These easy pecan pie bars are out of this world! They are perfectly sweet and filled with a generous amount of pecans.
You’ll love the crunchy, soft, chewy pecan filling…baked on a buttery and tender shortbread crust. They have the perfect flavor and texture.
This recipe takes half the time to bake than a classic pecan pie. Additionally, it is make-ahead friendly, which always comes in handy during the busy holiday season.
Don’t feel like baking a full Thanksgiving pie? Try these easy Pecan Pie Bars instead!
Making pecan pie bars instead of a full pecan pie is much easier. They take half the time to bake and are easier to make.
You’ll love the flavor and texture here: The pecan filling is soft, chewy, and gooey, with a crunchy texture from the roughly chopped pecans. It is baked on a buttery and tender shortbread crust. Seriously, so good!
What I love about these pecan pie bars is the perfect proportion balance between the crust and the filling. The crust is thick enough to hold a generous layer, resulting in the perfect bite every single time. And because we pre-bake the crust, it doesn’t get soggy.
While I love a good, full-size pie for Thanksgiving, such as my favorite Apple Pie, having go-to easy Thanksgiving recipes is helpful if it gets too busy. This is where these bars save the day, as well as these decadent Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars or Cranberry Crumb Bars.
Why we love making Pecan Pie Bars for Thanksgiving:
- Takes less time to bake: While a full pecan pie takes about 65 minutes to bake, these bars take just 30 minutes.
- The shortbread crust is soft and buttery, yet sturdy enough to support a thick layer of pecan filling. The key to preventing the crust from becoming soggy is to pre-bake it.
- Flavor and texture: The buttery shortbread crust perfectly balances the crunchy, chewy, soft, and gooey pecan filling. It has the perfect amount of sweetness, with a hint of buttery goodness and warmth from the spices.
- Make ahead and freezer friendly
The ingredients for this pecan pie bars recipe are divided into two parts: the crust and the filling. As always, the ingredient quantities can be found in the recipe card down below, but here are a few helpful notes I took from recipe testing.
For the shortbread crust:
- VERY cold unsalted butter: Cold butter makes a flakier shortbread crust. I usually freeze the butter the night before. Cut into small cubes to make it easier to work with.
- All-purpose flour: The base for our crust.
- Granulated sugar: Adds the right amount of sweetness.
- Kosher salt: Balances the sweetness and enhances flavor.
- Eggs: Helps bind the ingredients together and provides structure.
- Light corn syrup: Gives the filling its signature gooey texture.
- Dark brown sugar: Adds a rich molasses-like flavor to complement the pecans.
- Unsalted butter: Melted and cooled. Ensures a silky texture and rich buttery flavor.
- Vanilla extract: Enhances flavors.
- Kosher salt: Balances out the sweetness.
- Ground cinnamon: Adds subtle aromatic tones and warmth.
- Chopped pecans: The star ingredient! I love the crunch of roughly chopped pecans.
Making pecan pie bars at home is very easy. I usually make them the day before since they need to cool down anyway. It’s a great make-ahead recipe, which makes it perfect for the holidays.
Step 1 | Prepare the crust
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 9 by 13 inch baking pan (I use ceramic) with parchment, leaving some overhang on the sides. Tip: To prevent the parchment paper from moving, lightly butter the bottom of the pan beforehand.
In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, and salt. Incorporate the cold cubed butter (I freeze the butter the night before) using a pastry blender and your fingers until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. You can also use a food processor (pulse a few times).
Par-bake: Press this mixture firmly into the lined pan to make a compact crust. Bake in the oven for 15 minutes. Then, remove from the oven and let it cool for a few minutes. Gently press down on the crust with a spoon to flatten any areas that have risen during baking.
Step 2 | Make filling and assemble
In a separate bowl, whisk together the beaten eggs, corn syrup, dark brown sugar, melted butter, vanilla extract, salt, and cinnamon. Whisk until evenly combined.
Then, gently fold in the roughly chopped pecans. Pour this mixture over the pre-baked shortbread crust, spreading it evenly.
Step 3 | Bake, cool and slice
Bake in the preheated oven for about 30 to 32 minutes, or until the filling is set and golden brown. Pecan pie bars are ready when the center is set. It’s okay if it jiggles just a little bit in the center, but the edges should be set.
Cool completely for about 2 to 3 hours before slicing. Use a sharp knife ensures clean cuts. Serve as is or with a large scoop of vanilla ice cream. So good!
Make Ahead and Freezing
The great thing about making these is that you basically have to make them ahead as they need to cool down for a few hours anyway. Perfect to make Thanksgiving a breeze!
Make ahead: Once baked and cooled, cover with foil. Store at room temperature or in the fridge. Slice and serve.
Store leftovers in an airtight container for up to 5 days at room temperature or in the fridge.
Freezing: They can be frozen for up to 3 months. Wrap with parchment paper and store in a resealable bag. Thaw in the refrigerator before serving.
More Thanksgiving Desserts to Try
If you’re looking for more easy Thanksgiving dessert ideas, give these top-rated recipes a try:
Yes. Otherwise, it may get soggy once the filling goes in.
Do not substitute the light corn syrup in this recipe. It’s used to ensure a soft and chewy filing texture. Using possible substitutions here, such as honey or maple syrup, would require a few tweaks.
Ideally 1 day before so you get the best shortbread crust texture. After a few days, the crust can turn softer. Leftovers can be stored in the fridge or at room temperature.
Yes! Although you may not need the entire filling. You can use my flaky pie crust recipe or store-bought pie crust.
I use a 9×13 inch ceramic baking pan. You can also use nonstick or glass.
Tips for Success
- Using VERY cold butter makes the shortbread crust richer and flakier. I usually freeze the butter sticks the night before before using.
- Par-baking the shortbread crust before adding the filling helps it to stay crispy and not become soggy. It is a simple process that only takes 15 minutes.
- Do not substitute the corn syrup in this recipe – it provides the right texture. Using substitutes like honey or maple syrup requires additional tweaks.
- Avoid chopping them too finely. Larger pieces equals more crunch.
- Allow the pecan pie bars to cool down completely before slicing, otherwise they won’t hold their shape. Give them 2 to 3 hours to cool down at room temperature.
- How to tell if they are ready: They are done when the center is nearly set. It’s okay if it jiggles a little bit in the center, but the edges should be set. However, if it jiggles too much, give it a few extra minutes.
Pecan Pie Bars
- 2 cups all-purpose flour - spooned and leveled
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- ½ teaspoon Kosher salt
- 1 cup (2 sticks) VERY cold unsalted butter, cut into small cubes - freeze for 30 mins or overnight
- 3 large eggs, lightly beaten
- 1 cup light corn syrup
- ¾ cup dark brown sugar - packed
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter - melted and cooled
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- ½ teaspoon Kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 3 cups roughly chopped pecans - large chunks are fine, do not chop too fine
Make the shortbread crust
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 9×13 inch ceramic baking pan with parchment paper, leaving some overhang on the sides. Tip: lightly butter the bottom of the pan to prevent the paper from moving.
- In a large bowl, whisk the flour, sugar, and salt until evenly combined. Add the cold butter cubes and cut in the butter into the dry ingredients using a pastry blender (or rub the dry ingredients into the butter with your fingers) until you get small coarse crumbs. It will look very dry and crumbly. Note: You can also pulse using your food processor.
- Press down the mixture firmly into the lined baking pan. Make sure it's compact and evenly distributed.
- Par-bake the crust for about 15 minutes. Then, remove from the oven and let it cool slightly for a few minutes. If needed, gently press down on the crust with a spoon to flatten any areas that have risen during baking.
Make pecan filling and assemble
- In a large bowl, whisk the eggs, corn syrup, brown sugar, melted butter, vanilla extract, salt, and ground cinnamon until evenly combined. Fold in the roughly chopped pecans. Spread the pecan filling mixture over the pre-baked crust evenly.
- Return to the oven and bake for another 30 to 32 minutes. The pecan pie bars are done when the center is set. It’s okay if it jiggles just a little bit in the center, but the edges should be set.
- Let them cool completely, at least 2 to 3 hours, at room temperature. Do not cut into them until they are completely cooled or they may fall apart. Once cooled, cut into squares.
- Serve as is or with a big scoop of vanilla ice cream. Enjoy!
- Use COLD Butter for the shortbread crust: Freeze the butter the day before. Cold butter ensured a flakier crust.
- Don’t substitute the corn syrup in this recipe – it provides the right texture. Using substitutes like honey or maple syrup requires additional tweaks.
- How to tell if the pecan pie bars are ready: They are done when the edges are set, and the center is almost set. A little jiggle in the center is okay, but if it jiggles too much, they may need a few more minutes.
- Cooling: Let cool down completely before slicing, otherwise they won’t hold their shape. Give them 2 to 3 hours to cool down at room temperature.
- Make ahead: Since they need to cool for about 2 to 3 hours, make them ahead 1 day before and store, covered, at room temperature or in the fridge.
- Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature or in the fridge.
- Freezing: Wrap with parchment paper and store in a resealable bag. Freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw in the fridge.
- Dark brown sugar: Light brown sugar. Do not use granulated sugar, as it will affect the texture.