Buttermilk-Pecan Pralines

Active Time: 20 MinsTotal Time1 Hour 40 Mins
Yield: 16 large pralines

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.


  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups packed dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup whole buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, chopped into small pieces, at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 1/2 cups pecan halves, toasted
  • 2 tablespoons (1 oz.) bourbon, rum, or Tennessee whiskey

How to Make It

Step 1

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

Step 2

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.

Step 3

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.

Step 4

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.

Step 5

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.

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