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Pecan Squares

Falling somewhere between a pie and a cookie, this pastry tops a crisp crust with a thick layer of pecans. The sweet pecan filling offers a delicious variation on the pecan pie-perfect for dessert, lunch, or an afternoon snack.

  • Yield: Makes about 32 cookies
Pecan Squares

Source: Celebrating 2000, Special Issue 2000


  • 18 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 3/4 cup light-brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup light-brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 6 tablespoons honey
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups (8 ounces) pecan halves
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract


  1. Place rack in center of oven. Heat oven to 375 degrees. To make the crust: In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix butter and brown sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add salt, and mix to combine. Add flour 1 cup at a time, on medium speed, mixing until fully incorporated after each addition. Continue mixing until the dough begins to come together in large clumps.

  2. Press dough about 1/4-inch thick into a 9-by-13-by-1-inch baking pan. Prick the pastry with the tines of a fork. Chill until firm, about 20 minutes. Bake until golden brown, 18 to 20 minutes. Transfer pan to a wire rack to cool completely.

  3. Reduce oven to 325 degrees. To make the filling: Place butter, brown sugar, honey, granulated sugar, heavy cream, and salt in a medium saucepan over high heat. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly until mixture coats the back of a spoon, about 1 minute. Remove pan from heat; stir in nuts and vanilla.

  4. Pour filling onto the cooled crust. Bake until filling bubbles, 15 to 20 minutes. Carefully transfer pan to a wire rack to cool completely. Run a paring knife around edges of the pan, and invert onto cooling rack, leaving the pastry on the rack. Invert rack with pastry onto a cutting board, leaving the pastry on the board, filling side up. Use a sharp knife to cut into 1-by-3-inch bars. Store in an airtight container up to 1 week.

Reviews (38)

  • victorialriley 15 Dec, 2013

    I have made this recipe since it was published in an Everyday Food magazine years ago. Every person that has tried them, love them. I wouldn't change a single ingredient.

  • Luvlybaker 16 Jan, 2013

    I just made these! They are very delicious and easy to make. When I poured the filling over the crust it seemed like it wouldn't be enough but it is. The only thing I don't like is how buttery they are. I'm don't like butter and I can taste it alot in these bars and they are greasy on the bottom because if all the butter. Although that made really easy to release from the pan! If you like butter they are perfect!

  • finholl 17 Dec, 2011

    oh, and let this cool in the pan before removing so the filling can set and the crust doesn't break. I think that is one of the most important instructions to this recipe

  • finholl 17 Dec, 2011

    I started making these with doubt in my mind that they wouldn't be good. I was worried about the crust, then worried their wasn't enough filling.
    The crust is really good, especially after the second baking, and there is plenty of filling. I only changed one ingredient. Honey for corn syrup. I would also toast the pecans.
    I think the crust is a little bit thick for the amount of filling.
    Use parchment paper to line your pan making for easy pan removal.

  • sasbaker 23 Dec, 2010

    When I made these (for the second time) is used Brown Sugar Splenda instead of the brown sugar. They turned out great! No one will know they are made with Splenda instead of regualr brown sugar.

  • onelittlebirdie 29 Nov, 2010

    easy peasy to make, i didn't use an electric mixer with a bowl, just a hand-held mixer and it worked for the crust too.
    a bonus is how wonderful the whole house smells after baking this! thanks martha!

  • AKnamedK 23 Oct, 2010

    Soooo flavorful! Best pecan dessert I've had! So buttery, way better than a pecan pie. What am I doing writing this review, I should be eating another pecan square right now!

  • Sweet_One 18 Feb, 2010

    These are easy to prepare and very delicious. I lined my pan with parchment paper, when cooled, it was very easy to remove the entire sheet of bars to my cutting board. By adding chopped pecans rather than half pieces, the finished bars were easier to cut too. My husband thought these pecan bars were better than those at our local pastry shop!

  • DebbieDurham 19 Mar, 2009

    mykele - thank you so much for your kind words! Laughter IS INDEED the best medicine! Sometimes the complaints on here are so ridiculous I just can't hold it back. I have to say something! Hope your friend is doing well. What a GREAT friend you are to make cookies for them!

  • bartgirl 19 Mar, 2009

    I made these yesterday and my family absolutely loved them! They are easy to whip together. I didn't let the crust cool at all and I think they were perfect.

  • tourtes 19 Mar, 2009

    I made these yesterday, using the Macadamia recipe of last week and substituting the Macadamias with pecans.........did not want a 9 x 13 dessert just too much for 2 people...anyway, they turned out great! My husband loves them. Not too sweet either!

  • mykele 18 Mar, 2009

    Debbie Durham, You just made my day!!! I have been busy making
    cookies and brownies for a friend and her husband who just had
    major surgery and needed some cheering up. I am a bit tired
    but your last two comments gave me a good laugh and that is
    the best medicine when one is tired and needs to relax. Thank you
    so much. I am not a pro-baker but have never had a problem
    with following any recipe..guess I use common sense.

  • barbarajl 18 Mar, 2009

    4 tablespoons equals a quarter cup, so 18 tbsp is 1 cup plus 2 tbsp. It doesn't sound like so much this way, when you think of it as a cookie base.

  • DebbieDurham 18 Mar, 2009

    KrafteeLaydee "PRESS DOUGH IN A PAN" That usually means that's the crust!Don't add any more ingredients with the crust if it says " to make filling" UNTIL IT PLAINLY SAYS "pour filling onto.........

    Honey, you should stay out of the kitchen!

  • DebbieDurham 18 Mar, 2009

    The instructions made perfect sense to me! Just because it does not tell me "use the first amount of butter only for the crust or use the 18 tblsp of butter for the crust" I KNEW THAT because it started out with "to make the crust" it ended with "add the flour mix well, press in the pan"

    Can you not figure out when it gives two amounts of the same ingredient that you use it at two different times? If not - you don't need to be around electrical appliances - ESPECIALLY THE STOVE!

  • stephaniely61 18 Mar, 2009

    Is 18 tablespoons of butter correct? (1st ingredient)

  • KrafteeLaydee 18 Mar, 2009

    This recipe is a disorganized mess! I doubt that Martha wrote these instructions - I doubt she even saw this. What ingredients go where??? When does the crust end and the filling begin? The photo looks super-delicious!!

  • patcash 18 Mar, 2009

    I am with Laurie. Most people are used to recipes the old fashioned way where it is indicated as to what ingredients go where. Such as "make crust using the first four ingredients", then, for filling proceed to give those ingredients and instructions and so on to end of rest of recipe.

  • Sheadynook 18 Mar, 2009

    Hi Laurie,
    You must mix the 4 first ingredients, then put in pan

  • LaurieSadler 18 Mar, 2009

    I'd love to know how everyone made these bars. They look great. But both the crust and filling have Butter, Brown Sugar and Salt in each. The receipe does not indicate how much of these ingrediants go into the crust and how much goes into the filling. Am I reading the recipe wrong or are these incomplete instructions again!?

  • tourtes 18 Mar, 2009

    About a week ago there was a Macadamia Maple Bars recipe posted......if you dont want to use a 9 x 13 pan you can use the Macadamia recipe and substitute the Macadamia nuts for pecans, the maple for honey, etc.....basically the same. And they dont let the cookie base cool completely only slightly!

  • kep615 18 Mar, 2009

    You have to be careful with refrigeration. Sometimes the pastry may shrink.

  • carole7777 26 Feb, 2009

    Can you just refrigerate them, to cool them?

  • MarrsBar 18 Dec, 2008

    To: v6jodxd
    In order to make the time of cooling go by faster, simply take the crust outside with you, and it will cool signficantly faster. This works best in the colder months of course. Happy baking! :)

  • v6jodxd 11 Dec, 2008

    I just made these and they're a HUGE hit! They're a bit too sweet..but soooooo good!
    It took a lot of patience to wait for the crust to cool completely...any idea as to why we need to wait? Will it change the recipe?

  • lawkfc 20 Nov, 2008

    This are WONDERFUL - easy and DELISH. I didn't have heavy cream in the house so I used melted vanilla ice cream (happened to have that).
    Cna't keep them around for a week to see if they are still great after being stored in an airtight container for a week. Sometimes I make the crust one night and then the top in the morning - the house smells wonderful and they are such a hit!

  • runcible_spoon 11 Apr, 2008

    To angepan: just substitute the 2 Tbs heavy cream for about 1 and a half Tbs of milk plus half a Tbs of butter.

  • angepan 5 Apr, 2008

    I am living in Turkey and I couldn't find heavy cream .What can you advise to me instead of heavy cream?

  • diannedesigns 28 Mar, 2008

    this looks and sounds a lot like a recipe I had years ago, and had lost. can't wait to try it1

  • terrie-bear 27 Mar, 2008

    I saw this as the cookie of the day and I love pecan pie and so does my family and I thought I would try it. It got great family reviews. They are going fast. It was super easy to make, and turned out of the pan in one, 9 x 13 piece, which I doubted that it would. It was easy to cut into bars and did not crumble into bits. I'll be making this one again. This recipe is a home run at my house... 10 stars. Thanks, Martha

  • greenowl 27 Mar, 2008

    This one was already put up for cookie of the day about a month ago.

  • bobbysmom 26 Mar, 2008

    Perfect when wanting something other than a regular cookie, short time since it's all one pan baking. Just like a pecan pie but in bars, love it.

  • shealennon 23 Mar, 2008

    These were so easy to make and they taste wonderful! I will definitely make them again.

  • mbishop 23 Dec, 2007

    These taste so good. I did have a problem with them being a little too runny. Maybe next time I'll let them cook longer than 20 minutes.

  • mnmbenn 21 Dec, 2007

    WOW! I brought these to work today for a luncheon. One colleague had to hug me for bringing them! Next time, I will build up the crust around the edges as in the picture. I didn't pay attention to the picture and it was a job getting it away from the sides of the pan. This is now going on my list of holiday cookies! WOW...amazing!

  • MY2BOYS 12 Dec, 2007

    A favorite with myfamily, friends and co-workers! If you like pecan pie, you'll love this cookie.

  • rita1857 17 Nov, 2007

    Even my two evil brother-in-laws become nice when these are around. A BIG hit! Tedious to make the crust at times but SO worth it.

  • lilylady 7 Nov, 2007

    Another Martha winner. My son-in-law's favortie.

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