New Orleans Pralines

New Orleans Pralines

The Spruce / Stephanie Goldfinger

Prep: 15 mins
Cook: 15 mins
Set Time: 30 mins
Total: 60 mins
Servings: 15 to 20 servings
Yields: 15 to 20 pralines
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
145 Calories
7g Fat
21g Carbs
1g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 15 to 20
Amount per serving
Calories 145
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 7g 9%
Saturated Fat 1g 6%
Cholesterol 3mg 1%
Sodium 10mg 0%
Total Carbohydrate 21g 8%
Dietary Fiber 1g 3%
Total Sugars 20g
Protein 1g
Vitamin C 0mg 1%
Calcium 30mg 2%
Iron 0mg 2%
Potassium 66mg 1%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Pralines are sweet confections made primarily of sugar, nuts, and butter. This hard candy is sometimes ground and used as filling in other candies, but it stands by itself as a delightful treat. Pralines are like a nutty version of fudge with a caramel-like flavor and designed to melt in your mouth, which is why they're so tempting.

In New Orleans, praline is an institution. Brought to Louisiana by French immigrants, the recipe quickly adapted to the plentiful amounts of pecans in Louisiana. Not only were the original almonds and hazelnuts swapped for the local Southern nut, but the recipes that developed also added cream or evaporated milk.

This Southern praline recipe produces sweet, slightly crumbly, brown sugar candies loaded with toasted pecans. It's important that the pecans are well-toasted so they impart maximum flavor and crunch to the candy. But more importantly, use a candy thermometer to make sure the sugar is cooked to the right temperature. Otherwise, you might end up with a gooey mess on your hands.

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Ingredients

  • 1 cup granulated sugar

  • 1 cup packed brown sugar

  • 1/2 cup evaporated milk

  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cubed

  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

  • 1 1/2 cups toasted and coarsely chopped pecans

  • 1/4 cup boiling water, if needed

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    New Orleans Pralines ingredients

    The Spruce / Stephanie Goldfinger

  2. Prepare a baking sheet by lining it with aluminum foil and spraying the foil with nonstick cooking spray. Alternatively, use a silicone mat on top of the baking sheet.

    parchment paper lined baking sheet

    The Spruce / Stephanie Goldfinger

  3. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, combine the white sugar, brown sugar, and evaporated milk.

    Combine sugar, brown sugar, and evaporated milk in saucepan

    The Spruce / Stephanie Goldfinger

  4. Stir until the sugar dissolves. Once all is well mixed, insert a candy thermometer. Cook the candy, stirring occasionally, until the thermometer reads 240 F.

    Stir until sugar dissolves in the pot

    The Spruce / Stephanie Goldfinger

  5. Once the proper temperature is reached, remove the pan from the heat and drop the cubes of butter on top, without stirring. Allow the sugar mixture to sit for 1 minute.

    Add butter to sugar and milk mixture in the pot

    The Spruce / Stephanie Goldfinger

  6. Add the vanilla extract and pecans.

    Add vanilla and pecans to mixture in a pot

    The Spruce / Stephanie Goldfinger

  7. Begin to stir smoothly and constantly with a wooden spoon; the candy will begin to thicken and appear lighter in color. Continue to stir until the candy starts to hold its shape. It should still be easy to stir, but don't overdo it, as pralines quickly go from fluid to rock-solid.

    Continue stirring until pralines start to harden

    The Spruce / Stephanie Goldfinger

  8. Once the confection has a lighter opaque-brown color and is holding its shape, work quicky and drop small spoonfuls of the candy onto the prepared baking sheet. Because the pralines will start to set in the saucepan, you need to spoon out the candy as fast as you safely can. If the candy stiffens before you’re done scooping, add a spoonful of boiling hot water and stir until it loosens, then continue scooping until you have formed all the pralines.

    Drop spoonfuls of praline mixture onto a parchment paper lined baking sheet

    The Spruce / Stephanie Goldfinger

  9. Allow the candy to fully set at room temperature; it should take about 30 minutes for the pralines to harden. Store the pralines in an airtight container at room temperature. Enjoy.

    New Orleans Pralines on a parchment paper lined baking sheet

    The Spruce / Stephanie Goldfinger

Tips

  • You can line the pan with parchment paper if you prefer. Do not, however, use waxed paper for any hot candy as the wax coating can melt and transfer into the candy.
  • Watch the temperature carefully. If the syrup becomes too hot, the finished pralines may become grainy.

Recipe Variations

  • Although you need pecans to call this confection a New Orleans praline, the same recipe works well for other nuts. Simply swap the pecans for roasted almonds, hazelnuts, pistachios, cashews, walnuts, or even peanuts.
  • If you want to make a special praline for someone with a nut or peanut allergy, use pepitas or sunflower seeds to give the mixture that great crunch.

How Long Do Pralines Last?

Pralines will keep well for 1 or 2 weeks at room temperature. After that, the sugar will begin to crystallize and the candy will get harder and gritty. To ensure they stay fresh, proper storage is key. Pack them in an airtight container as soon as the candy hardens and use parchment or wax paper to separate layers. Avoid mixing them with other candies; some flavors may transfer and it can negatively affect the textures of both candies. You can also freeze pralines for up to 3 months but must ensure they're well packed in separate layers so they don't stick together. Guard against any potential frost as well because it will compromise the candy's texture. Let them thaw at room temperature before unwrapping.

What's the Difference Between Pralines and Brittle?

Made in a similar fashion and with common ingredients, pralines and brittle are closely related nut-filled candies. The main difference is the hardness of the candy. Pralines are cooked to the soft crack stage and should be semi-soft but not as chewy as soft toffee. The syrup used to make brittle, on the other hand, is cooked to a very high temperature until it reaches the hard crack stage, resulting in a much harder and "brittle" candy.