This is our family’s classic pecan pie recipe, inspired by my grandmother.
My Grandma Ebright was many things…
She was the faithful wife of a Kansas wheat farmer for sixty years, proud mother of five, and involved grandmother of thirteen.
She was a lover of singing, and insisted that anyone born or married in her family learn how to do so loudly, in four-part harmony, and with smiles, especially while caroling nursing homes together each Christmas.
She was a voracious reader, flying through nearly a book a day in her later years and then eagerly passing them along to her friends and family, although she prided herself on always reading the last page first.
She was a hard worker, graduating early and completing a degree so that she could teach in a 1-room rural schoolhouse, then picking up to help serve in WWII, then running a farm for decades while raising five kids on a shoestring budget, then later being a faithful caretaker for my grandpa with Alzheimer’s in the last years of his life.
She was a writer as well and officially published her first book in her eighties, although my favorite writings were the pages upon pages of handwritten letters that she faithfully mailed to each of her grandkids every few months.
She was sharp as a tack, and was a fierce believer in raising her family — especially the daughters and granddaughters — to appreciate and seek intelligence.
She was a matchmaker, and never passed up the opportunity to introduce herself to an attractive stranger in hopes that they might be the perfect match for one of her grandkids.
She was o-pin-ion-ated, for better and worse, and never resisted a moment to share her thoughts (even if whispering a little too loudly in church about a lady’s purple hair).
She was a firecracker. She was thoughtful. She was stubborn. She was giving. She was hilarious. She was creative. She was loyal. She was my grandma.
And she was an expert baker of pecan pie.
Update: If you are interested in a pecan pie recipe that is naturally sweetened with maple syrup (no corn syrup), here is my newest pecan pie recipe.
Actually, of the many things she was, my grandma would be the first to tell you that she did not consider herself a cook. She would much rather be spending time with people than “couped up” in the kitchen. So she was a big fan of treating our extended family to the local Pizza Hut or a round of chocolate-dipped cones at Dairy Queen.
But when we did all gather together to eat at home, she knew how to rock a huge batch of chicken and noodles, salty and butter sweet corn, “chip chocolate” cookies, and some good ol’ fashioned homemade pecan pie.
Her homemade pecan pies (pronounced peh-cahn, in Kansas) were classic — sweet, simple and overflowing with buttered pecans.
And they were always meant for sharing.
So it seemed only fitting that for my first week of really teaching myself how to bake pies, I begin with the first pie I ever knew — Grandma’s Pecan Pie.
I did brown the butter to give this version an extra nuttier, delicious flavor. And I’m pretty sure my grandma would have cracked up at me taking the extra time to line the top of the pecan pie with extra pecans. (Yes, I was the picky-eating granddaughter who used to always prefer playing with my food, rather than actually eating it.)
But I’m pretty sure she would have been proud, and even happier to know that this one was shared with a bunch of people I really love.
So Grandma, this one’s for you. Love you! :)
My grandma, cousins and me in 2009. Tiny lady. Big heart.
2 cups pecan halves (plus extras to line the top, if desired)
Heat oven. Heat oven to 400°F.
Blind bake the pie crust. Chill the unbaked pie crust for at least 20 minutes in the refrigerator or freezer. Use parchment paper or aluminum foil to line the inside of the chilled crust, shaping it gently around the inner edges to form a mold of the crust. Fill the bottom of the crust with pie weights or dried beans. Bake for 15 minutes. Remove the pie pan from the oven, carefully lift out the foil/parchment and weights, and set them aside. Decrease the oven heat to 350°F.
Prepare the filling. In a medium bowl, whisk together sugar, corn syrup, vanilla, salt and cinnamon. Add eggs and whisk until smooth. Melt butter in a small saucepan over medium heat for about 4-5 minutes, stirring often, until the butter turns brown and fragrant. Slowly pour butter into the sugar mixture, and whisk to combine. Chop the pecans, then stir them into the butter and sugar mixture until combined.
Assemble. Pour the entire filling into the prepared pie crust. If desired, line the top of the filling with extra pecans.
Bake. Bake the pie for 40-50 minutes, or until the top is lightly browned. After the first 20 to 25 minutes of bake time, you are welcome to loosely tent a piece of aluminum foil over the top of the whole pie if the crust or pecans seem to be browning too quickly. The pie will be ready to go once the top is puffed up into a dome (which will sink to become flat again, once the pie has set and cooled). Transfer the pie to a wire rack and let it rest until it reaches room temperature.
Serve. Slice and serve pie at room temperature (or you can refrigerate and chill the pie, if you prefer). Cover and store leftover pie at room temperature for 1-2 days or in the refrigerator for 4-5 days.