Bourbon Caramel Pecan Pie
This bourbon caramel pecan pie is by far one of my favorite holiday desserts! It has buttery homemade pie crust, homemade bourbon caramel sauce, toasted pecans, and flaky salt. It’s cozy, rich, and delicious with whipped cream or ice cream. Definitely one of the best pies I’ve ever made!
Hello and welcome to my ultimate world of coziness. I have officially decorated for Christmas (oops) and invested in 3 new sweaters. Sad indie music is everywhere. There’s bourbon caramel pecan pie! It’s total magic.
Anyways, before I enjoy Thanksgiving with my in-laws and jet off to Curacao for our honeymoon, I just had to share this recipe with you. At first, I was just going to make it for the holidays and let it go but I couldn’t. Because this pie is absurdly good and you deserve to have it at your holiday celebrations as well. So here you go, friends. Enjoy and have the happiest of holidays!
The best bourbon caramel pecan pie
We all know that I firmly live on Team Pie, so it’s hard to find one that truly impresses me. This, however, is not an issue with bourbon caramel pecan pie. Omg I think I could eat a slice of this every day for the rest of my life. It has everything. Bourbon. Caramel. Lots and lots of nuts. Flaky, buttery pie crust. I can’t. It’s just so good.
Also, this is a great make-ahead situation so you can make it the night before Thanksgiving or Christmas and then forget about it until it’s pie-and-coffee time. Even though it has a few steps, it’s actually pretty easy to make and it’s nice and relaxing little project if you want to turn on some Sufjan Stevens and zen out to dough crimping. It’s a huge crowd pleaser and since it’s rich, you can actually get quite a few servings out of it. You’re going to want this pie on your Thanksgiving table, I promise.
What is pecan pie?
Ok, if you’ve never had pecan pie, you absolutely must change that. It’s made with pecans, eggs, sugar, and butter for the gooey, nutty pie of your dreams. A lot of recipes use corn syrup but I personally don’t love using it, so I use caramel and brown sugar instead. Chocolate and bourbon are common additions, but I personally love bourbon cause, well, we all know how I feel about bourbon. I also love a good pinch of salt to balance out the sweetness and some vanilla cause vanilla + brown sugar is a dream.
The ingredient list
Here’s everything you’re going to need to make this bourbon caramel pecan pie!
- Sugar – both white and dark (or light) brown sugar. No corn syrup here!
- Heavy whipping cream – this will make the caramel sauce buttery and smooth.
- Bourbon – I like to use Frey Ranch but any will do!
- Pie dough – you can use homemade or store-bought but I personally think homemade is sooo much better! Here’s my go-to recipe with step-by-step instructions if you need some pie dough inspo.
- Vanilla bean paste – I love vanilla bean paste because it has such a deep, vanilla flavor. You can totally also use extract though!
- Pecans – obviously lol. You can get chopped pecans or whole pecans and chop them yourself.
- Baking basics – eggs, unsalted butter, Kosher salt, and flaky salt.
How to make this pie
Bourbon caramel pecan pie is pretty easy and comes together in just a few steps. We’re going to make caramel sauce and pie dough from scratch, but you don’t have to. Store-bought pie dough is totally fine too!
- Add the sugar to a heavy-bottom saucepan. Cook, stirring frequently, until the sugar is melted and a deep amber color.
- Next, add the unsalted butter, whisking rapidly until combined.
- Add the whipping cream, bourbon, and Kosher salt and whisk until smooth. Immediately pour into a bowl and cool.
- Start by whisking together some flour, sugar, and Kosher salt. Toss very cold butter cubes into the flour and use your fingers to ‘rub’ the butter into the sugar until you have pea-sized chunks.
- Next, add ice water and apple cider vinegar. Knead just until the dough is smooth.
- Divide the dough into 2 pieces, pat into 1” discs, wrap, and refrigerate for at least an hour.
- Once the dough is cold, roll it out into a 12” circle. Place in a 9” pie plate and crimp the edges. Brush the dough with egg wash.
- Bake the pie at 400°F for 15-20 minutes, until the edges are lightly golden-brown. Cool.
- First, whisk together the bourbon caramel sauce, brown sugar, eggs, unsalted butter, vanilla bean paste, and pecans.
- Then, pour the filling into the par-baked pie crust. If you want to arrange whole pecans into a concentric circle, now would be the time.
- Finish by baking the pie until it’s just a little jiggly in the center. Cool completely for 1 hour at room temperature. Then, refrigerate for another 3-4 hours until set. Slice and serve with whipped cream or ice cream!
You have a few options when it comes to serving this pie, but honestly, it’s great just on its own too!
- Extra caramel sauce – I like drizzling extra caramel sauce and a couple pinches of flaky salt on top of this pie. It’s pretty and so delicious!
- Ice cream – vanilla ice cream or salted caramel gelato would be amazing.
- Whipped cream – keep it simple with a dollop of whipped cream.
- Hot coffee – nothing better than coffee and pie!
What if my caramel sauce separates?
Sometimes, homemade caramel sauce separates while you’re cooking, so you end up with a big mass of sugar, and a mess of liquid. There are a few things you can do to fix this though! First of all, start with room temperature ingredients, so the cold ingredients don’t shock the hot sugar. If your caramel sauce still separates, just place the pan back on medium-low heat and whisk it vigorously until the caramel smooths out and comes together. Easy peasy!
A make-ahead option
This pie is super easy to make ahead. It needs a few hours to chill, so I actually recommend making it the night before to give it time to set up. It’s also way easier to slice when it’s chilled! If you want to make bourbon caramel pecan pie ahead, just bake it the night before. Let it cool, wrap it, store it in the fridge, and slice once you’re ready to serve. If you like warm or room-temperature pies, just let it warm on the counter for 1-2 hours. You can also heat it in the microwave!
Storing & freezing leftovers
To store leftovers, you can just cover the top of the pie and let it sit on the counter for up to 2-3 days. You can also store it in the fridge for 2-3 days to make it a little easier to slice. After 3 days, the crust will start to get a bit soggy, so I recommend eating it before then.
I’ve never frozen pecan pie, but I’ve frozen other pies with great results. If you want to try freezing the leftovers, wrap the slices (or entire pie) really well in plastic wrap or parchment paper. Pop the pie in an airtight container or freezer bag. Freeze for up to 2 months. Unwrap the pie, place it in an airtight container, and let it defrost in the refrigerator for a few hours. Reheat in an oven at 350°F for about 10 minutes to re-crisp the crust.
Tips for making the best pie
- Start with a good homemade pie crust. I like homemade but a good store-bought version is fine too! Make sure it stays very cold so the layers are nice and flaky.
- Chop up the pecans for a smoother filling. If you like bigger chunks of nuts, arrange them on top (like in the photos) or mix some whole nuts into the chopped.
- Bake the pie on a hot sheet pan or pizza stone. Make sure it’s in the lower 1/3 of your oven! That will crisp up the bottom of the crust so you get a sturdy (not soggy!) pie.
- Don’t over-bake the pie. Otherwise, you’ll end up with a filling that’s lumpy instead of velvety and rich. Be careful not to under-bake the pie though, or you’ll end up with a runny filling!
- This pie will make 8 large of 16 small servings. If you’re having a big dinner, you may be able to get away with 16 servings since the pie is really rich. I mean, for me, I want a big slice. But if you like smaller slices, do you!
More autumn pies
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Bourbon Caramel Pecan Pie
Bourbon Caramel Sauce
- 1 c sugar
- 6 Tbs unsalted butter, softened
- 1/2 c heavy whipping cream, room temperature
- 2 Tbs bourbon
- 1/2 tsp Kosher salt, more to taste
- 1 9'' pie dough, homemade or store-bought
- 1 egg
- 2 c whole pecans
- 1 c bourbon caramel sauce + more for drizzling (recipe above)
- 1/2 c dark brown sugar, packed (or light brown sugar)
- 3 large eggs, room temperature + lightly whisked
- 1/4 c unsalted butter, melted
- 1 1/2 tsp vanilla bean paste (or 1 Tbs vanilla extract)
- Flaky salt, for serving
- Ice cream or whipped cream, for serving (optional)
- 9'' pie plate (metal or stoneware)
- Parchment paper
- Pie weights or dry beans
Bourbon Caramel Sauce
- First, pour the sugar into a heavy-bottom sauce pan. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring frequently, until the sugar is completely melted and a deep amber color. The sugar will clump up first before it melts! Keep a close eye so it doesn't burn.
- Once the sugar is melted, remove the pan from the heat. Immediately whisk in the butter until the mixture is smooth. It'll bubble and splatter quite a bit (that's what the heavy-bottom sauce pan is for!)
- Next, pour in the heavy whipping cream, bourbon, and the Kosher salt. Stir vigorously until you have a silky caramel. Taste and add more Kosher salt if desired.
- Immediately pour the caramel into a heat-proof bowl and cool completely.
- Preheat the oven to 400°F.
- Roll out the pie dough until it's about a 12'' round. Place the pie dough into a 9'' pie plate. Fold the edges of the dough and crimp. Refrigerate for 10-15 minutes.
- Line the chilled pie crust with parchment paper. Evenly fill with pie weights or dry beans.
- Bake the crust for 15-17 minutes, until the pie dough is light golden-brown on the edges. Remove the pie from the oven and let it cool for about 5 minutes. Carefully remove the parchment with the pie weights/beans. Let the crust cool.
- Meanwhile, whisk the egg with 1 Tablespoon of water until smooth. Brush the egg wash all over the bottom, sides, and edges of the pie crust.
- Lower the oven to 350°F.
- In a medium pan, toast the pecans just until they're fragrant, about 2-3 minutes. Cool for a few minutes. Coarsely chop 1 cup of the pecans. Reserve 1 cup of whole pecans if you want the concentric design on top. If you want a smoother filling, roughly chop all of the pecans.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the bourbon caramel sauce, dark brown sugar, whisked eggs, melted butter, vanilla bean paste, and chopped pecans just until the filling is smooth. Don't over-mix!
- Pour the filling into the par-baked crust. If you're doing a design on top, arrange the whole pecans in a concentric circle on top of the pie.
- Bake the pie for 40-45 minutes, just until the edges are set and the center is still a bit jiggly (like Jell-O). Bake for another 5 minutes, if necessary.
- Remove the pie from the oven and let it cool for 1 hour at room temperature. Then, wrap the pie and let it cool in the fridge for 2-3 more hours.
- Remove the pie from the fridge and garnish with extra caramel sauce and flaky salt. Slice the chilled pie and re-warm in the microwave if desired. (You can also let it come up to room temperature for an hour on the counter). Serve with ice cream or whipped cream and enjoy!
xo Sara Lynn
*Song of the day: Old Friends by Pinegrove