Pecan Squares

Tested & Perfected Recipes

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 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 over the holidays.

What you’ll need to make pecan squares

how to make pecan squares

How to make pecan squares

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 20 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

  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour, spooned into measuring cup and leveled-off
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 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 packed 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. 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.

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Reviews & Comments

  • This is the best recipe I have ever made. I am not a baker….love to cook but hate to measure. I rarely make anything sweet but have had to make 3 batches of this in 3 weeks because my husband, friends and family love it! Simple to make and elegant with a cup of tea. Thank you Once Upon a Chef!!

    • — Meg on January 10, 2021
    • Reply
  • These squares were delicious. By far the favorite of the Christmas baking I did this year. I didn’t have a 9 x 9 pans so the filling was a bit thick, I’ll buy the proper size pan before I make them again.

    • — Sharron White on January 3, 2021
    • Reply
  • These are so perfect! I’m never making my tried and true pecan pie recipe again. This was so much easier and tastes delicious. Another great recipe. Thanks Jen!

    • — Lisa on December 23, 2020
    • Reply
  • I don’t have 9-inch pan can I use 8×8?

    • — Shirley on December 21, 2020
    • Reply
    • Sure, Shirley, that should work. Enjoy!

      • — Jenn on December 22, 2020
      • Reply
  • I make several kinds of candy and cookies to plate up as gifts to neighbors, and this year added these pecan squares to the mix. Everyone loved them. One neighbor cracked me up when he offered the suggestion that I should tell people to eat the pecan squares last, because otherwise they made all the other items seem “just ok”. They totally upstaged everything else on the plate! Next year I’ll just make these! Lol!

    • — Monette King on December 20, 2020
    • Reply
  • These are outstanding – I agree with some that they’re better than pecan pie. I noticed some complaints from other reviews of the bars not “holding together,” and if it’s what happened to a small section of my last batch, it’s because you need to make sure the pecan mixture is equally enveloped in the caramel over the entire surface. Some of the liquid distributed thinner on one end of my pan so when I cut the squares, the topping on that side didn’t stick to the shortbread and separated easily – but still just as delicious!!

    • — Madeleine Marco on December 16, 2020
    • Reply
  • Hi Jenn – to get the best of both worlds 🙂 How much bourbon (like your pie) would you add to this recipe and when? Thanks!

    • — Rita on December 16, 2020
    • Reply
    • Hi Rita, I’d just replace the vanilla extract with bourbon. Please LMK how they turn out!

      • — Jenn on December 17, 2020
      • Reply
  • Better tasting and easier than pecan pie. I thought this would not be enough for a crowd and debated doubling, but found a little goes a long way from the party I brought them too. Lots of compliments. Can’t wait to make again!!

    • — Monica C. Scheurer on December 7, 2020
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  • Delicious recipe! My family loved it. I did reduce sugar in the filling and it was still delicious. This will become a family favorite! Thank you!

    • — Erika on November 27, 2020
    • Reply
  • These were perfect in place of pecan pie. So delicious.

    • — Maggie M. on November 27, 2020
    • Reply

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