Pecan pies are notoriously difficult to slice neatly. Pecan pies have a layer of pecans – often whole pecans, rather than chopped nuts, because they give the pie a prettier look – sitting on top of a sweet, tender custard. While you can cut most pies with a sharp chef’s knife, the knife will simply push the pecans through the custard before cutting through the nuts, leaving you with a slice of pie that is far from picture perfect.
But you don’t have to accept an imperfect slice of pecan pie because there is a way to make sure those slices always turn out neatly.
To cut a pecan pie perfectly, there are two important things you need to do. First, only use a serrated knife to cut a pecan pie. Serrated knives can saw through pecans much more easily than a chef’s knife, which can only chop the nuts (and chop them right through the rest of the pie). Cut through the pecans slowly, then push down to slice through the custard. Second, you need to freeze your pie before slicing it. The pies does not need to be frozen solid, but it does need to go into the freezer for at least 20-30 minutes before slicing it. That short period is enough to firm up the pie and allow you to saw through those pecans without disturbing the custard. The pie won’t be too cold to eat, but letting the pie sit at room temperature (after slicing it) for a couple of minutes will warm it right back up.
The difference between the two slices above is clear. The piece on the right was cut when the pie was at room temperature, while the piece on the left was cut after the pie had been lightly chilled. While I would still be happy to eat both pieces, you can’t deny that the slice on the left (and at the top of the post) is the one that you would rather serve to dinner guests!