3 Secrets to Perfect Pecan Pie

How to make delicious pecan pie with 150 fewer calories and 5 grams less fat than the traditional version.

Why would you throw out your old “perfect” pecan pie recipe this year in exchange for something new? Because the Maple Pecan Tart that recipe developer and makeover queen Katie Webster made for EatingWell is so much better. After trying her version in the Test Kitchen a few months ago, I realized that I needed to ditch my old “perfect” pecan pie recipe. Not only does this new Maple Pecan Tart taste better than the original, but it’s healthier too. Find out the three secrets to making this perfect pecan pie. Download a Free Cookbook with Our Best Healthy Dessert Recipes!

—Hilary Meyer, Associate Food Editor

Watch: See our tip for making a perfect pie crust

Secret 1: Replace Corn Syrup with Maple Syrup

1. Replace Corn Syrup with Maple Syrup

Corn syrup doesn’t have a lot of flavor. The only thing it has to offer is sweetness, which is pretty boring. But it’s the cornerstone of traditional recipes. So to perk up the flavor, this recipe for Maple Pecan Tart uses maple syrup in place of the corn syrup. From a nutritional perspective, sugar is sugar, but from a flavor perspective, maple syrup is much tastier. The buttery flavor of the syrup plays up the nuttiness of the pecans. If you have a choice, opt for grade B or dark amber syrup. It has a richer flavor than lighter varieties.

Secret 2: Use Nuts in the Crust

2. Use Nuts in the Crust

Plenty of pecan pie recipes call for an already prepared crust or if you’re ambitious you make your own from scratch. Either is fine, but the crust can be a hidden source of calories and fat from loads of butter and/or shortening. In this Maple Pecan Tart recipe, we incorporate pecans in the crust to deliver a nuttier flavor that can’t be matched by a store-bought crust. And pecans have less saturated fat than butter: 1/4 cup of pecans has only 2 grams saturated fat vs. butter at 29 grams per ¼ cup! Pecans also contain more antioxidants—compounds that sweep up tissue-damaging free radicals—than any other tree nut, according to a study in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. Pecans also provide notable amounts of zinc, a mineral most often found in animal-based foods.

Secret 3: Cut Back on Sugar

3. Cut Back on Sugar

Pecan pie has a reputation for being sweet. That comes from the collective 2 cups or more of sweetener (corn syrup, sugar) that some traditional recipes call for! My teeth hurt just thinking about it. This Maple Pecan Tart recipe uses only 1 cup of sweetener (maple syrup and brown sugar)—half of what you would find in a traditional recipe. Plus, the filling gets an extra punch of flavor from chopped dried cherries. Unconventional—yes. But they deliver more sweet flavor with just a hint of sour so you won’t miss the cloying sweetness from that extra cup of sugar.

Get the Recipe: Maple Pecan Tart »