These Pecan Pie Bars are thick and caramelly, with a crispy coconut flour shortbread crust and a gooey pecan pie filling on top. These gluten-free, paleo, and vegan bars will be the star of your dessert spread!
Let’s chat about Pecan Pie Bars! Pecan pie often gets left behind in the fall baking hysteria surrounding everything pumpkin spice and apple, but I believe it rightly deserves it’s spot at the dessert table. When pecan pie is good, it’s gooey, crunchy, and NOT cloyingly sweet.
Unfortunately, many times, cloyingly sweet is ALL we get with pecan pie. For many, many years, I wasn’t at all a fan, because all I associated with pecan pie was a thick, gelatinous, corn-syrup filled layer of jelly-like sweetness. Even the thought of it kind of grosses me out, to be honest. Sorry to all the OG pecan pie lovers out there – it’s just not for me.
The first time I TRULY loved pecan pie came when I started making it myself. First, with this classic pecan pie – it’s not gluten-free or vegan, but it is truly delicious and full of browned butter and NO corn syrup. It was a staple on my holiday table for a few years.
It got dethroned by this Paleo Pecan Pie though, and then subsequently, this Paleo *Chocolate* Pecan Pie. They’re both absolutely delightful, with the chocolate in the second version adding a little extra bitterness and richness, from the dark chocolate that’s folded in and melted into the filling. Swooooon. 🙌
But I think these Pecan Pie Bars might top them all…in terms of ease, these are definitely the winner, and they’re certainly right up there in terms of deliciousness too! No pie crust needed, just a delightfully easy and delicious shortbread crust.
The crust is made with coconut flour, which helps provides that sandy, firm bite that is so customary with shortbread. It’s prebaked until firm, golden, and crispy before being topped with the pecan topping, so it keeps that nice crunchy bite and doesn’t get soggy, even after the liquidy topping is poured over the top.
For the filling, we create a quick caramel over the stove, heating it just enough to bring the coconut sugar, maple syrup, and coconut oil together into one smooth, creamy caramel. This also helps the coconut sugar to melt down a bit. Once that’s off the heat, a slurry of non-dairy milk, flax meal, tapioca flour, vanilla and salt are whisked in.
The flax meal and tapioca flour help the caramel thicken up in lieu of the eggs that are typically found in pecan pie to play the binding role. Toasted pecans are stirred into the caramel mixture, and then the whole shebang is poured over the crunchy cooled crust. It’s all baked for 30 minutes until the caramel is nice and bubbly.
And then the hardest part: waiting for them to cool. I made them at night, so I just stuck them into the fridge overnight so they were out of sight, out of mind. Once they’re firm, slice them up and try not to devour them all in one sitting!
Jesse and I have been demolishing these…the first batch I made disappeared rapidly from the fridge, but thankfully I’ve still got some from the batch you’re looking at hiding in my fridge. Our favorite way to devour them has been warming up in the microwave for 30 seconds until gooey, and then topped with a scoop of vanilla dairy-free ice cream. Heaven, I’m telling you.
Once your teeth sink into the gooey caramel topping, full of crunchy toasted pecan bits, and then into the crunchy shortbread crust, you’ll be in pure dessert heaven. It’s sweet, caramelly, nutty, crunchy, chewy, and absolutely SCRUMPTIOUS! I hope these take a spot at your holiday dessert table, because I know they’ll be on mine. Enjoy! :)
Remember to #bakerita if you try the recipe!
Pecan Pie Bars
For the shortbread crust
Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Grease an 8x8” square pan with coconut oil (I recommend lining the pan with parchment paper as well if your pan doesn't have a removable bottom).
Combine the maple syrup and coconut oil and whisk until fully combined. Stir in the coconut flour and salt until a smooth dough is formed.
Press the dough into the prepared pan. Bake for 9-11 minutes, or until golden brown. Let cool completely.
For the filling, combine the coconut sugar, maple syrup, and coconut oil in a small saucepan over medium-low heat and whisk to combine. Bring to a low boil and let simmer for about 2-3 minutes and then remove from heat. Let cool slightly.
While it cools, whisk together the non-dairy milk, flax meal, arrowroot starch, vanilla extract, and salt in a small bowl.
Add the milk/flax mixture to the slightly cooled sugar mixture and whisk to combine. Stir in the pecans.
Pour the pecan mixture over the cooled crust and bake for 30 minutes.
Let cool completely, at least 2 hours, in the refrigerator before cutting into 16 squares.
Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator.