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We will be making these Buttermilk-Pecan Pralines all year long. New Orleans’ favorite candy is a true marriage of old-world European tradition combined with Southern ingenuity. When the French settled New Orleans in the 1700s, they brought their version of pralines, a simple sweet made by cooking whole almonds with granulated sugar until they became crisp and caramelized. African-American cooks transformed the French treat by using abundant, native-grown pecans in place of the more costly almonds; they eventually stirred butter and milk or cream into the original recipe. These innovative bakers created a new, richer, and more irresistible confection, and their pralines—simultaneously crunchy, creamy, fudgy, and sweet—have become a true American classic. For ease in shaping big, beautiful pralines, portion the mixture into paper baking cups, removing them once the candies are set.

Nancie McDermott and Jill O'Connor


Read the full recipe after the video.

Recipe Summary

20 mins
1 hr 40 mins
16 large pralines


Ingredient Checklist


Instructions Checklist
  • Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. (If using paper baking cups, place 16 cups on baking sheet or on a tray.)

  • Stir together sugars, buttermilk, cream, corn syrup, and salt in a heavy, 2-quart saucepan; attach a candy thermometer to side of pan. Place pan over low; cook, stirring constantly, until sugars are melted and mixture is smooth, 5 to 8 minutes.

  • Increase heat to medium-high, and bring mixture to a boil. Boil gently until the thermometer reaches 230˚F to 235˚F (soft-ball stage), 10 to 12 minutes. Remove from heat; let cool to 220°F, 6 to 8 minutes.

  • Using a wooden spoon, vigorously stir in butter and vanilla, stirring until mixture turns creamy and opaque. Stir in pecans and bourbon, and quickly spoon out 1⁄4-cup portions onto prepared baking sheets or into paper baking cups.

  • Let pralines stand until completely cool, about 1 hour. Serve immediately, or wrap each praline individually in wax paper or plastic wrap, and store in an airtight container for up to 1 week.