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Brown Butter and Bourbon Pecan Pie

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Made with brown butter and bourbon, this pecan pie has a richer, more complex flavor than the typical pecan pie.

This is an outstanding bourbon pecan pie, and the recipe credit goes to my longtime reader Jeff Winett of 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. 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. The payoff in flavor is so worth it!

What you’ll need to make Brown Butter & Bourbon pecan pie

For the Filling

how to make pecan pie

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.

For the Crust

how to bake a pecan pie

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 deep-dish crust or you won’t have room for all of the filling. 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.

Step-by-Step Instructions

Step 1: Make the Crust

To begin, combine the flour, salt and baking powder in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade.

Add the butter and shortening in pieces. (You can use all butter if you like, but shortening helps the crust hold its shape and makes it 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 refrigerator for at least 30 minutes while you heat the oven.

Remove the crust from the refrigerator 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.

Step 2: Make 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.

Step 3: Assemble and Bake the Pie

Sprinkle the pecans in the baked pie crust 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.

 

 

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Brown Butter and Bourbon Pecan Pie

Made with brown butter and bourbon, this pecan pie has a richer, more complex flavor than the typical 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

  • 1½ cups all-purpose flour, spooned into measuring cup and leveled with a knife
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ⅛ teaspoon baking powder
  • 6 tablespoons very cold unsalted butter, sliced into ¼-inch pieces
  • 3 tablespoons very cold vegetable shortening, in 3 pieces
  • 4 tablespoons very cold water

For the Filling

  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • ⅔ cup packed dark brown sugar
  • ⅔ cup light corn syrup
  • ½ 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
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2½ 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 1½ 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 ½-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 refrigerator for 30 minutes while you heat the oven.
  3. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Remove the crust from the refrigerator 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. Note: If using a store-bought crust, follow the instructions on the package for blind baking.
  6. Note: If using a ceramic pie plate, when you put the pie with the filling into the oven add approximately 10 minutes to the baking time.
  7. Make Ahead: The pie can be made one day ahead of time and stored, loosely covered, at room temperature.
  8. Freezer-Friendly Instructions: 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 overnight before you plan to serve it.

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.

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Comments

  • First time to make a pecan pie and it came out very well! My only downfall was I used a ceramic dish so my bake time was extended another 10 minutes and it still could have used a few extra minutes as there was a little extra giggle just off the center.

    • — Kathy Lopatowski on November 25, 2022
    • Reply
  • Made this for Thanksgiving as my first pie ever. Followed recipe exactly and it turned out fantastic. Rich, decadent, and indulgent! Family kept raving about it! Thanks for the great recipe, Jenn!

    • — Matt on November 25, 2022
    • Reply
  • Love this perfect recipe! World Market is my go to for Lyles Golden Syrup.

    • — Juliane McDavid on November 23, 2022
    • Reply
  • Hi Jenn
    Made this filling ( used pie shells ) last year absolutely best tasting pecan pie I’ve ever had. This year have a nut allergic person coming so after much research decided to try this recipe using Rice Krispies in place of pecans for my daughter. Any advice ?
    Also making two regular ones for everyone else.

    • — Richard on November 23, 2022
    • Reply
    • Hi Richard, Glad you enjoyed it. Rice krispies sounds very unconventional to me and not sure how it will work — unfortunately, I don’t have any wisdom to share for it — I’m sorry! Please LMK how it turns out if you try it. 🙂

      • — Jenn on November 23, 2022
      • Reply
  • One of my guests is an alcoholic. Is there a substitute for the bourbon?

    • — Ann Nermoe on November 23, 2022
    • Reply
    • Hi Ann, You can just leave it out. Enjoy!

      • — Jenn on November 23, 2022
      • Reply
  • Any negative impact if I added a 4th egg? I’d like to increase the filling to the pie.

    • — Corrine on November 22, 2022
    • Reply
    • Hi Corrine, I’m not sure I’d bother. It may cause the filling to puff up and crack when it settles (and it won’t make that much of a difference in terms of the amount of filling). I’d just top it with lots of whipped cream. 🙂

      • — Jenn on November 23, 2022
      • Reply
  • Hi Jenn, can I use dark corn syrup instead of the golden? Thank you!

    • — Lydia on November 13, 2022
    • Reply
    • Hi Lydia, that should be fine. Enjoy!

      • — Jenn on November 14, 2022
      • Reply
  • This looks incredible! Could you make this ahead of time/freeze?

    • — Kathryn B on October 24, 2022
    • Reply
    • Hi Kathryn, you can — see the bottom of the recipe for Make-Ahead and Freezer-Friendly instructions. Hope you enjoy if you make it! 🙂

      • — Jenn on October 24, 2022
      • Reply
  • I so badly wanted to try this recipe, I went to five different stores three grocery stores, a Trader Joe’s a sprouts market oh and the world market and I could not find golden syrup. So frustrated, I did not know what to use as a substitute so sadly I had to go with a different recipe.

    • — Ann on July 1, 2022
    • Reply
    • Hi Ann, sounds like a wild goose chase – I’m sure it was frustrating! If you haven’t already made it, you can sub 1/4 cup light corn syrup and 1/4 cup brown sugar (in addition to the amounts already called for in the recipe).

      • — Jenn on July 2, 2022
      • Reply
    • Golden syrup is easy to make.

      • — Jerry on September 12, 2022
      • Reply
  • This was the best pecan pie that I have made. I usually don’t blind bake my pie crust for pecan pies, but I did this time, and the extra step is well worth it. Most pecan pie recipes are way too sweet, but this wasn’t. Being that I didn’t have the golden syrup on hand, I used all light corn syrup, and it still turned out delicious. Thanks for a great recipe.

    • — OC on February 1, 2022
    • Reply
  • My favorite pecan pie recipe. Many thanks to the author for sharing this. Combines some of my favorite things…pecans, brown butter and bourbon! And the golden syrup is a revelation! Made one over the holidays, and my daughter, who is a somewhat picky eater, asked me to bake another one 🙂 Dad is cool again 😉

    • — Charlie S. on January 16, 2022
    • Reply
  • This recipe turned out wonderfully!! Lots of compliments on it👍

    • — Pielady on December 6, 2021
    • Reply
  • Hi Jenn, we love pecan pie and your recipe is spectacular! I followed the recipe and ingredient list exactly. I was able to find Lyle’s Golden syrup at my local Publix grocery store and used our favorite Kentucky bourbon. It turned out perfectly and was easy to make. This is our new family favorite.

    • — Victoria P. on November 28, 2021
    • Reply
  • Hello! I’m planning on making this for thanksgiving tomorrow! However instead of a 9 inch pie pan, I have two smaller maybe 4 1/2 inch ceramic pans. How much would the recipe cook time differ? Thanks!

    • — Sonia on November 25, 2021
    • Reply
    • Hi Sonia, I may too late to weigh in, but I’d reduce the blind baking time to 15 min and I’d start checking the filled pie around 35-40 min. Hope that helps!

      • — Jenn on November 26, 2021
      • Reply
  • Hi! I’m about to make this pie but I don’t have corn syrup or gold syrup, do you think it would be okay to substitute maple for these two? Thanks and love your blog!

    • — Michele on November 24, 2021
    • Reply
    • Hi Michele, I think I’m weighing in too late to help (sorry!) but unfortunately, I don’t think that would work.

      • — Jenn on November 30, 2021
      • Reply
  • Would there be any issue using dark corn syrup in lieu o flight corn syrupm and golden syrup?

    • — Mike on November 22, 2021
    • Reply
    • Hi Mike, It should be fine. Hope you enjoy it!

      • — Jenn on November 22, 2021
      • Reply
      • Thanks for the reply, Jenn!

        • — Mike on November 22, 2021
        • Reply
  • I want to make this for Thanksgiving but my Whole Foods did not have the golden syrup. Will the flavor be compromised if I use your substitution? Amazon has the golden syrup and I can have by tomorrow should I be patient and just get the right ingredient? What are your thoughts?

    • — Annie L on November 22, 2021
    • Reply
    • Hi Annie, The flavor may be the slightest bit different but it will still taste good. I don’t think you need to bother to order the golden syrup. 🙂

      • — Jenn on November 22, 2021
      • Reply
      • Thanks so much for getting back to me, much appreciated 😊

        • — Annie L on November 22, 2021
        • Reply
  • Would this filling work with the crust from your Pecan Squares recipe or would the filling be too loose for squares? Yours is the best bourbon pecan pie recipe by far. For our Thanksgiving this year, though, squares might work better for serving than whole pies or tarts. I’d make the squares, but for Thanksgiving we want the bourbon pecan filling.
    Thanks so much!

    • — Deborah on November 20, 2021
    • Reply
    • Hi Deborah, I think it will be too gooey for squares. However, I think you could add 1 tablespoon bourbon the the pecan squares. Hope that helps!

      • — Jenn on November 20, 2021
      • Reply
      • Perfect! It does help. Thank you for your reply and happy Thanksgiving to you and your family!

        • — Deborah on November 23, 2021
        • Reply
  • I really want to make this for Thanksgiving, but I don’t want to purchase a deep dish pie plate unless absolutely necessary. Do you know if it would work in a 10” pie dish or do I just “Amazon” myself an early Christmas present (yes, Amazon has become a verb in our household)? 😁

    • — Kristi on November 19, 2021
    • Reply
    • Ha! I think a 10-inch would work, but the pie will be quite thin, more like a tart.

      • — Jenn on November 19, 2021
      • Reply
      • Thank you for your quick reply! Since I don’t really want a tart- I guess it’s “Merry Christmas early-Love from your friends at Amazon”!
        Kristi 😁

        • — Kristi on November 19, 2021
        • Reply
  • I really want to make this for Thanksgiving but, can’t find golden syrup at any of the stores around me. What would be a good substitute, if any?
    Thanks,
    Sharon

    • — Sharon Taylor on November 18, 2021
    • Reply
    • Hi Sharon, If you can’t find golden syrup, I’d sub 1/4 cup light corn syrup and 1/4 cup brown sugar (in addition to the amounts already called for in the recipe). Hope you enjoy!

      • — Jenn on November 18, 2021
      • Reply
  • Hi Jenn, is there a way to drastically reduce the sweetness of this recipe without compromising it? I love the flavors, but unfortunately the sugar was too much for my German in-laws and I want them to enjoy an experience of Thanksgiving that includes pecan pie.

    • — Caitlin on November 11, 2021
    • Reply
    • Hi Caitlin, I think you could get away with cutting both the sugar and corn syrup back to 1/2 cup. Please LMK how it turns out!

      • — Jenn on November 12, 2021
      • Reply
  • Hi Jenn!

    We made this for Thanksgiving and the flavour was spot on!

    It did turn out a tad runny in the middle… And after reading through the comments, it looks like if one uses a ceramic pie plate, the cook time should be 65-70 minutes.

    I have 2 questions for this!

    1) Should the blind bake time for the crust also be increased? The edges were good but the bottom was slightly tacky/moist looking after blind baking.
    2) Is it possible to add a note in the recipe about the time increase if using a ceramic pie plate?

    Thank you again for another fabulous tasting and easy to make recipe!

    Tina

    • — Tina Manz on October 11, 2021
    • Reply
    • Hi Tina, Sorry to hear that the middle was a little runny. Yes, if you found that the bottom of the crust was still a little tacky after blind baking it, next time I’d add another minute or two onto the baking time. And I’m going to update the recipe with a note to increase the baking time if using a ceramic pie plate. Thanks for the suggestion!

      • — Jenn on October 15, 2021
      • Reply
  • This is perfection. It’s the flavor I’ve been seeking for decades of baking. I applaud you for the perfect balance of flavors. Now that I’ve found this I’m never lowering my standards again. Thank you.

    • — Jennifer Dressel on July 7, 2021
    • Reply
  • Hello again! My house smells amazing, the pie is beautiful. I have so enjoyed your apple cake, strawberry cake, and many more. I am looking so forward to gifting this pecan pie to my friend. Thank you so much for sharing!

    • — Heather on June 3, 2021
    • Reply
    • My pleasure!!

      • — Jenn on June 4, 2021
      • Reply
  • Hello, could you please tell me if I should toast the pecans first? Does it matter?

    • — Heather on June 3, 2021
    • Reply
    • Hi Heather, you don’t need to toast them first. Hope you enjoy!

      • — Jenn on June 3, 2021
      • Reply
  • Another recipe we made for our gourmet group dinner and it was a hit. As you said the brown butter makes for a richer and more complex flavor and we agree. We used Kings Syrup…couldn’t get Lyle’s. Our daughter-in-law makes a gang buster pecan pie and I’m thinking of challenging her to a blind taste test pitting hers against this one.

    • — Mike Kaz on January 28, 2021
    • Reply
  • I have always love Pecan Pie, but learning from Jen to Brown the Butter, really elevated this pie. I make it for my family about once a month. Its the best

    • — Joel M on January 28, 2021
    • Reply

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