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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Comments

  • Just made these for the second time – they’re delicious! I love how caramely the pecans are, and the crust is so easy and buttery. When I first made these, I was thinking I wanted a filling more similar to pecan pie, but now I am hooked on these.
    Make sure to refrigerate the crust and pre-bake it!

    • — Sami on January 19, 2022
    • Reply
  • This did not work out for me. The crust was crumbly and disintegrated after cutting. I did not have a food processor and used a pastry cutter, so not sure if that has something to do with it. But it was dry when I pressed into the pan like it says in the instructions.
    I also cut the topping filling to 2/3 based on what some of the other reviews said, and that was a good ratio.

    • — Graciela on December 27, 2021
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  • Oh my gosh!! The absolute best pecan squares I’ve ever had! I made them for Christmas dinner, and they were a hit. I had one at breakfast the next morning too.
    I followed the recipe exactly, including refrigerating the crust before baking it and letting it cool before filling it. The crust was a perfect shortbread, not greasy as others have described. I used a dark brown sugar bc it was all I had, and the filling was rich and delicious!! This is my new favorite dessert bar! Thanks so much Jenn!

    • — Ashley Foster on December 26, 2021
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  • Made the Pecan Shortbread Squares for Christmas. My husband loved them & I enjoyed too. Not as sweet as a Pecan Pie, I will definitely make again.

    • — D Grayson on December 26, 2021
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  • These are the best Pecan squares I’ve ever tasted. This recipe is a keeper. Thank you for sharing.

    • — Ana on December 26, 2021
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  • The pecan topping was simple to prepare and delicious. I was expecting the crust to be buttery, however, as others have noted, the crust was greasy with a heavy aftertaste.

    • — Ann on December 26, 2021
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  • Hello Jen,

    Should the butter for the short bread crust be cold when added to the food processor? Or room temperature? I plan on making these today can’t wait to try them. Thank you for the great recipes.

    Rose

    • — Rose on December 23, 2021
    • Reply
    • Hi Rose, It should be cold. Enjoy!

      • — Jenn on December 23, 2021
      • Reply
  • Mine set up nicely but there was way too much butter in the crust. I believe that gave them a heavy, greasy taste. I won’t make these again.

    • — Tish on December 18, 2021
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  • Hi Jenn
    I want to make these for a Christmas celebration with family coming in this Saturday, can i make them today or is that too early?
    THank you so much!

    • — Melissa on December 8, 2021
    • Reply
    • Hi Melissa, these keep well for 3 to 4 days, so you should be okay. Hope everyone enjoys!

      • — Jenn on December 8, 2021
      • Reply
  • I think there is a miss print 12 tlbsp of butter is 3/4 of a cup I think not 1 1/2 sticks which is a a cup and a half. I will make them again. I’m sure with success.

    • — Corina scott on December 2, 2021
    • Reply
    • Hi Corina, You’re correct that 12 tablespoons of butter is 1-1/2 sticks, but it is 3/4 cup. See a chart here with the various measurements.

      • — Jenn on December 3, 2021
      • Reply
      • Is the mixture supposed to come out jiggly ? Mine is still not completely set and I’m not sure if I should cook it longer. Thanks !

        • — Ken on December 15, 2021
        • Reply
        • Hi Ken, I would stick it back in the oven for a few minutes.

          • — Jenn on December 15, 2021
          • Reply
  • I made these for Thanksgiving and people went mad for them. My very minor variation was a teaspoon of salt for salty caramel but that’s just my caramel kink.

    • — G on December 2, 2021
    • Reply
  • Just made these tonight. Taste is good but FAR too greasy. I mean, very very greasy. Also the proportion of crust to filling is off; need 2x the crust or 1/2 the filling. In addition, a bit more salt would better set off the pecans and caramel.

    • — Tamara Hutzler on November 28, 2021
    • Reply
  • How long do these take to set? Mine are runny and oily from the oven, I’m not sure this was a success.

    • — NYMinuet on November 27, 2021
    • Reply
    • They should take a few hours to fully set. How did they come out?

      • — Jenn on November 30, 2021
      • Reply
  • Made this instead of my usual chocolate pecan pie for Thanksgiving. I did sprinkle about a cup of chocolate chips on the base prior to adding the pecan mixture. Wow…so delicious- fabulous recipe!

    • — Mindy on November 27, 2021
    • Reply
  • Made these for thanksgiving because I didn’t want to deal with pie crust, and they were even better than pie! Plus the added bonus of being able to sample one before bringing them to the party! Can’t wait to make them again-
    also, i made them with pecan pieces from Trader Joe’s and then didn’t have the step of chopping the nuts—amazing as always, Jenn! Thank you!

    • — Raquel on November 25, 2021
    • Reply
  • These are amazingly delicious! The shortbread crust is so buttery and light and they really do taste like pecan pie! I used the food processor to chop the pecans but will chop by hand next time for chunkier bits. Thanks again Jenn for another fabulous recipe!!

    • — Linda on November 25, 2021
    • Reply
  • Hi Jenn,
    Quick question: Can I make your pecan squares with half and half instead of whipping cream? (Also I’m going to use 1 to 1 GF flour.)

    Many thanks and Happy Thanksgiving!

    • — Janna Bodek Harris on November 25, 2021
    • Reply
    • Hi Janna, Yes that should be fine. Please LMK how they turn out!

      • — Jenn on November 25, 2021
      • Reply
  • The recipe for the bottom crust layer calls for a stick of butter. But that’s way too much. My baked squares don’t hold together as the crust is too buttery and falls apart.

    • — M Pr on November 24, 2021
    • Reply
  • Can I use maple syrup instead of honey?

    • — GT on November 24, 2021
    • Reply
    • Yes that should work. Enjoy!

      • — Jenn on November 24, 2021
      • Reply
      • Hi,
        Can I bake them in a 8×8 glass pan?
        Also I want to mail them to Miami so should I freeze them before mailing or just bake and mail them.

        Thanks

        • — Rani Lohana on November 24, 2021
        • Reply
        • Hi Rani, Yes, an 8-inch pan should work. They may take a minute or two longer to bake so keep an eye on them. I wouldn’t bother to freeze them before mailing. Hope your recipient enjoys!

          • — Jenn on November 26, 2021
          • Reply
  • This looks delicious! Could maple syrup work in place of the honey?

    • — Alyssa on November 23, 2021
    • Reply
    • Yes, maple syrup should work. Please LMK how they turn out!

      • — Jenn on November 24, 2021
      • Reply
    • I didn’t think I was much of a pecan dessert person, but your bars have converted me. I found your recipe last minute. I knew they were just the ticket because I had a Costco sized bag of pecans that I wanted to try to use up.

      The shortbread was perfectly firm, somewhat flakey, melt-in-your-mouth delicious. The topping flavor was spot on. The texture had just the right amoumt of chewiness around the perimeter of the pan, but the center was slightly softer so I may keep the caramel on the stove an extra minute or so next time. This wasn’t a flaw, just a matter of preference. They still held up nicely and gave me no trouble when cutting them.

      The only tweak I made was to add an extra 1/2-3/4 tsp of salt to the caramel and to dust the top of the bars with powdered sugar before cutting. Next time I’ll make them with the normal amount of salt, but salted pecan bars were what I was going for this time and they were absolutely divine.

      These bars were the absolute dessert hit at my family’s Thanksgiving gathering. People sat quietly enjoying them, looking at them as they slowly chewed so as to appreciate every bite, and several “mmmm’s, wow’s, oh my goonesses” could be heard throughout the room. Not a single nibble was left bebind, but the homemade pumpkin cake and pumpkin cheesecake sat mostly untouched. People just wanted the bars! I should have made double.

      It was a real joy making this unique spin on pecan pie. They’re easier to eat and oh so much more tasty! All of the flavors and textures worked together beautifully. Thank you so much for sharing this. Added it to my Favorite Recipes folder. Hope you had a wonderful holiday!

      • — Tasha H. on November 26, 2021
      • Reply
  • These are amazing! Portable pecan pie – only better – more caramelly.

    • — Suz on November 23, 2021
    • Reply

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