Make Perfect Pralines: Five Secrets from a New Orleans Pro

Pralines are a classic Southern treat, but they can be tricky to make. If you’ve ever ended up with grainy, gritty pralines, you’re not alone. But don’t worry, there are a few secrets to making perfect pralines that are sure to impress your friends and family.

In this article, we’ll share five secrets from a New Orleans pro that will help you make the best pralines ever. We’ll also answer the question: why are my pralines gritty?

Five Secrets to Making Perfect Pralines

Here are five secrets to making perfect pralines, as shared by Anne Leonhard, a New Orleans cooking instructor:

  1. Stick to the recipe. This may seem obvious, but it’s important to follow the recipe exactly, especially when it comes to the ingredients and the steps. Pralines are a delicate confection, and any changes to the recipe can throw them off.
  2. Don’t mess with the butter. The amount of butter in a praline recipe is crucial. Too much butter will make the pralines spread out too much, and too little butter will make them dry and crumbly.
  3. Have everything ready ahead of time. Pralines cook quickly, so it’s important to have all of your ingredients measured and ready to go before you start cooking. This will help you avoid any delays that could cause the pralines to overcook.
  4. Use a large pot. A large pot will give you plenty of room to stir the pralines without them sticking to the bottom of the pot. It will also help to prevent the pralines from burning.
  5. Don’t stop stirring until the pot talks. This is a crucial step in making pralines. As the pralines cook, the sugar will start to crystallize. When you hear the pot “talking” (i.e., the sugar crystals scraping against the sides of the pot), it’s time to stop stirring and start dropping the pralines onto your parchment-lined baking sheet.

Why Are My Pralines Gritty?

If your pralines are gritty, it’s likely because the sugar didn’t get hot enough to fully dissolve. This can happen if you don’t cook the pralines long enough, or if you don’t stir them constantly.

To avoid gritty pralines, make sure to follow the recipe instructions carefully and to cook the pralines until the sugar is completely dissolved. You can also add a tablespoon of corn syrup to the pralines to help prevent crystallization.


Making perfect pralines may seem like a daunting task, but it’s actually quite easy once you know the secrets. By following the tips in this article, you’ll be sure to make delicious, creamy pralines that everyone will love.

Additional Resources

  • Make Perfect Pralines: Five Secrets from a New Orleans Pro (The Kitchn)
  • A Tale of Two Pralines (Good Food Gourmet)
  • Pralines (Wikipedia)


This information is for educational purposes only and should not be considered professional culinary advice. Please consult with a professional chef or culinary expert before making any changes to your praline recipe or cooking technique.

I was the lucky recipient of some really good coconut products from a company called Franklin Baker. One of the items was a bag of super crispy and delicious salted coconut flakes that were both sweet and salty and as crisp as a potato chip. If you ever come across the product, make sure to pick some up. This was not like anything else I had ever had before and really wanted to do it justice. The addition of these crisp, sweet and salty flakes were a perfect accompaniment to the pralines and further enhanced the eating experience.

This is the time to spoon the mixture onto a parchment paper-lined sheet pan (NOT WAX PAPER) After letting them cool fully, store them in a Tupperware container with a lid at room temperature.

One thing I did not follow Chef Paul’s instructions for was to cook the milk with the butter and sugar until it reached the right temperature, and then at the very end, I combined the cream and the vanilla. I decided to go ahead and do this because it’s a legitimate method for creating creamy toffees. I knew this would make a difference because I wanted a creamy result, and it did. When properly prepared, pralines should melt on your tongue because they are sweet but incredibly creamy.

With the addition of butter, milk, and/or cream, the French recipe for caramelized nuts was modified into the beloved Creole dish that we know today when French colonists arrived in the South. The traditional almonds and hazelnuts were replaced in the Creole version with pecans, which are abundant in the South. Many southern homes have passed down family recipes, and those without look for a consistent method to prepare this delicate treat.

I searched for recipes from well-known chefs in the area because pralines are a specialty of Louisiana, especially the city of New Orleans. I came upon recipes from two well-known New Orleans chefs: Chef Paul Prudhomme, the former Executive Chef of the Commander’s Palace (who hired Emeril after he left) and Chef Anne Leonhard, the gregarious and entertaining instructor from the New Orleans School of Cooking. Through his love of cooking and his well-known line of Creole spice blends, Chef Paul went on to accomplish great things on his own and is recognized for having popularized Creole cuisine.

Andrea Badgley is a mom, wife, reader, and writer. She grew up on the coast of Georgia and now lives with her husband and two children in the Appalachian mountains of Virginia. Her work appears in Southern Women’s Review, on the Brevity blog, and on The Daily Post. Follow her on Twitter @andreabadgley.

How It’s Done: Loretta’s Authentic Pralines


Why did my pralines come out grainy?

Avoid The Humidity Plan to make your pralines on a cool, dry day. If it’s humid or rainy, as it was the first time I made pralines, the candy might end up with a more sugary, grainy texture. While delicious, my first batch never did fully harden.

Why did my praline crystallise?

Sometimes, as syrup boils, sugar starts to form back into crystals, which turn hard and cloudy. Crystallisation can be caused by stirring, or a grain of something other than sugar getting into the pan, or often just bad luck.

How do you stop pralines from crystallizing?

A little crystallization in pralines is inevitable but adding a bit of corn syrup can help keep crystals from forming. In this recipe I also butter the sides of the pot and only stir before the sugar comes to a boil. After the candy reaches soft-ball stage, it is left to cool for 10 minutes without agitation.

Why won’t my pralines get hard?

If you beat too long, the candy will seize and start to crumble. If you don’t beat it long enough, then pralines won’t set properly and will stay soft and sticky.

Why do pralines turn out gritty?

If you have a problem with your pralines turning out gritty, chances are that the mixture cooked too long or at too high of a temperature. You will see that the mixture turns crumbly and dry. You can sometimes save it by adding a teaspoon or two of really hot water at a time and stirring it in.

Why are pralines grainy?

When pralines are grainy, it’s likely a result of the mixture of the sugar. Sugar crystallization is the one thing you’ll want to look out for when making pralines. Having patience and paying attention to the mixture will be key to ensuring a good consistency.

What if pralines don’t harden?

If your pralines don’t harden, it is worth giving the mixture another boil and heavy stir. It may also be worth adding buttermilk in small amounts to increase the thickness. Praline mixture has too high of sugar content to become many other things apart from fudge.

Why are my praline candies runny?

One common sight when getting to the end of the cooking process is that your praline candies are runny and almost liquid in appearance. This can be attributed to several factors such as heat, humidity, and ingredients. High heat is going to retard the hardening process.

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