Featuring a buttery shortbread crust, chewy caramel, and crunchy pecans, there's so much to love about these salted caramel pecan bars! Easier to make than pecan pie, you'll love these pecan pie bars for any holiday gathering.
These little pecan squares have so much flavor and texture. With the sweet shortbread crust and rich caramel pecan topping- they are everything you love about pecan pie in an easy-to-make bar form.
With simple ingredients, and no pie crust, or dough rolling; these caramel pecan bars are the perfect addition to your Thanksgiving, Christmas, or other holiday dessert lineup!
Why You'll Love These Caramel Pecan Bars
- Are you a pie lover but intimidated by making a whole pie? Like my pecan pie brownies, these caramel pecan bars are easier to make than pie but feature all of the same flavors you love.
- They are full of flavor and texture- a buttery crust, chewy and gooey caramel filling, and crunchy pecans in every bite.
- With only simple ingredients, these pecan pie bars are over-the-top delicious! (Try my turtle cupcakes for another simple recipe!)
- They are perfect for any holiday occasion or year-round dessert!
Ingredient Notes and Substitutions
Heavy cream: This can not be substituted with half-and-half or any other variety of cream. The high fat allows the caramel to cook without crystalizing and makes it super chewy.
Pecans: Chopped pecans are preferred; they are already in perfect bite-sized pieces! I love using pecans in my chocolate pecan cookies and pecan pumpkin bread. You can substitute them for pecan halves or use a variety of nuts like walnuts, sunflower seeds, and almonds.
Honey: For flavor and to give these caramel pecan bars a soft and chewy texture. You can use agave nectar or corn syrup in substitution.
Butter: Used to make the most delicious buttery shortbread crust; I use the same base in my plum bars, too!
Find the full ingredient measurements and instructions in the recipe card below!
Before you start, line a square 8x8 baking pan with parchment paper to cover all four sides. Preheat the oven to 350 F/180 C.
Step 1: Cream the butter and sugar. In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream the softened butter, granulated sugar, and vanilla extract for 3 minutes until light and fluffy.
Step 2: Mix in the dry ingredients. Then mix in the all-purpose flour and salt on low speed until the mixture looks crumbly.
Step 3: Press the shortbread into the pan. Press the shortbread crumbs into an even layer, with the back of a measuring cup, into the prepared pan. Bake the shortbread until the edges are golden brown.
Step 4: Prepare the pecans. In a large heat-proof bowl, toss the chopped pecans in the flour, salt, and vanilla extract. Set aside.
Step 5: Make the caramel. In a large heavy-bottomed pot, cook the heavy cream, butter, sugar, and honey until the caramel is golden brown.
Candy thermometers aren’t always 100% accurate and stoves will vary with temperature. The best way to tell if it's done is if the caramel is a golden brown color.
Step 6: Bake the bars. Quickly and carefully pour the caramel into the bowl with the pecans. Toss to coat, then immediately pour the caramel mixture on top of the shortbread.
Bake, until the surface is covered in tiny bubbles and the edges are golden brown. Sprinkle the top of the pecan pie bars with flaky sea salt and let cool on a wire rack.
Professional Baking Tips
- Use a kitchen scale. Baking with a scale is much more accurate than cup measurements. To convert this recipe, click the "metric" button next to the ingredients title on the recipe card. If you do not have a scale, use a spoon to fluff the flour first, then spoon it into your measuring cup.
- The bars can be very gooey and sticky, making it impossible to remove if you don't line the pan well with parchment paper!
- Stove temperatures can vary. Watch the caramel and check for the right temperature and golden brown color. Any higher than the set temperature will result in pecan bars that are crunchy and not chewy!
- Similar to my chocolate chip bars and pop tart bars, waiting for them to cool completely before cutting is crucial! Otherwise, the caramel will stick to the knife.
- Reheat your caramel pecan bars to soften the caramel before serving!
I recommend either a candy thermometer or an instant-read thermometer. It can be tricky to know when the caramel is done and this will help it from overcooking.
I have made this recipe before with a mixture of sliced almonds, walnuts, and sunflower seeds. Feel free to use a mixture of nuts or replace them entirely with one.
First, wait until they are completely cool. Then use a very sharp knife to cut them. In between cuts, run the knife under hot water and wipe clean with a towel. If you are having trouble, chill the pan in the freezer for 15-20 minutes which should firm up the caramel.
Yes! I recommend cutting them first and then storing them in an airtight container or freezer bag for up to 1 month. You can also freeze the whole pan wrapped in plastic wrap in a container, this can help prepare for holiday baking! Bring them to room temperature before cutting.
Store the baked bars in an airtight container for 2-3 days at room temperature.
More Delicious Holiday Desserts
If you tried this or any other recipe on my website, please let me know how it went in the comments below, I love hearing from you! Also, please leave a star rating while you're there! You can also tag me on Instagram or Facebook so I can check it out!
Salted Caramel Pecan Bars
- 9 tablespoon unsalted butter softened
- ⅓ cup + 1 tbsp granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 ¼ cup + 1 tablespoon + 1 tsp all-purpose flour *see notes below for measuring*
- ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1 ½ cups chopped pecans
- 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- ⅛ teaspoon fine sea salt
- ½ cup + 2 tbsp granulated sugar
- ⅔ cup heavy whipping cream
- ⅛ cup + 1 tbsp honey
- 4 tablespoon unsalted butter
- Flaky sea salt for after baking
- Line a square 8x8 baking pan with parchment paper and preheat the oven to 350 F/180 C.
- Cream the butter, sugar, and vanilla until combined and fluffy, about 3 minutes.9 tablespoon unsalted butter, ⅓ cup + 1 tablespoon granulated sugar, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Add the flour and salt and mix on low speed until it forms pea-sized crumbles. Then press the shortbread dough evenly into the prepared pan. Bake the crust for 18-20 minutes or until the edges are golden brown. Set the crust aside until ready to use.1 ¼ cup + 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon all-purpose flour, ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
- In a large bowl, combine the pecans, vanilla, flour, and salt. Set aside.1 ½ cups chopped pecans, 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour, ½ teaspoon vanilla extract, ⅛ teaspoon fine sea salt
- To make the caramel, combine the sugar, cream, honey, and butter in a heavy-bottomed pot. Cook over medium-high heat for 10-15 minutes or until the caramel reaches a golden brown color (about 250-255 F). Immediately pour the caramel into the bowl of pecans and fold quickly to combine.½ cup + 2 tablespoon granulated sugar, ⅔ cup heavy whipping cream, ⅛ cup + 1 tablespoon honey, 4 tablespoon unsalted butter
- Immediately spread the caramel mixture on top of the shortbread base. Use a spatula to push and spread it around so it evenly covers the top. It’s okay if the edges or corners are bare they will fill in when it bakes!
- Bake for 10-13 minutes or until the top of the bar has little bubbles over the top. Remove the pan from the oven and sprinkle with 1 teaspoon flaky sea salt. Then let cool completely on a wire cooling rack before cutting. Enjoy!Flaky sea salt
The calorie information provided for the recipe is an estimate. The accuracy of the calories listed is not guaranteed.