Perfectly nutty and slightly gooey Pecan Pie Bars are a fast and fun twist on the classic Thanksgiving dessert. With 15 servings, this recipe feeds a crowd and comes together in no time–making it perfect for the holidays! Recipe includes a how-to video.
All the Pecan Pie Flavor–No Dough Rolling or Chilling Required!
Somehow Thanksgiving is tomorrow…where has the year gone?! If you’re running around like a chicken (turkey?) with your head cut off, this pecan pie bar recipe is for you!
These pecan pie bars take only 20 minutes to prep, thanks to an easy, shortbread crust made in the food processor. Plus, unlike traditional pecan pie, this recipe require NO rolling or chilling of pie dough, which means you’ll have more time to focus on your other family favorites.
The filling is exactly what you’d expect–it’s gooey, buttery, and blissfully caramelized. It tastes just as good with untoasted as with toasted pecans, which saves a few minutes (and oven time) in your busy schedule!
Wishing a very happy Thanksgiving to you and your family–I’ll see you all on Monday with my first Christmas recipe of the year!
What You Need
You’ll see some classic pecan pie ingredients here, plus a few new ones:
- Flour. You’ll use flour in both the crust and the filling. While I originally was resistant to adding flour to the filling (after all, I don’ t use it in my pecan pie), after lots of testing I ultimately preferred the filling with flour. It makes the pecan pie layer smoother, helps it to set better, and ultimately also makes it less grainy.
- Cornstarch. I love using cornstarch to give this crust a shortbread-esque texture. It also helps keep the crust from getting soggy, which can often happen with a regular pecan pie.
- Brown sugar. I use light brown sugar for the crust and the filling. Dark brown sugar will also work for the filling, but keep in mind it will make these already sweet bars even sweeter.
- Butter. Use unsalted butter so we can control how much salt goes into our pecan pie bars. You’ll want your butter to be very cold for the crust, but it should be melted and cooled for the filling.
- Cream. Just a little heavy cream helps bind the crust together.
- Pecans. You can either buy pre-chopped pecans or chop your own. Unlike with my pecan sandies and butter pecan cookies, I don’t find that toasting the nuts beforehand makes much of a difference here.
- Corn syrup. I recommend using light corn syrup. Dark corn syrup will also work, but it makes the bars richer and sweeter in a way that I found to be overpowering/cloying.
- Eggs. Room temperature eggs will work best (as cold eggs are a bit resistant to combining smoothly into the filling). Just lightly beat them before you add them to the filling–don’t overdo it! Over-beating the eggs or the filling can result in a mealy texture.
- Vanilla. This adds a nice richness to the filling. If you’ve got some homemade vanilla extract, you can use it here!
- Salt. For flavor, we’ll add some plain table salt to the filling and the crust.
SAM’S TIP: I recommend lining your baking pan with parchment or foil. This will make it easy to lift the bars out and cut them once they’ve cooled completely.
Remember, this is just an overview of the ingredients I used and why. For the full recipe please scroll down to the bottom of the post!
How to Make Pecan Pie Bars
Note that while the crust for pecan pie bars *could* be prepared without a food processor (using a grater or pastry cutter or rubbing the butter into the mixture), it will be very, very difficult to work together. This is a dry dough that really benefits from the power of a food processor!
- Combine dry ingredients in a food processor, then add (cold!) butter and pulse until only small pieces remain (chocolate chip-sized is good!), then add cream and pulse until dough is just beginning to stick together. If you pinch it between your thumb and forefinger, it should stick together.
- Scatter crumbly dough into parchment/foil lined baking pan and press to create a smooth, flat crust. Bake this until light golden brown.
- In a new bowl, prepare your filling by whisking together sugar and flour, then adding the remaining ingredients. I always add the pecans last to help encourage a nice cohesive mixture.
- Pour filling into warm crust and bake until filling is set. Pecan pie bars must cool for at least 4-6 hours before you can cut and serve them.
SAM’S TIP: Try to not over-process the shortbread dough! Keeping it dry and crumbly may seem counter-intuitive but it will make it much, much easier to press into the pan (trust me on this!).
Keep in mind this recipe does make quite a few servings (double what a regular pie makes) so you may have some leftover. If I were you, I’d keep them for myself to eat with leftover turkey pot pie, but if you’re generous, you can divvy them up.
Frequently Asked Questions
I add flour to the filling to help thicken the filling and to prevent this from happening. Make sure you follow the recipe and let the bars cool completely before cutting, and you should be fine!
Corn syrup is essential for these pecan pie bars, and I don’t know of a substitute that will work as well. Both maple syrup and honey tend to make the filling too loose/runny. Reminder: corn syrup is NOT the same as high fructose corn syrup!
Yes! In fact, it’s best if the bars cool overnight before you cut and serve them. They will keep at room temperature for up to 3 days or in the fridge for about a week.
More Bar Recipes You Might Like
Let’s bake together! I’ll be walking you through all the steps in my written recipe and video below! If you try this recipe, be sure to tag me on Instagram, and you can also find me on YouTube and Facebook
Pecan Pie Bars
Pecan Pie Bar Topping
- ¼ cup unsalted butter melted and cooled (57g)
- 1 cup light brown sugar firmly packed (200g) (I prefer to use a blend of light and dark brown sugar)
- 3 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 3 large eggs room temperature preferred, lightly beaten
- 1 cup light corn syrup
- 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
- ¾ teaspoons table salt
- 2 ½ cups chopped pecans (250g)
- Preheat oven to 350F (175C) and line a 9×13 metal baking pan with parchment paper or foil, using enough so that the excess hangs over the sides (you’re effectively making a sling that you’ll use to remove the bars after baking and cooling).
- Combine flour, sugar, cornstarch, and salt in the basin of a food processor and briefly pulse until combined.
- Scatter butter over the top of the mixture and pulse again until just combined and small butter pieces are still remaining.
- Add heavy cream and pulse again until dough is still sandy/just beginning to cling together but will stick together if pressed between your thumb and forefinger (this is about 25-30 one-second pulses for me).
- Pour crumbly mixture into prepared baking pan and use your hands or the back of a spoon to evenly flatten into the pan.
- Transfer to 350F (175C) oven and bake until the crust is just beginning to turn light golden brown, about 25 minutes. While crust is baking, prepare your pecan pie bar topping.
Pecan Pie Bar Topping
- Melt butter and set aside so it has some time to cool.
- In a large bowl, combine brown sugar and flour and whisk until well-combined and lump free.
- Add eggs, corn syrup, vanilla extract and salt and stir until completely combined and then drizzle in melted butter and stir to combine.
- Stir in chopped pecans.
- Once crust has finished baking, pour pecan pie filling over warm crust (use a spatula to evenly distribute the filling/nuts if needed). Return to oven and bake on 350F (175C) for 25-30 minutes or until the filling is set and the center does not jiggle or very barely jiggles when the pan is jostled (note that over-baking can result in a mealy textured filling while under-baking can leave you with runny filling).
- Allow to cool for 4-6 hours or overnight before removing from the pan and cutting and serving.