Traditional Southern Pecan Pralines
Although the recipe for Southern Pecan Pralines only requires 5 ingredients, the science is in the cooking process. If you’re willing to put in the work, this buttery treat will be well worth it!
Loaded with pecans, vanilla, and of course butter, this treat is filled with notes of brown sugar and will literally melt in your mouth.
Growing up in Louisiana there were a few legendary treats and aside from the popular King Cake, Bread Pudding, and Beignets, Pecan Pralines (or “Pecan Candy” as we call them) are a culinary staple.
This delicacy was birthed from chefs in New Orleans and from there has spread across the South.
Even today people in my hometown are willing to pay top dollar to anyone who knows how to make this awesome treat. Why? Well, this recipe will take some time and a little patience — and may even take a few tries to perfect it. But with a little practice, you’ll have this recipe down in no time!
Although the pecan candy only consists of five ingredients total, the science is all in the cooking process and most importantly, the temperature.
So what exactly are pecan pralines?
Pecan pralines are broken pieces of candy made using sugar, evaporated milk, pecans, butter, and vanilla extract. You will also find these in the form of a small circle.
The texture of pralines are soft when they are initially poured, but firm up as they cool. The resulting texture is a buttery confection that melts in your mouth. Aside from the pecans, this is not hard candy.
How to make pralines:
The first step is to coat a surface with butter or use parchment paper. You won’t have time to do this once the candy is done so get your pouring area ready ahead of time.
To begin making the candy, add 1 tablespoon of butter, evaporated milk, and sugar into a large pot. The pot should be deep enough so the sugar doesn’t boil over during the cooking process. You’ll want to bring this to a boil.
Continue to stir until the temperature reaches around 235 degrees. I’ll admit, I make this all by sight (and is how my grandmother taught me), but I would advise on using a candy thermometer. (By “sight” this typically takes around 10 minutes).
Once you reach this temperature, lower heat to medium bringing candy to a slight bubble. At this point, your candy should have a caramel color.
Add in the vanilla extract and 3 tablespoons of butter and continue to stir. Lower your heat to medium-low.
This is where the elbow grease comes in…
Be prepared to stir continuously for around 25-30 minutes. The candy will thicken during this time. The longer you stir, the thicker the candy will become. You want a thick consistency, but not so thick where you can’t pour the candy easily.
Once the candy thickens and develops a matte finish, you will fold in the pecans and remove the pot from the heat.
Spread the candy evenly on the surface to reach your desired thickness, allow it to cool, then break it into pieces. You can also use a cookie scooper to place your candy in a circular form (I just prefer the raw look of broken pieces).
Pecan Praline Candy is perfect to enjoy during your holiday season and also makes for the perfect gift.
Here are a few more desserts you might enjoy:
- Mini Sweet Potato Pies
- Moist Lemon Glazed Pound Cake
- Sweet Potato Hand Pies
- Bananas Foster Bundt Cake
- Ooey Gooey Pineapple Butter Cake
- Sweet Potato Cheesecake
Southern Pecan Pralines
- Total Time: 40 minutes
- Yield: 8 1x
Consisting of 5 ingredients, these melt-in-your-mouth Southern Pecan Pralines are loaded with pecans, butter, vanilla, and brown sugar.
- 2 cups Sugar
- 12 oz. Evaporated Milk
- 4 tbsp Butter
- 5 oz. Pecan Pieces
- 1 tbsp Vanilla Extract
- Coat a surface with butter or use parchment paper.
- Add 1 tbsp butter, evaporated milk, and sugar to a large pot and bring to a boil. When the candy reaches 235 degrees, you can lower the heat to medium to bring the candy to a light bubble. Continue to stir. This should take around 10 minutes.
- Stir in vanilla extract and 3 tbsp of butter. Continue to stir. Lower heat to medium-low.
- After stirring for around 25-30 minutes the ingredients should begin to thicken. You are looking for a matte finish with a thick and creamy consistency, but not too thick where it would be difficult to pour. Fold in the pecan pieces and remove from the heat.
- Pour the candy on the surface spreading evenly to reach your desired thickness. Allow the candy to cool and cut/break into pieces.
Be sure to use a non-stick cooking pot as the cleanup will be a lot easier.
You can use a candy thermometer to ensure your sugar reaches the correct temperature.
- Prep Time: 5 minutes
- Cook Time: 35 minutes
- Category: Dessert
- Method: Stovetop
- Cuisine: Southern
- Calories: 538
- Fat: 22g
Keywords: Southern Pecan Pralines, Pecan Candy, Pecan Pralines
The easiest simplest way to make pecan candy. I never saw my father use brown sugar when making candy so when I saw this one I was so excited candy came out perfect.
Thank you! Glad it came out as you expected. Thanks for trying the recipe!
Soooo, I can’t put it back in the pot if it’s too chewy right?
Unfortunately, once the candy is removed from the pot, there is no going back. If the candy is chewy, make sure you have given it enough time to cool completely.
I used a candy thermometer and set a timer after the 3rd step. I also used a cold glass of water to drop the candy in and tried forming a ball the easiest way to master is the candy thermometer cooking it between the softball and hardball stage take it off fold in your pecans and just watch how it seizes up but before it gets to hard pour in ya pan spread it out and let cool
Softball stage is more the melt in your mouth
Hardball is that more firm type of dusty pecan candy
Trust it will take practice but this is the closest to home I have found and I am from Louisiana a city nearby New Orleans so it’s more of a preference when it comes to this delicate staple.
We are creole folks and this recipe is the exact recipe I’ve been looking for because if I ask a family member to make it they always say it’s too much work! The directions are clear and I’ve now made 3 batches so far.
LaVada thanks for sharing! The feedback definitely helps me in making sure the instructions are concise so thanks!