Easier to make than pie, these pecan pie bars are made with a buttery shortbread crust, and sweet filling loaded with pecans. Cut into squares they are an easy handheld dessert perfect for the holidays!
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Easy Pecan Pie Bars Recipe
These pecan pie bars are one of my favorite holiday desserts! They’re buttery and caramelly and nutty, crispy and chewy. They’re like part pecan pie and part shortbread and I make them absolutely every year as part of our Thanksgiving menu.
Did I mention they’re pretty easy to make too? You make a quick food processor dough, press into a pan and bake, then top with a caramel and pecan topping that cooks on the stove in no time. Simple and perfect for the holidays!
Add them to your Christmas dinner along with my pumpkin bars with cream cheese frosting, M&M cookie bars or pumpkin pie bars and wow your guests with the amazing flavors and textures that these bars bring to the table!
With only a few simple ingredients, pantry staples and chopped pecans, you can make the best pecan pie bars recipe.
Find the full printable recipe with specific measurements below.
- All-purpose flour: This will help thicken the crust in the baking pan.
- Powdered sugar: Adds sweetness to the crust.
- Cornstarch: Thickens and creates a crumbly texture when mixed together with all the dry ingredients.
- Kosher salt: Just a pinch!
- Unsalted butter: For the crust you will want cold butter and diced up in the food processor unless using a pastry cutter. In the pecan layer the butter will be melted.
- Brown sugar: Pack in your light brown sugar. This will crystalize and melt in the pecan filling layer.
- Light corn syrup: Will thicken and help set the pecans and sugar in place.
- Pecans: Chop your pecans using a food processor or a ziplock bag hitting it with a rolling pin.
- Heavy cream: Creates the sweet, thick, and creamy texture of the pecan filling.
- Vanilla extract: Alway enhances the flavor when baking!
How to Make Pecan Pie Bars
The only thing missing from this pecan pie bar recipe is the scoop of vanilla ice cream! Take these bars to your next get together. In four easy steps your will love how easy it is to layer together. These dessert bars are the best and easiest way to feed a crowd!
- Blend together. Using a food processor, blend together the dry ingredients, with butter. It will begin to clump together.
- Bake crust. Line a 9×13″ baking pan with nonstick foil, leaving about 1″ of overhang. Pour the coarse crumbs into the baking pan and press evenly. Bake until light golden, 25 minutes. Lower heat to 325ºF.
- Combine. Stir together the brown sugar, corn syrup, and butter in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat until the sugar dissolves and the mixture boils. Add pecans and cream and boil until it thickens slightly. Lastly, stir in the vanilla.
- Bake. Pour the pecan filling layer over the baked crust. Bake until caramel is darker and bubbles thickly, about 20 minutes.
Buttery Shortbread Crust
The shortbread crust is one of the main things that differentiates this recipe from the classic pie version that’s made with a homemade pie crust. Shortbread is made with more sugar than pie dough, resulting in a sweeter crust that’s more crumbly and tender. It tastes similar to a sugar cookie, but with a denser consistency.
These extra tips help make your pecan bars the amazingly delicious! You can’t go wrong when taking more steps to help create the best dessert. Here are a few tips to making your pecan bars the best!
- Bake crust first. You’ll need to pre-bake the shortbread crust before adding the filling, or else the crust won’t cook all the way. Press it into the pan and bake for about 25 minutes, or until the top is lightly golden. Then pour the filling on top and continue baking as directed.
- Keep an eye on the caramel. Similar to when making homemade caramel on the stove, it’s important to keep an eye on the mixture so that it doesn’t burn. Once the sugar dissolves and the mixture is boiling, that’s when it’s ready to go. The caramel color will get even bolder as the bars bake in the oven.
- Let set. These bars will need to cool completely before slicing. The filling will continue to set as they cool. You can let them chill in the fridge to speed up the process if you prefer.
There are a few different ways to make these easy pecan pie bars your own. Add a drizzle of melted chocolate over the top or some cocoa powder to the filling.
For a nuttier variation, try 2 cups pecans and 2 cups walnuts for fun flavor and texture.
Not at all! You can place them in an airtight container and store at room temperature.
The filling will be set but not hard. It will also be soft but not too jiggly. You can even use a thermometer to make sure it reaches 200 degrees Fahrenheit.
Usually this means the pecan bars are undercooked. You will want to make sure to continue to bake the bars until they are fully cooked.
Yes! The filling will be a little gooey but not runny. Continue to bake your pecan pie bars until it is slightly jiggly. You will also want to make sure not to burn the top of the pecans.
How to Store Pecan Pie Bars
Beware that your pecan pie bars may not last the whole time! If you are hoping for extra bars after your party, you may want to make a double batch. Storing and even freezing these pecan bars are a great way to make ahead or store for later.
- Storing: Cover the pan with a lid or transfer the sliced bars to an airtight container. The filling for the bars is a bit sticky, so it helps to add a sheet of wax paper in between each layer so they don’t stick together. They will keep at room temperature for about 2 to 3 days.
- Freezing: Once the bars have been cooled and sliced, place them on a baking sheet in a single layer and flash freeze for about an hour. This helps harden them so that they don’t stick together. Then stack in a freezer container or bag and freeze for 3-6 months. Let thaw on the counter for a few hours before enjoying.
More Easy Holiday Desserts
Pecan Pie Bars
- 1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
- ⅔ cup powdered sugar
- ¼ cup cornstarch
- ½ teaspoon Kosher salt
- ¾ cup unsalted butter , cold and diced
- 1 ¼ cups light brown sugar , packed
- ½ cup light corn syrup
- ¼ cup unsalted butter
- 4 cups coarsely chopped pecans
- ½ cup heavy cream
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Line a 9×13" baking pan with nonstick foil, leaving about 1″ of overhang. Blend the flour, powdered sugar, cornstarch, and salt in a food processor. Add butter and process until mixture clumps together.
- Pour into the baking pan and press evenly. Bake until light golden, 25 minutes. Lower heat to 325ºF.
- Meanwhile stir brown sugar, corn syrup, and butter in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat until the sugar dissolves and the mixture boils. Add pecans and cream and boil until it thickens slightly. Stir in vanilla and pour over the baked crust.
- Bake until caramel is darker and bubbles thickly, about 20 minutes. Transfer to a rack and cool completely. Use the foil to lift the cookies out and cut into squares.
Nutrition provided is an estimate. It will vary based on specific ingredients used.
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Recipe contributed by Jennifer from The Chronicles of Home.