Paula’s Pecan Pralines

One nice thing about being a Texan is we can choose on any given day, if we’d prefer to be Southerners or simply Texans. At least that’s my take on it. And today, given the fact that I’ve been reading my Paula Deen cookbook, I’m going with Southerner.

The book is The Lady and Sons Dessert Book. It was written after Paula’s Savannah restaurant became successful, but before she became a Food TV superstar. It’s a piece of history, and you can buy it off Amazon….unless of course, you’re lucky enough to find it at Half Price Books, where some crazy person gave it up. Now y’all, tell me. Why would anyone sell a Paula Deen book?

Paula’s praline recipe, as expected, turns out perfect pralines. These aren’t the sticky, caramel kind (which in my opinion, aren’t worthy of being called pralines) but the creamy-yet- firm-and-somewhat-chalky-for-lack-of-a-better-descriptor type.

Here’s my tip. If you boil it to 236 degrees (forget all that hooey about dropping it into cold water and seeing if it forms a soft ball – use a candy or deep fry thermometer) it should set. However, it might not set as quickly as you expect. I do not know if humidity really affects candy, but it’s muggy here and my candy took a while to set. It did set, though.

paula deen pralines.jpg

Paula's Pecan Pralines
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Southern style pralines
Recipe type: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Serves: 18
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups light brown sugar, packed
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons dark Karo syrup
  • 1 cup evaporated milk
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups pecan halves (I toast the pecans first)
  1. Butter the sides of a heavy saucepan. Place the sugar, salt, corn syrup, milk, and butter in saucepan and set over medium heat. Cook, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until sugars have dissolved and mixture comes to a boil. Continue to cook to a soft ball stage, approximately 236 degrees F on candy thermometer, stirring very often (watch your heat. If it gets to hot, the candy could boil over. Remove from heat and allow candy to cool for 10 minutes in pan. (Note: I had to let it rest for at least 20. At 10 minutes, it was still to droopy to add the vanilla and pecans.
  2. Add the vanilla and nuts, and beat with a spoon by hand for approximately 2 minutes or until candy is slightly thick and begins to lose its gloss. Quickly drop heaping tablespoons onto waxed paper. If the candy becomes stiff, add a few drops of hot water.


  1. says

    Jen, there are quite a few cake recipes. Most of them call for self-rising flour, which is interesting. I’ll need to pull my self-rising flour out of the deep freeze.

  2. says

    Do you remember months ago when I emailed you to ask for help? This is exactly what I was looking for. Thank you!

  3. says

    I am fortunate enough to have a friend who has gifted me with all of Paula’s books. Have you read her biography? It reads just like she talks. The humidity here on the coast does not usually go well with making pralines unfortunately. I have been lucky though upon occasion to make some good ones. Her recipe looks like a good one.

  4. says

    Therese, the gooey bar recipe is in her book. I’m sure I’ll given them a try at some point. She lists quite a few variations as well.

    Tori, good luck making these! I don’t remember that email, but I have a bad memory.

    Anj, I almost bought her biography in the airport. I know I’d enjoy it.

  5. says

    I love this book. I use it for all my holiday candy making. The recipe for divinity is divine! I get so many complements from it. I tried the praline recipe this year and everyone loved it.
    You can also find her books at Sam’s and some bigger Wal-Mart’s.
    OH–if you like cajun food, try the shrimp gumbo casserole recipe…yummm!!

  6. says

    oops…the shrimp gumbo recipe won’t be in the desserts book…lol! It’s in Paula’s The Lady & Sons Savannah Country Cookbook.

  7. Doris Wilder says

    Paula, I love your shows and recipes,but for some reason the pecan pralines never lost their gloss. I melted them back down and made sure the candy thermometer was the soft ball and I beat the dickens out of them. They are more like very chewy caramels, never did lose the gloss–help. I have a brand new food network candy thermometer. I never give up what should I do?
    Thanks, you are my buddy–Doris

  8. says

    Hi Doris,

    I’m not actually Paula Deen, but I’ll be your buddy too ;).

    It sounds like your sugar mixture just didn’t get quite hot enough during the boil. It could have had to do with the weather, so you might want to try again. This time, cook your sugar mixture until it’s closer to 240 degrees and make sure you let it cool for 10 minutes before beating. Good luck!

  9. Lauren says

    I also had issues with getting very dark, chewy caramel instead of sugary crystallized pralines. I’ve been reading some sites saying that means I heated it past the candy stages, but you say it means the temp was too low?

    Can you give me more info on working with sugar? Thanks, love your blog and all of your scrumptious cookies recipe. The photos really make the recipes look mouth-wateringly good!

  10. Jackie says

    I’m going to have to make these. We tried pralines for the first time when we were in Savannah last summer. They were really good but expensive when you are trying to feed five. I promised I’d make some when we got home and I promptly forgot. We saw the outside of Paula’s restaurant but didn’t eat there as even though I live in North Carolina I’m not a big fan of Southern food so I didn’t think we’d get our money’s worth. If it had just been my husband and me I might have gone but I didn’t want to pay for five of us to eat there. I need to win the lottery so that I can enjoy myself without worrying about money.

  11. gumbo recipe says

    The pralines look delicious! I would really like to taste them, so I will ask my wife to make them! Sincerely hope that they taste the same way they look! If they do, looks like I am going to gain a few pounds extra soon.

  12. Lisa says

    In an argument with co-workers as to the proper pronunciation for praline. I go with the Southern “praw”-line version. My co-horts tend to want to “pray” to it. Am deferring to you as referee.

    Best regards,

  13. says

    Wow, thanks for the vote of confidence. I think both ways are correct, but since I’m a slack-jawed Texan I say Pray-leen. What I will never say is Pee-Kan. That it just wrong. They’re Peh Kawns.

  14. sharon says

    i made them and they did not set up what can i do with the mixture i want to try to use what i have to make them or can i make some kind of candy

  15. Janie says

    I make pecan pralines all the time. Sometimes they turn white from what I think its the sugar crystalizing. What is causing it to do this and how can I prevent it from happening?

  16. Guy says

    Just found this book at my local Walmart. They now have Paula’s books! So if you don’t have it or want another copy go to your local Walmart! 🙂

  17. Lauren says

    I have been using this recipe for about five years… works great every time. I use half and half for the milk. I sell these pralines at a local festival in the fall.

  18. says

    Can you use white syrup not the dark.
    I used a receive today and they were sugary. Does the weather change the way they turn out?

  19. says

    Cathy, there are some other recipes out there that use white. You might want to check the Karo corn syrup website. I usually just use white corn syrup for these. And yes, I think the weather does affect the outcome.

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