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Pecan Pie Bars

Pecan Pie Bars


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Pecan Pie Bars are easy to make for the holidays, easy to transport, and even easier to eat. They're just like pecan pie, but no need for the knife and fork!

Photography Credit:Cindy Rahe

Pecan pie is a family favorite for many, myself included. I make a pretty classic version throughout the holidays, but sometimes I like to take something familiar and twist it in a slightly different direction.

These bars are an adaptation of the classic pecan pie but in a handheld package: imagine a thick layer of luscious pecan pie filling on top of a sturdy shortbread crust, and the whole thing holds its shape when you cut it.

HOW TO MAKE PECAN PIE BARS

The filling is very similar as a pecan pie, except I use brown sugar instead of white because it brings some molasses for more depth of flavor. The shortbread base also needs to get pre-baked for a bit to set up. It is not as sweet as a shortbread cookie, but this will balance with the sweet pecan topping.

The filling sets up slightly more firmly than the pie version, so you can eat these out of hand without a plate and fork. The center pieces are gooey but won’t smoosh out the sides when you take a bite. Meanwhile the edges get deeply caramelized and chewy where they touch the pan.

It takes every ounce of willpower I have not to eat the outside edge of the whole pan by myself! But really, you can’t go wrong, no matter what piece you get.

VANILLA PASTE Vs. VANILLA EXTRACT

Vanilla paste is a great substitute for either vanilla beans or extract. It has a gel-like consistency with tons of tiny vanilla beans suspended in it. I think it has a slightly more robust vanilla flavor but you can use it interchangeably with vanilla extract, especially for recipes where you want to see those flecks of vanilla beans.

DO YOU HAVE TO USE CORN SYRUP?

Like most pecan pie recipes, these bars call for corn syrup to make up a large part of the filling.

If you’d prefer not to use corn syrup, I have subbed corn syrup for both golden syrup and honey with great results. Both of these sugars make a sweeter pie that prominently carry the respective flavor of their ingredients.

HOW TO KNOW WHEN THESE BARS ARE BAKED

Don’t take these out of the oven until the center is just set. The top should be dry to the touch, with a bit of give beneath the surface. You don’t want it to jiggle.

If you take them out too early, you run the risk the bars oozing when you cut into them. But you also don’t want them to bake too long and become puffy in the center.

In my oven, the bars still jiggle slightly, like Jell-O, when I check them around 35 minutes. From that point, I know they only need a 3 to 4 more minutes in the oven to finish baking and fully set.

HOW TO STORE PECAN PIE BARS

Store these bars in an airtight container at room temperature for best texture, for up to 2 days. To store longer, refrigerate in an airtight container for about 4 days. Bring the bars back up to room temperature for best texture.

HOW TO FREEZE PECAN PIE BARS

These bars will freeze well if you wrap them individually in plastic wrap and then aluminum foil. They should keep for up to 2 months. Then you can pop one out, thaw in the fridge, and eat them one at a time!

MORE DESSERTS WITH PECANS!

  • Pecan Pie
  • Caramelized Pecan Tart
  • Salted Pecan Cake
  • Chocolate Pecan Tart
  • Cream Cheese Pecan Cookies

Pecan Pie Bars Recipe

Ingredients

For the shortbread crust:

  • 2 cups (9oz/255g) all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup (3.5oz/100g) granulated sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3/4 cup (6oz/170g) unsalted butter cut into pieces

For the pecan filling:

  • 2 cups chopped pecans
  • 3/4 cup (3.5oz/100g) dark brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • Pinch of kosher salt
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste or extract
  • 1 cup light corn syrup
  • Extra pecan halves, for placing on top of the bars

Method

1 Preheat the oven and prep the pan: Preheat the oven to 375°F. Grease and line an 8x8-inch square baking pan (metal or glass) with parchment. Make sure to line at least the bottom and two sides so you can easily lift the bars from the pan.

I use a large piece of parchment (pre-cut for a sheet pan) and fit the whole thing into the baking pan, folding in the corners, so I can lift out the bars in one piece and not have to deal with any sticky filling baking onto the sides or bottom of the pan.

2 Make the crust: Pulse the flour, sugar, salt, and butter into a food processor until combined. The mixture will be sandy.

Continue to process the mixture until it goes from sandy to clumpy. When this starts to happen the food processor will actually sound different. It will be less high-pitched and have more of a low rumble sound.

3 Bake the crust: Once the crust mixture clumps up, transfer it from the food processor to the prepared pan. Press it firmly and evenly in the bottom of the pan.

Pierce the crust all over with a fork and bake in the oven for 30 to 35 minutes or until light to medium golden brown all over.

4 Prepare the filling: Add the chopped pecans to a mixing bowl and set aside. Using the same food processor bowl used to make the crust (no need to clean it out), combine the brown sugar, flour, salt, eggs, vanilla bean paste, and corn syrup (add the corn syrup last so it doesn’t get stuck on the bottom of the food processor).

Pulse until completely combined. Pour the mixture over the chopped pecans and fold to combine.

5 Bake the bars: Once the crust is baked, remove it from the oven and reduce the heat to 350°F. Scrape the pecan mixture onto the baked crust. Place an extra few pecan halves on the top of the filling as decoration.

Return the pan to the oven and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until the center is just set. If the center still jiggles, bake for a few more minutes; if you notice the bars starting to puff in the middle, remove them immediately.

6 Cool and serve: Cool the bars on a rack completely before lifting from the pan. Cut into 2x2-inch squares and serve. These bars can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for 2 to 3 days.

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Pecan Pie Bars

If you’re a fan of pecan pie at Thanksgiving, you’ll love these bars. Cristal Paredes, a baker featured in our Let Good Things Rise series, shared this recipe with us, and we haven’t been able to stop baking them since! Between the brown sugar shortbread crust and the honey-infused pecan pie topping, these bars have us hooked.

Ingredients

  • 18 tablespoons (254g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup (160g) light brown sugar, packed
  • 3 cups (360g) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 8 table­spoons (113g) unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup (84g) honey
  • 6 tablespoons (80g) light brown sugar, packed
  • 2 tablespoons (28g) heavy cream (for richest bars) or milk
  • 2 tablespoons (25g) granulated sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups (227g) pecan pieces

Instructions

To make the crust: Preheat the oven to 325°F. Lightly grease a 9” x 13” pan, and line the pan with parchment paper for easiest serving. Make sure the paper extends up and over the sides of the pan on two opposite sides, so you can use it as a sling to remove the bars from the pan.

In a medium mixing bowl, beat the butter and light brown sugar until light and fluffy. Stir in the flour and salt to make a soft dough.

Transfer the dough to the prepared pan. Use your lightly floured hands to press the dough into an even layer, ensuring you’ve reached into the corners and to the edges of the pan.

Prick the dough all over with a fork.

Learn more

Baking (and living) on my own terms

Bake the crust until lightly golden, 14 to 18 minutes. Remove it from the oven.

To make the filling: Place all the filling ingredients except the pecans into a large pot or saucepan. Place the pan over medium-high heat and heat, stirring regularly, until the mixture is smooth and has started to boil this should take 2 to 3 minutes.

Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the pecans.

To assemble and bake: Pour the filling over the hot crust, letting it spread to the edges and corners of the pan and using a spatula to smooth the pecans into an even layer.

Transfer the pan to the oven and bake until the filling is bubbling across the surface, 15 to 20 minutes.

Remove the pan from the oven and allow the bars to cool completely in the pan before lifting them out to cut and serve.

Store any leftovers, well wrapped, at room temperature for several days freeze for longer storage.


  • 1 ¼ cups flour
  • ½ cup powdered sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup butter
  • 2 eggs, slightly beaten
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • ½ cup packed brown sugar
  • ½ cup light-colored corn syrup
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. For crust, combine flour, powdered sugar, and salt in a bowl. Using a pastry blender, cut in 1/2 cup butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Pat crumb mixture into an ungreased 11x7x1-1/2-inch baking pan. Bake for 20 minutes or until lightly browned.

Meanwhile, for filling, stir together eggs, pecans, brown sugar, corn syrup, melted butter, and vanilla in another bowl. Spread evenly over baked crust.

Bake about 20 minutes more or until filling is set. Cool completely in pan on a wire rack. Cut into 24 bars. Cover and store in the refrigerator.


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Can You Make Pecan Pie Bars in Advance?

Yep! That’s one of the things I love so much about this recipe, it that it’s PERFECT for making in advance. I typically make them the night before I am serving them, and leave them in the pan (uncut) and refrigerate. When I’m ready to serve them, I cut them up and arrange them on a platter!

Do You Have To Refrigerate Pecan Pie Bars?

I do prefer to refrigerate Pecan Pie, because it makes it easier to cut into pretty pieces or bars. You could leave it at room temperature and it will be fine, but the filling will get slightly soft. BUT if you plan on serving this with ice cream, of course room temp or even heated up a little bit is ideal!

Also, keeping it stored airtight in the fridge will keep it fresh longer!

Can You Freeze These Pecan Bars?

Yes! You can freeze the pecan pie bars in the pan OR individually!

Make sure everything is wrapped airtight before freezing for up to 2 months. Allow it to thaw in the refrigerator or heat in a 300°F oven for about 20 minutes!

I ABSOLUTELY recommend you give these Pecan Pie Bars a try! You might even decide to forgo traditional Pecan Pie on Thanksgiving this year!

Looking for More Pecan Recipes? Try These:


Pecan Pie Bars

These are the best ever Pecan Pie Bars. This dessert recipe tastes just like pecan pie but in easy-to-eat bar form! Great for Thanksgiving or anytime of the year. These bars have a shortbread crust, sweet filling topped with pecans.

PECAN PIE BARS

You know that feeling after Thanksgiving when you feel like you are going to explode? I feel that way right now.

We had a holiday dinner for the women in our church and we had a cookie exchange at the end (in addition to dessert already served).

You’re supposed to bring a dozen of your favorite cookies and then you take home a dozen assorted cookies from what other people brought. I made a plate and on the way home my mom and I had a bite of pretty much all of them.

Soooo sick. Good thing I made these Pecan Pie Bars earlier this week so I could actually enjoy them.

They are just like pecan pie but in bar form. The crust melts in your mouth. They’re really sweet but aren’t all pecan pies?


Can I Use Walnuts Instead Of Pecans?

Yes, you can actually use walnuts instead of pecan if you want to. The flavor and texture will be slightly different, but not a ton. So if you have an aversion to pecans, you will be happy to know you can exchange walnuts in most pecan desserts without too many issues.

Can I Replace Flour With A Gluten-Free Flour?

Yes, absolutely! If you eat a gluten-free diet, don't worry, you can easily substitute the regular flour for a gluten-free flour blend. The ratio is 1:1. These pecan shortbread bars recipe calls for 2 cups of flour, so you could just replace it with 2 cups of a gluten-free flour blend.

What Can I Substitute For Maple Syrup?

If you aren't a fan of maple syrup or you don't have any on hand, you can substitute honey or even corn syrup. The flavors will be slightly different no matter which one you choose, but will still taste great.


Ingredients

Shortbread crust

  • Butter –Unsalted as we are adding the salt ourselves into this recipe. If using salted butter, you can omit adding any additional salt to the recipe.
  • Flour –Just all purpose flour is all we need, nothing fancy required here!
  • Sugar –I used granulated white sugar to give a super clean sweet flavor to our crust.
  • Salt –Every baked good needs a bit of seasoning to balance out all that sugar, it’s a science in baking so be sure to be precise.

Filling

  • Pecans –all chopped up roughly. You don’t want fine crumbs, because you actually want to feel the pecan when you bite into these bars.
  • Sugar –Some packed brown sugar is all we need, that molasses flavor is going to add complexity and depth to our filling.
  • Flour –Just a bit of all purpose to help keep our filling from getting too liquidy, it’ll bind the filling and help us achieve a custardy consistency.
  • Eggs –We want whole eggs for richness and to help us bind our filling.
  • Lemon –Some fresh zest to brighten up our whole filling.
  • Vanilla –This is a bit of a secret weapon flavor enhancer.
  • Corn syrup –This ingredient offers both sweetness and texture to our filling.

Pecan Pie Bars

This post may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy.

Pecan Pie Bars are easy mini pecan pies to go! Pecan squares with a gooey pecan filling with chopped pecans on a buttery shortbread crust.

Pecan Pie is one of the most classic Thanksgiving Dessert Recipes! These handheld pie bars have all the flavor with less work and wait time.

PECAN PIE BARS

What holiday would be complete without a rich, gooey pecan pie? You may have even attempted baking it once or twice for the holidays. It’s not a difficult pie recipe to master, but it can be a bit tricky the first few times. These pie bars are here to change that!

The hardest part of pecan pie is making sure it’s cooked and sets, so there isn’t a runny river when you cut into it. These easy Pecan Bars take all the guess work and stress out of pecan pie, giving you perfect pie filling every time! The filling is thinner than a traditional pie, so it bakes and sets much quicker.

The crust for Pecan Pie Bars is more like a shortbread cookie unlike a regular pie crust. It is slightly crumbly, and the filling soaks in slightly for a melt-in-your-mouth bite. You want to make sure to pre-bake the shortbread so it stays firm under the filling.

The filling on Pecan Bars is soft at room temperature so to make cutting these bars easier, chill in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes. After you cut the bars, store them on the counter so they stay gooey and chewy.

Pecan Pie Bars have all the flavors you love in an iconic Thanksgiving pecan pie but with less fuss. With just a handful of ingredients and an hour of time, you have a perfect make-ahead holiday dessert. Since they cut better chilled, store in the refrigerator uncut overnight and slice right before serving.

Just like pecan pie, these Pecan Bars taste delicious with a scoop of Vanilla Ice Cream or a dollop of Whipped Cream. A drizzle of Salted Caramel Sauce would take your dessert to the next level. Warm the bars slightly before serving for dessert or just leave them on the counter for a sweet snack all week long.


Serving and Storing

MAKE AHEAD: You can easily make them ahead. Leave them uncut in the pan and place them in the fridge until you plan on serving them.

If you want to serve these bars with ice cream, I recommend keeping them at room temperature or even warming them up!

STORAGE: You don’t have to refrigerate pecan pie bars, but if you do it makes the cutting process a lot easier because the filling is more firm. They will also last longer in the fridge in an airtight container than they will at room temperature. If you leave them at room temperature the filling will be soft and squishy when you slice your bars.

FREEZING: You can freeze the entire pan or individual pieces. Keep the pecan bars airtight in the freezer for up to 2 months. To make it freezer safe, wrap the pan or individual pieces in plastic wrap and then a layer of foil and then place the bars in a freezer safe ziploc bag.

After they’ve been frozen you need to let them thaw overnight and then come to room temperature before serving. If you don’t want to wait for them to come to room temperature then you can nuke them in the microwave till they are slightly warmed.



Comments:

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  2. Juhn

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  4. Rajab

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