Homemade Pecan Pie (without corn syrup!)

I think I’ve created a monster.

My kids are not allowed to eat anything that contains high fructose corn syrup.  Its a steadfast rule in our house, and the kids pride themselves on following it.  They know that most brightly packaged foods contain it, and they generally stay away from those items.

My mom requested that I bake a pecan pie for yesterday’s Thanksgiving celebration, but every recipe I found called for corn syrup.  I brought Evie to the grocery store, and when she saw me place corn syrup in the cart she immediately questioned what it was.  When I told her, she freaked out.  Like, totally threw a fit. With TEARS.  In the middle of the grocery store.

“I will NOT put corn syrup in the pie!!”

“Corn syrup is DISGUSTING!”

“DO NOT BUY THAT, Mom!!!!”

I had to find an alternative way to make a traditional pecan pie my mom would love and Evie would love making.  I Googled “pecan pie no corn syrup” and several options popped up. I decided to create my own recipe using some of these as inspiration.  I was sure to add an extra egg yolk, as it seems like whenever I add one to my baking the results are so much richer.  And, even though most recipes I found called for only 1/2 stick of butter, a recipe in last Sunday’s Chicago Tribune pointed out that plenty of butter always makes a pecan pie better so I stirred in an entire melted stick.

Mack helped me bake the pie.  We made homemade pie crust yesterday and stored it in the fridge, so he was so happy to roll it out this morning.  He helped himself to more than a few licks of the brown sugar filling, too.

Pecan Pie

Pie crust (I used Martha Stewart’s recipe)

3/4 cup water

3 eggs

1 egg yolk

1 stick butter, melted

2 cups dark brown sugar

1-2 tablespoons bourbon (optional but lovely)

2 tablespoons vanilla extract (I use homemade vanilla extract)

2 cups pecans

Heat oven to 350 degrees.  Sprinkle pecans on a baking sheet and toast in the oven for 5 minutes.  Remove and set aside.

Whisk eggs, egg yolk and water together.  Add butter, brown sugar, bourbon and vanilla extract.  Mix well and set aside.

Press pie dough into a 9″ pie pan.  Sprinkle pecans onto unbaked crust.  Pour in egg mixture.

Bake for 50-60 minutes, until the filling is set and no longer jiggly.

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22 Comments for this entry

  1. Debbie Gregory says:

    Perfect timing – thanks so much! My teen daughter just commented that she could really go for a pecan pie this holiday season, sparking another *NO HFCS” conversation and making mental notes to look for alternative ingredients. Can’t wait to try this!

  2. Janie Kovach says:

    I made this recipe last night. It was certainly edible, however, not even remotely as good as the old fashion corn syrup recipe. I’d been wanting a pecan pie for some time but kept forgetting to buy dark corn syrup, so thought I’d give it a try. I know corn syrup has been getting a good deal of bad press in the last several years, but if you’re careful and try to not eat/cook with it very often, you can afford to spluge once in a while and use it when it’s called for. There’s a reason it’s in an old fashined pecan pie. It not only makes a richer filling with more body, but it also holds the pecan together. This recipe leaves the pecans falling apart in the shell because there’s really nothing to hold it together. Maybe the amount of water that’s called for in this recipe could be reduced. If you absolutely can’t abide the thought of using corn syrup, I guess this is an alternative recipe. But for those of you who love old fashion pecan pie, this isn’t it.

    • Maureen says:

      Thanks for your comment. Personally, I enjoy trying new ideas in the kitchen, especially when I can include my kids in the process. My family and I thought the pie was yummy!

    • A Nonny Mouse says:

      The one with corn syrup is nt old fashioned by any means. This method is more the old fashioned way. Karo out a pecan pie recipe in 1930, but pecan pies were made before that. I guess old fashioned is relative!

      • Danielle says:

        Corn syrup is not old fashioned. It is lab made chemical junk and since corn is about 90% GMO now you are smart to stay far away from it, even for special occasions. I have been making this pie for 6 years now as I live in Poland (I am American) and it is such a hit that my husbands family asks for it for pretty much every Polish holiday and all birthdays and Saint Days!! Also the water is needed and it does not affect the consistiency! The bourbon gives it a great kick!

  3. Amy Holton says:

    I just tried the recipe, and left out the water, based on the comment above, and it turned out spectacularly. I found this recipe after searching “pecan pie without corn syrup.” This is only because I am renovating the kitchen and cannot find the corn syrup anywhere.

    I also added 1/2 cup minced candied pineapple that had been infused with chili powder, and a tbsp of ancho chili powder, to honor my father-in-law, whose birthday would have been today. He LOVED cooking sweet treats with a little heat, and made a similar pie for my wedding ten years ago.

    This pie was delicious! Loved the story about the grocery store scene…

  4. jenny says:

    My husband is a strict organic-local consumer, and I tried this pie a couple months back. I think I got 3 bites out of the whole thing! He loved it! And I found NO problem with consistency. I’ve got another in the oven as we speak 🙂 keep in mind, I’ve never ever been a worthy baker, but this hfcs-free pecan pie is easy to make and so good! Now if only I can sneak a whole piece this time! THANKS Maureen!

  5. Betsy says:

    You’ve got a heavy hand with your flavorings (1-2 Tbs bourbon, plus 2 Tbs vanilla!), but I can’t wait to try it! The extra egg yolk and butter sound right up my family’s alley, as well. Thanks for the recipe. I’ll let you know how it turns out!

  6. AmyH says:

    I thought I would share this link to make your own sugar cane syrup which I think would be a replacement for the water and some brown sugar. I am going to try it tomorrow after I purchase a candy thermometer.


    I will try to remember to post results. 🙂

  7. AmyH says:

    Ok, I didn’t make it to the store for the thermometer but I did find my alternative to corn syrup! My neighbor had some brown rice syrup she suggested I try as she’s had great luck with the results. It’s also gluten free which is nice for those who abide. I followed the rest of this recipe replacing all the water with 2/3c syrup and reduction of 1c brown sugar. The uncooked mixture looked nice and brown creamy and it’s baking now. I imagine it will turn out awesome and will know when I take it to an early thanksgiving dinner tonight. I will try the cane sugar syrup some other time. 🙂

  8. rhonda says:

    I found your recipe today when I was looking for a corn syrup free recipe. I was a little worried about the turnout, but it did not disappoint me! I wont look any further! This is fabulous! Cant wait till tomorrow(thanksgiving day) to really enjoy it! (I just snitched a teeny piece to make sure it was edible:)

  9. S says:

    I’ve made this recipe (except with heavy cream substituted for the water) several times and it has always been absolutely delicious.

  10. Patricia says:

    Great pie cut the water extra rum awesome. Only used 3 eggs so good!

  11. Cher says:

    Glad that you are educating your children on nutrition! And I love a corn syrup-free pecan pie. But please let your children know that corn syrup (as in Karo) is NOT the same thing as HFCS. Corn syrup is what you get when you squeeze the juice out of corn and boil it down to reduce the water in it…exactly the same way maple syrup is made when it is drained from trees. Karo does NOT add HFCS (a “frankenfood” if you ask me), although the ingredient list on a bottle of corn syrup will tell you if the corn syrup manufacturer has added it (some do). Now, being that 70% of US corn is GMO…that’s a whole different story. But you can find actual GMO free corn syrup if you had to!

  12. tonne says:

    My husband cannot have a lot of sugar, but loves pecan pie. I’ve tried several sugar free recipes hoping to find one he likes with no success. I can’t wait to try this one. I plan to use Spenda brown sugar and to substitute heavy cream for the water as suggested in another comment because the filling of my old Karo syrup recipe has a custard-like texture to it. Keeping my fingers crossed!

  13. Amy Holton says:

    I am making this pie again for the Pi day of the century! I love this recipe. My husband is letting me use his *special* bourbon.

  14. Lacey says:

    I cannot wait to make this today. I love everybody’s comments of how they altered it in some way, and it turned out great. We are going to start with the original recipe above. One thing I would love to see is a PRINT BUTTON…one without comments AND one including the comments. There is so much good information in this comment thread. Thanks!

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