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Bourbon-Brown Butter Pecan Pie

5 stars based on 3 votes

bourbon pecan pie

This is my new favorite pecan pie, and the recipe credit goes to one of my wonderful longtime readers, Jeff Winett from Sherman Oaks, California. Jeff is an avid cook and baker so when he emailed me his “never-fails-to-thrill” pecan pie recipe a few months ago, I bookmarked it for the holidays. With Thanksgiving finally upon us, I gave it a test-run over the weekend and it did not disappoint! Made with dark brown sugar, golden syrup, brown butter, and a shot of bourbon, the pie is richer with a more complex praline flavor — and also less cloyingly sweet — than your typical pecan pie. And the good news is that it barely requires any more effort. The only extra step, and it takes just five minutes, is browning the butter until it smells nutty and fragrant. I promise — the payoff in flavor is well worth the time.

how to make pecan pie

Ingredients for filling

The only ingredient you may not be familiar with is golden syrup — a thick, amber-colored sweetener with a slightly toasty, caramel-like edge. You can find it in the baking aisle of most large supermarkets near the corn syrup and molasses. The most well-known brand is Lyle’s, which is widely available in the UK (and sold at Whole Foods in the US) but King Golden Syrup is more common in the US.

how to bake a pecan pie

Ingredients for the crust

I like to make a homemade crust for my pecan pies — it’s easy once you get the hang of it. But a store-bought crust will work, too. Just be sure to buy a 9-inch deep dish crust, otherwise you won’t have room for all of the filling. To begin, combine the flour, salt and baking powder in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade. Baking powder might seem like an odd addition but it helps the crust expand into the pan, rather than shrink and slip down the sides as it bakes.

Add the butter and shortening in pieces. (You can use all butter if you like, but I find that the shortening makes the crust more tender and a little easier to work with.)

Pulse until you have coarse crumbs with lots of pea and chickpea-sized clumps of butter and shortening within.

Add the water and pulse a few times until the mixture is just evenly moistened and very crumbly. It will not come together into a mass — that’s good!

Dump the crumbly dough out onto a work surface.

Gather it into a ball.

Then pat the dough into a 5-inch disc and wrap it in plastic. Refrigerate for at least 45 minutes or up to 3 days to rest.

Take the dough out of the refrigerator and dust your work surface lightly with flour. Place the dough on top and sprinkle a little flour over the dough.

Roll the dough, turning it frequently and adding more flour as necessary so it doesn’t stick, into a 13-inch circle.

Fold the dough into quarters without creasing it and transfer it to a 9-inch deep dish pie pan (the pan should be at least 1-1/2 inches deep).

Gently fit the dough into the pan, easing it inwards rather than stretching it outwards. Don’t worry if it tears, just patch it right back up.

Trim the edges to 1/2-inch beyond the lip of the pie pan, if necessary. Turn the edges under to create a rim on the crust (you can use the scraps to patch in any thin areas); then press the rim against the lip of the pan, forming it into an even edge as you go. Using your fingers, crimp the rim. Place the crust in the freezer for at least 15 minutes while you heat the oven.

Remove the crust from the freezer and cover with a piece of parchment paper. Fill the crust at least halfway full with dried beans or pie weights. Bake for 20 minutes, or until the crust is pale and partially cooked. This step, called blind baking, ensures that the crust is crisp on the bottom (otherwise the wet filling will prevent the crust from cooking through). Remove the parchment and dried beans/pie weights and set aside while you prepare the filling.

In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter and cook, swirling the pan occasionally, until the butter smells nutty and is golden brown, 3 to 5 minutes. Once you smell that nutty aroma, take the pan off the heat and pour the browned butter into a large heat-proof bowl to cool.

To the bowl with the brown butter, add the brown sugar, corn syrup, and golden syrup and whisk until smooth.

Add the eggs, bourbon, vanilla, and salt.

Whisk until smooth.

Sprinkle the pecans in the baked piecrust and then pour the syrup mixture over them. The nuts will float to the top. (For a prettier finished pie, use your fingers to flip over any whole pecans that are upside down, and arrange the whole pecans evenly on the surface.)

Put the pie on the baking sheet and bake until just set and bubbling at the edges, 50-55 minutes. The pie will still wobble just a bit when nudged; that’s okay – it will continue to cook as it cools. Remove the finished pie from the oven and place on a wire rack to cool completely, about 4 hours or overnight. For the neatest slices, use a serrated knife to gently saw through the pecans. Serve at room temperature with unsweetened whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.

My Recipe Videos

Bourbon-Brown Butter Pecan Pie

Servings: 8
Prep Time: 30 Minutes
Cook Time: 1 Hour 15 Minutes
Total Time: 1 Hour 45 Minutes, plus at least 45 minutes for the dough to rest

Ingredients

For the Crust

  • 1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour, spooned into measuring cup and leveled with a knife
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon baking powder
  • 6 tablespoons very cold unsalted butter, sliced into 1/4-inch pieces
  • 3 tablespoons very cold vegetable shortening, in 3 pieces
  • 4 tablespoons very cold water

For the Filling

  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2/3 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 2/3 cup light corn syrup
  • 1/2 cup golden syrup (such as Lyle’s or King)
  • 3 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons bourbon (optional but highly recommended)
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2-1/2 cups pecan halves (coarsely chop half of them, and leave the rest whole)
  • Unsweetened whipped cream or vanilla ice cream, for serving

Instructions

Make the Crust

  1. Combine the flour, salt and baking powder in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade. Pulse a few times to combine. Add the pieces of butter and shortening and pulse until you have coarse crumbs with lots of pea and chickpea-sized clumps of butter and shortening within. Add the water and pulse a few times until the mixture is just evenly moistened and very crumbly. It will not come together into a mass -- that's okay. Dump the crumbly dough out onto a work surface and gather it into a ball. Pat the dough into a 5-inch disc -- don't worry if the edges crack -- and wrap it in plastic. Refrigerate for at least 45 minutes or up to 3 days to rest.
  2. Take the dough out of the refrigerator (if it was in the fridge for a long time, let it sit on the countertop for 10-15 minutes so that it's malleable enough to roll). Dust your work surface lightly with flour and place the dough on top; sprinkle a little flour over the dough. Use your hands to quickly work the dough into a smooth disc -- don't overwork it or warm it up too much, just smooth the edges as best as you can so it's easier to roll. With a rolling pin, roll the dough, turning it frequently and adding more flour as necessary so it doesn't stick, into a 13-inch circle. Fold the dough into quarters without creasing it and transfer it to a 9-inch deep dish pie pan (the pan should be at least 1-1/2 inches deep). Gently fit the dough into the pan, easing it inwards rather than stretching it outwards. Don't worry if it tears, just patch it right back up. Trim the edges to 1/2-inch beyond the lip of the pie pan, if necessary. Turn the edges under to create a rim on the crust (you can use the scraps to patch in any thin areas); then press the rim against the lip of the pan, forming it into an even edge as you go. Using your fingers, crimp the rim. Place the crust in the freezer for at least 15 minutes while you heat the oven.
  3. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Remove the crust from the freezer and place it on a baking sheet (this makes it easy to move in and out of the oven). Cover the crust with a piece of parchment paper and fill it at least halfway full with dried beans or pie weights. Bake for 20 minutes, or until the crust is pale and partially cooked. Remove the parchment and dried beans/pie weights and set aside while you prepare the filling.
  4. Reduce the oven temperature to 350°F.

Make the Filling

  1. In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter and cook, swirling the pan occasionally, until the butter smells nutty and is golden brown, 3 to 5 minutes. Once you smell that nutty aroma, take the pan off the heat and pour the browned butter into a large heat-proof bowl to cool. (The milk solids will darken and settle on the bottom of the saucepan. When you transfer the brown butter to the bowl, try to leave as much of this sediment in the pan as possible but don't worry about it too much.)
  2. To the bowl with the brown butter, add the brown sugar, corn syrup, and golden syrup and whisk until smooth. Whisk in the eggs, bourbon, vanilla, and salt.
  3. Sprinkle the pecans in the baked piecrust and then pour the syrup mixture over them. The nuts will float to the top. (It isn't necessary, but for a prettier finished pie, use your fingers to flip over any whole pecans that are upside down, and arrange the whole pecans evenly on the surface.)
  4. Put the pie on the baking sheet (be sure you reduced the oven temperature to 350°F!). Bake until just set and bubbling at the edges, 50-55 minutes. The pie will still wobble just a bit when nudged; that’s okay – it will continue to cook as it cools. Remove the finished pie from the oven and place on a wire rack to cool completely, about 4 hours or overnight. For the neatest slices, use a serrated knife to gently saw through the pecans. Serve at room temperature with unsweetened whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.
  5. Make Ahead: The pie can be made one day ahead of time and stored, loosely covered, at room temperature. To freeze the pie, after it has cooled, wrap it tightly with aluminum foil or plastic freezer wrap for up to 2 months. Thaw in the refrigerator or on your counter.
  6. Note: If using a store-bought crust, follow the instructions on the package for blind baking.

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Nutrition Information

Powered by Edamam

  • Per serving (8 servings)
  • Calories: 731
  • Fat: 45 g
  • Saturated fat: 14 g
  • Carbohydrates: 79 g
  • Sugar: 41 g
  • Fiber: 4 g
  • Protein: 8 g
  • Sodium: 363 mg
  • Cholesterol: 112 mg

This website is written and produced for informational purposes only. I am not a certified nutritionist and the nutritional data on this site has not been evaluated or approved by a nutritionist or the Food and Drug Administration. Nutritional information is offered as a courtesy and should not be construed as a guarantee. The data is calculated through an online nutritional calculator, Edamam.com. Although I do my best to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures should be considered estimates only. Varying factors such as product types or brands purchased, natural fluctuations in fresh produce, and the way ingredients are processed change the effective nutritional information in any given recipe. Furthermore, different online calculators provide different results depending on their own nutrition fact sources and algorithms. To obtain the most accurate nutritional information in a given recipe, you should calculate the nutritional information with the actual ingredients used in your recipe, using your preferred nutrition calculator.

Reviews & Comments

  • Hi Jen I’m going to try your bourbon pecan pie. My question is I bought the pre-made pie shells do I still have to blind bake them prior to using them or are they all ready to use?

    - Toni on November 21, 2017 Reply
    • Hi Toni, Yes, you should blind bake the crust (follow the package instructions for blind baking). Hope you enjoy!

      - Jenn on November 21, 2017 Reply
  • Hi Jenn
    I’m baking my pies today ( I’m baking your perfect pumpkin pie — which it is!) and pecan pie.

    I notice the crusts are almost identical however, the pumpkin pie is baked an additional 20 min after weights are removed… the pecan pie is only blind baked for for 20 min.

    Can you explain why.

    Thank you so much!

    It’s an ” all Jenn Thanksgiving” for us!
    ( btw I preordered 5 copies of your cookbook…. they will be going to my daughters in law and a couple of bff’s that are near and dear!)….and one for me, of course!

    Happy Thanksgiving!

    - Barb on November 21, 2017 Reply
    • That is so sweet, Barb. Thank you for ordering so many books…I am so honored! 😊 That’s a great question about the crusts. Compared to this recipe, the pumpkin filling is more liquid and the pie cooks at a lower temperature, so I found a longer “blind bake” necessary to ensure the bottom crust cooked thoroughly. (Soggy crust is my pet peeve!) Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!

      - Jenn on November 21, 2017 Reply
  • 5 stars

    Without a doubt the best pecan pie ever! I’m not a baker by any means so I used a store bought shell and blind baked it using beans as weight, 400 deg for 20 minutes. Everything else exactly as specified and it was delicious! I’m not one to give many reviews much less five star reviews but this one is worth it!

    - Myles Standridge on November 20, 2017 Reply
  • 5 stars

    This is my new favorite pie!!

    - Jennie on November 19, 2017 Reply
  • Do you have a southern pecan pie recipe. There’s something special about the custard part of it and I can only find it in Texas
    Thanks for stuffing w sausage recipe. I had always used breakfast sausage. This looks better

    - Dee Amber on November 18, 2017 Reply
    • Hi Dee, This is the only tried and true pecan pie recipe I have. I think it’s pretty southern if you want to give it a go. 🙂

      - Jenn on November 19, 2017 Reply
  • I would like your thought on toasting the pecans before using them in the pie. Also, have you ever soaked pecans in warm water before toasting? It does seem to remove some of the bitterness that pecans can have.

    - David on November 17, 2017 Reply
    • Hi David, the pecans get somewhat toasted while they are baking in the pie, so I don’t think it’s necesary (and wouldn’t want them to get too dark). That said, if you wanted to stick them in the oven very briefly for a quick toasting, I don’t think it would hurt. And, no, I’ve never soaked pecans in warm water before; I’ll have to try that at some point!

      - Jenn on November 17, 2017 Reply
  • what if i want to use those 1:1 gluten free flour blends? will it work?

    - Jean on November 16, 2017 Reply
    • That should work, Jean — or feel free to use a store-bought gluten-free crust (follow the instructions on the package for blind baking).

      - Jenn on November 16, 2017 Reply
  • Hi Jenn, if I were to add chocolate to the pie, how much would I add, what type, i.e. chips, chopped, semi-sweet, bittersweet etc., and when would I add it to the recipe. Of course the pie is fabulous the way it is but it’s the holidays and everything’s better with chocolate 🙂 Thanks so much!! LOVE your recipes!

    - Jackie on November 14, 2017 Reply
    • Hi Jackie, Sounds delish! I’d break up about 3 ounces of bittersweet chocolate and add with the pecans. Please lmk how it turns out!

      - Jenn on November 16, 2017 Reply
  • I can’t believe this is the first time I have ever come across a pastry crust recipe that contains baking powder. I can’t wait to try it out – I hate that thing where the pastry shrinks short of the rim of the dish, even though you lovingly dock it and then rest it in 5-star accommodation in the fridge. I live in Turkey, where we can’t get golden syrup (and bringing it in the suitcase is fraught with the idea of potentially very sticky clothes). Did you know it is really easy to make, just with sugar, water and a couple of slices of lemon – it’s completely straightforward and probably cheaper than buying imported syrup. That nice Mr Google has some simple instructions.

    - Jayne on November 11, 2017 Reply
    • And forgot to say – recipe looks absolutely gorgeous. I shall be on to the syrup-making immediately. I’ve even got some Bourbon in the cupboard.

      - Jayne on November 11, 2017 Reply
    • So good to know about the substitution for the golden syrup — thanks Jayne!

      - Jenn on November 11, 2017 Reply
  • If I just have light brown sugar on hand is it okay to add molasses to it to approximate the dark brown sugar called for in the recipe? Just wanted to make sure it wouldn’t affect the consistency. (Also, you can ignore the question I submitted via email since I didn’t initially see this comment section for the recipe. That question was the same as what I posted here). Thank you! Also, thank you for sharing your talents on this blog! I have made countless of your recipes, and they are all fabulous. I am so glad I found your website. So many other blogs I’ve found may draw you in with beautiful photos, but then their recipes don’t live up to the hype and don’t seem well-tested. I appreciate that you only share amazing content and that your recipes are so well-written. Thank you!

    - Julie on November 10, 2017 Reply
    • Hi Julie, It’s fine to just use light brown sugar (w/o molasses) – it won’t make much difference. And so happy you’re having success with the recipes! 😊

      - Jenn on November 12, 2017 Reply
  • 5 stars

    For the homemade Golden Syrup you said equal parts brown sugar and corn syrup. 1/2 cup of each or 1/4 cup each to equal 1/2 cup
    Love everything you post. Your pie crust is excellent…love love love it! Thanks so much, Michele Glemser

    - Michele Glemser on November 9, 2017 Reply
    • Hi Michele, glad you like the blog! For substituting the golden syrup, you’ll need 1/4 cup of brown sugar and 1/4 cup of light corn syrup. Hope that clarifies!

      - Jenn on November 10, 2017 Reply
      • I just wanted to make sure I understood the substitution for the Golden Syrup, as I am not able to see all the questions. The substitution is 1/4 cup each of brown sugar, and light corn syrup; which is in addition to what is already in the recipe separately, correct? I am not able to get the Golden Syrup here in Galveston, Texas. And, time is short so I will just substitute this time. Thank you so much for your time! Can’t wait to try this!

        - Doreen on November 20, 2017 Reply
        • Hi Doreen, Yes, that’s correct. You’ll add an additional 1/4 cup each brown sugar and light corn syrup. Please come back and lmk how it turns out — and Happy Thanksgiving!

          - Jenn on November 20, 2017 Reply
  • Hi Jenn, I made your apple pie recipe and used my heritage white pearmain apples (from the 1200’s in England!) I had never made a pie with them before, and they might not have been best choice because they were still a bit crisp, and the pie was dry. The crust, however, was excellent. I usually use butter, shortening, and lard, so I used lard and butter for your recipe. The baking powder was an interesting addition, and my crust did not slip at all. It was very crispy, and I wondered if the baking powder made it crisper. I used the whole 1/2 teaspoon called for even though at our high altitude I usually cut it in half. Your recipes are fantastic. Thank you for a great blog!

    - Katharine Precek on November 9, 2017 Reply
    • The baking powder really shouldn’t shouldn’t make the crust crispy, but it sounds like you used more than the recipe calls for – you mentioned that you used 1/2 tsp; the recipe just calls for 1/8 tsp. There’s a chance that could’ve made the crust crispier. (And glad you like the blog :)!

      - Jenn on November 10, 2017 Reply
  • Do you prepare a store bought crust the same way? Freezing it and blind baking?

    - Debbie on November 9, 2017 Reply
    • Hi Debbie, Yes but you’ll want to follow the package instructions for blind baking – the time/temp may be different.

      - Jenn on November 9, 2017 Reply
  • Does the Bourbon alcohol content cook out and just has the flavor? If not can it be omitted? Cannot have alcohol.
    TY 🙂
    BTW – I am a passionate cook and baker and your website is one of my absolute favorites. It is one of my go to as is America’s Test Kitchen and Cook’s Illustrated…

    - Deb on November 9, 2017 Reply
    • Hi Deb, It does evaporate and is only there for flavor but feel free to leave it out – the pie will still be delicious. And so glad you’re enjoying all the recipes. 😊

      - Jenn on November 9, 2017 Reply
  • Hi Jenn, I love all your recipes and know this will be delicious, but I can’t serve anything with alcohol. Is there anything nonalcoholic that I can substitute for the bourbon? Thanks.

    - Linda S on November 9, 2017 Reply
    • Thank you, Linda! It’s perfectly fine to just leave it out. Hope you enjoy it!

      - Jenn on November 9, 2017 Reply
  • Love the idea of the shot of bourbon… How handy that we have a bottle of Woodford in the cupboard already. Thanks Jenn, can’t wait to try it!

    - Ellen on November 9, 2017 Reply

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