Pecan Squares

Tested & Perfected Recipes

This post may contain affiliate links. Read my full disclosure policy.

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

Pecan squares on a counter top.

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

Pecan square ingredients including corn starch, honey, and butter.

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.

Dry ingredients in a food processor.

Toss in the pieces of butter.

Butter in a food processor with dry ingredients.

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

Coarse butter and flour mixture in a food processor.

Dump the mixture into a foil-lined pan.

Flour and butter mixture in a foil-lined baking pan.

Then press firmly with your fingers into an even layer.

Pressed layer of flour and butter mixture in a foil-lined pan.

Bake until set but not browned, about 17 minutes.

Foil-lined pan with baked crust.

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

Sauce pan of butter, sugar, and flavorings.

Boil gently for a few minutes.

Sauce pan of boiling sugar mixture.

Then stir in the heavy cream and chopped pecans.

Pecans in a sauce pan with a butter mixture.

Spread the pecan mixture onto the baked crust.

Pecan mixture in a foil-lined baking sheet with a crust.

Bake until bubbling and caramel-colored.

Caramel-colored pecan mixture in a foil-lined baking sheet.

Cool completely, then transfer baked bar to cutting board.

large pecan square on foil.

Cut into squares with a sharp knife.

Cut pecan squares on foil.

Serve an enjoy!

Pecan squares on a counter top.

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

  • 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.

See more recipes:

Comments

  • I made these and they are falling apart.

    • — Elaine on December 7, 2022
    • Reply
  • Jenn,
    I love these! Everything turned out fine — I was worried after all the comments about problems with the shortbread but had no problem there. The only thing I wanted to ask about is that the pecan topping has an overwhelming butter taste and was a bit greasy. I was about a quarter cup short of pecans to make the 1.5x recipe for a 9×13″ pan. Could this have made the difference?

    • — Barbara on December 4, 2022
    • Reply
    • Sorry you had a bit of a problem with these! Yes, I think the missing quarter cup of pecans is what caused the problem.

      • — Jenn on December 6, 2022
      • Reply
  • I just made these pecan squares this afternoon for the first time and I believe that they are truly the most delicious thing I have ever eaten in my life! Absolutely decadent and rich.

    I made one small substitution: I replaced the honey with maple syrup because maple and pecans are perfection. Even without this substitution, this recipe is perfection.

    • — Lori on December 2, 2022
    • Reply
  • Superb! Also taste (too) great with my morning coffee.

    • — andi on November 27, 2022
    • Reply
    • LOL!

      • — Jenn on November 28, 2022
      • Reply
  • These are awesome! I used gluten free flour cup for cup and then gf bread flour instead of the cornstarch. Then parchment paper instead of foil. so much nicer.

    • — rskier on November 25, 2022
    • Reply
  • I agree with the other reviewers—these are yummy, but the crust is very greasy. For my second attempt, I reduced the butter in the crust by 2 tablespoons, and then for the topping I did a full stick of butter plus the 2 tablespoons I had from the crust. They turned out better as far as firmness and were a little less greasy. I don’t think you miss the extra butter in either element.

    • — Jill on November 24, 2022
    • Reply
  • The incorrect measurements for butter yielded a greasy mess and wasted valued ingredients. And not using corn syrup should have tipped me off. You owe me at least $10.00.

    • — UnclePete on November 24, 2022
    • Reply
  • Amazing!!!!!

    • — Marilyn Riemer on November 23, 2022
    • Reply
  • These bars just replaced pecan pie in our house. The best!

    • — Cindi on November 23, 2022
    • Reply
  • Will this recipe work with half & half?

    • — Lorie on November 20, 2022
    • Reply
    • Sure, Lorie, that should work. Hope you enjoy!

      • — Jenn on November 20, 2022
      • Reply
  • If using 13×9 pan and 1.5x ingredients, do any of the baking times need to be adjusted?

    • — Kristen on November 19, 2022
    • Reply
    • Hi Kristen, It may take a few minutes longer but not much.

      • — Jenn on November 20, 2022
      • Reply
  • It turned out beautifully, I would recommend! I am going to make instead of pecan pie for Thanksgiving.

    • — Sylvia LaFever on November 18, 2022
    • Reply
  • Hi Jenn,
    Could this be baked in a 9 x 13 inch pan if I one and a half times the ingredients? Thank you.

    • — Sharon on November 17, 2022
    • Reply
    • Yes, Sharon, that will work nicely. Enjoy!

      • — Jenn on November 18, 2022
      • Reply
  • Hi Jenn!
    Do you think I could add 1/2 cup chocolate chunks to the filling? Thanks!! best, SP

    • — SP on November 17, 2022
    • Reply
    • Sure – enjoy!

      • — Jenn on November 17, 2022
      • Reply
  • Would it be possible to dress these up with bourbon?

    • — Cathy Bruning on November 16, 2022
    • Reply
    • Hi Cathy, 1 – 2 tablespoons of bourbon would be great here. Please LMK how they turn out if you try it. 🙂

      • — Jenn on November 17, 2022
      • Reply
      • Hi Jenn. I have 2 questions:

        1. Can I assume the bourbon goes into the the pecan-carmel mixture?
        2. Can I brown the butter in the pecan-carmel mixture first before adding the remaining ingredients & then boil gently for 3 mins?

        I am trying to recreate your brown butter pecan pie in squares. This allows me to control the serving size better. Thank you so much for your website & all the work you do. Every recipe I’ve made from your website has turned out great. Best wishes to you & your family for a great Thanksgiving & holiday season.

        • — MRS on November 11, 2023
        • Reply
        • Thanks for your nice words about the recipes and happy early Thanksgiving to you and your family! And regarding to your questions, yes, the bourbon goes into the pecan caramel mixture, and you can brown the butter before adding the remaining ingredients. Hope you enjoy!

          • — Jenn on November 14, 2023
          • Reply
  • These are perfection! I followed the recipe exactly as written, and these came out exactly like the photo – and they taste delicious! They came out of the pan and cut easily. I had to sneak one of the bars before freezing for Thanksgiving, and already know that this recipe is a keeper.

    • — Jill on November 15, 2022
    • Reply
  • I mistakenly added the cream to the topping liquid before melting and boiling the butter and sugars (the recipe says to add the cream after that stage with the nuts). The recipe worked well and the bars taste good but the filling looks cloudy. Do you think in effect boiling the cream made this happen? Thanks

    • — Barbara T on October 23, 2022
    • Reply
    • Hi Barbara, I wouldn’t think that what you did would make the filling cloudy, but if that’s the one change you made to the recipe, that would be the only logical explanation. Hope you enjoyed them!

      • — Jenn on October 25, 2022
      • Reply
  • It tasted good but I used way too much butter, everything is measured in cups but the butter is in TBSP, why, I read it wrong ☹️

    • — Vennessa on October 23, 2022
    • Reply
  • I’m typically not a big fan of desserts with nuts but I totally make an exception for these bars. They are to die for!! Thanks Jenn for another fabulous recipe.

    • — Lyne H on October 20, 2022
    • Reply
  • My husband had been asking for pecan pie and I bought a store made one. What a disappointment as it was all sugar and crust and only scant layer of pecans on top. I just made this recipe today and the crust was easy and just the bottom layer to support all those pecans!
    And no corn syrup! They are cooling now and hope I can wait until completely cooled to eat them! Thank you!

    • — maureen on August 20, 2022
    • Reply
  • These were delicious! I came across too many pecans in my pantry and made a double batch. Thankful I did, these were amazing! Thank you for sharing the recipe. I was nervous about them setting because I never have heavy cream (only FLife nonfat milk on-hand). This was a great recipe that can easily be made from items I always have- no corn syrup!

    • — Jess L on August 8, 2022
    • Reply
  • I am not seeing the pan size used in this recipe?? Please.

    • — Colleen on July 27, 2022
    • Reply
    • Hi Colleen, You’ll need a 9-inch/23-cm square baking pan. Hope you enjoy!

      • — Jenn on July 27, 2022
      • Reply
  • I had half a bag of chopped pecans that was wasting away in my cupboard when I went looking for a recipe. Thus, I found this lovely site. First thing’s first, thank you for not overembellishing this recipe. When I look for recipes, I want the instructions, the ingredients, and the process. (Not the chef’s life story, I’d read a cooking/chef blog for that, but I want the recipe and the recipe only)

    This site gave me everything I wanted without having to skim through twenty paragraphs of nonsense and made it simple to follow along to boot. Big ol’ thank you for that one.

    Secondly- These are also outright delicious. I messed up and used granulated sugar instead of confectioner’s sugar because my reading comprehension isn’t that great these days. They still turned out great. I don’t have a food processor, but I will be buying one as soon as I can out of propriety’s sake. Although it was easy enough to smash the shortbread dough to the right consistency with my hands.

    I didn’t have enough pecans for the full recipe, but it still turned out perfectly fine. Even my mother, a woman of few words- went back for seconds. She also said more than once. “These smell amazing!’, so I applaud you for that, for it’s not an easy feat.

    These were super easy and super quick to make. I will be scouring this website for more recipes in the near future.

    Thank you so much for bringing me back to my love for baking. And for being awesome!

  • I just made them with the assistance of my wife who is not a big fan of nuts. Well “not a big fan” no more. she loved them and needless to say, they were disappearing before I got them in the fridge. A five star ***** recipe. thank you for your contribution.

  • Made this pecan squares twice recently! Recipe is so easy to follow, not time consuming, results are always yummy, so scrumptious! Thank you!!

  • Used maple syrup instead of honey.

    • — Nik lopoukhine
    • Reply
  • Very very delicious. Everything was perfect BUT the pecan filling is really hard to break apart. Do I need to microwave before serving to soften up the carmel filling? I will make again as they are really good. Didn’t change anything and the crust was delish! Thank you.

    • Glad you liked them but sorry that they were hard to cut. It sounds like the filling was a bit overcooked. If you really can’t cut through them, you could try to microwave them for a short period to heat/soften the filling up.

  • Followed the recipe exactly. Did put in quite a healthy pinch of salt to balance the sweetness. These are sinfully delicious! Turned out perfectly. Thank you for the recipe. Will definitely make again.

  • Simply perfection! Nutty, rich caramel and buttery. I made mine in an 8″ pan and it worked out wonderfully.

    • Thanks! I was looking for this answer because I don’t have a 9” 😊

  • I made these pecan shortbread squares and they are delicious. Everyone loved them. Will definitely make them again.
    Thanks so much
    Sandy

  • 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!

  • 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.

  • 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!

  • 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.

  • These are the best Pecan squares I’ve ever tasted. This recipe is a keeper. Thank you for sharing.

  • 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.

  • 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

    • Hi Rose, It should be cold. Enjoy!

  • 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.

  • 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!

    • Hi Melissa, these keep well for 3 to 4 days, so you should be okay. Hope everyone enjoys!

  • 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.

    • 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.

      • 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 !

        • Hi Ken, I would stick it back in the oven for a few minutes.

  • 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.

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

    • They should take a few hours to fully set. How did they come out?

  • 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!

  • 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!

  • 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!!

  • 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
    • Reply
    • Hi Janna, Yes that should be fine. Please LMK how they turn out!

  • 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.

  • Can I use maple syrup instead of honey?

    • Yes that should work. Enjoy!

      • 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

        • 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!

          • They were absolutely delicious, and arrived intact in Miami! Rani has introduced me to your wonderful recipes. This year I made your pecan squares for Diwali, and all my friends loved them to pieces, pun intended! Going to make them for the Holidays for special friends.
            Thanks for a wonderful recipe.

            • — Uma Jethani on December 6, 2022
          • Glad they arrived and that Rani enjoyed them — thanks for taking the time to follow up! 🙂

            • — Jenn on December 6, 2022
  • This looks delicious! Could maple syrup work in place of the honey?

    • Yes, maple syrup should work. Please LMK how they turn out!

    • 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!

      • I didn’t do the round, I ended up using an 8″ square and they were a little thicker than your pics but I’m not complaining lol! As you see I made them before you replied…I couldn’t wait with my craving self. They are dangerous in the best possible way. Thanks Jenn💕

        • — Niti on December 20, 2022
        • Reply
        • LOL — glad they worked out and you enjoyed them!

          • — Jenn on December 21, 2022
          • Reply

Add a Comment

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