Shortbread Pecan Bars are the most mouthwatering dessert you can make in 45 minutes! There’s a gooey, caramelized nutty topping on an incredibly tender and classic shortbread crust that you can make yourself in no time flat. If you get lost on the way, watch the video in this post to get back on track!
Shortbread Pecan Bars
Pecan pie has always been one of my family’s favorite holiday recipes – but let’s face it, we’re not always in a pie mood (shocking, I know!).
These little shortbread bars give you all the flavor in a lighter snack. You can get just a taste without eating a whole slice!
Pecan Squares Ingredient Notes & Substitutions
- Unsalted Butter – You can use regular salted butter to make the shortbread, too – just leave out the additional salt in the recipe.
And keep in mind it should be room temperature! Give it at least 30 minutes on the countertop.
- Granulated Sugar – For the crust! Since we’ll be creaming the sugar with the butter, coconut sugar is the only good substitute.
- Light Brown Sugar – For the pie filling! Dark brown sugar works as well, especially if you want a richer flavor.
Remember that this pecan pie bars recipe calls for packed sugar – really pack it down in there!
- Light Corn Syrup – I’ve heard some like to use maple syrup as a substitute for light syrup – sounds delicious and seasonal!
Agave or a homemade simple syrup would both be totally fine to use, too.
Perfecting This Pecan Pie Bars Recipe
- Make Them Dairy Free – The butter and heavy cream are your lactose offenders here, so you’ll need suitable substitutes–plant-based butters and margarine are all well and good as long as they’re in stick form, not a tub.
As for the cream, full fat coconut milk is often easier to find than dairy-free whipping cream.
- Don’t Overbake! Don’t wait until the shortbread pecan bars have totally set to remove them from the oven.
Remove from the heat when the center is still jiggly – they’ll set while they cool. If they’re still too wiggly after some time at room temperature, bake them a bit longer.
Better safe than burnt!
- Get Clean Slices – Pecan pie cookie bars cut cleanly after they’ve chilled in the refrigerator. No sticky knives to be seen!
If you’re going to freeze them and serve them later, then you’ll want to chill, slice, and then freeze. Just a little time-saving tip!
Storing and Freezing Shortbread Pecan Bars
Yes, shortbread pecan bars need to be refrigerated. There’s cream in there, after all! Chill for up to 5 days in the fridge.
As for freezing, layer up your slices in a freezer bag with parchment paper between the bars to prevent them from sticking together.
They’ll last for 6 months! Thaw them either in the fridge or on the counter for delayed snacking.
Shortbread Pecan Bars FAQ
Crumbly crust culprits include an abundance of flour (this is usually the cause) and using too little butter or butter that was too cold.
You also need to be sure that your ingredients are totally combined – but don’t overmix! The dough should be a bit crumbly before baking.
No, but it wouldn’t be a pecan bars recipe at that point! These are still absolutely phenomenal treats with any nut that you decide to use.
Walnuts and peanuts would be my next top two choices, while almonds and even macadamias are always delicious in a bit of brown sugar! Don’t limit yourself – use what you like!
A deep baking pan is ideal for making the shortbread and allowing the pie filling topping to set. While this pecan pie bars recipe calls for an 8×12 baking pan, other sizes will work. This is a great recipe to halve or quarter if you want smaller portions!
Keep in mind that different pan sizes will have different baking instructions and ingredient amounts! Check out the recipe card at the bottom of this post to see how instructions vary.
Other Easy Dessert Recipes
Shortbread Pecan Bars + Video
- 1 1/4 pounds unsalted butter, 5 sticks, room temperature
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 4 large eggs
- 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
- 4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
Pecan Pie Topping
- 1 pound unsalted butter, 4 sticks
- 1 cup light corn syrup
- 3 cups light brown sugar, packed
- 1/4 cup heavy cream
- 2 pounds pecans, chopped
- Preheat the oven to 350°F.
- For the crust, beat the butter and granulated sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, until light, approximately 3 minutes.
- Add the eggs and the vanilla and mix well. Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Mix the dry ingredients into the batter with the mixer on low speed until just combined.
- Press the dough evenly into an ungreased 18×12 by 2-inch baking sheet, making an edge around the edge like you would a pie crust . It will be very sticky; sprinkle the dough and your hands lightly with flour. Bake for 15 minutes, until the crust is set but not browned. Allow to cool.
- For the topping, combine the butter, corn syrup, and brown sugar in a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan.
- Cook over low heat until the butter is melted, using a wooden spoon to stir. Raise the heat and boil for 3 minutes. Remove from the heat. Stir in the heavy cream and pecans.
- Pour over the crust, trying not to get the filling between the crust and the pan. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until the filling is set.
- Remove from the oven and allow to cool. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate until cold. Cut into bars and serve.
All nutritional information is based on third party calculations and is only an estimate. Each recipe’s nutritional value will vary depending on the ingredients used, measuring methods, and portion sizes.
Originally published January 2013, updated and republished November2022
Disclosure: Posts may contain affiliate links. If you purchase a product through an affiliate link your price will remain the same and The Slow Roasted Italian will automatically receive a small commission. Thank you for supporting us, it helps us keep creating new recipes.