ball. Gently but firmly press dough ball into a rough log shape.
  6. Use a sharp knife to cut dough into 24 equal-sized pieces. Roll each piece into a 1 1/2-inch log, then bend to form a crescent shape, tapering ends slightly. Place on prepared baking sheets spaced at least 1 inch apart.
  7. Bake cookies 12 to 15 minutes, rotating pans halfway through, until cookies are set and bottoms are golden-brown. Cool on baking sheets 2 minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack.
  8. In a small shallow bowl, sift remaining 1/2 cup powdered sugar. Roll still-warm cookies in powdered sugar, then return to cooling rack to cool completely. Roll or dust fully cooled cookies with any extra powdered sugar.
  9. Store fully cooled cookies in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days.

Notes

  • You can swap the ginger, cinnamon, allspice and nutmeg called for in this recipe for 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice, if desired.
  • These cookies taste even better on day two!
  • This recipe can easily be doubled to make about 48-50 cookies.

Keywords: chai cookie dough, chai shortbread dough, pecan cookie dough, cardamom cookies

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