People are nuts about pecans in the South. This Southern-native nut has a sweet, buttery crunch that instantly makes any dessert better. At Brumbaugh’s, we like them served up in just about every way you can imagine— pecan brittle, pecan pie, pecan rolls, or just eating them plain.
But our favorite pecan recipes are ones that you can whip up in a flash when you need to impress a guest or satisfy a last-minute sugar craving.
Whether you’re a rookie, a laid-back baker, or someone who doesn’t have time to measure, beat and combine to no end, we’ve rounded up some of our favorite quick-fix dessert ideas that make it easy to enjoy the South’s star nut.
Caramel Pecan Icebox Cake
Chocked full of pecans and drizzled with caramel sauce, this icebox cake is not only delicious but beyond simple. Just assemble the ingredients and pop it into the fridge for a no-fuss, pecan-studded treat.
- 1 1/2 cups mascarpone
- 3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 1/4 cups heavy cream
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- 1 (9-oz) package
- chocolate wafer cookies (such as Famous Chocolate Wafers)
- 1 cup toasted pecans, roughly chopped
- 6 tablespoons prepared caramel sauce
- In a large bowl, combine the mascarpone and vanilla. With a hand mixer set on medium speed, blend the mixture until combined. Increase the mixer’s speed to medium-high and slowly pour in the heavy cream. Continue to mix until the mixture thickens to a pudding-like consistency. Slowly add in the sugar and continue to blend until stiff peaks form.
- Spread ½ cup of the mascarpone filling over the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan. Add a layer of wafer cookies, then spread 2 cups of the filling on top. Next, scatter on one-third each of the pecans and caramel sauce. Repeat the layers twice more, starting with the cookies, followed by the filling, pecans, and caramel.
- Refrigerate the cake for at least 5 hours or overnight. To serve, remove the ring from the pan and slice.
Texas State Fair Pecan Pie
It would be a sin not to include pecan pie in our recipe list. You see, pecan pie is more than a pie— it’s a Texas institution. In fact, it’s the official dessert of Texas. And if you’ve ever had it fresh, it’s not hard to see why we love it in the Lone Star State.
With its dark custard filling and crunchy, nutty topping, few dishes represent Southern cuisine more perfectly than a slice of pecan pie.
Regardless if you make your pie crust or buy it pre-made (we won’t tell), this easy pecan pie recipe will have you’re friends and family thinking you’re a blue ribbon winner at the Texas State Fair.
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 stick plus 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch dice
- 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon ice water
- 1 1/2 cups pecan halves (51/2 ounces)
- 1 1/2 sticks cold unsalted butter
- 1 1/2 cups dark brown sugar
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup light corn syrup
- 3 tablespoons whole milk
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1/2 vanilla bean, split, seeds scraped
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 4 large eggs
- Unsweetened whipped cream or vanilla ice cream for serving.
- In a food processor, pulse the flour with sugar and salt. Add the butter and pulse until it is the size of small peas. Add the ice water and pulse until the pastry is evenly moistened. Turn it out onto a work surface and knead 2 or 3 times, just until it comes together. Form the pastry into a disk, wrap in plastic and refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour.
- Preheat the oven to 350°. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the pastry 1/8 inch thick; transfer it into a deep 10-inch glass pie plate and trim the overhang to 1/2 inch. Fold the edge of the pastry under and crimp the edges. Prick the bottom with a fork in a few places. Freeze for 30 minutes.
- Line the pie shell with parchment paper and fill with pie weights or dried beans. Bake for about 25 minutes, or until lightly browned around the edge. Remove the paper and weights and bake the shell for 15 minutes longer, or until it is lightly golden. Leave the oven on.
- In a pie plate, toast the pecans for 8 minutes, or until lightly browned. Let cool.
- In a medium saucepan, melt the butter. Add the brown sugar, granulated sugar, corn syrup, milk, flour, vanilla seeds, and salt. Cook over moderate heat just until the mixture comes to a boil. Remove from the heat and let stand for 5 minutes.
- In a heatproof bowl, lightly beat the eggs. Gradually whisk in the hot sugar mixture until thoroughly blended. Spread the toasted pecans in the bottom of the pie shell and pour the filling on top. Bake for about 45 minutes, or until the center is just barely set and the crust is golden brown. Transfer the pie to a rack to cool completely. Serve with unsweetened whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.
4-Ingredient Pecan Sandies
You could go to any store year-round and buy mass-manufactured Pecan Sandies. Or, you can enjoy the sweet reward of making homemade Pecan Sandies yourself! A maximum of four ingredients, about 42 minutes of effort, and you’ll have a buttery shortbread cookie that brings out rich, nutty flavors of roasted pecans you just can’t get at a supermarket.
- 1 cup salted butter, cut into pieces, and chilled
- 1/2 tightly cup packed light brown sugar (be sure it’s fresh)
- 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, divided (you may not end up using all of it)
- 1/2 cup roasted pecans, finely chopped, plus extra for topping
- Optional: powdered sugar for dusting
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, add butter and brown sugar. Using the paddle attachment at medium-high speed, mix until fluffy and light for several minutes. Scrape down sides as needed. Add only 1 1/2 cups of the flour and mix on medium-low speed until combined, scraping down sides as needed.
- On a large board, sprinkle 1/3 cup flour to keep the dough from sticking to the board. Use a rubber spatula to transfer the dough to the board. Knead dough by hand for 2 minutes, adding only as much of the remaining flour as needed to make a soft, pliable dough. The dough should end up soft and workable, similar to play dough. If it’s too sticky, add in one tablespoon of flour at a time just until the dough is the right consistency. Do not add so much flour that dough becomes dry (note: you may not end up using all the flour.)
- Work in pecans. Divide dough in half and gently roll into logs that are 1 1/2″ diameter. Tip: moisten palms with a bit of water or oil to prevent dough from sticking to palms. If your dough has become too warm, chill dough a few minutes to firm up just enough to allow you to roll it.
- Wrap logs airtight and chill for 30 minutes or until firm enough to slice easily. Preheat the oven to 325F with the rack in the lower-middle position. Line large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper or silicone baking mat.
- Remove one dough log from fridge and slice into 1/2″ thick rounds. Place each cookie 2 inches apart on the baking sheet. Place extra chopped pecans on top of cookies, if desired. Bake 12 minutes, or until bottom edges are golden brown. The tops of cookies should remain pale; do no over-bake. Let cookies cool a couple of minutes on the baking sheet before transferring to a wire rack to finish cooling. If desired, sprinkle with powdered sugar.
- Repeat with the remaining dough log (if dough becomes too firm, let rest at room temp a few minutes to soften just enough to slice.) Cookies keep very when sealed airtight, at room temp.
Creamy Pecan Pralines
Pecan Pralines are New Orleans’ iconic candy, but you don’t need to be a confectioner in the French Quarter to recreate this famous melt-in-your-mouth candy. All you need is butter, sugar, evaporated milk, vanilla, and pecans to create this sweet, nutty southern treat.
- 4 tablespoons salted butter, chilled
- 1 1/4 cups sugar
- 3/4 cup packed brown sugar, dark or light
- 1/2 cup evaporated milk
- 1 1/2 cups pecans
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- Lay an 18-inch sheet of waxed paper or parchment paper on the countertop.
- Cut the butter into small pieces. Place the pieces of butter on a plate and put the plate in the freezer while you heat the ingredients.
- In a heavy medium saucepan, add the granulated sugar, brown sugar, and evaporated milk.
- Place the pan over medium heat, whisk to blend, and cook until the mixture reaches the soft-ball stage or 235 F when measured with a candy thermometer.
- Immediately remove the pan from the burner and stir in the frozen butter with a wooden spoon.
- Add the pecans and vanilla and continue stirring with a wooden spoon until the mixture is no longer shiny and thickens but is not too stiff. The candy should spread slightly when you spoon it onto the paper.
- Use a tablespoon to spoon mounds of the candy onto the waxed paper or parchment, making sure that there are pecans in each praline.
- Let the candy stand at room temperature until firm, about 30 minutes.
This easy, three-ingredient fudge recipe focuses on the things that matter: the deep flavor of roasted pecans and pure maple syrup. The only difficult part is stopping yourself from eating just one piece.
- 2 cups pecans
- Unsalted butter (for pan)
- 4 cups pure maple syrup
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- A candy/deep-fry thermometer; a 9×5″ or 8×4″ loaf pan
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Toast pecans on a rimmed baking sheet, tossing once, until fragrant and slightly darkened, 10–15 minutes. Let cool, then coarsely chop.
- Meanwhile, butter loaf pan. Attach candy thermometer to a large heavy-bottomed pot or Dutch oven set over medium heat. Cook maple syrup, cream, and salt, whisking constantly, and bring to a boil. Stop whisking and continue to boil until thermometer registers 238°F, about 40 minutes. Immediately remove from heat and let cool to 130°F, about 40 minutes.
- Transfer to a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or use an electric mixer or wooden spoon) and beat on medium speed until fudge is stiff and opaque, about 12 minutes. Fold in pecans. Scrape fudge into prepared pan; smooth surface. Chill until cool and firm, about 2 hours.
Easy-Peasy Pecan Desserts
Whether you pick them up from the grocery or harvest them from a bountiful tree in your backyard, there are so many easy ways to savor the flavors of the south’s plentiful pecans. So, what are you waiting for? Grab your apron and get crackin’ on these easy pecan recipes.