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Pecan Pie that is not runny!

I make all the desserts for Thanksgiving. That means that I try to make 7 or 8 different things. Despite the fact that there are lots of interesting and delicious desserts, there is always someone who MUST have pecan pie. While my recipe always turns out a pie that tastes good, it often turns out to be too runny. For some reason I cannot make it set up properly. Does anyone have a totally reliable, delicious tasting, traditional pecan pie recipe? HELP! Thanks.

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  1. Never heard of a runny pecan pie.
    I used this maple pecan pie recipe last year at Thanksgiving and it was fantastic. Unfortunately I made two pies, brought them to someone's house and no one eats pecan pie there. I had once slice and left the two pies which I'm sure were later trashed.


    8 Replies
    1. re: monku

      This looks great. I will try it this week so I can make sure that I don't mess it up...... Too bad that I did not live near you! I could have simply picked up your extra pie....... :-)

      1. re: rjlebed

        Maybe your forgot the eggs?
        It was a good pie and expensive with the real maple syrup.

        1. re: monku

          No, I definitely did not forget the eggs........... It set up well in the oven and also when it was whole but, when I cut into it the filling just ran. I think it was because it was made with lots of Karo syrup.

          1. re: rjlebed

            I make lots of pecan pies. LOTS. And I mean LOTS. The amount of Karo syrup does not matter if the other ingredients are used in proper proportion, and the pie is baked properly. If it appeared to set properly, but was still runny, it sounds as if more baking time was needed. I would suggest covering the pie with foil if the top is nicely browned, but more baking time is needed. I do this fairly often if the pie is browning, but I fear the middle is not quite set.

            1. re: gordeaux

              I do the same gordeaux - not sure if it's just my oven, but the crust and pecans seemed to be browned enough well before the pie is set. I usually end up covering the entire pie loosely with foil about 30 min into the cooking time. I've tried a lot of different recipes, but my fallback recipe is the one printed right on the Karo syrup bottle.

              1. re: gmm

                I also use the Karo label recipe, have for years. Also I do cover the crust edges with strips of foil to prevent over-browning. Have never had a runny pie, ever. It's also important to let the pie sit until totally cooled, I've read, to help it set better too...another good reason to bake pies night before or day before enjoying.

      2. re: monku

        I made this last night as a quick run through before Thanksgiving. It was well received by my book club. Only one person said that she thought it was a tad too sweet. but, I think that is one of the hazards of pecan pie. it set up nicely and tasted yummy.

        Thanks Monku!

        1. re: rjlebed

          Glad to hear it.
          Never had a pecan pie that wasn't sweet.
          I got a couple in the oven with about 15 more minutes to go.
          This time I'm only bringing one pie and saving one for myself.

      3. The Karo label recipe is almost optimal but I much prefer it with 3x the amount of pecans. (Also strongly recommended: an all-butter variant of the cook's illustrated vodka pie crust.)

        Foil to keep the top from overbrowning is essential, as is letting the pie cool thoroughly before serving

        10 Replies
        1. re: terrier

          Ditto on the pecans. I'm a Mississippi pecan pie raised person. The pecan pies I'm used to are made with pecans from peoples' front yards. The Karo bottle and most standard recipes are what I call "Northern" pecan pies. I do, however like the custardy stuff, so I make a hybrid of Northern, and the Mississippi pecan pies I rew up with, so it's like 2 cups of pecans, 1/2 cup of sugar, 2/3 cup of...*gasp* cheap pancake syrup (butter flavored,) a dab of Mexican vanilla, four tbs of melted butter, three eggs. If I'm feeling like a break from tradition, a handful of choc chips or butterscotch chips are a suprisingly good addition.

          1. re: gordeaux

            gordeaux, ever use cane syrup for pecan pies? I really like it as an alternative for corn syrup and I think of cane syrup as totally Southern.

            Scroll down to the second recipe:


            1. re: bushwickgirl

              How does the sweetness of cane syrup compare to corn syrup? I'm going to make the Steen's label this year instead of the Karo label...

              gordeaux , isn't *gasp* cheap pancake syrup (butter flavored) essentially flavored corn syrup? which brings us back to Karo...

              1. re: pitu

                It is corn syrup, but the butter flavor makes it "special" with an extra chemically goodness.
                I don't eat this stuff every day, but, really, it's the only pie I really love.

                1. re: pitu

                  pitu, It's as sweet; however, cane syrup is richer in flavor and a little denser than white corn syrup, and adds an interesting dimension to a pie, but it's not as intense as dark corn syrup, which I don't use for pecan pie anyway, it's a bit toooo much, if you know what I mean. It's made from cane, not corn, slightly different flavor, I said that already. Cane syrup is a bit more pricy and not so readily available as corn, but it's definitely worth seeking out and trying. I hope you like the difference.

                  1. re: bushwickgirl

                    cane syrup is very strong in flavor, at least that's what i had growing up in s.w. florida. it has a vegetal-earthy vibe (go figure ;-).

                    ps, karo users, you will be happy to know that alex guarnaschelli used karo in some dessert the other day -- probably pecan pie -- and she also used crisco for something!

                    1. re: alkapal

                      Crisco, Crisco, go Crisco, some things just are not the same without it.

                      1. re: buttertart

                        my mom used crisco for her biscuits.

                        1. re: alkapal

                          Makes a much better biscuit than butter, as far as I'm concerned. Have some nice cookie recipes that require it too to be "right".

                      2. re: alkapal

                        Steen's came out great -- I used a T of flour to make a roux with the butter to guard against a runny pie and cooked that with the sugar + sugar syrup, but left out the corn starch rec'd on the can. (Tempered that into 3 beaten eggs, vanilla.) I usually do half and half light/dark Karo, and didn't find that flavor all that different with 100% cane syrup. A subtle difference, mos def has the earthier stronger undertone that dark Karo gives. I'll have to taste the plain syrups side by side sometime.

                        My fave Vertamae Grosvenor book "VIBRATION COOKING: Travel Notes of a Geechee Girl" suggests corn syrup and cane syrup interchangeably, so I felt secure. She was cooking in Paris with what she could get her hands on.

                        I made a crust w 8T butter/ 2T baking lard/ 1.5 c flour (and tiny bit of salt/sugar, 2t vinegar) - great structure and flavor.

            2. I made this chocolate pecan version last year: http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/foo...

              It was incredibly rich and delicious, like eating a candy bar. No problems with texture and it also came out magazine beautiful. It may not be "traditional" enough for you though and I think you're better off using a regular recipe rather than trying to adapt this one.

              Anyway, my mother's traditional recipe uses a cup of karo to 3 eggs and I've never had a problem with that one setting. What was the proportion in the recipe you used?

              1. Thanks all of you! I will make sure to cover with foil and make sure it is baked for a long enough time. I will report back! I do admit that I have always made it the morning of Thanksgiving so, perhaps even though there are several hours before I serve it I have not allowed enough time for it to totally set/cool.

                1 Reply
                1. re: rjlebed

                  Cover with foil only after the top is browned. MUCH less sticking to the foil that way. One recipe I've seen says to start the pie off at 500 degrees for 15 minutes to get the top set, then cover with foil and finish it off at 350.

                2. OK, Here is the recipe that I have been using that has turned out runny! It is actually NOT a karo syrup recipe. I forgot that I changed recipes a few years ago. Does anyone see any problems with this one?''

                  1 Cup pure Maple syrup
                  3/4 cup packed golden brown sugar
                  3 large eggs
                  1/4 cup sugar
                  3 tblsp butter melted
                  1 tblsp all purpose flour
                  1 tsp vanilla extract
                  1 9-inch frozen deep-dish pie crust (I usually substitute my own)
                  11/2 Cups coarsely chopped pecans

                  Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Whisk first 7 ingredients in medium bowl to blend. Place unbaked crust on baking sheet. Spread nuts over crust. Pour filling over. Bake until filling is set and slightly puffed, about 1 hour. Transfer pie to rack and cool completely.

                  It is from Bon Appetit December 2000. Thanks for any thoughts!!

                  5 Replies
                  1. re: rjlebed

                    Hm, I've never made pecan pie with maple syrup, but I have a feeling that might be your problem - maple syrup is a LOT thinner than Karo, so I would expect it to need more thickening than a Karo pie. However, your recipe calls for the same amount of eggs mine does. Do you think you could reduce the amount of maple syrup a bit without negatively affecting the flavor? Or alternately, add an extra egg? My recipe also calls for starting the pie at a higher temp (450 degrees) for the first 15 mins and then finishing it at 350 for another 35 or so - perhaps try the dual temp combo and see if that helps (cover after the first 15 mins to keep it from getting too brown)?

                    ETA: I just noticed that your recipe also calls for a bit of flour - perhaps increase that a touch to aid with thickening? You could make a quick roux out of the flour and melted butter and mix that with the other ingredients just to ensure that the larger amount of flour doesn't result in an uncooked floury taste.

                    1. re: biondanonima

                      I absolutely LOVE this board!! You guys are all so helpful. I think that I may just try one of the other pecan pie recipes. I am not totally wed to this one but was just perplexed since I have never before had such a consistent problem with a recipe. And, one would think that Bon Appetit would have gotten it right.............. I may actually try an extra egg when it is not Thanksgiving and see if that works........ Thanks again, biondanonima!

                      1. re: biondanonima

                        Every recipe I've seen calling for maple syrup uses 1 cup....nothing to do with the thickness of maple syrup.

                        I don't think the OP allowed the pie to cool and set long enough. If I were going to make it in the morning and serve it the same day I would refrigerate it for a while to make sure it set.

                      2. re: rjlebed

                        In the above thread you didn't tell me you used this maple syrup recipe.
                        Is it possible you used maple syrup and Karo syrup?
                        That would explain why it was runny...there was too much liquid.

                        "I think it was because it was made with lots of Karo syrup."

                        1. re: monku

                          Yes, I confused it with a different recipe that I had used. When I went to my Thanksgiving file to publish the one that I used I found that it was a different one............... Sorry about the misleading information......

                      3. If you want to break from the traditional just a bit, I've found that I much prefer pecan pie in tart form (for me, better ratio of crust to pecans and less of the gooey filling). I've used this recipe for a maple pecan tart with success (however, I used my own crust recipe). With the tart, less baking time is needed to set the thinner layer of filling so this may help with the runniness issue.


                        1. Let it cool down and set...................... http://www.wchstv.com/gmarecipes/dipp... My favorite recipe for yrs now GOOD LUCK

                          1 Reply
                          1. Many people forget that pecan pie is a custard. It's a very high sugar custard, so, with the stabilization from the sugar, it can handle a lot more rugged treatment (like lack of a water bath), but you still can't bake it any way you please and expect good results.

                            If you cook any custard too quickly or too long, the protein in the eggs will contract and it will lose it's liquid retention capabilities. That's what's happening here.

                            If you're not par baking the crust, do so. Take whatever baking routine you're using, lower the temp and remove the pie when it's just about set (and no further). The key to non runny pecan pie is gently baked just-set eggs.

                            6 Replies
                            1. re: scott123

                              Scott123, would you recommend refrigerating it overnight or leaving on the counter?

                              1. re: rjlebed

                                Rjlebed, sugar is a pretty powerful preservative, but with the eggs in this, I'd probably refrigerate it.

                                1. re: scott123

                                  oh no, dont refrigerate your pie! It is a real negative for the crust.
                                  while I sometimes bake the night before thanksgiving, there is also a loss in deliciousness of the crust - it stales - even for that single day. A pie should certanly set up enough by the time it cools thoroughly to room temperature. Baking in the morning for thanksgiving dinner would be just fine.
                                  All our thanksgiving pies sit on the mantel for several days and there is a never an issue with spoilage. If you keep your house at a warm temp it might be a different matter.

                                  ps - in recent years Ive used King Syrup for my annual pecan pies. It works very well.
                                  I also use a recipe in a Farm Journal cookbook, which works very well, adding extra pecans. Never a problem with weeping, etc. Will check to see if there are any differences to the formulas above.

                                  1. re: jen kalb

                                    ps to update the above, I realized that for many years I have used Alaga which is dark and a mix of corn and cane syrups. I like a pecan pie with a browny buttery feel.

                                    1. re: jen kalb

                                      Would you please post the recipe for the pecan pie? Does it set up nicely?

                                2. re: scott123

                                  Isn't it less a custard (no milk/cream) and more an enlarged butter tart?

                                3. The best pecan pie on the face of the planet is at Goode Company in Houston. If only I could track down the recipe! (believe me I have tried!) It was the custard layer under the beautifully toasted pecans that made me crazy, unlike any other pecan pie I have ever had this had a smooth, creamy, almost pudding like consistency that tasted like butterscotch! (not the Jello pudding kind) I have heard that people wait in lines that wrap around the block before Thanksgiving, for this pie!

                                  2 Replies
                                  1. re: joanteed

                                    Joanteed, you're almost right; Goode Company makes one of the finest pecan pies I've ever put in my mouth. When I make a trip to Houston, a trip to Goode Co is always on the agenda!

                                    However, the best pecan pie I've ever eaten, and in fact my favorite dessert in the whole world, is the sweet potato pecan pie with chantilly cream from Paul Prudhomme's "Louisiana Kitchen". People who usually don't care for pecan pie because it's too cloyingly sweet (and what's wrong with that, I ask?) love this pie. The balance of sweet potato and pecan is not to be beat. And the chantilly cream...I could eat that on brussel sprouts!

                                  2. So, here's another wrinkle/angle: anyone ever thought to tweak the classic flavoring, just a tad -- sort of doing for pecan, what a little orange, raspberry or chili/chipotle does for chocolate? Yes, I know, why mess with something simple and pure and good. And yet, I'm thinking there's room for a little more oomph. Maybe a hint (or more) of cardamom, or the aforementioned chili/chipotle, or maybe even something slightly radical and savory like rosemary (cooked and steeped a bit, but then removed).

                                    Anyone want to weigh in, even to speculate -- besides simply declaring this heresy?

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: fmogul

                                      Not heresy to me, fun!

                                      Orange would be definitely nice, Grand Marnier and zest. Can't quite get the rosemary, but coffee would work, either espresso powder or coffee liquer. How about some ancho powder? Cinnamon is expected but cardamom would be a hint of something different. Use a combo of brown sugar and corn/cane syrup for a caramel flavor.