Southern Pecan Pie

At the risk of alienating a few hundred Southern friends, family members, and culinary historians, I’m not about to proclaim what does and does not constitute genuine Southern pecan pie. Should the pecans be throughout the filling or just on top of the pie? Can both sugar and corn syrup be used as sweeteners? And what about substituting molasses or sorghum for the corn syrup? Must the batter be mixed only with a wooden spoon for the right texture, or does an electric mixer suffice? Like most Southerners, I firmly believe that pecan pie should be made only with fresh in-season pecans (not those half-rancid nuts sold in cans and cellophane packages), and I’m pretty adamant about my pecan pie not being cloyingly sweet, the way so many are. Furthermore, I always give guests the option of plopping dollops of whipped cream on their wedges, but I’m personally convinced that’s only gilding one very beautiful lily that needs no adornment.–James Villas

Southern Pecan Pie Recipe

  • Quick Glance
  • 25 M
  • 2 H, 25 M
  • Makes 6 servings


  • For the crust
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup vegetable shortening, lard, butter, or margarine
  • 4 to 5 tablespoons ice water, as needed
  • For the pie
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups light corn syrup
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 4 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 2 cups pecan halves
  • Whipped cream, for garnish


  • Make the crust
  • 1. In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour and salt, then cut in the shortening with a pastry cutter or two knives, till the mixture resembles coarse meal. Mixing with a wooden spoon, gradually add enough of the water so that a ball of dough is formed. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and chill for 1 hour (or up to 1 day).
  • 2. Grease a 9-or-10-inch pie plate and set aside.
  • 3. Place the chilled dough on a lightly floured surface and with a lightly floured rolling pin roll it out from the center to a 1/8-inch thickness. Carefully fold the pastry in half, lay the fold across the center of the prepared pie plate, unfold it, and press it loosely into the bottom and sides of the plate. Prick the bottom and sides with a fork, trim and crimp the edges, and place on a heavy baking sheet.
  • Make the pie
  • 4. Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C).
  • 5. In a large bowl, beat the eggs with an electric mixer till frothy. Add the corn syrup, flour, vanilla, and salt, and beat till well blended. Stir in the butter and pecans and mix well.
  • 6. Turn the mixture into the pie shell and bake till the filling is cooked but still soft in the center when the pie is gently shaken, 50 to 60 minutes. Cool the pie completely on a rack, chill slightly, and serve with dollops of whipped cream on top.
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