Whenever fresh berries are abundant at the grocery store, I love to make dairy-free crumb bars like these berry pecan bars. The recipe is layered with a nutty, wholesome crumble and a fruity filling made with two types of berries and orange juice. It’s also an easy dessert to customize, based on the ingredients you have on hand.
You’ll Crumble for these Dairy-Free Berry Pecan Bars
This recipe with photo for berry pecan bars was originally shared with us by Fresh from Florida. We’ve recently updated it and added nutrition facts plus options and tips in the FAQs below.
Can I Use Other Berries?
Definitely! Ripe raspberries and blackberries are great, if you don’t mind seeds. But most types of berries will work great. You can even do a mix of berries with apples or stone fruit, like firm peaches.
Should I Add Lemon Juice to the Fruit Filling?
You don’t need to! The orange juice adds that citrus pop. If you’re able to use fresh squeezed orange juice, that will taste even better!
What Other Nuts can I use Instead of Pecans?
Walnuts would be ideal, but cashews, sliced almonds, or macadamia nuts would also be tasty. You could also use a mix of nuts, using up whatever leftovers you have in your pantry!
How Can I Make this Recipe Nut-Free?
You could substitute oats for the nuts. This should work fine for the bottom crust and crumble layer. Or you could use our nut-free recipe for Blueberry Crumb Bars.
Can I Use Brown Sugar instead of White Sugar?
You definitely can! I like brown sugar in the crumb crust and topping, but prefer white sugr in the fruit filling. But brown sugar will work in both, if you prefer.
How Can I Make Sugar-Free Berry Pecan Bars?
You can easily make refined sugar-free berry pecan bars by substituting coconut sugar or evaporated cane juice / sucanat for the sugars in the crust / topping and filling. You can substitute a liquid sweetener, like honey or maple syrup, in the fruit filling, but I would stick with a granulated sweetener for the crust / filling. I’m not experienced with sugar-free sweeteners. But I imagine sugar-free granulated sweeteners that are made for baking should substitute well.
How Can I Make Gluten-Free Dairy-Free Berry Pecan Bars?
We haven’t tested this recipe gluten-free, but it should work with your favorite gluten-free baking blend. I hear great things about King Arthur Measure for Measure. You can also substitute oat flour for the wheat flours, but you might need to add a bit more to get the right consistency. If you do opt for a gluten-free alternative, I recommend using the egg rather than an egg substitute. And let us know how it turns out!
Are these Berry Pecan Bars Healthy?
The definition of healthy varies from person to person. I would say these are healthier than most crumb bar recipes. For starters, they’re made with part whole wheat flour. They are also filled with berries, which are well known for fiber, vitamin C, and other potent antioxidants. And the pecans are a good source of Vitamin E, and may even be linked to protecting the nervous system.
How Can I Make these Berry Pecan Bars without a Food Processor?
If you don’t have a food processor, you can briefly grind the pecans in a spice grinder with some of the flour (to prevent clumping). Add the ground pecans, rest of the flours, sugar, and salt to a mixing bowl. Cut in the butter alternative or shortening with a fork or pastry cutter until coarse crumbs form. Finally, stir in the egg, oil, and extracts mixture. Proceed with the recipe as directed.
Special Diet Notes: Summer Berry Pecan Bars
By ingredients, this recipe is dairy-free / non-dairy, peanut-free, soy-free, and vegetarian.
- 2 cups + 1 cup strawberries, hulled, diced, and divided
- 2 cups + ½ cup blueberries, divided
- ½ cup sugar
- ¼ cup orange juice
- ¼ cup cornstarch
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup pecans, chopped and divided
- ¾ cup all-purpose flour
- ¾ cup whole wheat flour (can sub more all-purpose flour)
- ½ cup sugar
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ cup cold dairy-free buttery sticks (1/2 stick) or palm shortening
- 1 large egg (see our Egg Sub Guide for egg-free options)
- 2 tablespoons oil
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ¼ teaspoon almond extract (can sub more vanilla extract)
- In a large saucepan, whisk together the 2 cups strawberries, 2 cups blueberries, sugar, orange juice, and cornstarch, until the starch is dissolved.
- Place the pan over medium heat, and bring the mixture to a simmer, stirring constantly. Simmer and stir for about 2 to 3 minutes, or until thickened.
- Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the remaining 1 cup diced strawberries, remaining ½ cup blueberries, and vanilla extract.
- Preheat your oven to 400°F and grease a 9x13-inch baking dish and line it with parchment paper.
- Add ¾ cup chopped pecans, both flours, sugar, and salt to your food processor. Pulse together until the nuts are finely ground. Add the butter alternative or shortening to the mixture and pulse until well incorporated.
- In a small mixing bowl, whisk the egg, oil, vanilla extract, and almond extract together.
- With the motor running on your food processor, add the egg mixture to the pecan mixture. Continue to pulse until it begins to clump, 30 to 45 seconds.
- Measure out ½ cup of the mixture and put it in a separate bowl with the remaining ¼ cup chopped pecans. Set this aside for the topping.
- Transfer the bottom crust mixture remaining in your food processor to your prepared baking dish. Spread it evenly and press firmly into the bottom.
- Evenly spread the fruit filling over the crust.
- Sprinkle the top of the fruit filling with the reserved pecan topping mixture.
- Bake the bars for 15 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 350°F and bake until the crust and topping are lightly brown, about 25 to 30 minutes more.
- Let the bars cool completely before cutting. Optionally serve with dairy-free vanilla ice cream.