It’s probably safe to say that pecan pie is one of America’s favorite desserts. However, baking pecan pie is not an easy job and does take a little skill and know-how. It’s worth the effort of mastering though because a homemade pecan pie, served with whipped cream, is a beautiful thing.
“Why is my pecan pie runny?” or “Why has my pecan pie filling not set?” are questions that are often asked by home bakers. We’ll try to answer this for you here so that your next pie is a success.
Pecan Pie – What Is It?
Before we talk about the runny consistency, it’s important to know what a pecan pie is and what consistency it’s supposed to have. Pecan pie is a dessert pie that has a sweet pastry base filled with pecan nuts.
The nuts are held together by a type of dairy-free custard made with sugar, eggs, butter, and dark or light corn syrup. It’s usually flavored with vanilla.
The nuts are put into the pastry pie shell, the custard mixture is poured over them, and the whole thing is then baked in the oven to set the filling. It is the eggs that cause the filling to set as they cook.
When done, the filling will have a set, custardy, almost jelly-like consistency. It should certainly not be runny.
Why Is My Pecan Pie Runny?
Most of the time, the filling will be runny because it has been undercooked and the eggs haven’t had time to set yet. According to the majority of recipes, the pie has to be baked for up to sixty to seventy minutes at around 350-degrees Fahrenheit.
However, the baking time can be increased to seventy-five minutes, depending on the oven. Some people reduce the oven temperature to 325-degrees Fahrenheit if they have to increase the baking time.
If you are worried about the crust becoming excessively brown, you can just cover the top of the pie with aluminum foil as it finishes baking.
- Checked The Doneness Too Soon
Perhaps you have checked for doneness along the way and found that the pie filling is still runny. Keep in mind that the custard around the pecan layer will not set until the pie filling reaches 200-degrees Fahrenheit.
The best way to check the doneness is by pressing the pecans with the back of a spoon or your finger and see if it springs back. If it does, the pecan pie is ready, and it won’t be runny.
On the other hand, if you don’t keep an eye on the doneness and take it out before it’s done, it will result in runny consistency.
- Oven Temperature Incorrect
Thirdly, you need to check the oven’s temperature. This is because, in some cases, the oven’s thermometer or thermostat stops working and shows an incorrect temperature. When pecan pie is baked at an incorrect temperature that’s too low, it will result in a runny consistency.
If the oven’s thermometer is inaccurate, you’ll need to get it repaired before you bake anything else. Meanwhile, you might be able to solve the problem by baking the pie for longer.
- Not Baked For Long Enough
Although recipes give a guide for the baking time, it is just a guide and you may need to bake the pie for longer. Use your discretion here. If the pie has eggs in it (we hope you’ve remembered them), it will definitely be set once the eggs have baked for long enough.
If the pastry edges are becoming too brown, cover the pie with a sheet of aluminum foil and continue baking until the filling sets. Check it every ten minutes.
- Let It Settle
Most pecan pies are still a little wobbly when the filling is still hot. As long as it isn’t watery, you can rest assured that it will still firm up once it has cooled down.
- Cook The Pastry Crust First
For best results, we suggest that you partially bake the crust of the pecan pie before filling it. This will ensure a firm crust that’s not soggy. The best way is to bake the crust “blind” that is, line the raw pastry with a sheet of baking paper and fill it with dried beans to weigh it down.
- Check the Oven’s Baking Ability
Last but not least, if you are looking for reasons behind the runny pecan pie, your oven could be at fault. This is because some old ovens don’t heat or bake evenly, which results in inappropriate consistency.
So, if your oven is old and you suspect it’s the cause of the problem, it might be time to invest in a new oven or buy pecan pie from the bakery shop.
- Pie Dish Too Deep
While we all love a pecan pie that’s been baked in a deep dish because every bite has more of the delectable filling, this may be the cause of your problem. A deep-dish pie will take longer to set.
If you’re going to use one, we suggest lowering the oven temperature slightly and cooking your pie longer and lower.
- Recipe Has No Eggs
The pie filling must have eggs in it because these are what cause it to set. If you forgot to put them in or left them out because someone in your family is allergic, you will end up with a runny pie that will not set no matter how long you bake it.
There are vegan pie recipes available that use flax eggs and cornstarch to set the filling. You may want to look for one of these.
Best Ever Pecan Pie Filling Recipe
Here’s a traditional pecan pie filling recipe that is guaranteed to set because it definitely has enough egg in it. It’s delicious and bound to become a family favorite.
- 3 extra-large eggs, beaten
- ¾ cup light corn syrup
- ¾ cup light brown sugar
- 1½ teaspoons vanilla extract or essence
- 3 tablespoons butter, melted
- Pinch of salt
- 2 cups pecan nuts, broken coarsely
- Prebake the crust blind until it is just lightly golden.
- Using a measuring jug, beat the eggs, syrup, brown sugar, vanilla, and butter. Add the nuts.
- Once the crust is out of the oven, pour the nutty syrup into it carefully.
- Bake the pie in the hot oven at 350˚F for about one hour or until it has firmed up.
- Cool at room temperature for at least an hour, preferably two, before you serve it. If you serve it straight away, it will be too runny.