These caramel pecan shortbread bars are ah-mazing! The buttery shortbread cookie layer is topped with a rich salted caramel and pecan sauce. A Thanksgiving treat your family will love.
Big fat pecan sticky buns is another Thanksgiving favorite using pecans.
My favorite thing about these pecan bars is just how easy they are to make! It takes just 30 minutes to make them.
A shortbread cookie layer is the first thing to be made. It’s only three ingredients, butter, powdered sugar and flour.
Then a sweet caramel pecan layer. Cinnamon is my secret ingredient I use in the caramel sauce. Such a wintery taste.
They are the perfect finger food dessert. One batch makes 16 squares, or you can cut them even smaller.
If you are thinking about skipping the pecan pie this year, try out these pecan shortbread bars instead!
You still get all that good caramel pecan flavor but less work.
It’s actually my mother in laws shortbread recipe that she uses for so many different things. I first had it when she made some caramel shortbread brownies for us a few year ago.
She also taught me everything you need to know about making the perfect dinner rolls.
How To Make Caramel Pecan Sauce
The caramel sauce is so easy to make but you do need to have some patience.
You start by melting the butter, brown sugar and corn syrup on low for 10 minutes. It’s a slow process to get that brown sugar melted.
Be careful when you make your caramel sauce though because you don’t want to burn it by cooking it too hot.
Keeping an eye on the temperature is key.
I find that once it starts to bubble and foam you can turn the heat down a smidge so it doesn’t continue to increase in temperature. But you want to aim for 240 degrees using a kitchen thermometer or candy thermometer.
It’s hard to eyeball it without a thermometer. I’ve had my fair share of burned caramel.
Thanks to the corn syrup the caramel will stay silky smooth even after it has cooled. The last thing you want is crystalized caramel, it’s gritty.
Chopping some of the pecans and leaving others whole creates a beautiful texture on top!
- Can these be made gluten free? Yes they can, you can use a gluten free flour like Bobs Red Mill 1:1. I’ve had success subbing that for many baking recipes. However, I have not tested it with this recipe yet.
- My caramel sauce got gritty after baking, what happened? Caramel that crystalized can happen for many reasons and often time it’s just bad luck. Over mixing is the biggest culprit.
- Can I leave out the corn syrup? I wouldn’t suggest it! I have tried many many times to make these without the corn syrup and it always turns out with a grainy caramel after the bars have sat a few hours.
- Spatchcock Turkey – a butterfly method for cooking your Thanksgiving turkey
- Cloverleaf Buttery Herb Rolls – a really easy dinner roll recipe using frozen dinner rolls
- Homemade Herb Stuffing – this stuffing is an easy to follow recipe with fresh herbs
- Pumpkin Roll With Silky Cream Cheese Frosting – a family favorite, this pumpkin roll is so good plus there is a video tutorial how to make it
Caramel Pecan Shortbread Bars
- 1/2 c butter softened
- 1/2 c powdered sugar
- 1 c flour
Pecan Caramel Sauce Topping
- 1/2 c butter
- 1 c brown sugar
- 1/4 c light corn syrup
- 1/2 tsp vanilla
- 1/4 tsp cinnamon
- 1/4 c heavy cream
- salt pinch
- 7 oz pecans chopped and left whole
- Preheat oven to 325
- Beat together the butter and powdered sugar for 3 minutes
- Add the flour and mix until it comes together
- Line a square baking pan with parchment paper, making sure you can grab the flaps to easily lift after baking
- Press the shortbread dough into the pan
- Bake for 20 minutes
- Turn the oven off
- Meanwhile make the caramel pecan sauce by melting the butter, brown sugar and corn syrup on low for 10 minutes
- Increase the temperature a bit (at this point do not stir it, but you can swirl the pan), until it’s bubbling and has reached a temperature of 240 degrees (you’ll need a kitchen thermometer but this takes only a few minutes)
- Turn the heat off and gently whisk in the heavy cream until combined
- Whisk in the vanilla extract, cinnamon and salt
- Mix in the pecans
- Pour the caramel pecan sauce over the cooked short bread layer
- Let cool a few hours, once it’s reach room temperature it’s ready to serve
- Cut into squares and serve
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