Pecan Pralines

Pecan pralines are more than the sum of their parts: They're a rich, crunchy, candy-coated dream! This praline recipe is great for a holiday cookie tray or to ship to a friend.

pecan praline recipe

Simply Recipes / Mihaela Kozaric Sebrek

'Tis the season for pecans! Please welcome Alabama belle Steve-Anna Stephens as she shares this classic Southern pecan praline candy recipe. ~Elise

Growing up in our house it was generally understood that if there were no more pecans in the can of salted mixed nuts, it was because I got to it first. As a rule, I’m more inclined to go for the salty than the sweet.

In fact, I’m not much for candy in general, but anything with sugar and nuts is tempting. And if the nuts happen to be pecans, well, get out of the way.

So if you’re from the South (or if you’ve ever visited the South) and you’ve tasted pecan pralines, you would be correct in assuming that these are one of my all-time favorite sweets.

The crunchy pecans and the rich, buttery sauce give them a distinct flavor that takes me straight back to the South, no matter where I am.

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How to Make Pecan Pralines

What Are Pralines?

Candied nuts have been around for ages, but the praline is generally considered to hail from France. French settlers brought the original recipe—which consisted of individual almonds coated in caramelized sugar—to Louisiana, where chefs substituted locally abundant pecans for the almonds and added cream to make what is now known throughout the South as pecan pralines.

A bowl of praline candy.

Simply Recipes / Mihaela Kozaric Sebrek

How to Make Pralines

Back home in Alabama, pecans are easy to come by. When I moved to Tucson, imagine my delight when I discovered pecan groves thriving in the desert!

There are as many different ways to make pecan pralines as there are ways to pronounce them. Some traditional recipes call for evaporated milk, while others use cream, regular milk, or even buttermilk.

Some people prefer chopped pecans instead of pecan halves, and some like to lightly toast the nuts first. You can make them with or without vanilla, or add your favorite liqueur.

Keep in mind that these are candy, not cookies, and they are very sweet. Do you have a favorite recipe for, or a favorite memory of, pecan pralines?

Tips for Making the Best Pralines

  • Wear long sleeves to protect your arms from stray candy bubbles. Sugar burns are painful, so take care, especially with children around.
  • It’s better to start on a moderate heat setting and raise the temperature slowly than to cook the candy too hot, too fast. If a hot drop lands on your arm, rinse it off immediately and rub the spot with an ice cube to prevent a burn.
  • I highly recommend using a candy thermometer, preferably digital, to carefully monitor the temperature during the cooking process.
  • Traditional Southern recipes say never make these on a rainy day! Humidity and moisture can affect the finished texture of the candies.
Southern pralines on parchment paper with a bite taken out of the middle one.

Simply Recipes / Mihaela Kozaric Sebrek

How to Store Pralines

Allow the pralines to cool completely, then store between layers of waxed paper in an airtight container. They will keep at room temperature, stored in a cool and dry place, for at least five days or longer.

Pralines ship very well, so they make a good care package gift!

How to Freeze Pralines

To freeze pralines, wrap them in aluminum foil and place them in a zipper top bag or freezer container. The pralines are still a bit delicate when frozen, so don't stack other things on top of them and make sure they're in a part of the freezer where they won't get smashed.

To serve, remove the pralines from the freezer and let them thaw on the counter for several hours before unwrapping.

Pecan pralines on parchment paper.

Simply Recipes / Mihaela Kozaric Sebrek

Mastered Pecan Candy? Try These Next!

Pecan Pralines

Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 30 mins
Total Time 40 mins
Servings 24 servings

If you can't find light cream, substitute half-and-half, which has a similar fat content.

Wear long sleeves to protect your arms from stray candy bubbles. Sugar burns are painful, so take care, especially with children around.

It’s better to start on a moderate heat setting and raise the temperature slowly than to cook the candy too hot, too fast. If a hot drop lands on your arm, rinse it off immediately and rub the spot with an ice cube to prevent a burn.

I highly recommend using a candy thermometer, preferably digital, to carefully monitor the temperature during the cooking process. Traditional Southern recipes say never make these on a rainy day!

Ingredients

  • 2 cups pecan halves

  • 1 1/4 cups white sugar

  • 3/4 cup brown sugar, packed

  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda

  • Pinch kosher salt, optional (omit if using salted butter)

  • 3/4 cup light cream

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter

  • 1 teaspoon brandy or vanilla, optional

Special Equipment

  • Candy thermometer

Method

  1. Toast the pecans:

    This is an optional step, which gives the nuts a richer, nuttier flavor. Preheat oven to 300°F. Place pecan halves on a baking sheet in a single layer and toast for 10 minutes, turning once. Let cool.

    toasting pecans in oven for praline candy

    Simply Recipes / Mihaela Kozaric Sebrek

  2. Prepare the baking sheets:

    Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or Silpat and set aside.

  3. Cook the sugars, baking soda, and light cream:

    Mix together white and brown sugar and baking soda (and pinch salt, if using unsalted butter) in a 3-quart saucepan. Stir in light cream and place over medium to medium-high heat. Clip a candy thermometer to the side of the pan.

    Cook, whisking occasionally, until mixture reaches 235°F on a candy thermometer (about 25 minutes). Slight foaming and occasional bubbling in the mixture (it looks like it’s gasping) are normal at this stage.

    how to cook sugar for pecan pralines

    Simply Recipes / Mihaela Kozaric Sebrek

    sugar mixture for praline candy

    Simply Recipes / Mihaela Kozaric Sebrek

    Simmering caramel to make a pecan praline recipe.

    Simply Recipes / Mihaela Kozaric Sebrek

    Simmering candy mixture to right temperature pecan praline recipe

    Simply Recipes / Mihaela Kozaric Sebrek

    Simmering candy mixture to make a pecan praline recipe.

    Simply Recipes / Mihaela Kozaric Sebrek

    235°F temperature candy mixture for pecan praline recipe

    Simply Recipes / Mihaela Kozaric Sebrek

  4. Add the butter:

    As soon as the temperature reaches 235°F, add the butter and stir until the butter is fully melted and the mixture is well combined (about 1 minute).

    Adding butter to candy mixture to make a pecan praline recipe.

    Simply Recipes / Mihaela Kozaric Sebrek

  5. Remove the pan from the heat and add the pecans and brandy or vanilla:

    Off the heat, stir in the brandy or vanilla, if using, and pecans until well coated. Continue stirring to cool slightly (about 30 seconds).

    Adding vanilla extract for pecan praline candy

    Simply Recipes / Mihaela Kozaric Sebrek

    what are pralines with pecans

    Simply Recipes / Mihaela Kozaric Sebrek

  6. Quickly drop mixture by the spoonfuls onto prepared baking sheets:

    Let cool completely until the pralines lift easily from the pan (about 45 minutes).

    Store in an airtight container for three to five days.

    how to Spoon pecan pralines onto parchment paper.

    Simply Recipes / Mihaela Kozaric Sebrek

    Overhead view of a baking sheet of praline candy.

    Simply Recipes / Mihaela Kozaric Sebrek

Nutrition Facts (per serving)
145 Calories
9g Fat
17g Carbs
1g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 24
Amount per serving
Calories 145
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 9g 11%
Saturated Fat 2g 9%
Cholesterol 7mg 2%
Sodium 33mg 1%
Total Carbohydrate 17g 6%
Dietary Fiber 1g 3%
Total Sugars 17g
Protein 1g
Vitamin C 0mg 1%
Calcium 18mg 1%
Iron 0mg 1%
Potassium 54mg 1%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate. In cases where multiple ingredient alternatives are given, the first listed is calculated for nutrition. Garnishes and optional ingredients are not included.