Rich, buttery and crunchy, this is a wonderful pecan pie option when you want a more sophisticated dessert. The filling comes together in 10 minutes and uses brown butter for a deeper flavor. Serve it warm with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream and turn it into a special dessert.
As much as I like the traditional pie, I found that this pecan pie tart version is more sophisticated, with two interesting additions: bourbon and brown butter.
The first brings a wonderful caramel undertone, and the latter adds a richness and complex flavor that I don't think can be achieved otherwise.
That said, let's get into the details of this pecan tart recipe that, as you can see, is not a tall pie and is very rich so a sliver goes a long way.
The filling ingredients are easy to get, and maybe you already have them.
- Pie or tart crust. Blind baked, see below.
- Butter: we use unsalted butter for this recipe, and I take the extra step to make brown butter, as it exponentially enhances the overall flavor of this pie. If you make it in advance (all details in this step-by-step post on how to make brown butter) this pie comes together in less than 10 minutes. You can skip this step and use regular melted butter, but expect a less deep, rich flavor.
- Pecans: you'll need chopped ones for the filling and whole for the top of the tart if you want a more decorative finish.
- Bourbon: I use Jack Daniels, regular or honey, which most might consider too expensive for baking, but I think great ingredients deliver great results. Use whichever bourbon or whisky you like.
- Sugar: normally we use white granulated sugar, but it's also quite amazing with light or dark brown sugar.
- Vanilla: I use pure vanilla extract or pure vanilla paste when available, but a good vanilla essence (artificially flavored) also works and is infinitely cheaper.
- Eggs: large, fresh.
- Flour: all-purpose or cake flour, both work.
The pie crust
The first layer is a homemade crust. Of course, you can substitute a store-bought one, the best quality you can afford.
I like unassuming doughs when using sweet fillings like this one, and I have several recipes you can use:
- Flaky pie crust: our old-fashioned dough with part shortening and part butter (image below). It never disappoints, especially during the holidays. It's the one I use for the Chocolate Pecan Pie also. Link to the Perfect Flaky Pie Crust.
- All-butter pie crust (image below): this is a traditional and basic recipe, the one I use for this pecan tart. Link to the Basic Pie Crust recipe.
- French tart crust: my third option because it has a larger amount of sugar and I think it's too much with a pecan pie filling. Use it if you want a sweeter tart. The crust snaps when you bite into it as it bakes more like a sugar cookie. It's the one I use for the Pear Frangipane Tart. Link to our Sweet Shortcrust Pastry.
Steps to make this tart
- Blind baking the crust: this is a necessary step, so the crust doesn't turn out soggy. It's like pre-baking the dough (with weights)so that it doesn't shrink and creates a dry layer that prevents, as much as it can, the filling from seeping into it while it bakes.
- Easy filling: it comes together in minutes so prepare it while the crust is blind baking.
- Brown butter: it's optional but very easy to make, so I recommend you don't skip this step. You can read the how to make brown butter post for more details.
Assembling the pie
- Jar or pitcher: the easiest way to add the liquid filling over the pecans is with a pitcher. That way you can slowly fill the crust without moving the pecans too much, so they retain the pattern.
- Pecans: any way you place them is fine. They will move around a little anyway. But they rise to the top in the oven, so it's nice to have a pattern.
- Organization: read the recipe first and ensure you have ingredients at the correct temperature, equipment, and enough workspace. This will make the process so much easier.
- Baking time: keep in mind that all ovens and pans are different, even if they look the same or very similar. The baking time in my recipes is as accurate as it can be, but it might take you more or less time. You can use a thermometer(like the OXO oven thermometer) to check that your oven is at the right temperature. I recommend you keep track of how your oven works and what tiny details you might need to adjust.
- Pecans: the ones sprinkled on top will toast as the pie is baked. I use raw ones for the filling, but you can toast them slightly before adding them.
- Bourbon: I find that good bourbons (I use Jack Daniels, regular or honey) make for much better flavor. But use any bourbon or whisky you like or have.
- Pan: if you use a smaller pie pan the tart will be taller or course, more in tune with traditional Thanksgiving pies.
- Baking: don't overbake the filling, and don't undertake it either. I know! It should still be a little jiggly when you take it out, and the pecans don't have to be burned. But make sure it's settled enough to firm up as it cools.
- Storing: I like it the day it is baked but stays at room temperature for a day or two.
- Variation: walnuts can be used instead of pecans. And orange zest is a nice addition if you want to change it a bit.
It's probably underbaked, or the recipe doesn't have enough eggs or binding ingredients to give it structure. It takes a while for the eggs and syrups to cook and firm up. Follow the recipe instructions and check to see if it jiggles in the center. It should move slightly and not be completely firm. It will solidify as it cools down. If you feel it needs more time, lower the temperature to 325°F and leave it a bit longer.
If you want another type of alcohol, you can use brandy or cognac. You can also increase the vanilla extract and add some pure almond extract to complement it more.
Yes, it does. Bourbon is a type of whisky, which means it has high alcohol graduation.
Absolutely! Keep it for one day at room temperature, loosely covered.
Most, if not all of it, does. It depends on how long a pie takes to bake. In this recipe what remains is a deep, rich flavor that is wonderful.
They do when you add them to the uncooked filling. You can see in the image below that the pecans are spread in the crust, and then the filling is poured. Yet, they rise during baking.
Yes, you can, and a sign that might be happening is that some pecans start to burn and the filling is too dry once the tart cools down. Follow the recipe instructions, but you might also want to lower the temperature by about ⅔ of the baking time if the top is getting too dark. Tent with foil until the pie is done.
Related recipes you might like:
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For the dough:
For the filling:
- 3 eggs, at room temperature
- ¼ cup (35g) all-purpose flour
- ½ cup (150g) granulated sugar
- ¼ cup (50g) light brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 3 tablespoons bourbon
- 1 ¼ cups pecans, lightly toasted
- 10 tablespoons (140g) unsalted butter
For the dough:
- Put ice 4 or 5 ice cubes in a measuring cup and fill with cold water to about a cup.
- In a food processor put flour and salt. Add cubed butter and pulse using on/off until the butter is the size of peas.
- Add about ½ cup of ice water and pulse a few times.
- Add ¼ cup more ice water and pulse until it barely comes together. Check the dough. Even though it's crumbly and dry, if you take some and squeeze it with your hand, it should come together. If it doesn't come together add a few more tablespoons water.
- Transfer dough to a barely floured surface and gather it together into a ball. Don't over work it or the dough will be tough. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for an hour or up to 3 days.
- When you're ready to use it, roll it on a lightly floured surface, starting from the middle and making sure the size is at least 1 inch bigger than the pan you're using.
- Carefully place in the ungreased pie pan. Trim edges, prick the surface and refrigerate for 1 hour or freeze for half an hour.
- Preheat oven to 350ºF /180ºC
- Put foil and weights (I use dried beans) covering the dough surface and bake for 10 to 15 minutes. Lift foil and weights and continue baking for 10 more minutes, or until it's dry and starting to color.
- Preheat oven to 375ºF / 190ºC
For the filling:
- To make brown butter, put butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. For more info, there is a whole post on how to make brown butter.
- Let it melt and continue cooking it. It will make loud noises at first, like an angry cat, but suddenly it will stop. That's when it will brown very quickly, so watch it.
- When it's a deep amber color and has a nutty aroma, remove from heat and let the bubbles subside. The browned bit will go to the bottom.
- While the butter is browning, put eggs, flour, sugar, bourbon and vanilla in a bowl.
- Add browned butter, leaving sediments behind in the saucepan. Do this a bit at a time so the hot butter doesn't cook the eggs.
- Put the toasted pecans in the bottom of the pre baked pie shell.
- Carefully add the butter mixture. I like to put the liquid in a measuring cup, put the pie in the oven and carefully add the liquid. That way I can fill it to the top without moving it.
- Bake for 30 minutes or until golden.
- Cool on wire rack.
- Keep leftovers at room temperature for 2 day, wrapped or covered. Then refrigerate leftovers in plastic wrap.
Organization: always read the recipe first and make sure you have all the ingredients, at the right temperatures, and also the rest of the equipment and space to make it. This will make the process so much easier!
Baking time: keep in mind that all ovens and pans are different, even if they look the same or very similar. The baking time in my recipes is as accurate as it can be, but it might take you more or less time. You can use a thermometer that is placed inside the oven (like the OXO oven thermometer) to check that your oven is at the right temperature. I recommend you keep track of how your oven works and what tiny details you might need to adjust.
Pecans: they can be used lightly toasted or raw. Your choice.
Bourbon: I find that good bourbons (I use Jack Daniels, regular or honey) make for much better flavor. But use any bourbon or whisky you like or have.
Pan: if you use a smaller pie pan the tart will be taller or course, more in tune with traditional Thanksgiving pies.
Baking: don't overbake the filling and don't undertake it either. I know! It should still be a little jiggly when you take it out and the pecans don't have to be burned. But make sure it's settled enough so it will firm up as it cools.
Storing: I like it the day it is baked, but it keeps for a day or two at room temperature.
Variation: walnuts can be used instead of pecans. And orange zest is a nice addition if you want to change it up a bit.
- Prep Time: 20 minutes
- Cook Time: 30 minutes
- Category: Pies
- Method: Baking
- Cuisine: American
- Serving Size: ⅛
- Calories: 719
- Sugar: 19.6 g
- Sodium: 323.5 mg
- Fat: 51.9 g
- Carbohydrates: 54.1 g
- Protein: 8.7 g
- Cholesterol: 168.9 mg
Keywords: bourbon pecan tart
Filling adapted from Room for Dessert, by David Lebovitz