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!

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 3 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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208 Comments

  1. I made these this past week. All I can say is wow. Everyone loved them. Most said they liked them better than pecan pie. Thanks for sharing.

  2. These are dangerously delicious. I made them today following the instructions exactly, and they are perfect! I did the 9×13 on a 10×15 inch baking sheet…no boil overs! And perfect ratio of filling to crust. I am having a dinner party on Sunday but have to work on Saturday so I needed a make ahead option….I only hope they last that long! I think a slice of pecan pie would be to heavy after serving appetizers, with champagne, 1 lb Tbone steaks, roasted brussels sprouts, baked potato and salad. This will be just the perfect ending with homemade stabilized whipped cream and Fresh coffee. Thank you so much for the recipe and breaking it down into smaller versions was awesome! Thank you again!

  3. Thanks for this great recipe. I made them and brought them to work and to my son's, absolutely rave reviews, delicious!!

    1. Mine was a bit too hard. I followed the 13×9 version of this recipe and after boiling the topping on the stove for 3 minutes it almost seemed like it was turning into caramel. The bars were edible and tasted great but they were hard to cut and not as soft as a traditional pecan pie.

  4. Hello, my husband has diverticulitus and can't have nuts because of texture. Has anyone tried this using pretzles. I found Pecan Oil and wondered about toasting the pretzels in pecan oil and sugar to give more flavor. Thoughts on this idea please??????

  5. I just made these and everything turned out like I expected. After refrigerating them will they turn out for cutting or do you cut in the pan? Can't wait to try them, thanks for the breakdown on sizes too.

  6. Hi. I am wondering if anyone has made ahead and frozen? I start Christmas baking early as I work. If they aren't frozen my boys eat things up!

    1. That's a good question. When I made these following the 13X9 version, 3 minutes seemed too long and the bars were a little more set than I would've liked.

  7. Turned out great! Substituted some of the corn syrup with real organic maple syrup and real organic honey adding to a little more then half cup wht the recipie calls for. I also didnt have heavy cream so I sub for a butter and whole milk mixture. I also used half unsalted and salted butter as I didnt have enough unsalted and didnt add the salt the recipie calls for. THIS RECIPIE IS DELICIOUS! Thank you for sharing! The only problem is not eating the whole thing before I take them to our family Christmas Dinner!

  8. How firm should these bars be when they are finished? I made these last night and was a little worried with the topping base after I boiled it for 3 minutes. It almost seemed to be turning into caramel and it ended up setting too much and being too hard. The bars were edible and tasted great but we had to warm them up a bit to even cut them. What did I do wrong?!

  9. I read through the comments and didn't see an answer so forgive me if this has been asked. Can I use salted butter and skip the kosher salt? Also, do these have to be refrigerated after they're chilled and cut or can they be stored at room temp?

  10. Oh my gosh, these are delicious! I cut the recipe in half for my family of 5. No need to refrigerate, they will be gone before they spoil.

  11. I made these bars on Thanksgiving (I did the 9 x 12…next time will be the 12 x 18 jelly roll pan)…..awesome!!!

  12. I made it with a 9X13 glass pan. Delicious! My husband thought it wasn't sweet enough 🙁 and I thought it had way too many pecans. Now I am thinking…why not add chocolate bits…because I really love chocolate pecan pie. Anyone ever add chocolate?

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