Paleo, gluten and dairy-free pecan pie bars! If you love pecan pie, you are for sure gonna love these!
A few years ago at my local health food market, I was introduced to one of the most delicious desserts I have ever tasted...pecan bars. One day while grocery shopping, I treated myself to one of these bars for the first time, and oh my goodness, it was divine! It soon became my all-time favorite dessert and I would occasionally let myself have one from time to time. Well, this particular health-food market closed down and I craved one of those bars for a long time.
So of course, I had to recreate them and come up with my own pecan bar recipe. Oh and I can promise you, these taste just as good or better, but oh so much better for you. If you love pecan pie like I do, you are gonna love these dessert bars!
Even though these bars were offered in a "health food" store, it doesn't mean they were made with the best ingredients. Don't get me wrong, the ingredients were definitely much better than your traditional grocery market, but the ingredient list could definitely use some improvement. I made sure to make these super healthy, totally free from gluten, dairy, and the usual, corn syrup sweetener.
To make these pecan pie bars you will need:
I love the classic pecan pie, so I made sure this recipe would come as close to that traditional pecan pie taste and flavor, but with clean, good-for-you ingredients. What I love about these bars is that they are so easy to make and take much less time to pull together than baking a pie. Who has time to make a pie anyway? I sure don't.
My first mission was to make sure to get the filling right. In my opinion, maple syrup and dates give them the perfect caramel sweetness and chewy texture. These two natural sugars are great because they do not increase inflammation markers in the body like your traditional white sugar or corn syrup would. And on top of that, there are antioxidant benefits being that maple syrup is a source of essential minerals, including calcium, zinc, magnesium and potassium.
Traditionally in most recipes, corn syrup is used in pecan pie or pecan pie bars. Corn syrup, along with white sugar, brown sugar and artificial sweeteners are not natural and should be avoided at all costs. Here’s a great article by one of my favorite doctors, Dr. Josh Axe, for more on the importance of avoiding corn syrup and other unnatural sugars.
I must mention another important detail...the crust or base of these bars. I love shortbread crust because it is so much easier than your traditional pie crust...no kneading or rolling out the dough is necessary. Almond flour works great to achieve the best crust texture and and is my absolute favorite gluten free flour, (keeping this dessert low carb, full of protein and fiber). No matter what dessert I choose to make, I always use my favorite paleo gluten free flours, natural sugars and oils that I always have on hand. So, I'm usually prepared with ingredients whenever we have a dessert craving like this one.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Line an 8x8 baking dish with parchment paper. Make sure to leave a 2-3 inch overhang on all sides to make it easier to remove the bars from the dish.
In a small saucepan on low heat, cover dates with water and allow the water to heat up for 2-3 minutes until water is hot. Turn off heat and let dates soften for 15 minutes while preparing crust ingredients.
In a small bowl, mix together shortbread crust ingredients. First whisk together almond flour, baking soda and sea salt, followed by stirring in the wet ingredients. Make sure all ingredients are completely mixed together.
Press the dough into the baking dish and bake for 15 minutes.
While the crust is baking, prepare the filling mixture. First, drain and discard the water from the dates and put them into the food processor.
In the same saucepan over low heat, add all of the filling ingredients except pecans. Stir together until coconut oil is melted and turn off heat. Add this mixture to the food processor with the dates. Pulse until smooth.
Next, add the pecans to the food processor and pulse until slightly chopped to your liking. (I don't like big pieces of pecans, so I pulse until they are pretty small pieces).
When shortbread crust has finished baking, pull out of the oven and spoon the filling mixture over the crust. Put back into the oven and bake for another 12-15 minutes until filling has set.
Cool completely for about 15 to 20 minutes. Before cutting into bars, put in freezer for at least 45 minutes to an hour for best taste and texture. Take out of the freezer, cut into bars and enjoy!
These bars need to be stored in the fridge in an airtight container to keep their shape...and they just taste so much better this way.
Absolutely! Make sure to put the pecan pie bars in an airtight container before freezing. When ready to enjoy, pull the bars out of the freezer and let thaw for a few minutes at room temperature.
Pecan Pie Bars are enjoyed year-round here at my house, not just during the Fall season or at Thanksgiving. After you make these, you will see why!Print Recipe
This post may contain affiliate links. Christina Eleton’s Real Girl Living is a participant in the Amazon Associates Program, (as well as other affiliate associations offered by other companies). If you purchase a product through an affiliate link your cost will be the same, but Christina Eleton’s Real Girl Living will receive a small commission. Your support helps us continue our mission and is greatly appreciated!