The Best Pecan Pie from Scratch
This is the best pecan pie recipe because the filling is the perfect balance of gooey and crunchy while the pie crust is buttery and flaky. I make this pie every year for Thanksgiving!
Thanksgiving is coming up and if you are anything like my family, we are cooking up a storm and arguing over counter space and whose turn it is to use the oven. Early this morning, I took full advantage of the few hours the kitchen was actually empty and pulled out my best pecan pie recipe. I use it every year and it’s consistently a crowd pleaser.
Why this recipe works: It has the perfect balance of gooey almost caramel-like filling without losing its structure. The chopped pecans are dispersed throughout guaranteeing plenty of pecan flavor and texture. The filling is quick and easy to make too! On top of that I used my homemade pie crust recipe. It is both buttery and flaky—the perfect combo if you ask me.
- Homemade pie crust will guarantee a buttery and flaky crust. You only need one crust for this recipe.
- Unsalted butter will add an underlying creamy flavor to the pie.
- Dark brown sugar provides a subtle molasses flavor, but light brown sugar may also be used.
- Eggs will help bind the ingredients (use large eggs)
- Corn syrup is what old fashioned pecan pie calls for. I use Karo light corn syrup.
- Pure vanilla extract will provide the best flavor.
- Chopped pecans add all the texture. I like chopping them myself or in a food processor, but you can also buy chopped pecans.
- Pecan halves are optional for a decorative topping to the pie.
How to make the best pecan pie
- Partially bake the crust: You can either use store bought or make my homemade pie crust from scratch. Preheat the oven to 375 F. Line the pie crust with parchment paper and cover the bottom completely with pie weights. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes. Cool pie crust completely.
- Prepare the filling: Fill a saucepan with 1 inch water and bring to a simmer. Place a bowl on top (makeshift double boiler) and melt the butter. Remove the bowl from the heat, stir in the brown sugar, vanilla and salt. Then whisk in the eggs and corn syrup. Return bowl to the simmering water and cook until the mixture is glossy and warm to the touch, about 10 minutes. Remove bowl from heat and stir in the chopped pecans.
- Bake the pie: Pour filling into pre-baked pie crust. Garnish with pecan halves if desired. Bake pie at 275 F for 55 to 60 minutes. Cool completely before serving.
How to tell when pecan pie is done: It is done when the pie dish is gently shaken and the center jiggles slightly (the edges, about 1 inch from the crust should be set).
How to pre-bake a pie crust for pecan pie
Roll the pie dough out and let it sit for 10 minutes on your work surface (this will relax the gluten in the dough). Transfer the dough to a lightly greased pie dish. Trim and flute the edges. To prevent the pie crust from shrinking, be sure the edges are thick. Chill the pie crust for 30 minutes before baking will also prevent shrinking.
While the dough chills, preheat the oven to 375 F. Place a piece of parchment over the pie crust and fill with pie weights. Partially bake the pie crust for 15 to 20 minutes or until the edges are light in color. Let crust cool completely before adding filling.
Why you should pre-bake a pie crust
Any custard or liquid-y pie filling should have a pre-baked crust. When a filling is liquid, a raw crust will absorb the liquid and become soggy. Pre-baking the crust ensures a sturdy crust to hold the filling. This applies to blueberry crumble pie as well.
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes. Pecan pie freezes especially well. Once the pie has cooled completely, wrap the entire pie and pie dish with plastic wrap and aluminum foil. Freeze for up to 1 month. Defrost in the refrigerator before serving.
It was likely not cooked long enough. Check your oven temperature with an oven thermometer. If you are consistently having trouble, add 1 tablespoon cornstarch to the filling when adding the brown sugar.
Yes. Pecan pie is egg-based and requires refrigeration after baking and cooling. Pecan pie will keep 3 or 4 days in the refrigerator.
Corn syrup is thicker than other sweeteners and will help thicken the pecan pie filling. Eggs also work as a binding agent here. Be sure to let the pie cool completely. This will help the filling set.
As I mentioned before, this pecan pie only uses half of my homemade pie crust recipe. I suggest using the other half of the pie dough to make pumpkin pie from scratch. It’s so rich and creamy! You can also use the pie dough from bourbon sweet potato pie.
If you have extra pecans, I suggest making homemade pecan sandies. The brown sugar shortbread cookies are perfect for the holidays! You could also make a personal favorite recipe of mine: maple pecan bars.
Pecan pie is best served either at room temperature or cold. You cannot serve pecan pie warm out of the oven because the filling will be too runny. The filling needs time to set. I prefer homemade pecan pie with a dollop of whipped cream and sprinkle of cinnamon, but you can also serve it a la mode with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and a sprinkle of chocolate chips!
If you want the best pecan pie recipe for the holidays, I guarantee this is the one you should try. I have continued to use this recipe every year, and friends and family keep asking for the recipe! If you make this pecan pie, be sure to tag @ifyougiveablondeakitchen on social media and I’ll share my favorites.
The Best Pecan Pie Recipe
- 1 ½ cups (187 g) all purpose flour
- 1 Tablespoon granulated sugar
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ cup vegetable shortening, chilled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
- ¼ cup unsalted butter, chilled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
- 2-4 Tablespoons ice cold water
- 6 tablespoons (85 g) unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch pieces
- 1 cup (200 g) packed dark brown sugar
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 3 large eggs, room temperature
- ¾ cup (180 ml) light corn syrup
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 2 cups (240 g) chopped pecans
- ½ cup halved pecans for decorative top, optional
- Make sure all your ingredients are cold. In the bowl of a food processor (or use a pastry blender and make the pie dough by hand), combine flour, sugar and salt. Pulse a couple times until whisked together. Add shortening and pulse until mixture resembles coarse sand, about ten 1-second pulses. Add butter and pulse until mixture resembles coarse crumbs with bits the size of small peas, about ten more 1-second pulses. Transfer mixture to a mixing bowl. Sprinkle cold water, one tablespoon at a time, over the mixture. Use a wooden spoon or spatula or mixture the dough until large clumps form.
- Transfer dough to a lightly floured surface and use your hands to form the dough into a 8-inch disc. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and chill for at least 30 minutes and up to 24 hours.
- When ready to roll the pie crust, remove dough from the refrigerator and place it on a lightly floured surface. Use a rolling pin to roll the dough out into a circle that is 13-inches in diameter. Be mindful to add more flour underneath the dough (especially in the center) if it starts sticking to the work surface.
- Transfer pie dough to a lightly greased pie dish and gently press it into the bottom and sides of the dish. Use your fingers to tuck the edges of the dough under itself and crimp the edges (refer to video for visual). Place pie plate in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
- While the pie crust chills, preheat oven to 375° F.
- Place parchment paper on the chilled pie dough and fill with pie weights so there is an even and generous layer on the bottom. Bake for 20 minutes or until the edges start to turn color. Remove the parchment paper and pie weights. Let crust cool completely.
- Lower oven temperature to 275° F. Place a cookie sheet on the bottom rack.
- Melt butter in medium heatproof (glass or ceramic) bowl set in saucepan of water maintained at just below simmer (makeshift double boiler).
- Remove bowl from skillet and mix in brown sugar, salt and vanilla with wooden spoon until butter is absorbed. Beat in eggs first, then the corn syrup.
- Return bowl to hot water. Stir until mixture is shiny and warm to the touch, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in 2 cups chopped pecans.
- Pour mixture into pre-baked pie crust and arrange 1/2 cup halved pecans on top (optional). Bake pie at 275° F on the middle rack for 55 to 60 minutes. The pie is done when the center feels set yet soft, like gelatin, when gently pressed. Shield pie with aluminum foil after 30 minutes to prevent excessive browning.
- Transfer pie to rack and let cool completely, at least 4 hours. Serve pie at room temperature with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.
Recipe adapted from Baking Illustrated.