Bourbon Pecan Pralines

Bourbon Pecan Pralines

Easter is insanely early this year, which means we’ll be seeing those filet o’ fish commercials in just a few days. An early Easter also means that Mardi Gras sneaks up us; it’s less than a week away! While I’ve never been to New Orleans or a proper Mardi Gras celebration, I enjoy taking the time each year to experiment with some new-to-me recipes. I love reading up on the history of traditional Mardi Gras recipes and those native to the New Orleans area. This year, I decided to tackle pralines, which I have always seen associated with that particular region. If you like candied nuts and and a splash of bourbon, grab your candy thermometer and read on!

Bourbon Pecan Pralines

Not surprisingly, pralines originated in France, as almonds that were coated in caramelized sugar. French settlers eventually brought this recipe to Louisiana, and the natives replaced the almonds with pecans due to the abundance of pecans in the area, and added cream to the caramelized sugar in order to thicken the mixture. The resulting treats are pecans that essentially taste like they are coated with fudge. I added a splash of bourbon because, hey, Mardi Gras is a time to get a little crazy. So, you’ve got pecans, bourbon, a fudge glaze… all good in my book!

I will tell you that the pralines and I, we weren’t fast friends. I had to throw an entire batch away during my first go-round and do a little more research. As it turns out, pralines can be finicky (not surprisingly, since I have found that most things that require a candy thermometer can test my patience). I read through numerous websites for tips on making pralines and on my second try, turned out a successful batch. For all of the time I spend in the kitchen, nothing humbles me more than a good, old-fashioned candy recipe. Oddly enough, I can’t wait to tackle more of them!

What are your favorite Mardi Gras recipes?

Bourbon Pecan Pralines

One year ago: Baked Asiago and Caramelized Onion Dip
Two years ago: Sausage Dip
Three years ago: Cappuccino Cinnamon Squares
Five years ago: Homemade Granola

Bourbon Pecan Pralines

Yield: About 1 pound of bark

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 30 minutes

Delish praline-flavored candied pecans, spiked with bourbon. Perfect for your Mardi Gras celebration!


1¼ cups granulated sugar
¾ cup light brown sugar
½ teaspoon baking soda
Pinch of salt
¾ cup half & half
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 cups pecan halves, toasted
1 tablespoon bourbon (optional, can substitute 1 teaspoon vanilla extract)


1. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or non-stick silicone baking mats; set aside.

2. Stir together the sugars and baking soda in a 3-quart saucepan. Stir in the half & half and place over medium heat. Cook, whisking occasionally, until the mixture reaches 235 degrees F on a candy thermometer.

3. As soon as the mixture reaches 235 degrees, whisk in the butter until it is completely melted, about 1 to 2 minutes.

4. Remove the mixture from the heat and stir in the pecans and bourbon until the nuts are evenly coated. Switch to a wooden spoon and stir vigorously until the mixture thickens, about 3 to 5 minutes.

5. Working quickly, drop tablespoons of the mixture onto the prepared baking sheets. Let sit at room temperature until completely dry, about 20 minutes. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week.

(Recipe adapted from Simply Recipes)


29 Responses to “Bourbon Pecan Pralines”

  1. Averie @ Averie Cooks on February 6, 2013 at 12:47 am

    I can imagine they would be super finnicky to make. Boiling sugar, cream, nuts, and the delicate balance to get the coating thick enough to coat, not too thick like caramel, not be grainy, yes; lots of issues with candy-making. I am with you…it can be humbling! These look worth every minute you spent.

    Thanks for the heads up about Easter. I am so out of it. I had no idea. We haven’t even had Valentine’s Day yet 🙂


  2. Ellen on February 6, 2013 at 3:28 am

    Golly, I remember the revelation of my first praline (from a Mexican restaurant in Texas) and I remember the revelation that I like Bourbon (a sazerac at the now closed-sniff, sniff-restaurant Camponile here in LA) and so I can imagine these must be amazing…i am intimidated by making pralines but perchance bourbon will steer me through:)


  3. Terry on February 6, 2013 at 7:39 am

    I’m a good ol’ Southern girl who has had her mishaps with pralines and or other Southern confectionaries. Down here in Dixie it is the humidity that plays havoc with our sweet offerings…psst! never throw out mistakes ~ somethimes they end up tasting the best!!!


  4. Jennifer @ Peanut Butter and Peppers on February 6, 2013 at 7:41 am

    These look beautiful and I love your post about the history of the pralines!!


  5. Heather @ Sugar Dish Me on February 6, 2013 at 9:29 am

    I think I need a candy thermometer. Adventures in fudge making were disastrous over the holidays (but delicious no less) These look so so so amazing. Pralines are definitely a southern thing. Arby’s has already got a jump on the fish sandwich commercials! Thanks for making me do an Easter calendar check!


  6. Kelly M on February 6, 2013 at 10:05 am

    O.M.G. my mouth is watering! Love these!


  7. Annie @ Annie's City Kitchen on February 6, 2013 at 10:18 am

    Sorta embarrassing but I had no clue pralines were a Mardi Gras or Louisiana thing. However, any reason to make them is something I can get on board with. This also makes me realize that Paczki day is soon!


  8. Holiday Baker Man on February 6, 2013 at 10:24 am

    5:25 AM i need some of these!


  9. marie @ little kitchie on February 6, 2013 at 11:03 am

    These look AWESOME! My husband and I visit New Orleans a few times a year and always stock up on pralines while we’re there. Now I can try them at home! Thanks for sharing!


  10. Ashley @ Wishes and Dishes on February 6, 2013 at 12:15 pm

    I need to get a candy thermometer! These look amazing!


  11. Astrid Deetlefs on February 6, 2013 at 2:01 pm

    These look so yummy….but what is half & Half?? Cream or…??


    • Michelle on February 10th, 2013 at 2:03 pm

      Hi Astrid, Half & Half is a common ingredient here in the U.S., but it is essentially half whole milk and half heavy cream.


  12. Katie @ Blonde Ambition on February 6, 2013 at 3:38 pm

    These look amazing, and I love the touch of bourbon! I made caramel for the first time a few months back (without a candy thermometer!) and it wasn’t nearly as difficult as I anticipated. These will definitely be added to my neverending list of must trys!


  13. Pennie D on February 6, 2013 at 6:56 pm

    These look delish, making my mouth water just looking at the photos. Can’t wait to try them out.


  14. Hollie on February 6, 2013 at 7:17 pm

    yes please! Will be making these very soon.
    Thanks for sharing!


  15. JanetFCTC on February 6, 2013 at 8:15 pm

    Pralines are one of my favorite candies and yours looks yummy! I think I know something I’m making for a Valentines Day sweet… for the kids of course *coughcough*


  16. Erika @ The Hopeless Housewife on February 6, 2013 at 9:27 pm

    Gorgeous candy and I do love pecans!


  17. Elizabeth on February 6, 2013 at 10:19 pm

    Whatever you do, DO NOT drizzle some of the unthickened praline over a nearby bowl of vanilla ice cream your husband left for you on the counter. My job is done here.
    These were amazing with rum since I was out of bourbon…


  18. Cecily on February 7, 2013 at 12:25 am

    For Mardi Graas I normally make a King Cake but this year I did bananas foster. It was so much fun to try something new. Next year these are going in the goody bags.


  19. Caroline @ chocolate & carrots on February 7, 2013 at 8:01 am

    Growing up in the South surely makes you love pralines. Seriously the best candy and what a great addition! 😀


  20. Cookin Canuck on February 7, 2013 at 8:43 am

    I’m glad you stuck it out and made another batch because they look amazing!


  21. Laura Dembowski on February 7, 2013 at 8:46 am

    I’ve made pralines before but they weren’t as good as I had hoped. I’ll have to try your recipe. Of course bourbon makes everything better!


  22. Duoscreed on February 7, 2013 at 7:29 pm

    My candy thermometer broke during holiday baking… guess I need to replace it!


  23. Lauren on February 11, 2013 at 7:59 am

    Can’t wait to try these Pralines… I went out this weekend to get a candy thermometer 🙂 Thanks for the history on Pralines ~ xoxo~ Inspired


  24. Connie Higgins on February 25, 2014 at 11:23 am

    Yum, I can’t wait to try this recipe! To toast the pecans, do you just heat them in the oven first for a short while? How long and at what temperature would you suggest? Thanks!


    • Michelle on February 25th, 2014 at 8:53 pm

      Hi Connie, I toast them on the stovetop in a dry skillet over medium heat. Stir with a rubber spatula until they start to smell fragrant, usually 5 to 10 minutes.


  25. Skye MacAllister on November 26, 2014 at 1:05 pm

    Yummy recipe.

    My skin crawls every time I hear someone say “pray-leen.” It is “prah-leen,” for sure.

    Wonderful Christmas treat, going to make some now. 🙂


  26. chris on July 9, 2016 at 7:17 pm

    just curious if they’re meant to turn out super dark… for some reason, i seem to recall pralines as being more of a golden brown colour, but mine always turn out more of a dark caramel instead when i follow this recipe.


    • Michelle on July 11th, 2016 at 9:00 pm

      Hi Chris, Mine definitely turn out more of a dark golden color. As long as they don’t taste burnt, I think you’re okay!


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