Pecan pie

For the film, see Pecan Pie (film).
Pecan pie
Course Dessert
Place of origin United States
Main ingredients Pecan and corn syrup
Food energy
(per serving)
503 kcal (2106 kJ)
Cookbook: Pecan pie  Media: Pecan pie

Pecan pie is a pie of pecan nuts mixed with a filling of eggs, butter, and sugar (typically corn syrup).[1] Variations may include white or brown sugar, sugar syrup, molasses, maple syrup, or honey.[1] It is popularly served at holiday meals and is also considered a specialty of Southern U.S. cuisine. Most pecan pie recipes include salt and vanilla as flavorings. Chocolate and bourbon whiskey are other popular additions to the recipe.[2] Pecan pie is often served with whipped cream, vanilla ice cream, or hard sauce.


Popular speculation as to the creation of pecan pie points to various parts of the Southeastern United States in the 18th or 19th century. The oldest known recorded recipes for pecan pie were published in 1886.[3]

Pecans are native to the southern United States. Archaeological evidence found in Texas indicates that Native Americans used pecans more than 8,000 years ago.[4]:326 The word pecan is a derivative of an Algonquin word, pakani, referring to several nuts.[5]

Sugar pies such as treacle tart were attested in Medieval Europe, and adapted in North America to the ingredients available, resulting in such dishes as shoofly pie, sugar pie, butter tart and chess pie.[6] Pecan pie may be a variant of chess pie, which is made with a similar butter-sugar-egg custard.[7]

Some have stated that the French invented pecan pie soon after settling in New Orleans, after being introduced to the pecan nut by the Native American Quinipissa and Tangipahoa tribes.[8] Claims have also been made of pecan pie existing in the early 1800s in Alabama, but this does not appear to be backed up by recipes or literature.[9] Attempts to trace the dish's origin have not found any recipes dated earlier than 1886,[10] [11] and well-known cookbooks such as Fannie Farmer and The Joy of Cooking did not include this dessert before 1940.[10] The earliest recorded recipes produce a boiled custard with pecans added, which is then baked in a pie crust.[10]

The makers of Karo syrup significantly contributed to popularizing the dish[1] and many of the recipes for variants (caramel, cinnamon, Irish creme, peanut butter, etc.) of the classic pie. The company has claimed that the dish was a 1930s "discovery" of a "new use for corn syrup" by a corporate sales executive's wife.[12][13] Pecan pie was made before the invention of corn syrup and older recipes used darker sugar based syrup or molasses. The 1929 congressional club cookbook has a recipe for the pie which used only eggs, milk, sugar and pecan, no syrup.[13] The Pecan pie came to be closely associated with the culture of the Southern United States in the 1940s and 1950s.[14]

Cultural context

A slice of pecan pie
Chocolate pecan tarts prior to baking

Pecan pie is often mentioned in American literature (and television) and is associated with Thanksgiving, Christmas, and other special occasions; for example:

Dooley handed them a basket stuffed with fruit, nuts, candy, a tinned ham, and a pecan pie. "Merry Christmas!" he said.
The only kitchen item I usually bring to Italy is plastic wrap... This time, however, I have brought one bag of Georgia pecans and a can of cane syrup, pecan pie being a necessary ingredient of Christmas.

Pecan pie is a staple of the Southern U.S., and is often used in literary context as a symbol of the South; for example:

Beneath the shade of a Georgia pine
And that's home you know
Sweet tea, pecan pie and homemade wine
Where the peaches grow


In his 2004 book, Ken Haedrich identified a number of popular pecan pie variants:[4]:328

Characterized by the addition of butterscotch chips and brown sugar (in addition to, not in place of, corn syrup)[4]:325–26
Whiskey chocolate chip
In this pie, chocolate chips and a few teaspoons of Jack Daniel whiskey are added.[4]:327
Alice Colombo's Race Day Chocolate Pecan Pie
This pie is named after Alice Colombo, who was a food editor for the Louisville Courier-Journal in Kentucky. This pie was made by her on the occasion of the Kentucky Derby. The special ingredients suggested in the recipe include cornstarch, to soften the top, bourbon, chocolate chips and whipped cream.[4]:328
Includes maple syrup and almond extract[4]:332
Chocolate brownie
This pie has nuts on the surface and it is layered with chocolate pudding and fudge. It is served at room temperature or chilled.[4]:333
Sawdust Pie
Sawdust Pie is a signature recipe of Patti's Restaurant in Paducah, Kentucky, consisting of an egg-batter filling with coconut, graham cracker crumbs and pecans, topped with whipped cream and sliced bananas.[4]:336[18]

See also


  1. 1 2 3 Griffith, Linda; Griffith, Fred (2003). Nuts: Recipes from Around the World That Feature Nature's Perfect Ingredient. Macmillan. p. 294. ISBN 0-312-26624-3
  2. The FOURnet Information Network. "Bourbon Pecan Pie – Recipes –".
  3. Lynne Olver. "Food Timeline: history notes-pie & pastry". "Pecan pie" section. Retrieved 2016-04-05.
  4. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Haedrich, Ken (2004). Pie: 300 Tried-and-True Recipes for Delicious Homemade Pie. Harvard Common Press. ISBN 978-1-55832-254-7.
  5. "pecan, n.". OED Online. Oxford University Press. March 2016. < French (Mississippi Valley) pacane (1712; 1721 in the source translated in quot. 1761 at sense 1) < Illinois pakani (= /paka?ni/); cognates in other Algonquian languages are applied to hickory nuts and walnuts. Compare Spanish pacano (1772; 1779 in a Louisiana context).
  6. Lynne Olver. "Food Timeline: history notes-pie & pastry" Check |url= value (help). "Shoofly pie" section. Retrieved 2016-04-05.
  7. [Joy of Cooking: All About Pies & Tarts, Irma von Starkloff Rombauer, Marion Rombauer Becker, Ethan Becker; p93]
  8. Murray, Michael T.; Pizzorno, Joseph E.; Pizzorno, Lara (2005-01-01). The Encyclopedia of Healing Foods. Simon and Schuster. p. 441. ISBN 9780743474023.
  9. Rick Mcdaniel (photographer); (et al.) (2011). An Irresistible History of Southern Food: Four Centuries of Black-eyed Peas, Collard Greens & Whole Hog Barbecue. The History Press. p. 215. ISBN 1-60949-193-9
  10. 1 2 3 Lynne Olver. "Food Timeline: history notes-pie & pastry". "Pecan pie" section. Retrieved 2016-04-05.
  11. Ladies' Home Journal, Volume 15 By Louisa Knapp, Edward William Bok
  12. "History of Karo". Karo. Retrieved May 29, 2013.
  13. 1 2 Griffith, Linda; Griffith, Fred (2003-04-23). Nuts: Recipes from Around the World That Feature Nature's Perfect Ingredient. Macmillan. p. 294. ISBN 9780312266240.
  14. McWilliams, James (2013-10-01). The Pecan: A History of America's Native Nut. University of Texas Press. p. 121. ISBN 9780292753914.
  15. Jan Karon, A Light in the Window. 1996; Penguin; ISBN 0-14-025454-4
  16. Frances Mayes, Under the Tuscan Sun. 1997; Broadway; ISBN 0-7679-0038-3
  17. "Zac Brown Band – Chicken Fried Lyrics". SongLyrics.
  18. "Patti's Menu". Patti's 1880's Settlement. Retrieved 2016-04-05.
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