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Capital W-O-W, sky-high Pecan Pie Bars from scratch: Here to impress, to win you friends (and lovers), and to be the ideal representation of the kind of rich, buttery indulgence we all deserve, especially this time of year. Sweet and salty, flavored with maple syrup, and easier than making a traditional pie.

A stack of easy pecan pie bars made with maple syrup and shortbread crust

Why You’ll Love This Easy Pecan Pie Bars Recipe

  • Layers of Texture and Flavor. The buttery shortbread crust is tender but sturdy enough to pick up with your fingers. It tastes like a cross between my Darn Good Whole Wheat Pie Crust and the most excellent shortbread cookie. The melt-in-your-mouth filling is lush with maple and brown sugar and positively chock-a-bloc with deeply toasty, crunchy pecans.
  • Not Too Sweet. A finishing sprinkle of flaky sea salt ties the whole shebang together and saves these pecan pie bars from many a classic pecan pie’s greatest transgression: being cloyingly sweet (a trick I also use in these decadent Dark Chocolate Cookies).
  • Perfect for a Crowd. While recipes like Bourbon Pecan Pie are delish, it only serves so many. This recipe yields a big batch. You’ll have enough to serve at a party, give as gifts, or if you find them as easy to eat as I do, keep yourself in happy supply for as long as you can resist them.
  • Pecan Pie Bars from Scratch. This recipe does not use hacks like cake mix, pie crust, crescent rolls, or sweetened condensed milk either.
A plate of the BEST pecan pie bars with no corn syrup

5 Star Review

“I made these last night and they were phenomenal”

— Adelyn —

Lightened-Up Pecan Pie Bars Without Corn Syrup

Let’s get this out right now: this recipe has a lot of butter—more than in any dessert recipe I have ever baked.

These pecan pie bars are WORTH IT.

I loosely based this recipe on the famous pecan pie bar recipes of Ina Garten and Pioneer Woman.

I wanted to take what they created, put my own stamp on it, and make the consummate pecan pie bars of my dreams.

All I can say is, whoa.

  • The version of these bars I’m sharing today is beyond buttery and indulgent yet uses 3 sticks LESS than Ina’s recipe.
  • The level of sweetness is just right. I skip the corn syrup and swap in maple syrup which pairs beautifully with the pecans. (As seen in my Pumpkin Pecan Pie and Chocolate Pecan Pie.)
  • I read from many of Ina’s reviewers that the bars overflowed the pan, so I felt confident scaling the recipe down.
  • This recipe bakes in a standard 9×13-inch pan, instead of the more specialty 8×12 that Ina uses.
  • Ina’s version calls for extra large eggs; I modified this recipe to use large eggs instead.
  • And then, of course, I had to tinker with the vanilla extract and add that flourish of sea salt.

The end result: they’re tall, proud, and taste magnificent to the point that (and I do not say this lightly) I can’t imagine them with any more butter or sugar than they already have.

They’re pure pecan pie bar perfection!

pecan pie bars without cake mix cut into squares

How to Make Pecan Pie Bars

The Ingredients

  • Butter. Just do it. It’s worth it here! (It’s also a necessity in these sinfully rich Butter Tarts.)
  • Sugar. I used a combination of sugar and brown sugar for the right texture, sweetness, and richness.
  • Eggs. To bind the pecan pie bars’ shortbread crust recipe together.
  • Vanilla. A necessity in all pecan pie recipes (including this Pumpkin Pecan Cobbler).
  • Flour. All-purpose flour helps create the perfect crust texture.
  • Maple Syrup. These are pecan pie bars without corn syrup, so I opted to use maple syrup instead. The warm flavor really shines through and is a beautiful pairing with pecans. (You won’t find any corn syrup in my Pecan Pie Cobbler either.)
  • Lemon Zest. Unnoticeable on its own; it’s here to make the filling pop and balance the sweetness.
  • Heavy Cream. A necessity to make the filling rich, creamy, and caramel-like.

Ingredient Note

You MUST use heavy cream. Do not swap milk or even half and half or the filling may seize.

  • Pecan Halves. These bars are fully loaded for maximum pecan toastiness and crunch. (Extra pecans? Stir them into a batch of this Cranberry Orange Relish!)
  • Sea Salt. My star addition that takes the flavor to the next level. A flaky sea salt like Maldon or fleur de sel works best.

The Directions

shortbread crust dough in a glass mixing bowl
  1. Start the Crust. Mix together the shortbread crust batter.
shortbread crust in a baking pan for simple pecan pie bars
  1. Bake. Press into a parchment pan and bake for 15 minutes at 350 degrees F.
butter and sugar for making pecan pie bars with maple syrup
  1. Combine. Meanwhile, add the butter, maple syrup, and sugar to a saucepan.
pecan pie bar filling bubbling in a pot
  1. Heat. Simmer to create a yummy caramel.
pecans in a saucepan with a wooden spoon
  1. Bake and Chill. Stir in the pecans and pour the filling over the crust. Bake the pecan bars for 25 to 30 minutes. Let cool completely, then cover, and chill for at least 6 hours.
  2. Serve. Slice as desired, then serve at room temperature or slightly warmed in the microwave (try with a scoop of vanilla ice cream). ENJOY!

How to Cut the Pecan Pie Bars

Heads up! These bars do need to be chilled completely before they are cut. Embrace them as a stellar make-ahead dessert.

  • First, use a large, sharp knife to loosen the bars all the way around the edges of the pan. Then, lift the bars out of the pan using the parchment paper that’s hanging over the sides.
  • The bars will be thick and heavy, so if your paper starts to tear, cut the whole pan of bars in half or quarters first, then with a spatula, lift it onto a cutting board in sections.
  • These bars are rich, so I like to cut them into smaller pieces (even though I usually end up taking more than one!).

Recipe Variations

  • Chocolate Pecan Pie Bars, Option 1. Add in chocolate chips before pouring the batter into the crust.
  • Chocolate Pecan Pie Bars, Option 2. Bake the recipe as directed, then drizzle the cooled bars with melted chocolate. Let the chocolate set, then slice as directed.
  • Bourbon Pecan Pie Bars. Add 3 tablespoons of bourbon to the saucepan with the butter, syrup, sugar, and lemon zest. (Bourbon fans, these Bourbon Balls are another fabulous holiday treat!)
Best pecan pie bars ever with no corn syrup or pie crust

Storage Tips

  • To Store. You do not need to refrigerate pecan pie bars if you will be enjoying them within a day or two. These keep well at room temperature for up to two days and in the refrigerator for up to five days.
  • To Freeze. Lay fully cooled bars onto a parchment-lined baking sheet, and place in the freezer until frozen solid. Then, place the frozen bars into a freezer-safe ziptop bag or storage container and store them in the freezer. Three months is how long you can freeze pecan bars.
  • To Serve After Freezing. If the bars are frozen, let them thaw overnight in the refrigerator. Let them come to room temperature prior to serving or warm them up a little in the microwave. If you do not have a microwave, you can try warming them in a low oven. Tent the pan with foil to keep the top from over-browning.

Meal Prep Tip

  • Up to 1 week in advance, chop the pecans and store them in an airtight storage container at room temperature.
  • Up to 1 day in advance, prepare the dough for the crust, press it into the baking dish, and par-bake as directed. Cover and refrigerate it until you’re ready to finish the recipe.

What to Serve with Pecan Pie Bars

Recipe Tips and Tricks

  • Line the Pan With Parchment. If you’re just baking these bars for yourself and your immediate family, you can get away with only greasing the pan. However! If you’re making these for gifting or a party, I highly recommend lining the pan with parchment. This will allow you to lift the uncut bars out of the pan and transfer them to a cutting board. You’ll be able to get cleaner, more even slices that way.
  • Soften the Butter. You’ll know it’s softened enough when you can gently press it with a finger and it leaves an indentation. If your butter is cold, it will stick to the beaters and it won’t mix smoothly into the rest of the ingredients.
  • Save the Butter Wrappers. To keep the dough from sticking to your fingers, you can use a piece of plastic wrap to press the crust into the pan. Don’t want to waste a piece of plastic wrap? Then use the butter wrappers to press in the crust! Just lay them on top of the crust (with the butter side down) and then press with your fingertips.

Pecan Pie Bars

4.55 from 57 votes
The BEST pecan pie bars! Sweet and salty, made with shortbread crust and maple syrup, this easy pecan pie bars recipe is a crowd-pleaser!

Prep: 25 minutes
Cook: 25 minutes
Total: 6 hours 50 minutes

Servings: 36 bars; 1 (9×13) pan

Ingredients
  

FOR THE CRUST:

FOR THE FILLING:

  • 1 1/2 cups unsalted butter
  • 2/3 cup pure maple syrup
  • 2 1/4 cups light brown sugar or dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest about 1/2 medium lemon
  • 3 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 pounds 20 ounces pecan halves, coarsely chopped
  • Flaky sea salt such as Maldon or fleur de sel (optional)

Instructions
 

  • Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease a 9×13-inch pan with cooking spray or line it with parchment paper, leaving an overhang on the sides to lift the finished bars out. Set aside.
  • Make the crust: in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or a large mixing bowl, beat the butter and granulated sugar on medium-high speed, until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Scrape down the bowl. Beat in the eggs and the vanilla, just until incorporated.
  • In a separate large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture, stopping as soon as the flour disappears.
  • Transfer the dough to the prepared pan. Press it evenly into the pan, building it up on the sides all the way around by about 1-inch. The dough will be very sticky, so if it clings to your hands, use a sheet of plastic wrap to press it down and avoid sticking. The crust will seem fairly thick, but go with it. Bake the crust for 15 minutes, until it is set but not yet browned. If it puffs up unevenly in the center, use the tines of a fork to prick it lightly on the surface. Set aside to cool.
  • While the crust cools, prepare the filling: in a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan, combine the butter, maple syrup, brown sugar, and lemon zest.
  • Cook over low heat, stirring the mixture with a wooden spoon, until the butter is melted. As soon as the butter melts, increase the heat to a boil. Boil for 3 minutes (set a timer!), then remove from the heat.
  • Stir in the heavy cream, vanilla, and chopped pecans. Avoid the temptation to touch or eat the pecan filling, as it is very very hot. Pour the filling carefully into the center of the crust, then with the back of a spatula or fork, spread it into an even layer (some of the crust may show at the edges; try to avoid the batter seeping between the crust and the pan). Sprinkle a generous pinch of flaky salt over the top. It will be quite thick and fill the pan almost all the way to the top.
  • Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until the filling is set at the edges and when the pan is jiggled, the center has some movement but does not seem excessively liquidy. Place on a cooling rack and let cool completely to room temperature, then cover the bars with plastic and place in the refrigerator to chill for at least 6 hours, preferably overnight. With a knife, loosen the bars from the sides of the pan, then lift them onto a cutting board (see blog post above for tips). Slice into bars of the desired size. Enjoy at room temperature or slightly warmed in the microwave (my favorite!).

Video

Notes

  • TO STORE: You do not need to refrigerate pecan pie bars, if you will be enjoying them within a day or two. These keep well at room temperature for up to 2 days and in the refrigerator for up to five days.
  • TO FREEZE: Lay fully cooled bars onto a parchment-lined baking sheet, and place in the freezer until frozen solid. Then, place the frozen bars into a freezer-safe ziptop bag or airtight container and store in the freezer for up to 3 months.
  • TO SERVE AFTER FREEZING: If the bars are frozen, let them thaw overnight in the refrigerator. Let them come to room temperature prior to serving or warm them up a little in the microwave. If you do not have a microwave, you can try warming them in a low oven. Tent the pan with foil to keep the top from over browning.

Nutrition

Serving: 1(of 36)Calories: 370kcalCarbohydrates: 31gProtein: 3gFat: 28gSaturated Fat: 11gPolyunsaturated Fat: 4gMonounsaturated Fat: 11gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 52mgPotassium: 120mgFiber: 2gSugar: 20gVitamin A: 515IUVitamin C: 0.2mgCalcium: 39mgIron: 1mg

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Frequently Asked Questions

How Can You Tell When Pecan Bars Are Done?

When the bars are done, the pecan pie filling should still wobble a bit in the middle but not be too liquidy. It will continue to set as it cools at room temperature and in the refrigerator. Once the bars are ready, the filling should be a golden brown, and the pecans should look toasted.

How Can I Make Gluten Free Pecan Pie Bars?

For gluten free pecan pie bars, swap a gluten free 1:1 flour like this one for the all-purpose flour.

Why Are My Pecan Pie Bars Runny?

If your bars are runny, it’s likely because they weren’t baked long enough or the oven temperature wasn’t hot enough. You need to ensure that the bars are in the oven long enough (at the right temperature) to allow the filling to set up properly.

More Pecan Treats and Sweets

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Erin Clarke

Hi, I'm Erin Clarke, and I'm fearlessly dedicated to making healthy food that's affordable, easy-to-make, and best of all DELISH. I'm the author and recipe developer here at wellplated.com and of The Well Plated Cookbook. I adore both sweets and veggies, and I am on a mission to save you time and dishes. WELCOME!

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58 Comments

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  1. These pecan pie bars look so delicious! I’m practically drooling. Can’t wait to make them and try!
    And I appreciate you shared possible recipe variations. It’s really helpful because I like “upgrade” recipes and taste different variations of one and the same dish, but sometimes I really have no ideas. I’d like to drizzle them in chocolate and, perhaps, honey. And I definitely love the idea of bourbon sauce!
    Thank you for sharing the recipe, Erin. I think I’ll cook them soon!

    1. Anna, I’m so glad that this part of the post is helpful for you! I put a good amount of time into it, so it means a lot to know that it is worthwhile. I hope you absolutely love the bars!!

    1. I’m so happy to hear that you enjoyed these bars, Ruhul! Thank you for taking the time to share this kind review!

    1. Hi Taranjeet! I’ve only tested the recipe as written, so it would be a complete experiment. If you decide to play around with it, I’d love to hear how it goes!

  2. These look delicious! I am baking them as I type. :)
    I do have a question regarding the vanilla in the sauce. I see it is listed on the recipe but not in the directions. I added the 1 teaspoon along with the heavy cream.
    Thank you!

    By the way, I absolutely love your sugar cookie recipe. It is our family favorite. ??

  3. These look amazing. Could I cut these into almost bite sized bars? Also, need clarification on amount of pecans. “1 1/4 pounds 20 ounces” meaning: 1 1/4 pounds (which IS 20 oz?) and NOT
    1 1/4 pounds PLUS 20 oz? Correct? Can’t wait to make them.
    Thank you.

  4. Hi Erin! I made these last night and they were phenomenal. I did notice that my crust to filling ratio was pretty much 50/50 which is not what yours looks like. And I think this made the crust a bit stodgy in some areas (more like a dense pie crust and less like a shortbread). Any tips for next time to get this ratio a little closer to how yours look?5 stars

    1. Hi Adelyn! So glad you enjoyed the recipe! Thank you for this kind review! I’m not sure what could of caused your crust to filling ratio to only be 50/50. Did you use a 9×13 baking dish?

  5. I made this recipe with the exact ingredients & amounts specified and it came out very well, however, here are the adjustments I will apply next time. My crust came out unevenly and there was too much dough, so I tended to make it too thick around the edges and corners. In the future, I will make and use some sort of depth gauge (and more caution!) when forming my crust. I will also resist using all of the dough if there seems to be extra. The dough’s consistency may even allow me to roll it out for proper thickness the next time I try this, which I’ve noted on my recipe print out. I used both spray and parchment in my glass 9 X 13 and that worked well. After 30 minutes of baking at 350°, there was only a small area that didn’t appear “too jiggly” when I shook the pan. I ended up baking for about 45-47 minutes before I was satisfied with the doneness. So next time I will set timer for 40-42 minutes and that should be about right. (I’m figuring in opening-the-oven heat loss added about 5 minutes this time) Keep in mind, this is for MY oven- yours may be different. For the brown sugar, I used dark, it’s what I had on hand. The flaked salt certainly adds to the delightfulness of this recipe, so try to avoid skipping it if you can, even though the bars will be just fine without it. This recipe is a keeper, but I will probably only make it on occasions where I plan to give away to others, (parties) due to the extreme richness- and will enjoy standing by to collect the compliments. Thank you for a great Holiday recipe.5 stars

  6. Pecan Pie Bars were a total waste of ingredients. I’ve made pecan bars and pies many times in the past with good results. I was interested in this recipe because of not using corn syrup. The main problem with the recipe is the direction to bake until “the filling is set at the edges and when the pan is jiggled, the center has some movement but does not seem excessively liquidy.” At the end of the stated baking time, the edges were hardly set, the rest was almost liquid. I continued to bake, watching closely. The bars eventually burned before the center was set. Yes, my over is fine and I’ve had no difficulty baking other recipes. I see several of the comments were by people who thought the recipe sounded good, but hadn’t yet tried it.1 star

    1. Sorry to hear that you had trouble with the recipe, Susan. The recipe has worked well for myself (and others) so I wished it would of been a hit for you too! I know it can be disappointing to try a recipe and not have it come out for you.

    1. Hi Carol! I haven’t tested this out myself, but it would likely work. If you decide to experiment, let me know how it goes!

  7. These turned out pretty well! I used the same size dish that the recipe called for, a glass Pyrex. I ended up baking mine for about 45 minutes. The pecans turned out nice and toasty. I was a little concerned because it looked like butter was collecting all around the outer edges, but it settled overnight and the next day they were tasty. They’re definitely delicious, and I love that they use maple syrup instead of corn syrup.4 stars

  8. Hi!! Delicious recipe!!!! One question…..my topping came out a little crumbly – wondering if you know what I did wrong?? Does it mean I didn’t let it boil long enough? I think I started the 3 min timer too early. Or maybe I baked it too long??? Thanks!5 stars

    1. Hi Raena, typically this happens with it is baked too long. All ovens are different so wondering, does yours run hot?

  9. I didn’t have good luck with these at all. I am a baking girl and not a novice. And I followed the directions to the letter and they came out gritty-sugary and the shortbread broke apart when I cut them up. I won’t make this recipe again.1 star

    1. I’m sorry to hear you had trouble with the recipe. Typically when a sugar mixture is gritty or grainy, this is due to the sugar not melting properly. And shortbread that is crumbly can happen during the mixing or baking process. Hope this helps!

      1. Do you have any tips or tricks to avoid this? Mix the butter/sugar longer, bake less, more liquid/less flour. I had the same crumbling issue but I’m giving it a second go today! Hoping for a better outcome, any advice would be great :)

      2. Some ideas!
        CRUST: If it’s dry and crumbly, you may be overmeasuring the flour. Try weighing it, or use the spoon and sweep method (lightly spoon the flour into your measuring cup, then level it off).
        FILLING: Make sure you boil in step 3 for exactly 3 minutes (I even set a timer).
        BAKING: Some ovens run hot/cold. To be absolutely certain yours is the right temp, use an oven thermometer (I’ve been surprised!). Also, don’t overbake the bars—they should still have a little bit of wiggle. Let them cool completely so the filling sets.

        I hope that helps and I’d love to hear how it goes!

    2. I had the exact same results as you did. Gritty sugary texture. So disappointing. I boiled exactly 3 minutes and followed instructions to the letter.

      I live at high altitude. Would this account for it? The sugar never dissolved. Maybe need to boil longer? Anyway, the texture was terrible.

      1. I am so sorry, how disappointing! YES, that is a great point about altitude and I suspect was the root cause. Water boils at a lower temperature at altitude, so you’d need to boil for longer to get the same effect. I don’t have experience with high altitude baking so I am afraid I can’t advise on teh correct amount of time. When baking, I’d try to seek out high-altitude specific recipes to be safe.

  10. I made these today and they’re absolutely delicious! But – my topping crystallized, and I’m wondering if you know where I went wrong? I boiled the topping for exactly 3 minutes, and followed all directions to the letter, including the baking time. The pecans toasted perfectly, the base is lovely, and the flavor is delicious — but the whole topping is crystallized. I want to make these again, but not until I know where it went wrong. Thank you!4 stars

    1. Hi Suzanne! I’m glad you enjoyed the flavor! Could you describe what you meant by crystalized exactly? Pecan pie and pecan pie bars have a crunchy top that some might characterized as crystalized. Or did yours do something different?

  11. These were a disappointment. Filling grainy, filling separated from crust when cutting into bars. I’m not deducting points for the crumbly crust as I had to substitute gluten free flour (1:1 substitution), but the crust also had no flavor. I followed the recipe exactly other than the flour substitution. Made these for Thanksgiving and had to run to the store to get supplies to replace with a pie.3 stars

    1. I’m sorry to hear that Lynn. This has always been a tasty crust for us and with the butter, sugar, vanilla in it I’m wondering why you didn’t get the same result? A few tips: Make sure you boil in step 3 for exactly 3 minutes (I even set a timer).
      BAKING: Some ovens run hot/cold. To be absolutely certain yours is the right temp, use an oven thermometer (I’ve been surprised!). Also, don’t overbake the bars—they should still have a little bit of wiggle. Let them cool completely so the filling sets. Hope this helps!

  12. I don’t know what I did wrong, but these bars seized up and are completely stuck in the pan. I’m going to have to use a hammer to get them out.1 star

    1. Hi Valerie! I am sorry you had trouble with these—it’s hard for me to say without being with you. A few thoughts: something could have gone awry with boiling the sugar. Did you boil it for the precise 3 minutes specified? Also, the bars still should have had some jiggle when removed from the oven. Perhaps they are overbaked?

  13. I brought these for Thanksgiving and my whole family was raving! This is the second time I’ve made them and they’ve continued to be delicious.5 stars

  14. Oh my buttery pecan goodness! My husband couldn’t stop eating these and really didn’t want to take them to our Thanksgiving gathering, lol!5 stars

  15. I made these Pecan Pie Bars for a work Thanksgiving potluck and got so many compliments! They were so decadent and delicious!5 stars

  16. These were a big hit at thanksgiving dinner yesterday. I had to pass on the recipe to a friend who thought they were fantastic. My only problem in making them was there was too much filling for the pan. I saved the left over and froze it. May make a mini batch for Christmas!5 stars

  17. Hi Erin, I loved the idea of this recipe because of the absence of the Karo Syrup. However, the bars were so sweet we could barely eat them. I think the sugar could be cut back by at least one cup. I also expected the pecans to have a softer consistency. We will use as a ice cream topping.

    Any ideas?2 stars

    1. Sorry to hear that P. I’m sorry I am afraid it can’t be cut back! This is one of those over the top desserts I’m afraid.

  18. These are just great! I forgot to chop up the pecans and I think I cooked them about 5 minutes too long in the oven and they were still great. They have a nice praline-y, maple-y nuttiness that is so good. The crust is perfect too.5 stars

  19. I am so disappointed with this recipe. When I saw that the instructions for making the caramel used time as a measure of doneness rather than temperature, I should have stopped right there and looked for a different recipe. This is a very expensive dessert to make (1.5 pounds of butter and 1.25 pounds pecans), and my end result after baking was a hard candy like structure. Nothing at all like the photo or pecan pie. I threw out the entire pan. Save your money or look for a different recipe!1 star

    1. Nancee, this breaks my heart! Your time and money on ingredients and the energy it took to make this is a massive bummer to say the least. It’s not meant to be a candy caramel, so I didn’t include a temp (also most folks don’t have a candy thermometer so I just didn’t think it was necessary). As I mentioned in the recipe, I based these off of Ina Garten’s recipe and she uses the same time measure with good results. Regardless, I know this is a loss for you and I’m sorry!

  20. Made these again for Christmas and they were a HUGE HIT. I haven’t had the issues others have either time I’ve baked them. Will plan on repeating next year!5 stars