Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Pecan Pie (No Corn Syrup!)

by Kaitlynn Fenley

This is the best chocolate chip pecan pie to bring to Thanksgiving, made from scratch with brown butter, maple syrup, honey, and pecans. This is an all-natural, no corn syrup recipe, and the chocolate chips are optional— leave them out for a classic pecan pie.

Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Pecan Pie

Brown butter, known as “beurre noisette” in French, is a remarkable ingredient that elevates the flavor profile of baked goods to a new level of sophistication. Making brown butter involves gently cooking butter until the milk solids separate, turn brown, and emit a nutty, caramel-like aroma.

This seemingly simple transformation unlocks an unparalleled depth of flavor, adding complexity layers to baking recipes.

The magic of brown butter lies in the Maillard reaction, the same chemical process that gives toasted bread and seared steaks their enticing flavors. As the butter cooks, the milk solids caramelize, creating flavor notes – from nutty and toasty to subtly sweet and complex. This spectrum of flavors imparts a richness to baked goods that regular butter does not.

No Corn Syrup Pecan Pie Ingredients

Here is everything you need to make a delicious pecan pie without any corn syrup:

  • 1 blind baked sourdough pie crust
  • 2 and 1/2 cups shelled pecans (pecan halves)
  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips
  • 5 Tablespoons butter, browned
  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1 Tablespoon cornstarch or potato starch
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup (240ml) pure maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup raw honey (or sub more maple syrup)
  • sea salt for sprinkling

Instead of using ultra-processed high fructose corn syrup, I use pure maple syrup and honey in my pecan pie. The mixture of flour, starch, brown sugar, vanilla, eggs, maple syrup, and honey takes the place of corn syrup.

This maple syrup and honey mixture in this pie gives it so much delicious flavor; once you try it, I’m sure you’ll kick corn syrup pie to the curb too.

The Best Chocolate Chip Pecan Pie

The best chocolate chip pecan pie is made with dark chocolate chips. There are already so many sweet ingredients in this pie, so sweet milk chocolate would get lost in the mix. However, with its rich, bitter notes, dark chocolate really stands out in pecan pie.

I suggest putting all the pecans in the pie crust first, then sprinkling dark chocolate over the pecans before adding the liquid filling. If you mix the pecans and chocolate around, all the chocolate falls to the bottom of the pie. I also like to add a few chocolate chips to the top of the pie when it comes out of the oven.

Tips Baking Pecan Pie Perfectly

The key to a perfect pecan pie is baking it for the right time. Here are a few tips to get it just right:

  • Always use a blind-baked pie crust. You can make a pie crust from scratch and learn how to blind-bake it here.
  • Bake the pie for 50-60 minutes on the middle rack. After the first 20 minutes of bake time, check the pie. Tent a piece of aluminum foil over the whole pie if the top is browning too quickly.
  • You should place the pie pan directly in the oven. Some people like to put the pie pan on a sheet pan to prevent possible messes. If you do this, you may need to bake a little longer. A sheet pan under the pie dish can cause the middle of the pie to heat more slowly.
  • You’ll know the pie is done when it doesn’t jiggle!
a triangular slice of chocolate chip pecan pie on a white plate.

Thanksgiving Dessert from Scratch

Pecan pie has become a staple of Thanksgiving tables in the United States, particularly in the South. Let’s look at how pecan pie became a must-have on the Thanksgiving table. 

  1. Native American Origins: Pecans are native to North America, and the Native Americans were known to use pecans as a food source long before European settlers arrived. Pecans were especially crucial in the winter. 
  2. French Influence in New Orleans: After pecans were introduced to the French settlers in New Orleans (by Native Americans) they began incorporating these nuts into their cooking, potentially leading to the creation of early versions of pecan pie. 
  3. Popularity Growth in the 19th Century: Pecan pie recipes started appearing in Texas cookbooks in the late 19th century. However, these early recipes were quite different from the modern pecan pie, often using molasses or sorghum syrup instead of corn syrup.
  4. Corn Syrup Introduction: The introduction of corn syrup into the recipe was a significant development in the evolution of the modern pecan pie. Karo syrup, a brand of corn syrup, often takes credit for popularizing pecan pie in the early 20th century. They distributed recipes that included corn syrup as a key ingredient, which helped standardize the recipe and spread its popularity. (gross lol) 

In summary, pecan pie’s journey to becoming a Thanksgiving tradition is a blend of indigenous food practices, European culinary influence, commercial marketing, and regional pride. Its rich, sweet flavor now marks it as a quintessential American dessert, particularly cherished during the Thanksgiving season.

This year, leave out the corn syrup and try this delicious brown butter, maple, and chocolate chip pecan pie. 

chocolate chip pecan pie, baked until it's a maple-brown color on top. there are chocolate chips sprinkled on top. the pie is in a white pie dish with a triangular slice taken out.

More Thanksgiving Recipes to Try

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Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Pecan Pie (No Corn Syrup!)

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This is the best chocolate chip pecan pie to bring to Thanksgiving, made from scratch with brown butter, maple syrup, honey, and pecans. This is an all-natural, no corn syrup recipe, and the chocolate chips are optional— leave them out for a classic pecan pie.

  • Author: Kaitlynn Fenley
  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 60 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
  • Yield: 9-12 servings
  • Category: Dessert
  • Method: Baking

Ingredients

  • 1 blind-baked sourdough pie crust
  • 2 and 1/2 cups shelled pecans (halves)
  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips
  • 5 Tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1 Tablespoon cornstarch or potato starch
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup (240ml) pure maple syrup*
  • 1/4 cup raw honey
  • sea salt for sprinkling

Instructions

  1. Preheat your oven to 350° F.
  2. Brown the butter in a small saucepan until bubbly, and a dark golden color. Stir it continuously, careful not to burn it. Once it is medium golden brown, Remove from heat and allow the butter to cool completely to room temperature.
  3. Spread the pecans and sprinkle then chocolate chips evenly inside the blind-baked pie crust*. Set aside.
  4. Whisk the browned butter, brown sugar, flour, and starch in a large bowl until combined and thick.
  5. Whisk in the vanilla extract, salt, eggs, pure maple syrup, and honey until combined (I use a hand mixer for this part).
  6. Pour evenly over pecans and chocolate chips. Gently submerge any pecans that float with a fork to coat them in the mixture.
  7. Bake the pie for 50-60 minutes on the middle rack. After the first 20 minutes of bake time, check the pie. Tent a piece of aluminum foil over the whole pie if the top is browning too quickly. (you should place the pie pan directly in the oven. Some people like to put the pie pan on a sheet pan to prevent messes. If you do this, you may need to bake a little longer. You’ll know the pie is done when it doesn’t jiggle)
  8. Remove the pecan pie from the oven and sprinkle a pinch of sea salt over the top.
  9. Place the pie dish on a wire rack to cool completely. The pie filling will set as it cools, so do not slice it until it has cooled for a few hours.
  10. Slice and serve the pie at room temperature.
  11. Cover and store leftover pie at room temperature for 1-2 days or in the refrigerator for 4-5 days.

Notes

To blind bake a pie crust: Carefully place the dough into a 9-inch pie dish. Tuck it in with your fingers, making sure it is smooth. Flute or crimp the pie crust edges and brush with egg wash. Chill for 20 minutes in the freezer (the crust will shrink if you do not chill it first). Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line the chilled pie crust with parchment paper. Fill with dried beans or pie weights. Bake for about 20 minutes. Remove the pie crust from the oven and carefully lift the parchment paper (with the weights) out of the pie.

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Kaitlynn Fenley Author, Educator, Food Microbiologist
Kaitlynn is a food microbiologist and fermentation expert teaching people how to ferment foods and drinks at home.

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2 comments

Brittany November 20, 2023 - 4:36 pm

Planning to make this but need to keep it gluten free for a friend. What would you sub for the 1 Tbsp of all-purpose flour?

So excited to try your sourdough pie crust too…I’ll probably make a second pie for Thanksgiving. Your recipes are my favorite!

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Kaitlynn Fenley November 20, 2023 - 4:58 pm

lovely! You can sub with 1:1 all purpose GF flour.

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