Pecan Pie Without Corn Syrup

This is a classic pecan pie but made without corn syrup. It’s sweet and gooey with a perfect pecan crunch, encased in buttery, flaky pastry.

Pecan pie is a firm family favorite. The best pecan pie recipe combines a sweet and gooey filling and an abundance of toasty pecans. It’s all enclosed in a flaky, buttery crust. This recipe is made without corn syrup.

a slice of pecan pie.

A little history

Many pecan pie filling recipes contain corn syrup, especially Karo corn syrup but this is not a must for a traditional pecan pie.

The first pecan pie printed recipes were in cookbooks from Texas back in the 1880s which was before Karo corn syrup was created. Corn syrup pecan pie surged in popularity when Karo corns syrup began printing a recipe for pecan pie on the back of their cans of syrup, around 1930. From there it became very popular to use corn syrup in pecan pie, especially the Karo brand.

So, for those who don’t want to use corn syrup this recipe is made without corn syrup and tastes amazing.

pecan pie slice up close.

The filling

The filling for this pecan pie is sweet but not cloyingly so. There is a mixture of chopped pecan nuts and whole pecans on top of the pie. This brings a great variation in texture throughout the pie that really compliments the gooey custard filling.

The chopped pecans bring a softer crunch than the toasted pecans on top.

The flaky crust

You can use a store-bought pie crust, or make your own.

The flaky layers in a pie crust are made using cold fat that is cut into flour and bound together with ice-cold water to create a thick pastry dough. When the pastry is baked, the water in the fat evaporates and creates little pockets of air throughout the pastry.

This is an all-butter pie crust recipe. It makes a very tender crust with excellent flavor.

Tips for perfect pie crust

  • Use an all-purpose flour with a low level of protein of 10% or a pastry flour which usually has around 8-9% protein.
  • Work the dough as little as possible. The kneading dough also encourages gluten development. In this recipe, the dough is rolled into layers instead of kneading.
  • Don’t over hydrate the pastry by adding too much water. The gluten is developed when water reacts with the protein in the flour. Ensure you don’t add too much. The pastry dough should have just enough water so that it holds together easily when pressed but it shouldn’t be sticky.
  • In the same regard, if you add too little water the dough will be crumbly and you won’t be able to roll it out without it breaking.
  • Add some acid to the dough. An acid like lemon juice or vinegar helps to break down the gluten bonds that are developed.
  • Let the dough rest. Once the pastry is mixed, let it rest in the refrigerator so the gluten can relax. This is going to help with rolling the pie crust and avoid shrinking in the oven.
batter being poured over pecans into pie shell

Ingredients

Find the ingredients amounts in the printable recipe card at the bottom of this post. Here is a rundown of what you will need.

The homemade pie crust

  • Butter. You can use salted butter or unsalted butter. If using salted butter, the added salt component in the recipe can be slightly adjusted.
  • Flour. All-purpose flour or pastry flour.
  • Salt
  • Sugar – Optional but together with the salt it enhances the crust flavor
  • Lemon juice or vinegar (white vinegar or apple cider vinegar). This helps inhibit the gluten formation in the crust and keep it tender.
  • Ice cold water

The pecan filling

  • Pecan halves – Some of the crunchy pecans will be left as halves to top the pie but the majority will be chopped into pieces.
  • Large eggs – eggs bring the custard base.
  • Soft brown sugar – Sweetness and a touch of molasses flavor. You can also use dark brown sugar for a richer flavor.
  • Granulated white sugar – Sweetness
  • Vanilla extract or vanilla paste – A perfect flavor compliment to the pie
  • Salt – A flavor enhancer
  • Butter – Melted butter brings a bit of richness
  • All-purpose flour – just a tablespoon of flour to help the pie filling set
a forkful of pecan pie.

Equipment

You will need a 9-inch pie plate. This recipe is using a glass pie dish which is useful to check that the bottom of the crust is baked when the is removed from the oven.

Method

The pastry

Begin by chopping the butter into small cubes. Add the cubes to a bowl and place them in the fridge or freezer for 10 minutes to ensure it’s cold.

To a large mixing bowl or to the bowl of a food processor, add the flour, sugar, and salt and mix them together. Add the cold butter cubes to the flour.

Use a pastry cutter to cut the butter into small pieces into the flour, or use your fingertips to rub the butter into the flour or pulse it a few times in the food processor. The end result should be like coarse bread crumbs with a few pea-sized butter pieces in the mix. If the butter is melting at any point, place the bowl in the refrigerator.

Pour the lemon juice or vinegar over the dough and some of the ice-cold water. Drizzle it in slowly, about a tablespoon worth at a time.

Note, that the pictures below are of a double batch of the pie dough.

pie crust-8

Pulse the food processor or use your hands to combine the dough and add in as much chilled water as needed. Add any extra water in slowly, a tablespoon at a time. It should hold together easily when pressed but not be sticky. If the dough is crumbly, add a bit more water.

If the butter has softened or the dough is warm, place it in the fridge for 30 minutes before continuing with the next step.

Laminating

On a lightly floured work surface, using a rolling pin, roll the dough into a rough 10inch/25cm rectangle. There’s no need to measure it perfectly, just lengthen it to around 10 inches.

Fold the bottom ⅓ of the dough up to the middle, then fold the top ⅓ of the dough over top to make a pamphlet shape.

Turn the dough a quarter turn, roll the dough and repeat this process once more.

pie crust-16

Once finished rolling, use your cupped hands to gently shape the dough into a flat disc.

Wrap the dough up tightly using compostable plastic wrap, or beeswax wrap. Chill it in the fridge for at least 2 hours or up to 2 days.

Shaping

Once chilled, roll out the pie dough on a lightly floured surface into an 11-inch circle. Drape it over a 9-inch pie pan. Trim off any excess dough with scissors or a sharp knife but leave about 1/2 an inch excess all around.

Tuck this excess dough under and flute the edges by pushing an index finger from one hand into the dough edge in between the thumb and index finger of the opposite hand. Continue this all around the dough edges. 

Place the shaped pie crust in the fridge while the filling is made.

a pie dish with unbaked pastry in it.

Filling

Preheat the oven to 400°F/205°C and place an oven rack in the middle of the oven.

With a large knife, chop up the majority of the pecan halves into small pieces, but save some unchopped for decorating the top of the pie. Set them aside.

In a large bowl whisk together the eggs and sugars until well combined.

Beat in the vanilla, salt, melted butter, and flour.

a bowl of eggs and sugar mixed.

Remove the pie shell from the fridge and sprinkle in the chopped pecans. Pour over the filling.

Decorate the top of the pie with the remaining pecans halves.

Bake the pie at 400°F/205°C for 10 minutes, then turn down the oven to 350°F/175°C and bake for a further 35-40 minutes until the filling has set.

If the edges of the crust are browning too fast you can tent the pie with a piece of foil while it bakes. There should still be a slight jiggle to the center of the pie once it has finished baking. It will firm up as the pie cools.

a baked pecan pie.

Serving

Remove the pie from the oven and allow it to cool down to room temperature on a wire rack before serving. Serve the pecan with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or a dollop of whipped cream.

Storing

Leftover pecan pie can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days. Remove it from the fridge at least an hour before serving.

side view of pie dish.

The baked pie can also be frozen for up to three months. Let it cool completely then wrap it tightly to avoid freezer burn.

Thaw the frozen pie overnight in the refrigerator and let it come to room temperature before serving.

Related recipes

slice of pecan pie.

Pecan Pie Without Corn Syrup

Yield: 9-inch pie
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 50 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 20 minutes

This is a classic pecan pie but made without corn syrup. It's sweet and gooey with a perfect pecan crunch encased in buttery, flaky pastry.

Ingredients

Pastry

  • 156g (1 1/4 cup*) all-purpose flour or pastry flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 113g (1/2 cup) unsalted butter
  • 1/2 Tablespoon lemon juice or apple cider vinegar
  • 50-60g (around 1/4 cup) ice cold water

Filling

  • 250g (2 cups) pecan halves
  • 3 large eggs
  • 150g (3/4 cup) soft brown sugar
  • 50g (1/4 cup) granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla paste or extract
  • 1 Tablespoon flour
  • 60g (1/4 cup) unsalted butter
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Instructions

Pastry

  1. Begin by chopping the butter into small cubes. Add the cubes to a bowl and place them in the fridge or freezer for 10 minutes to ensure it's cold.
  2. To a large mixing bowl or to the bowl of a food processor, add the flour, sugar, and salt and mix them together. Add the cold butter cubes to the flour.
  3. Use a pastry cutter to cut the butter into small pieces into the flour, or use your fingertips to rub the butter into the flour or pulse it a few times in the food processor. The end result should be like coarse bread crumbs with a few pea-sized butter pieces in the mix. If the butter is melting at any point, place the bowl in the refrigerator.
  4. Pour the lemon juice or vinegar over the dough and some of the ice-cold water. Drizzle it in slowly, about a tablespoon worth at a time.
  5. Pulse the food processor or use your hands to combine the dough and add in as much chilled water as needed. Add any extra water in slowly, a tablespoon at a time. It should hold together easily when pressed but not be sticky. If the dough is crumbly, add a bit more water.
  6. If the butter has softened or the dough is warm, place it in the fridge for 30 minutes before continuing with the next step.

Laminating

  1. On a lightly floured work surface, using a rolling pin, roll the dough into a rough 10inch/25cm rectangle. There's no need to measure it perfectly, just lengthen it to around 10 inches.
  2. Fold the bottom ⅓ of the dough up to the middle, then fold the top ⅓ of the dough over top to make a pamphlet shape.
  3. Turn the dough a quarter turn, roll the dough and repeat this process once more.
  4. Once finished rolling, use your cupped hands to gently shape the dough into a flat disc. Wrap the dough up tightly using compostable plastic wrap, or beeswax wrap. Chill it in the fridge for at least 2 hours or up to 2 days.

Shaping

  1. Once chilled, roll out the pie dough on a lightly floured surface into an 11-inch circle. Drape it over a 9-inch pie pan. Trim off any excess dough with scissors or a sharp knife but leave about ½ an inch excess all around.
  2. Tuck this excess dough under and flute the edges by pushing an index finger from one hand into the dough edge in between the thumb and index finger of the opposite hand. Continue this all around the dough edges. 
  3. Place the shaped pie crust in the fridge while the filling is made.

Filling and baking

  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F/205°C and place an oven rack in the middle of the oven.
  2. With a large knife, chop up around 1 1/4 cups of the pecans. Save the rest for decorating the top of the pie and set them aside.
  3. In a large bowl whisk together the eggs and sugars until well combined. Beat in the vanilla, salt, melted butter, and flour.
  4. Remove the pie shell from the fridge and sprinkle in the chopped pecans. Pour over the filling.
  5. Decorate the top of the pie with the remaining pecans halves.
  6. Bake the pie at 400°F/205°C for 10 minutes, then turn down the oven to 350°F/175°C and bake for a further 35-40 minutes until the filling has set.
  7. If the edges of the crust are browning too fast you can tent the pie with a piece of foil while it bakes. There should still be a slight jiggle to the center of the pie once it has finished baking. It will firm up as the pie cools.
  8. Let the pie cool to room temperature before serving.

Notes

*This recipe is written using grams as the main measurement. If you don't have a scale US cup equivalents are also included. Note that these are smaller than metric cups. For best results, use grams.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 9 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 468Total Fat: 34gSaturated Fat: 12gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 20gCholesterol: 103mgSodium: 148mgCarbohydrates: 38gFiber: 3gSugar: 22gProtein: 6g

This is an informational estimate only. I am not a certified Dietitian or Nutritionist

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26 Comments

  1. The pie turned out wonderful. You really don’t need corn syrup! The texture was moist, not too dry and not too runny. I added a Tbsp. of bourbon… great pecan pie recipe!

    1. Why get rid of corn syrup? It is better than sugar. High fructose corn syrup is not the same as corn syrup. Corn syrup is less sweet and 100 percent glucose. Less calories and no fructose.

  2. The taste was great (Birthday person who I made this for yesterday said she had two pieces for breakfast!) , but the custard barely covered the chopped nuts and only went halfway up the pan … So there was a lot of “naked” crust. I had large eggs, but wondering if I did 5 next time if I’d have to adjust the rest of the ingredients.

    1. Perhaps your pie dish is deeper than mine. You could then increase all the filling ingredients except for the nuts by 1/3 to make more 🙂

  3. I would make pecan pie for my mom,she’s a diabetic. I’d use corn syrup but no sugar cause corn syrup is sugar. It’s still sweet enough but without extra sugar.

  4. My wife came unglued when I said I saw this recipe without corn syrup. She thought I “loved” her pecan pie with corn syrup. It was blasphemy that I even suggest such a thing as it would be “grainy” without the corn syrup! Well is it? Sometimes the syrup makes them too runny and ì would like her to try this.

    1. I’d rather have it without corn syrup. I make the tarts all the time and don’t put corn syrup in the recipe.

  5. Professional pastry chef here…
    Or you can do what I do and use coconut sugar and coconut syrup.
    Simple and even works a little extra fiber into the mix.
    Keep baking y’all!

    1. Does it reduce overall sugar carbs by using coconut sugar and syrup instead? Husband is a diabetic.
      Also, I’ve always struggled making pecan pie with Karo syrup because it typically turns out runny rather than set. Interested to try this recipe out! Thank you!

  6. I’m wondering if GF flour can bee used in the custard worth the same results? I can make a GF pie crust without any problem, but uncertain if the GF flour would have the same impact on the custard is regular wheat flour.

    1. I was wondering the same thing, I have celiac disease and need all things gf and I had thought about using cornstarch in the filling since it makes such smooth gravies.

    1. Aw dear, sounds like you over-baked it unfortunately! Perhaps your oven runs a bit hotter. The center has a gooey texture if baked correctly!

  7. i used this recipe and added 1 cup of high quality bourbon maple syrup. the corn syrup old recipe just was always too sweet and grainy. this with the maple added got rave reviews at thanksgiving!

  8. I followed directions precisely, but mine did not turn out great. There were way too many nuts – it felt like eating crust and candied nuts. If I try this again with only half the nuts, then the pie will be very shallow.
    Flavors were great, but will look for another “more gooey, less nutty” recipe.

  9. your printing method is a nightmare ! uses reems of paper with 2 sentneces on ti. I will have ti hand copy I hope your recipe turns out better than your choice of printing.

    1. Hey Anna, are you trying to print the entire post maybe? Because if you click the print button on the recipe card (which is at the bottom of the post), it will print and fit nicely 🙂

  10. I made your pie for Thanksgiving, and it was a huge hit! I had a small-ish tart pan, so I used a different press-in kind of crust and had to guesstimate doing the recipe for the filling at about 2/3s. It was SO GOOD! Everybody raved. My only regret was that I forgot to take a photo. I loved having the broken-up nuts under, and then the pretty layer of arranged nuts on top. Thanks so much for a great recipe!

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