Beth’s Pecan Bars with Shortbread Crust

These Pecan Bars with Shortbread Crust are a wonderful alternative to Pecan Pie this Thanksgiving. You’ll find they are easier to make and just as delicious! The soft buttery shortbread is the perfect match against the sweet chewy peans.

They also make a great food gift idea for the holidays as well! These are seriously addictive and one of my most favorite Holiday Recipes

Sliced pecan bars piled on a glass cake stand

No Corn Syrup!

  • This is one of the reasons why I love this recipe so much! There’s no need for corn syrup, you’ll use a combination of butter, brown sugar, and honey instead.
  • Best of all you’ll get the same kind of sticky, candy-like topping the corn syrup provides but without all the additives.
  • This also makes it easier for my international readers who have a hard time finding corn syrup!

Watch My Video Demo On This Recipe Below! 


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Pecan bars piled on a cake stand

Step#1: Make the Shortbread Crust

  • The shortbread crust makes these pecan bars so delicious. It’s buttery and chewy and just the perfect compliment to the sticky pecans.
  • I like a thick crust to balance out the sweetness of the pecans, but for a thinner crust, you can cut the shortbread recipe in half and leave the pecan mixture as is.  

Why Cookie Bars Are Easier Than Pie

  • It’s also a much simpler dough to deal with than pie dough because you just press it into the tin.
  • There’s no need to refrigerate it first or roll it or shape it like pie dough! This is what makes it so much easier than Pecan Pie! 

Shortbread crust dough on cutting board

Add The Orange Zest!

  • I also like to add orange zest to the shortbread crust because it provides an unexpected freshness against the sweetness of the pecans.
  • Orange and pecan is a fantastic holiday flavor, for a delicious Christmas morning treat try my Orange Pecan Crumb Muffins.

Orange zest on a cutting board

What Type of Pan Is Best?

  • Pecan Bars can get pretty sticky! To help you release them easily, I highly recommend a removable bottom brownie tin 
  • A removable bottom tin allows you to push the pecan bars out of the tin after they are baked. This will also help you achieve nice clean edges that are easily sliced into bars for serving.

Pressing shortbread crust dough into a brownie pan

A Pan You’ll Use For Other Recipes

This is a handy pan to have in your baking arsenal, as it also works great for my Blueberry Crumb Cake recipe or my Easy Foccacia Bread Recipe

removing pecan bars from a removable bottom pan

This Recipe Bakes Twice

  • You’ll bake your shortbread crust first, allowing it to set and become golden brown. 
  • Then add the pecan mixture on top and bake along with the shortbread crust again. 
  • This will ensure the crust is fully baked inside 

Baked Shortbread Crust Dough ready for topping

Step#2: Make the Pecan Bar Filling

  • In a large saucepan, you’ll combine the filling ingredients and then pour them over the pecans. Toss the mixture together until it’s well coated.
  • At this stage, you could switch up the nuts if you prefer. Just maintain the same total quantity, and perhaps add:
  • 1/3 pecans
  • 1/3 walnuts
  • 1/3 chopped almonds

Pecan filling in a large clear bowl

Pouring the Pecan Filling

  • When you pour the pecan filling it’s important to smooth it out with a spatula so that the pecans form a single even layer.
  • This will help them set at the same rate and create bars with even height once they are baked. 

pouring pecan filling into shortbread crust

The Benefits of the Second Baking

  • Then your pecan bars are ready for the second baking which will bake the filling and allow it to set.
  • It also roasts the nuts and allows them to develop their best flavor too!

Overhead shot of brownie pan filled with pecan bar filling mixture

Refrigerating the Bars is Key

  • Once the bars have baked and fully cooled, keep them in their tin, uncovered, in the refrigerator for a minimum of 2 hours but really overnight is even better.
  • The refrigeration will allow them to be fully set and be easily cut into nice clean slices.
  • This is important since cutting into nut bars can be difficult if they are not set well. They can crumble and fall apart.
  • But I find once refrigerated they cut like a breeze! 

Slicing freshly baked pecan bars on a cutting board

Can you Freeze this Recipe?

Sure! Make the bars a week ahead of Thanksgiving and save yourself the hassle of making the meal and the dessert the day before or the day of!

  • Cut them into bars, then place them in a freezer-safe container lined with wax paper, separating each layer with more wax paper.
  • Place the lid on your container and freeze.
  • The day before Thanksgiving defrost the pecan bars in your refrigerator.
  • Remove the bars from the refrigerator 30 minutes before serving to come to room temperature.

Pile of sliced pecan bars sliced into rectangles on a glass cake stand

Serving is a Breeze

  • I love the idea of Pecan Bars over pie because you can bring them to the table already sliced!
  • They are also a smaller quantity than a full slice of pie, allowing your guests to try more of your desserts!
  • You could even cut the bars into small squares, creating more of a Pecan Bar Bite for easy sampling!

a person serving pecan bars on a cake stand and placing them on a silver tray set with glass plates

More Thanksgiving Dessert ideas! 

Please Let me Know if you Enjoyed This Recipe!

Leaving a rating helps others discover and enjoy the recipe too! 

Pecan Bars with Shortbread Crust sliced into bars on a cake stand

Beth's Pecan Bar Recipe with Shortbread Crust

Yield: 18 bars
Prep Time: 2 hours
Total Time: 2 hours

Easy Pecan Bars with shortbread crust. A great alternative to pecan pie at Thanksgiving!


For the Crust:

  • 1 ½ cups (360 g) of unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup (200g) white sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tsp (10 ml) vanilla extract
  • ½ tsp (2.5ml) salt
  • 4 tsp (20 ml) orange zest
  • 3 1/3 (400g) cups of all-purpose flour

For the topping:

  • ½ cup (120 g) of unsalted butter
  • 1 cup (180g) light brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup (80 ml) honey
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 tbsp (15 ml) heavy cream
  • ½ tsp (2.5 ml) vanilla extract
  • 3 ½ cups (525 g) of raw pecan halves


  1. Preheat Oven to 350F (176C)
  2. To create the crust beat together the sugar and butter with an electric mixer. Once fluffy add the egg, and vanilla and beat to combine. Then add the salt and orange zest beat to combine, then add the flour in thirds, beating after each addition.
  3. Turn dough out and fit it into a 10 x 10 pan that has been sprayed with baking spray. Preferably a removable bottom pan, otherwise line a 10 x 10 brownie pan with parchment paper or foil (2 sheets going opposite directions) this will make it easier to remove the bars once they are done.
  4. Bake crust for 25-30 minutes or until fully set and golden brown.
  5. Meanwhile prepare the pecan bar filling.
  6. In a large sauce pot combine butter, brown sugar, honey and salt. Set over medium heat, whisking while the mixture melts and combines.  Remove from the heat.  Whisk in heavy cream and vanilla.
  7. In a large bowl place the pecan halves, pour filling mixture over pecans and toss to combine so that all the nuts are well-coated.
  8. Once crust has baked and is slightly cooled. Pour the pecan mixture on top, spreading it out with a spatula to form an even layer, making sure all corners of the crust are covered with the pecans.
  9. Place back in oven, placing a baking sheet lined with foil, under the pan to catch any drippings.
  10. Bake for 25 minutes, until filling is set.  It will still look a little wet, but that’s OK it will set up as it cools.
  11. Allow to cool completely at room temperature.  Then place uncovered in the fridge for at least 2 hours, or overnight is even better to fully set. They will be easier to cut if you allow to stay refrigerated overnight.
  12. Remove from pan, slice the pecan bars into 9 squares, and then cut each square in half to create a bar.  Keep the pecan bars in the fridge until ready to serve. Lightly covered.
  13. 30 minutes before serving bring the bars to room temperature. Place on a cake stand and serve! Enjoy!


The crust is thick, which I like because it balances out the sweetness of the pecans, but for a thinner crust you can always halve the recipe just on the crust.

These bars are sticky! For easy release, I highly recommend a removable bottom brownie tin (this link goes to Amazon where I am compensated on products sold at no cost to the consumer) 

You can definitely make these a week ahead of Thanksgiving.  Cut them into bars, then place them in a freezer-safe container lined with wax paper, separating each layer with more wax paper. Place the lid on your container and freeze. Then thaw out in the fridge the night before Thanksgiving!

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 9 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 99Total Fat: 5gSaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 2gCholesterol: 31mgSodium: 24mgCarbohydrates: 12gFiber: 0gSugar: 1gProtein: 2g


Brownie cake scooped into a mug with ice cream

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  1. Beth, of all of the many baking pans I do not have a 10×10 square pan…
    What other size would you recommend? Thanking you in advance.

    1. Beth!! Merci a thousand times for this amazing recipe! I thought I knew how to make pecan bars here in Texas where they grow in my front yard. But these take it up to a whole new level. Served them for Thanksgiving and had multiple requests for the recipe. Thank you! Happiest of Holidays! 🥰

      1. Ha! Oh wow coming from a Texan that is meaningful ha! It’s the orange zest! Gets people every time :). They can’t figure out what makes them so good and I think it’s that! And the absence of corn syrup, you get more pure flavors without it!

  2. Oh my word, I made these for thanksgiving this year and everyone raved about them! 2 family members asked me for the recipe they loved them so much. I almost got lazy and didn’t zest the Orange for the shortbread and I’m SO happy I decided to include it! I really think that’s what makes these bars extra delicious. I will definitely be making these for thanksgiving every year! Thank you!

    1. Ha! I’m SO glad you put the orange zest in! It’s really hard to describe how good it is until you taste it! It’s definitely the secret ingredient that makes me can’t stop eating them LOL! I’m so glad they were a hit!

  3. I’m not a huge fan of pecan pie, but my dad is, so I made these for Thanksgiving. They were DELICIOUS! I definitely agree with keeping them in the fridge overnight to make cutting easy, it would have been quite a chore otherwise. I might try halving the recipe next time just because they were SO thick, but they really are better than pecan pie! Thank you for the yummy recipe!

    1. I’m so glad you enjoyed them! I know what you mean about the thickness but every time I try and half the recipe on the crust I miss it ha! Because it does cut the sweetness of the nuts, but try it halved next time and let me know if you like it better? 🙂

  4. Tried making these for thanksgiving and they didn’t turn out at all. I wish the language and verbiage of these recipes was more broad for people who are new to baking. Like for the butter- room temp? melted? Cold? And a description of what the dough should look like when it’s fully mixed and ready to go in the pan.

    Maybe I’m trying to offset blame onto the recipe for my mistakes. 🙁 Anyways thought this input could be helpful for the way things are written.

    1. Oh no! Thanks for the feedback. You’ll find on all my recipe posts there is a video demo, which is really helpful for beginners 🙂 Next time watch the video first or watch it as you bake, and that way I bet you’ll have better success! Since you’ll be able to see what everything should look like. But I will definitely update the note on the butter, that’s a good note 🙂

  5. I made these and they were delicious! Thanks for the recipe.
    How best do you recommend storing them?
    Can they be stored at room temperature in an airtight container? If so, how long?
    Or are they best stored in the refrigerator?

  6. How many serves would a 9×13 pan serve? I’m thinking about making it for thanksgiving this year! They look delish!!

    1. Oh sure I bet you could get 12 squares out of it (approx 3″ x 3″ squares) You may need to double the filling or 1.5 it in order to have enough to reach across 13 inches, the crust should be enough since it’s pretty thick in my 9×9 version or you could 1.5 the recipe to have the same thickness 🙂 Hope you enjoy!

  7. Oh my goodness! These are absolutely amazing!!! Pecans are insanely expensive here in Germany, so I used half pecans and half walnuts. I plan to make these for my next cookie swap party. Thank you!!

    1. I’m so glad you enjoyed them! They are so addictive too ha! Love the idea of splitting the nuts, you really can use any nut you like, as long as you keep the same quantity. And yes great for a cookie swap! 🙂

    1. Hmm that might work? The heavy cream softens the caramel and makes them pliable and easier to chew but come to think of it the peanut butter might just do the same thing? I haven’t tried it before so I don’t know for sure, but I’d say it’s worth a try! Let me know how it turns out!

  8. Can the crust be made ahead & refrigerated until I’m ready to make? I have other cookie doughs to make to bake everything a day or two before party.

    1. Yes of course! No problem you can make the crust at least 3 days ahead of time and keep refrigerated. I hope you enjoy!

    2. Thx U…. i’m far away from indonesia and really like ur recipe. i made them just exactly ur recipe and found them soooooo delicious. Thanks so much for ur sharing with us

  9. I made this last year and they were a huge hit — better than pecan pie. I’m making them again today for a party tomorrow and just pulled them out of the oven. I bought the pan with the removable bottom and it’s very handy. I want to make them in a 9 x 12 pan as well. I might leave the crust as is and make extra filling.

    1. I am using a 9×13 and doing exactly that. Just winging it. The pecans weighed more than 3 1/2 cups on my scale, more like 4cups and I addedd for d another 1/2c. Increase butter, sugar and honey my 1tbls. In the oven now🤗

  10. Beth,

    Your recipes are insanely scrumptious. Several nights a week, I try something new, and I collect almost every recipe you post. Thank you so much for sharing your practical knowledge. I’ve been collecting recipes—and even wrote a cookbook for my family—for years, from places like Mallorca, Athens, Greece, Paris, Siena, Italy, and my late mother’s kitchen.

    I was raised in a pecan orchard in Georgia. While many Southerners pronounce the word pecan as “pee-can,” my family, which was an old, gentile Southern family, preferred the softer pronunciation puh-cahn’. The “puh” was softly enunciated as if making the sound of the consonant P, and the emphasis was on the “cahn.” Who knows if we were correct, but I was immersed in pecans for the first twelve years of my life.

    Again, thanks so much for sharing your recipes, including your shortbread pecan bars, which I intend to make in the next few days before Thanksgiving.

    Happy holidays to you and your family.

    Best regards,

    John Drew

    1. Oh course! My pleasure! I hope you enjoy them as much as we do! These are a popular family favorite at Thanksgiving! Growing up on a pecan orchard sounds just lovely! I hope you approve of the bars! Ha!

    1. Oh sure you could if you needed to, but the homemade crust if you can spare the ingredients 🙂 is so much better!

  11. I made these last year — they were delicious! Was thinking about them again and planning to make them again this year for Thanksgiving. Thank you for delicious recipe. They are better than pecan pie.

  12. Hi Beth. I made these bars yesterday and they’re delicious. I was wondering if you’ve ever made them in a larger pan so that the crust is not quite as thick. If I tried that I may need to make more topping. What do you think. Everything I’ve made from your recipes has been so good! Trying the Tarte du Soleil for Thanksgiving.

    1. Oh sure you could make them in a larger pan and maybe just double the filling, OR cut the crust recipe in half 🙂 . That would work too! So glad the recipe have been a hit! You’ll love the Tarte au Soleil guests are always so impressed by that one! Ha! 🙂 Enjoy!