Home Desserts What Are Pralines? (+ How to Make Them)

What Are Pralines? (+ How to Make Them)

You may have heard of this buttery treat and even enjoyed it. But have you ever wondered: “What are pralines?” 

Pralines are a type of sweet candy with tons of flavor and a nutty crunch.

Stack of homemade pecan pralines with caramel sauce
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They’re also a popular treat in the South but also around the world. There are plenty of different variations.

From different types of nuts to different sugars and flavors, the possibilities are endless.

What Are Pralines?

Pralines are a type of candy made with sugar and nuts. They have different ingredients depending on where they come from. 

American pralines are a sticky-sweet, fudgy kind of candy. They’re usually made with pecans, brown sugar, and cream. 

French pralines are made with almonds and are often used as a filling for chocolate confections. 

There are also Belgian pralines, which are similar to the French candies. These come in chocolate form and have a hazelnut or ground almond paste center.

Regardless of what kind you prefer, we can all agree they’re fantastic. 

A plate of pecan pralines with caramel sauce, a delightful treat for any occasion

History of Pralines

Although the exact history of pralines is unclear, historians believe they originated in France. It started with a 17th-century French diplomat named César, duc de Choiseul, comte du Plessis-Praslin. 

César’s personal chef, Clement Lassagne, is credited with creating a sugary almond treat. 

After that, it’s rumored that Ursuline nuns brought them to New Orleans in the 1720s. 

Pralines soon became one of the first street foods in America. They were made by emancipated black women working to make a living in post-Civil War America. 

In the U.S., brown sugar and pecans were more widely available. Over time, these small adjustments were made, and the pralines we know today were born. 

We can thank the smart thinking of these African-American women for irresistible pralines. 

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A variety of chocolate pralines in a white plate on a wooden board

Types of Praline

There are three main types of praline. They come from all around the world and can vary greatly from one another. 

American pralines are made with simple, delicious ingredients. The most common ingredients include brown sugar, granulated sugar, butter, and pecans. 

They’re popular in the Southern U.S. and can be eaten as a snack or dessert. They’re also often crushed up and used in other desserts, confections, or baked goods. 

Belgian pralines are “soft-center Belgian chocolates.” They’re a chocolate confection with a chocolate outer shell. On the inside, they have a milky hazelnut or almond filling. 

The original French pralines are made with almonds and caramelized sugar. They’re crispy, crunchy, and super sweet. This recipe is sometimes ground into a powder and called “pralin.” Pralin is used to create the filling for Belgian chocolates. 

How Do You Pronounce Praline?

We know pralines come from different parts of the world. With different languages and dialects, things are bound to get lost in translation. It only makes sense there are multiple ways to pronounce it. 

Some people prefer to say prah-lean. This is the common pronunciation in Louisiana and the Gulf states. 

In other parts of the Southern U.S., praline is pronounced pray-lean. You’ll hear it said this way in states like Georgia and Alabama. 

If you want to get technical, Merriam-Webster states it’s pronounced prah-lean. Either way, tom-ay-to, tom-ah-to, right? 

Raw Organic Pecans in a Glass Jar

How to Make Pralines

Even though there are different praline recipes, the technique remains basically the same. 

1. Combine sugar, butter, and a liquid over medium heat. The liquid is usually milk, evaporated milk, or cream.

2. Boil the mixture until it reaches a certain temperature. This is often around 240º Fahrenheit. 

3. Add the nuts along with some kind of flavoring or extract. You can use whole or chopped nuts. You can even try a combination of your favorite nut varieties. 

It’s also fun to experiment with flavorings like almond extract or maple extract. Try using liquor for a fun twist. 

4. Beat the mixture until it thickens slightly. Drop them by the spoonful or form them into patties on a baking sheet or nonstick surface. 

Once they’re cooled to room temperature, they’re ready to enjoy!

I highly suggest investing in a candy thermometer. There are other ways to check the doneness of the caramel. However, the most safe and accurate way is with a candy thermometer. 

As with any recipe, have fun with it! You can always customize them to your liking. Add chocolate, dried fruits, toasted coconut, or spices. Whatever sounds good, it doesn’t hurt to try!

What Are Pralines?

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author avatar
Kim - InsanelyGood
Hey there! I'm Kim. I love running, cooking, and curling up with a good book! I share recipes for people who LOVE good food, but want to keep things simple :)

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