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

  • Love this recipe! I make them every Thanksgiving – so much better than a pecan pie! They’re so buttery & everyone can just walk by the dessert table & pop one (or six!) in their mouth – no plate or fork needed!!

    • — Stacy Bratcher - Owensboro, KY on November 20, 2021
    • Reply
  • Could I just use sugar instead of confectioners? I don’t have it on hand

    • — Bekka on November 15, 2021
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    • Hi Bekka, I’d recommend sticking with the Confectioners’ sugar here. Sorry!

      • — Jenn on November 16, 2021
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    • Can you make these ahead and freeze them?

      • — Leslie on November 17, 2021
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      • Yep — see the bottom of the recipe for freezer-friendly instructions. Hope you enjoy!

        • — Jenn on November 17, 2021
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  • SO easy and SO delicious! Thank you for sharing the recipe!

    • — Amber White on November 12, 2021
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  • Hi Jenn,

    I love this recipe but I would like to make for a party of 30 people. Do I just double up on the ingredients? Or make two trays? Please advise.

    • — Lucy Conway on November 7, 2021
    • Reply
    • Hi Lucy, Glad you like it! I would make it in two separate pans. 🙂

      • — Jenn on November 7, 2021
      • Reply
  • Can I substitute arrowroot for the cornstarch?

    • — Janet on October 29, 2021
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    • Hi Janet, I haven’t tried it, but I think it should work. Please LMK how it comes out if you try it!

      • — Jenn on October 29, 2021
      • Reply
  • Hi Jenn, what temperature would you use for a convection oven and how much time should I reduce the baking time? My baking setting on the oven does not work properly so I just use the normal convection setting. Also, should I leave them on the lowest level of the oven rack or move them up a notch? Can’t wait to make these, thank you!!!

    • — Cathy on October 29, 2021
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    • Hi Cathy, When using the convection setting, the rule of thumb is to reduce the temp by 25°F. I think with the reduction in temperature, the timing will be about the same but keep a close eye on them. And I’d still put the rack in the center position in your oven. Hope you enjoy!

      • — Jenn on October 29, 2021
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  • Hello! Will the filling recipe work with Pate Sablee? If so, any tips on how to go about it? 🙂

    • — Bakecycle on October 13, 2021
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    • Yes, while I think it would work, the crust in this recipe is easier and more tender than a pate Sablée. If you do choose to go that route, I would blind bake it before adding the filling. Hope that helps!

      • — Jenn on October 16, 2021
      • Reply
  • Hi
    Can I use this base of the pecan bar recipe and filled with your apple crisp recipe and bake?
    Would this work? If so how long would I bake it for – 45 mins?

    • — Sara on September 26, 2021
    • Reply
    • Hi Sara, not having tried it, I can’t say for sure how it will come out but I think it should work. Keep in mind that the crust may not stay quite as crispy as it does with the pecan squares. And, yes, I’d guesstimate that you’d need to bake it for about 45 minutes. Please LMK how it turns out if you try it!

      • — Jenn on September 28, 2021
      • Reply
  • I just made these for a Celebration of Life reception for a friend who loved pecan pie. Followed the suggestion for 1 1/2 x the recipe in a 9×13 pan and they turned out great. I’m so happy I found your recipe so we could share our friends love of pecan pie in a shortbread form
    Thank you!

    • — Kris Frerichs on September 16, 2021
    • Reply
  • Can I use corn syrup in place of the honey?

    • — Sharon Prentice on August 28, 2021
    • Reply
    • Sure, that should work. Enjoy!

      • — Jenn on August 31, 2021
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  • Made these for a family bbq. They turned out perfect – so delicious. Great recipe.

    • — Sarah Bertrand on August 21, 2021
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    • Sent half a pan for my mother in law’s 86th birthday; she loves pecans and these are really special. They mailed well from TX to WA. Took 4 to the office. Took the rest to book club after freezing a few days. As usual, received rave reviews and I shared the recipe (and website) with all. Thanks Jenn

      • — Susan Shroyer on September 28, 2021
      • Reply
  • The pecan filling was good, but my crust was still mushy by the end of the last 20 min bake. I followed the recipe so I’m not quite sure where I went wrong.

    • — Mel on August 4, 2021
    • Reply
    • Hi Mel, sorry you had a problem with the crust! Did you refrigerate it before putting it in the oven? After removing it from the oven, did you let it cool?

      • — Jenn on August 5, 2021
      • Reply
  • I absolutely love pecan pie and wanted to find an easier way to achieve that flavor without spending all day in the kitchen. This is the way! Hands down the best pecan squares I have ever had. The crust is absolutely stunning. Reminded me of shortbread I haven’t had since I was a little girl. My husband has eaten almost all of them and says they are the best dessert he has ever had. Thank you!

    • — Ariana on July 22, 2021
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  • Followed the recipe exactly and it was so easy. Squares lifted out easily and cut very nicely which is always important! Delicious!!! Definitely a keeper. thank you!

    • — Jane on June 30, 2021
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  • Wow, these were amazing!

    • — Ellie Mastin on June 2, 2021
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  • Hi Jenn, made these yesterday (with all the pecans – walnuts are just as expensive) and they were really good! Left them to cool overnight and they turned out perfectly. Thank you!

    • — Ellen on May 20, 2021
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  • Hi Jenn, would like to try this recipe. Pecans are quite expensive here in Holland (3 euro’s for 100 gram). Could I use less? Thanks!

    • — Ellen McLoughlin on May 19, 2021
    • Reply
    • Hi Ellen, I wouldn’t recommend cutting back on the pecans as that would impact the ratios for the other ingredients in the filling. If walnuts are more affordable, they would also work nicely here. Hope that helps!

      • — Jenn on May 19, 2021
      • Reply
      • Thanks Jenn!

        • — Ellen on May 19, 2021
        • Reply
  • Can I replace cornstarch with flour? Or would that make it too dense? I dont have cornstarch but need to make this for tomorrow’s mother’s day…

    • — Sid on May 8, 2021
    • Reply
    • Hi Sid, I’m obviously weighing in too late to help – sorry! The cornstarch helps to make the crust tender, but you can get away with using flour instead.

      • — Jenn on May 10, 2021
      • Reply
  • Jen, the recipe looks amazing. Can you please tell me why there is whipping cream in the recipe. Thank you.

    • — Linda on April 27, 2021
    • Reply
    • Hi Linda, The cream helps bind the filling together. Hope you enjoy if you make them!

      • — Jenn on April 28, 2021
      • Reply
  • Mine came out pretty sticky – like toffee. I think the 3 minute stir/boil might have been too long for my mixture and I ended up with caramel. Still delicious but very sticky on the teeth.

    • — Heather Folino on April 26, 2021
    • Reply
  • This Pecan Square recipe was exactly what I was after. It’s rich, balanced, and beats our local bakery’s rendition! We’ll be enjoying this dessert forever!! (Especially incredible while warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream!)

    • — Kelly Heck on March 25, 2021
    • Reply
  • I made these again yesterday (I’ve baked them at least 20 times so far). Recipe is foolproof and the result is fabulous. They are like mini pecan pie squares, but sooo much better since they’re not cloyingly sweet. They last for a long time too. In short, the perfect dessert bar! 🙂

    • — Donna on February 1, 2021
    • Reply
  • These look delicious! I can’t wait to give them a try. I don’t have a food processor, is there something else you would suggest I use? Thanks so much.

    • — Elisha on January 31, 2021
    • 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 February 1, 2021
      • Reply
  • These are outstanding and quite easy to make. They also freeze extremely well. These were such a hit we added them to the cookies we give friends each year during the holidays.

    • — Andrea on January 31, 2021
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  • We all love pecan pie here, but don’t do well making them. I like to try baking during the winter months, and this one looked good, but was a fantastic find! Easy, quick, delicious! Nothing else to say, except for maybe doubling the recipe so they’ll last a couple of days! Thanks for the great recipe!

    • — Dave Boucher on January 31, 2021
    • Reply
  • I made these at Christmas to give away to friends and neighbors. They held up perfectly. I packaged them in a box, and they were a huge hit. This one will be on my Christmas rotation.

    • — Elaine on January 30, 2021
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  • This has become my favorite bar cookie. Every time I serve them they gets great reviews. I have drizzled dark chocolate on them to dress them up a bit. The shortbread crust makes them special.

    • — Sheila Handel on January 30, 2021
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  • Best pecan bars ever. I’ve made these with pecans, walnuts, and mixed nuts. Always fabulous.

    • — PS on January 30, 2021
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  • These are off the hook delicious! They were so delicious I included these cookies in my Holiday baking, cutting them just a bit smaller. I made up 40 lovely cellophane cookie bags for all my coworkers (It was a bit of love to my co-workers during this crummy Pandemic) Everyone loved these. Thank-you for sharing!

    • — Louise on January 30, 2021
    • Reply
  • Delicious! Like a pecan pie without making a pie crust. Easy to store, to cut and share with friends (which I did). I will definitely be making this again. Everyone loved it.

    • — Susan Bliss on January 29, 2021
    • Reply
  • Was looking for an easy dessert to prepare. This recipe is wonderful. Brought back sweet memories of pastry I would enjoy from a bakery that is no longer in business. It was the perfect buddy recipe (doing it with my baking buddy experimenting with new recipes). They are delicious, and so perfect with a cup of coffee or tea. I brought them into work, and noticed how the workers were wrapping them to take home. after first samplings. Great for potluck (just remember to bring copies of the recipe to share. These also froze great. For a warm just out of the oven texture, I microwaved them for about 10 seconds.

    • — AnnEllen Feltcorn on January 29, 2021
    • Reply
  • I made these pecan squares over the holidays and gave them as gifts to my family and friends. They absolutely loved them!!! The recipe is so easy to follow and comes together in no time. I added 1 1/2 tablespoons of bourbon to the pecan filling ,which in my opinion , put these squares over the top. Thanks Jen for another great recipe!

    • — Patty Wojnar on January 28, 2021
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    • Did you substitute the bourbon for the vanilla? or did you use both?

      • — Pearl McElheran on November 25, 2021
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  • These were a huge hit at Thanksgiving. My son in law said they were the best thing he ever ate! Easy and delicious, what more could you want?

    • — Joan G on January 28, 2021
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  • Hi Jenn! Oh my goodness! I made these Pecan Bars for Christmas and honestly, they were just the best!!! They were loaded with buttery pecans and a delicious shortbread bottom; two of my favs!!! They were moist and extremely flavorful! They have a wonderful shelf life also. I did not refrigerate them and kept them on my kitchen table the whole time and they never went bad. They were more delicious even as they sat. I tried to make them last a little while to savor the experience! These are definitely another of your delicious recipes that I’ll be making more of. We loved them!!!

    • — Evangeline on January 28, 2021
    • Reply
  • My husband is a huge fan of pecan pie but me, not so much. The pecan part is terrific, but I don’t care for the gooey part. These bars are pure sweet pecan and a tender base. I consider them more decadent than most other cookies and bars because of the nut/fat content so I don’t make them TOO regularly. Thta’s part of what makes them special and me adored, lol. My husband has declared it’s his new favorite holiday treat.

    • — Shelley on January 28, 2021
    • Reply
  • I make this for Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner every year since I found this recipe. So easy and so delicious! Everyone flocks around this and it disappears quickly. So good!

    • — Naomi on January 28, 2021
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  • I have made these pecan squares many times. This is my go to on the holidays and picnics. I use to many pecan pies, but sometimes only half the pie eaten, not these! They are so buttery, not runny or gooey, and the freeze well. My friends and family always ask for them.🙂

    • — Cheryl K. on January 28, 2021
    • Reply
  • These are seriously terrific! Less of a sugar bomb than a slice of pecan pie with all the pecan-loveliness. My daughter-in-law is just getting her baking wheels. Her comment was ‘this is the first time I’ve felt proud to serve my baking.’ While it’s perfect as is, I’ve also tried a batch with the zest of half an orange to the recipe for a twist.

    • — Melia Kelly on January 28, 2021
    • Reply
  • This sure satisfies that sweet craving and is a great option to serve with the lemon bars.

    • — Melle on January 28, 2021
    • Reply
    • These are awesome!
      It is portable pie! Can’t go wrong with that!

      Great recipe ❤

      • — Coco on January 28, 2021
      • Reply
  • made these last week they were the best I have ever made and I have made a lot!! most were either too hard, too sweet, or too sloppy. the crust melted in your mouth and the pecan filling was just the right consistency. the only change – I made I didn’t have honey so I used pure maple syrup, they did not last long at all. Can’t wait to try the lemon bars. I noticed they have the same crust ingredients. I know they will be delish!!! Thanks

    • — Jackie on January 23, 2021
    • Reply
  • 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
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  • 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
    • Reply
  • 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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