The PERFECT Pecan Praline Recipe

Pecan praline is a deliciously sweet and salty caramelized candy that originated in New Orleans and is a combination of a cookie and a candy. Nuts and brown sugar combine to form a crispy confection that is a must if you crave a nutty, sugary treat.

The PERFECT Pecan Praline Recipe
Separatus (CC0), Pixabay

The secret is to work quickly once you’ve caramelized the sugar to get your praline treats onto parchment paper before they set.

You will also need a sturdy pot – one with a heavy bottom. Dutch ovens like the one at https://unocasa.com/products/enameled-cast-iron-dutch-oven work perfectly, as they hold heat evenly. If you use a pot that’s too thin, the candy will cook too quickly.

This recipe makes 48 pecan pralines.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 cups light brown sugar, packed tightly
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream (whipping cream)
  • 8 tablespoons of unsalted butter, cubed
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 4 1/2 cups raw pecans (halved)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

 

Method

Get out all of the ingredients before you begin, as you’ll need to work quite quickly once the sugar has caramelized. This includes setting out sheets of parchment paper and a candy thermometer. Have a soup spoon handy, too – you will use it for scooping out the mixture and putting spoonfuls onto the parchment paper.

Put all ingredients except for the pecans, salt, and vanilla into your Dutch oven or other sturdy pot, and heat over medium heat. Stir regularly until the mixture starts to boil and foam up. At this point, stir without stopping till the mixture gets to 236 degrees.

Remove the pot or Dutch oven from the heat and add the pecans, salt, and vanilla. Stir using a spatula or wooden spoon for about 3 minutes or till the mixture starts to thicken. The more you stir your candy, the thicker the mixture will get as it cools. Be careful not to wait too long – you want the mixture to be thick enough to put spoonfuls onto the parchment paper but not so thick that you can’t get it out of the pan.

Drop heaped spoonfuls onto the parchment paper, leaving space between each pecan praline. You need to work quickly, as when making candy, the mixture tends to harden fairly quickly.

Once your pralines are on the parchment paper, leave them to cool and firm up.

Note: If the mixture is too thin, stir some more till it thickens up. If it gets too cool, pop the pan back onto the burner and stir constantly till it thins enough to be able to scoop out more.

Once your pralines have cooled down, store them in an airtight container at room temperature. Your pecan pralines will keep for up to 5 days.

If you wish to freeze some of your pralines, you can do so: freeze them in airtight freezer containers, and thaw overnight at room temperature.

Pecan praline recipe FAQs

Do I have to use two types of sugar?

The combination of white and brown sugar will give you a smooth texture. If you only have white sugar, add a bit of baking soda so that the mixture caramelizes. Just know that the flavor won’t be quite the same, so you might want to add a few drops of caramel or another flavoring.

If you only have brown sugar, you’ll get a caramelized batter with a good flavor, but the texture will be grainier.

What if I don’t have whipping cream?

You could use milk, buttermilk, half and half, or even evaporated milk – anything goes. Try them all and see what you prefer.

Do I have to use pecans?

Pecans add a unique flavor to this recipe, but you could also use almonds if you wish. In fact, pecan pralines were originally made with almonds. Once the recipe made its way from France to America, people started using pecans.

Anything else I can add?

You could add some chocolate chips to this recipe for chocolate pecan pralines. Alternatively, you could dip your pecan pralines in some melted chocolate once they have firmed up. Put them back onto the parchment paper for the chocolate to harden.

What can I serve with pecan pralines?

Pecan pralines are fabulous to serve with tea or coffee or on top of your favorite flavor of ice cream.

Don’t worry if your pralines don’t turn out perfect

If your pralines don’t quite turn out how you expected, don’t worry. They can be tricky to make the first time around, so if you have bits of praline rather than neat cookies, use them as a crumbly ice cream topping. Or dip them in chocolate to make crunchy truffles!