- 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
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.
Pecan Praline Recipe FAQ
A pecan is a type of nut while a praline is a type of candy that is made with sugar and nuts. While pecans are the most common type of nut used in pralines, almonds or hazelnuts will work too.
Most any good Southerner knows that pecan pralines and praline pecans are not the same thing, despite the confusingly similar names. Praline pecans and candied pecans are individual sugared nuts that are much closer to each other than the melt-in-your mouth patties or discs that are the pecan pralines we are making with this recipe. You could grab a handful of praline pecans and pop them into your mouth one-by-one whereas with a pecan praline you would pick up one of them and eat it more like a cookie, even though it’s a candy. Confusing? Yes, but let’s just go with it.
Pecans and their candied version, pralines, are so intertwined as to have become synonymous to some folks, I suppose. You could probably get away with throwing in sugared pralines into a recipe that call for regular old pecans and it would still turn out.
If your pralines don’t turn out just the way you wanted them too, all is not lost. You might be able to save them just by stirring in some very, very hot water if the pralines are seizing because they were stirred too much. I’ve had great success with this approach because this is my number one mistake. If all else fails and the pecan pralines got too crumbly and dry, you can still sprinkle them over ice cream or mix them into homemade vanilla ice cream for a delicious treat.