The best pecan pie recipe (no corn syrup added) - Pamela Salzman Skip to content

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.


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  1. This was such a hit last year that I might not make another dessert this year! Since we are kosher I serve it with whipped coconut cream and Nada Moo vanilla “ice” cream!

    • Sooooo good!!

  2. My first time making a pecan pie….do I use raw pecans? Is this a silly question?

    • There are no silly questions especially if you’ve never made a pecan pie before! Yes, buy raw pecans or buy roasted pecans and don’t toast them. 🙂

  3. Hi Pamela!
    Made two of these pies for Christmas day and everyone went bonkers! I doubled the recipe and subbed the bourbon for whiskey. Absolutely amazing recipe, thank you SO much for sharing. I am obsessed with all of your recipes, can’t wait until your cookbook!!

    • Thank you for sharing that! 🙂 I appreciate your support, too. Thanks!

  4. I made this pecan pie again this Thanksgiving, and I had forgotten how absolutely amazing this pecan pie is. I didn’t have brown rice syrup so I used maple syrup and it was perfect! I substituted 3/4 cup brown rice syrup with 1 cup maple syrup. I also made a bit more of the pecan filling because I have a deep dish pie dish. This was my favorite pie of all the pies at Thanksgiving. Thanks Pamela!

    • I love hearing adaptations of recipes, thank you! Hope you had a happy Thanksgiving, Bernice!

  5. Best ever indeed. Thanks so much! FYI I did sub the earth balance butter sticks for the crust and the pie and it was fantastic. For those using them though note that they do contain salt so you might need to adjust recipes.

    • Good suggestion! Thanks, Pamela!

  6. If I make the pecan and pumpkin pies the day before should I keep them covered in the fridge overnight? Also how long before serving would you take them out of the fridge? Can’t wait to make them!

    • I make both pies every year and sometimes I refrigerate them and sometimes I don’t depending on how much space I have in the fridge. I think it’s a matter of preference. I do prefer the pumpkin pies refrigerated because I like them cold. If you want to serve them at room temp, pull them from the fridge 2 hours before. Happy Thanksgiving!

  7. I made this recipe this week and it was amazing… everyone that tried it said it was the best pecan pie they have ever had. My mom HATES pecans and she could not stop eating it. thank you for such a great recipe !

    • Really???? Amazing! Thanks for letting me know. 🙂

  8. I’ve been missing Pecan Pie for a long time, (don’t eat eggs or dairy).Tell me Pamela, do you think I could re-place the eggs with flax egg or something like that.

    • Hmmmm…..I have a feeling you could since it’s just for binding and not for aeration. But I’ve never tried using a flax egg so I couldn’t be 100% sure.

      • Thank you Pamela. I think I’ll give it a try, hopefully this weekend.

        • Tried using Flax last year. Was a disaster. I’d use Egg Replacer instead. It’s in the baking aisle in most grocery stores. Think it’s N-ergy brand or something like that.

          • Good to know, Mike. Thank you!

  9. I’m making this right now! My SIL’s can’t wait (nor can I).
    Thank you!

    • Good luck! It will be fantastic!

    • I just pulled mine out of the oven. Everyone will love it!

  10. What would you substitute for the butter to be dairy free and keep same flavor and consistency?


    • Best would be organic Earth Balance.

      • The baking sticks? Or the spreads? Any particular one for flavor as they have many?

        • The baking sticks, sorry. I have never tried the maple syrup thing, but I’m assuming that by simmering it until it reaches 225, you’ve thickened it quite a bit so it resembles corn syrup. I don’t see why you couldn’t store it in the fridge, but it will likely be sweeter and thicker than normal maple syrup.

  11. This looks amazing! I am kosher and therefore, can’t serve any dairy for dinner or dessert. I’d love to make this pie and pie crust for Thanksgiving though! Do you think I could replace the butter with earth balance vegan buttery sticks? Thanks so much in advance! I seriously appreciate and love your recipes so much 🙂

    • Absolutely! Earth Balance would worked just fine in both. Happy Thanksgiving!

  12. Hi Pamela. This pie looks beautiful! Do you use the same crust for all of your pies?

    • Pretty much, yes. 🙂

  13. This looks delish. I do love brown rice syrup, but over the past few years I have replaced corn syrup with maple syrup. If you simmer maple syrup to 225* it acts in the same way. Love all your recipes!!

    • That is such an amazing tip, Susan!! Than you so much. I am definitely going to try it since I think maple syrup is better for us than brown rice syrup. 🙂

    • If you simmer the maple syrup to 225 does that change it permanently so you can you store it in fridge afterward or do you need to use it right away?

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I come from a large Italian-American family with 28 first cousins (on one side of the family!) where sit-down holiday dinners for 85 people are the norm (how, you might ask – organization! But more on that later …).

Some of my fondest memories are of simple family gatherings, both large and small, with long tables of bowls and platters piled high, the laughter of my cousins echoing and the comfort of tradition warming my soul.

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