Pecan Bars


Finished photoThese Pecan Bars are one of the most used recipes from the Culinary Institute of America. I have seen various versions of these Pecan Bars but this one is the one we used in the bakery. The key is to boil the filling to 240 degrees or the filling will sag when it is cut.   Otherwise this is the easiest of recipes to make.

While the CIA cuts these Pecan Bars into diamonds, we cut them into bars or into squares to avoid any loss of product.  We used the squares for petit fours and they never failed to please.  The baked bars or squares may be frozen.

For these Pean Bars, I don’t toast the nuts before using them as they bake in the oven.  Make these once and I’m sure you will be adding them to your favorites  list.

BaseBase ingredients1 1/4 cup flour all purpose flour (170 grams or 6 ounces)
1/3 cup sugar (70 grams sugar or 2 1/2 ounces)
1 1/2 sticks butter, cold (170 grams butter or 6 ounces)
2 egg yolks

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Line the bottom of a 9×13 inch pan with parchment paper.   Spray the parchment and the sides of the pan.  Set aside.

Processor Method
Place the flour in the bowl of a processor. Cut the butter into small pieces and place it over the flour. Butter in processorProcess to cut the butter in until it is indistinguishable.  Do not allow it to come together.  butter cut in Add the sugar and pulse in. sugar inAdd the egg yolks Yolks inand process until it forms a dough.Dough finished in processor

Mixer Method
Alternately, place flour, sugar and butter in a mixer bowl fitted with the paddle. Cut the butter in until mealy. Add the yolks. Mix together until it forms a dough.

Break pieces of the pastry off and distribute them around the bottom of the pan.  Dough distributed in panPress them together to evenly cover the bottom of the pan. Pressing dough outPress the sides down flat with the bottom of the crust.  pressing sides downBake 15 to 20 minutes until golden brown.  Immediately upon removing from the oven take a spoon and press the crust against the side of the pan. Base spooning sides

Finished basePecan FillingIngredients8 ounces butter (225 grams)
1/2 cup honey 170 grams or 6 ounces)
1/4 cup granulated sugar (50 grams or 1 3/4 ounce)
1 cup + 2 tablespoons brown sugar (225 grams or 8 ounces)
1/4 cup cream
1 1/4 pounds medium to small chopped pecans (565 grams or 20 ounces)

Melt the butter, honey and sugars in a large saucepan. Filling ingred. in panFilling melting in panBring to a boil and cook to 240 degrees F. Filling boil Remove from the heat. Stir in the cream, then the pecans.Pecans in

Immediately pour over base and smooth out.  Filling over baseFilling spread outBake exactly 25 minutes.

Cool completely. Trim edges. Cutting edges 1Cutting edges 2Cut 6 across and 4 down for the bars.  Cut 6 across the narrow side and 8 down for squares.

Yield:  24 bars or 48 squares.

Pastry has not only been my profession, but my passion. If there is anything in particular you would like to see or any questions about baking or pastry, please let me know. Be sure to subscribe so you don't miss a post!
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19 thoughts on “Pecan Bars

  1. diane

    Great recipe – tested & tried! Where I live pecans are scarce, but walnuts and hazelnuts are abundant, so this is what I used. I added a sprinkle of fleur de sel (to the top after cooking) to complement the sweetness. Thanks for the great recipe!

    1. hfletcher Post author

      Sounds wonderful Diane. The nut substitution would be great. Wow! living with an abundance of hazelnuts would be great. My youngest son would love the walnuts – one of his favorites is Baklava!

  2. manisha

    Hi Helen I tried the recipe today. Lovely it is! Will email you the picture of my Pecan Bars :)

    For me these were a bit too sweet. Could I reduce a small amount of sugar in the pecan filling without compromising with the flavour and texture?

    1. hfletcher Post author

      Hi Manisha: These, like Pecan Pie, are very sweet. I’m not sure about reducing the sugar as I have never made them any other way. My suggestion would be to cut the recipe in half and make it in a 8×8 pan , try reducing the sugar and see what happens. Let me know what happens if you do.

  3. Mary Soucy

    Heaven in a 9×13 pan!! Thank you for the wonderful directions and to your husband for the marvelous pictures. I no longer feel intimidated by quality pecan bars. Hugs!!

  4. Kim

    Helen, what a great alternative to making an entire pecan pie at Thanksgiving when only a few people crave it. This way I can freeze the extras for other events through Christmas.

    Question….I don’t see your candy thermometer, do you use one that clips on the side of your pan, looks like a ruler? If not, what kind do you use. I always fret over not getting the correct temperature and I need a fool (idiot!) proof gadget.


    1. hfletcher Post author

      Hi Kim: I use both a Taylor Candy Thermometer or an instant read. As long as thermometer goes to 240 degrees it is fine.
      Good idea about the pecan pie and freezing the remainder.

  5. Mari gold

    You never fail to come up with just the right recipe when I need one.i love that you use 9 x 13 pans, to go through all the prep and come out with a 9×9 that is gone in one breath is a waste. Happy halloween. Enjoy the beautiful fall colors of St. Louis. Mari

    1. hfletcher Post author

      Hi Marilyn: Where did you get trim to a 9×9? You only trim off about 1/4″ all the way around so the ugly edges that are a bit hard are trimmed away? There is a photo of trimming them. You get 24 bars or 48 squares. If one can eat these rich bars in one breath, it is more than I could think of and these are one of my faves.

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