Pecan pie with orange zest and smoked salt

How to Chef-ify Pecan Pie

Chef Rory Macdonald shares the pro pecan pie recipe from his cookbook, "BAKE," incorporating candied orange and smoked salt.

The ICE chef of Chanson Patisserie, Hakkasan and Gordon Ramsey fame shares his pro techniques for balanced and smoky Thanksgiving pie.

As a British guy living in the states it took me a few years to understand Thanksgiving, but now it’s one of my favorite holidays – if I’m not working!

Pumpkin and pecan pies are not very common in the UK so I had to try a lot of them to work out what they should really taste like. I enjoy pumpkin pies, however, I tend to taste too much fall spice, which overwhelms the pumpkin flavor. Similarly, many pecan pies that I have tried are so sweet, you can only have a small slice, which is a shame because the flavor is so good. Apple was my favorite pie for many years, but I converted to pecan after I altered some traditional recipes.

Three steps in Chef Rory's pie making process

For my version, I add orange to cut through the richness and smoked salt to help balance the sweetness and give a slight smokiness, which really works well with the pecan flavor. I smoke my own salt to control the strength of the saltiness and how that affects the final dish. The idea for this recipe is to enhance the existing flavors and not overpower them with the taste of smoke. This can be done in larger batches and stored in airtight containers for future use, but over time it will lose some of its smokiness.

I use Maldon sea salt, the Breville smoking gun, hickory wood chips and a canning jar. I fill the bottom of the jar with the sea salt, add the smoke via the handheld smoking gun, smoke it for around 10 minutes and then remove the nozzle and seal the lid. I leave this for around an hour (longer is okay but will result in a stronger flavor) before use.

For an optional elevated garnish, peel an orange and remove any excess pith from the skin. Julienne it into fine strips, blanch in boiling water three times to remove some of the bitterness and then reheat gently in a simple syrup.

If you want to bring something a little different to the table this year, try this recipe from my new cookbook, "BAKE."


Pecan Pie with Orange and Smoked Salt

Yields 1 10-inch tart


  • 75 grams unsalted butter
  • 100 grams demerara sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 175 grams Tate & Lyle's Golden Syrup
  • 175 grams maple syrup
  • 1 dash vanilla extract
  • 2 orange zest
  • 8 grams Maldon sea salt
  • 300 grams pecan halves


  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. Using a stand mixer with a beater attachment, beat together butter and brown sugar until soft and fluffy.
  3. Swap beater attachment with whisk and scrape down sides with a rubber spatula. Whisking on a low speed, gradually stream in the eggs until fully incorporated.
  4. Add both syrups, vanilla, orange zest and the smoked salt, whisking well, until combined. Stop the mixer, remove the bowl and using a wooden spoon, stir in the pecan halves.
  5. Pour the pecan filling into a 10-inch pre-baked tart shell, place onto a baking sheet and bake on the middle shelf of the preheated oven for 30 minutes until just set.

See more Thanksgiving recipes from ICE chefs and take a hands-on, holiday cooking or baking class at our New York campus.

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