If you’re anything like me, now that fall is here you’re already planning your holiday recipes. With Friendsgiving, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years coming up, there are plenty of baking opportunities to look forward to. And, I think we can all agree that pecan pie is the perfect pie for any of those occasions.
Internet Famous Pecan Pie Recipe Selection Walkthrough
Pecan pie is one of the most famous American desserts. You can find thousands of recipes online to choose from, which can be overwhelming. So, I’ve done the work for you and made five of the most famous pecan pie recipes on the internet to see which one is best.
The criteria for choosing which recipes to make is based on the number of reviews a recipe has online. Essentially, I will choose the five recipes that have the most reviews on the internet. With the exception that I will not choose a recipe that is behind a paywall so that all of you can see each recipe for yourselves, should you choose to make it.
Below you will find the rankings for each recipe, what I liked, what I disliked, and what I learned when baking each one! Hopefully, all of this information will help you narrow down which pie recipe you’d like to make for your next holiday get together.
Recipe #1: The Pioneer Woman’s Pecan Pie
This recipe only has 276 reviews, but the Pioneer Woman is well known. I was not sure what to expect from this recipe when I chose it. However, while baking it, I was prepared for it to be my least favorite of the whole bunch. I struggled immensely with the crust portion of this recipe and was ready to throw the whole dang pie away at one point.
Much to my dismay, this pie had the best flavor, hands down, out of all five of the recipes I made.
What I liked: The flavor.
The flavor of this pie was the perfect balance of sweet, nutty, and a little buttery. My husband and I were surprised that the pecans tasted candied, unlike other recipes where the filling and the nuts taste like separate elements.
What I disliked: The crust recipe is terrible.
As you can see, I really struggled with this crust. The first issue I ran into was the texture of the dough when first mixed together. It was very slack, sticky and nothing like any pie crust I have ever made before.
I worried that I had done something wrong, so I reread the recipe a few times to confirm. However, I had done everything as instructed in the recipe. I did a quick search on YouTube to see if I could find the Pioneer Woman actually demonstrating the recipe so I could visually check my dough versus hers.
I learned there, not in the actual recipe, that she chills the vegetable shortening before use. This was not listed anywhere in the recipe notes, which is quite frustrating. So, I re-made the dough with chilled shortening. The texture was much better going into the fridge. I was hopeful.
However, much to my dismay, the dough was nearly unsalvageable when I tried to roll it out. While it had hardened in the fridge for a few hours, it immediately became slack and sticky with almost no handling. It was completely falling apart by the time I was trying to fit it into the pie pan.
What I learned: Trust your baking instincts.
I had a strong feeling that the crust was not going to work out, and I was right. If I were not testing this recipe as is for bake-off purposes, I would have replaced the crust with a premade dough. It would have saved me a lot of work and stress.
Recipe #2: Food & Wine Texas State Fair Pecan Pie
Coming in second, with 2,052 five star reviews, is this Texas State Fair Pecan Pie recipe from Food & Wine. It was my favorite to make and the best looking out of the whole bunch. While baking, I definitely thought that this would be my favorite.
The instructions were clear and easy to understand. The result is a very good looking and tasting pie with a really unique textured filling. This definitely should be a contender for your recipe selection!
What I liked: The unique filling texture.
I’ve never had a pecan pie filling quite like this one. The filling was almost like “fudgy” brownies or a little cake-like. With the unique filling texture you can expect a flavor profile that is nuttier and less sweet. Also this had the best crust, by far! It was nice and crisp, with no soggy bottom to be seen.
What I disliked: Labor intensive.
While I did enjoy making this pie, most people might find this recipe to be a little more labor intensive than they are looking for. Admittedly, if I was not an avid baker, I would have found this pie to be too much work myself.
Not only do you have to make the crust from scratch, but the filling is also more work than other recipes. Most recipes, you can simply mix all of the pie filling ingredients together before pouring into the pie shell and baking.
This recipe requires that you heat the butter, sugar, corn syrup, milk, flour, vanilla, and salt in a saucepan before pouring the hot mixture over lightly beaten eggs. If you are not careful, the heated mixture can scramble the eggs.
What I learned: Always have a foil cover ready.
I will always try to keep things as simple as possible in the kitchen, but sometimes extra steps are needed to ensure that a recipe turns out perfect. Because a pecan pie takes so long to bake, I would encourage using foil to cover the pie for the first thirty minutes of the bake.
This will prevent the crust from catching and burning in the oven. I wish I had done so for this pie, despite the recipe instructions not mentioning it. The crust was a little darker than I would prefer and a foil cover would have prevented that.
Recipe #3: Food.com Utterly Deadly Southern Pecan Pie
How pretty is this pie? This recipe, with 252 reviews, comes in at 3rd place. While I had high hopes for this pie based on how good it looks, I was disappointed with the flavor. It looks great, has a nice texture, but unfortunately, it tastes very plain.
What I liked: This is a good looking pie.
It is nice to have a bake come out of the oven pretty. More often then not, despite how hard I try, most of my bakes look pretty ugly. Maybe one day I’ll nail down the finesse it takes to create beautiful bakes consistently!
What I disliked: Poor recipe instructions.
Despite how pretty this pie turned out, it tasted plain and had no real flavor. This might be due to the fact that this pie had no salt in the recipe!
The recipe does call for half of a stick of butter, but does not specify if that butter should be salted or not. As a baker, I always use unsalted butter and only have unsalted butter on hand. Perhaps if I had used salted butter, this would have tasted better.
Also the boiling instructions are pretty vague and leave a lot of room for error, in my opinion. Since I had made five pecan recipes in one sitting, I felt confident in this portion of the recipe. However, someone who does not bake as much might find this section to be too vague and not helpful enough.
Lastly, the butter took way too long to melt into the mixture when following the recipe instructions. Personally, I would have melted the better first before adding to the syrup mixture to save some time and vigorous stirring.
What I learned: Pie pan is important.
After making ten pies recently with my pumpkin pie and pecan pie bake-offs, I have learned that the pie pan is very important. I have always struggled with pie crust falling into my pies, no matter what I do, whether its homemade crust or premade crust.
However, this pie pan from Amazon, has never let me down! The depth and shape are perfect for ensuring a structurally sound crust that will stand on its own. I think all of my other pans, are too shallow and short to prevent the crust from falling into the pie (yes, even with pie weights). Moving forward, I will swap all of my pie pans for this one.
Recipe #4: AllRecipes Pecan Pie
With 809 reviews online, you would think this recipe would be one of the best. Unfortunately, this pie comes in at 4th place.
What I liked: Not much.
Even as a self-proclaimed mega sweet tooth, I found this pie to be over the top sweet. You can make other pecan pie recipes that are pretty similar, but taste better.
What I disliked: This pie is too sweet.
This pie had the most sickly sweet flavor I’ve ever had in a pecan pie. Unfortunately, not even the pecans could save this pie with their strong flavor.
What I learned: Not every pie is a winner.
When I made pumpkin pies, I felt that each pie was a good candidate to choose from, since they all tasted fairly similar. However, I don’t think I can say the same for pecan pies. Some recipes just aren’t that good and that is okay.
Recipe #5: Martha Stewart’s Pecan Pie
And last place goes to this pie, with 443 reviews online. Admittedly, I thought this pie was going to be in my top picks. I enjoyed making the recipe and was very pleased with how it looked when it came out of the oven.
Unfortunately, this pie had the worst flavor and texture out of the whole group, despite how good it looks.
What I liked: Easy to make, visually appealing.
When making this recipe, I felt that the dough portion was my best dough making experience I’d had yet. I was able to use a food processor to start the dough and it felt really good when it was all coming together.
Also, I felt very confident in this pie when it came out of the oven based on how good it looks. I told my husband, “I bet this will be the most classic pie.”
What I disliked: The flavor and the texture.
I was very disappointed to find that this pie had very, very bad texture and flavor. Despite not heating the sugar and syrup before pouring into beaten eggs, the filling of this pie tasted curdled. The filling also completely split from the pecans and the crust, which was pretty gross to look at. Perhaps I made a mistake somewhere, but I can’t think of where.
Another thing to note is that the dough instructions are incomplete. There are no instructions to walk you through how to roll out the dough after it has chilled in the fridge. I have never seen a recipe do that before.
What I learned: Looks can be deceiving.
I wanted so badly for this pie to be one of the top picks. The recipe was relatively simple and the pie looked great. Unfortunately, all of that does not gauruntee that the recipe will turn out.
Not all pecan pie recipes are created equal. When I Made 5 Internet Famous Pumpkin Pie Recipes I found there to be not many differences when it came to flavor or texture between all of the recipes. However, that is not the case with these pecan pies, despite how similar the recipes are.
Everyone has their own preferences in what they prefer in a pie. But, I hope my thoughts and notes on these recipes help you know what to expect from each recipe and narrow down your pick.
If you enjoy this style of content, check out our other bake-off posts. They include bake-offs for Chocolate Chip Cookies, Gingerbread Cookies, Biscuits, Oatmeal Cream Pies, and Pumpkin Pies. Let us know down in the comments below what bake-off you’d like to see next!
Wednesday 1st of February 2023
Thanks for the bake off. I've done bake offs comparing which pies we like best. I never thought that "pie failure" could be due to the recipe. I always thought it was me, lol. I see you have a pecan pie recipe out there, just curious, did you come up with that recipe because of this bake off? 😊 Thanks again!
Wednesday 8th of February 2023
I am so happy to hear that you've enjoyed this bake off. I always learn so much from them myself. And yes, I created my ultimate pecan pie after testing all of these recipes! Nice catch ;)
Wednesday 7th of December 2022
Thank you so much for taking the time to compare and rate each of these recipes. I stumbled upon your review after I had been scanning the internet, trying to decide which recipe to try, so you saved me a lot of additional time. I ended up making the pioneer woman pecan pie filling with my own pie crust and it was absolutely delicious! I look forward to checking out your other bake-offs!
Sunday 23rd of October 2022
I’ve made the Pioneer Woman’s pecan pie for the last 5 years or so and it is always requested by family and friends. I add more pecans than it calls for and I toast them first and only chop half of them. I typically use the store-bought pie crust in the red box or the one that Trader Joe’s sells. They’re both as good as homemade, IMO.
Saturday 15th of October 2022
Interesting. I'm a Southerner, and I've been making pecan pie since I was a young girl. I also love making, especially pies with homemade crusts. If you are a baker you know how easy pie crust is to make. What puzzled me about your comment on Pioneer Woman pie is that you actually believed that chilling shortening was a thing. I've never heard of this in my life. I have dozens of cookbooks and have baked hundreds if not thousands of pies. Chilling shortening would have no effect on the crust outcome at all. In fact, the consistency would be exactly the same.
Saturday 22nd of October 2022
Thanks for reading and the input, Zoey. I was actually intrigued by your comment about chilling shortening and decided to do a simple test of 2 tablespoons flour with room temperature shortening and 2 tablespoons flour with chilled shortening. There's definitely a difference in how you can handle the dough with the chilled. I'm no baker but I feel like it's in line with chilled butter in pastry, using ice water when making pie crust, etc. I'm sure this doesn't apply to every recipe. Obviously you've had success over the years with your recipes. But chilling the shortening definitely makes a difference in the handling the dough, in our tests. Finished results after baking are no different, though.