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.
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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 while 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. According to online sources, they evolved from recipes brought to Louisiana by French settlers from Canada and became a treasured part of our southern comfort foodways.
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.
❤️ Why I Love This Recipe
- Because pecans and caramel.
- Easy to make and everyone loves them!
- Great homemade Christmas candy gift for family and friends.
🛒 Ingredient Notes
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🥄 How to Make Southern Pecan Pralines
Cook the Sugar Mixture
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.
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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 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.
❓ Questions About Pecan 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.
More Questions? I’m happy to help!
If you have more questions about the recipe, or if you’ve made it and would like to leave a comment, scroll down to leave your thoughts, questions, and/or rating!
Thanks so much for stopping by!
Homemade Southern Pecan Pralines
- 1 ½ cups sugar
- ½ cup buttermilk (whole, not reduced fat)
- 1 ½ tablespoons light corn syrup
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ⅛ teaspoon salt
- ⅔ cup pecans chopped and toasted
- 1 ½ teaspoons butter
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- 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.
- 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.
- Substitute any type of nuts you like. Although pecans are traditional, almonds, peanuts, walnuts, cashews, and more all work very well.
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 healthcare provider or a registered dietitian if precise nutrition calculations are needed for health reasons.
— This post was originally published on December 19, 2011. It has been updated with new photos and additional information.