Pecan Pie Bars with a buttery shortbread crust topped with the best pecan pie filling. They're easy to make, easy to eat, and a great make ahead dessert.
We Southerners love our Pecan Pie, which is always on the table at Thanksgiving and quite often throughout the year.
But did you know you can make pecan pie bars, which is almost the same thing? The crust is a little different since it's not a pie, and the filling is slightly firmer so the bars can be cut easily and you can hold them without too much mess.
I based this recipe on one from my Baking Illustrated cookbook, and just tweaked a few things:
- Added orange zest, nutmeg, cinnamon, and cloves to the crust
- Used dark brown sugar instead of light in the crust
- Used cane syrup instead of corn syrup in the filling
- Added a little less bourbon because the flavor was pretty strong
They came out fabulous! I think you'll love these easy to make pecan pie bars!
Helpful tools and ingredients:
- 9-inch square baking pan - this is a good one!
- Food processor - you'll need this to grind pecans for the crust
- Mixing bowl - the silicone base on these bowls is so helpful!
- Self-rising flour - you'll use this for the crust
- Dark and light brown sugar - dark for the crust and light for the filling
- Nutmeg - please grate your own! All you need is a Microplane Zester.
- Orange zest - use your Microplane Zester!
- Pecans - you can keep extra pecans in the freezer for months.
- Unsalted butter
- Cane syrup - if you can't find this then you can use corn syrup or maple but can will give you the best flavor! It's also what I use in my Pecan Pie.
- Vanilla - good quality, no imitation!
- Bourbon - Maker's Mark is a good one to use
How to make pecan pie bars
Step 1. Make the crust.
First you'll toast and chop some pecans, then add flour, dark brown sugar, and the chopped pecans to the food processor. Pulse a few seconds then add butter, spices, and orange zest and pulse a few more seconds.
Pat the mixture into a prepared pan and bake about 20 minutes.
Step 2. Mix the filling.
While the crust is baking, whisk together melted butter, light brown sugar, cane syrup, vanilla, bourbon, and salt until just blended. Add egg and mix well.
Step 3. Layer the bars and bake.
Pour the filling over the hot crust and sprinkle pecans on top. Bake 22-25 minutes until golden brown and slightly crackly on top.
Step 4. Cool.
Place pan on a cooling rack for at least an hour, then use the foil overhang as handles to lift the bars from the pan. Place on a cutting board and cut into squares.
- Make ahead: you can make these pecan pie bars several days or even weeks ahead. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days or keep in the freezer until needed. (you don't have to keep them in the fridge unless storing for more than a day or two.)
- Toast pecans in oven or on stove.
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Pecan Pie Bars
- 1 cup self-rising flour
- ⅛ teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
- ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ⅛ teaspoon ground cloves
- ⅓ cup packed dark brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons freshly grated orange zest
- ¼ cup pecans, toasted and coarsely chopped
- 6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, diced
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- ½ cup packed light brown sugar
- ⅓ cup cane syrup
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- ½ tablespoon bourbon
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 large egg, lightly beaten
- 1 ¾ cup pecans, toasted and coarsely chopped
- Preheat oven to 350°.
- Spray a 9-inch square baking pan with cooking spray, then line with aluminum foil, leaving some overhang on each side. Spray the foil with cooking spray.
- Place flour, brown sugar, spices, orange zest, and pecans in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until the mixture resembles coarse cornmeal, just about five short pulses.
- Add butter and pulse again until mixture resembles sand, about eight short pulses.
- Pat the crust mixture evenly into the prepared pan and bake until light brown, about 20 minutes.
- While the crust is baking, make the filling.
- Whisk together melted butter, brown sugar, cane syrup, vanilla, bourbon, and salt in a bowl until blended.
- Add egg and whisk until blended.
- Pour filling gently over hot crust and sprinkle the chopped pecans over the top. Bake until brown and cracks begin to form, 22-25 minutes.
- Cool on a wire rack for at least an hour, then use the foil overhang as handles to gently lift the bars from the pan.
- Cut into squares and serve.
- Store in an airtight container on the counter or in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
- You can also keep these bars in the freezer in an airtight container for a couple of months.