Classic Pecan Pie Recipe

Honey, brown sugar, vanilla, and roasted nuts give this pie deeper, richer flavor and lots of crunch.

Overhead shot of classic pecan pie, ready to be cut and served at the table.

Serious Eats / Vicky Wasik

Why It Works

  • The pecan-custard filling strikes the right balance: a plentiful amount of chopped and whole nuts, with just enough egg to set and slice well.
  • Toasting the pecans intensifies their flavor.
  • Fashioning an aluminum foil shield and placing it over the filling toward the end of baking protects the layer of whole pecans, preventing them from getting burnt.

I've always enjoyed mixing it up when it comes to holiday baking, throwing a pumpkin cheesecake or frozen mousse into the Thanksgiving mix to keep things fresh and interesting. And yet, in spite of my adventurous nature, there is one standard dessert that must be on the table for the final course; a classic, unadulterated pecan pie. It's a non-negotiable that may as well have been included in my wedding vows, "In sickness, or in health, I will bake thee a pecan pie on Thanksgiving."

But in the sea of holiday stress and fuss, a pecan pie is akin to a baking vacation.

Fair enough, there is a pie crust to contend with, but I'm confident that as a Serious Eater, you're a pro at that by now. Each year, when I pull down the right notebook of recipes, I'm always happily reminded of how deceptively simple this pie is to make.

Overhead shot of unbaked pie crust and filling ingredients for pecan pie.

Serious Eats / Vicky Wasik

You start by making a shaped and chilled bottom pie crust. You have the option of partially blind baking it first, if you prefer it to be well-done (as I do). You may also choose to reserve a cup of the whole pecans to lightly place on the top of the filling just before the pie goes into the oven.

During baking, remember to place patches of aluminum foil over the top of the filling or the crust if you're concerned that either are looking a little too dark.

Cutting a folded triangle of aluminum foil to form a circular shield for the pecans.

Serious Eats / Vicky Wasik

To fashion a foil shield to protect the nuts, start by folding a sheet of aluminum foil in half, then into quarters. Fold the quartered foil into a triangle, then again into a smaller triangle. Place the center of the triangle at the center of the pie, then cut the foil with a pair of kitchen shears at the edge of the filling.

The foil shield is unfolded and fits perfectly over pie filling.

Serious Eats / Vicky Wasik

Recipes for pecan pie vary based on textural preferences. Those with more eggs will set up with a firmer caramel filling; those with less will be more runny. Some recipes call for lots of nuts, resulting in a pie that's chock-full from top to bottom, while those with less create a double-layered effect, with nuts rising to the top of the filling. Some enjoy the addition of molasses, or choose to add a healthy dose of vanilla, bourbon, honey, or maple. There are tons of recipes out there to suit every taste, but if you're looking for a great classic recipe, feel free to borrow mine.

Close-up of finished pecan pie.

Serious Eats / Vicky Wasik

November 2011

Recipe Facts

4.5

(2)

Active: 90 mins
Total: 4 hrs
Serves: 8 servings

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Ingredients

  • One half recipe Easy Pie Dough

  • 3 eggs, beaten

  • 2 tablespoons honey

  • 1 cup light corn syrup

  • 1/4 cup brown sugar

  • 4 tablespoons melted butter, cooled

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

  • 3 cups toasted pecans (2 cups roughly chopped and 1 cup left whole)

Directions

  1. Adjust oven rack to lower middle position and preheat oven to 375°F (190°C).

    Roll pie dough into a circle roughly 12-inches in diameter. Transfer to a 9-inch pie plate. Using a pair of kitchen shears, trim the edges of the pie dough until it overhangs the edge of the pie plate by 1/2 an inch all the way around. Fold edges of pie dough down, tucking it under itself, working your way all the way around the pie plate until everything is well tucked. Use the forefinger on your left hand and the thumb and forefinger on your right hand to crimp the edges. If a well-done crust is desired, you may chill and blind bake it before proceeding.

    20201103-pecan-pie-shell-vicky-wasik
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, honey, corn syrup, brown sugar, melted butter, salt, and vanilla. Whisk for approximately 30 seconds, until the mixture is homogenous and slightly frothy.

    Step 2: Keep Whisking!

    Keep whisking until the mixture is homogenous and a little bit frothy. This will help incorporate air into it so that the filling strikes a balance between gooey and light.

    .
  3. Line pie crust with chopped pecans, reserving the whole ones. Press down slightly so chopped pecans embed in the dough. Pour the filling mixture over the pecans, then gently place the whole pecans in concentric circles on the top, taking care not to press too hard, which will cause the nuts to sink into the filling.

    20151017-pecan-pie-vicky-wasik-step3
  4. Bake pie for 40 minutes, rotating half way through baking. Continue baking, shielding the exposed nuts with aluminum foil if they threaten to burn (see instructions for fashioning a foil shield in the intro above). When finished, the filling should be slightly jiggly, but mostly set and puffed slightly, about 1 hour total. The filling should register between 175 and 180°F (79 to 82°C) on an instant-read thermometer. Allow the pie to cool at room temperature for at least 2 hours and up to overnight before serving.

    Finished pecan pie, ready to serve.

    Serious Eats / Vicky Wasik

Special Equipment

9 inch pie plate, instant-read thermometer (optional)

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Nutrition Facts (per serving)
732 Calories
48g Fat
74g Carbs
8g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 8
Amount per serving
Calories 732
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 48g 62%
Saturated Fat 11g 56%
Cholesterol 85mg 28%
Sodium 440mg 19%
Total Carbohydrate 74g 27%
Dietary Fiber 5g 18%
Total Sugars 45g
Protein 8g
Vitamin C 0mg 2%
Calcium 57mg 4%
Iron 2mg 12%
Potassium 242mg 5%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)