Pecan pie cheesecake bars bring together two of Thanksgiving’s favourite desserts — pecan pie and cheesecake. They’re easier to bake too! No worrying about making the pie crust. No anxiety about the cheesecake cracking. These pecan cheesecake bars are perfect for a delicious, stress-free holiday celebration.
(Can’t get enough of pecans? You would love these Bourbon Pecan Pie Bars. Slightly boozy pecan pie filling sitting on top of a buttery shortbread crust. Delicious!)
The holiday baking season is in full swing and we are in the sugary thick of it. Our kitchen has been churning out cakes, cookies, bars and other delicious treats non-stop.
And these pecan pie cheesecake bars have definitely been one of our favourites.
They are incredibly rich and delicious, just like how proper holiday desserts should be. Caramel butter pecan topping, creamy cheesecake layer, graham cracker pecan cookie base.
Plus, they are ridiculously easy to make. Definitely easier than pecan pie, way less stressful than cheesecake, it’s a mouth-watering combination of both.
How to bake pecan pie cheesecake bars
Don’t be intimidated by the 3 layers in this cream cheese pecan bars. Making each one is easy peasy! (Watch the video for visual instructions. For the detailed recipe, scroll to the bottom of the page for a printable recipe card.)
How to make the graham cracker pecan crust
First you start with the graham cracker pecan crust.
Simply combine graham cracker cookie crumbs, chopped pecan nuts, melted butter and a little salt until thoroughly incorporated. The mixture would be wetter than your usual cheesecake crust and that’s OK.
Transfer the mixture to a 9×9 inch baking pan which you’ve lined with parchment paper. Make sure to press it really tightly and evenly to the bottom of your pan.
Set aside while you work on the cheesecake layer.
How to make the creamy cheesecake layer
This next step is just as easy.
Beat softened cream cheese, sugar and vanilla extract until smooth. Add eggs one at a time until each one is incorporated. Then pour the cheesecake batter into your prepared pan. You’re ready to bake!
Notice how we don’t bother with a water bath for this? Like I said earlier, we’re not going to stress about the cheesecake cracking because we’re going to cover it with delicious pecan pie topping anyway.
So once the cheesecake is done, we’re not going to bother with leaving it inside the oven with the oven door slightly open either. We’re going to bring it out immediately and let it cool on the counter instead.
Make the pecan pie topping
Which brings me to this, my favourite layer of these pecan cheesecake squares: the pecan pie topping.
I like to cook the topping while the cheesecake is cooling. This way, by the time my cheesecake is cool enough to refrigerate, my pecan topping has also cooled down to room temperature. They can be friends.
In a medium, heavy-bottom saucepan on low-medium heat, combine brown sugar, cornstarch and salt. Stir until they’re all mixed together.
Then add egg yolks, golden syrup (more on this later), warm heavy cream (again, more on this below) and whisk until smooth.
Continue cooking until the mixture thickens, stirring occasionally. This takes me about half an hour on low-medium heat.
Once the mixture thickens considerably, add cold butter and vanilla extract. Whisk until you get a nice, glossy, smooth, thick sauce.
Add the chopped pecans and stir until everything is combined. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature.
Once your pecan topping cools down, spread it evenly on top of your cooled cheesecake and chill in the fridge overnight.
Ingredients for pecan cheesecake bars
One of the key ingredients in this pecan pie cheesecake bars recipe (and truly one of my favourite ingredients to work with) is golden syrup. Have you heard of it?
According to Wikipedia (and I quote): Golden syrup or light treacle is a thick amber-coloured form of inverted sugar syrup made in the process of refining sugar cane or sugar beet juice into sugar, or by treatment of a sugar solution with acid.
Get it? Me neither lol. Suffice it to say it is fabulous.
It’s sorta like honey — maple syrup — pancake syrup but better. It’s really hard to describe; you have to taste it…then you’ll be a fan too!
It’s more commonly available in the UK (in fact, I buy mine from the British grocery store in our neighbourhood) and, of course, good old amazon always has it.
If you absolutely thoroughly cannot find golden syrup, no worries. You can substitute maple syrup instead.
Other ingredients you need to make these pecan pie cheesecake bites should be more familiar:
- Graham cracker crumbs (I usually buy the baking crumbs so that I can skip the step of having to crush the cookies)
- Pecans (I buy pecan halves)
- Unsalted butter
- Cream cheese
- Granulated sugar
- Brown sugar
- Vanilla extract
- Heavy cream
Tools you need to make this pecan pie cheesecake bars recipe
You don’t need special tools to make this scrumptious dessert. If you watched the video, you’ll see that I used my handheld electric mixer. But you can use your stand mixer as well.
A food processor is handy when chopping the pecans for the crust but not necessary. You can simply chop it as finely as you can with a sharp knife (I use our old mini-chopper and it does the job quite nicely).
Other than that, just a 9×9 inch baking pan, parchment paper, mixing bowls, measuring cups, measuring spoons and a spatula are all you need.
How to make the best pecan pie cheesecake bars
This dessert (shall we call it Thanksgiving cheesecake bars?) is really so easy to make. To make it even easier, here are answers to some common questions.
How do you warm heavy cream?
To warm heavy cream, I simply put the amount I need in a microwavable cup then zap it in increments of 5-10 seconds until it’s warm (not hot) to the touch.
You don’t want it too hot so watch for little bubbles forming at the edges of your cup (you don’t want them). Once it’s warm, leave it on the counter until you’re ready to use it.
Best to microwave it a few minutes before you need it.
How do you know if cheesecake is done baking?
Knowing when a cheesecake is done baking is always a tricky thing; but it’s something that gets easier with practice (yay for more cheesecake baking).
Things to look for include:
- Edges that are starting to look firmer and starting to turn a light golden brown
- A middle that still jiggles/wobbles slightly when you gently shake the pan
- Top of the cheesecake that starts losing its shine and begins looking more matte
How to cut pecan cheesecake squares cleanly and evenly
If you’re planning to serve this to company, you’d want to get neat and even bars for your guests to munch on. The topping is ooey gooey and sticky so it’s a little bit of a challenge.
What you can do is slice while the cheesecake is chilled.
Then put hot water in a glass and dip your sharp knife into it. Wait a few seconds until the knife is warm to the touch. Dry it with a tea towel.
Lift the cheesecake from the pan (it should release easily) and transfer to a cutting board.
Make your first slice then wipe your knife clean with a paper towel. Dip your knife into the glass with hot water again.
Repeat until you’ve sliced everything.
Once the cheesecake is sliced you can chill the pieces again until you’re ready to serve. Enjoy!
Other delicious desserts to serve on Thanksgiving and Christmas
Looking for more recipes to serve over the holidays? These are always a hit.
- Make the lemon lovers in your life happy with the best lemon cheesecake ever. One of the most popular recipes on the blog, it’s been shared more than half a million times! And for good reason. Check it out.
- Ube cupcakes are a beloved Filipino treat that’s made and shared all year round. Made with purple yam and frosted with ube whipped cream frosting, it’s meant to be the star or any celebration.
- Want to serve something chocolatey? Try this chocolate chiffon cake with whipped cream frosting. Light as a cloud and packed with chocolate flavour.
- What’s Thanksgiving without pumpkin? Happily, this pumpkin cheesecake is no-bake and so easy to make!
Pecan Pie Cheesecake Bars (Video and Step-by-Step Photos)
Graham Cracker Pecan Crust:
- 2 cups graham cracker crumbs
- 1 cup pecans finely chopped
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter melted and slightly cooled
- pinch salt
Creamy Cheesecake Layer:
- 2 8-oz block cream cheese softened
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 pcs large eggs room temperature
Pecan Pie Topping:
- 1 cup brown sugar packed
- 1/4 cup cornstarch
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 4 pcs egg yolks from large eggs
- 1/2 cup golden syrup or maple syrup
- 1/2 cup heavy cream warm (see notes)
- 4 tbsp unsalted butter cold and cubed (see notes)
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 cups pecans roughly chopped
- In a medium bowl, combine all crust ingredients. Stir until evenly moist. Transfer to your prepared pan and use the back of a spoon or measuring cup to pack it tightly to the bottom. Set aside.
- In a large bowl using a handheld mixer or a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat cream cheese, 1/2 cup sugar and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract on low medium speed until smooth (about 2 minutes). Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.
- Pour your cheesecake batter into your prepared pan. Bake for 30 minutes or until set (see post for tips on how to know if your cheesecake is done).
- Remove from the oven and cool in the pan. In the meantime, you can make your pecan pie topping.
- Using a medium, heavy-bottom saucepan on low-medium heat, combine 1 cup brown sugar, 1/4 cup cornstarch and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Stir until incorporated.
- Add 4 egg yolks, 1/2 cup golden syrup, 1/2 cup warm heavy cream and whisk until smooth.
- Continue cooking until the mixture thickens considerably, about 30 minutes. Stir occasionally.
- Stir in the cold butter and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract. Whisk until thick and fully incorporated.
- Stir in the chopped pecans.
- Remove from heat and cool to room temperature. When ready, pour your pecan pie filling over your cooled cheesecake. Spread it out evenly.
- Chill the cheesecake overnight or until set.
- To serve, lift the cheesecake off the pan using the parchment paper and cut into squares (see post for tips on how to cleanly and evenly cut your pecan pie cheesecake bars).
- To warm heavy cream, I simply put the amount I need in a microwavable cup then zap it in increments of 5-10 seconds until it’s warm (not hot) to the touch. You don’t want it too hot so watch for little bubbles forming at the edges of your cup (you don’t want them). Once it’s warm, leave it on the counter until you’re ready to use it. Best to microwave it a few minutes before you need it.
- After cutting the butter into cubes, keep it in fridge until ready to use.
Did you make pecan pie cheesecake bars? I’d love to hear from you in the comments section below.