The best pecan pie recipe (no corn syrup added)

pecan pie without corn syrup | pamela salzma

I’m taking a quick break from Friday Favorites so that I can focus on sharing Thanksgiving recipes until the big day arrives!


Want to know my favorite moment of Thanksgiving day?  When I get to relax with a cup of tea and sink my teeth into a slice or two (OMG, am I serious?) of homemade pie.  It’s my reward for the cooking marathon that leads up to that point and I enjoy every bite.  I make three different pies on Thanksgiving, including apple, pumpkin and pecan, all of which I absolutely love, and this pecan pie is absolutely perfection.

pecan pie base

Bourbon and brown rice syrup

I taught this pecan pie in my classes last year and everyone went bonkers for it.  It has been a staple on my personal Thanksgiving menu for 20 years, but I have changed the recipe a bit every  few years.  Admittedly, the first 12 years of pecan pie baking, I did use the dreaded, over-processed, GMO corn syrup.  It’s one of the two traditional sweeteners in pecan pie.  But in my defense, did I know in 1998 that brown rice syrup existed?  No, I did not.  Since I discovered brown rice syrup I have used it in my granola, granola bars and rice crispy treats.  It’s a terrific sticky, caramel-y, minimally-processed sweetener that works really well in place of corn syrup.  Itp is made by breaking down the starch in cooked rice, turning it into easily digestible sugars.  The good news is that there is no fructose in rice syrup, so it shouldn’t have the same negative effects on liver function and metabolic health as regular sugar.  The bad news is that rice syrup is still a concentrated sweetener with few nutrients, so I don’t consider it health food, just a higher quality sweetener.  The other bummer is that arsenic has been found in rice syrups and products sweetened with them. For this reason, I would use rice syrup in moderation and not start adding it to your daily tea.

ready to get poured into pie crust

From the original recipe, I have also swapped coconut sugar for brown sugar and added a little bourbon for boozy depth.  This pecan pie is still rich and sweet, but not cloyingly so, and I don’t feel ill after eating a piece on Thanksgiving.  Just don’t look at the calorie count for a piece of nut pie — you’ll just pass out.  I only eat pecan pie on Thanksgiving, so I don’t worry about the calories too much.  Eating it for breakfast the next day, that’s a different story.  And that is why I have take-out boxes for my guests.  Because I am weak and cowardly in the presence of this pecan pie.

pecan pie without corn syrup or refined sugar | pamela salzman

I know many of you can’t deal with making pie crust, and that is fine.  There are plenty of perfectly good pre-made crusts that you can find in the freezer section of the grocery store.  However, if you are interested in making the crust from scratch, yay!  Come with me over to this post where I show you the step-by-step on how to do it.  I will also be posting a pie crust video any day now.  By the way, you can actually make your Thanksgiving pie crusts today and freeze them.  Just a thought.  I make pecan pie the day before Thanksgiving and leave it in the dining room until the next day.  Leftovers should be store in the fridge.

pecan pie without corn syrup or refined sugar | pamela salzman

Since pecan pie is rich enough, I eat it plain.  But whipped cream and ice cream would not be a terrible accompaniment, believe me.  I mean, if you’re going to go for it, just go big.  I cannot wait for Thanksgiving!

pecan pie without corn syrup or refined sugar | pamela salzman

5.0 from 4 reviews
Pecan Pie
Serves: makes 1 9-inch pie
  • 1 recipe for single pie crust (see below)
  • all purpose flour for dusting the counter
  • 3 large eggs
  • ¾ cup coconut palm sugar or brown sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon sea salt
  • ¾ cup brown rice syrup
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 Tablespoon bourbon or dark rum (I prefer bourbon)
  • 3 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 cup chopped pecans*
  • 1 cup pecan halves**
  1. Roll disk of pie dough on a lightly floured countertop, regularly checking to make sure disk is not sticking to counter. Roll into a 12-inch round. Fit pastry into a 9-inch pie plate. Tuck the overhanging pastry under itself and crimp the edges or use a fork to make a decorative border. Refrigerate pie shell until ready to fill pie.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  3. Place the eggs, sugar, salt, brown rice syrup, vanilla, bourbon and butter in a bowl and mix to combine. Stir in the chopped pecans.
  4. Pour the filling into your pie plate (it will only look half full) and arrange pecan halves in decorative pattern on top. Bake for 45 minutes or until filling is just set. If you use a frozen pie crust, it will take an extra 10-15 minutes to bake.
  5. Allow the pie to cool completely before serving.
*For a richer flavor, toast pecans in a 350 degree oven for about 8 minutes or until fragrant, then chop coarsely.

**Or use all chopped pecans and skip the decorative top.

Single Pie Crust

1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour or white spelt flour

½ teaspoon cane sugar

½ teaspoon sea salt

1 stick (8 Tablespoons) unsalted butter, cut into pieces

2-4 Tablespoons ice water

Place the flour, sugar and salt in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade and pulse a couple times until blended.
Add the butter to the flour and pulse until the mixture resembles small peas.
Pour 2 Tablespoons of ice water on top of the flour mixture and pulse about 10 times.  Avoiding the blade, carefully grab a small handful of dough and squeeze together.  If the dough holds together without crumbling, it’s ready to be formed into a disc.  If it’s too dry, pulse in another few teaspoons of ice water until dough holds together.
Transfer dough to a piece of parchment and bring dough together to form a ball. Wrap in parchment and refrigerate at least 30 minutes at which point it will be ready to roll out.  Or you can keep the dough refrigerated for 2-3 days, or in the freezer, well wrapped for 2-3 months.