Southern Brown Sugar Pie Bars are easy to make, easy to eat, and wonderful to pair with whisky. It’s like having a portion-controlled piece of pie in your hand!

Another Conversion

I’ve mentioned before that I like to do food pairings for scotch tastings, and luckily my friends Darren & George who run the North Shore Whisky Club give me that chance when they hold their tastings. Remember the Southern Brown Sugar Pie Bars from the Balblair & Old Pulteney whisky tasting? (If not, I forgive you…it was last November after all). In that post I said I’d give you the recipe, and now I’m finally getting around to it (better late than never).


Balblair & Old Pulteney, scotch, whisky, scotch whisky, scotch tasting, whisky tasting, Highlands, Nick Taylor, Balblair, Old Pulteney, Brown Sugar Pie Bars
Brown Sugar Pie Bars all dressed up for the evening


I’ve converted cookies into cake, so why not pies into bars? It’s like having a portion-controlled piece of pie in you hand (and you know how much I love portion control). Essentially, pie bars (aka slab pie) are just pies that have been flattened out (or cookies made in one big piece)…think Pecan Bars or Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars. The Southern Brown Sugar Pie was so good (and went so well with scotch), that I decided to adapt it into bars for that scotch tasting, and they were a big hit. I’ve made these Southern Brown Sugar Pie Bars several times since then (usually at the request of my older daughter), and they’re really easy. The recipe for the filling is the same as with the Southern Brown Sugar Pie (although the ingredient amounts are scaled based on the size baking pan being used), and I use shortbread for the base (I tried using a graham cracker crust, but it was too flimsy to hold up the bar).

Just a word on the baking pan…I used this 18-x13-inch half sheet baking pan for the whisky tasting, and it yielded 48 2-inch square bars. I later scaled the recipe back to a 13- x 9-inch quarter sheet baking pan (I didn’t need quite so many bars, and I like a 1- x 2-inch bar anyway…these are really sweet). Also, if you want the bars to be a little thicker, use a 9-inch square cake pan. I’ve provided ingredient amounts for all the sizes below.


Southern Brown Sugar Pie Bars

Adapted from Pizzazzerie
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American, Southern
Keyword: Cookie Bars, Cookies & Bars, Pies, Shortbread, Southern Brown Sugar Pie
Servings: 48 2-inch squares


These amounts are for an 18-x13-inch half sheet baking pan…the amounts for a 13- x 9-inch quarter sheet baking pan are in the Notes below

    For the Crust

    • 8 oz all purpose flour (1 3/4 cup, 225g)
    • 3 oz powdered sugar (3/4 cup, 85g)
    • 3/4 tsp salt
    • 6 oz butter (3/4 cup, 1 1/2 sticks)

    For the Filling

    • 2 lb brown sugar (32 oz, 900g)
    • 1 cup unsalted butter (8 oz, 1 stick, melted)
    • 3 eggs
    • 2 Tbsp vanilla extract
    • 1 tsp salt


    Make the crust

    • Line an 18- x 13-inch half sheet baking pan (or a 13- x 9-inch quarter sheet baking pan with parchment paper or foil (make sure it hangs over the edges to help lift out the bars later)
    • In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the sugar and butter until smooth, then add flour and salt; mix until dough forms. (If you prefer to make the dough by hand, stir together flour, powdered sugar, and salt in a medium bowl; with a pastry blender, cut in the butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.)
    • Sprinkle the crumb mixture into the prepared baking pan. Using your hands, press to cover bottom of pan firmly (I used plastic wrap and a small rolling pin, like I do when making shortbread).
    • Bake for 15 minutes or until light brown (it will be partially baked), then remove the pan from the oven.

    Make the filling

    • While the crust is baking, mix together the eggs and add in sugar, butter, salt, and vanilla; whisk together until well combined and smooth.
    • Pour filling on top of partially baked crust and bake until set, about 25-30 minutes.
    • Cool the bars completely in the pan on a wire rack.
    • Lift the uncut bars out of pan by aluminum foil or parchment paper. Transfer to a cutting board; cut into bars.

    Recipe Notes

    Dark brown sugar really emphasizes the molasses flavor, but you can use light brown sugar as well
    Watch that the shortbread crust doesn’t get too dark when you're first baking it…at 20 minutes, my crust was medium-dark brown
    Bake the filling for no more that 35 minutes…it will puff up but will settle down when cooling
    Cut the bars using a pizza wheel…it’s much easier. If you use a knife, just wipe the blade after each time you slice

    For a 13- x 9-inch quarter sheet baking pan:

    Bake the filling-topped bars for 20-25 minutes using the following ingredient amounts:
    For the Crust
    • 1 cup flour (150g)
    • 1/2 cup powdered sugar (56g) (or 1/4 cup, 50g granulated sugar)
    • 1/2 tsp salt 1/2 cup butter (4oz, 1 stick)
    For the Filling
    • 1 lb brown sugar (16 oz, 454g)
    • 1/2 cup unsalted butter (4 oz, ½ stick), melted
    • 3 eggs
    • 1 Tbsp vanilla extract
    • 1/2 tsp salt
    If you want to make thicker bars, use a 9-inch square cake pan and the same ingredient amounts as for the 13- x 9-inch baking pan.


    Southern Brown Sugar Pie Bars, Cookie Bars, Shortbread, slab pie, Southern Brown Sugar Pie
    Using shortbread bakes for a sturdy base for most cookie bars


    Southern Brown Sugar Pie Bars, Cookie Bars, Shortbread, slab pie, Southern Brown Sugar Pie
    The filling before & after baking


    Southern Brown Sugar Pie Bars, Cookie Bars, Shortbread, slab pie, Southern Brown Sugar Pie
    Cutting the bars is easy with a pizza wheel, but you can use a knife, too


    Southern Brown Sugar Pie Bars, Cookie Bars, Shortbread, slab pie, Southern Brown Sugar Pie
    Thicker bars = concentrated yumminess


    Southern Brown Sugar Pie Bars, Cookie Bars, Shortbread, slab pie, Southern Brown Sugar Pie
    Do I have to share?


    As I said earlier, these Southern Brown Sugar Bars have become a frequently requested item around here. They freeze, defrost, and travel well, so sharing them with my future self  others is easy. I still haven’t tried replacing some of the vanilla in the filling with bourbon, but it’s on my to-do list. In the meantime, I think there’s a bar in the freezer calling my name…10 minutes to defrost on the counter and I’ll be in bar heaven. Yummm……

    Slainté! L’chaim! Cheers!


    Some of the links above are with affiliates that give me a small commission for my referral at no extra cost to you. Thanks for helping me!

    p.s. Happy birthday to my Boston girl…grown up, wise, caring, & beautiful you may be, but you’ll always be my baby girl with the big blue eyes and hugs to cherish. And yes, I’ll make a batch of Brown Sugar Pie Bars just for you!



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