Shortbread Pecan Pie Bars

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Looking for an easy fall dessert to bake with the kids? These delicious shortbread pecan pie bars have a crispy cookie crust, a gooey caramel filling, and oodles of salty pecans on top. Bake the crust separately so it gets nice and firm and stands up to the mountain of yummy pecan pie filling on top.

A stack of shortbread pecan pie bars on a cake plate for serving.

Quick, you can only choose one: Is it pumpkin pie or pecan pie??

I'm a pecan pie girl, hands down. I love that ooey-gooey filling with salty pecans topped with whipped cream for my Thanksgiving dessert because I'm all about the texture.

Even though my kids are definitely Team Pumpkin Pie for the holiday, they've recently come around to the joys of pecan pie thanks to these delicious shortbread crust pecan bars.

This easy recipe makes just enough dessert bars to enjoy as a family for a couple days without being too much. If you want to get your Thanksgiving treat fix scratched now, this is the baking idea you need!

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Why This is the Best Recipe

I love fall baking and treats! Of all the goodies I've made, I think this is the best shortbread pecan pie bars recipe because:

  1. Quick and Easy: This recipe comes together in no time. You can prep the filling while the shortbread crust bakes.
  2. Travel-Friendly: I bake these in a travel-friendly 8x8-inch baking pan with a lid so they are easy to take on the go to a potluck party or holiday meal.
  3. Flexible Serving Portions: When you bake pecan pie bars, you can cut them into bite-sized squares for a buffet table or you can cut them in generous dessert portions for a full dessert.

Ingredients

This easy bar recipe has a short list of ingredients, you likely have most of this in your pantry right now!

The ingredients for pecan pie bars sits on a counter.
  • Flour
  • Sugar & Brown Sugar
  • Karo Syrup
  • Eggs
  • Butter
  • Vanilla
  • Pecan Halves

Bake the Shortbread Crust

First, assemble and bake the shortbread crust so that it has a nice crispy texture.

Preheat the oven to 325°F and line an 8x8-inch baking pan with parchment paper.

Step by step photos show how to assemble the shortbread crust.

Add the shortbread ingredients to a medium-sized mixing bowl: flour, melted butter, sugar, and vanilla.

Stir them together until a thick dough forms. Make sure you haven't missed any dry pockets of flour.

Add the dough to the baking pan and use your fingers to press it firmly into the bottom from corner to corner and side to side.

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It may take a little wrangling to keep the parchment in place while pressing the dough but this will help ensure you can get the bars neatly out of the pan for serving later.

Bake the crust alone for 10 - 15 minutes or until it develops a lightly toasted color.

The shortbread crust gets pre-baked in the oven and will now be filled with pecan filling.

NOTE: I slightly under-baked my crust because I was in a rush. It's worth being patient, your crust should be just a little darker than what is shown in that photo.

Assemble the Pecan Pie Filling

While the crust is baking, assemble the pecan pie filling:

Step by step photos show how to make the pecan pie filling for the shortbread crust.

Combine the eggs, brown sugar, corn syrup, and flour until smooth.

Break the pecan halves into quarters by hand. I MUCH prefer to do this than chopping them with a chef's knife. Fresh pecans can tend to fall apart if you chop them and I love big chunks of crispy pecan crunch in each bite.

Stir the pecans into the batter and pour over the baked crust. Use your spatula to spread the pecans out evenly over the crust.

Baking Instructions

Raise the oven temperature to 350°F and bake for another 25 - 30 minutes or until the top is golden brown and the filling is just set.

A cake plate with a stack of pecan bars on top. Caption reads: Pecan Pie Bars with a shortbread crust"

Variations

This is an awesome southern-style classic pecan bar but you could definitely have a little fun with it:

  • Spicy Chocolate - Add 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper and 1/2 cup chocolate chips to the pecan pie filling
  • Maple Bourbon - Swap 2 tbsp of the brown sugar for 2 tbsp maple syrup and add 1 tbsp of bourbon to the pie filling
  • Pumpkin Spice - Add 1 tsp cinnamon and 1/2 tsp of pumpkin pie spice to the filling

How to Store the Pecan Bars

The bars are best served fresh but you can store the shortbread pecan bars in an airtight container for up to 2 days.

If you freeze the bars, don't cut them into squares before storing. Seal them in an airtight container and let thaw in a vented container in your fridge overnight.

Serving Suggestions

The pecan pie bars are delicious on their own, but I highly recommend serving them with a big dollop of whipped cream and a fork!

Or you could turn them into a decadent fall sundae with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and a drizzle of salted caramel sauce over the top.

More Thanksgiving Desserts

I love pie just as much as the next girl but sometimes a bar is easier to travel with when visiting friends and family for the holiday.

Here are some fun options for make ahead Thanksgiving desserts you will love:

📖 Recipe

A stack of shortbread pecan pie bars on a cake plate for serving.

Shortbread Pecan Pie Bars

4.96 from 41 votes
These rich and chewy shortbread pecan pie bars have a crispy cookie crust, a gooey caramel center, and salty pecans all over the top. Slice up a square to share with friends for fall entertaining.
TOTAL TIME 45 minutes
PREP TIME 15 minutes
COOK TIME 30 minutes
YIELD 9 servings

Ingredients
  

For the Shortbread Crust

  • 8 tbsp (1 stick) butter melted
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour

For the pecan pie filling

  • 2 whole eggs
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar packed
  • 1 cup light corn syrup
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cup pecans broken into quarters by hand

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 325°F. Drape a piece of parchment paper over the bottom and sides of an 8x8-inch baking dish.
  • In a medium sized mixing bowl, whisk together the melted butter, sugar, and vanilla. Add the flour and stir it in with a spatula. The mixture will get quite thick, be sure to mix until all the flour has been incorporated and there are no dry pockets.
  • Press the dough into the bottom of the prepared baking dish. Use your fingers to smooth it into an even layer, right up to each corner and all the sides.
  • Bake the crust for 10 - 15 minutes or until it is just barely toasted in color.
  • In a large mixing bowl, combine the eggs, brown sugar, corn syrup, and flour.
  • Break the pecans up by hand into quarters. This may take a couple more minutes than chopping with a knife but will the pecans will have a nicer shape and texture.
  • Remove the shortbread crust from the oven and pour the pecan filling over the top. Smooth out the pecans so they cover the top evenly.
  • Raise the oven temperature to 350°F and bake the pecan bars for 25 - 30 minutes. The top should be golden and crispy and the filling should be set.
  • Let the bars cool completely before you attempt to cut them, the filling needs a chance to firm up at room temperature.
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