These Mini Pecan Pies Will Be the Star of Your Thanksgiving Dessert Spread
What with all the butter, sugar, and corn syrup, pecan pie isn’t really known as a health food, or even health-adjacent. In fact, a slice of traditional pecan pie easily tops 500 calories and 25 grams of fat — and that’s without a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
So how do you enjoy this classic dessert and Thanksgiving staple? You shrink it! These mini pecan pies won’t derail your health goals or give you a sugar hangover, but they will help to satisfy your craving for the sweet treat.
Mini Pecan Pies
- 4 Tbsp. vegan butter divided use
- 1 cup whole wheat flour
- 3 Tbsp. ice water
- ½ cup maple syrup
- 1 tsp. molasses
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1 Tbsp. chia seeds mixed with 2 Tbsp. water and set out for 20 min. to thicken
- 15 pecan halves chopped
Preheat oven to 350° F.
Place 3 Tbsp. cold vegan butter and flour in a medium bowl. Use clean hands or the back of a fork to press butter into flour until coarse crumbs are formed.
Add water one tablespoon at a time, stirring before adding the next, just until dough forms. If dough is still too dry, add one more Tbsp. water. Don’t over mix.
Evenly distribute dough into the cups of a nonstick mini muffin tin (with 24 muffin cups) and press it into the cups and up the sides to form crusts.
Use a fork to prick the bottom of each crust, then bake for 10 to 12 minutes until lightly golden brown around the edges. Set aside. Leave oven on.
Melt remaining 1 Tbsp. vegan butter and place in a food processor. Add maple syrup, molasses, vanilla, and thickened chia seeds; pulse until combined.
One teaspoon at a time, evenly distribute maple syrup mixture into prepared crusts. Top each with a sprinkle of chopped pecans. Return to oven and bake 20 to 25 minutes, until filling is puffed up and bubbling around the edges.
Cool completely before serving. Store leftovers in a tightly sealed container for up to four days.
The Nutrition Facts box below provides estimated nutritional information for this recipe.
How to Make Mini Pecan Pies Healthier
Our mini pecan pie recipe features some more nutritious ingredients than what you’d usually find in a pie recipe. It uses whole wheat flour for a more fiber-filled crust, and maple syrup and molasses to sweeten the filling and add in plenty of fall flavor.
It also gets an extra fiber and protein boost from chia seeds — you’ll soak the seeds in water and blend them with the melted butter, maple syrup, molasses, and vanilla to thicken the filling of the pie. Fun fact: this combination removes the need for eggs, so this recipe is actually vegan if you use dairy-free butter!
And although nuts absolutely fall under the healthy, whole food category — with valuable nutrients like omega 3s, vitamin A, and zinc — the large amount of pecans baked into the average pecan pie means lots of calories and fat compared to other pie fillings. But this recipe divvies just 15 pecan halves amongst 24 mini pecan pie bites, to make it tasty and moderate.
How do you bake mini pecan pies?
By using a mini muffin tin, you can whip up two dozen mini pecan pie tarts with built-in portion control. And because they’re small in stature, they require just half the baking time (20 to 25 minutes) as a full on pecan pie.
As an added bonus, you won’t need as thick of a crust to hold these mini treats together, making them a lower-carb dessert option.
While we won’t lie to your faces and say this dessert is an exact replica of the real thing, these lighter mini pecan pie bites taste like the holidays without annihilating your health and fitness goals.
Should mini pecan pies be refrigerated?
Rather than leave these delectable minis on the counter where they’ll undoubtedly call your name each time you pass by, consider popping them in the fridge where they’ll keep for three to four days or the freezer for about a month. (You may want to wrap them in foil and/or plastic wrap before storing in an airtight container to prevent freezer burn.)
Photography by Anguel Dimov, AB Creative