Pie is a quintessential dessert during the holiday season. When I was a kid, I didn’t understand how to make one because my family only purchased them from bakeries. One Thanksgiving, my aunt made a pecan pie from scratch and in response to my utter amazement, she brushed off my praise by telling me it wasn’t that big of a deal. As it turns out, she was right. It’s not very hard at all to make a traditional pecan pie from scratch and this recipe will take you step by step.
Considering that pecan pie is one of my absolute favorite pies I wanted to get it just right. With some trial and error I put together this classic recipe. It’s important to understand that part of what makes pecan pie so delicious is the fact that it is basically just sugar topped with pecans stuffed into a pie crust. This can result is some pecan pies that are so sweet, it actually burns a little to eat a slice. That isn’t the case with this pie. I deliberately lowered the sugar content a bit from most recipes by about 1/2 cup so that the pie would set well and still remain sweet, but not cloyingly so. This recipe will impress just as much as it pleases the taste buds of your friends and family.
The last point I’ll make before getting to the recipe is that while this preparation is truly delicious and may even have slightly less sugar than other recipes, I’ll warn you right now that no-one should really eat this pie regularly. I don’t normally give any health advice on this blog (nor should I), but it would be irresponsible not to just point out how shockingly bad for you this pie is when you consider the size of a typical pie slice, the calories, and the amount of sugar in just one piece. Nonetheless, it’s great for an occasional holiday treat or an end of the year binge before yet another fleeting New Year’s resolution to lose weight!
Makes one whole pie at 3815 – 4015 calories total or 477 – 501 calories per 1/8 slice (depending on pie crust).
Pie Filling Ingredients
- 6 oz. or 1.5 cups of whole pecans (1,175 calories)
- 2 tablespoons of unsalted butter (200 calories)
- 3/4 cup Light Corn Syrup (720 calories – light color, not light calories)
Note: Do not confuse this with the infamous high-fructose corn syrup because they are completely different.
- 3/4 cup loosely packed brown sugar (540 calories)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (about 10 calories)
- 3 eggs (210 calories)
- 9-inch, pre-made deep pie crust or make your own with the recipe below (960 calories per pre-made crust or 1160 per homemade crust)
Note: If you’re going to make your own crust from scratch, then make it first before you make the filling.
Equipment for Filling
- Large mixing bowl
- Rubber spatula, whisk, and/or electric mixer
- 9-inch pie baking dish
- Cup and teaspoon measurements
- Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees F.
- Melt two tablespoons of butter. If you’re mixing bowl is glass, just melt it in the bowl. Otherwise, melt the butter and then add it to your bowl.
- Add in the rest of the ingredients except for the pecans.
- Mix all of the ingredients thoroughly until there are no clumps.
- Add the pecans and fold them into the mix lightly. You don’t want to break the pecans.
- Pour the filling into your pie crust and place the pie on the middle rack to cook for 60 – 65 minutes.
- If you use the homemade pie crust (below), then cover the edges of the pie with aluminum foil for the first 50 minutes of baking. This keeps the edges from browning too much during the cooking process.
- Once done, remove the pie from the oven and let it cool for at least 2 hours before serving. You can tell if the pie is ready by very very lightly pressing down on the center of the pie with your finger. The filling should yield slightly, but bounce back. The pie will be raised slightly when you take it out, but it will settle to a flatter surface as it cools. Once cool, you can also store the pie covered with foil or plastic wrap in the fridge until you are ready to eat it.
- Enjoy it plain or with some whipped cream!
Pie Crust Ingredients
- 1 and 1/4 cups all-purpose flour (about 500 calories)
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar (90 calories)
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 5 tablespoons of unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces (500 calories)
- 1 large egg (70 calories)
2 tablespoons of ice-cold water
Equipment for Pie Crust
- Food processor or stand mixer (you don’t have to have one, but it makes life easier)
- Cup and tablespoon measurements
- Clean flat surface
- Parchment or wax paper
- 9-inch pie dish
- Pie weights or dried beans
Pie Crust Directions
- Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees F.
- Put the flour into the food processor with the salt and white sugar before pulsing briefly just so everything mixes.
- Cut up the butter into 1/2 inch cubes, add it into the food processor, and pulse until the butter is roughly blended, but it still has some chunks left.
- Lastly add in the egg with the ice-cold water and pulse until the dough just starts to become a ball.
- Right when it sort of rolls up on itself, stop the food processor.
- Tear off a piece of parchment paper and lay it down on a surface where you have some room. Then sprinkle some extra flour on the parchment or wax paper.
- Dump the dough out of the food processor and onto the parchment paper before collecting all of the pieces and molding them into a large ball or disc shape. Then sprinkle the whole piece of dough with a little flour as well.
- Next, use your hands to slowly stretch the dough out from the center in a circular shape to create a large flat disc that is about 13 inches in diameter.
Note: I tried using a rolling pin, but it was a nightmare. Just use your hands.
- Dust the top of the dough with a little flour and tear off another piece of parchment paper to lay on top of the dough.
- Carefully place the dough (that is now sandwiched between the parchment paper) in the refrigerator for at least 45 minutes or in the freezer for at least 25 minutes.
Note: This step is really important because it hardens the dough enough for you to manipulate it into a pie pan/dish. If you don’t cool the dough down, it will tear easily when you try to transfer it.
- After cooling the dough, take it out of the refrigerator and remove the top layer of parchment paper. Then carefully slide your hands underneath the dough between it and the parchment paper on the bottom to separate them.
- Lift the dough and place it immediately into the center of a 9 inch pie tin/plate. Slowly push the dough down into the pie tin so that it reaches the bottom and comes up the sides. You should have some extra dough hanging over the sides, but don’t worry about that.
- Fold the extra dough hanging over the edge of the pie tin onto itself to create a thicker crust. You can get fancy here and crimp the edges, use a fork to impress lines, or create a pattern, but I just wanted to do it quickly, so I rolled the dough over itself in a semi-spiral.
- Using a fork, puncture the bottom of the pie crust to make a series of small holes.
- Next, place some aluminum foil just over the center of the pie crust and fill the bottom of the pie crust with either pie weights or dried beans to keep the bottom of the crust from rising during the baking process.
- Place the pie crust into the oven and pre-bake it for 20 minutes or until the edges just start to get golden.
- After 20 minutes, remove the pie weights or beans and aluminum foil from the pie crust and put the crust back in the oven for another 10 minutes until the whole crust is golden.
- Store the crust wrapped in plastic wrap in the freezer until you are ready to use it or use it immediately.