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Pecan Squares

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With a buttery shortbread crust and rich caramel-pecan topping, these pecan squares make a wonderful potluck dessert for the holidays.

pecan squares

If you’re a fan of my bourbon pecan pie and candied pecans, 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 for the holidays. Bonus: they’re easy to make.

What you’ll need to make pecan squares

how to make pecan squares

Step-by-step instructions

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.

how to make pecan squares

Toss in the pieces of butter.

how to make pecan squares

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

how to make pecan squares

Dump the mixture into a foil-lined pan.

how to make pecan squares

Then press firmly with your fingers into an even layer.

how to make pecan squares

Bake until set but not browned, about 17 minutes.

how to make pecan squares

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

how to make pecan squares

Boil gently for a few minutes.

how to make pecan squares

Then stir in the heavy cream and chopped pecans.

how to make pecan squares

Spread the pecan mixture onto the baked crust.

how to make pecan squares

Bake until bubbling and caramel-colored.

how to make pecan squares

Cool completely, then transfer baked bar to cutting board.

how to make pecan squares

Cut into squares with a sharp knife.

how to make pecan squares

Serve an enjoy!

how to make pecan squares

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Pecan Shortbread Squares

With a buttery shortbread crust and rich caramel-pecan topping, these pecan squares make a wonderful potluck dessert for the holidays.

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

Ingredients

For the Crust

  • ¾ cup all-purpose flour, spooned into measuring cup and leveled-off
  • ¼ cup cornstarch
  • ½ cup Confectioners' sugar
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch pieces

For the Filling

  • 12 tablespoons (1½ sticks) unsalted butter
  • ¾ cup packed light brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Generous pinch salt
  • 2 tablespoons heavy whipping cream
  • 3 cups coarsely chopped pecans

Instructions

For the Crust

  1. 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, cornstarch, 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. It will seem dry; that's okay. Transfer mixture to the prepared pan and press firmly with your fingers into an even layer over the bottom. Refrigerate for 15 minutes. While the crust is in the refrigerator, adjust an oven rack to the middle position and preheat the oven to 350° F. Bake the crust 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 the 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.
  2. Freezer-Friendly Instructions: These can be frozen for up to 3 months. After they are completely cooled, double-wrap them securely with aluminum foil or plastic freezer wrap with the layers separated by wax or parchment paper. Thaw overnight on the countertop before serving.

Nutrition Information

Powered by Edamam

  • Per serving (16 servings)
  • Calories: 357
  • Fat: 29 g
  • Saturated fat: 11 g
  • Carbohydrates: 26 g
  • Sugar: 18 g
  • Fiber: 2 g
  • Protein: 3 g
  • Sodium: 88 mg
  • Cholesterol: 41 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

  • Everyone loves these bars and is shocked by how good they are!! They are so so good! I have shared this recipes so many times now and friends and family request I bring them to events. This is definitely a family keeper recipe!!

    • — Brittany Futrell on January 14, 2024
    • Reply
  • I was not happy with this recipe at all I am a good Baker. I used to have my own bakery/restaurant and followed the recipe for precisely.

    • — Christine Fowler on January 10, 2024
    • Reply
  • Hello,
    I love your site and have enjoyed making many of your recipes. I can usually count on your dishes coming out perfectly. These pecan bars were an exception. Something happened to them where the crust was so greasy, I had to blot the grease onto paper towels 4 times. The rest of the bar was fantastic. I still gave it 5 stars, because I must have made a mistake somewhere with the crust preparation.

    • — Shan on January 7, 2024
    • Reply
    • Hi Shan, So glad you like the recipes but sorry the crust for these was greasy! Some others have mentioned that. Next time you make it, I’d reduce the butter for the crust by 2 tablespoons. Hope that helps!

      • — Jenn on January 8, 2024
      • Reply
  • I made these today and they didn’t set. They were swimming in a sea of melted butter. Any idea what i did wrong?

    • — Zoe on December 27, 2023
    • Reply
    • Hi Zoe, Sorry you had a problem with these! Some people have mentioned that the crust came out a bit greasy for them. Would you say it was the crust you had a problem with? If so, next time you make it, I’d reduce the butter for the crust by 2 tablespoons. Please LMK if I can answer any other questions about them.

      • — Jenn on December 28, 2023
      • Reply
  • I don’t have a 9×9 pan. Will an 8×8 work?

    • — Kay on December 21, 2023
    • Reply
    • Sure – they may take a few extra minutes to bake so keep a close eye on them.

      • — Jenn on December 22, 2023
      • Reply
      • Thanks, will do! I appreciate the response.

        • — Zoe on December 30, 2023
        • Reply
  • Should the pan be 8” or 9” square? Thank you

    • — Pat on December 19, 2023
    • Reply
    • Hi Pat, the pan should be a 9 inch square. Hope that clarifies!

      • — Jenn on December 19, 2023
      • Reply
  • Excellent recipe that is easy and LOVED by everyone.

    • — Leigh on December 10, 2023
    • Reply
  • These were wonderful! Your recipe is excellent and the instructions were very helpful. I actually over processed the crust, but it was still superb. Thank you! What I liked especially was that your own syrupy taste was used – brown sugar, butter, etc rather than the store bought syrup version. Thank you!

    • — Helen Miller, Pullman, WA on December 9, 2023
    • Reply
  • What do I do if I don’t have a food processor?

    • — MissyB. on November 30, 2023
    • Reply
    • Hi Missy, You can make this 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. Enjoy!

      • — Jenn on December 1, 2023
      • Reply
  • Delicious!!! Way better than pecan pie. Thanks for sharing the recipe.

    • — Liliana on November 24, 2023
    • Reply
  • I made this for dessert for Thanksgiving. So delicious with vanilla ice cream. Thank you.

    • — Dianne Mumma on November 24, 2023
    • Reply
  • Hi Jenn – I’m a big fan of your site and recipes. Which is why I’m making four of them this week. I don’t have any all purpose flour, just self rising. Can I use that as a substitute, and (if yes) does it change anything regarding cornstarch? Thanks and Happy Thanksgiving!

    • — Kate Young on November 20, 2023
    • Reply
    • Hi Kate, I’m flattered that so many of my recipes will be on your Thanksgiving table! Unfortunately, I don’t think self-rising flour is a good idea here; for the best results, I’d stick with all-purpose. Hope you have a great Thanksgiving!

      • — Jenn on November 21, 2023
      • Reply
      • I made these for the first time in early Nov. My family has not stopped requesting them since. Today will be the 4th time in 8 weeks that I’ve made them. Soo good! Thank you!

        • — Amy on December 24, 2023
        • Reply
  • Hi Jenn-
    I would like to add a tbsp of molasses to the pecan mixture. Should I cut the the honey down to 2 tblsps. Would this harm the texture? I usually add 1 tblsp molasses + 2 tblsps bourbon to pecan pie. I wanted to recreate this in bar form & your recipe is the ideal one to try this on.

    Thank you for your time & for all the wonderful recipes. I wish you and your family love & blessings on Thanksgiving.

    • — MRS on November 20, 2023
    • Reply
    • Thanks for the nice words about the recipes – so glad you like them! What you are suggesting, regarding Ing, a tablespoon of honey, for the molasses should be fine and should not impact the texture. Hope you enjoy and happy Thanksgiving!

      • — Jenn on November 21, 2023
      • Reply
  • How should these be stored?

    • — Jami on November 19, 2023
    • Reply
    • You can store them in an airtight container at room temperature.

      • — Jenn on November 20, 2023
      • Reply
  • These are to die for! My husband and my favorite, now we make them every Thanksgiving and maybe Christmas too. Plus so much easier than a pie and we love how they are so much nuttier, with less of the sweet goo. Now when my husband asks who is the chef I got the recipe from, I just say the Pecan bar lady, and he knows it will be good. ❤️

    • — Heather C. on November 18, 2023
    • Reply
    • 😂💕

      • — Jenn on November 18, 2023
      • Reply
  • Hello! We absolutely love these and are hoping to make them for a larger crowd this Thanksgiving. I am wondering if anyone has ever tried making these in a jelly roll pan and doubling ingredients.

    • — Katie Kimmel on November 16, 2023
    • Reply
    • I usually make 1 1/2 times the recipe, turns out fine.

      • — Linda on December 22, 2023
      • Reply
  • Should the pecans be toasted a bit? Or, should I use raw pecans? Thank you

    • — Janet Raciti on November 10, 2023
    • Reply
    • Hi Janet, I’d go with raw; I’m concerned that toasted may burn.

      • — Jenn on November 10, 2023
      • Reply
  • Hi Jenn! Looks so good. I don’t have a food processor, is there something I can use instead? Fingers crossed!

    • — Elisha Schmidt on October 16, 2023
    • Reply
    • Hi Elisha, You can make this 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. Enjoy!

      • — Jenn on October 16, 2023
      • Reply
    • Hi Jenn,
      I was wondering, can I make it gluten free?
      If yes, do I use almond flour or I have Pamela ‘s baking flour also or any other you recommend.
      Thanks

      • — Rani Lohana on October 31, 2023
      • Reply
      • Sure, Rani, I’d go with Pamela’s baking flour. Enjoy!

        • — Jenn on November 1, 2023
        • Reply
  • I love these things!! And everyone I know does too! They are sooo good, perfect sweet, perfect crunch of buttery shortbread, just a kiss of salt and of course the how could you go wrong with pecans!! I overcook (burnt!) the first time, I didnt think they looked quite set, 2nd time following baking time and bubbling instruction, Fabulous!!!!, timing really does matter.
    I make these for one reason or another about once a month! Great go to dessert! …not bad for breakfast either!

    • — kate on September 25, 2023
    • Reply
  • When do you add corn starch to the pecan bars? Read the recipe twice. No mention of it in the recipe. But a photo of ingredients clearly shows corn starch.

    • — Anita G Winter on September 7, 2023
    • Reply
    • Hi Anita, It is added to the crust.

      • — Jenn on September 10, 2023
      • Reply
  • I made two separate batches of these, one to keep and one to give away. I am a very experienced baker and always follow a recipe exactly, the first time around. While the flavours were delicious, both the topping and base on both batches were extremely greasy. We don’t typically buy butter in sticks in Canada, so I used the cup equivalents. I would make these again, but look for a different shortbread base, or cut the butter significantly in both the base and topping. Also, to get an appearance like your pictures, I reserved some of the chopped pecans to sprinkle on the top immediately after baking. Otherwise, all the pecans would have sunk into the caramel mixture.

    • — Robin Watson on September 7, 2023
    • Reply
    • I had the same problem. Doubled the recipe, baked in a 9×13 metal pan lined with parchment. There was a pool of butter under the parchment when it was done.

      I’m currently draining them on paper towels, hoping to save the batch. They’re crumbly, but delicious… if you’re a big fan of butter.

      • — Deb on November 21, 2023
      • Reply
      • I just made these and have the same problem. Under the parchment and between the crust and parchment – oodles of butter. 🤮 Even the mixture glistens with grease. I’ve got them sitting directly on paper towels for the night hoping to absorb some of the butter so not to have to trash the whole thing. I consider myself a sugar lover but this is like drinking butter. If not for the excess butter, all looks good and seems like it would taste spot on. I’ve made these wonderfully a dozen times in the past from another recipe I can no longer find. I hope someone discovers what the excess butter is from and posts it here. 😒

        • — Lili on November 27, 2023
        • Reply
        • I also had the same problem. Butter running everywhere and was unable to save the batch.

          • — Nikole on December 3, 2023
          • Reply
    • I recently read an article about butter. Most US recipes are developed for butter sold in US supermarkets (and specifically not for European and other higher fat butter). So if you use a higher fat butter the result may be too greasy. Butter from some smaller local dairies may have the same issue.

      • — Linda on December 22, 2023
      • Reply
  • Hi, I just made your Peacan bars recipe.. I was all ready for another baking fail BUT to my surprise .. WOW .. they came out perfect. I buttered the pan well and put parchment paper on the bottom.. loosened the sides and it came out great. TY so much for sharing.

    • — E Borruso on September 2, 2023
    • Reply
  • poured filing out slow. pot burned film left in pot. do this when i make fudge just did not think.

    • — Gary Tessneer on July 29, 2023
    • Reply
  • These look delicious! How many days ahead can they be made and still taste fresh? I don’t want to freeze. Thanks!

    • — Kay on July 10, 2023
    • Reply
    • Hi Kay, they keep well for 3 to 4 days. Hope you enjoy!

      • — Jenn on July 11, 2023
      • Reply
  • Holy moly these are about the most delicious food I have ever eaten. I have made these thrice and it’s simple and unbelievably delicious. Thank you for this and all of your recipes!

    • — Joan on June 26, 2023
    • Reply
  • Can you omit the whipping cream, for those who can have butter but not milk

    • — Elizabeth A on June 13, 2023
    • Reply
    • Hi Elizabeth, I’ve never made these without the cream but I think they would still work. Please LMK how they turn out!

      • — Jenn on June 14, 2023
      • Reply
    • Could you replace the honey by maple syrup in this recipe?

      • — Joelle Laberge on July 2, 2023
      • Reply
      • Sure, that will work. Enjoy!

        • — Jenn on July 3, 2023
        • Reply
  • I want to do a 9×13 pan. You say to 1.5 ingredients.
    Here’s my math. Please correct if needed.
    3/4 plus 6 T on flour
    1/4 plus 1/8 on cornstarch
    3/4 powdered sugar
    3/4 t salt
    1 1/2 stick butter
    Filling
    2 sticks butter plus 3T butter
    3/4 cup brown sugar plus 6 T
    3 T honey plus 1 1/2 T
    3/4 t vanilla
    Huge pinch salt
    3T HWC
    4 1/2 cup pecans
    *Small t teaspoons
    Capital T tablespoons.
    I can’t afford to screw this up so help please ❤
    Your my go to girl for most recipes 😋

    • — Pjlee on May 6, 2023
    • Reply
    • Hi, Your measurements look correct except for the cornstarch in the crust and the butter in the filling — you’ll need 1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons of cornstarch, and for the butter, you’ll need 2 sticks + 2 tablespoons.

      That said, math is not really my strong suit so I’d encourage you to double-check it! 🙂

      • — Jenn on May 8, 2023
      • Reply
    • how did your revised recipe work? and were Jenn’s corrections correct?

      • — Johanne Cacciatore on November 9, 2023
      • Reply
  • Wow! Love these as does everyone in my family! Easy and delicious! Would love to make the crust thicker because it’s so good!! I am going to try to double the crust, wonder what the chef/recipe creator would think or suggest????

    • — Sheila k Miller on April 25, 2023
    • Reply
    • Hi Sheila, so glad you like these! While I think it’s fine to make the crust thicker, I think doubling it may be overkill. I’d suggest making 1.5 times the crust. Hope you enjoy!

      • — Jenn on April 25, 2023
      • Reply
  • This has to be my favorite dessert. Just wondering if it’s possible to make gluten free with oat flour instead?

    • — Melissa on April 8, 2023
    • Reply
    • Hi Melissa, So glad you like it! You should be able to get away with using oat flour in the crust. It may change the texture just a bit; you could also use all-purpose gluten-free flour. Please, LMK how it turns out with one of these alternatives. 🙂

      • — Jenn on April 10, 2023
      • Reply
  • Hi! Would it work if you used toasted pecans?

    • — Samantha on February 10, 2023
    • Reply
    • Hi Samantha, I worry the pecans may overcook.

      • — Jenn on February 11, 2023
      • Reply
  • These pecan squares are sublime. Buttery, rich, nutty, and toothsome, they pack all the decadence of pecan pie into a convenient, hand-held treat. Limiting portions to 2″ squares might be difficult, but your sweet tooth will be satisfied with the suggested serving size. We will make these again soon.

    • — D. J. Martin on January 25, 2023
    • Reply
  • I would like to try this recipe but no longer have a food processor. Can the crust be made in a mixer with a paddle? I make my scones using frozen butter & grate it on a box grater…would this work? Thankyou

    • — Betty on January 15, 2023
    • Reply
    • Hi Betty, You can make this by hand. First, place the flour, cornstarch, 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. Enjoy! 🙂

      • — Jenn on January 16, 2023
      • Reply
  • Glorious! This is the best recipe I have made in my life! 50 years of baking and this is the most delicious recipe I have ever made! Ridiculously delicious and so easy! Make these for any event and you will be a rock star! Thank you for sharing! ❤️

    • — Joan on December 30, 2022
    • Reply
  • These pecan bars are excellent, everyone has said they are delicious. Definitely do not overcook them.

    • — Corey on December 24, 2022
    • Reply
  • These are the best EVER! I have never had the rabid response to a dessert that I have had from both friends and family. The only issue I’ve run in to – following the recipe to a T – is that the topping does not stick to the shortbread and it tends to fall apart when you cut it. Any tips to fix this? Thanks for this amazing recipe.

    • — Jane Logan on December 23, 2022
    • Reply
    • Hi Jane, Glad you like them! The problem you’ve described is a bit of a head-scratcher though. I haven’t gotten that feedback before and I can’t think of any reason why it would happen – I’m sorry I can’t be more helpful!!

      • — Jenn on December 27, 2022
      • Reply
  • Help…I have tried to make these two times and each time the filling ran under the crust. The bars were soggy and greasy on the bottom. What did I do wrong?

    • — Sharon on December 23, 2022
    • Reply
    • Hi Sharon, I’m sorry you’ve had a problem with these! If the filling ran out, it sounds like it was undercooked – if you make these again, I’d let it boil a little longer. And regarding the crust, try cutting the butter back by 2 Tbsp. I suspect that should help.

      • — Jenn on December 23, 2022
      • Reply
  • In reply to questions about using a 9×13 pan, you have said to double the recipe and to 1 1/2 it. Which is best for doubling the recipe?

    • — Bea Adler on December 22, 2022
    • Reply
    • Hi Bea, I’m sorry about the confusion. For a 9 x 13“ pan I’d make 1.5 times the recipe. The bake time may be slightly different so keep a close eye on them. Hope you enjoy!

      • — Jenn on December 23, 2022
      • Reply
  • Oh my gosh! These are extraordinary!!!!!! Like pecan pie but a million times better! Like your favorite toffee, but a million times better!!! It is a good recipe and I followed it to a “T”. Thank you Jenn. This is heaven on earth!

    • — Cheryl Skornik on December 21, 2022
    • Reply
  • Hi Jenn- if I plan to increase my pan size to a 9×13, should I 1.5x or 2x the ingredients? I couldn’t find anything speaking directly to that in the comments so I wouldn’t have to bother you! I usually use an 8″ pan – so I am thinking double? As always, delicious recipe that I made for Thanksgiving and was requested again for Christmas! Hope you are enjoying the holiday season!

    • — Jackie on December 20, 2022
    • Reply
    • Hi Jackie, So glad these were a hit! I would make 1.5 times the recipe for a 9 x 13. 🙂

      • — Jenn on December 20, 2022
      • Reply
  • These are phenomenal! I toasted the pecans and used an 8″ pan. Turned out amazing, dare I say perfect. While eating I forgot everything around me😅…sooooo yummy!
    You never disappoint. Thank you Jenn. Blessings💕

    • — Niti on December 19, 2022
    • Reply
  • Blessings! Absolutely love your recipes. Would this work in a 9″ round pan?

    • — Niti on December 19, 2022
    • Reply
    • So glad you like the recipes, Niti! 🙂

      I’ve never made these in a 9-inch round — they will be more challenging to serve in a round pan. That said, I think it will work but the bars will be thicker so they will need a bit more baking time — just keep an eye on them. Please LMK how it works out if you try it!

      • — Jenn on December 20, 2022
      • Reply
  • These taste absolutely amazing and are so easy to make.
    I made a batch for Thanksgiving and two batches for holiday cookie trays, and have received tremendous positive feedback about them. I haven’t had any trouble with a crumbly crumbly crust; I wonder if those who did didn’t press it firmly enough into the pan? My topping was also nice and firm. I cut them into 1-1.25 inch squares since they are so rich.

    • — Lauren Hidalgo on December 16, 2022
    • Reply
  • I have made these three times. The first time someone said best dessert ever. Second time great success too. Third time: I was rushed. I don’t know what I did but I attribute it to the rush — came out crumbly. Will definitely make again — but no more rushing.

    • — b on December 15, 2022
    • Reply
  • Easy to make and the resulting confection is way more than the sum of its parts. I do suggest that after cooling (which takes awhile) and then cutting, refrigerate the cookies to firm them up. BTW, I cut them into 20 squares. These are so rich that smaller bites are better.

    • — Diana on December 11, 2022
    • Reply

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