Here at Texas Monthly, we believe every day is a good day to celebrate the official state pie of Texas. But as National Pecan Pie Day, today offers an especially good reason to enjoy a slice.
The Texas Legislature only named the pecan pie as the official state pie of Texas five years ago, but Texas Monthly has been sharing pecan pie recipes since well before 2013. In honor of today’s holiday, we’ve rounded up some of our favorite pecan pie recipes, passed down from generations of families, captured in cookbooks, or perfected at some of our favorite restaurants.
There are as many variations on how to make a pecan pie as there are to say the word “pecan,” but unlike with the pronunciation, you can’t go wrong with whichever pie you choose (although the recipe involving chocolate might be a bit controversial). [And for more on how to say “pecan” correctly, check out the debut of the magazine’s Talk Like a Texan podcast, in which writer John Lova Lomax explores the proper pronunciation of our state nut.]
Pecan pie from Jessica Maher of Lenoir
1 cup dark-brown sugar
2/3 cup Lyle’s Golden Syrup
1 tablespoon bourbon
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 eggs, lightly beaten
1/4 cup heavy cream
heavy pinch salt
2 cups pecans, toasted and coarsely chopped (reserve around 35 or so toasted halves for the top)
1 pie crust
Heat oven to 350 degrees. In a saucepan, combine sugar, syrup, bourbon, and butter and bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature. Whisk the eggs, cream, and salt together, then whisk them into the sugar mixture.
Pour the toasted pecan pieces into a pie crust, then pour in the batter. Evenly distribute the pecan halves on top of the pie in concentric circles, starting from the middle.
Bake for 45 to 50 minutes, or until the filling is just set and the crust is golden brown. Allow to rest for at least an hour, then serve with whipped cream or ice cream.
Pecan pie from Jane Dure’s great-grandmother’s cook, Bessie
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup dark Karo corn syrup
3 eggs, lightly beaten
1 1/2 cups chopped pecans
4 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon each ground cloves and allspice
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 unbaked pie shell
2 to 3 dozen pecan halves
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bring sugar and syrup to a boil. Allow to cool. Add next 7 ingredients, mix well, and pour into pie shell. Decorate with pecan halves and bake for 35 minutes.
Pecan pie from Ann Criswell, used by Bud “the Pieman” Royer of Royers Round Top Cafe
5 cups white flour
2 cups minus 3 tablespoons Crisco
1/2 cup water
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup butter
1 cup white sugar
1 cup light corn syrup
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups pecan halves
“The key to a great pie is great crust,” says Royer. Dissolve the salt in the water. Set aside. Using two forks, your hands, or, if you’re a kitchen gadget fanatic, a dough blender, cut the shortening into the flour until the mixture is crumbly. Add the salt water and mix until the dough pulls cleanly away from your hands (if needed, add a tablespoon or two of flour). This recipe makes three 10-inch crusts; leave out your working dough and put the other two in the freezer for later use.
Clear some counter space and lightly dust the surface, a rolling pin, the dough, and your hands with flour. Applying even pressure, roll out the dough with a back-and-forth motion. Give it a half turn, and repeat the process until it’s roughly 1/8 inch thick. Dust the dough, and fold it in half twice, so it forms a wedge. Place the crust in a 10-inch pie pan, and unfold it.
Some people crimp the crust using fork tines, but Royer simply pinches the dough between his fingers. “This is homemade, which means it doesn’t have to be perfect,” he says. “Life’s too short to make decorative leaves out of dough.”
Melt the butter, and combine it with the sugar, corn syrup, eggs, salt, and vanilla. Pour the mixture into the pie shell. Place the pecan halves on top. (“It’s important to use the halves,” says Royer. “They taste better than the pieces.”) Bake at 350 degrees for 45 to 60 minutes. It’s ready when you stick a knife into the pie and it comes out clean.
Pecan pie from Jane Smith-Garcés, neighbor of Deputy Editor Jeff Salamon
2/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup light Karo syrup
1/3 cup dark Karo syrup
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 1/2 cups whole pecans (or half or quarter pieces, but not the chopped kind)
9-inch deep-dish pie crust
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Beat eggs, then stir in sugar, light and dark syrups, butter, and vanilla. Mix well. Add 2 cups pecans and mix well again. Pour mixture into crust. Take a look at the mixture; you will see gaps with no pecans. Use as many of the remaining pecans to fill these gaps as needed. Bake for about an hour. Allow to cool. Serves 6 to 8.
Pecan pie from Garden of Good Eatin’ Country Cafe
uncooked deep dish 9-inch pie shell
1 1/2 cups pecans, pieces or whole
1/4 cup melted butter
1 cup granulated sugar
pinch of salt
1 tablespoon flour
1 teaspoon vanilla
8 ounces light corn syrup
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Be sure there are no holes in the bottom or sides of the pie shell and put the pecans in it. Beat melted butter, eggs, sugar, salt, and flour until well blended. Add vanilla and corn syrup. Beat until this is well mixed. Pour the batter evenly over the pecans.
Put pie in the preheated oven, reduce temperature to 300 degrees and bake for approximately one hour. About half-way through the baking time, rotate pie.
The pie is done when the entire top of the pie is puffed. The edges will begin to puff first and there will be a sunken area in the middle. When the center is totally puffed up, the pie is ready. It will fall when cool. Cook slowly and don’t overcook.
Pecan pie from Kit McConnico‘s Texas the Beautiful Cookbook
1/2 cup butter (unsalted)
1 3/4 cups sugar
2 tablespoons vanilla
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
3 tablespoons flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup pecans, chopped
1 nine-inch unbaked pastry pie crust
Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
Cream butter and sugar until fluffy, adding sugar gradually. Blend in vanilla and almond extracts. Add eggs one at a time until fully incorporated. Mix together flour and salt. Add buttermilk and mix well.
Sprinkle pecans in bottom of unbaked pie crust. Pour filling over pecans, and bake pie for 1 1/2 hours.
Pecan pie from Gesine Bullock-Prado‘s Pie it Forward
⅛ batch Quick Puff Pastry (page 22 of Pie It Forward)
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups light brown sugar, firmly packed
3/4 cup light corn syrup
1 tablespoon vanilla bean paste
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups pecan pieces, lightly toasted
1/2 cup pecan halves
Makes one 9-inch pie
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Roll out the dough into a rough 11-inch circle. Line a 9-inch pie plate with the dough, crimp the edges decoratively, and dock the bottom. Freeze the crust for 20 minutes. Line the crust with parchment, fill it with pie weights or dried beans, and bake it for 15 minutes. Remove the weights and parchment and bake the crust for 5 minutes more, or just until the bottom loses its raw-dough sheen. Do not let the crust brown. Set it aside.
In a heavy saucepan, melt the butter over low heat. Add the brown sugar and stir until the sugar has melted and all the lumps are gone. Add the corn syrup, vanilla, and salt, and stir until combined.
In a mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs. Whisking briskly, ladle about ½ cup of the hot sugar syrup into the eggs. This tempers the eggs, bringing their temperature closer to that of the hot syrup and preventing them from scrambling. Pour the egg mixture into the saucepan, whisking all the while. Keep whisking until the eggs are completely integrated.
Stir in the pecan pieces and pour the mixture into the pie crust. Arrange the pecan halves decoratively on top of the filling. Bake for 50 minutes to 1 hour, or just until the filling has set.
Pecan pie from Ruben Ortega of Backstreet Cafe
2 cups (8 ounces) all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons powdered sugar
1 1/2 sticks (12 tablespoons) cold, unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 1/2 to 2 tablespoons ice water
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Sift together flour, salt, and sugar. Using a pastry blender, cut butter into flour mixture until it is the consistency of coarse cornmeal. Gradually add cold water, mixing until dough holds together. Do not overmix. Press into a disk about 5 inches in diameter, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate for at least an hour to firm up. Then roll out and line a 9-inch metal pie pan. Prick crust with a fork, then fill with uncooked beans or pie weights and bake until barely golden brown, about 30 minutes.
3/4 cup dark brown sugar
1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1/2 cup real maple syrup
3 cups pecan halves or large pieces, toasted
6 ounces good-quality semisweet chocolate, chopped to the size of chocolate chips
In a stainless-steel bowl, whisk together eggs and brown sugar. Add melted butter and whisk again. Add both syrups and whisk yet again. Let mixture rest for at least 10 minutes. Put pecans and chocolate chips in the partially baked pie shell and then pour in syrup mixture. Bake on a preheated cookie sheet at 350 degrees until pecans are a rich golden brown, about 40 minutes. Serve with orange-blossom-honey ice cream.