Brown sugar Bars

A buttery pecan crust that bakes up in a flash topped with classic pecan pie filling and a touch of bourbon-infused maple syrup- yes my darlings- you have found the perfect Brown Sugar Bar.

brown sugar pecan bars on a metal baking tray next to blue china plates

My Masters Brunch Menu wouldn’t be complete without a sweet treat featuring fresh Georgia pecans. The two most popular things you can do with the nuts, of course, bake them in a pie or make cookies.

Let’s do one better and do both. Brown Sugar Bars.

BTW- Hunky Hubbie said these are the best things I have ever baked. (He says that pretty much every time I bake him a new dessert).

brown sugar pecan bars on a metal baking tray next to pecans

Ingredients in Brown Sugar Bars:

  • eggs
  • unsalted butter
  • flour
  • bourbon maple syrup* see chef’s notes for source
  • pecans
  • dark Karo syrup
  • light brown sugar
  • dark brown sugar
  • vanilla
  • baking powder
  • salt
  • Bourbon or dark rum
  • non-stick cooking spray
flour, brown sugar, bourbon, butter, and measuring spoons next to pink and yellow floral arrangement

Equipment and utensils needed for this recipe:

  • 7″ x 10.5′ baking dish
  • foil
  • measuring cups and spoons
  • food processor
  • sharp knife
pecans in a metal skillet

How to make brown sugar bars:

  • Line your baking dish with a foil sling and spray generously with the non-stick spray. foil
  • With a food processor, make a crust with flour, brown sugar, pecans, poking powder and salt. Bake until golden brown.
  • While the crust is baking, make the filling with Karo syrup, brown sugar, bourbon maple syrup, bourbon or rum, salt, vanilla, and egg.
  • Pour filling into the warm crust. Top with more pecans. Bake until set.
  • After 30 minutes, remove the bars from the baking dish and peel off the foil. Let cool completely.
  • Cut into 12 equal bars.
crust in a tin-foil lined baking dish on a wood countertop

Variations to this brown sugar bar recipe:

  1. Add in dark or bittersweet chocolate
  2. Add in dried cherries
  3. Use walnuts or pistachios instead of pecans
  4. Stir in cornflakes for an unusual crunch
brown sugar pecan bars in a tin-foil lined baking dish
  • Chef’s Notes- The bourbon maple syrup I used is from Runamok Maple. It is an organic line of maple syrups from Vermont. I picked up my bottle in Whitefish at my favorite kitchen store- Trovare. Trovare has sumptuous charcuterie boards, freshly baked treats, a fantastic supply of kitchen essentials, and luxury foodstuffs. Check them out if you visit Whitefish. They also offer cooking classes.
  • Buy similar syrup HERE.
  • Store opened pure maple syrup in the fridge. It will mold if left at room temperature.
brown sugar pecan bars on a wooden cutting board next to a butcher knife and yellow flowers

Pro-Tips for successful baking:

  • Make certain your oven temperature is correct
  • Rotate the bars halfway through baking so the pecans are evenly browned.
  • Do not forget to remove the bars from the baking dish to cool after 30 minutes.
  • Cool these bars completely before slicing.
  • Use FRESH pecans. Nuts are high in fats and can go rancid if not stored correctly.
  • You may omit the alcohol if desired, but it burns off and adds a deep rich smokey flavor to these bourbon pecan bars.
brown sugar pecan bars on a wooden cutting board next to a butcher knife and yellow flowers

If you like these bourbon pecan bars, you’ll love these recipes:

brown sugar pecan bar on a blue china plate in front of a tray of brown sugar pecan bars on a metal baking tray

How I developed this Brown Sugar Bar recipe:

I searched for a bourbon pecan bar that had a superb crust and found exactly what I was looking for in an America’s Test Kitchen recipe. But, their recipe spread the crust out over a large square pan so it wasn’t terribly thick. I instead bake my crust in a smaller 10.5 x 7-inch Le Cruset baking tray lined with a foil sling. Without the foil swing- you are in for a heck of a mess trying to remove the bars from the pan.

I opted for a few more pecans than in the original recipe and a bit more butter. I also added in a bourbon-infused syrup and lots of dark rum and a dark Karo syrup- not their light- blah.

Bake and then while still hot, pour in my bourbon maple syrup and rum filling. Yes, you read that correctly- bourbon and rum. Well, the maple syrup* is “infused and aged in bourbon barrels.” Close enough. But I do put in dark rum, dark Karo syrup, light brown sugar, lots of vanilla, and top with two heaping cups of toasted pecans. The alcohol does cook off in the baking process but it adds rich butterscotch notes to the bars that fruit juice like apple juice cannot. If you do not want to use alcohol, use extra Karo syrup, apple juice, or extra vanilla.

Finally, I almost doubled the amount of salt. ATK doesn’t mind using table salt, but I always use Kosher which is much softer. This really cuts through the sweetness and brings up the deep rich maple taste. When that salt hits your taste buds- look out. So good!

These perfectly sweet and slightly salty bars are sure to be the star of your Sunday at the Masters’ brunch.

brown sugar pecan bars cut into portions on a metal baking tray

Brown Sugar Bars

u003cstrongu003eA buttery pecan crust that bakes up in a flash topped with classic pecan pie filling and a touch of bourbon-infused maple syrup- yes my darlings- you have found the perfect Brown Sugar Bar. u003c/strongu003e
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Course: Party Food, Sweet Tooth
Cuisine: Southern
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 50 minutes
Total Time: 3 hours 10 minutes
Servings: 12 servings
Calories: 212kcal


For the Crust

  • 1 cup (5 oz. ) flour
  • ½ cup ( 2 .5 oz) light brown sugar
  • cup pecans, toasted and rough chopped
  • 1 tsp Kosher salt
  • ¼ tsp baking powder
  • 7 tbsp unsalted butter, cut into pieces and chilled

For the Filling

  • ½ cup (3.5 oz) packed light brown sugar
  • ¼ cup dark Karo Syrup
  • 2 tbsp Bourbon Maple syrup – see chef’s notes for source
  • 4 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 tbsp dark rum or bourbon
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • ¾ tsp kosher salt
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 2 heaping cups of pecans, toasted and coarsely chopped


  • Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Line a 10.5 x 7-inch baking dish, with a foil sling allowing the foil to hang over each side. Spray generously with cooking spray. Set aside.
  • In a food processor, add in the flour, brown sugar, pecans, baking powder, and salt. Pulse 5-6 times until combined and pecans are finely chopped like sand.
  • Add in the butter and pulse another five seconds until the mixture is like cornmeal.
  • Press the mixture into the foil-lined baking dish using the back of a measuring cup to even out the mixture. Be sure to press the crust up the sides and evenly around the pan.
  • Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.
  • While the crust is baking, in a medium bowl, combine the brown sugar, Karo syrup, bourbon maple syrup, rum, butter, salt, and vanilla with a whisk. Whisk in the egg until the mixture is smooth.
  • Pour the mixture into the warm crust.
  • Top the filling with the 2 cups of coarsely chopped pecans.
  • Bake at 350 for 15 minutes. Rotate the pan and bake for another 10 minutes.
  • Set the dish on a wire rack to cool for 30 minutes.
  • After 30 minutes, remove the bars using the foil slings and let cool for another 1 1/2 hours until the crust is completely cooled and the filling is set.
  • Peel the foil off of the bars and using a serrated knife, cut into 12 equal pieces. Cooled bars can be stored in an airtight container for five days… but they won’t last that long.


Calories: 212kcal

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