Ultranutty Pecan Bars
Pecan bars with a shortbread-style crust and absolutely loaded with nuts!
I was less than two weeks removed from eating the last piece of pecan pie from Thanksgiving when I came across this recipe and I wasted no time grabbing my stash of pecans and getting to work. One of the first baking recipes that I made on my own was chocolate chip pecan pie bars – they are very much like pecan pie (with chocolate chips) in bar form. They are, incidentally, utterly fantastic. These ultranutty pecan bars are way heavier on the pecans than on the filling, so if you’re a big fan of pecans but not so much the super-sweet pie filling, these will be right up your alley.
These bars could not possibly be any easier to make. The crust is mixed by hand, pressed into the pan and doesn’t need to be par-baked – score! A quick whisk of the filling ingredient, folding in the pecans and… boom, done. There’s just enough of a filling to give you the characteristic taste of pecan pie without being overpowering or too sweet. These bars are ALL about the pecans!
And let’s not forget about the fleur de sel that’s sprinkled on the bars immediately after they come out of the oven. Each bite has a little salty crunch that’s a perfect sidekick to the pecans.
Pecan lovers, this one is for you!
One year ago: Chocolate Crinkle Cookies
Two years ago: Classic Thumbprint Cookies
Six years ago: Date Nut Spice Bread
Ultranutty Pecan Bars
For the Crust:
- 1¾ cups (218.75 g) all-purpose flour
- 6 tablespoons granulated sugar
- ½ teaspoon (0.5 teaspoon) salt
- ½ cup (113.5 g) unsalted butter, melted
For the Topping:
- ¾ cup (165 g) light brown sugar
- ½ cup (170.5 ml) light corn syrup
- 7 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and still hot
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ½ teaspoon (0.5 teaspoon) salt
- 4 cups (396 g) pecan halves, toasted, (1 pound)
- ½ teaspoon (0.5 teaspoon) flake sea salt, optional
- Adjust oven rack to lowest position and preheat to 350 degrees F. Spray a 9x13-inch pan with non-stick cooking spray and line with parchment paper.
- Make the Crust: In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, and salt. Add the melted butter and stir with a wooden spoon until a dough begins to form. Using your hands, continue to combine until no dry flour remains and a small portion of dough holds together when squeezed in the palm of your hand. Evenly scatter tablespoon-size pieces of dough over the surface of the pan. Using your fingertips, press and smooth dough into even layer in the bottom of the pan; set aside.
- Make the Topping: In a medium bowl, whisk together the brown sugar, corn syrup, melted butter, vanilla, and salt until smooth and completely incorporated. Fold the pecans into the sugar mixture until the nuts are evenly coated.
- Pour the pecan topping over the crust and, using a rubber spatula, spread the topping over the crust, working it to the edges and into corners (there will be bare patches). Bake until the topping is evenly distributed and rapidly bubbling across entire surface, 23 to 25 minutes.
- Transfer the pan to a wire rack and lightly sprinkle with flake sea salt, if using. Let bars cool completely in the pan, about 1½ hours. Cut into 24 bars and serve. The bars can be stored at room temperature in an airtight container for up to 5 days.
Did you make this recipe?
Leave a review below, then snap a picture and tag @thebrowneyedbaker on Instagram so I can see it!
This is the recipe from America’s Test Kitchen. Thanks for pulling it out from behind the paywall. They are always a hit.
These bars are fantastic! I make them every Christmas and everyone loves them! So easy to make. Just took a pan of them out of the oven, I’m taking them to my trainer tomorrow for his birthday. He mentioned a couple of months ago that he had been craving them so he will be very happy.
Thank you for sharing this recipe.
Oh my golly! My daughter made these for Thanksgiving. I am surprised there were as many pecans left for the bars since I would wander through the kitchen and grab a handful of the warm nuts. YUM!
This recipe is GREAT! Try it, you will love it!
Made these last year for the holidays instead of pecan pie. What a hit!! Will make these instead of pecan pie moving forward.
I have reported this to cooks illustrated legal department. They have a specific email address for reporting miss use of their con tent, including publishing their recipes without permission. This is 100% plagiarism. You even stole the name! And no credit to cooks illustrated. Shameless. Good luck working with their legal department. This has been on your site for years, you cannot make it disappear. I have taken screen shots of your post and the recipe and submitted to them
It’s not Cooks Illustrated – it’s America’s Test Kitchen – and it’s not for you to worry about. Mind your own business.
Both are the same company… moot point. It’s thefact that she uses the same title (and most likely verbatim instructions) and lists herself as author with no mention of the true author. This blog is chock full of others’ recipes advertised as her own creations. Stating facts…
This seems to have been posted in 2015 and you’re commenting abouta recipe that just came out by americas test kitchen? I would say it’s the other way around
Get a life & be nice. Why should folks hafta pay to get a recipe that’s televised. TY @browneyedbaker for this service. ~ manga
Why do you not mention toasting of the pecans? Absolutely ups the flavor quotient of the bars. Other than that, solid recipe.
Very good and even more important, very easy.
I’ve made these probably 10 times in the past two years. They don’t last long!
Made these for Mother’s Day dessert tomorrow. I’ll be back to let you know how they taste. All I know now is it looks scrumptious! Later! Enjoy your Mother’s Day ❤️
Made these as written and they were perfect. My favorite Thanksgiving dessert this year.
Thank you for these! It was good and came out almost perfect! Crust was baked through while still tender and semi-crumbly, nuts were crunchy, filling wasn’t at all sweet which caters to many. One thing I didn’t quite like is that it is a little too hard/chewy and sticks to my teeth. I like that the overall texture is on the crunchy side, but in crevices where the sugar/caramel has gathered and hardened, it’s sticks to my teeth which can be a huge turn off for some. Any suggestions? I thought of reducing the corn syrup and/or adding a table spoon of fat (cream). What do you think? I don’t think I should decrease the baking time since I really love how my crust turned out. Thank you!!
Can I omit a cup of pecans and add chocolate chips to the recipe?
I have tried this recipe twice now, and each time the bottom doesn’t cook enough and I have had to throw it out. The pecans toast perfect and when I look in the oven it’s bubbling. I ‘m willing to try a third time, what would your suggestion be in how long I should bake it for this time? I have been baking it for 25 minutes each time. Or should I prebake it for few minutes before ? Thank you…
per ATK, make sure you bake these on bottom most rack of the oven, to ensure a brown cooked crust.
When baking this recipe in an electric oven, I parbake the crust for 5-7 minutes since the heat source in on top and there will be no browning from the bottom. The bars come out perfect and the crust isn’t browned but it is baked well. Tempted to add cayenne to these bars to mimic the spiced pecans from Trader Joe. Maybe next time. Made these bars 3 times so far. Always wonderful. BK
I was so happy to find this receipe. I had seen them made on America’s Test Kitchen but did not tape the segment. When I went to find it on their site I would have to sign up for their payment plan for cooking school, which didn’t interest me.
I read all of the comments on your site before baking these over the weekend.
I was so pleased that the first batch came out so well, that I made a second batch a day later. Most of the first batch was devoured by the Thanksgiving guests, who loved them. I heated the pecans in a skillet on the stove; and, I par-baked the shell for about 8 miutes at 350 degrees oven. Each time they came out great. They were perfect. If you don’t like the sweetness of pecan pie, you will love these because you have the wondeful flavor of peacan pie but not the sugery sweetness. They really are delicious and very easy to make.
PS. The crust will e loose and not come tobeher in a ball. But will hold together once in the bottom of the pan where you will spread it and flatten with the bottom of a measuring cup. Enjoy.
I’ve made these a few times now and they are my new fave holiday treat. It’s like pecan pie, but without all the goopy stuff! lol SO GOOD! I’m vegan but subbing out vegan butter isn’t a problem. After a few times, I’ve noticed that it tends to take a bit longer than 25 minutes and it’s also not necessary to toast the nuts beforehand. The first time I skipped that step it was an accident, but they tasted exactly the same. They get toasty and delicious in the oven, so I just skip that step on purpose now. Thanks!
This recipe is from America’s Test Kitchen. On the show, they say to put the tray on the lowest rack of the oven and bake for 25 minutes. I will try that next time, since I had the same problem with the crust being too doughy following this recipe.
My bars were teeth-crackers–so hard to eat. What did i do wrong?
Hi Linda, It sounds like it was baked too long, if it got too hard. Perhaps your oven ran a little hot and it needed a bit less time.
Toast pecans in a single layer, in a 350-degree F oven for 10 minutes until fragrant
These were FABULOUS! Pecan pie is too sweet for me, but these were perfect. Everyone in my family loved them! They were super simple to make and making them vegan only involved one simple swap (butter). Definitely a new classic for me.
thank you for your postings….I regularly check, and bake!, your recipes! I have a question on the ultra nutty pecan bars recipe: do you think I could bake, cool and then freeze? I do freeze whole ‘slabs’ of bar recipes often…but never tried one like pecan pie….would love to get done way before thanksgiving with some nice desserts to pull from the freezer to thaw, cut and serve! Thanks for any thoughts
I think these would freeze just fine!
I followed your instructions to the letter except that I used toasted pecans because all I had on hand were toasted pecans. I always use an oven thermometer to calibrate my oven, which is about 35° too low otherwise. Like an earlier poster, I considered pre-baking the crust for a few minutes but decided against it.
Anyway, these pecan bars were fabulous! Thank you so much.
I made these this afternoon, and took heed of some of the comments about the bars not setting up. I almost prebaked the crust a bit, but decided if I baked it on the very bottom rack as specified, it should be ok. My Ultra Nutty Bars set up well and the crust was done in 35 minutes. I think I could have gotten away with a little less time, but they are delicious. Cheers!
I made these for Christmas Eve dinner with my husband’s family and they turned out perfect! Everyone that tried them loved them, Thank you for sharing!
I forgot to add that I did have to bake them longer than the time recommended. I left them in until the center was bubbling as well.
I was hoping to make these this week. I’ll wait for a reply to the 2 previous commenters in case you have a suggestion.
Mika, mine too! The crust just didn’t bake under all the topping. It was a shame because the pecans were very tasty. My husband won’t eat them though because the dough seems uncooked. Maybe it is because I used a ceramic dish? Epic fail!
I made these pecan bars it was a disaster. They seemed have just melted. There was no way I cut them into bars. I waited 2 hrs to try and cut them into bars but to no Avail. What a disappoiment, I have tray of lovely looking toasted pecan nuts.
Please advise, it seems that the base did not bake properly.
Can you please advise?
Hi Mika, I’m so sorry to hear this, as you can see from the photos above, mine set up just fine. The only thing I can think is that they needed to bake longer if the filling didn’t set up properly.
Do the pecans have to be toasted? If so, what’s your recommendation (oven temp and time?)?
Can’t wait to try these for my office potluck next week!
Hi Lyse, No, you can make these without toasting the pecans. I usually toast nuts in a large skillet over medium heat. In the oven, I would do 350 for 8 to 10 minutes, or until you just start to smell them.
Wow those look so good!
Ooh these look so tasty! And so easy to make!
There’s nothing better than a quick and ultra delicious dessert! This one definitely scores!!!