There is nothing like old-fashioned Southern Pecan Pralines! This melt-in-your-mouth treat is a cross between a cookie and a candy and it's loaded with crunchy pecans, butter, and fabulous brown sugar flavor.

I also have a Chocolate Pralines version! If you love making homemade candy to share with friends and family, be sure to also check out my Easy Homemade Peppermint BarkOld-Fashioned Homemade Peanut Brittle, and English Toffee!

pecan pralines on and off of a blue plate with scattered pecans around it

On our recent trip to Savannah, Georgia, one of the first things we did was stop at River Street Sweets and pick up a couple of classic southern pecan pralines. The sweet smell of caramel and fudge and chocolate beckons you in off the street and the moment you walk in the door you are offered samples of their famous pralines. 

The classic pecan praline is my favorite, but you guys, you can also get a chocolate pecan praline too and they are divine.

There are actually two candy shops right there on River Street in Savannah, and I actually preferred the chocolate pecan pralines from Savannah Candy Kitchen, just down the block from River Street Sweets. But River Street Sweets made my favorite classic pecan pralines.

We even made multiple trips between the two stores over the weekend just to double-check. Because research. It's a tough job, but somebody's got to do it.

I wanted to share southern pecan pralines as part of my American Eats series representing Georgia since it produces more pecans than any other state in the nation. If you love pecans, you might also want to try my classic pecan pie or these decadent pecan pie cheesecake bars.

An image of pecan praline candy on a blue glass plate.

But pralines actually came to the USA from French chefs in Louisiana first and are often associated with New Orleans. From there they spread throughout the South and can be found all over in Georgia, South Carolina, and other southern states.

There is also a chewy version from Texas that my friend Kelly from Kelly's Kitchen Creation makes and sells. Kelly sent me a box of her chewy pralines last year and they are heavenly. You can order a box of them here and she will ship them to you. That's not an affiliate link and she didn't sponsor this post. I just think the world of Kelly and wanted to share since her chewy Texas pralines are totally different from these southern pecan pralines.

What are southern pecan pralines?

Southern pecan pralines are a sweet candy confection that is made with pecans, sugar, butter, and some form of dairy. I've seen pecan praline recipes using milk, cream, half-and-half, evaporated milk, and even buttermilk. 

I haven't tried every option in my pecan pralines recipe, choosing instead to stick with evaporated milk while recipe testing, but I'm pretty confident that you could sub in equal amounts of a different dairy choice and still have you pralines turn out just fine.

Pralines have a wonderful texture that melts in your mouth. They are firm and have a snap when you break them, but they aren't crunchy (beyond the crunch of the pecans) or hard.

While pralines are most typically made with pecans, they started out being made with almonds historically. It wasn't until the recipe arrived in America from France that pecans became the nut of choice for this sweet treat.

How to Make Southern Pecan Pralines

  1. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside. 
  2. Combine the granulated sugar, brown sugar, salt, evaporated milk, and butter in a heavy pot over medium heat. 
  3. Cook and stir with a wooden spoon until the sugars dissolve and the mixture comes to a boil. 
  4. Continue to cook until the temperature reaches between 235-240 degrees F on a candy thermometer (affiliate link) (soft ball stage), then immediately remove from heat and allow the praline mixture to cool for 5 minutes.
  5. Stir in the vanilla and pecans, beating by hand with a wooden spoon just until the candy begins to lose its glossiness and thickens slightly, about 2 minutes. If you beat too long, the candy will seize and start to crumble. If you don't beat it long enough, then pralines won't set properly and will stay soft and sticky. 
  6. 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. If the mixture begins to harden before you have a chance to scoop all of the pralines, add a teaspoon of hot water at a time and stir until you can scoop again.
  7. Cool completely until pralines are set and firm. Store in an airtight container on the counter for 2 weeks or freeze for up to 2 months.
An image of a candy thermometer in a saucepan of boiling sugar.

Tips for the Best Southern Pecan Pralines

  • Use a candy thermometer.  Like with most candy recipes, a good candy thermometer is crucial to getting the temperature of the ingredients just right so they set properly. I have always used a basic, cheap candy thermometer (affiliate link) and it works great.
  • Have some very hot water on hand in case your pralines begin to seize.  I found when recipe testing that it was very easy to overbeat the mixture and it seemed start setting up sooner than I anticipated. But stirring in a couple of teaspoons of very hot water totally saved my batch of pralines.
  • You might want to just plan on making this recipe more than once.  Having extra ingredients on hand can save you a lot of frustration if this is your first time making pralines. I made 3 or 4 batches before I felt good about how my pralines were turning out, although I hadn't actually tried an authentic pecan praline before and wasn't totally sure I had nailed the texture. I was also worried about the little bit of bloom you can see in the photos and wondered if that meant I had still overmixed or overcooked the pralines. But then we went to Savannah and it was very validating to see that even the pecan pralines at River Street Sweets had a similar bloom on top of their pralines. I'm a pretty confident baker, but candy and sweets are definitely more of a challenge for me, which I was reminded of when making these pralines. Give yourself some grace if your batch doesn't turn out perfectly the first time and try again!
  • Don't worry if you don't get it right on the first try!  If your batch doesn't set properly and are gooey, use it as an ice cream topping or chill and roll into 1-inch balls and dip in chocolate to make truffles! Or if they set too fast and you have crumbly pralines that can't be saved with the hot water trick, just roughly chop them up and add them to slightly softened vanilla ice cream (so good!). 

How long do pecan pralines last?

Pecan pralines will last up to 2 weeks when sealed in an airtight container, although I definitely prefer them fresh. Heck, I prefer them still warm while they are setting up!

Can pecan pralines be frozen?

Yes, you can freeze your pralines, just like you can freeze fudge or caramels. Be sure to place them in an airtight freezer safe bag and they will last for up to 2 months in the freezer. (Yeah right, they won't last that long because they will all be eaten long before that point.) 

Just allow them to thaw in the fridge overnight before eating.

An image of southern pecan pralines on a plate.

More Candy Recipes To Satisfy Your Sweet Tooth

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Southern Pecan Pralines

4.86 from 54 votes
Amy Nash
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 10 mins
Total Time 20 mins
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Servings 16 -20 servings
There is nothing like old-fashioned Southern Pecan Pralines!  This melt-in-your-mouth treat is a cross between a cookie and a candy and it's loaded with crunchy pecans, butter, and fabulous brown sugar flavor.  

Ingredients
  

  • 1 ½ cups granulated sugar
  • 1 ½ cups light brown sugar packed
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup evaporated milk or half-and-half
  • 6 Tablespoons butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups pecan halves

Instructions
 

  • Prepare a baking sheet by lining it with parchment paper and set aside.  
  • In a medium-size heavy pot, combine the granulated sugar, brown sugar, salt, evaporated milk, and butter. Cook and stir with a wooden spoon over medium heat until the sugars dissolve and the mixture comes to a boil.
  • Continue to cook until the temperature reaches between 235-240 degrees F on a candy thermometer (soft ball stage). Remove from heat and allow the praline mixture to cool for 5 minutes.
  • Stir in the vanilla and pecans, beating by hand with a wooden spoon just until the candy begins to lose its glossiness and thickens slightly, about 2 minutes. If you beat too long, the candy will seize and start to crumble. 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 (I use a small cookie dough scoop) of pecan praline mixture onto the parchment paper-lined baking sheet. If the praline mixture begins to harden in the pan, add a teaspoon of hot water at a time and stir to keep the mixture loose enough to scoop and drop. 
  • Cool completely until set and the pralines have reached room temperature. Store in an airtight container on the counter for 2 weeks or freeze for up to 2 months.

Video

Notes

Some people prefer to chop their pecans.  I leave mine whole just like the pecan pralines at River Street Sweets. 
Adapted from AllRecipes.

Nutrition

Calories: 296kcal | Carbohydrates: 42g | Protein: 2g | Fat: 14g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 7g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 16mg | Sodium: 97mg | Potassium: 129mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 41g | Vitamin A: 176IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 69mg | Iron: 1mg
Tried this recipe? Show me on Instagram!Mention @HouseOfNashEats or tag #houseofnasheats!

More States I Have Visited in my American Eats Series

Alabama • Alaska • Arizona • Arkansas • California • Colorado • Connecticut • Delaware • Florida • Georgia • Hawaii • IdahoIllinoisIndianaIowa • KansasKentuckyLouisiana • MaineMarylandMassachusettsMichiganMontanaNew YorkOregonPuerto RicoSouth CarolinaSouth DakotaTexasUtahWisconsin

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About the author

Hi, I'm Amy

I enjoy exploring the world through food, culture, and travel and sharing the adventure with mostly from-scratch, family friendly recipes that I think of as modern comfort cooking.

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Reader questions and reviews

    1. The biggest tip I can give to avoid grainy pralines is to make sure to not cook the sugars at too high of a temperature when you start out. Getting the brown sugar to dissolve is the trickiest part for me and I find it's easier to do at a slightly lower temperature.

  1. My pralines are also a bit grainy and have white bloches in them. They taste great though.!
    Why the color difference?

    1. It can take a few tries to overcome this, but honestly, in every batch I seem to have a few like that, especially towards the end of the pan. Try a slightly lower heat next time to cook them a bit slower.

  2. These are awesome!!! Taste just like the Savannah sweets pralines and since I live 40 miles from Savannah we have a running tasting of these from River street several times a year. I’m a tour guide for Excursions Unlimited, so the first time I made this recipe was Sunday night in preparation for a trip. I had 39 on board and still left 15 are so home for my husband. These people live in the area and said they do taste as good as or better than Savannah Sweets. I think it’s the canned milk! Enjoy!!!

  3. Turned out beautifully and delicious. Followed the recipe exactly. But toasted the pecans first. 
    Perfect! Thanks!! 

  4. I made these for my holiday party @ work and now everyone is asking me if I sell them. They were delicious and I nailed them on first try. Recipe was perfect. Please make chocolate pralines and share the recipe!

  5. Hi yes I just made this for the first time. I tried to follow the directions exactly. Where I had an issue was that I could not beat it for the full two minutes. It just got too thick and I don’t have enough strength in my arm to keep going. I managed about a minute and a half. The first few cookies I dropped are almost perfect, really nice and creamy. As I worked though I noticed the latter ones were a bit more crumbly and drier.  I’m guessing I cooked it just a tiny bit too long? 

  6. I made these tonight after having missed the ones from River Street in Savannah Georgia where I'm from. They were fantastic! I added a 1/2 tablespoon of molasses to mine.

  7. I hate recipes like this im not intrested in your life story or how you discovered the recipe. just post the recipe instruction and thats it

    1. You know, Joe, as a food blogger, I hear this occasionally. Usually I don't respond when someone comments like this, but for some reason - maybe it's that it's 2020 or the holiday season - your comment just rubbed me the wrong way today. There is no need for rudeness. Maybe you would say this to my face, but I doubt you would treat someone like this in person and it's wrong of you to say it online as well. I work hard to provide the best recipes and content I can, but when it comes down to it, this is my blog and I'm going to write and share about the foods we enjoy any way I please and I don't need to explain that or apologize to you for it. You are welcome to buy a cookbook or go to another site if you don't like my approach. Or there is always the "jump to recipe" button at the top of every post on my site. All you have to do is click that and it will take you straight to the recipe, bypassing the rest of the post. Just remember, there is a real person behind this blog and you should treat people with more civility than you showed me with your mean-spirited comment.

      1. Your response was precise and well written.
        Sometimes a cohesive, astute reminder to those selfish individuals lacking in the understanding.This reminder,
        that the world revolves for every living thing within it's community of nature is sadly, oftentimes needed for individuals who fail to grasp the concept that the world is not there to serve the spoiled, manchild and his myopic, rude,childish tantrums.Especially so, for something someone shared freely of themselves with no obligation to continue reading...I believe in the future, I certainly will continue reading.
        Oh, and nice story,.. recipe:) I enjoyed learning something today because of you.

    2. Hey Joe why don’t you just get a life. Or better yet instead of making pralines go do something manly like fishing or hunting. You probably can’t do that either.

    3. How very rude, Joe. Move along and offend someone else. These recipes are for food loving people and i am grateful for them. You take the cake with your nasty comments.

    4. Are you an asshole in real life, Joe, or do you just comment like one on recipes? Either way, we aren’t interested in your opinion. Maybe try a little kindness on your next comment.

      Sincerely, A better human than you.

    5. Manners, manners, they help smooth relationships, even distant ones. Why irritate when you can be better.

  8. First time with this recipe - thanks! I've never made them all in one pot before. So easy! My mother's family is all from Louisiana, so we have a traditional recipe I've been following for years. Next time, I will use dark brown sugar so they're prettier. 

  9. Hello Amy! Happy Holidays and thank you for such an awesome recipe. I ended up making three batches (I had lots of pecans) and found all of your suggestions very helpful. Your guidance is very kind and forgiving for folks new to candy making! As an aside, I also appreciated your comment to one of the prior posters - you were really respectful and assertive. So much awesome! Thanks again.

    1. Thank you so much, Emily! I almost didn't say anything about that comment at all, so I really appreciate your support in backing me up! And way to go making three batches! I made some last weekend and they are gone and I'm thinking I might have to make another batch again before the season is over!

  10. Amy, a couple of things: 1. Ignore that moron Joe. There are millions of recipes on the internet that he can go read if he doesn't want a relevant story. Sometimes the origin of a recipe can help chose which version to go with. For example, I have never been to the River Street place, so I don't know what those taste like - so it's new for me. 2. My Maw Maw was Cajun and made SO many treats every Christmas and Pralines were my favourite. Now I have to make them for myself and this is the closest to her recipe. When I make them, I don't use a thermometer - I never seem to remember to get one. Maw Maw used to say to boil them to the "soft ball" stage, when you drop a bit in cold water it'll form into a soft ball. She said to beat them, as you've said, because it aerates and cools it slightly. Also, when dropping them if the mixture becomes too thick and crumbly you can put it back on the hob on low to heat it back up to loosen it a bit. I have also dropped them on the baking sheet and they haven’t hardened – I just scoop them back in to the pan and bring them back to the boil. After a few minutes they are ready to drop on the sheet. But I like the ice cream idea! Thank you for the recipe 10 out of 10.

    1. Thank you so much for your support, Suz! I LOVE that your mom made these and that this recipe comes close to hers. I wish I could make candy using the water tests but it never works for me so I always have to stick with my trusty thermometer! Also, That's good to know that you could just scoop them back into the pan and bring it back to a boil if they don't set up! I don't think I would have thought to try that! My dad's mom used to make a fudge recipe that has disappeared and he always says that nobody has been able to make it just like her. I sure wish I could figure that one out! Those kinds of family traditions are the best!

  11. I’ve been making pralines for 40 plus years and dealt with the issue of cooling to fast and they would dry out and crumble and last year I tried something new I thought you might consider... I’m not sure if it’s the length of time I cook the syrup ( over an hour on a very low temp) or the lower temperature of 232-235 that I cook the syrup, but once I reached this lower temp I poured the syrup into my kitchen-aid mixer over the pecans and beat it with the paddle until the mixture became dull instead of glossy.  With this method I am able to quadruple the recipe and never had to deal with the crumbles that became ice cream toppings

  12. Omg it worked!!!! I can’t believe how awesome these turned out! Thanks for the easy to follow and delicious recipe. No more trips to Savannah for me!!! 

  13. I made praline fudge but the praline layer is too hard to eat. Any ideas on how yo keep it softer?

  14. I made the peanut brittle that you posted on your web,and found out that if the humidity is above 65 percent the brittle comes out sticker.

  15. Excellent recipe! Thank you so much! My wife and I were in Savannah a couple of months ago, and these are better than I remember!

    1. 3 stars
      I really wanted to love this recipe but my pralines never hardened. I followed the recipe to a t. I'm left wondering what happened.

  16. 5 stars
    I have never had a Praline before but when a friend was feeling homesick and talked about the ones his mom used to make I knew I had to give it a shot. This recipe worked beautifully and he loved it! Thank you SO much for sharing this! I am excited to bake it for all of the holidays this year!

  17. Thank you so much for this awesome recipe! You made the directions so easy and clear. I made these pralines for the first time and they came out perfect! Delicious!

  18. What will the difference be with dark brown sugar? More molasses flavor? Richer color? I'm curious. Share what you learned.

  19. Hi,

    I came across a recipe that said to not add the butter until after it reached the 236 degrees and pan was removed from the stove. Do you know why it would be added later than the other ingredients? It also says to let the mixture just sit there until it reached 150 degrees. For me, this took 25 minutes and by that point the mixture was so tough to stir. Any ideas on why those were the instructions (there is no place to question or comment on that recipe)? I'm just trying to compare ingredients to your recipe and curious on the difference in technique and looking for insight. Thanks.

    1. Huh, I'm really no sure why they would take that approach so I really can't say. Sorry! I have made this version many times with lots of success though! I hope you like it!

  20. 5 stars
    While I think I may be genetically incapable of following a recipe exactly, I did "sort of" try with this one. I had only dark brown sugar and wonder if I should have used slightly less. Of course, that's not the only variance -- my candy thermometer malfunctioned and I used the ice water test (I've ordered a new one!). It's quite likely I undercooked the mixture because of the fear of overcooking it. I think next time, I might let the mixture cool longer than 5 minutes. Fortunately I had a friend helping me because we stirred for well over 10 minutes! While the end product is a bit soft, it tastes wonderful.

    This is actually the 2nd time I've used your recipe. The first time, I deliberately undercooked and understirred it because I wanted a very soft mixture to mix with cream cheese for a king cake filling. It was delicious too. I still have some left in the freezer which I plan to incorporate in a bread pudding recipe, perhaps with some dried dates.

    1. So glad you enjoyed this recipe! I love the idea of undercooking it to use for king cake as a filling! I'm going to have to try that!

  21. "Store for up to two weeks."

    IN WHAT WORLD MA'AM! I'm lucky if these last 24 hours in my house. Having lived in Savannah for a good portion of my adult life, you have done a fantastic job with this recipe!