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Brown Butter Pecan Bars (Doctored Cake Mix)

In this post I’m going to show you how to make the most delicious fall treat ever—brown butter pecan bars! They’re ooey-gooey, sticky, and delicious. . .and they come together so easily. Best of all, they’re loaded with buttery pecan flavor!

Brown Butter Pecan Bars from Out of the Box Baking

What is Browned Butter? 

Brown butter is created by simmering butter on the stove until it turns a lovely golden color. 

Some of the water cooks out and you’re left with a luscious, rich flavor that can’t be rivaled elsewhere. 

I used brown butter in my Ultimate Chocolate Chip Cookies recipe. (They’re divine.) I also used it in my Brown Butter Banana Bread. And my Brown Butter Walnut Cake

As you can see, I love this particular flavor. And it’s even better when you add it to something sweet, like these delicious butter pecan bars. 

Can I Make Bars from a Cake Mix? 

Brown Butter Pecan Bars from Out of the Box Baking

If you’ve been following me for a while you know that I spent most of the summer making up recipes that started with a box of cake mix. 

Many of the recipes I came up with were bars. Like my Lemon Coconut Bars. And my German Chocolate Bars. And my Carrot Cake Bars

Check out the drop-down menu and look for cookies and bars: you’ll be amazed by how many I came up with. 

But I missed one! My favorite flavor of all (next to Italian Cream Cake) is Butter Pecan. I love it in cake form, cupcake form, cookies, and even ice cream. 

There’s something about toasted pecans that just gets me every time. 

And this recipe, y’all? Well, it’s loaded with them. 

It’s also loaded with something else: canned frosting. 

Can I Bake with Canned Frosting? 

Oh yes, you can! I’ve done it so many times now I’ve lost track. It all started when a friend send me her German Chocolate Pound cake recipe with frosting in the mix. 

From there, it transitioned to baking recipes like my Coconut Pecan Bars with frosting baked on top. 

That’s the same pattern I used for today’s recipe. I started with a box of butter pecan cake mix, added eggs and brown butter, baked it for a few minutes with caramel frosting on top, then spooned softened coconut pecan frosting and nuts on top. . .and baked it again. 

What I ended up with was a sticky, praline-like bar that reminds me very much of my earthquake cake. (It’s the caramel, y’all! It caused eruptions in the cake layer, which was perfect! Doing so created pockets for the caramel and nuts to reside. Yum!)

But, I’m getting ahead of myself. (I have a tendency to do that.) Let’s start by looking at what you’ll need for this delicious dessert. 

Brown Butter Pecan Bars Ingredients

Brown Butter Pecan Bars from Out of the Box Baking

You will find a full printable recipe card at the bottom of this post but here’s a quick peek at what you’ll need. These are simple ingredients you can find at any grocery store. 

  • butter pecan cake mix
  • butter (salted or unsalted, your choice)
  • room temperature eggs
  • coconut pecan frosting
  • caramel frosting
  • chopped pecans

How to Make Brown Butter Pecan Bars

Brown Butter Pecan Bars from Out of the Box Baking

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. 

Remove foil topping from canister of caramel frosting and place in the microwave for 10 – 20 second or until softened and loose. Set aside. 

Brown Butter Pecan Bars from Out of the Box Baking

Prepare a 9×13-inch dish by spraying it with non-stick spray, then putting down a piece of parchment paper. Lightly spray the paper with baking spray.

Place stick of butter into In a medium saucepan on the stove and heat over medium heat until it melts.

Lower the heat and stir as it turns golden in color. (This might take a few minutes. Don’t let it burn!) Use a wooden spoon for this process if you have one. (A metal spoon gets too hot!)

Brown Butter Pecan Bars from Out of the Box Baking

You might see a few caramelized bits at the bottom of the pan. That’s fine! We’ll call those “Golden Nuggets.” These golden brown bits give these bars so much flavor! 

And the scent! This butter has a warm nutty aroma. Delicious!

Set butter aside to cool. (You don’t want to use it hot.) 

Brown Butter Pecan Bars from Out of the Box Baking

Once butter has cooled, mix up your batter this way: 

Place cake mix, cooled/melted butter, and eggs in a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer with paddle attachment.

Brown Butter Pecan Bars from Out of the Box Baking

Mix well. 

Brown Butter Pecan Bars from Out of the Box Baking

Fold in 1/2 cup of the chopped pecans. Your batter should be cookie dough consistency. 

Brown Butter Pecan Bars from Out of the Box Baking

Press the dough into the bottom of the prepared pan. 

Add softened caramel, smoothing out as best you can. 

Place in preheated oven and bake for 10 minutes. 

Brown Butter Pecan Bars from Out of the Box Baking

While it’s baking: Soften canister of coconut pecan frosting in the microwave for 10 – 20 seconds. Set aside. 

After ten minutes of baking, remove partially baked crust from oven and place on wire rack. Be careful not to burn yourself! The caramel layer is hot. 

Spoon the frosting onto the top of the melted caramel. Swirling the two together was messy but fun. It won’t hurt if you pull up a tiny bit of the crust in the process of merging the frostings. 

Brown Butter Pecan Bars from Out of the Box Baking

Sprinkle the top of the frosting with one cup of chopped pecans. 

Brown Butter Pecan Bars from Out of the Box Baking

Place back in the oven and bake for 30 minutes. 

Remove from the oven once the topping looks golden. 

Brown Butter Pecan Bars from Out of the Box Baking

Place on cooling rack. This one will probably take an hour or so to “set” so be patient! 

Once the bars can be handled, remove them from the pan. This will require a sharp knife or bench scraper to loosen the sticky caramel bits from the edge of the pan.

Brown Butter Pecan Bars from Out of the Box Baking

Cut into squares.

Brown Butter Pecan Bars from Out of the Box Baking

They’re delicious warm, or at room temperature. They’re also good cold. (Just don’t refrigerate them in the pan or you’ll never get those sticky edges loose!)

Brown Butter Pecan Bars from Out of the Box Baking

However you serve these, you’ll be glad you made them! They’re delicious. (More about that below.) 

Brown Butter Pecan Bars from Out of the Box Baking

Store leftovers (what leftovers?) at room temperature in an air-tight container or covered with plastic wrap. I don’t recommend freezing these bars. 

What to Expect from these Bars

Brown Butter Pecan Bars from Out of the Box Baking

It’s pecan pie in bar form, y’all! That’s exactly what these tasted like, right down to the sticky pecan pie filling! (Those pecan pieces were crunchy and delicious!)

If you love butter, these bars are going to blow you away. They’re rich with that brown butter flavor. Delicious! 

The toasted pecans send this one over the top. I happen to be a pecan fanatic, which is why I wanted to put the pecans in the oven for the final bake, so that they would be toasty and delicious. 

These bars reminded me so much of pralines! I think the caramel frosting was a great addition, which took the praline flavors over the top and also added that sticky component you love in pralines.

Brown Butter Pecan Bars from Out of the Box Baking

If you’re not a huge coconut fan, don’t worry! There’s very little of it in the single can of frosting. You’ll barely notice it with all of the pecans in there.

All in all, I have to say this recipe was an amazing dessert: Brown butter. Toasted pecans. A lovely butter pecan crust. . .and all of that frosting baked into the mix, causing sticky earthquake-like eruptions? Yes, please!

Y’all, this one’s over the top. It’s perfect for fall (or the holiday season), but I think it would be delicious any time of year. And even though it’s technically a dessert, you could serve it any time of day. (I think these would be fun at a brunch or an afternoon tea.) 

No matter when you serve them, you can do so with pride, knowing your guests will think they’re absolutely delicious! 

Variations on this Recipe

You don’t have to serve this dessert in bar form. It’s very dump-cake like when it comes out of the oven, so you could scoop it into bowls warm and add a scoop of ice cream. Delicious!

Other Fun Ideas:

It’s fun to start with butter pecan cake mix but if you don’t have one, don’t fret. Here are some great choices: 

White cake mix: If you have a simple box of white (or yellow) cake mix, those will work! The brown butter and pecans will help liven things up. You can add a couple tablespoons of light or dark brown sugar and an extra quarter cup chopped pecans. 

Spice cake mix: This recipe would be delicious made with spice cake. Those fall spices would pair perfectly with the brown butter. 

Carrot cake mix: Same comment as above. Brown butter and carrot cake? Yes, please! (Talk about warm flavors, perfect for fall!) 

Chocolate Chips: If you like a fudgy pecan pie throw in a cup of chocolate chips before baking. (Yum!) If you do this, sprinkle the top with sea salt when it comes out of the oven!

Other Brown Butter Favorites from Out of the Box Baking

If you love the warmth of brown butter, we’ve got you covered with a host of great recipes. Here are a few fan favorites: 

That’s it for this post, friends! I hope you enjoyed this delicious brown butter pecan pie bars recipe. 

If you make this recipe and love it, don’t forget to leave a review and a comment below. And while you’re at it, go ahead and pin some photos to your Pinterest boards!


See this recipe at

Full Plate Thursday 

Weekend Potluck

The Lazy Gastronome

Busy Monday 


Learn more about doctored cake mixes, the theme of this blog. 

For the master list of all doctored cake mix recipes on this site, visit Doctored Cake Mix Recipes, Master List. 


About the Author

Janice Thompson is an author, baker, and all-around mischief maker! She has overcome a host of baking catastrophes, including a toppled wedding cake, to learn more about the baking process. Janice has published over 150 books for the Christian market but particularly enjoys writing recipes and baking devotions. To learn more about Janice or to drop her a note, visit her About the Author page.

Easy Brown Butter Pecan Bars

Easy Brown Butter Pecan Bars

Yield: 15
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes

In this post I’m going to show you how to make the most delicious fall treat ever—brown butter pecan bars! They come together so easily and are loaded with buttery pecan flavor!

Ingredients

  • 1 box butter pecan cake mix
  • 1 stick butter (salted or unsalted, your choice)
  • 2 room temperature eggs
  • 1 canister caramel frosting
  • 1 canister coconut pecan frosting
  • 1 cup chopped pecans

Instructions

  1. How to Make Brown Butter Pecan Bars
  2. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. 
  3. Remove foil topping from canister of caramel frosting and place in the microwave for 10 - 20 second or until softened and loose. Set aside.
  4. Prepare a 9x13-inch dish by spraying it with non-stick spray, then putting down a piece of parchment paper as you see in the photo. Lightly spray the paper. 
  5. Place stick of butter into In a small saucepan on the stove and heat over medium heat until it melts. Lower the heat and stir as it turns golden in color. (This might take a few minutes. Don’t let it burn!) 
  6. You might see a few caramelized bits at the bottom. That’s fine! We’ll call those “Golden Nuggets.” They give these bars so much flavor! 
  7. Set butter aside to cool. (You don’t want to use it hot.) 
  8. Once butter has cooled, mix up your batter this way: Place cake mix, cooled/melted butter, and eggs in a large mixing bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer with paddle attachment. Mix well. 
  9. Fold in 1/2 cup of the chopped pecans.
  10. Your batter should be cookie dough consistency. 
  11. Press the dough into the bottom of the prepared dish.
  12. Add softened caramel, smoothing out as best you can.
  13. Place in preheated oven and bake for 10 minutes. 
  14. While it's baking: Soften canister of coconut pecan frosting in the microwave for 10 - 20 seconds. Set aside.
  15. After ten minutes of baking, remove partially baked crust from oven and place on wire rack. Be careful not to burn yourself! The caramel layer is hot.
  16. Spoon the frosting onto the top of the melted caramel. Swirling the two together was messy but fun. It won't hurt if you pull up a tiny bit of the crust in the process of merging the frostings.
  17. Sprinkle the top of the frosting with one cup of chopped pecans. 
  18. Place back in the oven and bake for 30 minutes. 
  19. Remove from the oven once the topping looks golden. 
  20. Place on cooling rack. This one will probably take an hour or so to “set” so be patient! 
  21. Once the bars can be handled, remove from pan. This will take a sharp knife or bench scraper to loosen the sticky bits from the sides.
  22. Cut into squares.
  23. Serve warm, or at room temperature. They’re also good cold. (Just don't refrigerate the bars while in the pan or you'll never get the sticky bits loosened!)
  24. However you serve these, you’ll be glad you made them! They’re delicious. (More about that below.) 
  25. Store leftovers (what leftovers?) at room temperature in an airtight container or covered with plastic wrap. I don’t recommend freezing these bars. 
Nutrition Information:
Yield: 15 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 317Total Fat: 17gSaturated Fat: 8gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 8gCholesterol: 45mgSodium: 355mgCarbohydrates: 40gFiber: 2gSugar: 24gProtein: 3g

The nutrition information is a product of online calculators. I try to provide true and accurate information, but these numbers are estimates.

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