Recipes: Love Pecan Pie? It's Even Better With Bourbon | Wine Enthusiast
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Love Pecan Pie? It’s Even Better With Bourbon

8 servings

What’s better than pecan pie? Spiked pecan pie. It may sound somewhat counterintuitive, but a touch of bourbon balances what some consider the cloying sweetness of this holiday staple’s sticky-sugary filling. The spirit’s complex flavors, with hints of caramel, vanilla and smoke, intensify the nuttiness of the pie. It does this without the addition of much sugar, resulting in a nuanced pie that is sure to win over even those pesky guests who may claim to lack a sweet tooth.

The elements that make bourbon “bourbon” are what make it such a good addition to desserts. The full-bodied whiskey must be made from at least 51% corn and aged in brand-new oak barrels that have been charred inside. While there is no minimum time for aging, most whiskies sit in casks for at least a year or two, mellowing the bite of the alcohol and becoming more flavorful over the months. This combination of corn, aromatic oak and time give bourbon its signature sweetness and complex flavors.

Like cooking with wine, incorporating bourbon into food starts with choosing the right bottle—it should always be one that you would want to drink. The best are mid-range bourbons that strike a balance between quality and affordability. Other than that, it all comes down to the recipe and the personal preferences of the person cooking. For a more robust flavor, select a bourbon with a higher proof. A bottle with a lower abv will have a milder flavor, and a more subtle effect on the pie.

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If, for some reason, you want to substitute the bourbon for something alcohol-free, cooled coffee can be used a direct substitute because it mirrors the toasted flavor of bourbon and plays nicely with the dish’s caramelized pecans. Otherwise, forgo the bourbon and caffeine entirely and replace it with one tablespoon of pure vanilla or butter pecan extract.

How to Make Bourbon Pecan Pie

Recipe by Dana Beninati

Looking for a crowd-pleasing pecan pie? This recipe delivers a double punch of pecan flavor by packing nuts into both the filling and crust. When shopping, look for light- colored pecans to ensure freshness.


For the Crust

  • 1/3 cup pecan halves or 1/3 cup pecan flour or meal
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • 7 tablespoons unsalted butter, cubed and frozen

For the Filling

  • 1 ¼ cups dark brown sugar, packed
  • ¾ cup light corn syrup
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 3 large eggs
  • ¼ cup bourbon
  • 1 tablespoon bourbon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups pecan halves, toasted


Step 1

showing the texture of the pie crust ingredients in a food processor
Make the crust: Place the pecans, sugar, salt and cinnamon in a food processor and pulse until finely ground. Add the all-purpose flour and pulse until homogenous.

Step 2

showing the texture of the pie crust ingredients in a food processor
Add the butter and pulse to incorporate, until pea-sized clumps form.

Step 3

adding water to dry ingredients of a pie crust in a food processor
While pulsing, add ice water 1 tablespoon at a time until the dough looks crumbly and easily comes together when squeezed.

Step 4

wrapping a pie crust in plastic wrap
Scrape out the dough and form into a disc. Wrap with plastic wrap and chill for at least 2 hours. The dough can be made up to 3 days in advance.

Step 5

rolling a homemade pie crust
Prepare the pie: Place a baking sheet in the oven and preheat to 375°F. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough to 3/8-inch in thickness.

Step 6

crimping the edges of a homemade piecrust
Gently place in a 9-inch pie pan, carrying the dough up the sides of the pan and trimming any excess. Crimp the edge of the pie as desired. Place in the refrigerator while you prepare the filling.

Step 7

making the filling for a Bourbon Pecan Pie
Prepare the filling: In a small pot, combine the sugar, corn syrup, butter and salt. Place over medium heat and simmer until the sugar is dissolved, about 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow to cool completely.

Step 8

Making the filling of a Bourbon Pecan Pie
In a mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, bourbon and vanilla. Add in the sugar mixture and stir to combine.

Step 9

Pouring the filling into a Bourbon Pecan Pie crust
Place the pecans into the chilled pie dough. Scrape in the filling until all nuts are submerged.

Step 10

Putting foil over Bourbon Pecan Pie
Lightly cover the pie with foil and place on the baking sheet in the oven. Bake for 30 minutes, until the filling is slightly puffed. Remove the foil and bake for 20 to 30 minutes more, until the top and crust is deeply golden brown. If you shake the pie, the center of the pie should barely jiggle once cooked.

Step 11

Finished bourbon Pecan Pie on a cooling rack
Remove from the oven and cool completely before slicing.

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