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Recipe: Make these delicious pecan pie bars to serve at your next get-together

A detail shot of a pan full of pecan pie bars.
Photo by Cathy Thomas
A detail shot of a pan full of pecan pie bars.

Warning: This recipe yields a lot — 24 servings of scrumptious pecan pie bars. That’s good news if you’re treating a crowd. Think Super Bowl party, or church potluck. It’s an impressive “pie” to feed the masses.

The bars fill a sheet pan, a 13-by-18-inch wonder with a 1-inch rim. The formula is from Molly Gilbert’s “Sheet Pan Sweets” (Union Square and Company). A sweet, press-in piecrust lines the bottom and sides of the sheet pan; it’s filled with a maple-y pecan concoction.

This recipe uses a lot of egg yolks. Egg whites don’t need to go to waste. They can be easily frozen and thawed for future use (best to use them within 2 months of freezing). Freeze each egg white in an ice cube tray for easy measuring, and then transfer to either a freezer bag or container. Delectable meringue cookies come to mind.

Pecan Pie Bars

Yield: 24 servings


6 cups pecans, coarsely chopped


1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature

3/4 cup granulated sugar

2 large eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

4 cups all-purpose flour

1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt

3 tablespoons cold water


1 1/2 cups pure maple syrup

1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar

3/4 cup heavy whipping cream

6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, cut into 5 or 6 pieces

1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt

2 tablespoons unsulfured molasses (not blackstrap)

9 large egg yolks

Cook’s notes: Author Molly Gilbert writes that the bars will keep, tightly covered, in the refrigerator up to a week.


1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees with wire rack in middle position.

2. Spread the pecans in an even layer on a sheet pan and toast in the oven for about 6 minutes, or until fragrant. Remove from oven and allow pecans to cool for about 15 minutes, then transfer to a large bowl. Reserve sheet pan.

3. Make crust: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or a large bowl with a handheld mixer, cream together the butter and granulated sugar until fluffy and light. Add 2 eggs and vanilla and beat until smooth. Add the flour and salt; mix on low speed until crumbly dough forms. Add the cold water, 1 tablespoon at a time, mixing on low speed until a smooth dough comes together. Press dough evenly against the bottom and up the sides of the sheet pan. Chill in refrigerator while you make the filling.

4. In a heavy-bottomed medium saucepan, combine syrup, brown sugar, cream, butter, and salt. Warm over medium heat, stirring gently, until butter has melted, about 8 minutes. Remove pan from heat and allow to cool for 10 minutes. Whisk in molasses and egg yolks, whisking until smooth.

5. Scatter pecans evenly over bottom of the chilled crust and gently pour the filling over the nuts, making sure it reaches all the way to the corners of the pan. Carefully transfer the pan to the oven and immediately reduce the temperature to 325 degrees. Bake the pie bars for 25 to 30 minutes, until the crust is light brown, and the center just barely jiggles. Allow bars to cool completely in the pan, about 40 minutes. Cut into bars.

Source: “Sheet Pan Sweets” by Molly Gilbert (Union Square and Company).

Award-winning food writer Cathy Thomas has written three cookbooks, including “50 Best Plants on the Planet.” Follow her at @CathyThomas