Sweet and creamy Pecan Pralines are a quintessential New Orleans treat. These pecan candies are easy to make and will make you feel like you’re in the Big Easy.
I have mentioned before that my grandmother was born and raised in Mississippi. So far south, in fact, that she has always joked that my great-grandmother would go to New Orleans just to buy a spool of thread.
Yep, they were just that close to the Big Easy.
When I was 10, the whole family (with the exception of my poor father, who had to work) took a week-long vacation to New Orleans.
My grandmother showed us the sites, took us to all of her favorite restaurants, and – of course – made sure we indulged in all of the foods famous to the city.
My most poignant memories of the trip (not including an accidental walk down Bourbon Street at 10 pm) include the following:
Mountains of beignets at Cafe Du Monde (I clearly hit culinary nirvana early in life).
Being freaked out by my uncle trying to get my cousins and I to suck the juice out of the crawfish heads at brunch. My cousin Liz, who was 9 at the time, thought this was perhaps the best thing she had ever done.
And, not to be forgotten, watching pecan pralines being made on big marble slabs at Aunt Sally’s.
So when I saw a recipe for Pecan Pralines in Joy the Baker’s cookbook, I knew that I wanted to make them and send them to my grandmother.
I only have faint memories of how Aunt Sally’s pecan pralines actually tasted. This recipe tasted wonderful to me, but I knew my grandmother would be a much tougher critic, having grown up eating pralines.
Folks, these Pecan Pralines passed the Grandmommie test. In fact, she told me later that she simply could not stop eating them. I’d call that one a success.
WHAT ARE PECAN PRALINES?
Pralines in general are a French confection. But pecan pralines as most Americans know them were invented in New Orleans.
New Orleans chefs took the original French recipe, which used almonds, and substituted pecans. They also added cream, giving the candy a creamy consistency.
Pecan pralines, sometimes known as “pecan candy,” are made with brown sugar, cream, butter and pecans. They have a creamy, fudge-like texture and are very sweet.
HOW DO YOU MAKE PECAN PRALINES?
Unlike some other candy we have made, such as Homemade Peanut Brittle, Brown Sugar Caramels, or Brown Sugar Fudge, Pecan Pralines have shockingly few steps.
There’s no having to cook the sugar, add ingredients, and bring the candy to another temp. Instead, we have just one target temperature.
All of the ingredients except the pecans and vanilla go in a saucepan. Bring everything to a boil and stir until it reaches the “soft ball” stage.
Take the pan off the heat and stir in the pecans and vanilla before dropping spoonfuls onto a parchment-lined baking sheet.
You’ll want to move quickly to make the Pecan Pralines before the sugar starts to harden. But if that is the hardest part of the recipe, then you’re doing pretty well.
And that’s it! Seriously. Wait 30 minutes and you’ll be rewarded with deliciously sweet and creamy homemade Pecan Pralines.
MARDI GRAS RECIPES
I am sharing my Pecan Praline recipe today as part of a Mardi Gras event with several of my food blogger friends. Make sure to check out their New Orleans-inspired recipes below for a true Mardi Gras feast!
Hurricane Matthew (A Hurricane Drink Recipe) by Off the Eaten Path
Vieux Carre Cocktail by Feast + West
No Churn Mardi Gras King Cake Ice Cream by The Speckled Palate
Cajun Spicy Tomato Soup by Online Pastry Chef
Jambalaya Balls by Love & Flour
Shrimp Hush Puppies by Stetted
Traditional Polish Pączki by The Crumby Kitchen
King Cake Donut Holes by Cake ‘n Knife
Easy Shrimp Po Boys by Simply Whisked
Easy Jambalaya by The Secret Ingredient Is
Mardi Gras King Cake by Nancie’s Table
Homemade Beignets by Kudos Kitchen by Renee
- 1 cup packed brown sugar
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 cups pecan halves
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Set aside.
- Place a medium saucepan with a candy thermometer over medium heat. Make sure the thermometer is not touching the bottom of the pan. Add everything except the pecans and vanilla extract. Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring constantly. When the mixture reaches 238 to 240 degrees, or the "soft ball" stage, remove the pan from the heat.
- Add in the pecans and vanilla, stirring for about a minute or until the mixture cools just enough to spoon onto the prepared pans. Working quickly, using a tablespoon to generously spoon pralines onto the prepared pans. Ideally, the pecans will be piled on top of one another and the sugar will spread slightly. (If you allow your mixture to cool too much before portioning out, your candies will not spread as much, if at all, though they will still taste the same - they just might not look as pretty.)
- Allow candies to cool and harden at room temperature for at least 30 minutes before removing from pan. Pralines will keep, in an airtight container, for up to a week.
I have always wanted to go to New Orleans. It is very high up there on my travel bucket list!
These pralines look delicious – somehow I failed to notice them in Joy’s cookbook, but now I think I have to make them!
You’ve got to! They’re so easy and good.
Without a doubt, that was my favorite vacation/trip ever. We had so much fun, and I’m glad you got to share Grandmommie’s love for New Orleans and the food. I’m also (sort of) glad you chose to send the pralines to her instead of me, because I wouldn’t have shared and I would have to lose even more weight than I do. Maybe we could make them for Christmas. 🙂
Yours look much better than mine–yours look appetizing! I think I need to try them again…and congrats on the pepperoni rolls making it into the top 9. 🙂
Wanna know a secret? This was the second batch I made. The first batch cooled a bit too much and didn’t spread out as much as I had wanted. I worked a lot faster on this batch and they turned out much prettier =) And thank you!
oh i love pecans.. and love pecan pralines too. love nuts in general. I wonder if I can substitute whole milk for the cream?
I’m honestly not sure. Every recipe I looked at used cream. You could possibly try it with half and half if you are really against using cream, but, again, I can’t guarantee any outcomes. Let me know if you try it!
Whole milk is what Stephie’s great-grandmother used to use–also known as “sweet milk”, so I *think* you would be fine.
I thought sweet milk was the condensed kind
My great-grandmother was raised in the early 1900s, so the lingo was a little different back then. 🙂
My grandmother was of an age with her great-grandmother and called what we know as just plain ol’ milk “sweet milk” as well, because back then you were differentiating between buttermilk or sweet milk. Drove me nuts as a kid! My grandmother didn’t like drinking “sweet milk” and only used it for cereal and coffee, but drank a glass of buttermilk like it wasn’t the grossest thing in the world! How times and tastes change! 😉
Thanks for sharing this recipe! I actually never even tried pralines until about one year ago, when I visited Savannah (a beautiful city!) And I loved them so much! 🙂
I’ve never been to New Orleans(I’ll have to make a trip one day), but being native of Savannah, Ga, I must say that they are the ‘business’ here. #RiverStreetSweets!
Yep, sounds like the ones my mom used to make.. going to give it a try. Her’s also had heavy cream and two types of sugars so I think this might be it..
SO darn tempting! I need an excuse to whip up a batch ASAP!
I can’t wait to make these!! Reminds me of things my grandma used to make when I was little!
I need to make these for Valentine’s Day!
never made candy before. I need to give it a try!
These look delish!
I went to NOLA twice last year just to eat pralines and drink hurricanes! This recipe will save me a plane ride 😉
I love me some pralines, and sucking the juice out of crawfish heads seems like the worst idea ever. I’m sticking with the candy!
Hahaha, right?! Gimme all the sweets, none of the crawfish head innards.
Hi! Should I use dark or light brown sugar? And the cream does not curdle when heated from the acidity of the brown sugar? Or it does not matter? Thank you for such a easy recipe! I love pralines.
Hi there! I use light brown sugar. I have never had an issue with the cream curdling. Cream tends to be more stable than milk in that regard. I hope you enjoyed!
Can you add chocolate to this? If so, how much?
Hi Wes – I have never tried to add chocolate to this. I think your best bet would be to dip them in chocolate, but I’m not 100% sure how they would turn out. If you give it a try, let us know how it worked for you!
I know it’s been a few yrs since you shared this recipe but it is timeless. I am on the Florida Gulf Coast but if I close my eyes when I bite into one of these, I am immediately at Aunt Sally’s eating a praline in New Orleans. I’ve tried to find and make pralines like hers for yrs but always come up short. This recipe is perfect and extremely easy to make. Thank you!
I love hearing this, Susan! Thanks so much for sharing!