Pecan Praline Candy
This Pecan Praline Candy tastes just like the ones they sell in the tourist areas of Charleston, Savannah, New Orleans, and other Southern cities. This sweet treat only takes 15 minutes to make, and is a fraction of the cost of the fancy confection shops. Enjoy these while fresh and warm, or give as gifts for friends and family!
The first time I had ever tasted a praline was at River Street Sweets in Savannah, Georgia. And if you’ve ever been to Savannah before, you know that every other store is a praline candy shop.
They lure you in with the warm sugary samples and then you go to buy them and….WHAAAAAAAAT?!???! $18 DOLLARS A POUND??!?!?! That’s a lot of money for some sugar and nuts!!!! I could go buy myself some dry aged beef at Whole Foods for that kind of money!
My husband and I discussed whether or not we should buy some to take home, and I resolved that I would instead go home and figure out how to make them.
And you know what, these are better anyway. They have more nuts in them and more flavor, and it’s a shockingly easy recipe anyway.
Tips for Best Results
Have everything ready to go – Once the sugar mixture hits the proper temperature, you’ll want to move quickly, because it begins to firm up as it cools. You don’t want to be scrambling to measure out the right amount of nuts, or preparing your parchment paper.
Use toasted pecans – I admit that I don’t always toast the nuts, because sometimes it feels like an annoying extra step. But, it’s true that any nut will always taste better when it’s toasted. Feel free to use pecans straight out of the bag, or toasted, but know that toasted has a slight leg up, and will give you more crunchy pecans.
Use good butter and cream – It’s incredible how different brands make wildly different tasting butters. Some don’t taste like much of anything, while others have incredibly rich flavor, that slightly sweet dairy fat flavor all humans love. Buy one that has delicious flavor. I like Kerrygold most, but Plugra and Vermont Creamery also make great butter. If you look up butter taste tests online, you’ll see that they are definitely not all equal.
These pralines are really delicious when enjoyed warm, and that is how the Southern shops serve them when they give out free samples. But, they also keep really well, and make great gifts for friends and family.
Ingredients You’ll Need:
The Pecan Praline Candy ingredients you’ll need are light brown sugar, unsalted butter, heavy cream, and pecans, but I also like to add vanilla bean and whiskey to the mix. No corn syrup!
While the last two ingredients are not main ingredients that are structurally essential for the recipe, they add absolutely wonderful flavor, so I consider them essential in that way. Their presence makes a huge difference.
Do you really need vanilla bean?
It’s not required, but I love the flavor it adds, and also seeing all the little specks throughout the praline.
If you wish to skip the vanilla bean, you may omit it entirely, or add 1 tsp of vanilla extract instead.
How to Make It Step by Step:
In a large saucepan or dutch oven, combine brown sugar, butter, heavy whipping cream, whiskey, and the scraped out vanilla bean seeds.
Cook this mixture, stirring frequently with a spoon or spatula, to 250 degrees F over medium-high heat, at which point it will be quite bubbly and foamy and brown.
This is right between the soft ball stage and the hard ball stage.
You can use a candy thermometer for this, but I just use in my instant-read thermometer that I use for my meats and such.
Also, do not use a wooden spoon, which is porous and can sometimes impart off-flavors into the candy mixture.
Immediately add 2 cups of pecan halves, to stop the cooking.
Immediately stir the pecans for 45 seconds, to allow the praline mixture to cool slightly and also to aerate the sugar mixture. You will notice the praline mixture start to become more firm.
Drop spoonfuls of the pecan praline candy on a piece of parchment paper, using a spoon or a cookie scoop, moving as quickly as possible because the praline mixture will keep setting as it cools.
Note: do not confuse wax paper for parchment paper. If you dollop the hot praline pecans mixture onto wax paper, it is likely to melt the wax slightly. This does not happen with parchment paper, which is coated in silicone.
Let the pralines cool for a few minutes, then enjoy while warm.
This is when they are best, and how they hand out the free samples at all those Southern shops. When these Southern pecan pralines are warm and fresh, they practically melt in your mouth!
How to Serve Them
Your homemade pecan candy can certainly be enjoyed on its own, but I also like to serve them with other bite-sized treats like Homemade Chocolate Truffles or Peanut Butter Balls. An assorted platter like that is wonderful for entertaining and for the holiday season.
These are also amazing when crumbled and stirred into homemade ice cream.
For more giftable food recipes, see 12 shipping-friendly food gift ideas for Christmas and beyond. Enjoy!
Keep at room temperature for up to 2 weeks, storing the candy in an airtight container only after it has been completely cooled.
Yes, keep in an airtight container for up to 2 months.
Absolutely! I’ve made this many times with walnuts, but you can really use any kind of nut you’d like here, including almonds, hazelnuts, peanuts, and pistachios.
This will make your homemade candy look very pale, and it won’t have the same texture since there is no molasses in white sugar.
You may use salted butter or add a pinch of salt to the mixture if you show a salty sweet flavor.
Pecan Praline Candy
- 1.5 cups brown sugar packed
- 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter
- 2 tbsp whiskey optional
- 1/2 a vanilla bean* innards scraped out and added to mixture
- 2 cups pecans**
- Have the pecans already measured out in a bowl and set next to the stove.
- Place a piece of parchment paper on a tray, and set that next to the stove as well.
- Combine all the ingredients except the pecans into a heavy bottomed saucepan, and heat over medium high, stirring continuously with a spoon, until it reaches 250F on an instant read thermometer. Depending on the heat output of your stove, this may take between 8 and 12 minutes.
- Turn the heat off, add the pecans, then stir the mixture for 45 seconds.
- Dollop spoonfuls onto the parchment paper in mounds, moving quickly, as the sugar mixture will become firmer and firmer as it cools.
- Let the pralines cool for a few minutes, then enjoy. They are particularly wonderful when enjoyed warm and fresh.
Nutrition is estimated using a food database and is only intended to be used as a guideline for informational purposes.
Post updated with new photos, writing, and recipe details in February 2022. Originally published in November 2010.