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Pecan Pralines {Smooth and Creamy}

Smooth, creamy and filled with crunchy nuts. This pecan pralines recipe is similar to that of homemade fudge, with a melt in your mouth caramel-like flavor. These old fashioned pralines are absolutely addictive, so beware!

pecan pralines feature image.

If you have ever been to one of the wonderful homemade fudge and praline shops in the southern states, you will certainly understand why we had to figure out how to make these ourselves! If you follow our step by step instructions below, they are surprisingly simple to make. One of the great things about pralines is that you can make your favorite varieties once you get the process down.

Note: It’s best to make these in a controlled environment. It should either be made on a cool dry day or with the windows closed and the air conditioner running, as fluctuating temperatures and humidity will impact the outcome of your pralines. A too warm or humid day may leave your pralines sugary and grainy.

Why This Recipe Works?

  • Uses just a few readily available ingredients.
  • Comes together in 30 minutes.
  • Perfect for homemade gifts.
  • Make Ahead recipe.
  • Kid friendly.
  • A melt-in-your-mouth treat.
  • Can make in many flavor variations.
  • The Best Pecan Pralines ever!!!
second feature image of pecan pralines.

Main Ingredients

This recipe uses super easy ingredients that can be purchased from a local grocery store if they are not already in your kitchen. Read the Recipe Card for the measurements.

  • Toasted Pecans – Toasting the pecans will maximize the flavor and crunch of these tasty nuts. We use pecan halves but you can certainly use chopped as well. For a nut free version you can substitute sunflower seeds or pepitas. You can also swap pecans for toasted almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts, cashews, pistachios or peanuts.
  • Granulated Sugar / Brown Sugar – Both are needed to maximize the flavor profile and color of these southern pralines.
  • Baking Soda – Using baking soda in these southern pralines guarantees a smooth texture and rich, caramelly flavor. We add it before caramelizing the sugar as it aids in providing a lovely brown color as well as a sweeter taste.
  • Evaporated Milk – We love the more condensed and creamy flavor of evaporated milk. You can substitute heavy cream, buttermilk, milk, or even water.
  • Unsalted Butter – Unsalted butter is a staple in praline recipes as it helps form the silky smooth and creamy texture.
  • Vanilla Extract – Using vanilla extract enhances the flavor of these pralines with its sweet, perfumed aroma and woody flavor. You can also add any flavor of your choice, such as cinnamon, whole vanilla beans, or even pumpkin spice.
ingredient picture for pecan pralines.

Equipment

How To Make Pecan Pralines {Smooth and Creamy}

Step 1: Prep It

  • Set the oven rack to the middle position and preheat to 350 degrees F.
  • Line a baking sheet with parchment paper (not wax) and set aside. Also have a tablespoon or a small ice cream scooper handy for scooping out and dropping the pralines onto the sheet pan.
  • Test your candy thermometer for accuracy (i.e. water boils at 212° F / 100° C). If it’s a few degrees off, adjust the final candy temperature (240° F) up or down accordingly.

Step 2: Toast It

  • On a separate baking sheet arrange the pecans and toast in the preheated 350 degrees oven for 10 minutes; set aside.
toast the pecans.

Step 3: Caramelize It

  • Heat a medium heavy-bottom saucepan (4 quart) over medium low heat, add both sugars, baking soda and evaporated milk.
  • Using a wooden spoon, stir to dissolve the sugar. Once the sugar has dissolved, insert the candy thermometer. Cook, stirring occasionally until the thermometer reaches 240° F (soft ball stage), about 12-15 minutes.
caramelize the sugar, baking soda, and evaporated milk.

Notes:
Watch your temperature carefully, if the sugar mixture gets too hot (above 240°F) the candy will have a gritty texture. The caramelized sugar may splatter while you are stirring, it is best to wear a long sleeve shirt as a precaution.

important to check temperature while stirring.

Step 4: Butter It

  • When the candy has reached the correct temperature (240° F), remove the pot from the heat and add the cubed butter. Let the butter sit, without stirring, for 1 minute.
  • Next, add the vanilla extract, reserved pecans, salt and stir to combine.
add the butter and pecans to the mix.

Step 5: Stir It

  • With a wooden spoon, begin stirring continuously. As you continue mixing, the candy will lose some of its sheen and start to thicken.
  • Continue stirring and aerating the syrup until the pralines start to hold their shape. The candy will become increasingly harder to turn, it should lose some of its fluidity and start to come together in the pot; about 4-5 minutes. Careful not to overmix, as it will go from flowing to solid very quickly.

Note: Overmixing will quickly turn the candy rock solid and you will end up with gritty, grainy pralines. Undermixing will result in soft, runny pralines that will not completely harden. Once you’ve made a few batches, you’ll become aware to the changes in texture. Whether grainy or runny, they are not a fail. You can still enjoy them, especially on ice cream.

stir the candy mixture continuously.

Step 6: Drop It

  • Once the candy is holding its shape, using a tablespoon or small ice cream scooper, start dropping the pralines onto the prepared baking sheet. You will need to work as fast (and safely) as you can, as the pralines will start to set in the saucepan. 
  • If the pralines start to harden in the pan, you can salvage the candy by stirring in a teaspoon of boiling hot water, then continue scooping and forming the patties as quickly as possible.
drop the pralines on a baking sheet.

Step 7: Cool It

  • Allow the pralines to completely harden at room temperature; 30-45 minutes.
let the pralines cool.

Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week or freeze for up to 3 months. Just be sure to separate them by layering with wax or parchment paper.

These pecan pralines make great homemade holiday gifts or a treat anytime of year.

Other great dessert options are our ultimate chocolate chip cookies or apple crisp with pecan topping.

Why did my pralines come out crumbly?

There are two likely reasons why pralines come out crumbly. The first is if the praline mixture was overmixed, which will make the candy too hard. The other possible reason is that the temperature got too high during the caramelization process. It’s very important to use an accurate candy thermometer.

Why did my pralines come out runny?

There are two likely reasons why pralines come out runny. The first is if the praline mixture was undermixed, in this case the candy will not harden enough. The other possible reason is that the temperature never reached the appropriate level during the caramelization process. It’s very important to use an accurate candy thermometer.

Why do my pralines have white spots on them after cooling?

These white spots on the pralines are completely normal, and just the result of the sugar starting to crystalize.

Pecan Pralines {Smooth and Creamy}

Pecan Pralines {Smooth and Creamy}

Yield: 15-18 Pralines
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Additional Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 5 minutes

Smooth, creamy and filled with crunchy nuts. This pecan pralines recipe is similar to that of homemade fudge, with a melt in your mouth caramel-like flavor. These old fashioned pralines are absolutely addictive, so beware!

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups pecan halves, toasted
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 cup evaporated milk
  • 4 tablespoon unsalted butter, cubed
  • 2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Instructions

  1. Set the oven rack to the middle position and preheat to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper (not wax) and set aside. Also have a tablespoon or a small ice cream scooper handy for scooping out and dropping the pralines onto the sheet pan.
  2. Test your candy thermometer for accuracy (i.e. water boils at 212° F / 100° C). If it's a few degrees off, adjust the final candy temperature (240° F) up or down accordingly.
  3. On a separate baking sheet arrange the pecans and toast in the preheated 350 degrees oven for 10 minutes; set aside.
  4. Heat a medium heavy-bottom saucepan (4 quart) over medium low heat, add both sugars, baking soda and evaporated milk. Using a wooden spoon, stir to dissolve the sugar. Once the sugar has dissolved, insert the candy thermometer. Cook, stirring occasionally until the thermometer reaches 240° F (soft ball stage), about 12-15 minutes.
  5. When the candy has reached the correct temperature (240° F), remove the pot from the heat and add the cubed butter. Let the butter sit, without stirring, for 1 minute. Next, add the vanilla extract, reserved pecans, salt and stir to combine.
  6. With a wooden spoon, begin stirring continuously. As you continue mixing, the candy will lose some of its sheen and start to thicken. Continue stirring and aerating the syrup until the pralines start to hold their shape. The candy should lose some of its fluidity and start to come together in the pot; about 4-5 minutes. Careful not to overmix, as it will go from flowing to solid very quickly.
  7. Once the candy is holding its shape, using a tablespoon or small ice cream scooper, start dropping the pralines onto the prepared baking sheet. You will need to work as fast (and safely) as you can, as the pralines will start to set in the saucepan. 
  8. Allow the pralines to completely harden at room temperature; 30-45 minutes.

Notes

  1. Watch your temperature carefully, if the sugar mixture gets too hot (above 240°F) the candy will have a gritty texture.
  2. The caramelized sugar may splatter while you are stirring, it is best to wear a long sleeve shirt as a precaution.
  3. Overmixing will quickly turn the candy rock solid and you will end up with gritty, grainy pralines.
  4. Undermixing will result in soft, runny pralines that will not completely harden. Once you've made a few batches, you'll become aware to the changes in texture. Whether grainy or runny, they are not a fail. You can still enjoy them, especially on ice cream.
  5. If the pralines start to harden in the pan, you can salvage the candy by stirring in a teaspoon of boiling hot water, then continue scooping and forming the patties as quickly as possible.
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