This easy pecan pie with the best, homemade all-butter crust is made without corn syrup and just a bit of bourbon, for a not-too-sweet, classic Thanksgiving dessert.
I’m a fan of all types of pie, especially during the holidays, where I always make a pumpkin pie and a curry turkey pot pie (aka the best thing you can do with those Thanksgiving leftovers!), plus an apple pie (because you can never have too much pie during Thanksgiving). But the one pie that is absolutely mandatory in our house, is pecan pie. It always hits the spot, especially after you’ve let your meal settle and your sweet tooth kicks in.
This pecan pie starts with a flaky, buttery crust filled with toasted pecans, then filled with a smooth, mapley-sweet (not too gooey) filling spiked with a wee bit of bourbon. And better yet, there’s no corn syrup in this pecan pie. Over time and lots of experimenting, I’ve found the perfect crust to filling ratio and ideal level of sweetness that makes it the best pecan pie recipe, and one that is now my to-to year after year.
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What’s in the BEST Pecan Pie
I’ve tinkered with all sorts of different variations over the years. I’ve tried chopped nuts, whole nuts, maple syrup instead of light or dark corn syrup, less sugar, par-baked, not par-baked, booze, or no booze. The list goes on. What I’ve found is that pecan pie filling can be cloyingly sweet. Also, it’s typically made with corn syrup which I’m not really a fan of. That’s why I forgo the corn syrup and use a mixture of Lyle’s Golden Syrup and dark brown sugar.
Here’s what you’ll need to make this pecan pie:
- 1 9-inch all butter pie dough—you can halve the recipe to make one pie crust
- Dark brown sugar—it provides a deeper, toastier, more caramelized molasses flavor than light brown
- Lyle’s Golden Syrup—this British cane syrup looks like honey and is the same viscosity as both honey and corn syrup but is a wee bit less bad for you. Find it in well-stocked grocery stores, at World Market (it’s usually in the UK section of the world foods aisle), or you can order it online. Alternatively, use a different high-quality golden syrup, honey, or ¾ cup dark brown sugar and ½ cup maple syrup (the darker the better).
- Bourbon—you can certainly leave it out if that’s not your thing. No need to use an expensive bourbon here, but don’t use the cheapest either.
- Vanilla extract—if you leave out the bourbon, use 3 teaspoons vanilla instead of two.
- Kosher salt
- Pecan halves—use raw, unsalted pecans and toast them beforehand so that the pecan flavor really sings.
- Maldon Sea Salt—a sprinkle of this flaky salt is a nice contrast with the sweetness of the pie.
How to Make the BEST Pecan Pie
Make your pie dough. Make your pie dough if you haven’t already. Wrap your dough disc in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes (ideally overnight), or up to 3 days.
Once you’re ready to roll your dough, remove it from the fridge to a lightly floured countertop. Use your fingers to make indentations along the outside circle of the pie disc before rolling (this helps prevent the edges from cracking). Pound the dough with the rolling pin to warm it slightly as it flattens and becomes more pliable.
When it comes to rolling out the dough think of unfurling a flag, not steamrolling it. First, roll all along the outside edge of the pie dough to flatten it slightly. Then, starting from the center of the dough, roll the dough, rotating it with every few swipes, until it reaches the size you’re looking for, about 12 to 13 inches for a 9-inch pie dish. Bake it in a glass pie dish like this one or I really like this non-stick pie dish too.
Tip: To know how large a circle you need for your pie, invert a pie tin and set it lightly on the dough, and cut a circle around the tin about 2-3 inches bigger than the tin’s edges.
Just chill. Place your crimped pie dough in the freezer for about 20 or 30 minutes before baking. This helps relax the gluten a bit more and allows the dough to firm up, which also will prevent the butter from melting as soon as it hits the oven.
For the Best Pecan Pie, Bake it Twice
No tall pecan pie recipes have you bake your pie twice. But it’s my personal preference. Par-baking your pie before filling gives you extra insurance that your crust won’t be underbaked or get soggy. It also prevents the sides of the pie rom slumping.
Par-bake your dough. I discovered a new way to do this that works like a charm. Fill an oven-safe cooking bag with 6 cups of dry beans, uncooked rice, or pie weights. Place the bagged beans in the semi-frozen, pie shell, then put them directly into the oven. When finished, lift the bag of beans from the pie shell and save the beans in the bag for another baking day.
The Best Temperature to Par-Bake a Pie Dough
Depending on how much time you have and your personal preference, par-bake lower and slower or higher and faster. I’ve tried both methods with success but tend to use the low and slow method more often.
- Low and slow: 350°F for about 45 minutes.
- Higher and faster: 400°F for 15 minutes, then remove your bagged beans or pie weights, and return the crust to the oven for 5 minutes more.
Tip: Pies can be par-baked up to 2 days in advance, and wrapped carefully and tightly with plastic wrap.
Prepare Your Filling
Roast your nuts. Leave the oven at 350°F, or if you par-baked at 400°F, reduce your oven temp to 350°F. Place the pecan halves on a sheet pan and roast for 10 minutes.
Use golden syrup instead of corn syrup. In this recipe, a good quality golden syrup subs in for thicker corn syrup. I use Lyle’s Golden Syrup, a British import with a deeper toasted flavor than heavy corn syrup. A good quality golden syrup can be substituted. Alternatively, use an equal amount of honey. Or, use ¾ cup dark brown sugar and ½ cup maple syrup (the darker the better).
Whisk it all together. In a large bowl, combine your eggs, dark brown sugar, golden syrup, bourbon, vanilla, and salt, and whisk well to combine. Gradually whisk in the melted butter so you don’t scramble your eggs.
Assemble the Pecan Pie
Arrange the pecans on the bottom of the pie shell and pour your filling overtop. Some people chop their nuts into smaller pieces but I like a heartier crunch. If you do chop, do so roughly for different sizes of nutty chunks.
Add a layer of raw nuts to the top for a fancy look. Plan on around 1 cup of extra nuts to create a spiral top. Use raw pecans for this step, not toasted, as the nuts will roast as they sit on top of the pie. Or, skip the presentation and go rustic.
Bake your pie at 350°F for about 30-40 minutes. You’ll know the pie is done when the crust is golden brown and the pie is set. It should still jiggle just a bit when you give it a gentle nudge. Let it cool and set for an hour before you slice and serve.
How Do You Keep a Pecan Pie From Being Runny
This pecan pie is not runny at all (most runny pies are a result of under-baking). However, if you want extra insurance or an even thicker filling, add ½ cup more nuts and/or 1 tablespoon of flour or cornstarch to your filling. Just whisk it in with the eggs before you add the other ingredients.
Tips for Baking Pecan Pie
Par-baking is your friend. Par-baking your pie crust before adding your filling isn’t required, but I promise it makes a huge difference here. No one likes an underbaked crust, and baking it twice will ensure a nice, crisp crust with no soggy bottom. Just make sure you let it cool completely after par-baking and before filling (otherwise you might get some leakage).
Shield the pie if the nuts or crust start to brown too much. If it’s browning too much, protect the edges from the heat with strips of foil tented gently over the edges, or use a pie shield.
Serve with whipped cream. There’s nothing better than homemade whipped cream to go with your pecan pie. I love sweetening mine up with a little maple syrup and a tiny pinch of salt—it’s SO good.
Does Pecan Pie Have to be Refrigerated
Because pecan pie has eggs in it, it’s recommended that you store it in the refrigerator to keep it fresh and avoid any bacteria growth. That said, I always store (and serve) mine at room temperature and have never had any issues.
Can You Freeze Pecan Pie
Yes! Because it has a lower water content than fruit pies, pecan pie lends itself well to freezing. Bake your pie and let it cool completely (for an hour or so). Then, wrap it carefully and thoroughly with plastic wrap or foil (to prevent freezer burn) and place it in a zippered freezer bag. Store it in the freezer for up to a few weeks then defrost it in the refrigerator overnight.
To reheat your pie from frozen, let it sit on the counter for a few minutes and then cover it loosely with foil. (The foil will prevent the crust from burning.) Place it on a sheet pan and bake in a 350°F oven for about 15-20 minutes.
Other Pie Recipes You’ll Love
- The Best Four Berry Pie Recipe
- Curry Turkey Pot Pie
- Quick Rustic Apple Tart
- Mountain Fresh Peach Pie
- Rhubarb Raspberry Pie with Oatmeal Crumble
- Easy Pumpkin Pie
- Raspberry Peach Hand Pies
- Skillet Cherry Pie
- Caramel Apple Pie
If you make this recipe, please let me know! Leave a ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ rating on this recipe below and leave a comment, take a photo and tag me on Instagram with #foodiecrusheats.
The BEST Pecan Pie
- 1 9-inch pie dough
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
- ⅔ cup Lyle’s Golden Syrup* , or other high quality golden syrup
- ⅔ cup dark brown sugar
- 3 eggs
- 2-3 tablespoons bourbon , optional
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- Pinch of kosher salt
- 1 ½ cups raw pecan halves , plus 1 cup for spiral topping if desired
- Maldon sea salt , for serving
- Make your pie dough if you haven't already. Let the dough sit in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes (ideally overnight), or up to 3 days. After rolling and crimping your dough in your pie dish, place it in the freezer for 30 minutes before baking.
- Fill an oven-safe baking bag with dried beans, uncooked rice, or pie weights. Place the bagged beans in the crust-lined pie dish. Or, line your pie dough with heavy duty aluminum foil and fill to the crust's lip with pie weights, dry beans, or sugar. Depending on how much time you have and your personal preference, you can par-bake lower and slower or higher and faster (I've tried both methods with success). Low and slow: Par-bake at 350°F for about 45 minutes. Higher and faster: Par-bake at 400°F for 15 minutes, then remove the bagged beans or foil and pie weights, and return the crust to the oven to bake 5 minutes more.
- Remove the bagged beans or foil and pie weights, and set the crust aside, leaving it on the sheet pan while you prepare your filling. (I like to bake my pies on a sheet pan versus directly on the oven rack in case there is any leakage or spillage.)
- Leave the oven at 350°F, or if you par-baked at 400°F, reduce your oven temp to 350°F. Place 1 ½ cups of pecan halves on a baking sheet and roast in the oven for 10 minutes.
- Place the butter in a small saucepan and cook over medium heat until melted, or microwave for 1 minute at 60% power. Set aside to cool slightly. In a large bowl, combine eggs, dark brown sugar, golden syrup, bourbon, vanilla, and salt, and whisk well to combine. Gradually whisk in the butter so you don’t scramble your eggs.
- Arrange the pecans on the bottom of the pie crust and pour the filling overtop. If desired, set about 1 cup of raw pecans (not toasted) in a spiral pattern on top of the filling. Bake the pie for about 30-40 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown and the pie is set but still jiggles just a bit when you give it a gentle nudge. Let your pie cool and set for an hour before serving. Top with a sprinkling of Maldon sea salt flakes and serve with fresh whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.
- *If you can’t find Lyle’s Golden Syrup, you can use honey, or you can use ¾ cup dark brown sugar and ½ cup maple syrup (the darker the better).
- For a thicker filling, whisk in 1 tablespoon flour or cornstarch with the eggs before you add any other ingredients.
- If you choose to blind bake at 350°F, you can toast your pecans while you do this, to save time.
- You can make your pie dough 3 days in advance and store it in the refrigerator, or use frozen pie dough (just allow a day so it can thaw in the fridge). You can make the pie up to 3 days in advance (store at room temperature).
More Holiday Desserts to Try
- Pumpkin Pie
- The BEST Apple Crisp
- The Best Pumpkin Roll
- Mom’s Easy Fudge
- Pumpkin Bread Pudding with Whiskey Cream Sauce
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