Pecan Shortbread Squares

5 stars based on 10 votes

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If you’re a fan of pecan pie, you’re going to love these pecan squares. A buttery shortbread crust and rich caramel-pecan topping make them truly over-the-top — the perfect hostess gift, treat for your co-workers or potluck dessert this time of year.

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Let’s make them.

Begin with the shortbread crust (which, by the way, is much easier than making a homemade pie crust). Combine the flour, cornstarch, confectioners sugar and salt in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse a few times until combined.

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Toss in the pieces of butter.

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Pulse until the mixture resembles course meal with pea-size clumps of butter within.

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Dump the mixture into a foil-lined pan, then press firmly with your fingers to form an even crust.

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It should be packed down, like this.

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Bake until set but not browned, about 20 minutes.

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In the meantime, make the topping. Combine the butter, brown sugar, honey, vanilla and salt in a saucepan.

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Boil gently for a few minutes.

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Then stir in the heavy cream and chopped pecans.

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Spread the pecan mixture onto the baked crust.

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Bake until bubbling and caramel colored.

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Cool completely, then transfer baked bar to cutting board.

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Cut into squares with a sharp knife.

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Enjoy!

Pecan Shortbread Squares

Servings: 16 2-inch squares
Total Time: 1 Hour

Ingredients

For the Crust

  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour, spooned into measuring cup and leveled-off
  • 1/4 cup corn starch
  • 1/2 cup Confectioners' sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch pieces

For the Filling

  • 12 tablespoons (1-1/2 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Generous pinch salt
  • 2 tablespoons heavy whipping cream
  • 3 cups coarsely chopped pecans

Instructions

For the Crust

  1. Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Cover a 9-inch square baking pan with heavy duty aluminum foil. Push foil neatly into corners and up sides of the pan, using two pieces if necessary to ensure it overlaps all edges (the overhang will help removal from pan). Spray foiled pan with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. Place the flour, corn starch, confectioners sugar and salt in a bowl of a food processor fitted with the blade attachment. Pulse a few times to mix. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse meal with pea-size clumps of butter within. Dump mixture into prepared pan and press firmly with your fingers into an even layer over the bottom. Refrigerate for 15 minutes, then bake until crust is set but not browned, about 17 minutes. Set on rack to cool. Leave oven on.

For the Filling

  1. In a heavy medium saucepan over medium-low heat, combine butter, brown sugar, honey, vanilla and salt. Stir with a wooden spoon until sugar dissolves. Turn up the heat and boil gently for 3 minutes. Stir in heavy cream and chopped pecans.

To Assemble and Bake

  1. Pour pecan mixture over crust (it's fine if crust is still warm). Bake until filling is bubbling and caramel in color, about 20 minutes. Cool completely on rack. To cut, use the foil overhang to lift baked square out of pan and onto cutting board. Loosen the foil from the edges, then cut with a sharp knife into 2-inch squares. Store finished pecan squares in air-tight container and serve at room temperature.

Reviews & Comments

  • 5 stars

    Amazing recipe. I had some left over pecans from making a pie and came across this recipe. I have now made this 6 times in the last few months. Everyone raves and wants this recipe. Now this is a must have during the holidays.

    - Kelly on December 17, 2014 Reply
  • 5 stars

    This were soooo easy to make, DELICIOUS and lasted a long time in an air tight container. I am planning on making them and shipping them for the holidays. I cut them into bite size squares as they were pretty rich!

    - Natalie on December 14, 2014 Reply
  • 5 stars

    I didn’t feel like the effort of making a pie crust but wanted something like a pecan pie. Made the pecan shortbread squares for Thanksgiving, and they hit the spot. I used gluten free flour, but made no other substitutions, and these squares were everyone’s favorites.

    - Paige on December 9, 2014 Reply
  • 5 stars

    Just made these tonight to try them out before a holiday potluck next weekend. WINNER! I’ve been searching for a pecan bar recipe that used simple ingredients and could be made without an electric mixer. These were perfect. My husband can’t stop raving! They are difficult to cut (maybe we just didn’t wait long enough) so next time I will do as another reviewer suggested and refrigerate first to harden. Amazing recipe!!

    - Stephanie on December 7, 2014 Reply
  • This is our favorite holiday dessert! Easy and a great alternate for pecan pie. 5 stars

    - Diane on December 7, 2014 Reply
  • 5 stars

    I made these for my husband’s birthday party last weekend and they were a huge hit!! That’s a big compliment considering that I live in Germany where most ladies still make EVERYTHING from scratch. Pecans are quite newly available here and still very expensive, so I combined them with Brazil nuts and unsalted cashews and left the pieces relatively large. That seemed to be part of the selling point! Thanks for the easy to follow and easy to make recipe!!

    - Karen on December 3, 2014 Reply
  • Made these for Thanksgiving. Wonderful!!

    - Pam on December 3, 2014 Reply
  • 5 stars

    I love these!! I now make these and freeze them for gifts. Suggestion, after these have cooled, I pick up the reynolds wrap and put them in the refrig. I find these cut better when very cold. Sometimes I leave them in the refrig until the next day. These freeze great!

    - Susan Clayman on December 3, 2014 Reply
    • Great tip, Susan. Thanks!

      - Jenn on December 3, 2014 Reply
  • 5 stars

    I made these for Thanksgiving and they were a huge hit. Lots more nuts and less sugary goo than your usual pecan pie. This recipe will become a tradition in my house. Thank you for sharing !

    - Roberta Richardson on November 30, 2014 Reply
  • The recipe looks great but Is there any substitution for cornstarch?

    - Joy Freeman on November 28, 2014 Reply
    • Hi Joy, The cornstarch makes the crust more tender, but you can replace it with more flour.

      - Jenn on November 28, 2014 Reply
  • Could I substitute coconut oil or something else to make these vegan?

    - BB on November 26, 2014 Reply
    • Hi, I don’t have any experience substituting butter with coconut oil so can’t say for sure. However, I do think the recipe would work with margarine.

      - Jenn on November 27, 2014 Reply
  • 5 stars

    Silly question…can I use grill foil to make this? Making it for Thanksgiving?

    Thanks!

    - Kristen on November 25, 2014 Reply
    • Hi Kristen, That’s just heavy duty foil for the grill, right? If so, you can definitely use it.

      - Jenn on November 25, 2014 Reply
  • Hello, Jenn. What is the purpose of the heavy cream? Is there anything I can use instead of the cream? Thank you :)

    - Annie on November 23, 2014 Reply
    • Hi Annie, It helps bind the topping together. I’ve never tried omitting it, but my guess is that it would be fine.

      - Jenn on November 23, 2014 Reply
      • Thank you for taking the time to respond. I’ll let you know how they turn out sans the heavy cream. :)

        - Annie on November 24, 2014 Reply
  • How can you do the crust if you don’t have a food processor?

    - Marsha on November 22, 2014 Reply
    • Hi Marsha, It’s easy to make by hand. Place the flour, corn starch, Confectioners sugar and salt in a large bowl and whisk to combine. Add the butter and use a pastry blender or two knives to “cut” the butter in until the mixture resembles coarse meal with pea-size clumps of butter. Proceed with recipe as written :)

      - Jenn on November 23, 2014 Reply
  • Is it possible to double recipe and have a good result? If so, what size pan, 9X13?

    - Debbie on November 20, 2014 Reply
    • Hi Debbie, It’s fine to double the recipe but you’ll need to use two 9-inch square pans. A 9 x 13-inch would be too small.

      - Jenn on November 20, 2014 Reply
  • 5 stars

    OMG these are amazing!! They really are like little pecan pies!!! I set the pecan mix aside while the base cooked and just before layering the pecan mix on the base I tossed in 1/2 bag of mini-chocolate chips. All melted. Good anyway. Can’t go wrong with chocolate on this, either melted or chips. Will be making these again all too soon!

    - Lynn on November 16, 2014 Reply
  • 5 stars

    I made these for a family get together on Halloween night after the kids did trick or treating, along with chili, mac and cheese and cornbread (not a low cal meal!). I thought they were incredible!!! My son in law polished off about 6 of them the next morning for breakfast. I will definitely make these again.

    - nancie on November 15, 2014 Reply
  • is there any way this could be made with almonds?

    - kim on November 13, 2014 Reply
    • Hi Kim, I do think that would work; I’d probably use slivered almonds.

      - Jenn on November 13, 2014 Reply
  • Made these bars today for my hubby. He said that they tasted good, but that there was TOO much butter in the bottom. I followed the recipe but I do not have a 9x9x2, so I used an 8x8x2 pan. Would that have made a difference? I would make these again, but cut down on the amount of butter used in the crust. Thank you.

    - Tawn on February 24, 2014 Reply
    • Hi Tawn, I don’t think the size of the pan would affect the butter; it would only make the bars thicker.

      - Jenn on February 27, 2014 Reply
  • Hi Jenn, I’m thinking of making these for Christmas treat boxes and was wondering if I can make them in advance. If so, how many days and should I store them in the refrigerator? Thanks! I’m so excited to try them!

    - Kelly on December 18, 2013 Reply
    • Hi Kelly, Yes, you could make these several days ahead of time no problem. I would store them in an airtight container in the refrigerator and then just bring them to room temperature before serving. Hope you enjoy them!

      - Jenn on December 18, 2013 Reply
      • Thank you! I look forward to trying these!

        - Kelly on December 18, 2013 Reply
  • Excellent! Easy but decadent!

    - Cbergy on December 6, 2013 Reply
  • These are fantastic! Wouldn’t change anything. Thanks for all the great recipes!

    - Dawn B on November 5, 2013 Reply
  • Try these- they are perfect for any occasion and your guests will love them. I would not alter the recipe at all.

    - Kathi on August 27, 2013 Reply
  • I’ve made these 3 or 4 times now. They are perfection. People that do not like pecan pie love these and request the recipe. I am now expected to make them every so often. I don’t mind as they are so simple to make.

    - Julie on July 22, 2013 Reply
  • Easy and delicious! Everyone loves them when I take them to parties. They are a BIG hit!

    - Beth on March 11, 2013 Reply
  • I have made these for so many occasions. Dipped one end in chocolate for a baby shower. Wonderful.

    - Gayle Snyder on March 9, 2013 Reply
  • I made these bars the last two Thanksgivings/Christmases. They are absolutely delicious! No substitutions/additions necessary. I have gotten many compliments and requests for the recipe. These are a really nice dessert in place of pecan pie.

    - Robin H. on March 9, 2013 Reply
  • Can I add chocolate chunks?

    - Rachael on December 16, 2012 Reply
    • Hi Rachael, Yes definitely!

      - Jenn on December 16, 2012 Reply
  • I’ve seen many pecan square recipes. This looks easy and delicious. I think I’ll cut them into longer bars and dip one end in chocolate. Caramel, pecans and chocolate!! What’s not to love about that?

    - val on November 27, 2012 Reply
  • Yummmm…pecan pie in a bar cookie. No changes neccessary. They speak for themselves!

    - Tina W on October 1, 2012 Reply
  • My second recipe from you in one day !! Oh my goodness, these are the best ever and so easy. I added a few dark chocolate chips on the crust while I was making the caramel. Pure goodness !

    - Daymel on September 27, 2012 Reply
  • These look amazing!

    - Gianna on June 27, 2012 Reply
  • These are so good they make my teeth hurt! I made a batch for my Dad’s birthday–he’s not a cake fan, but he certainly loved these.

    - Colleen on May 16, 2012 Reply
  • Having grown up in the South, this is a recipe after my own heart! Easy to make, both savory and sweet, and perfect for parties.

    - Cynthia on March 2, 2012 Reply
  • I like these even better than Pecan Pie! It was also very easy to make.

    - Sherri on March 1, 2012 Reply
  • Mmmmmm! These look so delicious and easy!

    - Amy Bridgford on March 1, 2012 Reply
  • Thanks for your reply. I love most of your recipes keep up the good work!

    - Sherri on January 23, 2012 Reply
  • Could make a recipe and a half of filling and bake it in a pie crust for a Pecan Pie?

    - Sherri on January 23, 2012 Reply
    • Hi Sherri, I suppose it would work, but it might be a bit dry for a pie. Most pecan pie fillings call for eggs, which make for a moister filling. Hope that helps.

      - Jenn on January 23, 2012 Reply
    • Hi Sherri, I suppose it would work, but I worry it might be a bit dry for pie. Most pecan pie fillings call for eggs, which make for a moister filling. Hope that helps.

      - Jenn on January 23, 2012 Reply
  • Made these for a Christmas party and everyone raved about them…not a crumb left. I had to send everyone there the link to your website!

    - Belinda on December 4, 2011 Reply
  • These were awesome!!! Only half the pan made it to Thanksgiving dinner, thanks to my husband. The disappointment in his voice when he went looking for leftovers the next day and couldn’t find any was enough for me to make another batch.

    - Erin on November 29, 2011 Reply
  • Made these for a family Thanksgiving gathering and they were a big hit. Hubby loved them and he’s a picky guy when trying new things. Thanks for sharing and I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving!

    - Judy Claggett on November 25, 2011 Reply
  • Look delicious! I’m going to add these to my Christmas cookie list. Thanks for sharing!

    - Lora on November 23, 2011 Reply
  • I made these tongith and they were amazing – very easy to make, instructions were great and out came these fabulous squares.

    - Delishhh on November 23, 2011 Reply
  • These look AMAZING!

    - Sherri on November 22, 2011 Reply
  • These look amazing! And a perfect gift to send home with your Thanksgiving guests!

    - Mercedes on November 21, 2011 Reply
  • These look simply fantastic!

    - Lauren @ hey, who cut the cheese? on November 21, 2011 Reply
  • Mmmm I love everything about this recipe! Shortbread is my favorite. Thank you!!

    - Ashley @ Wishes & Dishes on November 21, 2011 Reply

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