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Praline Pecans

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Praline pecans are a rich, buttery, and melt in your mouth. These are flavored with vanilla but are also great with rum and coconut.

overhead of praline pecans neatly arranged on white background

These praline pecans are the perfect treats for holiday gift-giving. It’s an easy recipe but does require a candy thermometer. A thermometer is crucial since temperature plays an important roll in candy making.

Not only are pralines easy but they can be flavored with almost anything. I chose to use vanilla but rum and coconut are also great additions. I’ve even seen some with bacon!

A mixture of sugar, milk, and butter make up the base of the candy the coarsely chopped pecans are added at just the right moment.

A little corn syrup is used to help prevent the sugars from crystallizing during cooking. This keeps the candy smooth and creamy when it melts in your mouth.

While pralines are traditionally made with pecans, you can use other nuts such as almonds.


Why this recipe works

  • The perfect ratio of ingredients is used to create the best flavor.
  • Allowing the candy to reach accurate temperatures during cooking will yield the smoothest texture that melts right in your mouth.
  • Using coarsely chopped pecans instead of pecan halves gives a better candy to nut balance.
praline pecans with small pieces broken off of one

Praline pecans recipe

I’ve become hooked on pralines, pronounced PRAW-leans. They are a Creole adaptation of the classic French caramelized almonds.

The combination of brown sugar, butter, and milk produces a soft, sugary nut patty. In New Orleans, cooks are flavoring pralines with anything from rum and coconut to bacon.

The texture is not too soft but not too hard. The caramel-y flavor pairs nicely with pecans. And the entire candy just dissolves on the tongue. It is phenomenal over ice cream!


Ingredients

The ingredients are simple and most likely you already have them in your pantry. Feel free to scroll to the bottom for the full ingredient amounts.

  • Pecans: The star of the show. Toast them for more flavor!
  • Sugar: Brown sugar and white sugar are what I chose to use.
  • Butter: Unsalted butter is preferred so you can control the amount of salt in the recipe.
  • Milk: Whole milk works best with candy making.
  • Corn syrup: I like to add corn syrup to help prevent the sugars from crystallizing during cooking. It’s not the same as high fructose corn syrup but you can omit it if you don’t feel comfortable using it.
  • Vanilla: I always add a splash of vanilla but you can choose any extract flavor you wish. Rum or bourbon is also great!
  • Salt: I always add a little salt to balance the sweetness. I opt for ½ teaspoon but you can use a little more depending on taste.

To bake these praline pecans you’ll need:

  • Candy thermometer: You will need a thermometer for this recipe. A candy thermometer or an instant-read thermometer will work.
  • Heavy bottomed saucepan: A heavy-bottomed saucepan will absorb and distribute heat from a stovetop burner more evenly.
  • Baking sheet: Any baking sheet will work since there’s no baking involved.
  • Silicone mat: Line the baking sheet with a silicone mat to prevent the candy from sticking. Parchment paper will also work.

How to make praline pecans

As mentioned before, it’s super easy to make pralines. But you will need to make sure the mixture reaches accurate temperatures throughout the process. Don’t try to make the recipe without a thermometer!

praline pecans on a baking sheet line with silicone mat

Step 1: Make the candy base

To make the base for the candy, combine white sugar, brown sugar, milk, and butter in a heavy-bottomed saucepan and cook over high heat until the mixture reaches 230°F. Make sure to stir continuously while it’s cooking.

As soon as it reaches temperature, stir in toasted pecans and continue to cook while stirring until the mixture reaches 237°F. Immediately remove it from the heat and stir in vanilla extract and salt.

Allow the mixture to sit without stirring until it cools to 212°F. This will take about 10 minutes. Once it has cooled, use a wooden spoon to stir vigorously until the mixture thickens and looks satiny. It should be thick enough to spoon out.

pecans on baking sheet, ingredients for praline base in sauce pan, and praline pecan mixture in saucepan

Step 2: Portion the praline candy and cool

Scoop small spoonfuls of the mixture onto a baking sheet lined with a silicone mat. If the mixture is too thin and spreads more than you want, you can stir it a little more.

Alternatively, if the mixture begins to set too much as you are scooping, you can place it back on the warm burner to keep the mixture warmer. Don’t turn the burner on!

Once portioned out, let the praline pecans sit until cooled and firm.

I find it best to use two small tablespoons to scoop the candy out. Scoop with one and use the second one to push the mixture off onto the baking sheet.

overhead of praline pecans on baking sheet with silicone mat
praline pecans arranged on white background with one broken in half so center is visible

If you like this pecan praline recipe, try these other candy recipes:

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overhead of praline pecans neatly arranged on white background

Praline Pecans

Yield: about 20 pralines
Prep Time: 25 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 55 minutes

Melt-in-your-mouth praline pecans are an old-fashioned Southern treat. With minimal ingredients and just a few minutes, you make this delicious candy in your very own kitchen.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup (200 g) granulated sugar
  • 1 cup (210 g) light brown sugar
  • ¼ cup (56 g) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • ½ cup (120 ml) whole milk
  • 1 tablespoon light corn syrup - Note 1
  • 1 ½ cups (175 g) chopped pecans
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon salt

Instructions

  1. Line two baking sheets with a silicone mat or parchment paper; set aside.
  2. Preheat oven to 350°F. Spread chopped pecans onto an unlined baking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes. Set aside to cool completely.
  3. Combine both sugars, butter, milk, and corn syrup in a large saucepan.
  4. Cook over high heat, stirring constantly until the temperature reaches 230°F on an instant-read thermometer.
  5. Add the pecans and continue to cook while stirring until the temperature reaches 237°F.
  6. Remove from heat, stir in the vanilla and salt.
  7. Let the mixture sit, without stirring, until cooled to 212°F. Once cooled, stir vigorously until thickened to a satin consistency. It should be thick enough to spoon out.
  8. Quickly spoon 1 ½ tablespoon portions onto the prepared baking pans and allow them to cool until firm.
  9. When pralines are cool and firm, store in an airtight container.

Notes

  1. Light corn syrup is used to prevent the sugar from crystallizing during cooking. It is not the same as high fructose corn syrup. You can use glucose in place of corn syrup or you can omit it altogether.
  2. If the mixture is too thin and spreads more than you want, stir a little bit more. If the mixture starts to cool too much as you’re scooping, place it back on the warm burner (but don’t turn it on) and let it keep the mixture warmer. I find it helps to stir the mixture after every few scoops.
  3. Mix it up! Try using different extract flavors or mix-ins to give your pralines a unique flavor.

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Nutrition Information:
Yield: 20 Serving Size: 1 praline
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 158Total Fat: 8gSaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 6gCholesterol: 7mgSodium: 59mgCarbohydrates: 21gFiber: 1gSugar: 20gProtein: 1g

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet. Since different brands of ingredients have different nutritional information, the values shown are just an estimate.

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Method by Anna Olson.

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