The best pecan pralines recipe

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pecan pralines
Caramel coated pecans are a staple holiday treat in many southern homes
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Rich and nutty, the best pecan pralines recipe is a traditional southern sweet

Traditional southern sweets are often a rich combination of nuts and sugar, and southern pralines are no exception. When French settlers brought pralines to Louisiana in the 19th century, chefs immediately made use of the area's abundance of sugar cane and pecan trees by substituting pecans for almonds in their pecan pralines recipe.

Pralines are a confection that originated in France during the 17th century. The original praline recipe involved coating almonds in caramelized sugar to create a solid sheet of caramel and nuts. The name ‘praline’ comes from pralin, which is the powder of sugar-coated nuts. ‘Praline’ is the French word for when chocolate is added to pralin.

Like many traditional southern sweets, the recipe will vary depending on who you ask. If you visit a southern state you’ll have plenty of opportunities to sample the creamy, crunchy, fudgy and salty varieties. Whether cream belongs in the traditional pecan praline recipe is a hot subject for debate in many southern sweet shops. According to, an online index of food history, chefs added cream to fudge to thick the mixture as early as 1829.

Pecan pralines are always a wonderful treat to buy. They are also relatively simple sweet to make. Once you make a batch or two, you’ll begin to get a feel for the texture and consistency you prefer. And when you’re happy with your recipe, you’ll see how quickly a plate of homemade pralines vanishes.

They’re also a fun holiday candy and make a great gift packed inside of a colorful tin, whether you order them for delivery or make and package them yourself.


Pecan Pralines Recipe

The Godchaux’s Pure Cane Sugar was a sugar refinery in New Orleans that printed a number of cookbooks with recipes for traditional southern sweets. The founder of the company, Leon Godchaux, was locally referred to as Louisiana’s ‘Sugar King’. This recipe for Pecan Pralines is from a Godchaux Sugar refinery cookbook first printed around 1879.

3 cups white sugar
1 cup light brown sugar
1 ½ cups waters
3 cups of broken pecans
1 Tbsp butter
1 tsp vanilla

*The recipe recommends a cast iron pot. Non-stick Teflon pots work as well (and are a lot easier to clean)

1. Bring sugars and water to boil in a large pot.
2. Once the sugars dissolve, add the pecan pieces.
3. Simmer on low uncovered for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
4. Remove the pot from heat and add butter and vanilla.
5. Stir until mixture sticks to your spoon.
6. ‘Drop’ spoonfuls onto plain wax paper and allow to cool.

Check out SoftMemories for quick fixes if you think you’ve cooked your mixture too long.

If you love your chocolate, many southern sweet shops offer pecan praline with and without chocolate. At home you can always drizzle melted chocolate over half the batch for comparison.

If you’d like to create a sheet of pecan pralines, like brittle (also a traditional southern sweet), once you add your butter, pecans and vanilla, heat the mixture without stirring until it reaches 240 degrees. Then, remove from heat for about 5 minutes. Beat until thick and pour onto a large baking sheet with wax paper (or greased). Wait until it is completely cool before tasting.

If possible, enjoy from a grand porch or beneath a shaded tree!


Brand Name Cooking: Godchaux
Soft Memories: Heirloom Recipes
French Quarter: Pecan Pralines
Photo Credit: JosephLeonardo

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