Southern pecan pie is the best Thanksgiving dessert! The class pie flavors plus bourbon and maple syrup. Make this recipe for the holidays!
Add a delicious twist to a classic pecan pie recipe with a splash of bourbon and the caramel flavors of maple syrup and brown sugar.
For a grab-and-go alternative, make some pecan pie bars. They’re baked on a sheet pan for easy cutting, and they’ll make a delicious addition to your holiday dessert table.
Be sure to make a creamy chocolate pumpkin pie for the pumpkin pie lovers. It’s a unique option that is sure to please!
Southern pecan pie
The only significant (and oh-so-delicious!) difference between a traditional pecan pie recipe and this southern beauty is the addition of bourbon and sweet maple syrup. Those ingredients are definitely delicious game-changers.
Ingredient notes and substitutions
Note: This is just a partial list of ingredients. For the full ingredient list, see the recipe card at the bottom of this post.
- Butter – Use unsalted butter so you can more easily control the amount of salt in the recipe. If all you have on hand is salted, reduce the amount of salt in the crust by half and omit it from the filling altogether.
- Maple syrup – Be sure to use pure maple syrup and not artificial or pancake syrup since those won’t taste the same. Or, try golden syrup for a deeper caramel flavor since it’s essentially a milder version of molasses.
- Dark brown sugar – Since this adds plenty of caramel flavor already, switch to light brown sugar if you’ll be using golden syrup in the filling.
- Bourbon – Adding a splash of bourbon to any dish is the secret to making it Southern! It’s completely optional, however, so feel free to leave it out for a non-alcoholic version.
Video: making a southern pecan pie
The written recipe and a video are in the recipe card at the bottom of this post. Watch the video, print or bookmark the recipe, and you’ll be on your way to baking the perfect Thanksgiving pie!
To start, buy or make a simple 9-inch homemade pie crust, then blind bake it. This prevents the dreaded “soggy bottom”. After cooling the crust, add the filling and form a decorative border with halved pecans before baking.
Just before serving, make a batch of homemade whipped cream. Then garnish each slice with a dollop!
Helpful pie baking tips
For the crust
- Blending the dough: Use a pastry blender to cut in the butter by hand, or pulse in food processor so the dough isn’t overworked.
- Cold butter: Make sure the butter is straight from the fridge. Cut it into small cubes to make it easier to incorporate into the other ingredients.
- Blind baking: This just means baking the crust by itself before adding the filling. Doing so helps it stay crisp and firm, especially when using fillings that are a little more wet.
- Pie weights: Using pie weights helps the crust to hold its shape against the pie dish, which prevents shrinking. They also prevent air pockets from bubbling up through the surface. If you don’t have any on hand, just use dried beans instead.
- Lining the crust: While it’s safe to add pie weights directly to the dough, you can add a layer of parchment or foil over the dough first. This also makes it easier to remove the weights afterwards.
For the pie
- Mixing the filling: Use a whisk so it gets nice and smooth and to prevent any pockets of air.
- Protect the edges: Depending on your oven, you may want to cover the exposed pie crust with foil to prevent the edges from becoming too dark.
- How to tell if it’s done: Once baked, the edges should be slightly puffy, and the center should be firm to the touch. It’s okay for the filling to still have a slight jiggle to it since it will continue to set as it cools.
Pecan pie recipe notes
- Make ahead crust – The dough can be made a day in advance if needed. Or, blind bake the crust, then wrap in plastic and freeze for up to 1 month. Allow it to thaw in the refrigerator before adding the filling.
- Storing pecan pie – Allow the pie to cool completely, then store covered in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. Enjoy cold or allow to come to room temperature before eating.
- Freezing – Because of the high sugar and fat content, it’s possible to freeze pecan pie for up to 2 weeks. Let it cool completely before wrapping in multiple layers of plastic wrap and an outer later of foil. Thaw in the refrigerator, replacing the plastic with a single layer if any moisture appears. Finally, let it sit at room temperature for a bit before baking shortly to crisp up the crust.
Pecan pie without corn syrup
Classic pecan pie typically uses corn syrup as both a sweetener and thickener to create the gooey pie filling. It also gives the finished product that signature glossy shine.
However, many people are looking for alternatives to corn syrup because of the high sugar content or due to food allergies.
It’s easy to make pecan pie with maple syrup, brown sugar, or a blend of the two instead. You’ll get that same sweetness in the filling, but both add extra caramel flavor that’s missing in corn syrup.
This post, originally published on Kevin is Cooing Oct. 30, 2020, was last updated with new content on Oct 5, 2021.
Southern Pecan Pie + How-To Video
- 1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
- 1 1/2 tsp sugar
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 8 tbsp butter cold, unsalted
- 1/2 tsp apple cider vinegar (or white vinegar)
- 1/4 cup very cold water
- 4 large eggs
- 1 cup maple syrup or golden syrup (See Note 1)
- 1 cup dark brown sugar
- 4 tbsp butter melted
- 1 tbsp all purpose flour
- 1 tbsp bourbon (optional)
- 2 tsp vanilla
- 1 tsp apple cider vinegar (or white vinegar)
- 1/8 tsp salt
- 2 cups pecans chopped, toasted
- 1 cup pecan halves for top (optional)
- Add all pastry dough ingredients into food processor (or a bowl using a pastry blender), EXCEPT COLD WATER. Pulse until the dough starts to form and dough is crumbly. Slowly drizzle in the cold water until it dough holds together.
- Wrap dough in a sheet of plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least one hour or overnight.
- Roll the dough on a floured surface into a 12 to 13 inch circle.
- Either roll dough around rolling pin OR gently fold dough into quarters, then lift and transfer to a 9-inch standard pie plate (not a deep dish) with point of dough in the center of dish (if folded). Unroll or unfold dough and gently press dough in dish, trimming overhang to about 1/2-inch. Fold overhang under edge of pie crust and crimp with fork or fingers. Place in freezer for 20 minutes.
- Heat oven 400°F. Line the frozen crust with parchment paper or a lightly buttered piece of aluminum foil (optional). Fill with pie weights or dried beans. Bake on a rimmed baking sheet for 20 minutes.
- Carefully remove foil and weights and let cool slightly before filling.
- In a large bowl, combine eggs, maple syrup, brown sugar, melted butter, flour, bourbon (optional), vanilla, apple cider vinegar and salt. Whisk until smooth.
- Add chopped pecans to prepared pie crust and pour filling over pecans. Decorate entire edge of pie filling with remaining 1 cup whole pecans on top of filling. To prevent crimped edges of dough from browning to much I cover edges with foil (optional, see Note).
- Bake for 40 to 45 minutes. The pie is done when the edges are set and puffed slightly and the center is slightly firm to the touch but still has some jiggle to it. Cool on a rack. Serve slightly warm or room temperature.
- Watch the last 10 minutes of cooking to make sure pecans and pie don’t brown too much and burn. If it’s getting dark, tent the pie with a piece of aluminum foil and continue baking until center is just set. When done, remove from oven and let cool for 30 minutes to an hour. Slice and enjoy!
The information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.