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These easy pecan pie bars have a gooey brown sugar pecan pie filling on a buttery pecan shortbread crust! All of the flavors of the best pecan pie with a little bit of maple syrup. Each bite has sweet brown sugar maple filling, crunchy toasted pecans and buttery, soft pecan shortbread.
These pecan pie bars have everything you love about pecan pie and pecan pralines with the addition of maple sugar and a pecan shortbread crust. The buttery shortbread balances the brown sugar pecan filling and provides a crumbly contrast.
I originally posted this recipe in 2014 and there are some loyal readers who brought these bars to Thanksgiving and now they aren’t allowed to bring anything else. Hopefully someone else brings the pumpkin pie, sweet potato pie, easy apple pie and cherry pie!
If you are lucky enough to attend a Holiday celebration with me, then you know that I never roll in with fewer than 5 pies, no matter how many attendees. You also might get to try these almond bars!
Why You Will Love the Pecan Pie Bars
- An easy, delicious recipe. The shortbread crust presses in and the pecan bar filling is simply whisked together!
- Creamy, smooth filling. This filling is based on my bourbon pecan pie and it has the same silky smooth texture and rich, balanced flavor.
- Balanced flavors & texture. Crunchy pecans, creamy filling and crumbly shortbread give the perfect bite! A sweet maple brown sugar filling contrasts with the savory pecan shortbread base.
Professional Tips for Making Pecan Pie Bars
- Be sure to pre-bake the crust. Baking the shortbread crust until golden brown first ensures that it stays soft and crispy long after baking and slicing.
- Pre-cook the filling. Just like my secret to the perfect pecan pie, the secret to the thick, sliceable layer of filling in these bars is cooking the filling over a water bath while the crust bakes.
- Allow them to cool completely before slicing. The filling sets as it cools. If sliced too early it will be loose and the filling will squish out.
- All Purpose Flour
- Butter: I use unsalted butter to control the saltiness and flavor.
- Dark Brown Sugar: Using dark brown sugar adds sweetness along with a nice, rich molasses flavor.
- Kosher Salt: Kosher salt is less salty than table salt and a teaspoon weighs less than other finer ground varieties. It will keep your pie bars from tasting dull or flat and helps dampen the sweetness.
- Whole Egg: The egg in a baked custard like chocolate pie or pumpkin pie is integral to thickening the custard. Yes, these bars are technically a baked custard!
- Maple Syrup: In addition to its role in flavoring and sweetening, maple syrup also helps thicken the filling. To that end, it is important to use a high quality “Grade A: dark amber color and robust flavor” or darker. The better the grade, the thicker and less watery the maple syrup.
- Light Corn Syrup: The corn syrup is here to thicken the pie filling. You can substitute the light corn syrup with glucose, golden syrup, or omit it completely. If you omit the corn syrup, you run a greater risk of the pecan pie filling being runny.
- Vanilla Extract
- Pecans: Much like in my chocolate pecan pie recipe, I use toasted, chopped pecans. Toasting them heightens the nutty flavor and balances out the sweet filling. Chopping them (or buying them chopped) means you can slice the bars easier and the pecans are more evenly distributed.
See the recipe card for full information on ingredients and quantities.
Variations & Substitutions
- Add chocolate or Bourbon: Add up to a ½ cup chopped chocolate or chocolate chips to the filling like I did with these chocolate pecan tassies! You can also add 2 tablespoons of Bourbon whiskey the recipe as written for a boozy twist, or add both like in this bourbon chocolate pecan tart.
- Light corn syrup: You can substitute glucose syrup or golden syrup for the light corn syrup in these bars. You can also omit the corn syrup entirely but your filling will be looser.
- Try other nuts! Did you know that other nuts taste great in these pecan pie bars?! Try toasted walnuts, hazelnuts or macadamia nuts, or do a mix of your favorite! I do recommend chopping any and all other nuts for the best results.
- Use plain shortbread instead: You can use this Scottish shortbread recipe as a crust instead if you don’t want pecans in the crust.
How to Make Pecan Pie Bars
Use these instructions to make the thick chewy pecan pie bars. Further details and measurements can be found in the recipe card below.
Step 1: Preheat the oven to 350°F and generously butter an 8 inch square baking. Bring 1 inch of water to a simmer in a large saucepot (or you can use an actual double boiler if you want).
Step 2: Place a medium bowl over the simmering water in the saucepot. Make sure that the bottom of the bowl isn’t touching the water. Melt butter in the medium bowl.
Step 3: Remove from heat and add sugar and salt, whisking until completely combined. Whisk in eggs, maple syrup, corn syrup and vanilla until smooth. Place bowl back on sauce pot and let cook, stirring occasionally, until your crust is ready.
The filling should be shiny and look slightly thickened. You can also continue cooking it until it reaches 130°F.
Make the pecan shortbread crust:
Step 4: In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, pecans, cornstarch, and salt. Add the butter and work it into the flour mixture with a pastry fork or with your hands.
To make the crust faster, pulse the pecans until finely ground then add the remaining flour, cornstarch, salt and butter. Pulse until a crust forms.
Step 5: Press into lined baking dish and bake 10-15 minutes, or until it has browned slightly.
Assemble & bake bars:
Step 6: Add pecans to your filling mixture, stir, and pour onto the hot shortbread crust.
Step 7: Bake 17 to 22 minutes or until the filling looks set but yields like Jell-O when gently pressed with the back of a spoon or your hand.
Step 8: Let cool completely on a wire rack. Cut into squares when cool.
Several times during the cooling process I cut around the edges to facilitate removal of the bars. If you line your dish with parchment paper it will allow the filling to slide under the crust.
Chef Lindsey’s Recipe Tip
You can simply pour the filling onto the baked crust for an even easier bar. They will bake closer to an hour.
Frequently Asked Questions
After cooling, store bars at room temperature for up to 3 days, refrigerated for 10 days or frozen for 3 months. If freezing, slice them and layer them between parchment or waxed paper before wrapping well.
These bars aren’t a great candidate for shipping. Shortbread is crumbly and the filling is soft. Better to ship pecan tassies instead!
The filling could be runny from using a lower grade maple syrup, which are not as concentrated. The filling could also be runny because it was underbaked. The middle of the bars should feel set when pressed lightly and yield like Jell-O.
Pre-baking the crust and adding the filling to a warm or hot crust keeps the crust crispy after baking. The crust will get soggy if not baked long enough or if the filling is allowed to sit on it prior to baking.
If you tried this recipe and loved it please leave a 🌟 star rating and let me know how it goes in the comments below. I love hearing from you; your comments make my day!
Pecan Pie Bars
For the Pecan Shortbread Crust:
- Preheat the oven to 350° and generously butter an 8 inch square baking dish. Bring 1 inch of water to a simmer in a large sauce pot (or you can use an actual double boiler if you want).
Make the Filling:
- Place a medium bowl over the simmering water in the saucepot. Make sure that the bottom of the bowl isn’t touching the water. Melt butter in the medium bowl.
- Remove from heat and add sugar and salt, stirring until completely combined. Add eggs, maple syrup, corn syrup and vanilla; stirring until smooth.
- Place bowl back on sauce pot and let cook, stirring occasionally, until your crust is ready. The filling will be shiny and look slightly thickened.
Make the Crust:
- In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, pecans, cornstarch, and salt. Add the butter and work it into the flour mixture with a pastry blender or with your hands. You could also do this in the food processor, which also saves the time of chopping the pecans.
- Press into lined baking dish and bake 10-15 minutes, or until it has browned slightly.
Assemble & Bake:
- Add pecans to your filling mixture, stir, and pour onto the hot shortbread crust.
- Bake 17 to 22 minutes or until the filling looks set but yields like Jell-O when gently pressed with the back of a spoon or your fingers.
- Let cool completely on a wire rack. Several times during the cooling process I cut around the edges to facilitate removal of the bars.
- Cut into squares when cool.
Before You Go!
I hope you enjoyed this professional chef tested recipe. Check out our other delicious, chef-developed brownies & bar recipes!