These pecan pie bars are a brown sugar shortbread crust topped with plenty of gooey pecan filling. An alternative to the traditional pecan pie that’s perfect for feeding a crowd!
When I’m entertaining during the holidays, I serve a variety of seasonal desserts including pumpkin dump cake, apple cobbler, and these decadent pecan pie bars.
Most of the time I am not a huge pie fan, I’m more of a cake lover. That being said, pecan pie is my weakness, I can never turn it down. These pecan pie bars have all the same great flavors of pecan pie in a hand held form. It’s a buttery crust topped with the BEST pecan caramel, and these pecan bars also happen to be super easy to make. If you’re a pecan pie lover, you must add these bars to your holiday menu!
How do you make pecan pie bars?
This recipe starts with a crust that’s a lot like shortbread. Press the crust into the pan, then bake it until golden brown. It takes a little time to work the crust into the pan, I found that using an offset spatula coated with cooking spray really helped with the process. The topping is a mixture of chopped pecans, brown sugar, butter and corn syrup. The mixture goes on top of the crust and the whole thing is baked to gooey, sticky delicious perfection. Cut into bars, then serve and enjoy.
Tips for the perfect bars
- I chilled my bars to make them easier to slice, they’re great straight from the fridge or you can bring them to room temperature after you cut them.
- You can buy a bag of pre-chopped pecans to make prep time go a little faster.
- The crust will look like coarse crumbs when you mix it together. This is normal, and the crust will take shape as more of a dough once you start pressing it into the pan.
- These bars stay fresh in the refrigerator for up to 5 days, or in the freezer for 2 months.
Pecan pie bar variations
I love this recipe exactly as it’s written, but you can add other ingredients to the mix to customize the bars to your tastes.
- Chocolate: Stir 1/2 cup of chocolate chips into the pecan topping.
- Spice: Add 1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice when you stir the pecans into the brown sugar mixture.
- Nuts: Try using a combination of walnuts and pecans for a different flavor.
Once you try these delicious treats, you’ll find yourself making them every year during the holidays. I love that you can cut them as big or as small as you want, which means you can make bite sized squares and feed a large group. Try serving the bars with a scoop of ice cream on top, you’ll be glad you did!
More fabulous holiday desserts
- Pumpkin Gooey Butter Cake
- Pumpkin Spice Cakes
- Caramel Apple Dip
- No Bake Pumpkin Cheesecake
- Pumpkin Meringue Pie
Pecan Pie Bars Video
Pecan Pie Bars
- 2 cups unsalted butter softened, divided use
- 2 cups light brown sugar packed, divided use
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract divided use
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon water
- 1/2 cup light corn syrup
- 1/4 cup heavy cream
- 1 pound raw pecans chopped
- cooking spray
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 9"x13" pan with parchment paper. Coat the pan with cooking spray.
- In a large bowl using a mixer, beat together 1 cup of the butter and 1/2 cup of the brown sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
- Add 1 1/2 teaspoons of vanilla extract and 1 tablespoon of water, then mix until combined. With the mixer on low speed, add the flour and mix until coarse crumbs form.
- Scoop the dough into the pan. Use your fingertips to press the dough evenly into the pan. It helps to use an offset spatula coated with cooking spray to get an even layer.
- Bake for 15 minutes, until crust is lightly browned around the edges.
- Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the remaining 1 1/2 cups of brown sugar and the corn syrup. Stir until well blended.
- Bring to a boil and stir frequently for 3 minutes. The mixture will get light and airy. Remove the pan from the heat and add the heavy cream and the remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons of vanilla extract. Stir until combined.
- Add the pecans and stir until they are completely coated.
- Pour the pecan mixture over the crust, and spread into an even layer.
- Return the pan to the oven and bake for 25 minutes, until the pecan topping is set (it will move slowly when you wiggle the pan).
- Allow the bars to cool completely before cutting into squares.
This post was originally published on November 7, 2017 and was updated on October 25, 2019 with new content.
Has anyone had difficulties with the filling? I have baked for 40 minutes and it’s still too runny. I don’t want to waste all these ingredients. The butter alone is $6!!
Can you provide more details as to what you are experiencing? The filling will not set up 100% straight from the oven as it’s hot. It should be mostly set, not liquid but not completely firm, and will continue to firm up as it cools.
Wow!! I was in the mood to bake something pecan pie-ish and decided to make these for a party. I was blown away at how delicious and balanced they were, way better than any pecan pie I have ever had. The crust was delicious and the caramel gooey filling was do decadent. These easily serve 24 because of how rich they are.
Thank you for such a great recipe!!
I used to make similar for a cookie exchange but lost the recipe. Thanks for this recipe; I’m going to make it for 2021 Christmas. A tip for serving: cut each square bar in half diagonally to make triangles, then drizzle with chocolate. (Melted chocolate chips and a little butter.) The presentation this way is very festive and adds variety to the goodies platter.
Recipe calls for 1 lb pecans. How many cups would that be?
Do you really mean 2 cups of butter ( four sticks) or 2 sticks of butter.
The recipe calls for 2 cups of butter.
Has anyone tried making the recipe gluten free?
These are soooo good! I love the gooey pecan filling!
These were SO GOOD! The layers baked up perfect and this is so much better than making a pie!
In the video you said chill the dough but recipe. It said bake 15 min be more precise in instructions do you chill or bake it for 15 mins before adding pecan filling
Thanks for catching that error! The video is not correct, there is no chilling. Follow the recipe as written. I will update the video and post a new one shortly.
Yum! I am a fan of pecan pie in any form. This will be perfect addition to any meal!
I made these for our friends and they were a huge hit! Thanks for the recipe!
This is the perfect way to enjoy pecan pie! Bars are so much easier.
Hi there. The recipe says to use a 9×13 pan, but the helpful hints section says a 9×13 pan is for 1/2 the recipe.
This recipe uses a 9×13 pan for the full batch! I’ve never tried to cut the recipe in half.