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

You may also like

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.

See more recipes:

Reviews & Comments

  • Delicious- everyone loved them

    • — Laurie L on November 26, 2020
    • Reply
  • These were easy to make and sooooo delicious!!! Will be making these again!

    • — Jenna on November 26, 2020
    • Reply
  • fantastic. better than pecan pie.

    • — charrington on November 26, 2020
    • Reply
  • Hello! I am making these tomorrow. Can I use whipping cream instead of heavy cream? It’s what I have on hand and I would hate to go out to the store tomorrow with all the chaos last minute shoppers lol! Thanks for the recipe!

    • — Kay on November 25, 2020
    • Reply
    • Sure – enjoy!

      • — Jenn on November 25, 2020
      • Reply
  • These are amazing and so simple to make. I didn’t have enough pecans so I used mostly walnuts. They are so delicious, this is a keeper. Thank you Jenn for another spectacular recipe!!

    • — Michelle on November 24, 2020
    • Reply
  • Jenn, this recipe was delicious! My entire family loved it and it came out perfectly, I had no problems at all. I followed the instructions exactly and it turned out amazing! Thank you 🙂

    • — Tara on November 24, 2020
    • Reply
  • This was the best dessert I’ve ever made! I did double it and used a 13×9 and it was perfect. I’ll make these again and again and again!

    • — McKenzie on November 23, 2020
    • Reply
  • Incredible!!

    • — Susie on November 22, 2020
    • Reply
  • I made these last night and yes they are wonderful! As far as any changes go on my part… The one thing that stands out to me is that it’s very buttery to the point it’s almost waxy and for me and hard to eat more than a very small square. I will definitely make this again but I’ll try reducing the 2 1/2 sticks of butter to maybe 2 and see if it’s a bit lighter. Thank you for such a lovely recipe Jenn! I have your book too in my display of cookbooks! ❤️

    • — Luanne on November 22, 2020
    • Reply
  • I need to make this a 9×13, I saw the suggestion to use 1.5 ingredients, but I want them thick. Could I double and what would the cook time be? Could I add coconut? If so, would I need to change anything else?

    • — Laura on November 22, 2020
    • Reply
    • Hi Laura, I’d stick to the 1-1/2 times the recipe as these will already be a bit thicker in a 9 x 13 pan. And I’d avoid using the coconut as I’m not sure the bars will hold together with it included. Hope that helps and that you enjoy!

      • — Jenn on November 24, 2020
      • Reply
  • Can I replace the heavy cream for coconut cream? And use vegan butter?

    • — Maria on November 22, 2020
    • Reply
    • Hi Maria, I haven’t tried this with either of those so I can’t say for sure, but a few other readers have commented that they’ve used alternatives like that and have been happy with the results. Please LMK how they come out if you try it!

      • — Jenn on November 23, 2020
      • Reply
  • Would it be ok to use dark brown sugar instead of light?

    • — Zach on November 21, 2020
    • Reply
    • Yep 🙂

      • — Jenn on November 22, 2020
      • Reply
  • Hi Jenn,
    My husband loves Bourbon pecan pie. What do you think about adding a bit of bourbon to the pecan mixture?
    Just wanted you to know that I have made so many of your recipes and have loved them all!!!

    Happy Thanksgiving,
    Patty

    • — Patty Wojnar on November 21, 2020
    • Reply
    • Hi Patty, I think 1 to 2 tablespoons of bourbon would be wonderful here. I’d love to know how it turns out if you try it. 🙂

      • — Jenn on November 22, 2020
      • Reply
  • Dear Jenn,
    I am having a big party this year and have flunked pecan pie two years in a row! I was going to try your pecan pie this year and make it my last attempt. Then I saw these! I think I want to try this instead esp as there’s no corn syrup which is hard to source here. I will 1.5x it in a Pyrex 9×13 right? How many days ahead can I make them? And I loved the idea of bourbon in your pie….Can I knock out the vanilla here and add a few tablespoons of bourbon? Thank you!

    • — StephDownUnder on November 19, 2020
    • Reply
    • Yes, you can make 1.5 times the recipe for a 9 x 13, it would be fine to replace the vanilla with some bourbon, and they will keep well for 3 to 4 days. Hope you enjoy!

      • — Jenn on November 20, 2020
      • Reply
  • I don’t have a food processor… will a blender work? This looks really good and easy enough for even me to make!

    • — Sarah on November 19, 2020
    • Reply
    • Hi Sarah, You can mix it by hand. Just put the flour, corn starch, Confectioners sugar, and salt in a bowl and whisk to combine. Add the butter and, using a pastry blender or two knives, “cut” the butter in until the mixture resembles a coarse meal with pea-size clumps of butter. Hope you enjoy!

      • — Jenn on November 20, 2020
      • Reply
  • YUM! My favorite pie is actually pecan so when I saw this recipe, I was excited. I made a batch and OMG it was so delicious that instead of just taste testing it like I usually do then wrap up for later, I ended up eating 3 of them. This recipe is a keeper.

    • — Dianne on November 19, 2020
    • Reply
  • Hi Jenn – I’d love to make these for a friend of mine but she doesn’t eat real sugar. Have you had any good results using sugar substitutes? Thank you.

    • — Kim Furzer on November 19, 2020
    • Reply
    • Hi Kim, I wish I could help but I’ve never worked with sugar substitutes so I can’t say how it would impact the recipe. I’d love to hear how it turns out if you try it with one!

      • — Jenn on November 20, 2020
      • Reply
    • I use Serve in cookies and I don’t notice a difference. I haven’t made this recipe but I’m happy using a sugar alternative

      • — Patricia on November 21, 2020
      • Reply
      • It’s spelled Swerve. Darn auto correction!

        • — Patricia on November 21, 2020
        • Reply
      • Hi Do I need the heavy cream or can you leave it out?

        • — Carolyn on November 25, 2020
        • Reply
        • Hi Carolyn, I’ve never made these without the cream but I think they would still work.

          • — Jenn on November 25, 2020
          • Reply
        • Hi Jenn,
          Wondering if I could replace pecans with walnuts in the recipe? Would it change the flavor drastically? Asking because walnuts are cheaper haha.
          Thank you!
          June

          • — June on March 24, 2021
          • Reply
          • Sure, June, walnuts will work here. Hope you enjoy!

            • — Jenn on March 24, 2021
  • I have been making a very similar version of these for many years and like many other reviewers, they are my husband’s all time favorite. Jenn’s recipes are great and I know you will love these.

    • — Beverley on November 19, 2020
    • Reply
  • Is it possible to please recipe adjustments to make this recipe in a 9×13 pan?

    • — Gay Lee Freedman on November 19, 2020
    • Reply
    • Hi Gay, you can use a 9 x 13 dish, but I’d make 1.5 times the recipe. Hope that helps and that you enjoy!

      • — Jenn on November 19, 2020
      • Reply
  • Wow, wow, wow!
    Perfect as is. Easy to make. Don’t change a thing.

    • — Gail on November 18, 2020
    • Reply
  • Can I use parchment paper instead of foil? Also, can I add chocolate chips to the recipe?
    Thank you.

    • — Martha Daley on November 15, 2020
    • Reply
    • Yes and yes 🙂

      • — Jenn on November 15, 2020
      • Reply
  • This recipe made me look good.
    Delicious

    • — Terry Morgan on October 30, 2020
    • Reply
  • Awsome

    • — web on October 19, 2020
    • Reply
  • I made this recipe for a group event. They look and smell wonderful! I haven’t tasted one yet; I’m looking forward to eating some in a few hours at our event. I plan to try more of your recipes. Thank you for sharing!

    • — Presbytera Mary Zubricky on October 15, 2020
    • Reply
  • My husband loves when I bake this! He says it’s better than any other pecan dessert he’s ever had 🙂

    • — Koko on October 5, 2020
    • Reply
    • Can I sub half & half for the heavy cream? Will it be 1:1 ratio?

      • — Koko on November 7, 2020
      • Reply
      • Sure, that should work. Hope you enjoy!

        • — Jenn on November 10, 2020
        • Reply
  • Oh no – I just made a critical mistake I fear. I added to cream BEFORE I started melting the butter and sugars and boiled them. Will this ruin it?

    • — Paulette on September 20, 2020
    • Reply
    • I’m probably weighing in too late to help, but I think it should’ve been okay. How did they turn out?

      • — Jenn on September 21, 2020
      • Reply
  • Do you think it would be ok to mix light brown & dark brown sugar in this recipe? I don’t have enough of either to make 3/4 cups, but together I might.

    • — Dana on September 4, 2020
    • Reply
    • Yep – hope you enjoy!

      • — Jenn on September 4, 2020
      • Reply
      • Ok, going to try out this recipe right now!

        • — Dana on September 4, 2020
        • Reply
  • Really delicious and lighter tasting than some other recipes which is a nice change. I’m also really happy to see this dessert with honey instead of corn syrup, which I hate to use. I would love to also find a similar recipe for pecan pie that uses honey. The recipes that use molasses instead of corn syrup don’t work, molasses is too strong and cloying a flavor for the delicate pecans. But this one does it. I only have an 8 inch square pan and used that with no issues. I will definitely make this again.

    • — John on August 19, 2020
    • Reply
  • Hi! I love this recipe and have made it a couple times. My concern is that every time I have made it, the shortbread part comes out very flat, oily and does not have enough substance to it. Is there a way I can fix this? It definitely still tastes amazing though!

    • — Priscilla on August 17, 2020
    • Reply
    • Hi Priscilla, Sorry you’ve had a bit of a problem with these. When putting the crust in the pan, you want to press it down firmly but don’t apply so much pressure that it gets too compact as that may be causing the flatness. Also, I think you may benefit from cutting the butter back a bit. Next time you make these, reduce the butter in the crust by 2 tablespoons. Hope that helps!

      • — Jenn on August 18, 2020
      • Reply
  • I made this last night and it was absolutely delicious. It tastes like pecan pie on a square! Yum!!!

    I have a few questions, Jenn. Is the cornstarch absolutely necessary? What is the purpose of that?

    And why powdered sugar instead of regular sugar? Any reason for that?

    Thanks again. I am a huge fan of yours.

    • — Lucy Conway on August 10, 2020
    • Reply
    • Hi Lucy, so glad you like the recipes! You can replace the cornstarch with more flour if you’d prefer but both the cornstarch and the powdered sugar help to make the crust more tender. Hope that clarifies. 🙂

      • — Jenn on August 11, 2020
      • Reply
      • Okay, thanks. I didn’t know that. That is why it is so delicious. 😋

        • — Lucy Conway on August 11, 2020
        • Reply
    • How long will these squares last?

      • — JoAnn on September 27, 2020
      • Reply
      • Hi JoAnn, they keep well for 3 to 4 days. Enjoy!

        • — Jenn on September 28, 2020
        • Reply
  • Made these today, came out perfect.

    SOOOO DELICIOUS!!!

    Definitely adding to obe of my favourites

    • — Carol Evans on August 6, 2020
    • Reply
  • Just a quick question before I make these do u lightly spray the aluminum foil before placing the crust in so they don’t stick or can I use the no stick aluminum foil or is there enough butter so they don’t stick I just didn’t want them to stick or make them too greasy

    • — Mary Moore on July 3, 2020
    • Reply
    • Hi Mary, You do spray the foil with nonstick cooking spray before you put the crust in. I’ve never used nonstick foil, but I suspect it should work. Hope you enjoy!

      • — Jenn on July 4, 2020
      • Reply
  • Omg these are fantastic!! Best pecan bars i have ever tasted!! I doubled the recipe and put in 13×9 pan and they came out perfect!!! I will be making recipes from your site from now on!! Thank you!!

    • — janet on June 28, 2020
    • Reply
  • These things are amazing – like a cross between pecan pie and baklava on a shortbread crust. Heavenly!!

    • — Jane S. on June 14, 2020
    • Reply
  • Easy Recipe. I had everything on hand. And…. they are DIVINE! This recipe is a keeper. The pecans from top to crust remind me of my Grandma’s pecan pie. 🙂 Thanks Jenn!

    • — Rebekah W on May 29, 2020
    • Reply
    • Well, I had a 10”x10” pan so I increased the ingredients by half and no pecans so I used walnuts. Still as amazing as always!!

      • — Elizabeth on June 18, 2020
      • Reply
  • Amazing!!! Made the recipe exactly as written and it was perfect! The only problem was I didn’t make them ahead of time and my guests couldn’t wait for them to cool down! ;p Thank you for sharing your recipe with such detailed instructions 🙂

    • — ShaynaKatics on May 26, 2020
    • Reply
  • Delicious!!

    • — Ely on May 18, 2020
    • Reply
  • The recipe calls for a 9inch square foil lined baking pan. Can I use a Pyrex baking dish and would that affect the cook time?
    Thank you!

    • — Ely on May 13, 2020
    • Reply
    • Sure, Ely, that should work with no modifications. Hope you enjoy!

      • — Jenn on May 13, 2020
      • Reply
  • loved the recipe except for the fact that it was a little dry due to the amount of pecans.I would definitely make it again but with my own revision
    Thank You

    • — cathy cook on March 30, 2020
    • Reply
  • Fantastic!! Even I can bake these. I’ve made them 3 times and had many requests for the recipe.

    • — Gail S on March 21, 2020
    • Reply
  • Good Night Nurse these are amazing! Totally different than pecan pie imho. Delicious! Baking is good therapy. Time to bake some more NOW!
    Thanks Jen for another stellar recipe 😋

    • — Gina on March 16, 2020
    • Reply
  • I made these today and they turned out extremely greasy like the melted butter was poured over the top. Could to much brown sugar cause this, when you don’t say packed brown sugar is it measured loosely? I lightly packed brown sugar. Or could over baking them cause the grease? Even with them dripping in grease I paper toweled them off and they still are delicious but I would like to try again and get it right.

    • — Karyn on January 29, 2020
    • Reply
    • Hi Karyn, sorry you found them to be a bit greasy. I don’t think the brown sugar would cause this (and it actually should be packed – I’m going to add that to the recipe). If you make them again, try cutting the butter back (for the crust) by 2 Tbsp. I suspect that should help.

      • — Jenn on January 31, 2020
      • Reply
      • I actually just made it and had the same problem. The whole bottom of the pan underneath of the aluminum foil was soaked in butter. I had to put it in the fridge to firm up as it was falling apart when I was trying to cut. I don’t know what I did wrong 🙁 however the taste is still fantastic. Thank you

        • — Vivian on June 3, 2020
        • Reply
    • Hi Karyn, I had the same exact problem! I thought I followed the recipe exactly but when I took mine out of the over it seemed like it was sitting on a pool of melted butter. The taste was amazing but I don’t know where I went wrong!

      • — Melanie on November 25, 2020
      • Reply
  • Made these again this weekend for a friend that has a dairy allergy. I subbed cold coconut oil for the butter in the crust and caramel. I also used coconut cream in the caramel as well. It turned out great and my friend was close to tears after one bite as she feels so left out over the holiday 😋

    • — Christiane on January 11, 2020
    • Reply
    • Did you use coconut oil in the pecan mixture as well?

      • — Debi on January 13, 2020
      • Reply
  • Made these using Black Walnuts and sub Cane syrup for the honey. They came out great with a rich low country flavor!

    • — Christiane on January 8, 2020
    • Reply
  • I made these this morning to bring to a New Years Day gathering. They are so good that I’m not going to want to share them! I used gluten free King Arthur Measure for Measure flour for the crust, and it came out very well. The crust is tender and held together when I cut them into squares. I will try Better Batter or Cup 4 Cup gf flour next time to compare. I have lots of gf alternatives in my pantry! Thank you, Jenn, for your delicious recipes.

    • — Alene on December 31, 2019
    • Reply
    • Did you ever try the cup for cup to compare? I’m going to try baking a gluten free version and wonder which is better

      • — Ely on May 13, 2020
      • Reply
  • These are wonderful! One of the best things I have ever baked. Made them twice for the holidays and they disappeared quickly! The balance between the shortbread crust and the pecan topping is perfect. Definitely a keeper!

    • — SierrasMom on December 30, 2019
    • Reply
  • The taste was great but they did not really hold together. What could be the issue?

    • — Olga on December 29, 2019
    • Reply
    • Hi Olga, You mentioned they didn’t hold together. Are they crumbly when you go to slice them or is the filling gooey/not set?

      • — Jenn on December 30, 2019
      • Reply
  • Wow Jenn, these are fantastic! Easy recipe using basic ingredients with extraordinary results. Everyone enjoyed these over the holidays. Everything I’ve made from your recipes has always been a hit. Thanks so much!

    • — Paul Lenhard on December 27, 2019
    • Reply
    • 😊

      • — Jenn on December 27, 2019
      • Reply
  • I took these to a Thanksgiving celebration at my son’s fire station. They were a huge hit. The firefighters couldn’t stop raving about them. I sent them a plateful for Christmas and they were greatly appreciated. These are so delicious!!

    • — Josette Schwartz on December 25, 2019
    • Reply
  • Hi Jenn! I don’t like using aluminum foil to bake. Can I use parchment paper instead?

    • — Betty on December 22, 2019
    • Reply
    • Sure, Betty – that’s fine. 🙂

      • — Jenn on December 23, 2019
      • Reply
      • Thank you! I have tried at least 10 of your recipes and they are all delicious. Also, your cookbook is absolutely fabulous!

        • — Betty on December 23, 2019
        • Reply
        • ❤️

          • — Jenn on December 23, 2019
          • Reply
      • I do t have cornstarch could i skip it?

        • — Mackenzie Thomas on December 25, 2019
        • Reply
        • Yes, you can replace with more flour. Enjoy!

          • — Jenn on December 25, 2019
          • Reply
    • Has anyone used walnuts instead of pecans?

      • — Zora on December 31, 2019
      • Reply

Add a Review or Question

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.