Southern Pecan Pralines

Pralines are the South's iconic candy. These irresistible nuggets of caramel and pecans aren't difficult to make, and the requirements are few: plenty of stirring, patience, and careful attention. A candy thermometer is a surefire key to success.They originated in France, but these sweet, nutty confections found a home in the South centuries ago. By all accounts, the praline was created for a French diplomat named César duc de Choiseul, Comte du Plessis-Praslin, though there's some debate about who, exactly, created it for him. Our praline recipe is simple, but working with sugar can be a little tricky. Here are some handy tips from pastry chef and Southern Living Foods contributor Micah A. Leal: (1) Use a candy thermometer to guarantee that you cook the candy mixture to the right temperature. (2) Prep everything before you start cooking so you aren't scrambling in mid-stir. (3) Protect yourself from burns by using a big pot since the hot candy mixture can splash up. (Is it PRAH-leen or PRAY-leen? Depends on whether you're from Louisiana or Texas. Or the Gulf Coast. Or Georgia. The bigger question is, are they made with puh-CAHNS or PEE-cans?).

Southern Pecan Pralines
Photo: Southern Living
Active Time:
30 mins
Total Time:
40 mins
1 1/2 to 2 dozen


  • 2 cups sugar

  • 2 cups pecan halves

  • 3/4 cup buttermilk

  • 2 tablespoons butter

  • 1/8 teaspoon salt

  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda

  • Parchment paper


  1. Combine first 5 ingredients in a large heavy saucepan. Cook over low heat, stirring gently, 10 minutes or until sugar dissolves. Cover and cook over medium heat 2 to 3 minutes to wash down sugar crystals from sides of pan. Uncover and cook, stirring constantly, until a candy thermometer registers 235°F (soft ball stage).

  2. Remove from heat, and stir in baking soda. Beat with a wooden spoon just until mixture begins to thicken. Working rapidly, drop by tablespoonfuls onto parchment paper; let stand 30 minutes or until firm.

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