BEST Pecan Pie Recipe

The BEST Pecan Pie recipe is foolproof and perfect every time, with an abundance of toasty pecans floating on a thick, glossy filling in a flaky, all-butter pie crust!

Best Pecan Pie Recipe with text overlay.

Back when I first met my husband, it didn't take me long to learn that pecan pie was his favorite dessert of all time. No birthday cake for him. Cookies were meh. Pumpkin pie who? The man only had eyes for pecan pie.

And as luck would have it, that was about the only baked treat that I could not manage to perfect. Every pecan pie recipe I attempted to make for him was a flop. If the top was perfect, the interior was runny. If the inside gelled, the top was burnt. They tasted okay, but they never set up correctly. WHY WAS MASTERING PECAN PIE SO DIFFICULT?!?!

Close-up of the Best Pecan Pie recipe.

It didn't help that my husband's Nanny made what was widely known as the best pecan pie of all time. The filling was sweet, thick, and glossy...yet not cloying and not overly firm. The crust was unbelievably thin and flaky. And the pecans were so finely chopped that the top of the pie was like a crunchy shellac that crackled when sliced.

And on Thanksgiving and other holidays, she typically baked my husband his very own pie and slipped it to him when nobody was looking.

I had a lot to live up to here. And so far I couldn't even manage a semi-passable pecan pie.

One slice removed from dish.

The Inspiration

But then one fine fall day -- after trying every recipe from the one on the back of the Karo bottle to a fancy one from Epicurious -- I finally turned to America's Test Kitchen. And even though their steps were slightly more involved than stirring together the filling and pouring it into the crust, my pecan pie turned out perfect for the first time ever!!! {insert all of the celebratory emojis here}

Finally...SUCCESS! My pecan pie was positively perfect. It set up beautifully and had scrumptious flavor and amazing texture. My husband said nobody's pie had ever come close to his Nanny's...but this one was (blasphemy!) EVEN BETTER.

Needless to say, I chucked all of those other pecan pie recipes out the window and I've been making this one ever since. I've made a few small modifications, the primary one being that I very finely chop the pecans the way my husband loved them in his Nanny's pies. But overall, the steps in this BEST Pecan Pie recipe make it foolproof...it turns out perfect every. Single. Time.

Slice of Best Pecan Pie on white plate with fork.

How to Make the BEST Pecan Pie

The ingredients here are pretty standard. The main thing that sets this pecan pie recipe apart from others is cooking the filling over a double-boiler until it reaches a certain temperature. I believe that this step is what ensures a filling that always sets perfectly. And honestly, it only takes a few extra minutes.

Best Pecan Pie recipe served with coffee.

  1. I always start out by making my all-time favorite Foolproof Flaky Butter Pie Crust. It's seriously the best (and easiest!) homemade pie crust ever, in both taste and texture. Since there's some waiting/chilling time between the steps in making the homemade crust, I typically make the crust the day before to give it adequate time to chill before rolling it out.
  2. I also always toast and chop my pecans ahead of time. Because my hubby likes the pecans in teensy-tiny little pieces, I have to admit that chopping the pecans is probably the most time- and labor-intensive step in making this pie. (And it's still not difficult!) So I usually chop pecans while my pie crust-lined pan is hanging out in the freezer so that the nuts are ready to go come pie-making time.
  3. When I'm ready to assemble my pecan pie, I roll out the crust, line it with foil, fill it with pie weights, and partially bake it off.
  4. While the crust is in the oven, I set a large bowl over a simmering pot of water and proceed to make the filling. You can use either light or dark brown sugar and light or dark corn syrup. I feel like using the darker options results in more depth of flavor, but since I typically try to use organic corn syrup, I can usually only find that as light. So I usually make my Best Pecan Pie recipe with dark brown sugar and light corn syrup.
    Filling cooking in double boiler with wooden spoon and thermometer.
  5. Once the filling has cooked for a few minutes and reached 130°F on an instant-read thermometer, I remove the bowl from the heat, stir in the pecans.
    Bowl of filling ready to pour into crust.Then I pour the filling into my hot, partially baked pie shell.
    Best Pecan Pie ready to go into oven.I lower the temperature of the oven, pop in the pie, and let 'er rip!
  6. A little less than an hour later -- when the center of the pie is only very slightly jiggly -- the pie is done! The final secret to success is resisting temptation and allowing it to set and cool before slicing.Close-up after baking.

See? Easy peasy!

How to Freeze Pecan Pie

The beauty of this recipe is that -- despite the fact that it has multiple steps and takes a bit of time from start to finish -- all of those steps are amazingly easy and worth the effort since they guarantee consistent results. But don't think that those steps have to slow you down on Thanksgiving or Christmas or whenever else you'd like to serve The BEST Pecan Pie...because you can make it well ahead of time!

Close-up of interior.

  • After your pie is completely cool, simply wrap it tightly. I like to cover the top with a layer of Press-n-Seal and then carefully wrap the whole thing in a double layer of heavy-duty foil.
  • Then the day before I need it, I transfer the pie from the freezer to the refrigerator to thaw overnight.
  • And just before serving, I let the pie come to room temperature and then pop it in the oven for 10 minutes or so for that fresh-baked appeal.

Voilà! Fresh baked pecan pie...except all of the work was done days (or weeks) ago!

So who's ready for a foolproof-to-make, delectable to-eat pecan pie? After you try it, I think you just might join me in crowning it "the BEST" Pecan Pie recipe!

Bite of Best Pecan Pie recipe on a fork.

Helpful Tips, Tricks, & Equipment

  • I flute the edges of my pie by pressing the thumb of my left hand into the edge of the crust pushing outward, and using the thumb and pointer finger from my right hand to mold the crust around my left thumb. I repeat this all the way around the crust to give it a "ruffled" edge. Alternatively, you can press the tines of a fork against the dough all the way around the pie to flatten it against the pie plate.
  • If you don't have metal or ceramic pie weights to help your crust hold its shape while partially baking, you can use a bunch of dried beans. I have a big bag of dried black beans that I reuse every time I bake a pie because I never can remember to buy pie weights. Just be sure the fill the pie all the way to the top if using dried beans since they don't weigh as much as pie weights. (But now that I just found y'all a link for pie weights, I'm going to order some right now!)

Close-up of surface of pie.

  • To prevent the edges of the crust from getting too brown during the baking time, I always use a pie crust shield up until the end of the baking time. Then I remove the shield to let the edges turn golden during the last 10 to 15 minutes of baking time. A thin border of aluminum foil works, too...it's just harder to quickly remove in the oven and more likely to fall off getting the pie in and out of the oven.
  • Even though I finely chop the pecans in my pie, feel free to roughly chop yours or even leave them whole, if that's your preference.
  • If you have a double boiler, you may use that instead of a bowl set over a pot of simmering water to make the filling.
  • I use a probe-type digital thermometer to check the temperature of my filling.
  • If you decide to make your pecan pie ahead of time and freeze it, it's probably best to enjoy it within two months.

Best Pecan Pie recipe, two-photo collage with text.

More Yummy Thanksgiving Desserts

The BEST Pecan Pie.

BEST Pecan Pie Recipe

The BEST Pecan Pie recipe is foolproof and perfect every time, with an abundance of toasty pecans floating on a thick, glossy filling in a flaky, all-butter pie crust!
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 35 minutes
CHILLING TIME: 1 hour
Total Time: 2 hours 55 minutes
Servings: 8 servings
Calories: 568kcal
Print Pin Rate

Ingredients

  • 1 (9-inch) Flaky Butter Pie Crust , OR your favorite homemade or store-bought pie crust
  • 6 tablespoons (¾ stick) unsalted butter, sliced
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 3 eggs
  • ¾ cup corn syrup
  • 4 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 2 cups pecan halves or pieces, toasted and finely chopped

Instructions

  • Roll out the pie dough to a 12-inch circle and carefully transfer it to a pie plate. Trim the dough to extend about ½-inch past the edges of the pie plate; fold under the overhang and flute the edges of the crust to your liking. Refrigerate the dough-lined pie plate for 40 minutes and then transfer to the freezer for 20 minutes.
  • Place the oven rack in the lower-middle position of the oven and preheat the oven to 375°F. Remove the pie plate from the freezer and press a double layer of heavy-duty aluminum foil into the pie shell, folding over the edges so that the entire crust is covered. Fill the foil with pie weights and bake for 25 minutes. Take the pie plate out of the oven and carefully remove the foil and pie weights by holding the corners of the foil and lifting up. Return the pie crust to the oven and bake for 5 more minutes until light golden brown.
  • While the pie crust is in the oven, set a medium to large heatproof bowl over a pot filled with several inches of water. Place the butter in the bowl and bring the water in the pot to a simmer. Once the butter is melted, remove the bowl from the pot (use oven mitts and be careful not to lean over the steam!) and stir in the brown sugar and the salt until well combined. Beat in the eggs, corn syrup, and vanilla until fully incorporated. Place the bowl back over the pot of simmering water and stir continuously until the mixture is hot, shiny to the touch, and reaches 130°F on an instant-read thermometer (just be sure the thermometer is measuring the temperature of the filling, not touching the bottom or side of the bowl). Remove the bowl from the heat and stir in the chopped pecans.
  • As soon as the pie plate comes out of the oven, adjust the oven rack to the middle position and reduce the oven temperature to 275°F. Give the pecan mixture one last stir and pour it into the hot pie shell.
  • Bake the pie for 50 to 60 minutes, or until it's set yet soft, like gelatin. Transfer the pie to a cooling rack and allow to cool for at least 4 hours (or completely) before slicing and serving.

Notes

To toast the pecans, preheat the oven to 350°F. Spread the pecans on sheet pan and bake for 7 to 9 minutes or until fragrant and lightly toasted, watching carefully to prevent burning. Allow to cool before chopping.

Nutrition

Calories: 568kcal | Carbohydrates: 66g | Protein: 6g | Fat: 34g | Saturated Fat: 9g | Cholesterol: 84mg | Sodium: 285mg | Potassium: 181mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 53g | Vitamin A: 365IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 60mg | Iron: 2mg
Made this recipe? I'd love to see on IG!Mention @FiveHeartHome or tag #FiveHeartHome!

 

Very slightly adapted from Baking Illustrated.
Post originally published on November 21, 2018.

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11 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    I don't bake. Ever. That's my sister's thing. But this year, I was asked to bring pecan pie by my aunt who is the only person who eats pecan pie at Thanksgiving. I have never made pecan pie. I have also never made a pie crust from scratch.

    They just came out of the oven, but...I freaking NAILED IT. I made the dough a couple days in advance and except for grating my frozen butter for the crust, I followed the recipe to the letter.

    This is it, y'all. This is the perfect first-timer's pecan pie recipe.

  2. 5 stars
    The original ATK recipe has a variation to use maple syrup instead of corn syrup, and it is DELICIOUS! I love pecan pie, and this has been my favorite ever since I discovered it. I always get raves when I make it. If anybody is not crazy about maple flavor, don’t worry - you can’t taste the maple. Maybe if you had a very strong syrup you could, but nobody has been able to detect it in mine.

    Variation: Maple Pecan Pie
    Omit the corn syrup, and substitute 1/2 cup granulated sugar for all of the brown sugar. Reduce butter to 4 tablespoons, and pecans to 1 1/2 cups. (I keep the original 2 cups.) Whisk 1 cup maple syrup into the mixture with the eggs.

  3. What would happen if you skipped the pre-baking of the pie crust and just baked with filling? Yes, I'm lazy.

    1. Hi Susie! I've only made this recipe to the letter (because my pecan pies have never turned out any other way). 😉 If you don't pre-bake this crust, it's likely that it will turn out soggy and the filling may end up undercooked. But I can't say for sure as I haven't tried it with this recipe, so please let us know how it turns out if you decide to give it a go! 🙂

      1. Thanks for the quick reply. We had the pie tonight and my hubby declared it the best ever. It really was perfect. I’m not changing a single thing. Thank you!

  4. This looks and sounds delicious! Thanks for sharing such a great informative post. It's really helpful and amazing so keep it up! All the best.