Pecan Pie Bars
Pecan Pie Bars are an easier way to enjoy Pecan Pie! A buttery shortbread crust topped with sweet filling and crunchy pecans. The filling is custardy and made with sweetened condensed milk instead of corn syrup for added flavor. Have you ever had dulce de leche? The filling for these Pecan Pie Bars has a similar flavor that is so, so good.
I love the flavors of pecan pie, but making a pie on Thanksgiving feels so involved. You’re likely already making a ton of other food, adding a pie on top of that can be a lot! This is a simplified version with all the flavors you love in an easier package. These Pecan Pie Bars can be made up to 2 days in advance for ease.
If you’re looking for a delicious Thanksgiving dessert recipe for your table, these Pecan Pie Bars are a total crowd pleaser!
Pecan Pie Bars: Easier than Pie
Over the last few years I have become a HUGE Pecan Pie fan. It was always a pie option that I overlooked, especially if there were other pie offerings available. I’ve finally come to my senses, especially after my Salted Chocolate Pecan Pie recipe! These easy Pecan Pie Bars are a delicious twist on a Thanksgiving classic!
These easy Pecan Pie Bars are everything you love about pecan pie, but so much easier to make. Plus, you can eat these with your hands! Who doesn’t love a pie that’s easy to eat. If you’re looking for something a little different, while still enjoying the traditional flavors of Pecan Pie this is the recipe for you!
I’ve always been weird about the amount of corn syrup in pecan pie. I rarely keep it on hand because I don’t bake with it much, so I rarely make pecan pie. This recipe uses sweetened condensed milk instead of the corn syrup and it is SO good. Once you try pecan pie with sweetened condensed milk, you’ll never go back! You can also use this filling in a traditional pie crust for a vastly improved pecan pie.
Why You’ll Love this Recipe
Feeds a crowd – This an easy recipe to prep for a huge crowd making it a favorite for the holidays. You can double the recipe and bake it in a 9×13 to serve a whole host of people. Plus, serving is a cinch because you can eat Pecan Pie Bars as a handheld dessert!
Easy – This recipe only takes minutes to prep and a handful of ingredients. Even if you’re a novice baker, you’ll be able to whip these Pecan Pie Bars up no problem! Follow my tips below to make these perfect every time.
Minimal Prep – All you need are two mixing bowls and a baking pan! The whole recipe comes together in about 10 minutes. All you have to do is mix up the shortbread crust and whisk together the filling. No fancy arranging of pecans or anything!
Make-ahead friendly – You can make these Pecan Pie Bars up to 2 days in advance! Just bring them out to room temperature before serving and dessert is ready. Make-ahead friendly desserts take some of the stress out of the big day.
How to Make Pecan Pie Bars
This is a great make-ahead friendly dessert option for the holidays! All the flavors of pecan pie in an easier package.
Ingredients and Substitutions
- Sweetened Condensed Milk. Sweetened condensed milk helps make up the filling of our Pecan Pie Bars. It replaces the corn syrup in the classic recipe. You could use corn syrup, but I urge you to give this a try.
- Chopped pecans. You can buy chopped pecans or chop them yourself.
- Eggs. Eggs help thicken the filling so that it’s almost custard-like.
- Salted butter. The salted butter in the shortbread crust really balances out the sweetness of the filling. Who doesn’t love a salty-sweet dessert? You can use unsalted butter if that’s what you have.
- Sugar. You’ll need both brown and granulated sugar for this recipe.
- Vanilla bean paste. Vanilla bean paste is studded with vanilla bean seeds. It’s readily available in most stores and gives an intense vanilla flavor. You can use pure vanilla extract as well.
- Flour. All-purpose flour for the crust is best.
- Flaky sea salt. Topping the Pecan Pie Bars with flaky sea salt after baking adds the perfect hint of salt.
- Make the crust. Beat the butter and sugar together in the bowl of a stand mixer or with a hand mixer. Beat for about 5 minutes, until the butter and sugar are very fluffy. Add the flour and vanilla and beat until just mixed. Press into an even layer in an 8×8 baking pan lined with parchment paper. Chill 1 hour.
- Bake and cool. Bake the crust at 350 F for 20 minutes, until golden brown. Cool to room temperature.
- Make the filling. Combine all the filling ingredients in a mixing bowl and whisk until well mixed. Pour over the cooled crust and bake for 50-55 minutes at 325 F. Top with flaky sea salt.
- Cool and refrigerate. Cool the bars for 1 hour at room temperature and then refrigerate for 2 hours before cutting and serving.
Tips for Making Pecan Pie Bars
Use room temperature ingredients. When at room temperature, eggs, butter, and other dairy ingredients form an emulsion which traps air. While baking in the oven, that trapped air expands and produces a fluffy baked good. Fluffy baked goods = tender crumbs and a much better texture. Cold ingredients do not incorporate together as easily. Or even at all!
Use a quality baking pan. I always use USA nonstick pans because they are top of the line! They distribute heat evenly and release baked goods with ease.
Grease AND line your baking pan. Pecan Pie Bars are sticky! To keep your bars from sticking to your baking pan, lightly grease the baking pan before lining the whole thing with parchment paper so that there’s a bit of overhang. This will make your life so much easier when it comes to pulling the bars out of the pan.
Bake low and slow. Baking the Pecan Pie Bars at 325 instead of 350 allows us to bake the bars all the way through without the edges drying out. You’ll end up with a perfectly tender bars that have zero curdling.
Making Pecan Pie Bars Ahead of Time
That’s one of the things I love so much about this recipe, it that it’s PERFECT for making in advance. I typically make them the night before I am serving them, and leave them in the pan (uncut) and refrigerate.
To make ahead: Follow the recipe as written. Refrigerate for up to 2 days uncut. Bring to room temperature before cutting into bars and serving.
You can also prepare the bars in steps. You could make the crust ahead of time and refrigerate and bake the day of. This recipe is really flexible!
Storing and Freezing Pecan Pie Bars
This is a great recipe that is easy to store and freeze if you find you have a little extra.
To store, you can refrigerate the bars in an airtight container for up to 3 days. Microwave for 10 seconds before serving.
To freeze, wrap before slicing in plastic wrap really well and transfer to a freezer-safe ziplock bag. This helps prevent freezer burn. Freeze for up to 3 months. Defrost in the fridge and then microwave for 20 seconds before serving.
More Holiday Dessert Recipes to Try Now
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Pecan Pie Bars
- 10 tablespoons (5 oz) salted butter, at room temperature
- 1/3 cup brown sugar
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 – 14 oz can sweetened condensed milk
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 3 eggs, room temperature
- 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
- 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 2 1/2 cups chopped pecans
- flaky sea salt
- Preheat an oven to 350 F. Grease and line an 8×8 baking pan with parchment paper. Leave a bit of overhand for easy removal.
- Beat the butter and sugar together in the bowl of a stand mixer or with a hand mixer. Beat for about 5 minutes, until the butter and sugar are very fluffy. Add the flour and vanilla and beat until just mixed. Press into an even layer in the prepared pan and chill 1 hour.
- Prick the crust all over with a fork. Bake for 20 minutes, until golden brown and slightly puffed. Cool to room temperature.
- Lower the oven temperature to 325 F.
- In a mixing bowl, whisk together the sweetened condensed milk, eggs, vanilla, brown sugar, and salt until smooth. Stir in the chopped pecans. Pour the filling over the cooled crust.
- Bake for 50-55 minutes, until the edges are puffed but the middle is still slightly jiggly. Remove from the oven and sprinkle the top with flaky sea salt, if desired.
- Cool the bars for 1 hour at room temperature and then refrigerate for 2 hours before cutting and serving.