Shortbread Pecan Bars +Video
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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!
Who can work pecans into almost any recipe? We can! Take these ice cream, pancake, and cookie recipes, for example. We’re just nuts for nuts!
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.
Watch the video in the recipe card at the bottom of this post to see how easy it is to make pecan pie bars!
Other Easy Dessert Recipes
Shortbread Pecan Bars + Video
- 18×12 baking pan
- 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
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For those of us who aren't good cooks, do you have any shortcuts for the crust? Shortbread cookies, premade dough, etc? Thank you
Learn to cook. These are easy. Give it a try. You might just surprise yourself! 😁
I had to comment on these pecan bars. I read some comments before making them, and saw someone write they were not good and a waste of time! Well I just want to say to her… you either didnt follow the recipe, missed an ingredient or two, or just plain can not bake! These bars are to die for, and I can't wait to get the family reviews today at our family bbq. I see them fighting for it! Delicious is all I can say
A roll of sugar cookie dough.
so i made these this morning for work at 6am….still a little bleary eyed and accidentally doubled the pecans…ended up making pecan praline bars that everyone loved!
Looks delish! Thank you! How long would you say to bake for a 8X8 size pan?
I made these yesterday for our Thanksgiving dessert. They are wonderful! I have to hide them from my husband or we won't have any by Thursday….
Has anyone tried making this in a pie pan? I think I will try it!
I made the today and added chocolate chips and let melt on top they look delicious
These are so good, I don’t even know where to begin. The recipe could use a little more detail but I was able to figure it out. I had to bake it a little longer but my oven is ancient and the temp has to checked often. I did the 8×8 because I wasn’t sure my family would eat pecans but they loved it. Definitely something I would make again and will try 9×13 next. Thank you for the recipe!
How many cups of nuts equals a pound?
There are 16ozs in a pound so 1 cup is 8ozs so 2 cups equal 1 pound
Cutting the shortbread crust in half still yields PLENTY of crust! I did not alter the amount of pie topping. I have made the bars 3 times now. The first time I made it I had to throw out half of the crust. The two times after that, when I cut the recipe in half for the crust, came out perfect. Keep the amount of topping the same. Absolutely delicious!
I totally concur! use half the crust or double just the topping and use two pans! or use it for some kind of yummy shortbread treat, but yeah, half is plenty.
(9×13) My only concern is when i pulled the crust out it shrank! No more sides! Was this due to using a mat vs parchment?
you know, I’ve never used a lining. I just use a glass pan, no greasing it because the crust is so buttery. but yeah, it doesn’t really hold its shape well, but still try pressing it to the sides a little thick so that when it shrinks, you still kinda get an edge for the syrup not to go down the pan.
I have made these every Christmas since finding this recipe. We have been craving them again, so I went and bought everything and made them today! Thank you so much for this recipe, we absolutely LOVE these!!! My house smells amazing too!
Calorie content must be astronomical!
I have been making these for the past 3 yrs. I am not allowed to go to the family reunion without them! I also have to put aside several goody bags for family members who want more than just a few pieces.
They are a family favorite here for any occasion, we are so happy your family enjoys them as well!
TSRI Team Member,
I have made these for years now and they’re a solid favorite! I’ve found it is truly important to let the crust cool before adding the caramel nut mixture. The bars are such a lovely mix of textures and flavors, it’s definitely an annual repeat!
We are so happy you enjoy them! Have a great day!
TSRI Team Member,
These are delicious – freeze well so I make a large pan!
I think your recipe says size of pan is 18×12 not 8×12! Perhaps a typo? Love your recipes!
I have been making these for the last couple of years for my family and they have been a huge success!! Everyone loves them and fights over them, even the ones who dont like pecan pie love these.
We are so happy to hear that! Have a great day!
TSRI Team Member,
I plan on making these. I have a question too on the size of the pan where you say it’s an 8×12. Comparing the amount of ingredients to the 9×13 pan, it doesn’t make any sense to have 5 sticks of butter + 4-1/2 Cups of flour for the 8×12 pan and only 2-1/2 sticks of butter & 2-1/4 Cups of flour for the 9×13. I’m going to take a chance and put the 8×12 ingredients into a 18×12!! Can’t wait to taste it. Looks so delicious!
How did your alterations to the 9×13 work out? I’m curious as I’m making them today and trying to decide if I should make that change as well…I do know that shortbread cookies require an awful lot of butter.
I’m not sure how Kay’s attempt turned out, but I did the same thing she was talking about doing…and it turned out just fine! It produces a bit of a thinner square but I’m fine with that because it produces a better balance of filling to crust as far as I’m concerned.
These bars are to die for!!! The perfect mix of shortbread and gooey pecan. I’m not much of a baker, but I made them. And they came out perfectly. A must make!!!
We are so happy to hear that! We make these all the time because they are such an easy and delicious dessert. Have a great day!
TSRI Team Member,
Wondering if anyone has made these gluten free? If so, did they turn out ok? Tips… Thx
I always make these gluten free and they turn out great. Just be sure to use a cup for cup GF flour.
I baked with parchment paper lining a 9×13 baking pan. FinI cut slices and then remove?
Best recipe ever! I’ve made too many times to count! I’ve made many orders for my husbands go-workers,..they tell him they are the best pecan bars they have ever tasted! I’ve got an order for feb 24th for 3 (8×8 pans)
So easy to make! My passion baking making folks happy 🥰
I tried this recipe. The pecan topping is delicious. My problem seems to be with the shortbread. When I mixed the butter and sugar it was fine. When I added two eggs and vanilla, the dough got lumpy almost as if the butter congealed. Looked funny but smoothed out when I added the flour. Baked up nice but when I eat a piece, the crust seems to be grainy in my mouth. What caused this?