Rich and decadent, with toasted pecans and a buttery crust, this Old Fashioned Pecan Pie is just like mom used to make.
There is a lot of debate over the best sweetener for pecan pie. Brown sugar, granulated sugar, light corn syrup, dark corn syrup, even maple syrup—you can make a delightful pecan pie with any of these.
But what tastes the BEST? After a nearly unanimous vote from my taste testers, this recipe for Old Fashioned Pecan Pie with Karo syrup and brown sugar won out.
The dark brown sugar provides a deep molasses flavor, while the light corn syrup (called “karo syrup” in many recipes) prevents the pie from crystallizing in the oven. The corn syrup also contributes to its irresistible sticky-sweetness.
It’s a southern recipe, adapted from A Taste of South Carolina, a 1983 cookbook by the Palmetto Cabinet. (The Palmetto Cabinet, as explained in the cookbook, consisted of the wives of legislators of the General Assembly, the wife of the governor, and any women elected to such offices.)
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What makes this the best old fashioned southern pecan pie?
- This is a time tested recipe, likely dating at least back to the 1940s. It has been served for generations! There are lots of fun tidbits in this history of pecan pie, if you’re interested.
- Dark brown sugar contributes molasses flavor while the Karo syrup provides a rich and gooey interior to the pie.
- The pecans toast as they bake, contributing a delightful nutty flavor.
- It’s easy! Just stir together and bake.
- Dark brown sugar has a rich molasses flavor, which complements the pie perfectly. You can also use light brown sugar, but it won’t have as much molasses flavor.
- Light corn syrup prevents the sugar from crystallizing as it cooks, and also makes for a gooey interior.
- Eggs help the pie set and add richness to the filling.
- A bit of salt nicely complements the sweetness of the filling.
- Vanilla extract enhances the toasted flavor of the pecans.
- You can use either chopped pecans or pecan halves. I think it’s easier to slice a pie that uses chopped pecans, but do what you like.
- You’ll also need an uncooked pie crust. I used my Crisco Pie Crust recipe, but you can also use an all-butter crust (recipe is in my Peach Pie post) or a store-bought crust.
How to make Old Fashioned Pecan Pie
Place the eggs in a large bowl and whisk until light.
Whisk in the dark brown sugar and corn syrup.
Stir in the salt, vanilla, and pecans.
Pour the mixture into an unbaked pie shell. Since the pie will be going into the oven, you do not need to par bake the crust.
Bake the pie at 350°F for 55–60 minutes, or until the center just barely jiggles as you remove it from the oven. It’ll continue to set up as it cools.
The crust: homemade vs. store bought
Opinion: a homemade crust will always taste homemade. A store-bought crust will only sometimes taste homemade. Ha!
But truly, do whatever works best for you.
Want a homemade crust? This Crisco Pie Crust recipe makes a really tender pie crust. The dough is really easy to work with, too (it’s not as finicky as butter).
An all-butter crust, which is in my Peach Pie recipe, is also a great choice.
For store-bought, you have two choices:
- Frozen pie shell
- Refrigerated pie dough
The frozen pie shell is ready to go—just pour in the filling and bake.
The refrigerated pie dough needs to defrost on the countertop for 15 minutes, be unrolled, and placed in a pie dish. You’ll also need to flute or crimp the edges. (See the Crisco Pie Crust recipe for more info on making pretty edges.)
Make ahead instructions
The beauty of Old Fashioned Pecan Pie is that it is easy to make ahead. You can even freeze it.
Once baked, the pie should be tightly covered and stored at room temperature. I recommend serving the pie within 24 hours of baking for the best texture. It’s still delicious after that, the pecans just get a little softer.
You can also freeze the pie—cover tightly with plastic wrap and then foil, and freeze for up to two months. Defrost the pie for 24 hours at room temperature, and then slice and serve. It’ll taste as good as freshly baked!
Pecan pie variations
Customize your old fashioned pecan pie with one of these ideas:
- Add ½ cup chocolate chips (regular or mini) along with the pecans. Decrease the pecans to 1 cup.
- Use pecan halves instead of chopped pecans.
- Add ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon.
- Add 1 tablespoon bourbon for a bourbon pecan pie!
- Use light brown sugar instead of dark brown sugar (the pie will have less molasses flavor).
More pies that you’ll love
- Old Fashioned Peanut Butter Pie—my husband’s favorite!
- Old Fashioned Sweet Potato Pie
- Brownie Pie—brownies baked into a pie shell—what could go wrong?!
- Strawberry Jello Pie
- Mississippi Mud Ice Cream Pie—love this one in the summer
- Sour Cream Raisin Pie
Have you tried this recipe? Please leave a ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ rating and/or comment below!
Old Fashioned Pecan Pie
- 3 eggs
- 1 cup dark brown sugar
- 1 cup light corn syrup
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1½ cups chopped pecans
- 1 (9-inch) pie shell, uncooked
- Preheat oven to 350°F.
- Place eggs in a large bowl and whisk until light.
- Whisk in the sugar, then the corn syrup.
- Stir in the salt, vanilla, and pecans.
- Pour into an uncooked pie shell. Bake for 55–60 minutes, or until the center jiggles only slightly.
- Let cool completely before slicing.
- Add ½ cup chocolate chips (decrease pecans to 1 cup)
- Add 1 tablespoon bourbon
- Add ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- Use pecan halves instead of chopped pecans
- Use light brown sugar instead of dark brown sugar