Meet the luscious dessert sauce of your dreams — this homemade pecan praline sauce! Made with toasted pecans and rich dark brown sugar, this praline sauce adds the most exquisite touch to any dessert. Plus, it’s surprisingly simple to make and comes together in fewer than 20 minutes. You’ll want to drizzle this decadent sauce all over ice cream, cheesecake, brownies, cakes and more.
Why You’ll Love This Recipe
A Southern classic: Southerns know good food. As a Southern staple in A Southern classic: Southerns know excellent food. As a Southern staple in desserts, you can be sure this pecan praline sauce is the perfect topping for any sweet treat. This is a classic dessert sauce for a reason — it's a tried and true favorite.
That nutty pecan flavor: You'll love the depth of flavor the pecan adds to this sauce. Yes, it's sweet, but it's not overly cloying. Any dessert gets a touch of complexity when paired with this recipe.
Doubles as a wonderful hosting or holiday gift: Who doesn't love receiving homemade gifts? Package this sauce in a mason jar with a beautiful ribbon and anyone will appreciate this thoughtful gesture.
Enjoy one versatile, quick and simple recipe: In addition to being dreamy and delicious, this buttery praline sauce is simple to make, you can whip up a batch in no time, and it elevates so many desserts. Drizzle praline sauce on bread pudding, vanilla ice cream, brownies or cheesecake. Use it as a filling for cupcakes or cake.
You could even eat it by the spoonful, and I wouldn't judge. I'd be lying if I said I've never been guilty of that.
Related: If you can't get enough dessert sauces, try this bourbon caramel sauce.
Before we jump into the cooking process, let's discuss some ingredient notes to ensure you prepare the perfect batch of homemade praline sauce.
Dark brown sugar: I prefer to use dark brown sugar rather than light brown sugar. Dark brown sugar has more molasses for a richer flavor. Of course, that's just my personal preference. You certainly can substitute light brown sugar, but I have no doubt you'll love the results the dark variety gives.
Dark corn syrup: Like above, I prefer dark corn syrup over light corn syrup for the flavor.
Butter: This recipe uses salted butter. If you prefer unsalted butter, simply taste and add an extra pinch of salt if necessary.
Heavy cream: For the most decadent sauce with the best flavor, don't substitute half and half. We want all that creamy goodness.
Vanilla: Make sure you use pure vanilla extract or vanilla paste. Imitation vanilla doesn't add near the flavor.
Cornstarch: This ingredient ensures our sauce shows off the perfect thick consistency. If you skip this, your sauce will be much thinner.
Step 1: We begin by melting butter in a small saucepan over medium heat and cooking the pecans with a wooden spoon until they turn toasty and fragrant (photo 1).
Step 2: Now we whisk in the dark brown sugar, heavy whipping cream, corn syrup, cornstarch and just a touch of salt. The mixture may look a bit lumpy initially, but we keep whisking until it boils and thickens (photo 2). As we whisk, it will smooth out.
Step 3: For our last step, we turn off the heat and stir in our vanilla extract like so (photo 3).
And that's it! In just three simple steps, we have the perfect sweet sauce to adorn your favorite desserts.
Serve With These Desserts
Oh, boy — as discussed, you have a lot of serving options here. I initially published this recipe as a filling for my apple spice cupcakes, but that's just one idea. Here are plenty of other dessert recipes that pair beautifully with this sauce.
- Pumpkin pound cake
- Apple shortcakes
- Carrot pound cake
- Brown butter-pumpkin cupcakes
- Stout brownies
- Banana bundt cake
Custards and ice creams
- Bourbon-pumpkin ice cream
- Banana cheesecake
- Bourbon-peach clafoutis
- Butterscotch ice cream
- Gingerbread ice cream
The primary difference is praline sauce uses brown sugar while caramel uses white sugar. Praline sauce also includes chopped pecans. Caramel, however, doesn't traditionally include any chopped nuts.
Lucky you — there's no need to mess with a candy thermometer for this recipe. Once the sauce thickens, it's perfect. We don't have to cook it to a specific temperature like if you were to make praline candy.
Once cooled, pour the sauce into an airtight container, and it should last several weeks. The sugar acts as a preservative to give it staying power. I typically store it in room temperature, but you can also keep it in the refrigerator if you prefer.
Be aware of any nut allergies: If you're serving this to anyone with a nut allergy, do not add pecans. Instead, melt the butter and then whisk in the other ingredients as directed.
Heat for a drizzling consistency: As the sauce sits, it will thicken. This thicker consistency is perfect if you want to spoon into cupcakes as a filling, but it will be a bit too thick to use as an ice cream topping. A quick trip to the microwave takes care of this.
Don't overcook the pecans: Just toast the pecans until they turn fragrant and then reserve on a plate off the heat. There's a fine line between toasting and burning. Once you burn the pecans, there's no turning back.
Keep a watchful eye: Sugar mixtures can rapidly go from barely bubbling to a roaring boil.
For this praline sauce, I recommend a barley wine, preferably aged in bourbon barrels. Barley wine is great with this praline sauce because it has a malty sweetness reminiscent of burned sugar and toffee. Those flavors meld well with the nutty notes of the praline sauce, and barley wine is bold enough to stand up to the sauce's richness.
On the wine side, a tawny port is the perfect choice. I always love a good tawny with nutty and caramel-like desserts, which has similar notes, so the two complement each other nicely.
Keep your sweet tooth satisfied and whip up this easy pecan praline sauce recipe. You're in for a real treat.
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Pecan Praline Sauce
- Small saucepan
- ¼ cup butter
- ½ cup chopped pecans
- 1 cup packed dark brown sugar
- 1 cup heavy cream
- ¼ cup dark corn syrup
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- Pinch of salt
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract or paste
- Melt butter in a small skillet over medium heat. Add pecans and cook for about four minutes until the pecans are toasted and the butter begins to brown.
- Whisk in dark brown sugar, heavy cream, dark corn syrup, cornstarch and salt. Constantly whisking, cook until the sauce comes to a boil and thickens. This should take about six to eight minutes.
- Turn off the heat and stir in vanilla extract. Enjoy!
- Be aware of any nut allergies. If you're serving this to anyone with a nut allergy, do not add pecans. Instead, melt the butter and then whisk in the other ingredients as directed.
- As the sauce sits, it will thicken. This thicker consistency is perfect if you want to spoon into cupcakes as a filling, but it will be a bit too thick to use as an ice cream topping. A quick trip to the microwave takes care of this.
- Nutritional information is only an estimate. The accuracy of the nutritional information for any recipe on this site is not guaranteed.