Pecan Pie 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!

pecan pie bars recipe.

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!

ingredients for pecan pie bars.


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!

pressing dough into baking pan.

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. 
butter, corn syrup, and brown sugar in a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan

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! 
pecans in a pot

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. 

pecan pie bars ready for the oven.

Shortbread Pecan Bars FAQ

Why is my shortbread dough too crumbly?

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. 

Do you have to use pecans for pecan tassie bars?

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!

What type of pan is best for shortbread pecan bars?

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. 

RECIPE VIDEO

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

pecan bars closeup.

Shortbread Pecan Bars + Video

Donna Elick
Shortbread Pecan Bars are nutty and sticky on top but sweet and tender underneath! Serve my pecan pie bars recipe for a tasty holiday treat!
5 stars from 2 reviews
Tried this recipe?Please comment and review!
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 30 mins
Total Time 45 mins
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Method Oven, Stovetop
Servings 24 – 36

Equipment

Ingredients
 

Shortbread Crust

  • 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

Instructions
 

  • 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.

Video

Donna’s Notes

FOR A 9×13 pan (serves 18)
Crust
1 1/4 cups (2 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
6 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
Topping:
1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1 1/2 cups light brown sugar, packed
2 tablespoons heavy cream
1 pound pecans, chopped
Follow directions above. Watch your cooking time. Time will be decreased for smaller pan sizes.
 
FOR AN 8×8 pan (serves 9)
Crust
1 1/4 sticks (10 tablespoons) unsalted butter, room temperature
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 large egg
3/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cups + 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
Topping:
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter
1/4 cup light corn syrup
3/4 cups light brown sugar, packed
1 tablespoon heavy cream
1/2 pounds pecans, chopped

Nutrition

Serving: 1 | Calories: 841cal | Carbohydrates: 67g | Protein: 7g | Fat: 64g | Saturated Fat: 25g | Cholesterol: 122mg | Sodium: 66mg | Sugar: 46g | Fiber: 4g | Calcium: 76mg | Iron: 2mg

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.

Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!
pecan pie bars

Originally published January 2013, updated and republished November2022

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203 Comments

  1. I made these at Thanksgiving. Pecan pie is one of those desserts that only my mother and I make. So I made these! Thinking that they keep in the freezer for a while my moms and I can enjoy these for weeks after….
    So after the big feast I was so amped to eat one of these suckers I noticed only a few left! If you aren't a big fan of the pie I do urge you to try the bars. The shortbread as a crust really balances the sweetness of the topping. I definitely need to make the larger recipe for Christmas 🙂 Thank you for this!

  2. I clearly made a mistake. I followed the recipe exactly, they were swimming in butter and the next day they were hard as a rock, I ended up throwing them into the garbage 🙁

  3. Do these bars have to be refidgerated? I want to send the, to my daughter but I'm afraid with the eggs. It would be in the mail 2 days.

  4. I just made these pecan bars in a 9×13 pan exactly like the recipe called for and they turned out wonderful. One of the best sweet treats I have ever eaten. I will definitely make these again and again. Thank you

  5. I made these pecan bars in a 9X13 pan. They turned out just like the picture. I had to bake the crust a bit longer than 15 min. because obviously it was not ready. I would suggest cutting them in smaller pieces because they are so rich and filling.

  6. recipe for 8×8 pan.
    crust 10 tbs of butter is more than the 1/4 c in the large pan.
    1/2 c in sauce ??
    I followed recipe but in the oven the edges looked like they were boiling
    butter.

  7. Has anyone done them in a mini muffin pan? I love bite sized pecan tarts…. Just wondering how long to cook them at first

  8. I tried these tonight – small "test" batch first as I'm a novice baker, then plan to make the larger "real" batch tomorrow. Followed the recipe to the letter. After removing from the fridge after getting cold they are quite hard – almost too hard to cut. Are they supposed to be this hard? Did I do something wrong. like maybe baking too long?

  9. Just made some and I'm praying they are good ,the top feels like a rock and I made it the exzact way they said ,I hope its JUST hard because it's in the refrigerator ,I shall see once I try and cut it for Christmas dessert

  10. okay it sound great! only thing, I try to control portions. I need some means to control the amount I eat. I fixed the pecan filling and wrapped in egg rolls. I figure one egg roll is about equal to 1/2 piece of pie so I count calories like it is half a piece of pecan pie. Can you help me out?

  11. These were fantastic! I followed the recipe for the 9×13 pan, except I substituted a gluten free flour mixture for the all purpose wheat flour. They were perfect, and my husband is begging me to make them again. Thank you for sharing your recipe!

  12. I made the 8×8 and am just hoping they turn out. It would be helpful if there were adjusted cooking times for each step. I wasn't sure if I should boil the filling for a full 3 minutes as well?? Too much room for error, especially for those of us who need directions and don't have the best cooking intuition..

  13. These were a huge hit at Christmas, and didn't last until New Year's. Considering I made the 12×18 pan that cut into 48 squares, everyone loved them. The crockpot candy was a huge hit too. Suddenly loving TSRI, keep those amazing recipes coming, great job!

    1. Use the canned coconut milk/cream. You can usually find it in the asian food area of a grocery store. There are very few dairy free butters but earth balance vegan buttery sticks are a decent substitute, better than coconut oil or shortening or nucoa margarine. I have 3 kids with dairy allergies so I have tried most of the options out there.

  14. I think I may add some good Kentucky bourbon and some chocolate chips to the filling to make them Kentucky Derby Pecan Pie Bars!

  15. Looks so delicious. You do realize 9 sticks of butter would cost around $10 – or more, and the pecans would cost about $15? Who can afford $30? I'll have to stick to pecan pie. But does look f.a.b.u.l.o.u.s.

  16. Put them in a blender and grind them up. roll into a 1 inch ball, freeze then dip in chocolate. Have mercy is that ever the best around

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