Paleo Pecan Pie / Tart

paleo pecan pie tartTexas has a robust pecan industry and, not surprisingly, pecan pie is very popular there. Not far from my hometown is the famous Collin Street Bakery in Corsicana, Texas. They have been using Texas pecans since 1896 in their fruitcakes, pecan cakes and pecan pies that ship all over the world. When I was growing up there, pecan trees, which are native to Texas, were in my front yard. I still remember the little old man coming over and using a “pecan picker upper” to harvest some from under our trees.  A few days later he would show up at our doorstep with a homemade pecan pie just for us!  It was his way of saying thanks and the gesture was much appreciated.

Unfortunately, celiac disease or gluten intolerance means having to avoid gluten in a pecan pie even if it comes from a famous bakery, a nice neighbor or a well-meaning host at a party. If you want a standard pecan pie there are about a zillion recipes in cookbooks and online. But almost every one of them will have a wheat flour crust or, minimally, will be chock full of sugar, sugar and more sugar.  “Low carb” recipes often have tons of artificial ingredients that make me think “why bother?”  This recipe is different.  It is not only gluten-free but also takes into account my desire to stay as close to paleo as possible. So gone is the corn syrup, brown sugar and processed white sugar. The filling is sweetened only by dates, applesauce, pure maple syrup and a little molasses. Oh and there’s a bit of rum too. But that’s optional. Sort of.

Ingredients

Crust:

Filling:
  • 10 Medjool dates, pitted (or enough dates to make 2/3 cup purée)
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/3 cup pure maple syrup
  • 4 eggs
  • 6 tablespoons pastured butter or virgin coconut oil (room temperature)

    coconut oil and kerrygold butter

    I used pastured butter in this recipe but coconut oil would work as well.

  • 2 tablespoons dark molasses
  • 1 tablespoon dark rum (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 cup plus 2/3 cup toasted pecans, roughly chopped
  • 1/3 cup toasted pecan halves (for topping) – about 23 pieces
Instructions
  1. Toast the pecan halves (total of 2 1/2 cups) on a sheet pan in a 350 degree oven for about 7 minutes. Separate.
  2. Chop 1 cup plus 2/3 cup of pecans roughly in the food processor. Remove chopped pecans.
Crust Instructions:
  1. Combine the coconut flour, 1/2 cup pecan halves, fat (either pastured butter or virgin coconut oil), coconut sugar and salt in food processor and pulse until combined and pecans are finely chopped.
  2. Add the eggs and pulse until a dough is formed.
  3. Spread the dough evenly into the bottom and sides of a 9 1/2 inch tart pan. paleo pecan pie crust

Filling Instructions:

  1. Place the pitted dates in the food processor with the applesauce and maple syrup.  Process until dates are completely puréed and you have a smooth mixture.
  2. To the bowl of a stand mixer add the date purée, eggs, fat of choice (butter or coconut oil), molasses, rum, vanilla and salt and mix on medium speed until well-combined.
  3. Place the chopped pecans into the bottom of the prepared tart shell.
  4. Pour the filling into the shell.paleo pecan pie
  5. Decorate the top with the remaining 1/3 cup of pecan halves.filled paleo pecan pie
  6. Place the tart onto a sheet pan and bake in the oven at 350 degrees for approximately 45-50 minutes. Check the tart at 30-35 minutes.
  7. Cool on a wire rack.paleo pecan pie on rack
  8. Serve the paleo pecan tart to anyone who is not allergic to pecans, like my boys, who were very sad and angry when I made it.boys are angry they can't eat paleo pecan pie

Additional Notes and Ramblings on the Paleo Pecan Pie / Tart Recipe

  • I roughly followed my crust recipe for the Paleo Coconut Cream Pie replacing the coconut flakes with pecans.
  • The crust is not very sweet but with the sweet filling there is a nice balance.
  • I used more fat this time because coconut flour has a tendency to be dry and chalky.
  • You can probably use a regular pie pan for this recipe making it a paleo pecan pie instead of a paleo pecan tart. But I liked using the tart pan because the crust is heavy-duty and makes a nice, firm shell for the gooey contents of the pie filling.
  • The molasses is an important ingredient.  Even though the dates impart a nice caramel flavor, the molasses gave the paleo pecan tart that distinct pecan pie flavor.
  • And yes, I realize cavemen did not have rum so there’s no need to remind me. :-)

piece of paleo pecan pie tart

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42 thoughts on “Paleo Pecan Pie / Tart

  1. Oh Yay! I LOVE pecan pie…I also grew up in Texas and am no stranger to those giant Texas pecans!!!! Most of my family is still in the south so when we take road trips down that way I make a special trip to Valley Pecans in Chillicothe, TX to stock up…I hate that they are not organic but they are just too good not to eat!!!

  2. Hello fellow displaced Texan! Testing this recipe brought back memories. Too bad I didn’t have any of those Valley Pecans beauties. Had to settle for Costco.

    • I m also from Texas and know exactly where that Bakery is. But luckily we have a pecan tree in our front yard. I am very excited to try this recipe!

      • Great. I hope you like it. The texture is different from a traditional pecan pie – more like a tart. But I love that it is far more guilt-free.

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  5. Great recipe! FYI for anyone planning to make this, I almost messed this up because there were never any instructions to remove the chopped pecans from the food processor (and separate it into the chopped pecans for the crust vs. for the filling). Also, I baked this for 40 minutes and the top was way darker than in your pics, and the tops of the crust a little burnt — so be sure to check in at 30 or 35 minutes to re-evaluate, though the recipe says 45-50 minutes.

    • Eric,
      Thanks for the feedback. In the first instruction I did specify “separate” the pecans. But you are correct that I did not specify what to do after they are in the food processor. I changed the directions based on your suggestions including a note about the time. I REALLY appreciate the help because I want the recipes to be correct and easy to follow.

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  7. Just finished making this tart/pie and the filling came out a likey cakey for me, I was used to see the ususal syrupy filling look but seeing the pic I know that was not the case, I believe that if I would’ve cut back on the eggs (use 2 instead of 4 or just 4 egg whites) probably would have me that gooey consistancy I guess. Also too next time I will un-pit my dates, I have a good food processor but some of them got in the pie/tart anyways, damn near broke my tooth (lol). Overall the pie/tart was good especially for Paleo :-)

    • Pam, it is definitely more firm and cakey than a traditional pecan pie – more of a tart actually. I would be interested in trying your suggestions next time to see what a difference it might make in the consistency. And you absolutely have to use unpitted dates for this recipe. I guess I should have specified that in the recipe. Thanks for the feedback.

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  9. Any thoughts on the volume of the pecans once they would be ground down in the food processor? I understand they’re supposed to be ground together with the other ingredients for the crust, but I’m thinking of subbing almond flour (just for the crust). Thanks!

  10. The crust turned out not too bad! It was dark brown after 30 minutes, but the middle still kind of syrupy after cooling (rather than tart-like) The pie overall is a little sweet for our liking, but that’s okay, it’s a treat! A great way to spend a Tuesday evening in my books :)

    • Kristin,
      Just saw your comments. Glad you came up with a solution. My only thought is that maybe the 2 Tbsp of almond flour ends up making the crust less fatty than the full 1/2 cup of pecans and maybe that alters the cooking time? Not sure. I used a tart pan which I think makes a difference in everything cooking more evenly. It’s amazing how some people think this pie is really sweet and others are surprised at how much less sweet it is than a traditional pecan pie. Our tastes can really be different can’t they! So glad you tried the recipe and I really appreciate all the good feedback.

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  12. This is my fovourite paleo treat. Have made it twice already, and about to make it for a third time today. It freezes great, and I love looking forward to a liitle afternoon slice while I’m at work. Thanks for the recipe! Hollie- all the was from Australia

  13. I made it this evening. It made the house smell wonderful! Could you tell me, is the filling suppose to be gooey or more cake like? I wasn’t really sure how to tell if it was finished baking. I checked it at 33 min. then again at 43, then it was in for the total hour. I’m thinking that I left it in a little longer than I should have. But the real question is, should it be gooey or cake like? It tastes wonderful!!!

    Thanks,
    Brenda

    • Hi Brenda,
      It is not as gooey as a regular pecan pie but not like a cake either. When I’ve made it the filling was soft and very moist but not runny. It’s more of a tart, I guess. One hour cooking time may have been a bit long and it could have dried it out a little more than intended. But it doesn’t sound like that’s a problem if you liked it.

      Thanks for the feedback!

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    • Hi Jessica,
      If you scroll all the way to the bottom of the post there is a “print friendly” button that will allow you to just print the text of the recipe without photos or other text.

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  19. Don’t have any cocconut flour.. what would be the best replacement? Almond meal? Also, would it be fine to use to replace cocconut oil? (Other than the fact that it is not paleo). Cheers, looks absolutely delicious might I add, can’t wait to try it out!

    • Hi Arden,
      Yes, butter is fine to use if you eat dairy. Replacing coconut flour is more difficult. Almond meal might work but you would need more of it and possibly less moisture in the recipe. Coconut flour is very dry so it doesn’t have a good one-to-one equivalent. Good luck. Lea

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    • Hmm. Well, You could use almost any nut for the crust. For the tart itself you could try using almonds. I think that might work similarly well. Good luck.
      Best, Lea

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