Pecan Pralines

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!

  • Prep time: 10 minutes
  • Cook time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: Makes about 2 dozen


  • 2 cups pecan halves
  • 1 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 cup light cream
  • 2 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • Pinch of salt (optional, omit if using salted butter)
  • 1 teaspoon brandy or vanilla (optional)


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.

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

3 Cook sugars, baking soda, light cream to 235°F: Mix together white and brown sugar and baking soda 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.

4 Add 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).

5 Remove the mixture from the heat and stir in the brandy and pecans until well coated. Continue stirring to cool slightly (about 30 seconds).

6 Quickly drop by 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 3 to 5 days.

Click on the comments you'd like to print with your recipe. Grayed out comments will not print.


  • Thomas

    It took three attempts and a better 3qt saucepan. These are outstanding! Just learning the dynamics of cooking sweets. I make two batches of these every week now. Even the first two failed attempts were delicious but one too sticky and the other hard and grainy. I increased Vanilla to 1 1/2 tsp… the tasters have spoken. Learning how to spoon them out quickly and uniformly takes some practice. Definitely have everything you need measured out and pans ready to go. No phone calls or door bells at crunch time. I learned to make them from this page because I enjoy eating them and they are healthy for me in moderation. I suppose I enjoy the challenge. Rewarding to say the very least. Thanks for a winning recipe.


  • Diane

    Delicious! The secret is to cook them long enough but not too long! Cooking the sugar, baking soda and milk mixture on very low for 5-6 minutes before turning the heat up to medium also helps. It helps dissolve the sugars which makes for a better candy. Also, make sure your stirring the mixture a lot at the end until they are the right consistency and then quickly portion out your individual candies. This recipe is the best I’ve tried. Thanks for sharing!!!



    Delicious. Just make sure to add 2 pinches of salt to make the Candy Savory and not too sweet. Easy to make as well.


  • Withan Lemmon

    I made these on my gas stove for the first time and the first time ever they came out chewy. Is the temperature too low? Did they get to the temperature too fast (seemed fast)? Usually, if I mess them up they are too crumbly or never set up at all.

    • Steve-Anna Stephens

      It’s hard to say what went wrong, pralines are so temperamental! If they are chewy, it seems like they didn’t quite make it to temp. You might check your candy thermometer. Or, was it an exceptionally humid day? That can cause problems, too.

  • gracie

    You’re so very welcome

  • Gracie

    The weather plays a big part in making the pralines as well.

    • Steve-Anna Stephens

      You’re so right, Gracie! Heat and humidity are then enemy of perfect pralines. Thanks for the reminder!

  • Deborah

    I just finished making these and the recipe did not disappoint! They tasted just like the ones we had in Savannah and I think I’m in heaven. It’s going to be so hard to give these away as gifts!

    Deborah, I’m so happy you like the recipe! PS: I always conduct very elaborate “taste testing” before giving these away ; ) ~Steve-Anna


  • Lloyd Lodrigue

    Always remember when making pralines once you remove the pot from the stove keep stirring until it starts to thicken. If it is not stirred long enough it will always come out gooey. I was making the same mistake until a friend of mine told me what I was doing wrong.

  • heather

    Just tried these and they taste good, but came out grainy and not gooey. What did I do wrong?

    Hi Heather, it could be multiple things. First make sure your thermometer is working. Also, what is the altitude where you live? That can affect candy-making temperatures. Check out this post on candy thermometers from David Lebovitz – . There are a few links and comments about cooking at different altitudes if that is an issue. And, as Lloyd points out, that last step of removing from the heat and stirring for a minute or so is essential.

  • jessica

    Can you use heavy cream in place of light cream? Thanks!

    Hi Jessica, you should be able to. But if you want to make it as written, you can also just dilute the heavy cream a little with some milk. ~Elise

  • Esther

    I made these today but I don’t think they came out right… they are really tasty and sweet but grainy texture. I was looking for a way to mimick the pralines and cream ice cream from Baskin Robbins and the taste is there. I went ahead and broke into pieces and added to just made ice cream and I will let you know if it worked. Thank you for the added calories!

  • Jaimee

    Please help! I have tried this recipe twice without good results. My pralines don’t seem to harden correctly when they cool, they are gooey like caramel. I’ve noticed during both attempts that I reach 235 degrees WAY before the estimated 25 minutes is up…like 12 minutes in. If I wait for more time to go by, I’m at the wrong temp, but if I proceed once I hit 235 it’s as if it hasn’t cooked enough. What am I doing wrong?

    Hi Jamie, there’s no two ways about it – pralines can be tricky! Are you sure you’re using an accurate thermometer? It sounds suspicious that you are reaching the temp so soon. From a visual perspective, the mixture should be slightly foaming and “gasping” at 235 F. I’d recommend trying again with a different candy thermometer. Good luck! ~Steve-Anna

  • Amy (Minimally Invasive)

    Oh, yes. I’m a praline girl from way back! My dad makes them every year at Christmas, so I’m really looking forward to the visit even though he parted with his recipe a few years ago. (The secret ingredient is marshmallows, which make them really creamy.) Of course I had to share it with the world because why keep such a delicious treat all to yourself?

    I’ll be trying yours this year, too. One needs variety in her praline diet.

  • lisa

    Mmm, this sounds good and I cannot wait to try it! One question – what is light cream? I’ve never seen anything but heavy (whipping) cream or half n half…

    Also, will aluminum foil work instead of waxed paper?


    Lisa, light cream and half and half are basically the same. See this post for more info: I would stick with waxed paper. ~Steve-Anna

    • Withan Lemmon

      Also, put paper towels or towels under the wax paper so it doesn’t melt to the counter.

  • thunja

    oh please- oh please!!! let this recipe work for me!!! I have attempted praline (my very very favorite) on four separate occasions with NO success. I am now wondering if it’s ’cause of the humidity here in Central Florida-but then where on earth is it more humid than New Orleans?

    Good luck, Thunja! It’s humid in Alabama, too, and people make them all the time. Let us know how it goes – fingers crossed ; ) ~Steve-Anna

  • Dianne

    will these store longer? I usually make my Christmas cookies a week or so ahead. thanks

    Dianne, I think a week would be pushing it but if others have a different experience please chime in. If you try it, please let us know how it goes. In my house, they wouldn’t last a week! ~Steve-Anna

  • molly

    favorite memory? i grew up (in Tucson!) eating them every year ’cause my mom made them. i’m in the South now, and mom’s not here this year, but i’m gonna make them for my new family & in-laws with this recipe!