Get ready for the best pecan pie bars recipe you will ever eat!
Yup. I said it and I mean it. It’s a dessert recipe throw-down!
With just the right balance of gooey pie filling and rich, buttery crust, these cookie bars do it all! They have the crunch and chew of cookies with the decadence of pie plus the nutty, roasted flavor you want from pecan cookies.
All other nut treats can go home — this pecan pie bars recipe is the new heavyweight dessert winner!
Well, let’s just kick this off by saying that I love absolutely everything about this bars. I’m something of a pecan pie aficionado — I’ll eat it in any form. Traditional. Cupcakes. Cookies. Bars. Cakes. If a dessert has toasted pecans mixed in with creamy, caramel filling, I’m there!
So what makes this recipe so special?
- Less than an hour to ooey-gooey perfection!
- Double the sugar flavor profiles
- Make your own crust!
- Pecans in the crust! Pecans in the filling! PECANS EVERYWHERE!
Whether you say pee-can or pe-kahn, I think we can all agree that these nuts are darn good eating — and this recipe calls for 2 1/4 cups of pecans! Nut lovers rejoice!
But what about the other ingredients? Or what if you can’t find roasted pecans? I’ll walk you through the possibilities!
Obviously, the star of this dish is the PECANS, but let’s not forget the other players!
Bourbon – I adore the flavor pop that bourbon gives this recipe. But if you don’t want to do the alcohol, you can just nix it — or use a substitute like bourbon extract!
Corn Syrup – This recipe calls for both brown sugar and corn syrup. Why? Aren’t they both the same thing: sugar? Well, technically yes, but brown sugar and corn syrup bring different versions of sugar to the party.
- Light corn syrup is a syrup made from extracting sugar from corn. It has a more mellow flavor than dark corn syrup and often comes flavored with vanilla for an extra pop. Unlike sugar, corn syrup doesn’t crystallize, so it retains its liquidy state and gives desserts a deliciously chewy texture.
Brown Sugar – Now that corn syrup’s settled, what about brown sugar? For this recipe, I find using light brown sugar is best. Dark brown sugar has a higher molasses content and therefore a stronger taste, but with the use of corn syrup, I’ve found you don’t need that extra sweetness.
Pecans – Now, the star! If you can’t find pre-roasted pecans, you can always buy raw and toast them on a rimmed baking sheet at a 350 degrees oven for 8 minutes. Easy peasy!
Filling – The recipe calls for the filling to be poured on the crust while it’s hot, then baking again to set the filling.
You’ll treat the results of your pecan bars just like you would traditional pecan pie! All the same storage rules apply.
Not sure what those rules are? Read on!
Can You Freeze This?
Yes! Once you finish your pecan bars recipe, your treats will freeze for up to two months.
The best way to freeze them is to let your bars thoroughly cool, then individually wrap them in plastic wrap or wax paper to prevent them from sticking together before layering them into an airtight container. Or you can use wax paper to create layers in a container to keep the bars separated.
Whatever you do, you don’t want your bars to be touching when you freeze them, or you’ll end up with one giant frozen block of pecan bars!
Make Ahead Tips
If you want to shave some time off the recipe, you can always make the crust ahead of time. Once baked, you can treat it as a cookie, and store it sealed in your fridge for up to a week.
When you’re ready to proceed with the filling, you’ll want to warm the crust up in the oven a bit so it doesn’t throw off your baking time.
How Long Can You Keep This?
After you’ve finished the last step of this pecan bars recipe and your treats are all cooled, you can keep your bars sealed in the fridge for up to four days.
Be sure to adhere to the same storage suggestions that I listed under the Freezer section. You’ll want to be sure your bars don’t stick together while in the fridge, or they could congeal back into one giant pecan pie bar. Which, honestly, is the opposite of a problem, isn’t it?
Now, time for my favorite part: variations! Let’s see what flavor concoctions we can make today!
- Use almonds and add coconut flakes to make almond joy bars.
- No time to bake and you only have peanut butter on hand? Say no more! No bake peanut butter bars are perfect for you.
- Add chocolates and almonds to make chocolate oatmeal almost-candy bars.
- Use shredded coconuts to make chewy coconut bars!
- Add marshmallows and chocolate chips to make a campfire ready dessert: s’more bars!
Hungry for more pecan goodness? I know I am!
The Best Pecan Pie Bars
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/3 cup brown sugar firmly packed
- 1/4 cup toasted pecans
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
- 6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter cubed
- 1/2 cup brown sugar firmly packed
- 1/3 cup light corn syrup
- 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) cold unsalted butter, melted
- 1 tablespoon bourbon
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 large egg lightly beaten
- 2 cups pecans toasted and chopped
Make the Crust:
- Preheat the to 350°F. Line an 8X8 inch baking pan with aluminum foil, extending the edges of the foil on one side, 2 inches. Rotate the pan and line it with a second sheet of aluminum foil perpendicular to the first, extending the edges of the foil 2 inches on the other ends. Spray the foil with nonstick cooking spray.
- In the work bowl of a food processor, add the flour, brown sugar, pecans, salt, and baking powder. Pulse ingredients about 5 times or until the mixture looks like coarse sand. Add the butter and pulse again about 8-10 times. Pour mixture into prepared baking pan and press in evenly. Bake in the preheated oven until the crust begins to brown, about 20 minutes.
Make the filling:
- In a medium mixing bowl, mix together brown sugar, melted butter, corn syrup, bourbon, vanilla, and salt until just combined. Whisk in the egg just until incorporated.
- Pour the filling mixture over the hot crust and then top evenly with pecans.
- Bake until the top forms cracks and is brown, 22-25 minutes. Cool on wire rack completely. Cut into bars.
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Source: Cook’s Illustrated