Pecan Pralines Recipe
With crunchy roasted pecans, a splash of bourbon, and homemade caramel, these pecan pralines are easy to make and even easier to eat! They are a wonderful addition to a holiday tray and make a delicious gift.
Not growing up in the south, it wasn’t until adulthood that I tried old fashioned pecan pralines. The French developed the original pralines using almonds coated in sugar, which were very popular as early as the 17th century.
These candies were eventually brought to Louisiana, where cream was added to the recipe, and pecans would be used instead of almonds. Of course, this leaves us with an incredibly soft, caramel-covered nut. Thanks to a bit of vanilla and bourbon, these pecan pralines have a warm sweetness that I just love.
What kitchen tools will I need for this recipe?
- A basic candy thermometer is really important here. There are a lot of options on Amazon, and you don’t need anything fancy – as long as it works.
- Two (2) baking sheets lined with parchment paper or silicone mats.
- Three-to-four-quart saucepan
- A thick wooden spoon
- Large wire whisk
What pecans do I use and how do I prep them?
It will be no surprise that we need good pecans for this recipe! We want halves here, and they need to be roasted. You can purchase them that way, or roast them simply at home. Note that if you are buying them – try to avoid salted ones, so it doesn’t impact the flavor of the pecan pralines.
If you are roasting the pecans at home, this is how you do it:
- Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
- Lay the pecans on the baking sheet, spreading them out evenly.
- Bake for 7-10 minutes, shaking or stirring occasionally to avoid burning.
- Take them out of the oven and cool them before using in this recipe.
How to make pecan pralines
This is the step-by-step instructions for how you’ll make your pralines:
- Prep your baking sheet by lining it with parchment paper (or silicone mats).
- Stir together the sugars and baking soda in a 3-quart saucepan.
- Slowly pour in the half & half, and place over medium heat.
- Whisk occasionally until the mixture reaches 235 degrees F on your candy thermometer.
- At 235 degrees F, add the butter and whisk in for 1-2 minutes, or until fully melted.
- Pull the saucepan off the stove and onto a safe surface. Then, stir in the pecans and bourbon until all the nuts are coated
- Quickly, use a tablespoon to scoop the mixture onto the prepared baking sheets. You want this to happen fast so the mixture doesn’t set into one giant praline!
- Let the pralines sit at room temperature until completely dry, about 20 minutes.
Recipe tips & tricks
- Are your pralines spreading? You may have added a bit too much butter! If this happens, you can try to slowly heat up the mixture to thicken it, but you may lose them. (I have been there!)
- Are your pralines gritty? This means the sugars crystalized before you added your pecans to the saucepan. A great way to avoid this is to listen for the “pot to talk” – which means you should be stirring until you hear tiny sugar crystals on the side of the pot. That’s your sign it’s time to quickly add the pralines into the pan and get them ready to set.
- Like any candy recipe, it’s crucial to have all of your ingredients out ahead of time. With temperatures so important, you don’t want to be searching for something while your caramel sets.
- In general, pecan praline recipes should not be doubled. This is because the measurements impact the cooking process.
- Make sure to thoroughly rinse out the saucepan if you make multiple batches. That will keep any leftover caramel from burning.
- Some may not want to use bourbon or alcohol at all. In that case, you can easily swap the bourbon with your favorite liquor, or substitute 1 teaspoon vanilla extract.
Storage and gifting
- Storage: These bourbon pecan pralines can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week.
- Freezing: If sealed in an airtight container, they can also store in the freezer for up to 3 months. Making a large batch of these for the holidays is a must!
- Gifting Tip: When gifting these, it’s best to transfer them to the gift container on the day you plan to gift them. Tins and clear treat bags are the best options.
Are you on a candy kick? Well, I have some treats for you!
I would absolutely love it if you tried these pecan pralines! If you do, please stop back and leave a rating and let me know how you liked them! ENJOY! 😍
Bourbon Pecan Pralines
- 1¼ cups (248 g) granulated sugar
- ¾ cup (149 g) light brown sugar
- ½ teaspoon (0.5 teaspoon) baking soda
- Pinch of salt
- ¾ cup (180 ml) half & half
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 cups (228 g) pecan halves, toasted
- 1 tablespoon bourbon, optional
- Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or non-stick silicone baking mats; set aside.
- 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.
- As soon as the mixture reaches 235 degrees, whisk in the butter until it is completely melted, about 1 to 2 minutes.
- 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.
- 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.
- Equipment: Candy thermometer / Saucepan / Wooden spoon / Whisk
- Half-and-Half: If you cannot get half-and-half where you live, you can substitute equal parts whole milk and heavy cream.
- Bourbon: You can substitute another liquor or you can omit entirely and substitute 1 teaspoon vanilla extract instead.
- Storage: Pralines can be kept in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week.
- Freezing: Pecan pralines can be stored in an airtight container in the freezer for up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight.
- Gifting: Transfer the pralines to your gift container the day you plan to give them. Tins and cellophane bags are great options!
- Recipe adapted from Simply Recipes
Did you make this recipe?
Leave a review below, then snap a picture and tag @thebrowneyedbaker on Instagram so I can see it!
[Photography by Dee Frances]
I know this is an older thread but in case you still check these, I love some of your other recipes and I want to adapt this one to something I need. I’m trying to make a bourbon cookie that I want to top with a bourbon pecan soft caramel. Of course, my first thought was to make a praline stop at the thread stage for the softer bite a cookie topping needs. Does that sound right to you? And would you add corn syrup or do you think it will stay softer without that? Thanks -I know this is an unusual question.
Good recipe – wasn’t sugary. I think mine didn’t have enough flavor to it because my pecans, though toasted were not flavorable. Thanks for the recipe!
These are great! The bourbon makes them fabulous.
Do you think it’ll be safe for traveling? My MIL just moved down south and I live up north. Every year, I make candied nuts for her for the holidays. I would love to ship these down to her.
I live in England and sometime,s have trouble with the Ingredient,s that you use, could you please tell me exactly what Half and Half is.
Hi there! Half and half is half milk and half cream. When I google it, it says the British equivalent is half cream, also sometimes known as single cream. Hope that helps! I love to try recipes from Great British Baking Show, so I’m often looking things up, just the other way around!
Hi Marilyn, Great info from Tracy! If I’m out of half and half, I always substitute half whole milk and half heavy cream. I hope that helps!
Your comment says “incredibly soft” but do these come out chewy, sort of like taffy?
Or just an easy-to-bite-into “soft” without the stringy-ness of taffy?
How long do you think they’d keep, sealed? A month?
PS. LOVE Dominic’s impish smile, Michelle. Cute kid.
Hi Dee, They are easy to bite into “soft” without the stringiness, I hope that helps! Technically a week at room temperature, but you can keep them in the fridge probably for up to a month, just bring to room temperature before serving.
Hi Michelle – pralines are a guilty pleasure for me when vacationing (from Pittsburgh) in the south. It’s been a while but I can’t resist the sweet pecan treat! I’d love to try these this holiday season and I’m wondering about the use of a thermapen vs a candy thermometer. Is there an advantage to one over the other – I’m thinking there is since you specifically instruct the use of a candy thermometer in this recipe. If that’s the case, can you elaborate? (Obviously I haven’t made candy in the past!). Thanks so much!!!
Hi Maryann, If you can hold your thermapen in the mixture continuously, then that will work. The company that makes Thermapens also makes a digital instant thermometer that you can clip on to a pot (https://www.thermoworks.com/ChefAlarm) and I use that often for this type of application.
How long do you toast your pecans? Temperature?
Hi Greta, 350 degrees for 5 to 10 minutes – keep an eye on them!
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.
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!
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. :)
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!
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.
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
My candy thermometer broke during holiday baking… guess I need to replace it!
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!
I’m glad you stuck it out and made another batch because they look amazing!
Growing up in the South surely makes you love pralines. Seriously the best candy and what a great addition! :D
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.
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…
Gorgeous candy and I do love pecans!
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*
yes please! Will be making these very soon.
Thanks for sharing!
These look delish, making my mouth water just looking at the photos. Can’t wait to try them out.
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!
These look so yummy….but what is half & Half?? Cream or…??
Hi Astrid, Half & Half is a common ingredient here in the U.S., but it is essentially half whole milk and half heavy cream.
I need to get a candy thermometer! These look amazing!
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!
5:25 AM here..now i need some of these!
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!
O.M.G. my mouth is watering! Love these!
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!
These look beautiful and I love your post about the history of the pralines!!
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!!!
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:)
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 :)