The easiest caramel pecan pie made with a flakey, buttery pie crust. It’s made with homemade salted caramel sauce and no corn syrup! It’s gooey and sweet, buttery, caramelized and a little salty.
Three words: caramel pecan pie. I elevated this classic Thanksgiving dessert by making it with a homemade salted caramel sauce instead of corn syrup. I mean, nothing against corn syrup but homemade salted caramel sauce is better in every single way.
*Recipe and blog post was updated on 10/31/23 – recipe is the same just slightly tweaked to ensure a fully baked crust.
Why you’ll love this caramel pecan pie
- As an ex-pecan pie hater, I’m telling you this pecan pie is glorious. It’s sweet and buttery but not overly sweet like store bought pies.
- The salted caramel brings the pie a great salty, caramelized flavor.
- It’s fairly simple to make and can be made ahead of time.
If you’re a pecan pie lover, you HAVE to try my pecan pie brownies. I also have a chocolate pecan pie coming very soon so be on the look out! I also have a pumpkin pecan upside cake that gives similar caramelized pecan vibes.
What is pecan pie
Pecan pie is a traditional American Thanksgiving dessert with a southern origin. A buttery, flakey pie crust gets filled with a sweet pecan filling and baked until it’s nice and crispy on the edges and gooey in the center.
For extra indulgence, it can be topped with a generous scoop of vanilla ice cream and some extra homemade salted caramel sauce.
- Sugar: I use light brown sugar in the pecan pie filling but granulated sugar is used to make the caramel sauce.
- I don’t recommend altering the caramel sauce at all but granulated sugar can also be used in the pecan pie filling.
- Butter: I love salted butter for the caramel sauce, the pie crust and the filling. If you use unsalted, just add an extra pinch of salt to each one.
- It’s very important that the butter is cold for the pie crust and room temperature for the caramel sauce. Make sure to read my posts for those.
- Dairy free butter also works for the caramel, the pie crust and the pecan filling.
- Heavy Cream: Heavy cream is used for caramel. Can also be subbed for half and half or dairy cream.
- Salt: I like fine sea salt for use in baking and flakey sea salt to sprinlke on top.
- Eggs: I always use large room temperature eggs. Just place them in hot water for 5-10 minutes if they’re cold.
- Vanilla: Vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste works fine.
- Flour: I use all-purpose flour for my pastry and I recommend a digital scale as flour is almost always over measured.
- Water: You’ll need ice cold water for the pastry.
How to make pecan pie
The Pie Crust
This pie crust recipe is super simple to make and has never failed me! & I’m not a fancy pie kind of girl. If you’ve been here a while, you’ll know that cakes are more my thing. So I’m telling you this pie crust turns out for me every time and I have tested it many different ways.
Step 1: Cube cold butter and then place it back in the fridge, measure out flour and place it in the fridge or freezer, measure out water and place it in the freezer for 15 minutes.
Step 2: Place flour in a food processor and place the cubed butter on top. Pulse for a few seconds until the butter and flour look like small crumbles.
Step 3: Drizzle in half the water and alcohol and pulse, then drizzle in a little more at a time just until the dough starts to look more wet. The dough will still be crumbly but when you press on it, it should stick together.
Step 4: Dump the mixture onto the countertop and use your hands to press it all together and fold it over itself a couple of times so it all sticks together nicely. You should see bits of butter in the dough and it should be fully hydrated (so no dry.flour spots) but not too sticky to handle.
Step 5: Wrap the disc in plastic wrap and place in the fridge for 1-2 hours. Then roll it out and place it into a pie dish. Fill the pie with pie weights and bake for 20 minutes. Remove the pie weights and allow the crust to cool completely before filling (this can be done 1-2 days in advance too!).
Salted Caramel Sauce
The base of this pecan pie recipe is made with a homemade salted caramel sauce instead of corn syrup. The pie can also be made with honey or maple syrup. Personally, I’m not a fan of the flavor of honey in pecan pie so I would recommend maple syrup if not the caramel.
Step 1: Make the caramel sauce by cooking water and sugar on the stovetop until it turns into an amber color. Remove from the heat.
Step 2: Add the butter and whisk until it’s combined. Then add the heavy cream and whisk until it’s smooth (if the edges of the pan have crusty sugar, leave that behind, don’t try to whisk it in).
Step 3: Pour the caramel into a heat safe bowl and add the salt and vanilla, whisking just until they’re combined. Cover and allow to cool completely to room temperature or chill in the refrigerator.
Caramel Pecan Filling
Step 1: Combine the butter, sugar, eggs, caramel and vanilla, mixing until they’re smooth.
Step 2: Stir in the pecans and toss them around until they’re evenly coated with the caramel mixture.
Step 3: Pour the filling over the par-baked crust and bake until the edges of the filling are puffed and set and the center still has a jiggle but is no longer wet.
When the pie gets baked, keep an eye on the color of the edge of the crust. If it begins to brown before the filling looks set, remove it from the oven, cover the edge of the pie with foil and then continue baking.
What kind of pie crust to use
I recommend a traditional pie crust for this recipe. I used half of my butter pie crust recipe for this pie. You can also use your favorite homemade pie crust or a store bought pie crust. You’ll need just one roll (they usually come in packs of two for the top and bottom) since it’s just the bottom of the pie crust.
I used to make this without pre-baking the pie crust but a couple of times it turned out without the bottom pie crust fully baking through. It depends on the oven, the heat distribution, material or the pan, recipe of the pie crust, etc. So it is much safer to par-bake the crust.
How to Par-bake the Pie Crust
You’ll want to lay your crust in the pie dish. Then lay a sheet of parchment paper on top of it and fill it with pie weights, flour, dried beans, rice, etc. anything to hold down the pie crust in place.
Once it gets some color, around 20 minutes, remove the pie crust from the oven, remove the sheet of parchment and pie weights and let it cool back to room temperature.
Brush with egg wash and then fill it with the pecan filling. Return to the oven and bake until the filling is set.
What type of pan is best for pies
I prefer to bake pies made with pastry in a metal pan. Metal pans conduct heat the quickest and most efficiently. Your crust will most likely have the best bake using a metal pan.
That said, I don’t always bake my pies in metal pans because my metal pan is quite shallow and I don’t have a deep dish metal pan so I use my ceramic ones for things like deep dish apple pie and it works fine with a few insurances.
I always make sure to bake on conventional (no fan) and not convection and I like to place it on the bottom rack so that the bottom pie crust gets direct heat. I also always place my pie dish on a metal baking sheet to catch any drippings.
I haven’t tried it but some people recommend using a baking stone underneath the pie dish to bring more heat to the bottom of the pie.
And if I’m baking a more hefty, wet pie like traditional apple pie, I usually sprinkle some sort of starch, like flour or cornstarch on top of the bottom pie crust to help absorb more of the filling juices.
For this caramel pecan pie, you want a shallow-average sized pan, not a deep dish.
Frequently Asked Questions
It just needs a little more hydration, add another 1-2 Tbsp of water at a time until it forms a dough.
Your pie crust can crack when you go to roll it out if it’s not fully hydrated (see above) or if it’s too cold when you’re rolling it out. Just leave it out at room temperature for a few minutes before rolling.
The pie dough can leak butter if it wasn’t fully chilled or if the chunks of butter are too large in the crust. When you blend the flour with the butter, you want pea size chunks or smaller.
The pie will shrivel up and shrink when it’s baking if it wasn’t fully chilled before baking. You want the pie crust to be cold so the butter is firm when it goes into the oven.
The dough was overworked. You want to handle it as minimally as possible, once it comes together, let it be, refrigerate it and when you roll it out, use it. Don’t re-roll it out.
If the filling doesn’t set up properly it can be because it didn’t bake long enough or it didn’t cool long enough. You’ll need to let the pie cool completely in order for the filling to set. I like to make my pie ahead of time and let it chill in the fridge overnight.
Then if you want to serve it warm just microwave individual slices.
How to make pecan pie ahead of time?
There’s a few ways to make pecan pie ahead of time.
- Par-bake the crust and then wrap it up and freeze it even a few weeks in advance or leave it at room temperature overnight (no need to wrap for one night). When you’re ready to bake the pie, just bring it back to room temperature.
- Follow the whole recipe, let it come to room temperature and then wrap it up tightly and refrigerate for a few days or freeze for a few weeks. Bring back to room temp before serving.
- *If you want to make sure the crust is still crisp, preheat the oven with a baking stone to 425F (212C). Cover the top of the pie with foil and bake the pie on top of the preheated baking stone until it’s warmed up (may need like 20ish minutes). Then cool to room temperature again. To be honest, I just microwave it though.
How to store and serve pecan pie
I don’t recommend serving pecan pie while it’s hot. It needs to set or it’ll just fall apart. You can serve it warm if desired with a scoop of vanilla ice cream though!
It can also be served at room temperature or even cold if you like.
I recommend storing it in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week or frozen for a couple of months.
Thanks so much for stopping by today. If you make this amazing caramel pecan pie please let me know in the comments or leave a review. I hope you all have an amazing Holiday season!
As always, have a blessed day and happy baking!
Caramel Pecan Pie (No Corn Syrup)
- 1 9 inch pie dish
- 1 medium bowl
- 1 Whisk
- 1 small saucepan
- 1 small heat safe bowl
Salted Caramel Sauce
- 1 cup (200g) granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup (59mL) water
- 1/4 cup (56g) salted butter, room temperature
- 1/2 cup (118mL) heavy whipping cream, room temperature
- 1/2 tsp fine sea salt
- 1 Tbsp whiskey (bourbon, vodka, any spirit works)
- 1/4 cup cold water
- 1 1/4 cup (150g) all-purpose flour spooned and leveled
- 1/4 tsp fine sea salt
- 1/2 cup (113g) salted butter cold
- 1 egg for egg wash
- 3/4 cup (7.5oz) salted caramel sauce* plus more for topping
- 1/2 cup (100g) light brown sugar lightly packed
- 3 large eggs room temperature
- 1/4 cup (56g) butter melted
- 1 tsp vanilla bean paste or extract
- 2 cups (250g) roughly chopped pecans
- pinch of sea salt flakes
- Begin by preparing the homemade salted caramel sauce. In a medium saucepan, heat the sugar and water over medium heat. Place the lid on the pan and remove it every 2-3 minutes to swirl (NOT stir) the sugar.1 cup (200g) granulated sugar, 1/4 cup (59mL) water
- Once the sugar changes to an amber color, remove it from heat (it will continue cooking because the pan is hot so do this immediately). Stir in the butter and whisk continuously. Once that's combined, stir in the heavy cream and then the salt.1/4 cup (56g) salted butter, room temperature, 1/2 cup (118mL) heavy whipping cream, room temperature
- Once it's all mixed, pour it into a heat safe bowl and stir in the salt. Set it aside and allow it to cool at room temperature for about an hour. It doesn't have to cool fully, just enough not to cook the eggs.1/2 tsp fine sea salt
- Place the alcohol in a measuring cup and add the cold water. Place it in the freezer while you prepare the other ingredients.1 Tbsp whiskey , 1/4 cup cold water
- Place the flour and salt in the bowl of the food processor. Place the whole bowl in the freezer while you cube the butter.1 1/4 cup (150g) all-purpose flour , 1/4 tsp fine sea salt
- Add the cubed butter to the flour in the freezer, for 5-10 minutes.1/2 cup (113g) salted butter
- Remove the the bowl from the freezer, place it on the food processor and pulse until pea seize chunks form.
- While the food processor is on, stream in the water mixture just until it starts to come together. Start with only 2 Tbsp of water and use up to 1/4 cup if needed, I usually do 1/4 cup + 1 Tbsp of alcohol. You want the dough to be kinda crumbly but stick together when you press on it.
- Remove the dough from the food processor, press it together so it all sticks together. Wrap it in plastic wrap and refrigerate it for an hour (or overnight).
- Preheat the oven to 425F (218C) conventional (no fan).
- Place a sheet of parchment paper on the chilled pie dough and fill it in with pie weights (or rice) to keep the sheet in place.
- Bake the pie crust on the bottom rack of the oven for 20 minutes, until it starts to get some color.
- Remove from the oven and remove the pie weights and parchment sheets. Allow the crust to cool completely (if it's hot when you pour the filling, you may have a soggy bottom).
- Preheat the oven to 350F (177C) and in a small bowl use a fork to aggressively beat the egg until it's loosened. Use a pastry brush to the brush the pie crust with the egg wash.1 egg
- In a large bowl, combine the cooled caramel sauce, brown sugar, eggs, butter and vanilla until they're smooth. Add the pecans and toss until they're fully coated.3/4 cup (7.5oz) salted caramel sauce*, 1/2 cup (100g) light brown sugar, 3 large eggs, 1/4 cup (56g) butter, 1 tsp vanilla bean paste, 2 cups (250g) roughly chopped pecans
- Pour the filling over the cooled par-baked pie crust and return the pie to the oven for about 40-45 minutes, until the filling no longer looks liquid-y. It should be puffed around the edges and have wobble in the center when you jiggle it.
- If the edges of the pie are browning too quickly, remove the pie from the oven and cover the edges of the crust with foil to prevent them burning at any point during baking.
- Remove the pie from the oven, allow it to cool to room temperature and then refrigerate it for a couple of hours to fully set. Top with extra salted caramel sauce and a pinch of sea salt flakes.pinch of sea salt flakes