My Grandmother’s Pecan Pies

We may not have it all together, but together we have it all.

On Freestyle Fridays, we talk about whatever happens to pop into my head—or any suggestion you may have made for a topic.

With Thanksgiving around the corner, you’re probably thinking about turkey and dressing. Maybe some mashed potatoes and green beans. But I’ll bet you’d like to have a piece of pie or two along with it. Right?

My dad’s mother, whom we grandkids called Mama, died over forty years ago, but I’ve never found anyone yet who could beat her pecan pies. Everybody who ever tasted one of them agreed she was without peer in the pecan pie department.

Fortunately, my sister Barb is more organized than I am and has kept the recipe through all these years. Here is the recipe she sent me:

Mama’s Pecan Pie

3 eggs, beat slightly.

Add:  1 c. sugar

1 c. Karo Syrup **

1/2 – 1 c. pecans (broken)

2 T. melted butter

1 t. vanilla

Mix with as few strokes as possible.  Pour into uncooked pie crust and bake at 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes or until filling seems stiff.

See the asterisks by the Karo Syrup? My sister and I have differing memories on this point. I’ve spent nearly 70 years explaining to her that when we disagree, she’s wrong and I’m right, but she’s never grasped that point.

Anyhow, the recipe she saved from Mama all these years calls for dark Karo Syrup, but I distinctly remember that Mama actually used the light syrup. One reason I’m sure I’m right is that the fillings of the pies she made were a very light color—much closer to yellow than the brownish color of most pecan pies.

Here’s what I believe happened. Mama was a very vain woman and used to cackle about the fact that no one else could make the pies as good as hers, even when they used her recipe. Family members all used to suspect she altered the ingredients slightly in the recipes she gave people just to be sure their pies weren’t as good as hers. After seeing this discrepancy between the recipe my sister kept and my memory of what Mama said, I’m convinced she intentionally put the wrong kind of syrup in the recipes just to be sure hers were better.

You can take our disagreement however you want, although I’ve never been wrong. In case you think my memory might be faulty in this instance, you’d probably better make two pies—one with dark Karo and one with light. Be sure to let me know which turns out better.


For more information about David N. Walker, click the “About” tab above.

For more information about his books, click on “Books” above.

Contact him at dnwalkertx (at) gmail (dot) com or tweet him at @davidnwalkertx.


About David N. Walker

David N. Walker is a Christian husband, father and grandfather, a grounded pilot and a near-scratch golfer who had to give up the game because of shoulder problems. A graduate of Duke University, he spent 42 years in the health insurance industry, during which time he traveled much of the United States. He started writing about 20 years ago and has been a member and leader in several writers' groups. Christianity 101: The Simplified Christian Life, the devotional Heaven Sent and the novella series, Fancy, are now available in paperback and in Kindle and Nook formats, as well as through Smashwords and Kobo. See information about both of these by clicking "Books" above.
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20 Responses to My Grandmother’s Pecan Pies

  1. Lynn says:

    I made two of these last night for the teachers at school. I didn’t get to taste them, but they looked good! (I was in a hurry, though, and didn’t make my own crust…)


  2. Love the repartee between you and your sis. Thanks for sharing the recipe!


  3. My sister-in-law does this. It drives me nuts. Nothing I make tastes as good as when she makes it. Take her noodle kugel. It kills me. When she makes it, it is to die for. When I make it, you want to die. 😉


  4. David – A chuckle over the slight disagreement on ingredients for the pecan pie. My guess is your granny cooked a lot like my mother – a handful of this and a pinch of that. Never once did I see a recipe in my mother’s kitchen nor a box of anything where you only had to add an egg or water. Thus, many a recipe has been attempted – but we’re still trying to refine the recipes 30 years later.


  5. Heehee!!!! You made me laugh! 🙂

    Pecan pie is something that I adore, but will only eat a specific kind. Josh (my husband’s) paternal grandmother whom (did I use whom correctly…I am still clueless on when to use or not…hum–I smell a blog post) we fondly call Muff, makes the best pecan pies ever! I never like pecan pie until after Josh and I married and went to his grandparent’s home in Cuero, TX–and there my love for the stuff came alive. 🙂

    I will certainly try this recipe. And since I have two men here at home who love pie (imagine that), I will bake a light and dark Karo and get back with you later on which was better.

    Have a blessed Thanksgiving!


  6. YUM!! My momma makes a mean pecan pie…. I plan on making a few this week — one for my guy’s birthday and one for Thanksgiving. Thanks for sharing your grandmother’s recipe, David. Happy Thanksgiving!!


  7. Ooh, yummy! I love pecan pie. I’ve never tried to make it myself but I’ll have to give it a go this Thanksgiving.


  8. Catie Rhodes says:

    I am the maker of the pecan pie in my family. Here’s what I’ve learned. If I have dark Karo syrup, I can use white sugar. If I have light Karo syrup, I can use brown sugar. Both produce approximately the same effect. So, if you used light Karo syrup and white sugar, I can see where you’d get the yellowish custard.

    I also make my own pie crusts. There’s nothing like them. 😉


  9. Barb Estinson says:

    I’m laughing out loud … ME, more organized than YOU????? Thanks for that, even though we both know it’s a joke! And I think you are right about the Karo syrup ….. it would have been just like Mama to alter the recipe when she gave it to others. She KNEW she was the best! Nice memories, anyway!


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