Pecan pie is a classic Southern dessert that’s always a hit with family and friends at Thanksgiving.  This version with no corn syrup is a little bit healthier, but just as tasty!  You’ll savor every sweet bite of the gooey filling and buttery crust.

Prep Time: 35 minutes
slice of pecan pie on a plate with a fork
Pies & Tarts, Thanksgiving

Pecan Pie without Corn Syrup

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This recipe was originally published on October 13, 2017.

Falltime can’t roll around without us making a pecan pie!  Our family has been making pecan pie without corn syrup for 10 years, and it’s definitely a sweet-and-sticky family favorite.  With just a few minutes of prep time, you can enjoy the rich caramel, nutty flavor of this traditional fall dessert, too!

closeup of a slice of pecan pie

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What is pecan pie?

Pecan pie is an American dessert that consists of a gooey custard baked in a pastry shell and topped with pecans.  It’s a sweet treat typically cut in small slices, as it is very rich, and is a very popular pie at Thanksgiving.

Where is pecan pie from?

Pecan pie is from the southeastern United States.  It most likely originated in the 1800s in New Orleans when French immigrants used pecan nuts in a variation of chess pie.  The recipe for pecan pie was printed on Karo corn syrup labels in the 1930s and 1940s, spreading this dessert throughout the United States.  It has been a favorite Thanksgiving dessert ever since.

What state is known for pecan pie?

Pecan pie is the official dessert of the state of Texas.  It’s popularity is not limited just to this state, however; pecan pie is especially popular in other states that grow pecans, such as Georgia, Alabama, Louisiana, and Mississippi.

lifting up a slice of pecan pie without corn syrup

What does pecan pie without corn syrup taste like?

Pecan pie is known for its rich, caramel-like sweetness and nutty crunch.  The pie filling has a sticky, slightly gooey texture, and the pastry is buttery and flaky.  You won’t notice the absence of corn syrup in this delicious pecan pie recipe.

What is pecan pie filling made of?

Pecan pie filling typically contains eggs, white and brown sugar, melted butter, salt, corn syrup, and vanilla extract.  I don’t add the corn syrup; it makes this pie just a teeny bit healthier.  I also like to add a little bit of milk and all-purpose flour.

Pecan Pie vs. Butter Tarts

American pecan pie and Canadian butter tarts are actually very similar desserts.  Butter tarts usually have a runnier filling, because no thickening agent (flour or cornstarch) is added to the filling.  Butter tarts also do not usually contain nuts, and are baked as individual tarts instead of a large pie.

slice of pecan pie with vanilla ice cream on top

Is pecan pie better warm or cold?

Pecan pie tastes the best and has the nicest texture when it’s served at room temperature or cold.  Do not serve a pecan pie when it’s still warm from the oven; it will be too runny and gooey when you cut into it.  Always let the pie stand for at least 2 hours at room temperature before slicing.

Do pecans rise to the top of the pie?

Supposedly, pecans do rise to the top of the pie.  I always bake my pie filling for a few minutes before putting the layer of pecans on the top.  This ensures that they don’t sink into the filling and creates an extra-crunchy topping.

What Crust to Use for Pecan Pie

I recommend using a homemade pastry crust, such as this easy and amazing flaky shortcrust.  Making your own pastry is not as hard as it sounds, so don’t be afraid to give it a try!  Homemade pastry always tastes 10 times better than store-bought.

Should I pre-bake the crust for pecan pie?

Yes, I recommend pre-baking the crust (called blind baking) for pecan pie.  This ensures a crisp, flaky pastry that isn’t soggy.  Check out my step-by-step photo tutorials for how to blind bake pastry and how to line a tart pan.

person holding a forkful of pecan pie

What does pecan pie look like when it’s done?

Sometimes, it’s hard to tell when your pecan pie is done baking!  Here’s some things to look for when you’re checking your pie for doneness.

  • The nuts on top will be a slightly darker shade of brown.
  • The filling should be puffed up and have a crunchy, browned top.  When shaken, the pie should jiggle just a little in the center and be set around the edges.
  • The pastry should be lightly browned around the edges.

How jiggly should a pecan pie be?

A well-baked pecan pie should jiggle slightly in the middle when the pie is gently shaken from side to side.  The edges should not jiggle at all.  The filling should definitely not slosh around!

How do you test a pecan pie for doneness?

  • Shake it.  The pie should jiggle a little in the center, but the edges should be set.
  • Test it.  The pie should have an internal temperature of at least 185 F in the center, and a knife or toothpick inserted into the middle should come out clean (no sticky goo on it).
  • Look at it.  The edges of the pie should have puffed slightly, the top should be crisp, and the nuts and pastry should be browned.
  • In doubt?  Simply bake the pie for an extra 5-10 minutes as a precaution.

person holding a slice of pecan pie with a fork

Does pecan pie set as it cools?

Yes, pecan pie definitely does set as it cools.  That’s why it’s best to wait a couple of hours before cutting the pie; otherwise, it will just be a sticky, gooey mess.

Why Pecan Pie Didn’t Set

Did your pecan pie turn out runny?  Here’s a few reasons why that may have happened, and some ways you can fix it next time.

  • Underbaked.  Check the pie for doneness with the tips above to make sure that it’s baked properly.  If in doubt, give it an extra 5-10 minutes just in case.
  • Wrong oven temperature.  Some ovens run hot or cold; make sure to calibrate your oven with an oven thermometer to make sure that it’s at the right temp.
  • Wrong pie plate.  Never use a deep dish pie plate for making pecan pie; the extra depth takes too long to cook.  The filling should only be about 1 inch deep.
  • Add an extra egg or tablespoon of flour to the filling.  Use this is a last resort, as it can change the taste and texture of the pecan pie.

How far in advance can I make pecan pie?

This all depends on how you store the pie and if it is already baked or not.  You can make the pie as far ahead as 2 months if it’s already baked and frozen.

  • If you want to refrigerate a fully baked pie, you can make it up to 3 days in advance.  Simply cover the pie tightly and refrigerate.
  • If you want to freeze a fully baked pie, you can make it up to 2 months in advance.  Wrap the pie tightly in plastic wrap, then foil, and freeze.
  • If you want to bake the pie fresh, assemble the pie completely and flash freeze it for 2 hours, then wrap tightly in plastic wrap and foil and freeze for up to 1 month.  Unwrap the pie and bake directly from frozen, increasing the baking time by 30 minutes.

top view of a slice of pecan pie with a fork

What to Serve with Pecan Pie

Most people prefer vanilla ice cream or whipped cream with their pecan pie.  I’m definitely in the vanilla ice cream camp!  It’s up to you which one to serve with pecan pie, but if you can’t decide, go with both.

Can pecan pie be left out?

Nope.  Pecan pie needs to be refrigerated because it contains eggs.  Cover the pie tightly with plastic wrap or aluminum foil to lock in freshness and keep out odors, and refrigerate for up to 3 days.

Can you freeze pecan pie?

Yes, you can freeze pecan pie before or after the pie is baked.  Here’s how to freeze and defrost/bake the pie both ways.

  • Freezing a Baked Pie: Make sure the pie is fully cooled (at least 2 hours on a cooling rack), then wrap the pie in two layers of plastic wrap and one layer of aluminum foil.  Freeze for up to 2 months.  Defrost in the fridge overnight, at room temperature for a few hours, or in a warm oven until thawed.
  • Freezing an Unbaked Pie: Pour the pecan pie filling into a pre-baked pie crust and freeze for at least 2 hours, or until frozen solid.  Wrap tightly in two layers of plastic wrap and one layer of aluminum foil, then freeze for up to 1 month.  When ready to bake, unwrap the pie and bake directly from frozen, adding 30 minutes to the baking time.

How to Make Pecan Pie without Corn Syrup

Gather the ingredients for the pie.  You’ll need pecan halves for the top and chopped pecans for the filling.  Grab two eggs, granulated white sugar, brown sugar, all-purpose flour, milk, salt, vanilla extract, and melted butter.

ingredients for pecan pie without corn syrup

Crack the eggs into a mixing bowl and beat them with a handheld mixer until they’re smooth.  Add the melted butter and beat until combined.

beating the egg mixture with a handheld mixer

Add all the other filling ingredients except the chopped pecans and beat until smooth.

beating the pecan pie filling with a handheld mixer

Fold in the chopped pecans with a spatula until evenly combined.

mixing the chopped pecans into the pecan filling

Pour the pecan pie filling into a pre-baked pie crust.

pecan pie filling in the pastry shell

Bake the pie at 350 F for 15 minutes, then place the pecan halves in concentric circles on top of the pie.

putting pecans on top of pecan pie

Lower the oven temperature to 300 F and bake for another 35 minutes, until the center of the pie jiggles slightly when shaken.  Let the pie cool completely on a wire rack before slicing, about 2 hours.  (If you’re using a loose-bottomed tart pan like I did, feel free to take the pie out of the pan after 10 minutes of cooling.)

pecan pie without corn syrup on a cooling rack

Pro Tips for Making Pecan Pie without Corn Syrup

  • Use good-quality ingredients; especially for the pecans.
  • Use homemade pastry for the best taste and texture.  Use my favorite recipe for perfectly flaky pastry.
  • Use a mixture of chopped and whole pecans for an appealing crunch and beautiful presentation.
  • Pre-bake the crust before pouring the filling into the pastry.  This ensures a crisp base.
  • Bake the pie on a dark metal cookie sheet to make the pastry even crispier.  It also makes it easier to take the pie out of the oven.
  • Let the pie cool completely before slicing it.  Otherwise, the pie will be runny and gooey.

Our Go-To Kitchen Tools for Making Pecan Pie

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The pleasure of a 5-star review for this pecan pie recipe would be greatly appreciated.

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slice of pecan pie on a plate with a fork

Pecan Pie without Corn Syrup


  • Author: Emma
  • Prep Time: 35 minutes
  • Cook Time: 1 hour 5 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour 40 minutes
  • Yield: 10 slices 1x

Description

Pecan pie is a classic Southern dessert that’s always a hit with family and friends at Thanksgiving.  This version with no corn syrup is a little bit healthier, but just as tasty!  You’ll savor every sweet bite of the gooey filling and buttery crust.


Scale

Ingredients

  • 15 ounces flaky shortcrust pastry (425g)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted (115g)
  • 1 cup light brown sugar, packed (200g)
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar (50g)
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine salt
  • 4 teaspoons all-purpose flour (10g)
  • 1 tablespoon whole milk (15 ml)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (5 ml)
  • 3/4 cup chopped pecans, for the filling (72g)
  • 1 cup pecan halves, for the topping (100g)

Instructions

Pre-Baking the Pastry (35 min)

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 F and put in a dark, heavy cookie sheet to preheat.
  2. Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured surface to about 1/8 inch thick and use it to line a 9-inch pie plate or loose-bottomed tart pan.  Prick the bottom of the pastry with a fork, then chill in the fridge for 10 minutes.
  3. Line the pastry with a piece of parchment paper, then fill with dried beans.  Bake at 400 F for 10 minutes, then remove the paper and beans and bake for another 5-8 minutes, until the pastry is a light golden brown and shrinking away from the sides of the pan.

Making the Filling (10 min)

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F.
  2. Beat the eggs with a handheld electric mixer until smooth, then beat in the melted butter.  Add the brown sugar, white sugar, salt, flour, milk, and vanilla extract and beat thoroughly.
  3. Fold in the chopped pecans.
  4. Spread the filling evenly in the pre-baked pastry shell.

Baking the Pie (50 min + 2 hrs cooling)

  1. Bake at 350 F for 15 minutes, then remove from the oven and use the pecan halves to form a decorative pattern of concentric circles on top.  Start with the outer edge and work your way in.
  2. Lower the oven temperature to 300 F, and bake for 35 minutes, until the middle of pie has only a slight wobble when shaken.  The filling should be puffed up, the edges should be set, and the nuts should be a darker brown.
  3. Let the pie cool on a wire rack for at least 2 hours to allow the filling to fully set.  If you’re using a loose-bottomed tart pan, remove the pie from the pan after it has cooled for 10 minutes.

Notes

  • The pleasure of a 5-star review for this pecan pie without corn syrup would be greatly appreciated.
  • 👩🏻‍🍳 Want to see our latest recipes?  Subscribe to our email newsletter to get our latest recipes, fun food facts, food puns, and behind the scenes news about our blog.
  • Category: Pies
  • Method: Baked
  • Cuisine: American

Keywords: easy pecan pie recipe, pecan pie recipe without corn syrup

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4 thoughts on “Pecan Pie without Corn Syrup

  1. The large pecans are rather hard to put your fork through, but they taste amazing! 😋 The gooey bottom part of the pecan pie filling is great with the chopped pecans in it. 🥧 The pastry is blind baked, which assures a soft but not soggy pastry.

  2. The pecans add a delicious crunch. I like the gooey custard, and the blind baked pastry is so good that I almost drooled. Yummy, yummy!

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