This pecan tart has a buttery, flaky crust and an easy pecan pie filling that’s made without corn syrup. You can make it traditionally with butter and all-purpose flour or gluten-free and dairy-free.
I thought people might understandably be getting tired of variations of the same recipe, so I came up with a caramel filling. I meant to send that recipe to my photographer, but I guess I was half sleeping and sent this one, with my regular pecan pie filling, instead. Whoops.
So here we are! Someone asked me if they could make the pecan pie in a tart pan.
I wasn’t 100% sure about the filling amount, so I tried it out and am presenting you today with visual evidence that it indeed works. ;)
It uses 2/3 of the filling in the pecan pie and my Gluten-free Pie Crust. If you’re not gluten-free, you can use all-purpose flour.
I toasted the pecans for today’s recipe because of the shorter baking time, and it came out even tastier than the pie.
If you’re wondering if it’s worth the extra few minutes to toast the pecans, my photographer said this:
“When my husband tried the tart, he was like, “Oh my god, this is good.” I told him it was the same pie I made on Thanksgiving (which he also loved), just in a different pan. Then he said, “But the nuts taste SO good in this one.” He had another piece last night and was going on and on about it again. LOL. You have a winner with this recipe.
So there. I hope that’ll convince you. :D
Here’s an overview of what you’ll need. The full recipe is at the bottom of this post.
This is for the crust. You can use store-bought crust, if you prefer.
And for the filling.
How to make it
You’ll want to first toast the pecans.
This photo is to show you that there’s not much of a difference in color between raw and toasted pecans. Your nose should be the judge as to whether or not they’re ready!
You can make the crust without a food processor. I tried it with a pastry cutter, and it worked fine.
See the color difference in photos 7 and 8? Photos for steps 1-7 (and the crust ingredients shot above) are from my gluten-free pie crust recipe. I told the photographer she didn’t have to do the redo the first 7 process photos for the tart since they’re exactly the same. US butter was used in those.
All the the other photos you see in this post were made with Kerrygold. The flavor is much better with European butter, so I would really recommend it for the pie crust. It doesn’t make a difference in the filling.
I asked her to make this tart with Kerrygold, so people could see how different US vs. European-style look. You can’t really see the difference since the pie crust isn’t blind baked, but it is more yellow.
I really love this filling because it’s so easy. Just stir everything but the pecans together. Then add the pecans.
I first tried this recipe with the oat flour pie crust in the pecan pie recipe. It works great, but there’s no comparison between a flaky pie crust made with butter and one made with oat flour and oil.
But if you’re gluten-free and can’t use Bob’s Red Mill Gluten-free 1-to-1 Baking Flour because of the starches, you don’t have access to it, don’t want to use xanthan gum, etc., the oat flour pie crust is a great alternative.
But back to this flaky butter pie crust. It’s incredible!
It took me 11 years of experimenting before finding a gluten-free pie crust I absolutely loved, and that’s every bit as delicious, flaky and buttery as a traditional pie crust.
In my defense, I only worked on it in during the 2 months before Thanksgiving every year. But still. It was a lot of failed experiments. 😆
If you have any questions about subs or how to make the crust, be sure to read my pie crust post. I wrote 2,700 words all about how to make it, so I’m hoping your question is already answered. :)
Should I blind bake the crust?
I almost always blind crusts, but it’s unnecessary for this filling. I don’t know why.
It just works! The bottom crust is nice and crisp and not at all soggy.
This is definitely the best gluten-free tart I’ve ever had. It tastes just like the traditional wheat version and the crust is amazingly flaky.
To guarantee perfect results, you need to use Bob’s Red Mill Gluten-free 1-to-1 Baking Flour. I tried it with King Arthur Gluten-free Measure for Measure Flour, which is usually fantastic, but the crust was MUCH much better with Bob’s.
A few people asked if they could make my pie crust using vegan butter, so I tried it out with Violife. It worked great!
I had some left over and tried it out in the filling of this tart. It was also a success!
I have no idea if other brands will work. This is the only brand I have access to where I live.
Unfortunately, there’s no substitute for eggs in this recipe. They wouldn’t work.
Maple syrup sub?
Nope. Honey, corn syrup, additional brown sugar, or any other alternatives won’t give you the same results. Pecan pies, in particular, are finicky, and deviating from the recipe isn’t advisable.
Can I omit the sugar?
Nope. Attempting to replace it with more maple syrup or any other sweetener isn’t recommended. The texture would be off, and it probably wouldn’t set up.
Can I at least reduce the sweetener?
Although it might be tempting to cut back on sweetener, I strongly advise against it. Reducing sugar might cause the oil to separate. I’ve tried. Even a small reduction may ruin the whole recipe.
Can I use walnuts instead?
Sure! I think pecans are tastier, but walnuts are a great choice if you don’t have pecans.
Can I freeze this tart?
Yes! Pecan pie filling, with its high sugar and fat content, generally freezes well.
You can freeze it whole or freeze individual slices wrapped in plastic. If freezing the whole tart, wrap the whole thing in plastic wrap or foil or with whatever you’d like, and then place that in a Ziploc bag.
Other Christmas desserts
- Gingerbread Brownies
- Snowman Cupcakes
- Pignoli Cookies
- Chocolate Gingerbread Cookies
- Baileys Cheesecakes
- Prep Time:
- Cook Time:
- Ready in:
- Yield: 8-12
- 1 1/4 cups (156 grams) all-purpose flour OR for gluten-free, use 1 1/4 cups (173 grams) Bob's Red Mill Gluten-free 1-to-1 Baking Flour + a tiny bit more for flouring
- 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1/2 cup (113 grams) unsalted butter (European-style butter for the best flavor), cut into 8 pats (vegan butter for dairy-free)
- 1 teaspoon cold vanilla extract1
- 1/2 teaspoon cold apple cider vinegar
- 2.5 to 5.5 tablespoons (37-81 grams) cold water
- 1/2 cup (100 grams) light brown sugar
- 2/3 cup (213 grams) maple syrup
- 2 large (50 grams each, out of shell) eggs, room temperature
- 2.5 tablespoons (35 grams) unsalted butter, melted (vegan butter for DF)
- 1 teaspoon cornstarch
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 2 cups (224 grams) pecans, roasted2
For the crust:
For the filling:
- Get out a standard 9” (23cm) tart plate with a removable bottom. It should be one that's safe to move from the fridge to a hot oven. Do not grease it.
- To the bowl of a food processor fitted with an S-blade, add the flour, granulated sugar and salt. Pulse a few times.
- Add the butter and pulse. Pulse just until you have pea-sized bits of butter. Don’t overprocess! Stop pulsing.
- Evenly drizzle the vanilla extract and apple cider vinegar over the top.
- Turn on the lowest speed and pour in 2.5 tablespoons of water. The amount of water you need will depend on how cold your ingredients, kitchen, etc. are. I’ve made this several times with the same brand of ingredients, and have needed between 2.5 and 5.5 tablespoons.
- Process very briefly until it looks like it’s coming together. It’ll look shaggy and not like a uniform ball. Pinch some together. If it stays together without being crumbly, it’s ready. You don't want to add too much water. More water than necessary = non-flaky tart crust. If you think it needs a bit more water (it almost certainly will), add more water, 1 teaspoon at a time. If you think you can form a disc with it without it falling completely apart into a thousand crumbs, that’s another clue it’s ready.
- Place the dough in the center of a large piece of plastic wrap and wrap it up into a flat disc, about 1” (2.5cm) or a little less. If you can’t form a disc because it’s nothing but crumbs, it needs a little more water.
- Refrigerate for at least 45 minutes and up to 2 days.
- Place a baking sheet on the baking rack (one in the lower third of the oven) that will fit your tart pan. This is for the very unlikely case that something spills over and for a crisper crust bottom.
- Preheat the oven to 350 °F (175 °C).
- Very lightly flour a piece of parchment paper and place the unwrapped dough on there. Sprinkle a tiny bit of flour over the top of the dough.
- Place the plastic wrap or another piece of parchment paper on top of the dough and roll it out so that it’s about 1/3” (.84 cm) wider than your tart pan.
- Remove the piece of plastic wrap or parchment covering the crust, place the ungreased tart pan on top of the dough, and then flip over the dough and pan. Press the dough down around the edges at the bottom of the pan and then remove the piece of parchment paper.
- Trim away any dough hanging off the edges and use it to thicken the top part of the dough, if necessary. It shouldn’t be uniform in thickness around the edge.
- Cover with plastic wrap or the piece of parchment paper and place in the freezer for 15 minutes or in the fridge for 30 minutes, while preparing the filling.
- In a large mixing bowl, stir together all filling ingredients except for the pecans, sprinkling on the cornstarch, rather than plopping down a big clump. If there are any eggy bits that aren't coming out, remove them or they’ll bake up ugly.
- Once combined, stir in the pecans.
- Pour the filling into the unbaked crust and bake for 35-40 minutes or until the middle is set. It’ll have risen a bit but will settle back down as it cools.
- Let cool completely, about 2 hours, and then refrigerate for at least 2 more.
- Cover and refrigerate any leftovers for up to 4 days or wrap, put in a Ziploc bag and freeze for up to 3 months.
Make the crust:
Make the filling:
- I put the vanilla and apple cider vinegar together in a tiny bowl in the freezer for about 10 minutes, and the same with the water. I don’t put the vanilla/ACV and the water together in the same bowl because you might not use all the water.
- To roast the pecans, place them on a rimmed baking sheet and bake at 350 °F (175 °C) for 3 minutes, stir, and bake for another 2-5 minutes or until they smell fragrant and toasted..