The Ingredient Swap That Will Really Elevate Your Pecan Pie

When it comes to desserts, there's one category that's hard to not fall in love with, and that's pie. Pie features a buttery, flaky crust filled with juicy fruit, smooth custards, or other tasty fillings in its ultimate expression. It is pretty hard to beat as a follow-up to a delicious dinner — or as an indulgent breakfast with a hot cup of coffee in the morning. Of course, many of us associate pie with Thanksgiving, the fall holiday on which 94% of Americans eat pie, according to Bake. On Thanksgiving, Americans gobble down all types of pie, including pumpkin, apple, and pecan.

According to Bake, on Thanksgiving, about 18% of Americans indulge in pecan pie – a tempting mix of toasty pecans suspended in a sweet, gooey, eggy filling. And why not? According to Eater, the truly American pie was first created back in the late 19th century using native-growing pecans. Pecan pie is a delectable treat beloved by children and adults alike. However, if we had a bone to pick with pecan pie, it would be that it usually errs on the side of being too sweet. Traditionally, the moist filling is made using plenty of corn syrup, which lends a rich texture but can be way too sugary and one-note (via Chicago Tribune). If you, too, love pecan pie but are looking for an alternative sweetener to corn syrup, read on.

Try maple syrup instead of corn syrup

Corn syrup surely has its place in pecan pie recipes. In fact, most recipes for this classic dessert call for it. There are, however, alternative options for sweetening a pecan pie. Perhaps, the best one is swapping in maple syrup for corn syrup. According to the culinary blog Sally's Baking Addiction, corn syrup works so well in pecan pie because it provides sweetness and thickness. In addition, it works in tandem with eggs in the filling to create a nicely set pie that holds its shape when cut into. 

According to the blog, finding an unrefined sweetener substitute that tackles that task was no small feat — until the author, Sally McKenney, tried maple syrup. She found that maple syrup provided a deliciously sweet flavor that works well in baking.

To ensure that the filling sets, McKenney also uses 1 tablespoon of flour in her pecan pie filling, which she writes thickens the filling just as corn syrup would. With the addition of butter, brown sugar, salt, vanilla extract, and, of course, nutty, buttery pecans, this recipe is a more sweet, natural pecan pie we'd love to sink our fork into at any time of year.