We all know it’s not Thanksgiving without Pumpkin Pie (in our house it’s my Mile-high Pumpkin Pie with creamy meringue topping), but Pecan Pie is just as important in my house. One thing I love about these pie bars is that they're versatile. Sometimes we go for classic Pecan Pie—but pecan bars are my all time favorite! 

I love this recipe because it makes a lot of food. I go all-out on Thanksgiving and there are usually leftovers of everything, including dessert. I love packing up the leftovers and sending them with my husband when he goes out hunting at our farm. Honestly, pecan bars are a welcome addition to anyone’s lunch pail! They’re nutty, buttery, and oh-so-gooey. Absolutely drool-worthy. The hunters always send me “thank you” texts at the end of the day.

pecan squares
pecans glazed

History of Pecan Pie: A True American Dessert

Pecans have a long history in North America. In fact, Native Americans were eating them as early as 10,000 years ago! The first pecan pie recipes appeared in southern cookbooks in the 1800s. One theory is that when Indigenous people introduced the nuts to French settlers, the French started baking with them, and pecan pie was born. However it got here, we’re sure glad it did.

Pecan pie really became popular in the 1920s when the manufacturer of Karo corn syrup started printing a recipe for it on their bottles. It was easy to make and people loved it! Pecan pies fall into the category of “sugar pies,” so one of their most important qualities is their sweetness. This is a treat, not a health food! By the way, most of today’s pecan pie recipes are based on Karo’s original recipe. These bars, of course, were inspired by the very same.

Tips and Tricks for the Perfect Pecan Pie Bars

  • Always use unsalted nuts when making pies or cookies. Salt is a common ingredient in pie fillings but using nuts that are salted will make for an overly salty pie.

  • Use pecan halves if possible. They look fancier than crushed-up pecan pieces.

  • Measuring sticky ingredients like Karo syrup can be challenging. Try spraying your measuring cup with nonstick cooking spray before adding the Karo syrup to your filling. You will be pleasantly surprised at how easily it releases from the measuring cup. Keep this one in your back pocket for other tricky ingredients like honey and molasses, too!

  • Always let a pecan pie rest for at least 2 hours before slicing. Cutting into a pecan pie too soon will result in a runny piece of pie. That applies to this recipe, too!

  • Pies and pie bars made with eggs (like pecan or pumpkin) should always be refrigerated if not used the same day they’re baked. Make sure to eat it up within 3-4 days.

A Gift of Cookies, A Cookbook that Gives Back

This recipe is from my first cookbook: A Gift of Cookies: Recipes to Share with Family & Friends. It’s special because of the family recipes that are in it that have been passed down from generation to generation. In fact, the book is so special to me that I donate 100% of the proceeds to local children's charities. If you’d like to join me in my efforts, you can learn more about it here. If you DO make any of the recipes, please let me know! I’d love to see how they turn out for you and hope that you enjoy baking as much as I do. 

Yield: 30 bars
Pecan Pie Bar Recipe

Pecan Pie Bar Recipe

Pecan pie is delicious, but these Pecan Pie Bars are the classic pie’s more versatile, portable cousin. Great for dessert and packing in your lunch box the next day!


  • 2 ½ cups (1 pound 4 ounces) unsalted butter, softened
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • ¼ cup light or dark brown sugar, packed
  • 3 extra-large eggs
  • ¾ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 4 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups (1 pound) unsalted butter
  • 1 cup light corn syrup
  • 3 cups light brown sugar, packed
  • ¼ cup heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • 2 pounds whole pecans


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Prepare the crust. In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together the butter and both sugars until light and fluffy; about 3 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the vanilla extract. Mix well until incorporated.
  2. In a mixing bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder and salt. With your mixer on low speed, add the dry ingredients. Mix until just combined.
  3. Using your hands, evenly press the dough into an ungreased 12x18-inch pan with 1-inch sides. Make an edge of dough around the sides of the pan. The dough will be sticky. Lightly sprinkling your hands with flour will make it easier to pat down the dough. Bake for 15 minutes or until the crust is set, but not browned. Allow the crust to cool.
  4. Now it’s time to prepare the topping. In a medium-sized saucepan, heat the 2 cups of butter, corn syrup, and brown sugar. Cook on low heat until butter is melted, using a wooden spoon to stir, if needed.
  5. Once the butter is melted, raise the heat and boil this mixture for 3 minutes, then remove from heat.
  6. Stir in the heavy cream, vanilla and pecans and pour the pecan mixture into the crust, trying not to get any filling between the crust and the pan.
  7. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until the filling is set. Remove the pan from the oven and let it cool. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until cold.
  8. Remove from refrigerator and cut into bars before serving.


For a different flavor profile, replace half of the corn syrup with honey. You can also fold 2 tablespoons of Cointreau or dark rum into the filling just before pouring it onto the crust. Delicious!

Did you make this recipe?
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October 27, 2022 — Mary DiSomma