Naturally Sweetened Pecan Pie
Finally! I started working on this naturally sweetened pecan pie recipe last fall, and it’s ready to share with you in time for Thanksgiving this year. I’m so excited.
Unlike most pecan pies, which are sweetened with corn syrup and refined sugar, this pecan pie is naturally sweetened with real maple syrup. As you can imagine, the maple syrup flavor makes this pie extra delicious.
I’ve been intimidated by pie-making for too long, and finally conquered my fears with this pecan pie. The filling is so easy to make.
Here’s a preview: Toast the pecans in the oven for a few minutes. Meanwhile, whisk together eggs, maple syrup, melted butter, vanilla, and salt. You can add some bourbon to the mixture to amp up the flavor, if you’d like. That’s it!
Pie Crust Notes
The only intimidating factor is the pie crust. Pastry dough is notoriously tricky and I’ve been scared of it for too long! If I can make flaky, all-butter pie dough, you can, too. I promise.
I used this recipe from The Four & Twenty Blackbirds Pie Book to make the pie you see here, and I think it’s a great recipe for beginners.
I’m not a master baker, but I’m working my way through the internet’s most popular pie doughs and might share my own recipe if I can contribute. If not, I’ll share a post on pie-making tips and tricks, because I’ve already found a few to share.
I usually work exclusively with whole wheat flour or other whole grain flours, but my attempts at making whole-grain pie doughs have failed miserably. Pies might be my one exception to the whole-grain rule, at least for the time being. Pies are for special occasions, after all.
Maple Pecan Pie Ingredient Notes
Buy raw pecan halves for this recipe (pre-roasted nuts often go rancid at the store). We’ll toast the raw pecans in the oven for a few minutes to enhance their flavor. Make sure to buy pecan halves, not pieces, for the prettiest result.
Maple syrup categorization has changed over the past few years. Now all store-bought options are Grade A, but their labels refer directly to their color and taste, which varies throughout the maple sugaring season. I chose the “dark color, robust taste” option, which is produced later in the season, so the maple flavor would be more pronounced. Any variety of real maple syrup will work for this recipe. Choose a lighter option if you don’t want as much maple flavor.
Eggs are very necessary in this pie filling, offering both structure and rise. I’m afraid that I don’t know how to make this pie egg-free, if you’re serving a vegan or someone with an allergy. Maybe aquafaba?
Butter adds some richness and golden color to the filling. This recipe calls for just two tablespoons of butter, while many call for five or more. Don’t try to match your old favorite recipe’s butter content; the filling won’t set properly and might drip into your oven.
Vanilla extract and optional bourbon enhance the maple and pecan flavors, making this pie irresistible! Even with a full tablespoon of bourbon, the flavor is pretty subtle, don’t worry about overpowering the pie if you include it.
Pie Equipment Notes
Pie pans vary in size and material. I designed this recipe for a standard 9-inch pie pan (affiliate link). If you inherited a pie pan from your grandmother or want to use a pre-made pie crust, it will work!
Serious Eats recommends using a glass pie pan for best results, so I’ll pass that tip along as well.
Unfortunately, the Pyrex pie pan sold in grocery stores is 9.5-inches in diameter, which is a good amount bigger. Those will work, but the pie won’t be as full (you can add 1/4 cup more pecans to the mixture to help counteract this).
I learned the hard way that you don’t want any pie ingredients dripping into your oven (smoke alarm!). So, I’ve written the recipe to remind you to place a pan under the pie as it bakes to catch any potential drips.
If you don’t have a pastry cutter (for cutting the butter into the dough), I recommend this one made by OXO. It fits into my hand better than the others I’ve tried.
If you don’t want to buy a pastry cutter, no problem—follow a pie dough recipe that you can make by hand, like this one.
A metal bench scraper can also come in handy for removing the dough from your rolling surface. Use it underneath the dough to loosen any stuck parts.
Please let me know how this pecan pie turns out for you in the comments! I hope it’s a big hit at your holiday table.
Looking for more Thanksgiving desserts? Here are a few of my favorites:
- Gluten-Free Apple Crisp
- Gluten-Free Apple Tart
- Pear Cranberry Crisp
- Pumpkin Pecan Polvorones
On the hunt for last-minute Thanksgiving recipes? This roundup is for you!
Naturally Sweetened Pecan Pie
- Prep Time: 25 minutes
- Cook Time: 45 minutes
- Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes (plus 1 hour dough chilling time)
- Yield: 1 pie 1x
- Category: Dessert
- Method: Baked
- Cuisine: American
This delicious pecan pie is sweetened with maple syrup! This pecan pie recipe doesn’t use corn syrup or refined sugar, and it’s so easy to make. Recipe yields one 9″ pie.
- 1 single-crust pie dough (I used this recipe)
- 1 ¾ cups pecan halves
- 3 large eggs
- 1 cup maple syrup
- 2 tablespoons melted butter
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- Optional: 1 tablespoon bourbon
- ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
- Optional, for serving: vanilla ice cream or whipped cream
- Prepare your pie dough as directed. On a floured work surface, roll the dough into a 14-inch circle and drape it across a 9-inch pie plate. Gently nestle the dough into the edges of the pan. With scissors or kitchen shears, trim around the edge so you have an even 1-inch overhang. Fold the overhang under itself to create a thick border that rests over the rim of the pan. Use a fork to press gently all around the perimeter for an easy starburst effect (see photos). Place the pie pan in the refrigerator to chill while you make the pie filling.
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit with racks in the middle of the oven and the lower third of the oven. Place the pecans on a large, rimmed baking sheet and bake them for 5 to 6 minutes, until fragrant. Set the pan aside to cool, for now.
- In a medium mixing bowl, whisk the eggs until they are pale yellow. Add the maple syrup, melted butter, vanilla extract, optional bourbon, and salt. Whisk until well blended.
- Remove the pie pan from the refrigerator and arrange the toasted pecans evenly inside the pan. Whisk the maple syrup mixture once more, then drizzle all of it over the pecans.
- Place the pie on the middle rack, and your empty baking sheet on the rack below to catch any potential drips. Bake for 40 to 50 minutes, or until crust is golden brown and the middle of the pie has puffed up (it will sink as it cools).
- Let the pie cool on a wire rack for 1 hour. Carefully slice the pie with a sharp knife and serve with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream, if desired. This pie will keep well in the refrigerator, covered, for up to 3 days.
Make it gluten free: This filling is gluten free, so you’ll just need to make a gluten-free pie dough. I haven’t tried, so I don’t have a recipe to recommend, sorry!