These unique and completely irresistible praline cookies are studded with chopped pecans and topped with an easy praline candy topping. No chilling and no candy thermometer required! Recipe includes a how-to video!
Praline Candy Cookies
There’s a lot to love in these humble-looking cookies. From the pecan-packed, thick and melt-in-your-mouth cookie base to the salty-sweet praline topping, these would be the perfect cookie to grace your Thanksgiving dessert table (or your Christmas cookie tray). Truly the perfect embodiment of candy meets cookie, this is a must-try recipe!
Why you’ll love these praline cookies:
- Unique: a refreshing change from your typical snickerdoodles or oatmeal cookies, I got really creative developing this recipe and am so pleased with how they turned out. I bet you haven’t had a cookie quite like this before!
- No chilling required: Simply prepare the dough and go!
- No fancy ingredients: everything should be in your pantry already–don’t you love when that happens?
- No candy thermometer needed: while this isn’t exactly a true praline-candy topping, it certainly passes as one! The topping comes together so fast without any fussiness and tastes amazing.
- The texture is INCREDIBLE. I wanted cookies with a thick base that melted in your mouth. The lightly salted candy coating gives way to such tender cookies, that are also chock-full-of chopped pecans!
These praline cookies aren’t quite as flat or chewy as the rest of my cookies, and this was intentional; they need to hold their own under the praline topping! The base was also designed to not be overly sweet, as the candy coating is quite sweet. The two parts balance each other beautifully and I really am excited for you to try them!
While these praline cookies taste totally gourmet, they don’t require any fancy ingredients–just basic pantry staples. Here are the most important ones you’ll need.
- Unsalted butter. While some of my cookie recipes start with melted butter, we’re using softened butter here today. This means these praline cookies won’t be quite as flat and chewy (remember, that’s intentional!) as some of my other cookies (like my butterfinger cookies), but it also means there is NO chilling required–so it’s a trade off 😊
- Cornstarch. I use this for that melt-in-your-mouth texture, similar to pecan sandies!
- Pecans. We’ll add pecans to the cookie dough AND on top of the praline topping for maximum flavor. For even more flavor, I recommend you toast your pecans before chopping them; it’s easy to do, especially if you check out my post on how to toast pecans.
- Sugar. A combination of granulated and light brown sugar makes these praline cookies super flavorful.
- Sea salt. A sprinkle of sea salt balances the flavors perfectly and offsets the sweetness of the topping. Optional, but highly recommended!
SAM’S TIP: If you forget to set your eggs out ahead of time, check out my post on how to quickly bring eggs to room temperature. It’s a life saver when you’re in a pinch!
Remember, this is just an overview of the ingredients I used and why. For the full recipe please scroll down to the bottom of the post!
How to Make Praline Cookies
Make the Cookie Dough
- Cream together the butter and sugars very well, until the mixture is light and fluffy.
- Stir in the eggs and vanilla until well-combined.
- Whisk together the dry ingredients in a separate bowl, then gradually add them to the wet ingredients. I like to do this in 4-5 parts.
- Add the chopped pecans and stir they are until evenly distributed throughout the dough.
SAM’S TIP: This is a stiff, dry cookie dough, so add the dry ingredients gradually, preferably in several parts. If you try to add them all at once, you will have a very tough time bringing the dough together.
- Roll 2-tablespoon sized scoops of dough between your palms before placing 2″ apart on parchment lined baking sheets.
- Bake at 375F (190C) for 9-11 minutes or until the cookies are just starting to turn golden brown around the edges. Do NOT over-bake! If the cookies are overcooked, they’ll be too crisp, dry, and crumbly, and sadly a bit flavorless, too! The horror!
Make the Topping
Anytime you’re making candy, you need to make sure you have all of your ingredients measured and nearby (including your cooled cookies!) before you start cooking the praline topping. This comes together FAST.
- Cook the brown sugar, cream, butter, and salt over medium-low heat until the butter melts, then increase the heat to medium. Let the mixture come to a full boil.
- Boil for one minute, stirring constantly, then remove from the heat and whisk in the vanilla extract and powdered sugar until smooth.
- Check the consistency: drizzle the topping over a cooled cookie; if it runs off, keep stirring. If it stays on the cookie, you are good to go!
- Work one cookie at a time, drizzling with topping and immediately sprinkling with chopped pecans. Add a sprinkle of flaky sea salt, let the topping set, and enjoy!
SAM’S TIP: It is SO important that you do NOT over-bake these praline cookies! Over-baking will make them turn out dry and crumbly where they should be soft and melt-in-your-mouth. To make sure they’re not over-baking, check the bottoms of your first batch; they shouldn’t be too brown (they should be a very light golden, hardly darker than the top of the cookie). If yours are, reduce the bake time by a minute or two.
Frequently Asked Questions
This praline topping solidifies very quickly, so it’s important for you to work fast when topping your cookies. If you aren’t quick enough, the topping will turn grainy, but it will still taste just fine! If you’re concerned about this, I recommend having a helper to make sure you can work as quickly as possible.
I specifically designed the cookie part of this recipe to not be too sweet since we’re adding a super sweet praline topping. As a result, these cookies probably would not be sweet enough on their own without the topping. I’d suggest you try my butter pecan cookies instead!
Yes! Simply follow the instructions for drop cookies in my how to freeze cookie dough post. You can also freeze your baked (and topped!) praline cookies in an airtight container for up to 3 months–perfect for the busy holiday baking season!
These praline cookies will be such a hit on your Christmas cookie tray this year!
For the cookie dough
- 1 cup (226 g) unsalted butter softened
- 1 cup (200 g) light brown sugar firmly packed
- ½ cup (100 g) granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 3 ⅓ cups (416 g) all-purpose flour
- 2 Tablespoons cornstarch
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ¾ teaspoon table salt
- 2 cups (200 g) finely chopped toasted pecans
- Preheat oven to 375F (190C) and line baking sheet with parchment paper. Set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine butter and sugar and use an electric mixer to beat until lightened and creamy.1 cup (226 g) unsalted butter, 1 cup (200 g) light brown sugar, ½ cup (100 g) granulated sugar
- Add eggs and vanilla extract and stir well.2 large eggs, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- In a separate, medium-sized mixing bowl, whisk together flour, cornstarch, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.3 ⅓ cups (416 g) all-purpose flour, 2 Tablespoons cornstarch, 2 teaspoons baking powder, ½ teaspoon baking soda, ¾ teaspoon table salt
- Gradually add the dry ingredients to the wet until completely combined. Dough will be dry, add the flour in 4-5 parts and stir well after each addition.
- Stir in pecans until well distributed2 cups (200 g) finely chopped toasted pecans
- Scoop dough into 2-Tablespoon sized balls and place on baking sheet, spacing cookies at least 2” apart.
- Transfer to center rack of 375F (190C) oven and bake for 9-11 minutes, until cookies are just beginning to turn a very light golden brown around the edges. Allow cookies to cool while you prepare praline topping.
For praline topping
- Combine brown sugar, cream, butter, and salt in a medium-sized saucepan over medium-low heat. Cook, stirring, until butter is melted, and increase heat to medium.1 cup (200 g) light brown sugar, ⅓ cup (78 ml) heavy cream, ¼ cup (57 g) unsalted butter, ¼ teaspoon table salt
- Cook, stirring frequently, until mixture comes to a full boil. Boil, stirring constantly, for one minute (use a timer!) then remove from heat and immediately stir in vanilla extract and powdered sugar. Whisk until smooth (it will seem lumpy at first but will come together). The topping will begin to solidify quickly so you must act fast. If it is too runny to stay on the cookies, continue to stir until it isn’t, but don’t wait too long as it really does become firm fast!¾ teaspoon vanilla extract, 1 cup (125 g) powdered sugar
- Spoon topping over each cookie, immediately topping with a small sprinkling of toasted pecans after adding praline layer (you must do this immediately, the topping hardens fast! Sometimes I like to have a second set of hands to immediately add the nuts).¼ cup finely chopped toasted pecans for sprinkling
- Sprinkle flaky sea salt on top of each cookie (if using, recommended). Allow topping to set then enjoy.Flaky sea salt
Baking noteDon’t over-bake! If you do, the cookies will be dry and crumbly, they should be soft and melt-in-your-mouth in their centers with crisp exteriors once cooled completely. The edges should just be beginning to turn very light golden when they’re finished baking. If the bottom of the cookie is dark, it’s a good sign they were baked too long.
StoringStore in an airtight container at room temperature for up to a week.
Nutritional information is based on third-party calculations and should be considered an estimate only. Actual nutritional content will vary based upon brands used, measuring methods, cooking method, portion sizes, and more.