Recipes » Desserts » Homemade Southern Pecan Pralines

Homemade Southern Pecan Pralines

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5 from 2 votes
Homemade Southern Pecan Pralines are perfect little treats loaded with creamy, caramelized sugar toasty pecan crunch.
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Pecan pralines on a white serving plate.

Enjoy a taste of the south with these Homemade Southern Pecan Pralines. They’re perfect little treats loaded with creamy, caramelized sugar and just the right amount of toasty pecan crunch.

Pecan pralines on a white serving plate.

One of my favorite southern sweet treats has always been Pecan Pralines. Everyone who tries them falls in love and rightfully so — they’re SO good!

In pralines, you have a subtle tang of buttermilk, toasty notes from the pecans, and the sweet, luscious flavor of homemade caramel. The perfect trio! In this post I’ll go step-by-step to show you how to make these mouthwatering delicacies at home yourself!

Pardon me who I toot my own horn, but you won’t find a better Southern Pecan Praline recipe than this one. These candies are soft, chewy, and delicious! What makes these best is that they’re made with both sugar and a smidge of corn syrup which helps keep the sugar from crystallizing and results in a more tender texture.

I think pralines are generally associated with the South and, according to online sources, they evolved from recipes brought to Louisiana by French settlers from Canada.

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The original French confection known as “praline” was individual almonds coated in caramelized sugar. New Orleans chefs substituted pecans for the almonds, added cream to thicken the candy and that became what is known throughout the South as pralines. Our pralines have a creamy consistency, similar to fudge.

And, of course, there’s always the debate over whether the word is pronounced “pray-leen” or “prah-leen”. It’s pray-leens around here :-). Emphasis on the first syllable, please. With a little accent thrown in, too.

Pecan pralines on a white serving plate.

  • Because pecans and caramel.
  • Easy to make and everyone loves them!
  • Great homemade Christmas candy gift for family and friends.

Equipment You’ll Need

All you need for making pralines is a large saucepan, a candy thermometer, and a baking sheet lined with waxed paper. One-pot clean up!

About the Ingredients

A labeled, detailed photo of the necessary ingredients.
ingredient
notes
  • Sugar (You’ll need both white, granulated sugar and corn syrup.)
  • Corn Syrup (Light corn syrup such as Karo brand.)
  • Buttermilk (Whole buttermilk, not reduced fat.)
  • Pecans (Shelled, chopped pecans.)

You’ll find detailed measurements for all ingredients in the printable version of the recipe at the bottom of this post.

How to Make Southern Pecan Pralines

Let’s Go Step-by-Step

I always like to show you the photos and step-by-step instructions for my recipes to help you picture how to make them in your own kitchen. If you just want to print out a copy, you can skip to the bottom of the post where you’ll find the recipe card.

Cook the Sugar Mixture

Sugar, buttermilk, corn syrup in a saucepan.

Combine the sugar, buttermilk, corn syrup, baking soda and salt in a heavy bottomed, large saucepan.

Cook the mixture, stirring constantly, over low heat until the sugar has dissolved.

Continue cooking over low heat and stirring occasionally, until the mixture reaches 234 degrees (soft ball stage) on a candy thermometer (about 10 minutes).

Remove from heat and let stand for 5 minutes.

Add Pecans

Stir in the nuts, butter and vanilla. Beat with a wooden spoon until mixture just begins to lose its shine and begins to holds its shape. This will take anywhere from 4 to 6 minutes.

Form the Pralines

Working quickly, drop the pralines by spoonfuls onto wax paper. Let stand until completely cool and set. Makes about 24 pralines.

About the Corn Syrup

If you’re turning up your nose at the idea of using corn syrup, hear me out. There’s only 1 1/2 tablespoons of it in the recipe and it’s there to keep the granulated sugar from crystallizing. Besides, sugar is sugar, so if you’re going to make homemade candy, you may as well go all in.

In the case of pralines, texture is a big part and while you can make the caramel from just white sugar, unless you’re greatly experienced at candy making, you can easily run into problems. The addition of corn syrup is the easiest way to get a true southern style praline with less chance of messing it up.

Storage Information

When stored at room temperature in a closed container, pralines will last up to two weeks. They can be frozen in a freezer-safe container for up to two months. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight before serving.

Recipe Tips

  • You can substitute any type of nuts you like in pralines. Although pecans are traditional, almonds, peanuts, walnuts, cashews, and more all work very well.
  • To make pralines nut-free, simply omit the nuts completely.
  • Consider using sunflower seeds instead of nuts for a different nut-free version.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why are my pralines grainy?

There are several reasons why pralines may be grainy but the most likely is that you’ve either under cooked or overcooked the sugar. Pralines should be cooked barely to the soft ball stage (234 F on a candy thermometer – or use the cold water method if you’re comfortable with that). Also, you may not have stirred the caramel mixture long enough for it to “lose its shine.”

Why are my pralines runny?

Runny pralines typically happen when the sugar mixture isn’t cooked long enough. Make sure you take the mixture to the soft ball stage and that you accurately measure the ingredients.

Pecan pralines on a white serving plate.

Have you tried this recipe? I’d love for you to give it a star ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ rating in the recipe card and/or in the comments section further down. You can always stay in touch on social media by following me on FacebookInstagram, or Pinterest and Sign Up to Get my Newsletter, too!

Recipe

Pecan pralines on a white serving plate.

Homemade Southern Pecan Pralines

Homemade Southern Pecan Pralines are perfect little treats loaded with creamy, caramelized sugar toasty pecan crunch.
5 from 2 votes
Print It Rate It
Course: Desserts
Cuisine: Southern, Vintage
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes
Servings: 24 servings
Calories: 78kcal
Author: Lana Stuart

Ingredients

  • 1 ½ cups sugar
  • ½ cup buttermilk (whole, not reduced fat)
  • 1 ½ tablespoons light corn syrup
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • teaspoon salt
  • cup pecans chopped and toasted
  • 1 ½ teaspoons butter
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla

Instructions

  • Combine the sugar, buttermilk, corn syrup, baking soda and salt in a heavy bottomed, large saucepan.
  • Cook over low heat until the sugar has dissolved, stirring constantly.
  • Continue cooking over low heat and stirring occasionally, until the mixture reaches 234 degrees (soft ball stage) on a candy thermometer (about 10 minutes).
  • Remove from heat and let stand for 5 minutes.
  • Stir in the nuts, butter and vanilla.
  • Beat with a wooden spoon until mixture just begins to lose its shine and hold its shape (anywhere from 4 to 6 minutes).
  • Drop by spoonfuls onto wax paper.
  • Let stand until completely cool and set.

Notes

Ingredients:
  • You’ll need both white, granulated sugar and light corn syrup (such as Karo brand).
  • Whole buttermilk, not reduced fat.
Storage Information:
When stored at room temperature in a closed container, pralines will last up to two weeks. They can be frozen in a freezer-safe container for up to two months. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight before serving.
Recipe Tips:
  • You can substitute any type of nuts you like in pralines. Although pecans are traditional, almonds, peanuts, walnuts, cashews, and more all work very well.
  • To make pralines nut-free, simply omit the nuts completely.
  • Consider using sunflower seeds instead of nuts for a different nut-free version.
Grainy pralines — There are several reasons why pralines may be grainy but the most likely is that you’ve either under cooked or overcooked the sugar. Pralines should be cooked barely to the soft ball stage (234 F on a candy thermometer – or use the cold water method if you’re comfortable with that). Also, you may not have stirred the caramel mixture long enough for it to “lose its shine.”
Runny pralines typically happen when the sugar mixture isn’t cooked long enough. Make sure you take the mixture to the soft ball stage and that you accurately measure the ingredients.

Nutrition Information

Serving: 1 | Calories: 78kcal | Carbohydrates: 14g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 2g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 1mg | Sodium: 43mg | Potassium: 19mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 14g | Vitamin A: 18IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 8mg | Iron: 1mg

Nutrition information is calculated by software based on the ingredients in each recipe. It is an estimate only and is provided for informational purposes. You should consult your health care provider or a registered dietitian if precise nutrition calculations are needed for health reasons.

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— This post was originally published on December 19, 2011. It has been updated with new photos and additional information.

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25 Comments

  1. Hi! I just wanted to thank-you for a great recipe!!! I made these tonight and they are delicious! I think I over-chopped my pecans in the food processor, but the toasted flavor still came through. This is a wonderful recipe!!!

  2. I would chop the pecans first – then drizzle on some real maple syrup, stir and fry in a heavy pan until the liquid disappears. They would probably “candy-up” pretty good in a hot oven too ( but I’d watch them every second as it would only take a second for it to burn). Don’t mind me, I’ve been on a maple syrup kick – especially on sweet potatoes !

  3. Your pecan pralines look delicious! I have never made pralines before, but I can see that I really need to correct this oversite.

    1. For Christmas I made 2 batches of pralines with evaporated milk, like I had always used, but then I did Lana’s and they were so good, that I ended up throwing out the others. These are the best I have ever tasted. Just be sure and use a big sauce pan. It bubbles up real good. Made another batch last week, better than the first.