Browned Butter Pecan Tart

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If you told me years ago that I was going to one day make this tart, enjoy as much as I did, and then share the recipe with others, I would have laughed really hard. This tart (originally a pie) has been on my family's Thanksgiving dessert table for over 25 years and I have never touched it (o.k I tried a bite a few years ago, but-- no thanks at the time). I didn't care for nuts growing up, so this dessert was never for me.  It smelled good when Mom was making it, but I just couldn't enjoy a slice. Fortunately, in recent years my taste buds have changed their mind about nuts and I enjoy them many ways, but still never pecans in the pie.

Not wanting to give up on a dessert loved by my family, I decided to give it another try with a few minor changes. I knew immediately that I wanted it in tart form.  If you are a reader or if you just check out my recipe page under Desserts, you will know that I have an affinity for baking (and eating) sweet tarts. I feel that the crust to filling ratio is better. Don't get me wrong, I love a good pie with its flaky crust where you can finish the fluted edge like a cookie, but a tart is my first choice. The original recipe already called for browned butter (kudos to the recipe creator), so no changes in that department. I did, however, swap out a bit of the sugar for brown sugar for a deeper sugar flavor.  It puffs as it bakes then collapses slightly as it cools. The filling separates into a gooey custard-like base with a thin, nutty, almost meringue-like top.  But, how did it taste to me?

On the first bite, I was in love along with the rest of my family. Taste and texture-- it was all there and more! I said to my husband on Sunday night, "This is one of my top 10 favorite tarts" and I have a lot of tart recipes. So, whether you are a pecan pie lover or not, I urge you to try this tart.  Of course, don't forget the scoop of ice cream:)

*Typo Correction-- I used a 10-inch tart pan with this recipe, not a 9 1/2-inch.  Recipe has been corrected.
Printable Recipe

Browned Butter Pecan Tart
serves 8-10

For the Tart Dough
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup powdered sugar
9 Tablespoons (4 1/2 oz) unsalted butter, cold and cut into small cubes
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 extra large egg

For the Pecan Filling
8 Tablespoons (4-ounces) unsalted butter
1 cup light Karo Syrup
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
3 extra large eggs
1 /2 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup finely or roughly chopped pecans

For the Tart Dough

In the bowl of a food processor, add the flour, sugar, and salt.  Pulse until combined.  Scatter the butter pieces over the flour.   Process in short bursts until the butter is the size of peas.  Add the egg and process in long pulses, about 5-7 seconds until the dough has started to clump.  Place a piece of plastic wrap on the counter and dump the dough onto the surface.  Using the plastic wrap and the back of your hands, gently press the dough into a disk.  Wrap tightly with the plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, preferably overnight.

Remove the dough from the refrigerator.  If refrigerated overnight, let it rest at room temperature for 10 minutes.  On a lightly floured work surface, roll the dough out into a 12-inch circle, flouring the dough and surface as necessary to keep the dough from sticking.  Roll up the dough around the rolling pin and gently unroll it over an 10-inch tart pan with a removable bottom.  Fit the dough into the edge of the pan.  Roll the rolling pin over the top of the pan to remove the excess dough.  Place the tart onto a baking sheet and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or place in the freezer for 15 minutes.

For the Pecan Filling
Preheat the oven to 425º F. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, cook the butter until golden brown with a nutty aroma.  Transfer the butter to a bowl; set aside to cool.  In a separate large bowl, combine the Karo syrup, sugars, eggs, lemon juice, and salt using a hand held mixer.  Beat until smooth and combined.  Add the butter and pecans; stir to combine.  Pour the mixture into the chilled tart pan and bake for 10 minutes.  Reduce the temperature to 325º F and bake for another 40-50 minutes, or until the center is set with a slight jiggle when shaken.  Transfer the tart to a wire rack to cool for at least 1 hour, then place in the refrigerator to set completely, about 2-3 hours.  Tart can be made one day in advance; bring to room temperature before serving.  Enjoy!

Source: Pecan filling adapted from The Cotton Country Collection, The Junior League of Monroe, La  Tart dough adapted from Baking From My Home To Yours, by Dorie Greenspan 


  1. This is the best pecan "pie" in the world. It's a favorite in our family (also deep in the archives of my blog) but I have never made it as a tart. What a fabulous idea! I'm going to do it your way for Thanksgiving.

  2. This looks amazing and your description makes me know that I HAVE to try it. Thanks for another wonderful recipe Nicole!

  3. I love the idea that this tart 'converted' you to pecan pie. Brown butter and brown sugar must make for an absolutely delicious tart, no wonder it's made your top ten!

  4. This tart looks and sounds absolutely delicious. This is my first time visiting you and your blog is lovely. I'm adding you to my google reader.

  5. Kathy-
    Thank you! It is a pleasure meeting you as well.

  6. Nicole, I didn't get your email soon enough so I prebaked the crust. No matter. It turned out fabulous. Best I've ever made. The family was crazy for it.

    On a different subject, I like the way you have done your recipe index. It's actually like mine except you have more categories which makes it easier to find things. Think I will try to do the same thing.

    Hope you had a great Thanksgiving!

  7. Paula-
    So pleased the tart was enjoyed. It was a winner tonight at our table as well.

    Glad you like my recipe page and good to hear that it is easy to find things:) Best to you!

  8. What is the purpose for the 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice in the filling? It can't be for flavor as the amount is too small?

    I also don't understand the baking times - I had to take my tart out 10 minutes early as it was nearly burnt. Tested my oven temp and it is accurate. Checked my tried-and-true pecan pie recipes and all of them called for much shorter baking times?

    1. Adding an acid like lemon juice or vinegar helps brighten the overall flavors in a recipe even in small amounts. As for baking temperature and times, they are correct. But if your baking time is shorter please make your own modifications.


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