Gooey caramel-sweet Pecan Pie Bars that are simple, healthy, and perfect for holiday sharing! Vegan, paleo, refined sugar-free.
Why didn’t anyone ever tell me pecan pie was so good?
It’s only been a classic dessert for approximately forever, but never has a bite of the nutty stuff crossed my lips until now. What kind of dessert lover from the south am I? – a very NOT cliche one, obviously.
You know how sometimes it is the most basic recipes we overlook though in favor of the new and sparkly and Pinterest-popular? Pecan pie is no golden milk unicorn spice avocado toast latte (and thank goodness for that!) It doesn’t have to be flashy or glamorous because it’s just SO. GOOD.
But you probably already know that, don’t you? You’re probably here because you are already a fan of the stuff and just looking for a version that isn’t 90% butter and sugar. Fruit-sweetened. Super-easy. Wholesome-ish. Yep, I have just the recipe for you…
Acceptance of nuts in dessert things was a process for me. I wasn’t just born okay with walnuts in my brownies and almonds in my ice cream.
The evolution went something like this: rocky road ice cream > chocolate turtles > white chocolate macadamia cookies > jello instant pistachio pudding > ANYTHING. So really mini marshmallows are to thank for where we are today, because I never would’ve tried rocky road if it weren’t for their squishy sweet persuasion powers. But here I am making a pie loaded with pecans and loving every single bite.
And as far as nuts in desserts go, I’m starting to realize pecans are one of my favorites. It depends on the occasion of course, but pecans have a built in…toasty-ness? richness? buttery-ness? All of the above-ness? They are perfect with pumpkin, crazy good covered in chocolate, and killing it at the pie game of course. Do you know any other nut with a holiday pie named after it? I didn’t think so.
Pecans, you’re pretty groovy.
Ingredients in this recipe that are not pecans:
- Medjool dates. If you know me and you know pecan pie, you saw this one coming from many miles away. Instant buttery caramelized flavor. Easy 3-ingredient crust binding. The only kind of “sugar” this pie needs.
- Coconut. Fact – pecans are expensive. But I really wanted to keep the crust flour-free, so instead of using all pecans I used a mix of pecans and shredded coconut. Plus coconut just works with these flavors.
- Vanilla + sea salt. Because if we’re going to do the caramel-y thing, we’re going to do it right.
- Arrowroot starch. Something has to bind all this sweet filling stuff together so it sets and slices like a dream. And that something is arrowroot starch. But cornstarch or tapioca starch would work too.
- Simplicity. Um, do you see that list? Only six ingredients for the crust AND the filling – that’s what I’m talking about.
I know, I know these are squares not slices. But hear me out – pie requires plates and utensils, squares require nothing but fingers. So for sharing OR single-handed consumption, squares = pie simplified. But yes, you can bake it as a pie pie too.
Happy nutty square pie making to you!
Vegan + Paleo Pecan Pie Bars
- Prep Time: 15 minutes
- Cook Time: 35 minutes
- Total Time: 50 minutes
- Yield: 16 squares 1x
Gooey caramel-sweet Pecan Pie Bars that are simple, healthy, and perfect for holiday sharing! Vegan, paleo, refined sugar-free.
- 1 1/2 cups (180g) chopped pecans
- 1 cup (70g) unsweetened shredded coconut
- 8–10 (150g) pitted medjool dates
- 12 (200g) pitted medjool dates
- 1 1/4 cup (300g) non-dairy milk
- 3 tbsp arrowroot starch ((can sub cornstarch or tapioca starch))
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/4 tsp sea salt
- 1 1/2 cup (150g) pecan halves
- Preheat the oven to 350F.
- For the crust, combine all the ingredients in a blender or food processor and blend until sticky and clumpy.
- Press firmly into a square pan (8×8″) lined with parchment paper. Set aside.
- For the filling, blend the medjool dates, milk, arrowroot, vanilla, and salt until smooth.
- Add 1 cup of the pecan halves and pulse them in.
- Spread on top of the crust. Sprinkle the remaining 1/2 cup of pecans on top and press them in lightly.
- Bake for 35-40 minutes at 350F or until the pecans on top are golden brown.
- Remove from the oven. Cool. Then refrigerate overnight.
- Slice into squares and enjoy! Keep leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week.
For a cheaper oat flour option, you can use the crust from this pie recipe instead.
Firstly, yeah pecans are SOOOO groovy! And secondly, squares look so much better than slices! I could destroy the whole lot of them in no time! Beautiful work!
I’m not sure I’ve ever called a nut “groovy” before, but it just fit😂 And you could destroy the without even having to wash a fork after, which is what I call winning. At life. And monday. Happy new week Anna!
I just love your videos and recipes! I have to say I always look forward to reading your ‘lead up’ to the recipe but I’m afraid I’ve never noticed the ‘Skip to the Recipe’ button, before. It just never occurred to me that I would want to do that. While I appreciate your thoughtfulness on providing the button; I have to say how much I would miss out on your musings and insights. Thanks always for sharing your great way with ingredients and recipes!
Hi Annie! Your comment means SO much to me, thank you for the kind words and for reading and not just scrolling right on by. I like to give the option because I get it people are busy and rushed and just want the food already, but the fact that you do read and enjoy my silly thoughts means a lot to me💜
Amazing recipe – I also love to read your thoughts before diving into whatever recipe you’ve reeled us into lol But a lot of times I use the jump to recipe button as I tend to read your recipes on the train home from work and make it on another day. It’s not needed but of course very much appreciated. Have a lovely day
Hi Eric! I really appreciate you taking the time to sometimes read the rambles, but yes sometimes even I’m like let’s just get to the food already ha. And I appreciate the kind comment too 🙂 Happy weekend!
Hi Natalie! I wanted to let you know that, like TofuAnnie, I thoroughly enjoy reading your posts from top to bottom, and salivating over the photos and videos, of course! You oftentimes put a smile on my face and certainly brighten my days, so thanks for that. As for this recipe, I truly appreciate the wonder that is pecan pie and think these bars of yours would taste divine. But can you believe neither my husband, daughter nor son are fans of dates (crazy, I know, when I’m all too happy to savor them all on their own), neither of my kids are big nut eaters (beyond peanut butter, chopped peanuts with chocolate and the occasional walnut piece they have to sometimes endure while eating a cookie or brownie) and my son doesn’t like coconut. Perhaps this recipe would make converts out of them all! And if not, hey, then I guess I’d just have to eat the remainder of the bars. I think I could cope with that. 😉
Thank you Victoria for reading and even moreso for taking the time to leave me such a lovely comment, I truly appreciate it <3 Haha it sounds like you have quite the tricky family to bake for! As long as they all like chocolate though, I suppose I can forgive them the whole anti-date thing 😀 Actually my entire family took a long time to warm up to dates too, but one by one I convince them. Or the more for you plan sounds pretty great too. Thanks for the kind words, and happy baking/week!
It’s official, I will never NOT be obsessed with pie bars. All the delicious, nutty goodness here, in easy peasy bar form! Every time I see pecan pie I think DATES because like you said, they’re just perfection for the typical pecan pie flavor happenings. These look amazing! I’d throw out all the other desserts for one of these gems on Thanksgiving – okay maybe not throw out, but save for later, or something! 🙂
Pie bars are so much more low key, ya know?! The main difference is really just shape and the lack of sides but somehow that makes all the difference. Mmmm yes, dates + pecans was a match meant to be! But I feel that way about dates and A LOT of things and I think you agree😉 As long as you throw all the other desserts (especially that cheesecake!) in my direction…🤗 Happy Monday Sara!
Hi Natalie! Wow! These look fantastic! I can’t wait to try them. I also wanted to say thank you. As a person who chooses to not eat animal products and needs to be gluten free, your recipes are so spot on! I appreciate how innovative you are with your recipes and that they taste delicious! Thank you so much!
Natalie, thank your for having such wonderful recipes, descriptions, videos and pictures. Everything looks great and I too observe the no animal products in my lifestyle. You, young lady are an inspiration!!! 😉
You are too sweet! Thank you for the kind words of support, I am so happy all the vegan recipes work in your life too 🙂
Hi Cathy! I am so happy the recipes can work for you and your life, thank you for the kind words <3 And I hope these new nutty bars are no exception--enjoy!
quick question! did you use raw pecans or roasted pecans? would it matter if i used one over the other? what do you think!?
I used raw. They get pretty toasty while the bars bake, but either would be fine 🙂
I can count on one hand the amount of times I’ve eaten pecan pie, which I think is reason enough to make these delicious-looking bars!! Pecans are definitely underrated. Thanks for raising awareness for the little nuts 🙂
I can count on one finger and that is NOT okay. Somebody’s gotta advocate for these nutty little dudes, and you and me and your pie and these bars…I think we got this👊
Bianca / Elephantastic Vegan says
Oh Natalie, now you’ve got me motivated to try pecan pie (I’ve never had one!). Pecans are one of the nuts that are totally not on my radar. A couple of years, I couldn’t have cared less for nuts.. now I love peanuts, almonds, pistachios, hazelnuts and cashews. Walnuts are okay! Oh and of course all of these in nut butter form 😀 But pecans? I shall gave them a real try soon 🙂 Amazing recipe, as always! The photos are bomb <3
SAME! I feel like food blogging/recipe development has really given me a new appreciation for nuts in general. There was even a time where I didn’t like peanut butter😱 Nut butter is probably still my fave way to eat nuts, but pecan pie is definitely WAYYYY up there now! Thanks lovely❤️
The Vegan 8 says
I love, love how much you packed a ton of pecans into these delicious bars! Pecans are my favorite nut and you know what, pecan pie was my favorite pie growing up! I always loved how gooey and sweet and nutty it was and it was never blob-like, hahaha! I have seen pecan pie bars before but they are always loaded with so much nasty butter and these look about a million times better, not to mention healthier and easier! I have always wanted to make my own vegan pecan pie (without the bucket of corn syrup, lol) and think I’ll just make these instead, lol! Loving these bars, you nailed these!
I honestly can’t believe you HAVEN’T made your own pecan pie recipe by now with your love for pecans and strong feelings about non-blob pies (i still laugh every time you say that😂😂). Well whenever you do it’s gonna be spectacular, we can all be sure of that! Ikr usual pecan pie ingredients: butter sugar nuts…oh yeah and corn syrup because normal sugar ain’t enough. These may be a little too date-y for you (biggest understatement ever lol) but medjools really did work perfectly here imo😊 Well I am happy to hear you approve and happy that I am starting to realize why pecans are so amazing!
The Vegan 8 says
Hahaha! I think the dates here are brilliant because they are already sweet and gooey, just like pecan pie is! Yeah, my mom made pecan pie every. single. year growing up and oh boy, heaven, pure heaven. But, of course it was loaded with corn syrup…not that I cared then, but I do now, so I’m sure I will do a maple syrup version whenever I get around to it!! And yes, to pecans, they sure are a magical and delicious ingredient! I love, love these bars!
Do you use dried dates? Or fresh? Never baked with them before!
Fresh! Natural Delights is my favorite brand 🙂
I made these today and they are AMAZING. I made a few modifications to the filling to make it smoother and slightly thicker, but my oh my. Thanks for your wonderful creativity. I will post my modified recipe on my blog, but will link to this post if that is okay! My blog is halahbakes.com
Yours looked awesome on Instagram, soooooo creamy and luscious! Happy to inspire such deliciousness🙂
I adore pecans but boyf can’t eat them so unless I harden my heart and just make something for me n daughter I don’t eat them often enough. Might just have to for this recipe though!
This recipe made me realize how truly delicious a nut they are, especially in sweet and caramelized stuff! Haha aww well maybe make him something else–too many desserts isn’t a real thing anyways 😉
Hi! Do you think it would be okay to do without the coconut? Thanks!
Sure, you’ll just need to add more pecans to make up for it. Otherwise the crust will be too sticky and not fill the pan completely 🙂 Hope you enjoy!
Great, thank you & Happy Thanksgiving 🙂
Hiya! I made these and they are pieces of heaven. Hope my friends will like them just as much as I do. Do they freeze well?
Ahhh I am so so happy to hear it!! I haven’ tried them frozen, but I love them chilled and they will last at least a week in the fridge. Probably will freeze fine though if you want to give it a shot. Thanks for the feedback Dana and happy Thanksgiving!
Hi! These sound AMAZING! Do you have the nutritional value for them?
I’m so happy they enticed you, hopefully you get a chance to try them soon 🙂 I do not have the nutritional info calculated for these, but you can easily plug it in and figure it out yourself: http://www.myfitnesspal.com/recipe/calculator
There’s 256 calories per bar according to the program I plugged it into. Sorry I didn’t save the other info as I won’t be making them. I need something a little lower calorie.
Cool! Well I hope you find something else 🙂
Another winning recipe! Made these at Christmas and they were a big hit. Even my non whole food plant based family loved them, I didnt change a thing, they are perfect just the way they are.
Great job, another recipe to add to my ever growing cookbook
I am so so glad to hear it Diane! Non-vegan family is always the ultimate test, especially at the holidays so I am really happy they were a success 🙂 Thanks for the feedback!
Soooo now I can officially feel no guilt for eating pecan pie all year long, right? Right. LOVE these!
Heck to the yes! Pretending it’s the holidays all year round is the primary reason for making healthier treats 🙂
What type of Non Dairy Milk did you use for this recipe?
Almond milk! Just the basic from a carton stuff 🙂
Don’t have fresh dates locally. How can I modify the recipe to use dried instead?
I would just soak them first until soft, but make sure you drain before blending so you don’t add too much extra moisture to the recipe. Good luck 🙂
Debbie Curry says
It is wonderful!!! Your kidding me right? Wait until it has cooled overnight?? Smells like pecan pie. Tasted like pecan pie and this is hot out of the oven. I can only imagine what it tastes like when cool. My husband says it’s a keeper. Thank you so much!!!