salted caramel pecan bars with brown sugar shortbread crust

caramel pecan bars 1

Warning: if you and your figure have had a close relationship until now, don’t make these.

As it happens, my figure and I have not been on speaking terms for some time now (something about how hard it is to buy pants, I believe), so making these isn’t a problem in the least.

Oh, dear reader. Had I words to tell you about how good these were, I would use them. But their deliciousness sucked the words right out of me. Instead, all that’s left is “mmmmmm….” and “oh…wow….” and other sounds that sweet perfection make.

Every element of these was perfect: the brown sugar shortbread with tender crumb, the toasted flavor of the pecans, the salt paired with the sweetness of the caramel… I’m drooling again.

They are perfectly satisfying on their own, but I couldn’t help thinking how amazing they might be served warm with a teeny little scoop of salted caramel or butter pecan ice cream. Help.

Notes about the recipe: It’s important to use coarse salt in these cookies. If you are using table salt, they will be much too salty, so you’d want to decrease the amount you use. Kosher coarse salt is very inexpensive and is all I use in my kitchen. You may use any form of pecans you like–halves, pieces, chopped, whatever. I liked the look and mouthfeel of the halves, seen here.

caramel pecan bars 2

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Salted Caramel Pecan Bars with Brown Sugar Shortbread Crust



For the crust:

  • 1/2c butter, softened
  • 1/4c + 2 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 1/tsp salt
  • 1 1/2c flour

For the filling:

  • 5 Tbsp butter
  • 1/4c honey
  • 1/4c + 2 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 2 Tbsp half-and-half, cream, or milk
  • 1/4tsp salt
  • 1/2tsp vanilla
  • 1c pecans, lightly toasted
  • additional 1/4tsp salt, to sprinkle on top


  1. Cream butter and brown sugar about 2 minutes, or until light and fluffy. Add in salt. Stir in flour 1/2c at a time. The mixture will seem very crumbly. (Don’t panic. This is just how shortbread works.)
  2. Spray an 8″ x 8″ baking dish with nonstick spray and press shortbread mixture into the dish, using your fingertips or a small glass. Try to make the surface as even as you can, but don’t worry about small grooves from your fingers. Prick surface with a fork in about a dozen places.
  3. Bake at 375 for 18-20 minutes, or until edges are golden brown.
  4. While shortbread is baking, make caramel sauce by combining butter, honey, half-and-half, brown sugar, and salt in a medium saucepan. Stir and cook over medium heat until mixture comes to a boil. Boil about 3 minutes (surface will look frothy and have large bubbles). Remove from heat. Stir in vanilla and pecans
  5. When shortbread is finished cooking, remove from oven and reduce heat to 325 degrees.
  6. Allow shortbread to cool about 5 minutes before pouring caramel filling over top. Spread as evenly as possible over shortbread. Bake about 10-12 minutes at 325 or until edges are bubbly and center is no longer very wobbly. Sprinkle with remaining 1/4 tsp salt.
  7. Allow to cool completely before cutting into 12 bars.



  1. These look amazing! How do you think they will freeze and be after wards? I could never eat a whole batch by myself before they go bad!

  2. wow those look awesome! I had this pecan pie recently that was made with butter crust, it was mouth-watering good! I just wish i knew how to make it. do you have an idea? if so get in contact with me. thanks.

  3. Delicious! I had to make these about an hour after I read about them. I am afraid I might eat too many. Thank you for the great recipe.

  4. I’ve made these for several years and they are very good! I get request for them each year. Yes, you can freeze them and they will taste just as good as day one…make sure they don’t get freezer burn. I wrap them in plastic wrap then a tin foil around that.


    The CookieBeatch

    1. Emily- I’ve made them using salted and unsalted butter. Either will give you the same texture results, and I didn’t think that salted butter made them too salty. I’d say to use whatever you have on hand 🙂

  5. Howdy! I was searching for the most delicious bar I had this past weekend and googled all the ingredients and your recipe pulled up – LUCKY ME!! And a bonus was your adorable blog!!

    I can’t wait to try this and perfect timing for the holidays! I am also a new mother of an almost 2 year old boy and having so much fun! I love to bake so I am so excited to try this one! Happy Holidays!!

    1. Ash – I’m in the UK too and it’s becoming easier to buy American measuring tools. Sainsbury’s often have them, as well as lots of ‘homeware’ shops like Cargo, Wilkinson etc. Or you can use a normal measuring jug – 1 cup is 235ml, 1/2 cup is 118 ml, 1/4 cup is 60ml. Tablespoons and teaspoons are the same of course.

  6. I made these today. I exchanged the pecans for walnuts. They were amazing. All my friends are asking for the recipe. Thanks for the great step by step instructions.

  7. I had a recipe similar to these years ago and lost it. I’m wondering if you can double this recipe and make it in a jelly roll pan?

  8. I have made this recipe at least a dozen times and people love these pecan bars. Like almost freak out over them. I typically use Irish butter for the caramel topping and I like to break up the pecans because it allows you to add more. I use around double the pecans in the recipe.

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