These mini pecan pies are inspired by my grandmother’s pecan pie recipe. Made with my favorite homemade pie crust and a salted pecan filling, they’re a welcome sweet-salty addition to any holiday dessert spread!
Pecan pie is the quintessential Thanksgiving dessert. Though nothing will ever beat classic apple pie or creamy pumpkin pie in my mind, classic pecan pie holds a very special place in my heart. My late grandmother made it like no one else. I started this blog, Sally’s Baking Addiction, two weeks after her passing and she remains a tremendous inspiration and motivation for my work. I treasure her timeless recipes in her own handwriting and it’s a true joy to honor her legacy.
Today we’re taking my grandma’s classic pecan pie recipe and giving it a little twist- and by little, I actually mean little. How cute are these mini pecan pies?!
What You’ll Love About These Mini Pecan Pies
As if you need convincing to bake mini pecan pies, let’s count the many things you’ll love:
- Not overly sweet: Pecan pies tend to be overwhelmingly sweet. Don’t get me wrong, I have a mouth full of sweet teeth, but I find that most pecan pies lack a complexity of flavors. Here I add a touch of coarse sea salt, which makes each bite so interesting.
- Incredible flavor: These mini pies boast incredible flavor. One bite and you’ll see why they’re always the first to disappear from our holiday dessert spreads.
- They’re adorable: I’m not sure why tiny food is so cute, it just is! People love little bite-sized things.
- Ease: If larger pies intimidate you, this is a perfect pie recipe to begin with because it’s essentially fool-proof. Pecan pie tarts are very forgiving and this recipe lends itself to great pie making practice. It takes a bit of time chilling, rolling, and shaping the dough into tiny circles– and that’s when having little bakers nearby is helpful.
- Make ahead recipe: These are a wonderful option if you’re looking for a make ahead dessert recipe- the tarts freeze exceptionally well.
Adapted From My Favorite Pecan Pie
These mini pecan pies are an adaptation of my favorite pecan pie recipe. I took everything I love about the classic and turned it into these bite-sized tarts. Let’s review!
- Pecan Pie Filling: The most notable change is the amount of pecan pie filling. The tart filling is a reduced version from my classic recipe with a few simple changes. I reduced the filling because we don’t need as much filling for these tarts as we would for an entire 9-inch pie.
- No Corn Syrup: These tarts are made without any liquid sugar.
- Nutmeg: I add nutmeg to the filling to complement the cinnamon. This duo of spices pair perfectly with the toasty pecans and dark brown sugar. I know you’ll love the added warmth.
- Sprinkle of Salt: Before baking, I sprinkle the tarts with a little bit of coarse salt to offsets the sweetness and elevate the flavor profile. Yum!
- Blind Bake Crusts: Because the bake time of these tarts is so short (only 15 minutes), we need to blind bake the pie crust so the tarts don’t get soggy. If we baked the raw crust with filling until the filling was set, we’d have soggy crusts.
Best Ingredients to Use
I’ve tested many, many pecan pie recipes, and I can confidently say this combination of ingredients produces the best tasting pecan pie tarts.
- Pie Crust: The pie crust is made 100% homemade. This pie crust is my go-to recipe, made from a mix of butter and shortening. Why shortening? Shortening aids in creating flakiness. Flaky, tender, melt-in-your mouth crust. Why butter? Butter imparts unparalleled, impeccable flavor. My butter & shortening pie crust is the best of both worlds. It’s nothing new – tons of bakers do it this way. If desired, you can use all butter pie crust instead.
- Pecans: I genuinely love and recommend using Diamond of California pecans.
- Brown Sugar: There’s only 1/2 cup of brown sugar in this recipe. These mini pies aren’t overly sweet, which I love. Use dark brown sugar for an intensified flavor.
- Eggs: One egg holds the filling together.
- Butter + Vanilla Extract: Each give these mini pies traditional pecan pie flavor. Try using homemade vanilla extract for even more delicious tarts.
- Cinnamon + Nutmeg: Cinnamon and nutmeg add flavor.
- Coarse Salt: A sprinkle of coarse salt on top adds another layer of flavor.
How to Make Mini Pecan Pies
They might look intricate, but you’ll be pleasantly surprised with the preparation’s ease.
- Make pie dough. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours– this is a great step to prepare a day or two in advance.
- Roll out pie crust dough.
- Cut dough into small circles. Cut 24-30 rounds using a 2.5 inch cookie cutter. If you don’t own a cookie cutter that size, use a measuring cup instead. I used my 1/3 cup measuring cup (shown above). Re-roll the dough scraps a few times. Work quickly, as the dough becomes more delicate the longer it sits at room temperature. This is exactly how we prep mini quiche, too!
- Place the dough rounds into mini muffin pan. Use a greased mini muffin pan. Press the dough flat into the bottom of the crevice and up the sides.
- Chill pan. Pie dough’s temperature is important– it must always be relatively cold. Place the entire pan in the refrigerator for 20 minutes prior to baking.
- Blind bake tarts.
- Stir filling ingredients together.
- Fill tarts. Spoon 1-2 teaspoons of the filling into each tart crust. Top with coarse salt.
- Bake. As the tarts bake, the filling puffs up and may spill onto the sides. That’s OK. It creates an irresistible brown sugared crust. Be careful not to over-bake the little guys. Pecan pie filling should be soft with pecan chunks inside.
- Serve + Enjoy! Let the tarts cool completely in the pan before serving. I like to pair with homemade whipped cream, a drizzle of salted caramel, or scoop of vanilla ice cream.
More Handheld Thanksgiving Dessert Recipes
- Apple Pie Bars
- Pecan Pie Bars
- Pumpkin Spice Toffee
- Pumpkin Cupcakes
- Caramel Apple Spice Thumbprints
- Salted Caramel Pumpkin Cheesecakes
These mini pecan pies are made with homemade pie crust and a deliciously salted pecan filling inspired by my grandmother. See recipe notes for make ahead instructions.
- 1/2 recipe homemade pie dough (step-by-step photos included)
- 2 Tablespoons (30g) unsalted butter
- 1/2 cup (100g) packed dark brown sugar
- 1 large egg
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 3/4 cup (96g) chopped pecans
- coarse salt for sprinkling
- Make the homemade pie dough. Once chilled, place the dough onto a floured work surface. Roll into a large 12 inch circle. From the circle, cut 24-30 rounds using a 2.5 inch cookie cutter. I simply used my 1/3 cup measuring cup, which is 2.5 inches in diameter. You’ll have to re-roll the dough scraps a few times. Work quickly, as the dough becomes much more delicate the longer it is at room temperature.
- Place the dough rounds into a greased 24-count mini muffin pan(s). Press the dough flat into the bottom of the crevice and up the sides. Then chill the entire pan in the refrigerator for 20 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 325°F (163°C). Once the dough has chilled for 20 minutes, pre-bake the tart crusts for 7 minutes. This allows the bottom of the crust to be properly baked and not become soggy from the liquidy pecan filling.
- Prepare the filling by melting the butter in a small bowl in the microwave or using a stovetop. Allow to slightly cool for a few minutes. Whisk the brown sugar, egg, vanilla, nutmeg, and cinnamon together in a medium bowl. Whisk in the melted butter, then stir in the pecans.
- Remove the tart crusts from the oven when they’re finished and spoon 1-2 teaspoons of the filling into each. Top with coarse salt.
- Turn the oven up to 350°F (177°C) and bake the tarts for 14-16 more minutes. Be careful not to overbake. Once you see the crust begin to slightly brown after about 15 minutes, the tarts are done. Mine took 15 minutes exactly.
- Allow the tarts to cool completely in the pan before serving. (A spoon helps get them out easily.) Top with a dollop of whipped cream or even a small drizzle of pure maple syrup. Leftovers are great for up to 3 days – store covered at room temperature or in the refrigerator.
- Make Ahead & Freezing Instructions: The filling can be made 1 day in advance and stored covered in the refrigerator. Pie crust can also be made in advance, see make ahead instructions in its recipe. You can freeze the tarts for up to 2-3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator.
- Filling Quantity: I’ve been asked this a lot, and this filling would not fit an entire pie. You’d likely need to double the ingredients and sub in some sort of liquid sweetener to keep the filling moist. If interested in baking a 9-inch pecan pie, try my pecan pie recipe.
Keywords: pecan pie tarts, mini pecan pies