Delicious Pecan Pie Bars combine the flavors of pecan pie with a buttery shortbread base! The rich flavors of maple syrup, heavy cream, and vanilla extract in the chewy pecan filling perfectly complement the nutty flavor of this easy dessert.
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Unlike a traditional pecan pie, these Pecan Pie Bars don't require the finesse of perfecting a pie crust. Instead, these pecan squares have all the wonderful flavors of classic pecan pie contained in a hassle-free buttery shortbread crust.
These nutty Pecan Pie Bars with their buttery crust will be perfect as a sweet snack to take to a bake sale, as a potluck dessert, or even as a delightful alternative to making Christmas cookies for a cookie exchange!
Why We Love This Pecan Pie Bar Recipe
- The best pecan pie bars look and taste like they came from a professional bakery but they're made with minimal effort thanks to simple ingredients and an easy recipe.
- Dessert bars are a crowd-pleaser and the ideal size for serving at gatherings, making them a practical and delicious choice for any occasion.
- These pecan bars will stay fresh and delicious for days which makes them a great recipe for making ahead of time, reducing the stress when planning for events or holidays.
What You'll Need
Scroll down to the recipe card below this post for ingredient quantities and full instructions.
- Salted Butter - Adds a rich, buttery flavor to both the filling and the crust.
- Light Brown Sugar - Adds sweetness and a hint of molasses flavor to both the crust and filling.
- All-Purpose Flour - The base of the crust, gives it structure and a tender texture.
- Salt - Enhances the flavors of the crust and filling.
- Pure Maple Syrup - Provides natural sweetness and a unique flavor to the filling.
- Heavy Cream - Adds creaminess and richness to the filling.
- Pure Vanilla Extract - Enhances the overall flavor of the bars.
- Eggs - Bind the filling together and provide structure.
- Pecans - The key ingredient that provides that signature nutty flavor and crunchy texture.
- Flaky Sea Salt (Optional) - Sprinkling on top of the bars can enhance the flavor and add a gourmet touch.
How to Make Pecan Pie Bars
- Prepare equipment and chop pecans. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a 9 x 13-inch pan or baking dish with a parchment paper sling or use an aluminum foil-lined pan sprayed with baking spray. Chop the pecans with a sharp knife and set aside.
- Make crust dough. Beat the butter and brown sugar in a large bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or an electric mixer until creamy and light, about 1-2 minutes. Scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl, then add the flour and salt, mixing on low or medium speed until just combined. The pie dough will be like coarse crumbs.
- Bake crust. Press crust mixture into an even layer in the prepared pan. Place in the preheated oven and bake crust for 10 minutes until it is a very light golden brown color. Remove the par-baked crust from the oven while you finish the filling.
- Make pecan filling. Whisk the butter, brown sugar, maple syrup, heavy cream, vanilla, salt, and eggs in a large bowl until combined. Add the chopped pecans and stir until everything is mixed together.
- Pour filling into crust. Pour the pecan filling over the shortbread crust, using a spatula to make sure the filling is in an even layer and the pecans are evenly distributed. Place some additional pecan halves on the top if you desire.
- Bake and cool. Bake for 20–25 minutes and remove once the edges are set but the middle is still slightly jiggly. The bars will continue to set up as they cool.
- Slice and serve. Cool completely before cutting into squares, and serve immediately.
Skip the pecans by using crushed pretzels for a nut-free version. This will change the flavor profile, but it's a delicious version that is great if you have someone with a nut-allergy in your life and you still want a similar crunchy treat.
Yes, you can use honey, agave syrup, or even light corn syrup as a substitute for maple syrup. Each will give a slightly different flavor to the bars, some stronger than others.
Yes, you can substitute the butter for a plant-based variety and use full-fat coconut milk as a substitute for the heavy cream.
Make Pecan Pie Bars gluten-free by simply substituting the all-purpose flour with a gluten-free flour blend that is meant for baking, and make sure it's a blend that's made for a 1:1 substitution.
Store the bars in an airtight container or covered in plastic wrap on the counter for up to 4 days or in the fridge for 1 week.
Freeze in a freezer-safe container or Ziploc bag for up to 3 months. Let the bars come to room temperature before serving by thawing on the counter or overnight in the fridge.
Tips for Success
- The higher the quality of ingredients that you use, the better the flavor you'll achieve, especially when it comes to key ingredients like butter, fresh pecans, and pure maple syrup.
- Inconsistent measurements can affect the texture and flavor of the bars, so make sure you use measuring cups and spoons for accuracy, especially for ingredients like flour and sugar.
- Par-baking is a crucial step to achieve a firm and crisp crust, so make sure that the crust is lightly golden before adding the filling.
- Spread the filling so that it distributes evenly over the crust to ensure each bar has a good ratio of crust to filling.
- Oven temperatures can vary, so start checking the bars a few minutes before the suggested baking time. Overbaking can lead to dry bars, so watch for that slight jiggle!
- Allowing the bars to cool completely in the pan before cutting will reward you with neatly cut bars and the perfect texture. For the sharpest cuts, you can refrigerate the bars before cutting them.
- Using a sharp knife to cut the bars and cleaning the knife between the cuts will give you neater and more professional-looking squares.
Keep an Eye on the Oven
Oven temperatures can vary, so start checking the bars a few minutes before the suggested baking time.
Look for the edges to be set while the center is still a tiny bit wobbly.
Overbaking can lead to dry bars, so watch for that slight jiggle!
Substitutions and Variations
- Unsalted butter with a pinch of salt can be used as a substitute for salted butter.
- You can use an equal amount of corn syrup, light corn syrup, dark corn syrup, agave syrup, or honey instead of maple syrup. The honey flavor is much stronger so you might consider using half honey and half maple syrup or corn syrup.
- Make some chocolate pecan pie bars by sprinkling 1 cup of semisweet chocolate chips over the shortbread crust just before adding the pecan pie filling.
- Feel free to tweak the recipe to your taste - you can add a little bit of spice like cinnamon or nutmeg to the filling, or top your bars with chocolate chips or caramel drizzle for something extra!
More of My Best Pecan Recipes
- Chocolate Pecan Crumb Cake
- Pecan Chocolate Chip Cookies
- Banana Pecan Waffles
- Southern Pecan Pralines
- Butter Pecan Ice Cream Pie
- Toffee Pecan Shortbread Cookies
- White Chocolate Cranberry Pecan Fudge
Did you make this recipe?
Let me know what you thought with a comment and rating below. You can also take a picture and tag me on Instagram @houseofnasheats or share it on the Pinterest pin so I can see.
Pecan Pie Bars
- ¾ cup salted butter, softened (170g)
- ½ cup light brown sugar (106g)
- 2 cups all-purpose flour (282g)
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¾ cup salted butter, melted (170g)
- 1 ½ cups light or dark brown sugar (300g)
- ½ cup pure maple syrup (not pancake syrup) (120ml)
- 3 tablespoons heavy cream (30ml)
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 3 large eggs
- 3 cups pecans, roughly chopped (300g)
- Flaky sea salt, for sprinkling (optional)
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a 9x13-inch baking dish with a parchment paper sling or foil sprayed with baking spray.
- Beat butter and brown sugar in a large bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or an electric mixer until creamy and light, about 1-2 minutes. Scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl, then add flour and salt, mixing on medium-low speed just until combined. The dough will be crumbly.
- Press the dough into an even layer in the prepared pan. Bake for 10 minutes until barely golden to set the crust. Remove the par-baked crust from the oven while you finish the filling.
- Whisk butter, brown sugar, maple syrup, heavy cream, vanilla, salt, and eggs in a large bowl until combined. Add chopped pecans and stir until everything is mixed together.
- Pour pecan filling over the shortbread crust, using a spatula to make sure the filling it in an even layer and the pecans are evenly distributed.
- Bake for 20-25 minutes until the edges are set but the middle is still slightly jiggly. The bars will continue to set up as they cool.
- Cool completely before cutting into squares.
- Store: Store the bars in an airtight container or covered in plastic wrap on the counter for up to 4 days or in the fridge for 1 week.
- Freeze: Freeze in a freezer-safe container or Ziploc bag for up to 3 months. Let the bars come to room temperature before serving by thawing on the counter or overnight in the fridge.