Have I mentioned before that I am a Southern girl? I was born in Chattanooga, TN and raised in Birmingham, AL you really can't get much more southern than that. I have lived all over the south from Atlanta to Nashville and a few other places in between before we headed out west to Southern California. Being a true southern girl I have a tendency to say weird quirky things that apparently people here on the west coast find hilarious and I also have a soft spot in my heart for southern inspired food. I love a good biscuit , have a weakness for things that are fried, I like my tea slightly sweetened, and I cannot resist pecan pie. I don't eat my southern indulgences every day or even every week, but I do sometimes feel the need to embrace my decadent roots and treat myself.
The past few weeks have been such an exciting time for our family! We have had so many great things happening for us in both our personal and professional lives and family birthdays galore so for those reasons I felt that it was time to tap into my love of the South and make a special dessert to celebrate. I couldn't decide between buttery shortbread like we had growing up or pecan pie like my grandmother used to make, so I combined the two and made a new to me southern inspired treat.
Let me just go ahead and clear the air now by acknowledging that this dessert has both sugar and butter. I know, it's not the healthiest dessert in the world, but I have lots of recipes for those if you want them. This recipe my friends is a special occasion kind of a thing. A once in a while, simply indulgent treat for my family and friends to celebrate all of the great things currently happening in our lives type of a thing. We are foregoing birthday cakes and munching on pecan pie bars...that's acceptable, right?
So tell me, what is your once in a while favorite decadent treat?
** UPDATE 6/11/15 ** A reader has pointed out to us that the crust doesn't hold together as well if you bake this recipe with King Arthur Flour brand gluten free flour mix. For this reason it may be best to use Cup 4 Cup gluten free flour as we suggest below.
Pecan Pie Bars (Gluten Free)
- Prep Time: 30 mins
- Cook Time: 35 mins
- Total Time: 1 hour 5 mins
- Yield: 3 dozen 1x
- For the crust:
- 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
- ¾ cup packed light brown sugar
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 3 cups of Cup 4 Cup brand gluten free all-purpose flour
- For the filling:
- ½ cup unsalted butter
- ½ cup packed light brown sugar
- ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons honey
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 2 tablespoons heavy cream
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 2 cups raw pecan halves
- ½ teaspoon gluten free pure vanilla extract
- For the crust: Preheat the oven to 375°F. Place the softened butter and brown sugar into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment; mix on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2- 2 ½ minutes. Add the salt and mix to combine. Add the gluten free all-purpose flour, 1 cup at a time, mixing well after each addition. Continue mixing until the batter clings together in clumps.
- In a 9 x 13 x 2-inch baking pan press the dough into an even ¼-inch thick layer. Prick the dough all over with a fork and place the pan in the refrigerator to chill for approximately 15-20 minutes. When the dough is firm transfer the pan to the preheated oven and bake until golden brown, 18-20 minutes. Transfer the pan to a wire rack to cool completely. Reduce the oven temperature to 325°F.
- For the filling: Place the butter, brown sugar, honey, granulated sugar, and heavy cream in a saucepan over high heat. Bring to a boil, being sure to stir constantly until the mixture coats the back of a spoon, about 1 minute. Remove from the heat and add the salt, nuts and vanilla. **Be careful when adding the vanilla to the hot sugar mixture. It will splatter and foam** Stir to combine and pour the filling over the cooled crust in an even layer.
- Bake for 15-20 minutes until the filling is bubbling, Transfer the pan to a wire rack and cool completely. Once the bars have cooled and the topping has set run a paring knife around the edges of the pan and invert the bars onto an empty sheet pan. Invert again onto a cutting board and use a sharp knife to cut into 1 x 3-inch bars. Bars can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for a few days.
Adapted from Martha Stewart: Cookies
The prep time entered for this recipe is active prep time. This does not include the time for the butter to soften or for the crust to cool in between baking periods.
Marilyn Helm says
Have you ever frozen these bars? Also, I do not really care for honey and wonder if maple syrup would be a good substitute.
You can absolutely freeze them. I have never tried them with male, so I can't really say how they will turn out, but if you give it a try please report back on how they turn out!
These were fantastic! I was a little surprised at how much the honey flavor came through. I made these for me, but my husband enjoyed them as well.
This will be my new go to crust for shortbread based treats.
I look forward to trying different recipes from your site ?
Hi Jody, I am so glad you liked these!! They are a favorite in our house as well 🙂
The gluten free pecan pie bars are absolutely scrumptious & easy! Thank you for sharing.
Have made these bars multiple times- They are delicious every time! We like to keep them in the fridge and serve them cold with a cup of coffee. Delicious!! Thanks for the recipe!
Jennifer, I am so very glad you like them! Served with a cup of coffee is one of my favorite ways to enjoy them as well.
Just put in oven for Father's Day. 🙂
I am very disappointed in this recipe. As it is written, it will not hold together with just any all purpose gluten-free flour (I used King Aurthor all purpose flour) It requires the addition of Xanthum Gum or some other agent to function as a glue in the same way gluten does. Unfortunately, because I am new to baking gluten-free, I made the bars following the recipe as written. While the pecan filling is amazing, the bars are nothing but crumbles. I hope you adjust the recipe accordingly.
Oh no Bryan! I am so sorry that the recipe did not work for you - in the recipe I do mention and link to the brand that I used ( Cup 4 Cup ), but I have used King Arthur Flour in the past and noticed it was more crumbly than the Cup 4 Cup which holds together really well, but my bars did not completely fall apart either which is why I didn't make a note already. I will make an update to the post just in case anyone else has a problem. Thanks again!
Thank you for responding. I will definitely try this recipe again using cup 4 cup all purpose gluten free flour. I'll let you know how they turn out!
Not a problem! I hope you have a better experience next time around.
I just wanted to pop in and say I used the crust recipe to make GF pie crusts and they turned out great!! I cut the recipe in half and used it to make pumpkin pie and pecan pie. Nothing beats a cookie-like crust!! I will probably only use 1/3 of the recipe in the future as the crust was a bit thick but still tasty! I also just cooked the crust with the pie - didn't precook it or anything. Thanks so much for this recipe!
Hooray Krista!! Thank you so much for coming back and telling me. I have to try it as a pie crust now 🙂
help! I making this for Thanksgiving tomorrow and I don't understand how much honey to put in. It looks like there's an apostrophe where the amount is supposed to be.
I am not sure why it is showing that way!! So sorry - I just made these myself it is 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons. I will edit the recipe and make sure it shows correctly. Have a great holiday!
Thanks Meg... Will give it a try and let you know
Would love to see non dairy vegan options.. Ie vegan margarine instead of butter... What would be a good replacement for the cream???
Jenni I haven't tried this particular recipe using vegan replacements which is why I didn't include them. I always try and only give substitutes if I have tried them myself and know that they are good. That being said, you could use a full fat coconut cream in place of the heavy cream and see how it turns out:) Please come back and let me know how it works for you!
I made this the other day using So Delicious Culinary Coconut Milk - Original flavor instead of cream since I am allergic to dairy. It worked wonderfully!! This cream is often found in the non-refrigerated section, its a thicker coconut cream. xx
These bars look amazing. Lovely pics!
Sherrie | With Food + Love says
Congrats on 5K girl - that's pretty HUGE :))))
I was born in Chattanooga, TN too:) Love your blog!
Yay!!! Southern girls unite! Thanks so much Elizabeth:)