Pecan Praline, a hallmark of Southern confectionery, is more than just a candy; it’s a delightful blend of textures and flavors that melt in your mouth. This pecan praline recipe is simple yet produces results that could rival any high-end candy store. The rich, caramel-like flavor fused with the nutty crunch of pecans creates a treat that’s irresistibly good. Whether you’re a seasoned candy maker or new to this sweet adventure, this recipe is bound to be a crowd-pleaser.

I still remember the first time I ever tried praline. I was vacationing in South Carolina and drove over to Charleston for the afternoon. My husband and I stumbled upon a candy shop, of course I had to go in. The smell from the street was a sweet, warm, caramelized scent. I soon found out the smell was freshly made praline. This shop happen to be known for their praline. The store attendant immediately offered us a sample of the pecan praline, as soon as it hit my taste buds, I was in heaven. I knew I needed to recreate this in my own kitchen.

Freshly made pecan praline

The Chemistry of Praline

The magic of praline lies in the caramelization process. When sugars (brown and granulated) are heated, they undergo a series of complex chemical reactions. The Maillard reaction, responsible for the golden-brown color and rich flavor, is a reaction between amino acids and reducing sugars. Additionally, the use of buttermilk introduces a slight acidity, aiding the caramelization process and adding a subtle tang to the flavor profile.

What makes praline so special?

Pralines are special because of their unique combination of textures and flavors – a melt in your mouth, caramelized sugar base combined with the crunch of toasted pecans.

Can I make pralines without a candy thermometer?

Technically yes, but it’s tricky. The soft-ball stage (235 degrees) is crucial for perfect pralines. Without a thermometer, you can use the cold-water test, but its less accurate.

What is the cold-water test?

To do the cold-water test you need a small bowl or cup of cold water, not with ice cubes, just cold from your tap. Drip a bit of the hot candy mixture into the cold water. If it balls up and slightly hardens, it is, in theory, at the right soft ball temperature.

Why did my pralines turn out grainy?

Graininess typically occurs if the sugar crystallizes. This can happen due to over-stirring or not having a smooth melt in the initial stages. Do avoid this, while you are cooking the mixture to soft-ball stage, just stir periodically. When you are whipping the candy after it is cooked, only stir for 2 minutes.

Are pralines gluten free?

Yes, classic pralines are gluten-free as they contain no wheat or flour products.

Freshly made pecan praline

What is in Pecan Praline?

Pecans

The star ingredient, pecans not only add crunch but also a rich, buttery flavor.

Brown Sugar & Granulated Sugar

These sugars create the caramel base. Brown sugar adds a deeper flavor due to its molasses content.

Buttermilk

Its acidity aids in the caramelization process and adds a slight tang.

Baking Soda

Helps in achieving the right texture by adding a chemical reaction and releasing carbon dioxide gas, incorporating tiny air bubbles into the candy.

Unsalted Butter

Adds creaminess and richness to the candy.

Vanilla Extract

When using pure vanilla extract, as opposed to imitation flavoring, it will add the deep rich flavor that everybody wants in a treat.

Storage Tips

Pralines should be stored in an airtight container at room temperature. Avoid humid environments as moisture can make them sticky. Properly stored, the candy will last up to two weeks. Their texture and flavor may change slightly over time.

Can you freeze pralines?

Yes, they can be frozen in an airtight container for up to 3 months. Thaw at room temperature before serving.

Making Ahead

Pralines are perfect for making ahead of time, especially for events. They ho9ld their texture and flavor well over a few days.

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Why make pecan praline?

Pralines are perfect for holiday seasons, especially Christmas and Thanksgiving, due to their warm, comforting flavors. They also make great gifts and party favors for special occasions.

Recipes You May Love

Pecan Praline

Author: Madison Reid
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Servings: 16
This pecan praline is a melt in your mouth confection. This candy might be the best homemade candy you ever try.

Ingredients 

  • 2 cups pecans
  • 1 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 6 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Instructions

  • Spread the pecans out on a microwave safe plate, microwave the nuts for 1 minute to toast. Rotate the nuts and do 1 more minute if you like them extra toasty, but be careful not to burn. Some microwaves are very strong.
  • In a large saucepan combine sugars, buttermilk, baking soda, butter and vanilla extract
  • Stir the ingredients together with a wooden spoon over medium low heat until everything is melted together
  • Add a candy thermometer to the pan and stir periodically until the mixture reaches 235 degrees
  • As soon as it reaches 235 degrees, remove the pan from the heat. Add the toasted pecans and stir with a wooden spoon.
  • Stir the mixture for 1-2 minutes until is starts to slightly thicken. You can tell it is thickening because the mixture will look a little more cloudy.
  • Be careful to not over mix or the candy can seize. Don't mix longer than 2 minutes.
  • Spoon the candy into little circle shapes on a parchment paper and let them set for 10 minutes or so. You should have about 16 circles of candy.
  • Enjoy!

Nutrition

Calories: 284kcal Carbohydrates: 41g Protein: 2g Fat: 14g Saturated Fat: 4g Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g Monounsaturated Fat: 6g Trans Fat: 0.2g Cholesterol: 13mg Sodium: 91mg Potassium: 100mg Fiber: 1g Sugar: 40g Vitamin A: 163IU Vitamin C: 0.1mg Calcium: 45mg Iron: 0.5mg

Have you tried this recipe?

I’d love to see it! Follow @_mrs.madi_ on Instagram and tag your photos with #mrsmadi.

Titled Pecan Praline