Pecan pie and classic cheesecake with a graham cracker crust meet in handheld, deliciously layered form to create these creamy, crunchy, sweet Pecan Pie Cheesecake Bars!
Pecan Pie Cheesecake Bars
Did you know that pecans are the official state nut of Alabama? Pecan trees are actually native to North America and the word pecan is Algonquian for “requires a stone to crack.”
Many states have designated various state foods and it’s one of the things I took into consideration when brainstorming recipes to share in the American Eats series. So for my third Alabama recipe in this series (see Southern Tomato Pie and Alabama White BBQ Sauce for the other two iconic Alabama recipes I shared), I knew I wanted to make something with pecans.
Since I had previously posted my favorite, classic Pecan Pie recipe that we make every Thanksgiving, I decided to do a twist on the iconic southern dessert and make it in bar form instead. With a graham cracker crust. And add layer of cheesecake filling in the middle.
And oh my goodness, these handheld beauties are so yummy.
The tops and edges of these cheesecake squares are chewy (edge pieces are my favorite) with crunchy pecans in every bite, and I cannot resist the buttery graham cracker crust! And the smooth, creamy cheesecake layer in the middle is the perfect compliment in flavor and texture to the sweet pecan topping thanks to the tangy cream cheese that sort of binds everything together, literally and figuratively!
No joke, these bars are 3 layers of deliciousness and the perfect dessert to satisfy any nut or cheesecake lover’s sweet tooth.
How to Make Pecan Pie Cheesecake Bars
Because there are 3 components to these bars, the recipe may look a little daunting, but I promise these aren’t an overly complicated dessert. Here’s how to make the pecan pie cheesecake bars:
- Use a food processor to make the graham cracker crust. Process 2 sleeves of graham crackers into fine crumbs with a little sugar, then pulse some melted butter and press it into the bottom of a 9×13″ pan.
- Blend the cream cheese until smooth before adding the sugar, eggs, and vanilla. The biggest difficulty you might run into making this recipe is if you skip blending the cream cheese first until it is smooth, otherwise you might end up with chunks of cream cheese that don’t want to mix in with the sugar and eggs. But if you can remember to blend it on it’s own first, the rest of the recipe is a breeze.
- Make the pecan filling by heating the everything except the pecans and vanilla in a pan and boiling for 1 minute. Then it’s just a matter of stirring in the nuts and vanilla off the heat. No need to break out the candy thermometer or test the temperature of the filling means this step is so much easier than you might think.
- Assemble the bars and bake. Pour the cheesecake layer right over the graham cracker crust. Then gently spoon the pecan layer in dollops all around the top rather than pour it onto the cheesecake layer, which would cause the pecan pie filling to sink straight to the bottom. Bake just until set (about 35-40 minutes in a 350 degree F. oven), then remove and cool completely. Cut into 24 squares and chill in the refrigerator until ready to serve.
- 2 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs (about 18 full sheets)
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup butter, melted
- 2 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
Pecan Pie Layer
- 1 cup light brown sugar, packed
- 1/2 cup light corn syrup
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 1/4 cup butter
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 cups pecans, chopped
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare a 9x13-inch baking pan by lining with a parchment paper sling.
- In a food processor, pulse the graham crackers with the sugar until combined into fine crumbs. Drizzle in the melted butter and pulse again until combined. Transfer to the baking dish and press into an even, flat layer using the flat bottom of a measuring cup.
- In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese with an electric mixer until completely smooth. Add the sugar, eggs, and vanilla, and beat again until smooth. Pour over the graham cracker crust.
Pecan Pie Layer
- In a medium saucepan, heat the brown sugar, corn syrup, cream, butter, and salt over medium heat until the butter is melted an the mixture comes to a boil. Boil for 1 minute, stirring constantly, then remove from the heat and immediately add the chopped pecans and vanilla.
- Let the pecan pie filling cool slightly, then spoon gently over the cheesecake layer so it doesn't sink to the bottom.
- Transfer the pan to the oven and bake for 35-40 minutes, until just set, then remove from the oven and cool completely before slicing. It is easiest to slice the bars when completely chilled, loosening the bars from the sides of the pan and transferring the entire thing to a cutting board using the parchment paper sling, then peeling that away and slicing into individual bars.
Recipe lightly adapted from Jo Cooks.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 259 Saturated Fat: 5g Cholesterol: 37mg Sodium: 176mg Carbohydrates: 31g Fiber: 1g Sugar: 25g Protein: 2g