Easy Southern Pecan Pralines (No Candy Thermometer Required) (2024)

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Delicious, Easy Southern Pecan Pralines are a delicious and creamy Southern candy that's ready in about 30 minutes. Creamy & crunchy, they're made with basic ingredients (butter, heavy cream, pecans, and brown sugar!). No candy thermometer and no hassle!

Originally posted December 2014, updated February 2024.

Easy Southern Pecan Pralines (No Candy Thermometer Required) (1)
Jump to:
  • Pecan Pralines
  • What are Pralines?
  • Easy Praline Recipe
  • Pecan Pralines Recipe Video
  • Southern Pecan Pralines Ingredients
  • Tools needed to make this Praline recipe
  • How to make Pecan Pralines
  • Variations
  • Pro Tips and Notes...
  • How to Store Pralines
  • Serving Suggestions
  • Pralines FAQ
  • Christmas Candy Tray Ideas
  • More Easy Desserts
  • Here's the Pecan Praline Recipe:
  • Recipe

Pecan Pralines

Since I live in the deep South, next door to Louisiana, I've been eating pecan pralines for as long as I can remember. As far as sweets go, they're a staple around the holidays, and in New Orleans, they're a staple year-round.

And let me also say, there is no one right recipe for this homemade candy.

Every person you meet has an opinion on how pralines should taste and whether you should use chopped pecans or pecan halves and what kind of texture is perfect (most prefer them creamy!).

Easy Southern Pecan Pralines (No Candy Thermometer Required) (2)

For years and years, I've made pecan praline candy, but never Easy Pecan Pralines. You see - the pecan praline recipes I used in the past required candy thermometers or microwaving with just the right bowl and a wooden spoon. They were always finicky and didn't always turn out just right. And I thought that my way was the only way to make them.

However, last year, after my pralines recipe failed me again, I decided I had to find a more reliable recipe.

What are Pralines?

According to legend, pralines were brought to the United States (the South in particular) by French settlers in the seventeenth century.

Currently herein the Southern United States, the short answer is that pralines are a type of candy where nuts are covered in a cooked sugar mixture and it sets up to a soft candy.

More specifically, pralines have brown sugar (usually all brown or a mixture), nuts (most commonly pecans), cream or milk, and vanilla. The most popular pralines seem to be creamy, smooth, and melt-in-your-mouth soft. But some pralines are harder and more crunchy.

Easy Praline Recipe

After my many failures, I started searching and trying and I finally landed on an easy praline recipe that works and never fails me!

From the first time I made this easy recipe, I had success. I've made them many, many times since then and they're always so good! By and far this is the best pecan pralines I've ever made.

Easy Southern Pecan Pralines (No Candy Thermometer Required) (3)

Okay, they failed me once, but I have no idea why.

It probably had something to do with my whole family being there and I was running my mouth the entire time I was making them... I'm sure I mismeasured something or didn't let them boil quite a full minute. I don't know - it'll forever be a mystery. 😂

Oh wait - but I should make it clear that the day wasn't a total loss. Every single crumb of the easy pralines was still eaten - we just used spoons to scoop them up!

Easy Southern Pecan Pralines (No Candy Thermometer Required) (4)

You see... this big ole family of mine wouldn't let pralines go to waste - even if they were sticky!! Hahaha.,.. I love my family!

Anyway, I made candy/cookie trays this past Christmas season and in every tray, I included this sweet treat. I thought it was about time I shared the recipe for the best praline you'll ever eat!

And if you love this classic southern dessert as much as we do, also try these perfectPraline Cookies. They're insanely easy and delicious!

Easy Southern Pecan Pralines (No Candy Thermometer Required) (5)

Pecan Pralines Recipe Video

Southern Pecan Pralines Ingredients

Easy Southern Pecan Pralines (No Candy Thermometer Required) (6)
  • Brown sugar - I always use light brown sugar for this recipe and feel like you get the best flavor with this sugar. However, dark brown sugar will also work, but give you a much stronger molasses flavor. White sugar will not work in this recipe. Youneedthe molasses!
  • Heavy whipping cream - Heavy cream makes these pralines so creamy and smooth. A great substitute for heavy cream is evaporated milk. The flavor will change slightly, but they're still delicious.
  • Salted butter - unsalted butter can be used in this recipe, but if you do, add a pinch of salt to bring out the flavors.
  • Purevanilla extract - you can never go wrong with a little vanilla extract in a recipe. It always enhances the flavors. I make homemade vanilla, but any quality premade will work great!
  • Powdered sugar - adding powdered sugar really makes the pralines smooth and creamy and removes any graininess of the brown sugar. I do not recommend substituting granulated sugar here.
  • Pecan halves - I love gthe look and texture of pecan halves in a praline. Having said that, some recipes call for chopped pecans and if that's all you've got, they will work!

Now let me show you how easy they are to make!

How to make Pecan Pralines

  1. First, you'll want to line a large baking sheet (or two) with parchment paper. You canclick hereto seemy favorite baking sheets.
  2. Next, place thebrown sugar, whipping cream, & butter in a medium saucepan. No need to melt the butter first - it will melt together with everything else!
  3. Okay... here's the important part! You're going to bring the soft caramel mixture to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly with a spoon or rubber spatula.
  4. As soon as it starts to boil and bubbles appear, set a timer and boil for exactly 1 minute. Then remove it from the heat to stop the cooking process.
Easy Southern Pecan Pralines (No Candy Thermometer Required) (9)
  1. Gently stir in the pecans and vanilla extract. Working quickly, stir until smooth. Be sure you stir to the bottom of the pan.
  2. Immediatelywhiskin thepowdered sugar:
Easy Southern Pecan Pralines (No Candy Thermometer Required) (10)
Easy Southern Pecan Pralines (No Candy Thermometer Required) (11)
  1. Allow the candy mixture to thicken and cool slightly, but it only takes a minute to reach the right consistency. You do not want the mixture to get too cool and begin to harden in the pot.If this happens, add a teaspoon or two of hot milk and stir until creamy, then begin dipping out.
  2. Lastly, drop heaping spoonfuls of the praline mixture onto parchment paper on a flat surface and allow it to cool and set up for at least 30 minutes. You can speed this up by popping the sheet in the fridge if you're impatient like me 😉
Easy Southern Pecan Pralines (No Candy Thermometer Required) (12)
Easy Southern Pecan Pralines (No Candy Thermometer Required) (13)

Then try your very best to not eat the whole platter pan of this sugary goodness in one sitting!

Easy Southern Pecan Pralines (No Candy Thermometer Required) (14)

Variations

Chocolate Pecan Pralines. Dip the pecan pralines in chocolate (about halfway) for a chocolate pecan praline. These will be extra decadent and rich!

Toasted Pecans. Use toasted pecans in the recipe to add more depth and nuttiness to the flavor the the pralines.

Pro Tips and Notes...

  • Work quickly! As mentioned above, this is not a pecan candy recipe where you can drag your feet. If the mixture gets too cool and begins to set up in the pan, add a teaspoon or two of hot milk and stir until creamy, Then begin dipping it out.
  • Butter. You can use unsalted butter instead of salted butter if you prefer. If you choose to do this, I do recommend adding a pinch of salt to the recipe!
  • Pecans. I love pecan halves in these classic southern treats, but if you want, you can use chopped pecans. The texture will be a little different but the amazing flavor will still be there!
  • Don't trash them! While this is by and far the easiest pralines recipe I've ever made, nothing is 100% foolproof. If your pralines don't set up, or they get dry and crumbly, don't toss them out! Eat them with a spoon, ball them up and dip in chocolate, or chop them up and use as a topping on cake or ice cream!

While I truly hope this recipe will be foolproof and end up being one of your favorite recipes, there's always a chance it won't. As with all candy making, pralines are finicky and temperamental.

So maybe my best tip is... be patient and have extra ingredients on hand so you're prepared for a round two or three if your first try doesn't work out. However, in the FAQ below, I do give you tips for how to (hopefully) fix your first batch if it doesn't work out! The good news is - you can still be eating the (not-so-perfect)pralines while you work out the kinks.

How to Store Pralines

First off - why are you storing them? This mouth candy is best eaten fresh and barely hardened!

Ours rarely last more than an hour unless I'm making them to take somewhere and I have to beat the family off of them to get them to their destination. But if you must...

  • Room Temperature. Store these in an airtight container at room temperature, between layers of wax paper or parchment paper or individually wrap them. They'll keep for up to two weeks. No refrigeration needed. And they are a great candy to ship as long as you pack them well to prevent breaking.
  • Freezing. Can you freeze pralines? Yes! You can freeze pralines for up to 2 months. For best results, wrap them individually in plastic wrap then place them in an airtight container before freezing.
  • Thawing. Thaw in the fridge overnight when you're ready to eat them!
Easy Southern Pecan Pralines (No Candy Thermometer Required) (15)

Serving Suggestions

​Parties: For parties and family gatherings, I serve this southern staple on a platter alongside desserts.

Gifts: You can also give them as gifts by wrapping them in small cellophane bags with a pretty ribbon.

​On Ice Cream: Want to go the extra mile? Crumble them up and serve on top of vanilla ice cream as a topping. YUM!

I even have a that will blow your mind!

Pralines FAQ

What are pralines?

Here in the United States (the South in particular), the short answer is that pralines are a type of candy where nuts are covered in a cooked sugar mixture and it sets up to a soft candy. More specifically, pralines have sugar (usually brown or a mixture), nuts (most commonly pecans), cream or milk, and vanilla. The most popular pralines seem to be creamy, smooth, and melt-in-your-mouth soft. But some pralines are harder and more crunchy.

What is the difference between pecan candy and pralines?

Well, while they may sound the same, they are emphatically not the same, as any good Southerner will tell you. Praline Pecans or Pecan Candy are individual pecans with a crunchy praline or candy coating.

Pralines, on the other hand, are cookie-shaped candy where crunchy pecans are mixed into a cream, sugar, and vanilla mixture, that is scooped out and it pools to make a patty-like candy loaded with brown sugar flavor. They're firm enough to hold but soft enough to melt in your mouth.

Do you need a candy thermometer to make pralines?

In short, no. No worries about soft ball stage or getting the right temperature. For traditional recipes and original pralines, the answer will be yes, but for my recipe, the answer is no! If you have a timer and follow my instructions closely, you can successfully make these delicious Southern Pecan Pralines without a candy thermometer! Can I get a hallelujah?

How to prevent pralines from getting grainy?

Well, that's a million-dollar question. Pralines are grainy because the sugar doesn't get hot enough to fully dissolve. You may think using a candy thermometer is the answer to this but even with all the recipes I've tried, that's not always true. The good news is - if you end up with grainy pralines, you can break them up, put them back in the pot with a little cream or milk (a tablespoon or two), and heat them again. Maybe add 10-15 seconds to the boiling time to try and raise the temperature a little more.

Pralines won't harden up?

Similar to the answer above, it has something to do with not reaching the correct temperature. Or maybe it's a rainy day. Or maybe the stars aren't aligned for you. Just kidding... sometimes I have no idea why they won't harden.

But if your pralines are still gooey after 30-40 minutes, you may have to scrape them back into the pan and heat them again. Add a tablespoon of milk, melt the sugar, and as before, stir constantly while you bring them to a boil. When the mixture begins to thicken, begin dipping them out again and cross your fingers!

How do you clean the pot after making pralines?

The easiest way to clean the pot is to let the hard candy in the pot dissolve. I do this by filling the pot with hot water (or filling it with cold water and bringing it to a boil). This will dissolve all the candy and make it really easy to clean it out.

Christmas Candy Tray Ideas

I often make and sell Christmas Candy Trays and these are a great treat to include. You can see one of the trays I made here.

My clients love these as a homemade food gift and I can change up what's included from year to year.Along with the Christmas Crunch Recipe, here's another I made this morning:

None of my trays have been exactly the same so far. This one included these Old Fashioned Pecan Pralines, Sugar Cookies with Vanilla Buttercream, Chocolate Peanut Clusters, Peppermint Bark & Graham Cracker Nut Roll.

More Easy Desserts

  • Grandma's Southern Banana Pudding
  • Microwave Rice Krispies Treats [Video!]
  • The Creamiest No-Bake Cheesecake Cups Recipe
  • Chocolate Drizzled Pecan Pie Cookie
  • Easy Coconut Poke Cake with Sour Cream
  • Maple Candied Bacon (Million Dollar Bacon)
  • Pralines and Cream Ice Cream (No Churn!)
  • Easy Pecan Pie Bars Recipe
  • Easy Pumpkin Rice Krispie Treats
  • Pecan Praline Cookies: The 1986 Winner's Recipe

Are you ready to make this Praline recipe? If you make them, I'd love to hear if you think they're like New Orleans Pralines? or different?

Here's the Pecan Praline Recipe:

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Recipe

Easy Southern Pecan Pralines (No Candy Thermometer Required) (17)

Easy Pecan Pralines

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4.9 from 35 reviews

  • Author: Rose
  • Total Time: 15 minutes
  • Yield: 24 1x
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Description

Delicious, Easy Southern Pecan Pralines are a delicious and creamy Southern candy that's ready in about 30 minutes. Creamy & crunchy, they're made with basic ingredients (butter, heavy cream, pecans and brown sugar!). No candy thermometer and no hassle! Make these pecan pralines today!

Ingredients

UnitsScale

Instructions

  1. Line a large cookie sheet (or two) with parchment paper.
  2. Place the brown sugar, whipping cream, & butter in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly. Start a timer and boil for 1 minute, then remove it from the heat. Immediately whisk in the powdered sugar, then gently stir in the pecans and vanilla extract. Working quickly, stir until smooth.
  3. Allow the mixture to thicken and cool slightly, but it only takes a minute. You do not want the mixture to get too cool and begin to harden in the pot. If this happens, add a teaspoon of milk and stir until creamy, then begin dipping out.
  4. Drop heaping spoonfuls of the praline mixture onto paper and allow it to cool and set up for at least 30 minutes. You can speed this up by popping the sheet in the fridge if you're impatient like me 😉

Notes

  • Work quickly! As mentioned above, this is not a recipe where you can drag your feet. If the mixture gets too cool and begins to set up in the pan, add a teaspoon or two of hot milk and stir until creamy, Then begin dipping it out.
  • You can use unsalted butter instead of salted butter, if you prefer. If you choose to do this, I do recommend adding a pinch of salt to the recipe!
  • I really love pecan halves in my pralines, but if you want, you can use chopped pecans. The texture will be a little different but the amazing flavor will still be there!
  • While this is by and far the easiest pralines recipe I've ever made, nothing is 100% foolproof. If your pralines don't set up, or they get dry and crumbly, don't toss them out! Eat them with a spoon, ball them up and dip in chocolate, or chop them up and use as a topping on cake or ice cream!
  • Prep Time: 10 mins
  • Cook Time: 5 mins
  • Category: desserts
  • Method: cooktop
  • Cuisine: American

Recipe Card powered byEasy Southern Pecan Pralines (No Candy Thermometer Required) (20)

Easy Southern Pecan Pralines (No Candy Thermometer Required) (21)
Easy Southern Pecan Pralines (No Candy Thermometer Required) (22)
Easy Southern Pecan Pralines (No Candy Thermometer Required) (2024)

FAQs

How to fix pralines that didn't set? ›

sometimes I have no idea why they won't harden. But if your pralines are still gooey after 30-40 minutes, you may have to scrape them back into the pan and heat them again. Add a tablespoon of milk, melt the sugar, and as before, stir constantly while you bring them to a boil.

How to soften pecan pralines? ›

Since the problem is mostly that the sugar in the pralines gets hard and crystallized, you might try softening them the way you'd soften hard brown sugar. Place a terracotta sugar saver in the container or something else that's slightly damp, like a few slices of apple or a slice of fresh bread.

What is the difference between pecan candy and pecan praline? ›

What is the difference between candied pecans and pralines? Candied pecans are pecans coated in egg whites, sugar, and spices, then baked until crispy. Pralines are a drop-candy with a caramel-like base and crunchy pecans mixed in.

Why won't my candy set? ›

The simple answer is that there is too much moisture in your candy. One or more factors could be contributing to this problem. In hard candy making, it is important to cook all the water out of the sugar/corn syrup/water mixture.

Why is my praline sticky? ›

If you don't beat it long enough, then pralines won't set properly and will stay soft and sticky. Work quickly to drop heaping tablespoons of pecan praline mixture onto the parchment paper-lined baking sheet. I find that it works best to use a cookie dough scoop.

Can you overcook pralines? ›

Pralines should be cooked to 236°F (soft ball stage) so that it is still pliable when it cools and so it maintains the smooth sandy texture typical of pralines. This is impossible to determine without a thermometer, and if you overheat the sugar, you are guaranteed to make pralines that are too firm and grainy.

Why do pralines turn white? ›

Pralines are a much-appreciated festive treat, but come to think of it, they're simply delicious at any time of the year. When your pralines turn white, you are seeing the recrystallization of sugar. And you are right that honey does technically slow down the rate at which crystals form in candy.

Why do my pralines have white spots? ›

Why are there white spots on my pralines? The white spots are a natural process called crystallization.

Why are my pralines gritty? ›

Avoid The Humidity

Plan to make your pralines on a cool, dry day. If it's humid or rainy, as it was the first time I made pralines, the candy might end up with a more sugary, grainy texture.

What is the difference between butter pecans and pecan pralines? ›

Pecan praline, on the other hand, is really a sugary confection that is a candy in and of itself. The sugary sweetness is pulled to the forefront in pralines, while butter pecan celebrates the balance of sweet and roast-y toast-y.

What's the difference between a praline and a praline? ›

A praliné is a paste that is a mixture of nuts, chocolate and sugar. While in Belgium, a 'praline' is defined as a filled chocolate candy. Note that the term 'praline' is of Belgian origin.

Are pecan pralines good for you? ›

Being that pecans are the main ingredient; the snack contains essential vitamins & minerals, can aid in long-term heart health, can be enjoyed by gluten intolerant consumers, can provide a high number of antioxidants, and can supply a large amount of protein & fiber.

Do pralines go bad? ›

They contain no preservatives and are best consumed within a week of purchase. They never go “bad,” but after a week or so the sugar starts to crystalize and they lose the characteristic snap that you enjoy when biting them.

Are pralines a southern thing? ›

Nowadays most people are unaware of the candy's historical origin, and the praline is thought of as a southern confection not necessarily specific to New Orleans. Some believe the pecan praline is a Texan candy, whereas others assume it came from Savannah.

Why did my praline crystallise? ›

Sometimes, as syrup boils, sugar starts to form back into crystals, which turn hard and cloudy. Crystallisation can be caused by stirring, or a grain of something other than sugar getting into the pan, or often just bad luck.

How to thicken praline paste? ›

At this stage, the praline paste is very warm. The warmth of the nuts help release more of the oil within them, making the paste smoother and more fluid. The paste WILL thicken as it cools down.

Does homemade pralines need to be refrigerated? ›

Allow the pralines to cool completely, then store between layers of waxed paper in an airtight container. They will keep at room temperature, stored in a cool and dry place, for at least five days or longer.

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