Upgrade Your Pecan Pie With The Warm Flavors Of Butterscotch

It's hard to imagine anything better than a buttery, nutty, freshly baked pecan pie. With its familiar, chewy corn syrup filling and creamy-crunchy pecans, you have a warming and wonderful treat perfect for fall and winter celebrations — though it doesn't hurt to have on hand any time of year. And while the nostalgic favorite is pretty much perfect all on its own, there is a way to take your slice to another stratosphere: butterscotch.

The molasses-y, sweet, and creamy profiles of butterscotch pairs perfectly with the layers of flavor in your baseline pecan pie, and it's a snap to include this spin in your baking repertoire. By simply melting butterscotch chips and mixing them into your classic pecan pie filling recipe, you bring a subtle sweetness that complements the flavors of the pecans and adds depth (and extra irresistibility) to the whole affair.

Alternatively, you can stick to your classic recipe and simply mix morsels into the filling (in the same way you would make a chocolate chip pecan pie). Or, if you really want to boost your butterscotch, go for both methods, incorporating the melted chips into the filling and stirring more whole chips throughout.

What is butterscotch?

Butterscotch is often confused with caramel, and while they share DNA, several differences make the distinction. While both are the product of cooking sugar and cream, caramel is typically made with white sugar, while butterscotch gets a boost of flavor from brown sugar instead. Butterscotch also often calls for vanilla, which adds a rounder, more fragrant flavor. That said, given its close relationship to both caramel and toffee, it's easy to swap for those flavors in your favorite recipes, making it an approachable addition.

Butterscotch is believed to be centuries old and created in England (fitting, given its close kinship to the Harry Potter-featured confection, Butterbeer). Though the flavor's popularity has ebbed and flowed over those many years, it's found its way into everything from liqueurs to hard candies to instant pudding.

Nestle introduced its butterscotch morsels in 1960, and while it's possible to make the sweet sauce from scratch, this development made it extra easy to concoct butterscotch creations at home, as these sweet pieces behave in a similar way to chocolate chips and can be easily substituted to switch up a flavor profile. Butterscotch oatmeal cookies (commonly called "scotchies") are perhaps among the most famous butterscotch confections and are a simple spin on an oatmeal chocolate chip cookie. Still, these morsels are also ideal baked into brownies, cakes, and breads, and even melted into a latte for a take on mocha.

More ways to enhance & enjoy pecan pie

Whether you stick to tried and true pecan pie or branch out with this butterscotchy iteration, the recipe's simplicity leaves much room for creativity. With so many ways to punch it up and customize it for any occasion or craving, don't deny your pie a chance to express a little personality.

Adding chocolate chips — white, milk, or dark — is an easy option, as is incorporating spices. Cinnamon, clove, nutmeg, and similar warming flavors are classic, but adding heat to a pecan pie with cayenne or ancho brings complexity and an element of surprise.

Flavored toppings can contribute textural contrast, especially a pillowy vanilla whipped cream that picks up complementary notes in both the standard pie and butterscotch versions. And every pie dreams of achieving a la mode status, so a scoop of homemade vanilla ice cream makes wishes come true. If the cold element isn't your thing, don't forget that sweet potato pie doesn't have the market cornered on marshmallow; slather some of that fluffy goodness on your pecan pie, too, and if you have a kitchen torch, a slight char pairs well with the toasty nut flavor.

If you want to step away from the slice format, try pecan pie bars, pie cups baked using a muffin tin, or hand pies for an on-the-go experience. And much like all sweet things, this pie in all its forms will benefit from a sprinkling of flakey sea salt.