This is one of the most popular seasonal deserts across the united states. Pecan pie recipes have remained relatively unchanged since its inception in the 19th century except for the use of corn syrup instead of dark sugar–based syrup or molasses in more modern recipes. Here‘s a quick look into the sweet hickory seed that makes up such a significant part of Texan Culture.
The Pecan Nut
Pecan nuts are the seed of particular species of hickory called Carya illinoinensis. They come into season from early October through to the first few weeks of December. Pecans are the only commercial nuts cultivated in Texas and can be found in nature in most of the state‘s river valleys. Texas comes in at close second to Georgia when it comes to pecan production.4 Pecans are some of the most expensive nuts in the world. The trees they come from can take up to a decade to mature and start producing nuts. After Hurricane Michael hit Georgia and overturned fields of pecan trees, the low supply caused the price to go up to as high as $8 per pound.
We have a whole grove of information on the Pecan in our TexasRealFood Promptuary, from its history, fun facts, trivia and even local Texas Pecan Groves and businesses where you can get the best pecans in season.
How to Make Pecan Pie Filling
For more flavorful pecans, roast them in the oven at 350°F for 15 minutes
Pecan pie filling used to be made from dark sugar syrups or molasses. These days corn syrup is a far more common base for pecan pie since its popularization by Karo, one of the largest corn syrup manufacturers in the US. This pecan pie filling consists of:
- 1/4 cup of butter
- 1 cup of brown sugar
- a blend of spices (1 tsp cinnamon, 1/2 tsp salt, and 1/4 tsp of ground nutmeg and ginger)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup of corn syrup
- 4 eggs
- 2 cups crushed pecans
To make the filling melt the butter in a non–stick pan and whisk in the brown sugar with 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract with the cup of corn syrup (add a few tablespoons of bourbon if you feel like it, just remember to cook off some of the alcohol.) Whisk well then set into a glass bowl to cool before adding the eggs and combining until smooth.
Fold in 2 cups of crushed pecans and prepare to fill your pie crust. While you mix your pecans into the pie filling you can add all sorts of other delicious fillings. Caramel chunks, chocolate chips, almond extract, butterscotch chips, even coconut and banana (known as a sawdust pie) are common fillings.
How to Make a Pie Crust
You have to blind bake a pie crust to make a decent pecan pie. This just means you pre-bake the pie crust in a hot oven before filling it with the pie filling. This makes sure the crust doesn‘t get soggy and gives it a bit of a head start on the filling. Check this out if you want detailed instructions on how to make and blind bake pie crust.
The basis of and pie dough is flour, butter, and water at a ratio of 3:2:1. Add up to a teaspoon of salt, some sugar for flavor and color, and some lemons juice to prevent it from shrinking. Make sure the butter is cold by placing it in the freezer for 1–2 hours so you can grate it down into shavings. You can also just dice the butter into small cubes and use the old method, just make sure you have a sharp knife.
Evenly coat all the butter in a bowl containing the flour, salt, and sugar whisked together. Replace around 1/3 of the water you use with lemon juice, pour into the flour and butter mixture, and use a butter knife to roughly combine. Dump it onto your countertop and bring it together with your hands. Form a ball or a disk, wrap the dough in cling film and rest it in the fridge for at least an hour (or up to 2 days).
Take your pie crust out of a fridge and roll it out on a floured surface until the crust is around 2 quarters thick. Lift the crust into the pie dish and shape carefully. Place the shaped pie crust into the fridge for at least another hour then preheat your oven to 350 °F. Add a ring of parchment paper into your cold, rested pie crust, then add 1 ½ pound of pie weights, making sure plenty are pushed against the edges. Bake the pie crust for 20–25 minutes, remove from the oven and allow it to cool.
How to Garnish & Bake a Pecan Pie
Once you‘ve made your filling, preheated your oven to 350 °F, and filled your pie crust, you can garnish your pie with pecan halves. Simply drop them onto the surface round side up. Your filling should be able to float the nuts on top of it.
Bake the pie uncovered for 25–35 minutes or until the pecans start to darken. Remove it from the oven, cover it with foil and bake for another 20 minutes to avoid burning the pecans on top. Let the pie cool for at least 25 minutes before cutting into it to make sure the filling has set properly.
Top your pecan pie with whipped cream or if you added another filling like I recommended early, top, and garnish with that. A caramel or chocolate drizzle over pecan pie is one of my favorites.
1 Pie crust
1/4 cup unsalted butter
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup of corn syrup
2 cups crushed pecans
1/2 cup whole pecans
- Roll out the rested pie crust, fit it into your pie dish, then rest in the fridge for an hour.
- Preheat your oven to 350°F, line your pie with parchment and fill with pie weights.
- Bake the pie in the preheated oven for 20-25 minutes.
- Start the filling by melting the butter in a nonstick frying pan. Whisk in the brown sugar, spices, and vanilla extract then whisk to combine.
- Add a cup of corn syrup, whisk until well combined and smooth then pour into a glass bowl to cool for 15 minutes.
- Once cooled whisk in the eggs and 2 cups of crushed pecans then fold to combine.
- Fill your pie crust, top with pecans then bake the pie in a 350°F oven for 25-30 minutes.
- Remove from the oven, cover with foil, then bake the pie again for 20 minutes.
- Let the pie cool for at least 20 minutes before cutting into it and serving.