GAHIGF: Vegan, Gluten and Refined Sugar Free Pecan Pie Bars

Can you believe that I have never had pecan pie before? I’m assuming for some Americans that is shocking as it’s an American Thanksgiving staple, but my family never ate it. So when Brittany of Real Sustenance announced that the themed for this month’s Go Ahead Honey, It’s Gluten Free was Thanksgiving, I thought why not try a Thanksgiving staple that I’ve never made before? I guess I could have made an actual pie, but bars are smaller, less fussy and easier to photograph!

From the recipes I first found, I was shocked at the amount and kind of sugar that goes into many of them – 1 c. of corn syrup and at least 1/2 a cup of sugar for one cup of pecans? No thank you! So obviously, I wanted to make my attempt at pecan pie much, much less sweet so I didn’t end up with a headache. This version uses about 1/2 c. of sweetener in total and they are still sweet, but not sickeningly so. I was first inspired by these Vegan Pecan Pie Bars by The Almond Flower – they look so simple and delicious! However, when I asked Mr. Bean about the consistency of the filling and he said “soft” – most likely due to the eggs – and I wasn’t sure if that recipe would give me the texture I wanted. Further searching came up with this Sugar Free Pecan Pie Recipe that uses flax meal and arrowroot powder instead of eggs. It seemed to have worked as Mr. Bean said that the texture of the filling was almost spot on! Hurrah!

Vegan, Gluten and Refined Sugar Free Pecan Pie Bars

Shortbread Crust:

2 c. blanched almond flour
4 tbsp. coconut oil, melted
2 tbsp. grapeseed oil
2 tbsp. honey or agave nectar
dash of salt

Pecan Filling

1 3/4 c. chopped pecans
1/3 c. maple syrup
1 – 2 tbsp. honey or agave nectar, if desired
1/4 c. coconut oil
1 tbsp. vanilla extract
1 tbsp. flaxseed meal
1/2 tsp. tapioca starch (could use arrowroot to make grain free)
2 tbsp. nut milk (or whatever kind of milk you want)
Salt for pecans

  1. To make crust, turn oven to 350F and line with parchment paper or grease an 8×8″ pan.
  2. Mix ingredients in a medium sized bowl until combined.
  3. Press into prepared pan and bake for 15 minutes or until the crust starts to turn brown. Remove from oven and allow to cool.
  4. For the filling: In a small-medium sized pot, mix together the coconut oil, maple syrup, honey and vanilla extract.
  5. Bring pot up to a boil and simmer for about 5 minutes, whisking it frequently. (The coconut oil and sweeteners will not mix very much as one is polar and the other is not. Don’t worry as the nut milk slurry will act as an emulsifier.)
  6. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature. (I stuck mine in the fridge for 10 – 15 minutes, giving it the occasional stir to prevent any coconut oil from hardening.)
  7. Meanwhile, toast the pecans in a pan on medium heat for about 5 – 8 minutes or until they smell like roasted pecans, stirring frequently. Once toasted, remove from heat and sprinkle with salt.
  8. In a small bowl, mix together the flaxseed meal, tapioca starch and nut milk. Let it sit for a few minutes.
  9. Once the sugar-oil mixture is cooler, whisk in the nut milk mixture until combined and smooth.
  10. Mix in the chopped pecans and mix until combined. Pour onto the cooled shortbread and distribute evenly.
  11. Bake at 350F for about 20 minutes or until the filling begins to set and loses its shine. Remove from oven and place on cooling rack.
  12. Before serving, chill in the fridge for at least an hour – the colder they are, the easier they are to cut and serve!
  13. Enjoy!

What is your favourite Thanksgiving Staple?

Recipe shared at: Sugar Free Sundays and Slightly Indulgent Tuesdays.

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82 Comments

Filed under Baking

82 responses to “GAHIGF: Vegan, Gluten and Refined Sugar Free Pecan Pie Bars

  1. These look gorgeous! A bit like square butter tarts. Yum!

  2. Dressing! I love cornbread dressing.

  3. These look great! And no, I cannot believe you have never had pecan pie before :) These remind me of these things I used to eat as kids. I’m not sure who made them probably little debbie or something, but they were these cups with a shortbread crust and had pecan pie filling in them. I loved them growing up…and ate way too many of them…might also be partly why I cannot tolerate sugar today!

  4. Since I keep reminding Hubby that I AM Canadian, we get two Thanksgivings if I’m up for cooking both times. It’s not Thanksgiving without a turkey for me. I remember when I was young our family held potlucks for all the big holidays, one year the host family made roast beef and a ham and I was so upset that turkey was missing from the spread. This taught me two things, if I really want turkey for holiday dinners I need to host and make a turkey; second I should enjoy whatever was prepared for dinner and not be choosy ~ some people are without any dinner tonite.

    • I would be pretty sad about not having a turkey at Thanksgiving as well! But as you said, it’s important to realize that some people don’t have anything to eat for dinner!

  5. These look delicious! I’m not a huge fan of pecan pie, but I might like these better!

  6. These look so yummy and so pleased to see they are gluten free! Thanks for your comment on my cupcakes, I have changed it to be gluten free flour, which I always use but don’t always remember to add to the ingredient list! Have a sweet day!

  7. Mmm.. these look delish! Btw – I love that cup in your pictures. Thanks for sharing at Sugar Free Sunday this week!

    • I got them as a gift at one of my Bridal showers! I don’t use them very often as I have other (larger) favourite mugs, but I like to bring them out for food photo shoots. :)

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  9. wow- these look amazing! i am a huge fan of pecans and these bars are perfect!

  10. wow, great recipe! I’ve been looking for a pecan dessert that would work with my diet and my family would love and I think this is it.

  11. These look so appetizing–great photos! Also, I think your almond four shortbread might be interesting to try on its own. I’ve been wondering how to make gluten-free shortbread.

    • Thank you! If you want to make just shortbread, I would recommend making it with all grapeseed oil or with actual butter. I get the impression that it stays together better that way! :)

  12. Now if i can only find room in my belly for pumpkin pie AND pecan pie!! I’ll give these a whirl, thank you for sharing!

  13. Another possibility for the holidays – Gluten sufferers there are so many options now be thankful, And these are refined sugar free as well!!

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  15. Maddie

    These look like something buttery my mom would make for Christmas growing up! I have got to try them. However, I don’t have any maple syrup for the Pecan filling – any substitute suggestions? Also, I don’t have coconut oil, but I figure I could get by with some regular neutral oil or EarthBalance. Thoughts?

    • Hi Maddie – You could probably use honey or agave for the filling. As for the coconut oil, your thought of using a neutral oil or melted earth balance would most likely work. Let me know if you try them and how they turn out! :)

      • Maddie

        I finally got around to making them and they turned out great. The topping would definitely benefit from the flavor of maple syrup, but I just added the honey, extra vanilla and some cinnamon and it worked fine. Thanks for the recipe!

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  17. Wow! Those look so good! :D I’m always on the hunt for great GF recipes, will be giving this one a try. :) Just have to sub out the coconut – most of my kids are intolerant. :(

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  19. Knotman

    Made these over the weekend and they turned out just great! They will definitely be on the Thanksgiving table this week.

  20. MMMMMMMMMM,…These bars looked so delectable & apart! I have made them & loved them so much!! thanks again! :)

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  22. Made these for Thanksgiving on the weekend, they were awesome! Made the base with 6 Tbsp canola oil and replaced 1 1/3 cup almond meal and 2/3 cup tapioca starch for a buttery, melt-in-your-mouth shortbread before pouring on the topping. They were gone in two seconds. I love the fact that they’re sweet, but not sickly sweet like traditional pecan pie. I’m looking forward to making more for Christmas! Thanks so much for the recipe – it’s going to bring much joy to my family and I, heheh.

  23. Karen

    Made these for Thanksgiving and they were AWESOME!!!!! I like these better than regular pecan pie!

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  26. Elaine

    I finished off the last two squares of this recipe tonight with tea. Sooo good! Last week I took some to a lunch along with some lemon square, (which I couldn’t eat as they contained gluten) and everyone chose the pecan squares and loved them. I will be making these again soon. Thanks for a great recipe!

  27. CloudberriesInLondon

    Wow these look perfect!!!

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  29. Katie

    So, I’m from the South where pecan pie is a religion (each of my grandmothers have different recipes and it was nearly a fight around home regarding whose was best). THIS recipe is pecan pie. You’re not missing anything. Wow. Taking it home for Easter so we’ll see what my brother has to say about it:) Delicious!

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  31. Surprise! I was assigned your blog this month and LOVED this recipe! Just made a few tweaks but these were divine, thanks so much for the recipe! I will be making these again and again!

  32. Doxielvr3

    I do low carb and do not use honey, maple syrup or agave because they may not have white cane sugar but it is sugar nevertheless. Wonder what one could use in place of these items?

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  34. Just made these for American Thanksgiving (I’m Canadian, but my fiance is American, so now I celebrate both!) … It’s going to be so hard to resist sneaking a bite before tomorrow! They smell DELICIOUS! http://instagram.com/p/SULMCvyFKO/

  35. Meagan

    Ive made these twice! Once, last week as a trial before turkey day to make sure they were good. Boy were they ever!!! Sooo good. Made them again today for Thanksgiving and they were a hit! Even with my foodie-foo-foo mum who doesn’t do Paleo. She asked me to leave some for leftovers! Thank you for sharing!

    Found you via Paleo Parents!

  36. well, i didn’t read the recipe through and just mixed the filling together with the nuts and it’s in the oven now. we’ll see how it turns out. if it’s a “mistake”, i’ll still eat it and make another batch for next weekend. thanks for creating a recipe that g-f people can enjoy and feel like everyone else during the holiday parties.

  37. Sandy

    These are super good! My husband dislikes almond flour but loved these. I liked these as much as pecan pie!

  38. Juniper Rain

    i made these for this past thanksgiving.. i didn’t tell anyone they were grain free (my family is weird about that kind of stuff) and everyone loved them!! they ate my pecan bars more than my mom’s home made pies!! they are incredible and i would highly recommend them to anyone.. i have never made the same dessert twice to bring to thanksgiving but i definitely think i will make these for next year!

  39. Reblogged this on Core Conditioning and commented:
    This recipe looks amazing. I love pecan baking and just the possibility of avoiding a lot of sugar and flour is very enticing.

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  41. Karen

    Tapioca is not a grain so this recipe is already grain free. ;^) This looks delicious. I make something quite similar that I call ‘lazy tassies’. I will try these just for the fun of it next time.

  42. Lini

    I made this tonight, and i followed the instructions perfectly, and it didn’t turn out anything like the picture :( The filling just soaked down into the crust and it became all one. I don’t know where i went wrong

  43. This is perfect. I just bought a pecan pie and thought…I must make one of these that I can eat with no eggs, gluten and a lot less sugar….thanks for hitting the mark

    • These look terrific! As I m on SCD and can’t have flax or tapioca starch, could I use coconut flour instead? Or? Thx a million! I SO want to make these! ;)

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  48. Christie

    This looks wonderful and I’m thinking of making it tomorrow. Do you think I could use a spring form pan, so I could slice it like a cake instead of bars?

    • Hi Christie – you should be able to make it in a spring form pan and cut it up in wedges. They make be a bit crumbly at the tips, but they should stay together. Let me know how they turn out!

  49. Cara

    I made this tonight and it is delicious. They came out perfectly and I’m so excited because this was the first gluten-free dessert I’ve ever baked. Yay your recipe and yay me! Thank you.

    • I’m so happy that they turned out well and that you liked them! I’m sure this’ll be the first of many delicious gluten-free desserts for you! :)

  50. Laura

    I served this as part of my 100% vegan Thanksgiving to my omnivorous, grain-loving family, and it was a huge success! It is so delicious!

  51. Steph

    I just made these and they taste amaaaaazing! However, it looks like the filling soaked into the crust and now, even though they have cooled in the fridge, they are super mushy and wet. The crust was cooked and firm when I added the filling. What should the filling look like when I add it? Mine was sort of runny. Simmer it longer? Let it get even cooler? These are so good I have to figure this out! Thanks!

    • Hi Steph – I’m glad that you liked them and that sucks that they got mushy.

      The filling should be fairly cool and viscous before you pour it on. I’d first make sure that you simmer it for the 5 minutes to help the flax to gel and then cooling it more before you pour it over the crust. Hopefully that helps!

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  55. Gillian

    If I don’t have tapoica starch what else could I use? These look so yummy!

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  57. Courtney

    Just wanted to let you know that I made this as mini pecan pie tarts using a mini muffin pan – OMG DELISH. I reduced the crust cooking time to 6 minutes and the second crust/topping cooking time to about 10. I stuck the pans in the freezer for a bit afterwards until they hardened up slightly and then popped them out using a spoon!

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