Easy Classic Southern Pecan Pie recipe that sets up beautifully with tips for knowing when the pie is cooked and how to prevent over-browning of the crust. Holiday meals in the south are never complete without at least one on the dessert table.
This recipe is a vintage one I found in an inherited folder.
I had actually forgotten all about organizing this folder.
When I say folder, it is literally a manila folder with copies of recipes Uncle Bill used years ago.
I have made this classic Southern dessert several times now to make sure that it continues to set up.
Cooking the sugar and corn syrup before assembling the ingredients ensures a smooth and rich filling that sets up.
The only adjustments made to this recipe’s ingredients were to scale them down from 120 servings.
Feel free to use frozen or refrigerated pie crusts, based on the photos, clearly, I did. The original recipe just called for “pie crusts.”
Pie crust is one of the cooking techniques that still eludes me.
Honestly, some of the frozen pie crusts available today are pretty tasty so I feel no guilt or shame when using them.
I even use frozen pie crusts for Sugar Cream Pie. I have never had a complaint about the crust.
You could even use a shortbread crust.
But, if I am going to use a shortbread crust, I would just as soon make my pecan pie bar recipe. It’s more like a pecan pie slab.
As far as refrigerated pie crust go though, I only use them for my Rollie Pollie recipe.
Frequently asked questions
Can I Use Light Corn Syrup instead of Dark Corn Syrup?
Feel free to use light corn syrup instead of dark and dark brown sugar instead of light.
In the south, it is not unusual to see maple syrup used in place of the corn syrup.
All the different combinations create different flavors. Karo syrup is the brand most referenced in vintage recipes, but any brand will work.
We personally prefer dark corn syrup and light brown sugar.
The filling tastes heavily of molasses before it is cooked. The flavor will mellow as it cooks.
The dark corn syrup version has a richer flavor in our opinion. But, if you are not eating these side by side you may not notice much of a difference.
The difference in the color of the 2 pies is hardly noticeable.
I have cooked the dark corn syrup and light corn syrup pies side by side and it seems to me that the dark corn syrup version has a better texture and mouthfeel.
Do You Have to Use Whole Pecans?
No. Chopped or diced pecans can be used in pecan pie.
Chopped pecans will be easier to cut into slices.
I use pecan halves, but I have to warn you, it is almost impossible to cut this pie into beautiful slices.
I mangled most of mine so there are currently no photos of sliced pie.
The whole pecans will be pushed into the pie when you are cutting. It’s just the nature of the beast.
Some recipes call for carefully placing whole pecans on the shell before adding the other filling ingredients.
I do not bother, I just mix the pecans right in with the rest of the ingredients. The pecans will float to the top and arrange themselves.
Can I substitute pecans with anything else?
You can substitute any other nut you like. I have seen walnuts and cashews used.
I have also seen oatmeal and broken pretzel pieces used in place of the nuts for those with nut allergies.
I would let the cooked sugar mixture cool for at least minutes before attempting to add oats or pretzels though.
I probably wouldn’t call it a Southern pecan pie anymore either.
Why did my pie stick to the bottom of the pan?
You may also find that the crust of the pie sticks to the bottom of the pie pan.
Sometimes it feels like the filling has seeped through the crust. There may be some hairline cracks in the crust I just don’t notice, or it might truly be seeping.
To prevent losing all of the crust, I use a metal spatula and come at the side of the pie slice to get it out.
My first slice of pecan pie out of the pan is always a train wreck and I would love to hear any advice about getting the first slice out in a presentable fashion.
Why is it runny?
It probably has not been cooked long enough.
Try baking the pie at 375 Degrees F for 30 minutes, then another 3 minutes at 350 Degrees F.
How can you tell if it’s done?
A pecan pie is done when a thermometer inserted into the middle of the pie reads 200 Degrees F.
The top of the pie will be domed just a bit. No worries, it will deflate as it cools.
When you see that dome, go ahead and stick the thermometer in it.
If you don’t own a thermometer insert a butter knife into the center of the pie. If the knife comes out clean it is done.
Pecan pie will continue to set up after it has been removed from the oven.
A pecan pie will not be fully set until it has cooled for at least 2 hours.
How do you keep the crust from over-browning?
Placing foil over the crust prior to baking will help keep the crust from browning too much.
I have found that this can also result in too little browning.
My solution is to allow the pie crust to cook for about 20 minutes then carefully removing the pie from the oven and covering the crust.
I have also covered the entire top of the pie.
Make sure to spray your foil with baking spray or lightly grease it, otherwise, the foil will stick to the top of the pie and pull pecans out of the pie.
It’s not a pecan pie if it doesn’t have pecans.
At the end of the listed cooking times in this recipe, pop the foil off the pie.
Does it have to be refrigerated?
Based on the eggs in the pie, food safety rules say you should.
My grandmother never did, I never have either. None of us have ever become sick, but that could be sheer luck.
I suspect that the sheer amount of sugar in this pie may provide a bit of preservation.
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Southern Pecan Pie
- 1 9 inch standard pie crust not deep dish
- 1 cup dark corn syrup
- 3/4 cup light brown sugar
- 3 tablespoons butter salted preferred
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 3 eggs slightly beaten
- 1 cup pecans
- If using a frozen pie crust, take it out of the freezer now.
- Preheat an oven to 375°F.
- Mix corn syrup and brown sugar in a medium saucepan and cook over medium-low heat until the brown sugar has melted [about 5 to 10 minutes].
- Remove from heat and allow the mixture to cool for at least 10 minutes.
- While mixture is cooling, mix eggs and pecans in a separate bowl.
- After sugar mixture has cooled, add butter and vanilla. Stir until butter is melted.
- Pour sugar mixture in the bowl with pecans and eggs. Mix well.
- Place pie crust on a baking sheet and fill with the pecan pie filling.
- Place into preheated 375 Degree F oven and cook for 30 minutes, checking crust color at 20 minutes. If crust or pecans are browning too quickly, loosely cover pie with foil and continue baking.
- After 30 minutes, reduce oven heat to 350 Degrees F.
- Bake pie for an additional 15 minutes.
- Pie is done when the center of the pie filling reads 200°F on a thermometer.
- Remove pie from oven and allow to cool for a minimum of 2 hours before slicing.