Pecan praline sauce is a versatile dessert sauce that works just as beautifully on french toast and pancakes as it does on ice cream. You’ll love how simple it is to make this rich brown sugar caramel sauce. You won’t even need special equipment to make this easy praline sauce recipe.
Most people have tried caramel, but have you ever had its brown sugar nutty cousin, praline sauce? If you’ve never had a praline, or tried praline sauce, you are in for a treat today! This easy praline sauce is what happens when you cook praline ingredients long enough to melt the sugar and cause it to caramelize, but not long enough to reach the stage where you beat it into praline candy. And this sauce is AMAZING! The recipe doesn’t even require a candy thermometer! But it does require a spot on your summer ice cream toppings menu, or on a cake, drizzled over fruit, pancakes… you’ll find ways to get creative with this, promise.
What makes praline sauce different than caramel sauce?
For starters, caramel sauce is typically made with granulated sugar. Praline sauce, on the other hand, is made with brown sugar. Like caramel sauce, both can be made without the aid of a candy thermometer. You’re simply looking for changes in either color (caramel sauce) or texture (this recipe).
If you think making praline sauce sounds challenging, please don’t! As with my stay-soft caramel sauce recipe, you’ll see that both dessert sauces are easy to make with ingredients you may already have at home!
Praline sauce also typically has pecans added in because the praline candies usually have pecans. The nuts add a subtle flavor to the sauce and helps you differentiate between that and caramel sauce in a pinch. Both look very similar in a jar, but the flavor profiles are different.
How do I make this recipe?
Grab a saucepot, a wooden spoon or spatula, a jar or other heat-proof container, the ingredients, and the recipe below! Once you have your ingredients measured out, you just need to add everything to the pot at the right time, watch, and stir.
The thing I found most intimidating when I started making this recipe is that you can’t watch for color change to know when it’s ready. You need to stir and feel for a change in texture. With caramel sauce, you watch for the lovely copper penny color, but brown sugar already has color! And you start with the butter in the pot, which means it’s not even really the same chemical process as caramel making anyway! Here, you’re looking for a consistency that just coats the back of the spoon.
What do I mean by coats the back of the spoon? I mean that when you lift your spatula out of the pot of sauce, enough of the sauce stays on that you can draw a line through it. It’s not a super thick coating – the sauce does thicken as it cools. You’ll also feel a change in the consistency while stirring. Instead of stirring something that feels like soup, it’ll feel like stirring a stew.
To make sure you’re successful, don’t walk away. Like caramel making, you have to be vigilant the whole time you are cooking. The entire process only takes about 10 minutes anyway, so it’s not that bad, I promise. And the recipe makes a little over 2 cups of sauce, which lasts a month in the refrigerator. It also freezes pretty well, so you can split it into 2 smaller jars if you’d like.
I’m a little embarrased to admit it, but I think I’ve only frozen a portion of this recipe once. It’s been so popular in the house the past few months with the family (and some lucky neighbors). Once you try it, I know you’ll totally understand why.
Gather your ingredients, make sure there’s some ice cream in the freezer, and enjoy!
- 1/2 cup salted butter, cut into tablespoon-sized cubes (see notes)
- 1 cup packed brown sugar (light or dark)
- 3/4 cup chopped pecans
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Place the butter in a single layer in a heavy-bottomed saucepan. Top with the sugar. If you are using unsalted butter and salt, add the salt here. Melt the mixture over medium heat until smooth, stirring frequently.
- Add the pecans when the butter is almost totally melted and cook for 3 minutes, stirring often, until the pecans are fragrant. If using already toasted pecans, only cook 1-2 minutes so the pecans don't burn.
- Reduce the heat to low and whisk in the heavy cream. Increase the heat to a medium-low and bring to a simmer. Stir constantly until you feel the mixture thicken. This will only take about 3-4 minutes.
- Remove the praline sauce from the heat and stir in the vanilla. It will bubble a bit, so be careful!
- Transfer the sauce to a heat-proof container like a glass jar and allow it to stand for 10 minutes before serving warm. Extra sauce can be refrigerated up to 2 weeks or frozen up to one month.
- If you don't have salted butter, use unsalted butter and add 1/4 teaspoon salt to the recipe.
- You can use toasted or untoasted pecans. If you use untoasted pecans, you'll get a stronger pecan flavor until the next day. The pecan flavor is a little more prominent with toasted pecans, but you have to be careful not to burn them when cooking.
- To warm refrigerated sauce, reheat the sauce in 10-second intervals at 80% power in the microwave to use later. Alternatively, allow it to stand at room temperature for about 10-15 minutes. It won't be easy to drizzle, but still very easy to spoon onto whatever you'd like.
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