Healthy Pecan Pie Bars layered with a sweet cinnamon and maple flavoured crispy base and then topped with an ooey-gooey soft pecan pie filling. This easy, gluten free, dairy free, and refined sugar free recipe will be your new favourite way to enjoy pecan pie!
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These healthy pecan pie bars are handheld versions of the classic pecan pie. They’re made gluten free with a crispy maple-flavored almond flour crust and topped with a sweet and sticky pecan filling loaded with all of the traditional flavours we love.
Pecan pie squares are great for individual servings because you can cut them into any size!
Be sure to include these in your healthy cookies for Christmas baking spree!
Why You’ll Love This Recipe
- Tastes just like the pie: Pecan pie is a holiday classic and these healthier bars taste exactly like it!
- Less empty calories: I swap out processed flour, sugars and corn syrup for a healthier almond flour crust and maple syrup!
- Naturally gluten free: Gluten free almond flour is also rich in fiber, protein and micronutrients!
- Dairy free: No heavy butter or cream in sight! Instead coconut oil is used for the crust and in the filling.
- Easy: There are just 2 simple layers, and 20 minutes of prep time to make this dessert.
- Great for parties: Easily portable, and great for serving individual squares that people can just grab and mingle with.
- Freezer friendly: Make lots and freeze the rest for months!
Ingredients for Healthy Pecan Pie Bars
For the Crust
- Almond flour: Almond flour has similarities to all-purpose flour in that it is a fine flour, soft, and has a mild flavor. I use it to make almond flour chocolate chip cookies and almond flour snickerdoodles too! This is actually one recipe where you could use almond meal in place of the almond flour because it is sturdy and coarse, however, the flavor wouldn’t be as subtle.
- Cornstarch: Used to absorb the moisture in the crust which helps it to set.
- Cinnamon: A warming spice that pairs well with maple syrup, which is quintessential in holiday baking.
- Coconut oil: When melted it helps to set up the crust to a crispy solid base that will hold up to the filling.
- Maple syrup: The sweet and sticky non-refined sugar choice that adds incredible flavor and texture to the crust.
For the Filling
- Eggs: When added to the filling it helps to bind everything and when baked in the oven it helps it to set and not become too runny.
- Coconut oil: More melted coconut oil replaces the butter in a traditional pecan pie.
- Maple Syrup: Instead of the usual high fructose corn syrup traditionally used, maple syrup acts the same way. Adds gloss and sheen, sweetness, stickiness, gooeyness, and beautiful maple flavour!
- Pure vanilla extract: Lovely flavour that rounds out this recipe. It’s subtle, but not to be missed!
- Cornstarch: Thickens the filling nicely, so that it helps the filling to set- if following paleo swap for arrowroot powder.
- Chopped pecans: Coarsely chopped pecans are a must. They add incredible chunky, crunchy, and nutty elements that we all love about pecan pie filling.
- Cooking spray: I use Misto.
How to Make Healthy Pecan Pie Bars
Prep: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and line your baking dish with parchment paper. I use an 8 x 8 because I find that to be a perfect size. Spray with cooking spray and set aside.
Need more bars? You can double this recipe and use a larger pan if need be.
- Make the crust: Combine all of the dry ingredients for the crust into a medium bowl and whisk. Add the wet ingredients and then stir until well mixed.
- Layer the crust: Pour dough into the prepared baking dish. Use your hands to flatten the crust into an even layer. Use a spatula to smooth it over and dn’t be afraid to pack it down. Bake it for 15 minutes.
- Make the filling: While the crust is baking, add all of the filling ingredients, with exception of the pecans into a large bowl. Whisk to combine. Then, toss the pecans in and stir to combine.
- Assemble the bars: Remove the crust from the oven and carefully pour the filling over top. Use a spatula to spread it across, if needed. Place it back into the oven to bake for 15-20 minutes or until it’s firm.
- Remove and cool: Allow it to sit on the counter for 30 minutes to cool. After that, you’ll put it in the fridge to firm up completely. At least 4 hours or overnight.
- Slice and serve: Cut into 9 even squares and serve chilled.
For gooey bars. Allow it to sit at room temperature for 30 minutes before slicing. This will allow it time to become a little softer again.
- Other liquid sweeteners: Any other liquid sweetener of your choice should work. Honey, for example, would be a great choice.
- Powdered sweeteners: I haven’t tested it, but I don’t see why it shouldn’t work, especially for the filling. In the crust, as long as the dough sets, all is good.
- Cornstarch: As mentioned above for paleo, sub with arrowroot powder.
- Butter: Melted butter can be used in place of coconut oil. It will result in a softer, less crumbly crust.
- Sugar swap: If you’re ok with a little refined sugar in your life, you can swap the sweeteners for brown sugar in the crust.
Tips for Best Results
- Texture: If you like gooey bars, let them warm up on the counter for 30 minutes before slicing.
- Nonstick: This is a sticky recipe. Make sure to line your pan and spray with cooking spray for easy removal of the sliced bars.
- Double the recipe: You could also make two separate batches. Then, freeze some for later!
- Don’t skip the chill time: These bars need lots of time to set. Otherwise, they will fall apart.
Yes. Completely omit the eggs from this recipe (no need to replace them with anything) and there you’ve got vegan pecan pie bars.
There are 511 calories per square. So what, it’s Christmas. But seriously you can cut into 12 or even 16 bars, and please remember there is a lot of nuts involved in the recipe which are high in fat and calories, that are good for you! Not all calories are created equal.
You’ll know they are done when they are no longer soupy. They should be firm, although a slight jiggle in the centre is fine, as they will continue to set once chilled. Overall, you’re looking for a firm finish, with little to no movement when shaken.
You may have heard the term weeping when talking about meringue pies, but did you know weeping can also be used to describe a runny pecan pie? It’s what happens when the pie is undercooked. Keep an eye on it, and be sure to give it a gentle shake before deciding whether to take it out.
For the first 1-2 days you can actually keep it covered at room temperature. After that, you’ll want to transfer it to the fridge to maintain freshness for an extra few days.
How to Serve
2 at a time perhaps? Or, you could:
Serve a square with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or a dollop of whipped cream.
Enjoy with a hot cup of tea or healthy hot chocolate.
On a dessert tray. Cut into smaller bite size sample size pieces (or not) and add to a dessert tray of other healthy desserts like almond flour thumbprint cookies, healthy gingerbread cookies, and these Instant Pot cheesecake bites.
How to Store
Store: Keep covered in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 1 week.
Freeze: Once cooled and sliced, flash freeze the bars on a baking tray apart from each other) and then transfer them to a freezer-friendly bag or container. Keep frozen for up to 3 months. That way they won’t freeze in one solid clump and you can take one out when the craving hits!
Healthy Pecan Pie Bars
Healthy Bars Crust:
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line square 8 x 8 baking dish with parchment paper and spray with cooking spray. Set aside.
- Make crust: In a medium bowl, add almond flour, cornstarch, cinnamon; whisk to combine. Add coconut oil and maple syrup; stir with spatula until well mixed.
- Transfer dough to previously prepared baking dish and flatten with hands and spatula into an even layer. Bake for 15 minutes.
- Make pecan pie filling: In the meanwhile, in a large bowl, add eggs, coconut oil, maple syrup, vanilla and cornstarch; whisk until combined. Add pecans and stir to combine.
- Make bars: Remove crust from the oven and carefully transfer pecan pie filling on top. Place back in the oven and bake for 15-20 minutes or until firm.
- Remove from the oven and let cool on the counter for 30 minutes. Then transfer to the fridge to firm up for at least 4 hours or overnight.
- Cut into 9 squares and serve chilled. If you like gooey bars, let them warm up on the counter for 30 minutes before slicing.
- Store: Refrigerate covered for up to 1 week.
- Freeze: I like to freeze pecan pie bars on a baking tray (not touching each other) until solid and then transfer them to a freezer safe bag for up to 3 months. Whenever you want one, just pop it out onto the counter or within the fridge to thaw.
- Other sweeteners: You can use honey or any other liquid sweetener. I have not tested this recipe with sugar or any other powdered sweetener but it could work (in the dough – as long as it forms, and it the filling – for sure will work).
- Cornstarch: It thickens the filling and absorbs the moisture in the dough. You can substitute with arrowroot powder.
- Butter: I believe you can use melted butter instead of coconut oil, I have not tested though. Butter makes crust more soft and less crumbly.
- Nonstick: This is a sticky recipe. Make sure to line your pan AND spray with cooking spray for easy removal of the sliced bars.
- Double the recipe: And use a larger pan to bake them. You could also make two separate batches. Then, freeze some for later!
- Don’t skip the chill time: These bars need lots of time for set up. Otherwise, they will fall apart.