Southern Pecan Pie With Dark Karo Syrup Recipe

by Gina Elizabeth
Southern Pecan Pie With Dark Karo Syrup

If you waived classic Southern pecan pie off years ago, do yourself a favor and give it another try.

I’m partial to traditional recipes and it wouldn’t be Thanksgiving or Kentucky Derby day without classic Karo pie on the table!

This is the classic (foolproof) Dark Karo Southern Pecan Pie recipe for that sticky-sweet, ooey gooey filling.

Let’s get cookin’

Classic Southern Pecan Pie Recipe

Pecan pie is a Southern invention. Here’s how to make a classic Southern pecan pie (aka Karo pie).

If you’ve never had Karo syrup in your pecan pie before, prepare to become a convert.

It’s easier to make than you think; this recipe proves it.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup Karo® Dark Corn Syrup
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1-1/2 cups (6 ounces) pecans
  • 1 (9-inch) unbaked OR frozen deep-dish pie crust

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Mix corn syrup, eggs, sugar, butter and vanilla using a spoon. Stir in pecans. Pour filling into pie crust.
  3. Bake on center rack of oven for 60 to 70 minutes (see tips for doneness, below). Cool for 2 hours on wire rack before serving.
  4. **To use prepared frozen pie crust: Place cookie sheet in oven and preheat oven as directed. Pour filling into frozen crust and bake on preheated cookie sheet.
  5. RECIPE TIPS: Pie is done when center reaches 200°F. Tap center surface of pie lightly – it should spring back when done. For easy clean up, spray pie pan with cooking spray before placing pie crust in pan. If pie crust is overbrowning, cover edges with foil.
  6. High Altitude Adjustments: Reduce sugar to 2/3 cup and increase butter to 3 tablespoons. Reduce oven temperature to 325°F.
  7. Cool for 2 hours on wire rack before cutting into pie and serving.

Pecan pie is the definition of Southern comfort.

Southern Pecan Pie Sweetness

Folks south of the Mason-Dixon line love their pecan pies super gooey and extra sweet (bless their hearts!). The Karo Corn Products Refining Company  originated the traditional pecan pie recipe in the 1930s. Karo corn syrup is the ingredient that distinguishes southern pecan pie from ‘regular’ pecan pie.

What can I substitute for Karo corn syrup?

Here are great substitution ideas for items you probably have right at your fingertips: 

  • Maple syrup
  • Molasses
  • Honey
  • Agave nectar
  • Simple syrup
  • Brown sugar

Did you know?

The secret to a mind-blowing pecan pie recipe is the baking hacks:

5 Hacks for Baking the Perfect Pecan Pie

1. Pecan Pie Filling Hacks

  • Measure your ingredients, baking is more science than art.
  • Preheat your oven to 350°F .
  • Verify your oven temperature is really at 350°F with an over thermometer. (Don’t trust your dial.)
  • Pie is done when center reaches 200°F. Tap center surface of pie lightly – it should spring back when done. The filling will continue to cook and fully set as the pie cools.
  • Cool for at least 2 hours on wire rack before serving. Important! Do not place pie in the fridge until it is cooled.

Tip: If you live in a high altitude, adjust the recipe.

2. Pecan Pie Filling Hacks

  • Toast nuts 10-15 minutes at 350 degrees, until you can smell the pecan aroma. This will bring out the pecan flavor.
  • Make sure pecans in the filling don’t poke out. Use a wooden spoon to press them down into the syrup mixture. This will prevent the pecans from burning.

Here’s how to toast pecans in the oven:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Spread 1 cup of pecans on a baking sheet with parchment paper or foil for easy cleanup.
  3. Toast in oven for about 10 minutes.
  4. Stir or shake the pan occasionally so the nuts brown evenly without burning.

Here’s how to toast pecans on the stove:

  1. Place pecans in a medium skillet over medium heat.
  2. Stir occasionally for about 2 to 5 minutes.

3. Pecan Pie Crust Hacks

  • If you opt for a frozen crust, place a cookie sheet in preheated oven. Pour filling into frozen crust and bake on the preheated cookie sheet. Use the right kind of pie plate! Glass (Pyrex) or Stoneware are ideal. Do not use pie crusts in aluminum tins. Your filling may not set properly or gel to the right texture.
  • For an extra-tasty pie crust, add a pinch of sugar, cinnamon, or nutmeg to your flour before you add the butter.
  • Cover the crust edges with foil to avoid burning. Or purchase a pie crust shield.
  • Remove the pie crust shield during the last 15 minutes of baking.

4. Pecan Pie Baking Hacks

  • Purchase an oven thermometer to avoid a soupy pecan pie.
  • Oven temperature that is too hot can cause the egg custard to break and weep causing watery pecan pie. Oven temperature that is too cool may also cause runny pecan pie.
  • Do not shorten cooking time or lower oven temperature to avoid over-browning your crust. Cover the edges with foil or a pie crust protector instead. Be sure to remove the pie crust protection during the last 15 minutes of baking.

5. Pecan Pie Doneness Hacks

How can you tell when pecan pie is done?

Shake it. Give it a little shake back and forth. It should jiggle a little in the middle. A wobble means it’s not done yet. Another method is to stick a fork in it. Insert a fork in the center of the pie, between the pecans. It should be clean when the pie is ready.

How to Avoid Common Southern Pecan Pie Recipe Problems

Runny pecan pie

Here are 8 soupy pie mistakes to avoid when baking pecan pie:

  1. Your recipe proportions may be incorrect. Choose a reliable recipe with good reviews.
  2. Follow pecan pie recipes exactly. Do not skip steps or make substitutions that may add moisture (like adding fresh fruit).
  3. The oven temperature may be too hot which causes the egg custard to break and weep.
  4. Or the oven temperature may be too cool. Purchase an oven thermometer to avoid a soupy pecan pie.
  5. Do not shorten cooking time or lower oven temperature to avoid over-browning your crust. Cover the edges with foil or a pie crust protector instead. Be sure to remove the pie crust protection during the last 15 minutes of baking.
  6. Adjust the recipe if you live in a high altitude.
  7. As a last resort, you can add a tablespoon of flour or cornstarch. Note: This may change the taste of your pie.
  8. Use the brands recommended in recipes. Generic brands may add extra moisture.

Soggy pecan pie crust

Here are some things that can do to keep your pecan pie crust crispy.

  • Blind Bake. Pre-bake the crust so that it sets and crisps up before you add any wet filling.
  • Or Hot Baking Sheet. Place a baking sheet in the oven while it preheats. Then place your pie directly on the heated baking sheet. The extra heat will get the crust to cook and set quickly.

How To Fix Runny Pecan Pie

Method 1: Thicken Pecan Pie Filling After Baking

Place It Back In The Oven

Easy as pie!

  • Use an oven thermometer to ensure the right oven temperature (if your dial isn’t accurate).
  • Cover the pie with aluminum foil, place it back in the oven and bake it at 425 to 450 F for about 12 minutes.
  • Wait until the pie cools/sets (about 2 hours at room temperature) before cutting into it. Or, it’s almost certain that you’ll end up with a juicy, wet mess when you slice it.

Can you blame your oven for a runny pecan pie? Some ovens don’t heat evenly and/or display the wrong temperature. Bad oven, bad! 

Tip: Try a toaster oven if your gas oven has hot spots, fluctuating temperatures, or the dial isn’t accurate. Gas ovens also release moisture which can cause baking issues. Toaster ovens use less electricity than electric ovens and don’t heat up your kitchen as much.

Scoop Out The Filling

A more time intensive strategy involves: re-heating the pie filling and re-baking the bottom crust.

Here’s how:

  1. Remove the pie’s top crust and scoop out the filling.
  2. Put the pie back in the oven (bottom rack) and allow the bottom crust to cook all the way through.
  3. Simultaneously heat the pie filling on the stove (over a low simmer) until the juice reduces. Let cool.
  4. Once the bottom crust cooks — and coolsreinsert the filling.
  5. Then replace the top pecan crust and add whipped cream to hide the cracks.

A little whipped cream, and all is forgiven.

Method 2: Repurpose Runny Pecan Pie

Make A Festive Holiday Sundae Or Parfait

The best kind of mess.

Soupy pie fillings make great ice cream toppings.

Here’s how to fix watery pecan pie after baking by making a sundae:

PECAN PIE SUNDAE INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Scoop ice cream into individual serving bowls or glasses.
  2. Top with the pecan pie filling and crust.
  3. Garnish with whipped cream and nuts.

BOOM!

PECAN PIE PARFAIT INSTRUCTIONS

*A parfait is similar to an ice cream sundae, only it’s layered instead.

Make An Pecan Pie Bourbon Shake

Easy. Boozy. Beautiful.

This is the one time you’ll want to make a baking mistake.

Make pecan pie filling thick - repurpose runny pecan pie
GASTRONOM BLOG

You’ve got a festive & easy holiday shake or smoothie and your guests are none the wiser.

It’s totally healthy, its got has apples AND milk! ????

Here’s the recipe:

Ingredients

Serves: 1 thirsty person

  • 3 scoops vanilla ice cream
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 oz. bourbon
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecan pie
  • Optional toppings: Whipped cream, pecans, & cinnamon powder

Instructions

  1. In a blender, combine vanilla ice cream, milk, bourbon, and chopped pecan pie.
  2. Blend until desired consistency. (Add ice cream if too thin, or more milk if too thick)
  3. Pour into a tall glass or shake glass.
  4. Garnish with crumbled pecan pie. Or optional whipped cream, pecans and a dash of cinnamon.

Method 3: Prevent Runny Pecan Pie

Cooking Perfect Pecan Pie.

Making your first pecan pie this holiday? Want to impress everyone with your baking skills?

How to prevent runny pecan pie:

Choose a reliable recipe, measure ingredients accurately and follow the recipe precisely, cool the pie before baking, use an oven thermometer, do not overfill pie plate, cool before slicing, and adjust your recipe for high altitude.

1. Choose A Reliable Pecan Pie Recipe

Pecan pie is very finicky & unforgiving. Make sure to find a recipe with good reviews and follow it exactly, for the perfect pie every time.

Tip: Read the whole recipe once or twice before getting started. You’ll be much more likely to make pecan pie filling thick the first time!

2. Measure Ingredients Accurately

Baking is more science than art. Eyeballing ingredients isn’t good practice for baking!

Also, don’t make substitutions that may add moisture and cause runny pecan pie. For example, if a recipe calls for an ingredient of a specific brand, don’t use a generic brand.

3. Put a cold pie into a hot oven

“Make it cold, bake it hot.”

Putting a cold pie into a hot oven will help avoid a soggy bottom.

  • Everything should be chilled: ingredients, bowls, and materials.
  • Refrigerate the pie crust dough until your filling is ready. Warm dough causes butter to soften—which will cause a soggy instead of a flaky crust.
  • You can also chill your pie in the fridge for 15 minutes before baking.

4. Use An Oven Thermometer

To make pecan pie filling thick, pre-heat your oven and verify the baking temperature with an oven thermometer (don’t trust your dial). If your oven bakes unevenly you may want to rotate your pie half-way through baking.

Tip: Double crusted pies should be placed on the middle rack.

5. Use A Glass Pie Dish To Bake

Don’t use an aluminum pie pan. Bake in glass dish in order to monitor the doneness.

6. Partially Blind-Bake Your Bottom Crust.

As an alternative to blind-baking, you can also sprinkle cornstarch (or flour) on top of your bottom crust. This will soak up excess liquid. Sprinkle before adding your pie filling.

If you opt for a frozen crust, place a cookie sheet in preheated oven. Pour filling into frozen crust and bake on the preheated cookie sheet.

7. Do Not Overfill Your Pie Plate

Extra filing can cause a soggy crust. Stick with the amount that your recipe calls for to avoid watery pecan pie filling.

8. Cool Before Slicing Or Refrigerating

  • Cutting a hot pie will cause it to collapse.
  • Do not place a hot pie into the fridge, the temperature difference is too drastic.
  • Cool for at least 2 hours on wire rack before serving.

If you don’t allow pecan pie to rest until it is cooled, it’s almost certain that you’ll end up with a juicy, wet mess when you cut into it.

9. Adjust Recipe In High Altitude

If you live in a high altitude, adjust the recipe (ingredients and oven temperature).

Pecan Pie Baking FAQs

How do you keep a pecan pie from leaking out of crust?

(Buttering the pie plate is important especially for a pecan pie. The filling tends to leak through the bottom crust and stick, making serving difficult.) One way to prevent that leakage is to paint the bottom crust with slightly beaten egg white before adding the filling.

Should I blind bake crust for pecan pie?

If you love a flaky, non soggy crust with your pumpkin or pecan pie then blind baking is for you. If you’ve never heard of blind baking before, its a method where you bake a crust without the pie or pastry filling in it. This method is not difficult, and you don’t need any expensive equipment.

How do you keep pecans from burning in pecan pie?

Cover top and crust lightly/gently with foil. Bake pie at 350º for 30 minutes. Remove foil, then continue baking for 20 minutes, being careful not to burn the crust or pecans.

Do pecans rise to top of pie?

The pecans float in the unbaked filling and therefore rise to the top for an attractive pie. Pecan pies are usually baked in pastry crusts which will contain the liquid filling before it sets.

Can I make substitutions?

No. Substitutions can add moisture, which may cause runny apple pie.

How do I cut pecan pie?

Wait for the pie to cool/set. Use a serrated knife to cut into the pecan pie. Cut through the pecan crust slowly, then push down to slice the custard.

How do I serve pecan pie?

  • Serve chilled, warmed, or at room temperature. Do not serve hot.
  • Plate with a fork.
  • Top with whipped cream, ice cream or hard sauce. Wikipedia

What is hard sauce?

It’s a dessert sauce made with creamed butter, sugar with rum, brandy, sherry, whiskey, vanilla or other flavorings. It is served cold.

Do I need to refrigerate pecan pie?

Yes! Refrigerate within two hours of baking to prevent food borne illness. Allow your pecan pie to cool to room temperature before refrigerating. If refrigerated, you can enjoy your pecan pie for up to four days after you made it.

How can I avoid soggy pecan pie crust?

Here are some things that can do to keep your crust crispy.

  • Blind Bake. Pre-bake the crust so that it sets and crisps up before you add any wet filling.
  • Or Hot Baking Sheet. Place a baking sheet in the oven while it preheats. Then place your pie directly on the heated baking sheet. The extra heat will get the crust to cook and set quickly.

Why does my pie puff and then fall?

  • Pecan pie has a tendency to soufflé and fall. To test for doneness, look for a filling that’s puffed—it should jiggle just slightly when you gently shake it.
  • Stick to 350°F—a higher oven temperature will make the custard puff up like a soufflé and fall upon cooling.
  • Do not cool it too quickly in the refrigerator, the change is too drastic. Let the pie cool gradually in a warm place.

How do I keep pecans from getting soggy?

All you need to do is toast the pecans before folding them into the filling. This boosts their flavor and keeps them crisp.

How do you fix a burnt pie?

Use a handheld grater to scrape off the burnt parts. Cut or break off burnt edges and garnish the pecan pie with a ring or topping of whipped cream instead. Re-purpose sections that aren’t burned to make an ice cream parfait or bourbon shake.

Do I use light or dark corn syrup for pecan pie?

You can use either. Light gives a more delicate vanilla flavor. And dark has a more robust flavor.

Can I make pecan pie with alcohol?

I never met a pecan pie that couldn’t be improved by bourbon or whiskey.

Tips

  • Soak pecans in liquor while preparing the pie and layer them on top. Then sprinkle them lightly with a sanding sugar.
  • Don’t forget to finish off the liquor to eliminate waste.

How do I serve pecan pie?

  • Serve chilled, warmed, or at room temperature. Do not serve hot.
  • Plate with a fork.
  • Top with whipped cream, ice cream or hard sauce for a traditional American flair.

What is hard sauce? It’s a dessert sauce made with creamed butter, sugar with rum, brandy, sherry, whiskey, vanilla or other flavorings. It is served cold.

Do I need to refrigerate pecan pie?

Yes! Refrigerate within two hours of baking to prevent food borne illness. A warm pie is okay to place in the fridge.

Can I warm up pecan pie?

Warm in a 200 degree oven for approx 10 minutes.

Can I make pecan pie without eggs or sugar?

Yes, there are a lot of vegan pecan pie and keto pecan pie recipes online. And they are just as gooey and delicious.

Vegan Pecan Pie & Keto Pecan Pie. Those things Northerners dare to call pecan pie.

What’s the difference between Southern pecan pie vs pecan pie?

Southern pecan pie is also known as Karo pie. Karo is an American company that makes corn syrup that southerners typically use in their pecan pie. They sell a light and a dark version of the sweetener.

In the 1930s, the wife of a Karo executive originated the classic Karo pie recipe. It’s exactly 1 million calories. But I’m told it’s worth every sit-up.

Pecan Pronunciation (North vs South)

Another difference between pecan pie and southern pecan pie is the pronunciation of pecan.

And how you pronounce pecan depends on where you hail from.

The most common Southern pronunciation of pecan is ‘pih-kahn’. While up here in New York, we Yankees pronunce it ‘pee-can’.

No matter how to slice it (or pronounce it) pecan pie is a crowd pleaser.

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