No Southern Thanksgiving could be complete without the presence of a rich, flavorful pecan pie on the holiday table. If you're looking for a no-fail, easy pie that delivers in both flavor and simplicity, you've come to the right place. This is everything you need to know and more to bake the most delicious Pecan Pie the South has ever tasted.
Today, we'll cover what it takes to bake the absolute best Pecan Pie, starting with a simple recipe overview, and moving into essentials like why baking the pie at a low temperature matters, why dark corn syrup is the way to go (and what to do if you're out of it), tips for even-cooking, how to tell when the pie is really done, plus storage and freezing tips!
PECAN PIE THAT'S NOT TOO SWEET
Pecan Pie is a Southern classic, and regardless of whether or not you look forward to seeing it, if you hail from the South, you know the holiday would be incomplete without it.
People typically either love it or could go without it for a lifetime. The main complaint of nay-sayers being the pie is over the top sweet. So how about a recipe that suits all parties? One that pleases both the lovers and the haters.
Oh yes, this is an easy Pecan Pie perfectly balanced with just the right amount of sweet and a texture everyone will adore. Those who already loved it are about to love it even more. And, those who thought they could live without it are now going back for seconds.
HOW TO MAKE EASY PECAN PIE FROM SCRATCH
Pecan Pie is one of the easiest pies out there to make. There's very little prep involved, and aside from a little chopping and whisking, there's nothing to it.
EASY PECAN PIE RECIPE QUICKVIEW
- Blind bake the pie crust.
- Whisk together filling ingredients.
- Add pecans and filling to the pie shell.
- Bake, rotating the pie half-way through.
BAKE PECAN PIE AT A LOW TEMPERATURE OR ELSE...
Pecan pie filling is actually a custard, consisting mostly of sugar, butter, and eggs. Because custard turns out best baked at a low temperature, pecan pie should, therefore, be baked at a low temperature. This prevents the eggs from overcooking and your filling from becoming grainy in texture.
Baking the pie at 300° guarantees your filling ingredients will meld together seamlessly, ultimately ensuring a perfectly smooth and creamy, easy pecan pie filling. And, this leads us into the first step of our recipe -- blind baking.
WHY WE BLIND BAKE THE CRUST
Pecan Pie crust is made with standard pastry pie crust. You can make it from scratch using my 10-minute recipe for Perfect, Flaky Pie Crust, or use a store-bought pie disc. Typically, pastries are cooked at a high temperature, however as we just discussed, our easy Pecan Pie filling is best cooked at a low temperature. This is where blind baking comes in.
Blind baking the pie shell gives the pastry a headstart in the oven, ensuring it will be fully cooked when the pie filling is fully baked. Don't worry. It's an extra step, but it's a seriously easy one.
UMMM...WHAT'S BLIND BAKING, AGAIN?
Blind baking is a simple process of covering an uncooked pie crust and baking it. To do this, the pie crust is typically lined with aluminum foil (I prefer to use nonstick aluminum foil for this) and loaded down with pie weights. The pie weights keep the crust from bubbling up and ensure a perfectly level pie crust. If you do not own pie weights, you can use uncooked beans or rice grains to keep your pie weighted down.
The pie shell goes in the lower third of your oven and bakes for 20 minutes or so.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT PECAN PIE FILLING
Pecan Pie filling is rich and creamy with a caramel-like flavor and a texture similar to pudding or creme brulee...that is, if either one of those were full of glorious, crunchy pecans.
The filling consists of two sweeteners, corn syrup and brown sugar, as well as melted butter, eggs, vanilla extract, and salt. To make the filling, all you have to do is whisk those ingredients together. How's that for Easy Pecan Pie?
PECAN PIE WITH DARK CORN SYRUP IS BETTER AND HERE'S WHY...
Light and dark corn syrup are interchangeable in recipes, but they don't necessarily impart identical flavors. That's straight from the horse's mouth at Karo.com. Dark corn syrup has a deeper flavor profile and comes from molasses. Light corn syrup has a much lighter flavor, a likeness to a sweetened vanilla.
The flavor of molasses pairs extremely well with pecans, and for pecan pie, dark corn syrup really is ideal.
SUGAR SUBSTITUTIONS FOR EASY PECAN PIE
If you only have light corn syrup, you can still make this Pecan Pie, as it will not affect the structure of the pie, only the flavor. Using light corn syrup will cause your pie to be less rich and milder in flavor. Wamp, wamp, wamp. However, if you only have light syrup on hand, try using dark brown sugar in the place of light brown sugar in this recipe. Even if you don't have dark brown sugar to sub in, it's still okay to use light corn syrup.
Many Pecan Pie recipes call for toasting the pecans prior to adding them to the pie, which imparts a crunchier texture and also brings out the oil in the pecans, intensifying the flavor. While I would typically promote this practice, this is an easy Pecan Pie recipe, and therefore, we will forego toasting the pecans.
Don't worry. This pie is flavorful enough as it is, and you certainly won't be missing anything. However, if you'd like to go the extra mile for your special occasion, you can find quick and easy instructions for toasting nuts here.
You might have noticed this recipe calls for chopping some of the pecans and leaving others whole. This is for both texture and aesthetics purposes. The bottom layer will consist of chopped pecans, which adds a lovely variation in texture and a pleasing bite. The pecans in the top layer are left whole, which makes for a beautiful topping that will have guests making your pie their very first stop at the dessert buffet.
TIPS FOR THE OVEN AND A PERFECTLY BAKED PIE
Once the pecans are added to the pie shell, you'll pour the filling across the top and bake the pie. Because the pie is baked at a low temperature (which as we now know, ensures a perfect custard filling), it will be in the oven for just under an hour. Rotating the pie halfway through the baking process is a good practice and ensures even cooking, as some parts of your oven likely cook hotter than others.
Another good practice is to add a pie shield to your pie halfway through the cooking process. This prevents to crust from over-browning. If you don't have a pie shield, you can create one using doubled-over strips of aluminum foil and placing them across the crust.
HOW TO TELL WHEN PECAN PIE IS DONE
The best tool for determining whether or not your pecan pie is ready is a simple spoon. Take the back of the spoon and gently press it against the center of the pecan pie. Now, imagine if you were pressing the back of that very spoon against a serving of jello. If the pecan pie yields similar to the way gelatin would yield, it is ready. If the spoon easily dips into the center with no resistance at all, it is likely not done yet.
Pecan Pie continues to cook even after it comes out of the oven. This is why you should pull it while it still has a teensy bit of jiggle left to it, and yields slightly to the back of a spoon.
Also note, your pecan pie is not ready the moment it comes out of the oven. Just like custard, it needs to cool and set. This typically takes about 2 hours at room temperature so be sure to plan ahead. If your pecan pie is runny, not giving it enough time to properly set is likely the culprit. Underbaking the pie could also cause the filling to be runny.
PECAN PIE STORAGE AND FREEZING TIPS
Pecan Pie will keep well for up to four days covered in the refrigerator. However, if you'd like to preserve your pie for longer, you can freeze it.
To freeze Pecan Pie whole, wrap the whole dish with plastic wrap a couple times, and then wrap with two layers of aluminum foil. To freeze slices of pecan pie, add it to a snug, airtight, freezer-safe storage container and seal it, separating each piece with little sheets of wax paper to prevent them from sticking together. Your pie will be good for up to 2 months in the freezer.
The holiday crowd is already expecting to see a Pecan Pie this Thanksgiving, may as well make it a really good one. This recipe is guaranteed to deliver for you in every which way: A foolproof, easy Pecan Pie that everyone will love...and, I mean everyone. It's a pecan pie that's not too sweet, yet not too far off from what the aficionados would expect from their favorite rendition, and it was perfectly designed for your Southern holiday. Please, enjoy.
5 MORE PIE RECIPES YOU'LL LOVE
- Homemade Pumpkin Pie is creamy, flavorful, and loaded with big pumpkin spice flavor! It's another no-fail recipe, equipped with tips for avoiding a gritty texture and cracks across the top of your pie.
- Cap'n Crunch No-Bake Peanut Butter Pie is a masterpiece of flavors with a Cap'n Crunch pie crust and creamy, no-bake peanut butter filling! Top it with whipped cream and get ready to wow the crowd!
- Apple Crisp Pie is loaded with layers of perfectly cooked, cinnamon apples and with a crunchy, golden oatmeal crumble that's easy to make and perfect for any holiday!
- Stand-Up Chocolate Pudding Pie is a decadent, rich and silky chocolate pudding pie made from scratch with real chopped chocolate and a homemade pie crust. It is the best chocolate pie in the world!
- Double-Crust Homemade Apple Pie is a classic pie you can't go wrong with! With a gooey, cinnamon apple pie filling and a flaky, buttery crust enclosing the whole shebang.
Easy Pecan Pie with a rich, flavorful filling featuring dark corn syrup and brown sugar.
- 1 disc homemade pie crust or store-bought pie crust
- 2 cups pecan halves
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- 1 cup dark corn syrup
- ½ cup light brown sugar
- 3 large eggs, slightly beaten
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- ¾ teaspoon fine sea salt
Preheat the oven to 400° and have a rack in the lower third of the oven. Have ready a 9" pie dish.
If using a homemade pie crust, flour both sides of a pastry disk and set atop a floured work surface. Begin rolling out the disk until it is about an ⅛" thick and 12" in diameter.
Gently situate the pie crust in the dish and crimp the edges as desired. Line the pie with nonstick aluminum foil and add pie weights.
Place in the lower third of the oven and bake for 20 minutes. Once the pie shell comes out, carefully remove the foil and weights and begin on the filling.
Reduce the oven temperature to 300°.
Roughly chop a ¾ cup of the pecan halves and set aside. Whisk together butter, corn syrup, sugar, eggs, vanilla, and salt.
Scatter the chopped pecans across the crust, and top with the remaining pecan halves. Pour the filling evenly across the pecans and transfer to the oven.
Bake for 55 minutes in the center of the oven. Rotate the pie halfway through the cooking process. If needed, add a pie shield or strips of aluminum foil across the crust to prevent over-browning.
Remove from the oven and allow to cool. Allow the filling to set, about 2 hours, before serving.
If you are unsure about the doneness of your pie, gently press the back of a spoon against the center of the pie. The pie will yield like jello/gelatin if it's done.