As usual, our Thanksgiving was eventful. Mostly because I was painting my parents’ walls two days before Thanksgiving, my mom was painting baseboards on Wednesday morning before family arrived, and when I went over to help on Wednesday afternoon (cleaning and cleaning and cleaning) we finished with just about 10 minutes to spare before the doorbell rang.
And because of my parents’ Thanksgiving house-chaos, I might have over-committed just a bit when I agreed to make so many of our Thanksgiving dishes. Pumpkin pie, rolls, a delicious gratin that I’ll share later this week, mashed potatoes. But, because I have never made the pecan pie for Thanksgiving before (and I wanted that recipe in my repertoire and on this site), I asked if I could make it and my mom said, “Yes, but you have to make my recipe. You can’t change it.”
Fair enough, because honestly this is the only pecan pie recipe you need. It’s the recipe that my grandmother used to make every year and the recipe that my mom continues to make. In fact, I’d argue that this pecan pie is more of a staple for our Thanksgiving table than pumpkin pie. Our pumpkin pies change every year (different recipes, sometimes frozen pies from the store), but the pecan pie always has to be this pecan pie. And with good reason.
And I have no idea why it has taken me so long to get on board with pecan pie either. While I’ve never exactly disliked pecans (I always felt I could generally tolerate them), I never saw them as a favorite nut and always complained when my mom tried to put them in brownies (and I’m still not on board with that exactly). But my feeling about pecans are beginning to change. Every year I choose pumpkin pie over the pecan, and now all of a sudden this year I think I ate three pieces of pecan pie and half a piece of pumpkin pie over the past few days. And if that doesn’t tell you how good this pie is, well, I don’t know what else I can say.
recipe from my grandmother
crust adapted from Smitten Kitchen
This recipe, written down as “North Carolina Pecan Pie” has been in our family for years. My mom says the secret ingredient is the cinnamon. And while you can use a store bought crust here (we often do), the homemade crust I made this year took it to a new level.
Prep Time: 15 minutes (35-40 minutes with the crust)
Wait Time: 30 minutes (with crust)
Bake Time: 1 hour to 1 hour 10 minutes
Makes 1 pie
For the crust:
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tablespoon granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon table salt
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold, cut into small pieces
1/4 cup cold water
For the filling:
3 large eggs
1 cup light corn syrup
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon table salt
1 cup chopped pecans
1. Begin by making the pie crust. In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, and salt. Stir together. Add the butter, and with a pastry blender cut the butter into the flour until the mixture is crumbly and most of the butter pieces are the size of small peas. (This can also be done by pulsing the mixture in a food processor.) Add the water and stir together until a dough begins to come together (if the day is particularly dry you might need to add more water). Then use your hands to quickly work the dough until it comes together a bit more. Dump the dough onto a piece of plastic wrap and flatten the dough slightly into a thick disk. Wrap the dough up and chill in the fridge for about 30 minutes (or for several days).
2. When you are ready to make your pie, preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. To make the filling, beat the eggs in a large bowl with an electric mixer for about 1 minute. Add the corn syrup, melted butter, sugar, flour, vanilla, cinnamon, and salt. Mix together until well combined. Then stir in the chopped pecans. Set filling mixture aside to get back to your pie crust.
3. Dump the pie dough out onto a lightly floured surface, and, using a rolling pin, roll the dough out so it is slightly larger than you pie pan. As you roll the dough, it helps to move the crust around, turning it over as you roll it. Transfer your dough to a greased pie pan, press it in to the corners and pinch the edges together (don’t worry about being perfect; I think a bit of a rustic look is nice).
4. Pour the filling into the pie crust. Bake for 1 hour to 1 hour and 10 minutes, until the middle is set and beginning to crack slightly on top. Remove from oven and let cool before serving.