Crunchy pecan pralines and salted caramel sauce are swirled through smooth no-churn ice cream. The result is a Pecan Praline Ice Cream that is easy to make, sweet, crunchy and downright delicious!
As we’re inching closer to the Summer months, Summer frozen treats like ice creams and popsicles are at the forefront of my mind! Homemade Crème Brûlée Ice Cream, Salted Caramel Brownie Ice Cream and Chocolate Raspberry Bars are popular choices here at home. I’d love to say it’s my kids who adore ice cream, but in fact, it’s my hubby, Anthony who has an unbelievable weakness for it! It doesn't take him long to finish off my Chocolate Hazelnut Semifreddo!!
This Praline and Cream Ice Cream is fast becoming a favourite. Rightly so! It’s unbelievable. The ice cream base is a no-churn vanilla ice cream that is so easy to make and no ice cream machine is needed to make it. We’re making the pecan praline, so I wanted to keep this component simple for you.
The vanilla ice cream is then swirled with my foolproof Salted Caramel Sauce (totally optional, but I well recommend it!). The hero though is without a doubt the homemade pecan pralines which create the most amazingly sweet, nutty crunch throughout. This is unbelievable - don’t take my word for it, let’s deep dive into how we make it.
What is praline?
Before we get into the recipe and how to make it, I can hear you asking... but what exactly is pecans praline? Originating from French Settlers into New Orleans, it's a combination of sugar (usually brown), butter and cream cooked on the stovetop until thickened and a fudge-like consistency.
Nuts, usually pecans, but also almonds and hazelnuts are added to the candy to coat them, then this mixture is dropped in spoonfuls onto a baking tray and left to harden.
We’re solely using pecans as our nut of choice. When made, I guarantee it will be near impossible to not snack on these before adding them to the ice cream!
Why you'll love this recipe
- Uses basic ingredients. Each component of this recipe uses a minimal list of ingredients.
- The perfect combination of textures. You get everything in this ice cream, smooth and creamy texture from the ice cream, crunchy and nutty from the praline and chewy and gooey from the caramel. Heavenly combinations!
- Simple to make. With one saucepan, a bowl and handheld electric beaters, you too can perfect this ice cream.
I’ve split our ingredients into two, the pecan praline and the vanilla ice cream. For the caramel sauce, use my Salted Caramel Sauce recipe, but if you don’t have the inclination to make the sauce, then buy the best quality caramel sauce that you can find.
- Double cream - (Heavy cream) Double cream creates a beautiful pudginess to the candy-coated pecans. You can use buttermilk or evaporated milk in the place of cream.
- Pecan halves - Pecan halves are very commonly found here in the UK and in this recipe, we’re going to be chopping these up before adding them to the candy coating. If you can buy already chopped pecan bits, then, by all means, go for this time-saving option.
No-churn vanilla ice cream
- Double cream (heavy cream) and condensed milk form the base of this recipe. How simple is that!
- Vanilla bean paste - This is how we impart the vanilla flavour into the ice cream. I prefer to use vanilla bean paste as the flavour is more intense than extract and I love seeing the hundreds of vanilla beans throughout the creamy ice cream. I specified extract in the praline, but for both components, you can use either extract or paste. Just steer clear of essence which is artificial flavouring.
Now we know exactly what praline is, and what ingredients are needed to make this incredible ice cream, let's veer our attention to how we create it.
First things first - if you choose to make the caramel sauce, then this is what you make before the pralines and ice cream. My Salted Caramel Sauce guide has a breakdown of images and steps so that you can easily make it. Homemade caramel is far superior to store-bought and can be made ahead of time and stored ready to use for this recipe.
Secondly, you need to make the praline. Top tips when making anything involving boiling sugar is to be prepared with your ingredients (we call this mise en place). Keep your attention firmly on the caramel and if possible, keep little kids out of the kitchen!
Lastly, make the ice cream which takes no more than 2 minutes. No joke. The fun part is layering these three together in the dish, and licking the spoon clean, of course!
*Be sure to see the recipe card below for the full ingredients list & instructions!*
Make the pecan praline
1. Toast the pecans. Preheat the oven to 180C (350F). Whenever I bake with any type of nut, I toast them prior to using them as this makes them more flavourful by intensifying their nuttiness. Lay them out on a baking sheet and bake them for 5 to 8 minutes until they are fragrant and darkened slightly. Then chop them into small pieces (Image 1 & 2).
If using pecan bits (pre-chopped pecans), then still toast them to get the most out of their flavour - but you’ll have to reduce the oven time to about 3 to 5 minutes.
2. Heat up the sugar. Add the brown sugar and cream into a heavy-based saucepan. I prefer to use a cast iron pan (the one in my images is Le Creuset), as the cast iron conducts the heat more evenly. Add a candy thermometer to the side of the pot and heat the ingredients over a medium flame Stir constantly as the sugar dissolves and the mixture comes to a rolling boil. Heat until the mixture comes to softball stage, 115C (240F).
3. Add the butter and pecans. The minute the caramel mixture hits the softball stage, remove it from the heat and add in the butter. Stir it until the butter has melted and is well combined. Be patient - it can take a little while for it to mix together.
Add in the chopped pecans and vanilla extract and stir until coated. (Image 3 & 4)
4. Layout pecans on a tray and let them harden. Working quickly, spread the praline caramel mixture onto the lined baking tray used to toast the pecans. Then set it aside to cool down and for the praline to harden. Then you can break it up or chop it coarsely into the desired size pieces that you want in the ice cream.
Make the praline ice cream.
1. Whip the cream and condensed milk together. Into a large mixing bowl, add the cream, condensed milk and vanilla bean paste. Whip them until soft peaks form. I used a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, but this step can easily be done with hand-held electric beaters. Or you could even do it by hand if you wanted an arm workout (Image 9 & 10).
2. Fold through praline. Add ⅔ of the praline pieces into the ice cream base and fold through trying not to knock out all that lovely air (Image 11 & 12).
3. Layer components into a freezer-safe pan. You could mix the praline, caramel and ice cream altogether in the mixing bowl and pour it directly into the freezer pan. But I like to layer up the components, it makes it look more like store-bought ice cream and the ripples of caramel sauce running through are magic!
Layer ⅓ of the vanilla ice cream into the pan, then drizzle ⅓ of the caramel over the top followed by sprinkling ⅓ or the remaining praline bits onto the caramel. Use a butter knife or chopstick (like I did) and swirl the caramel through (Image 13 & 14). Repeat these layers until all the ice cream is layered into the pan (Image 15 & 16). Make sure to finish off the layering process with a drizzle of caramel and more praline bits for decoration (Image 17 below).
Any leftover caramel and praline can be added over scoops of the praline ice cream when serving. In this case, more is more if you know what I mean!!
Freeze for a minimum of 4 hours.
TIP: To serve, remove the ice cream pan from the freezer for 10 minutes prior to serving. Dip the ice cream scoop into a cup of boiling water and then scoop the ice cream. This will help scoop out ice cream balls.
- Mis en place. When making both the caramel and pecan praline, the best piece of advice that I can give is to weigh out and prepare all your ingredients first. Be prepared with utensils and then start the method.
- Toast the pecans. Get the most out of your ingredients- toasting the pecans heightens and intensifies their flavour and makes them crunchier.
- Don’t overwhip the cream in the ice cream. If using a stand mixer or an electric hand-held whisk to whip the cream and condensed milk, when you think the cream is almost at the perfect stage of whipping, continue with a hand whisk. You are far more in control and will be able to ‘feel’ when the cream is whipped sufficiently.
Frequently asked questions
Butter pecans are a flavouring of ice cream popular in America. The pecans are roasted with butter and vanilla and added to ice cream.
Candied pecans are toasted pecans caramelised in sugar and egg white. Praline involves butter, sugar and cream to form a caramel coating around pecans, almonds or hazelnuts.
Absolutely! If you can find a great quality praline that you love to use, then go for it.
I’ve made this with traditional custard-based ice cream and goodness me is it sensational! The ice cream does take longer to makeover my no-churn version and you need an ice cream maker. If you are willing to go the extra mile, then New York Times has a great Vanilla Ice Cream Recipe.
Store the ice cream in your freezer-safe container in the freezer for up to 2 months.
If you have any leftover pecan praline, store it in an airtight container for up to 3 weeks.
Any remaining caramel can be refrigerated for up to 4 weeks. Heat gently in the microwave to create a runny consistency.
Equipment you’ll need
- Heavy based saucepan: Needed to make the caramel sauce and also the pecan praline. Make sure it is heavy based for a more even temperature, plus has high sides (always a good idea when caramelising sugar).
- Candy Thermometer: This helps tell you when the caramel has reached the softball stage. If you don’t have access to one, when the caramel has bubbled and thickened, drop a small amount in a glass of water- if you can for a softball with it with your fingers, then it’s ready.
- Large mixing bowl: To whip up that ice cream base in.
- Hand-held electric beaters: or a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. The easiest way is to whisk the ice cream ingredients together. A soft, fluffy cream means lots of air has been incorporated resulting in lighter ice cream.
So, there you have my recipe to make these sweet, candy-coated pralines and create an incredible Praline n’ cream ice cream with them. There’ll be no need to fit the freezer aisle for Haagen Dazs anymore! You’ll be creating your own homemade version from scratch in the blink of an eye!
More recipes using nuts
If you tried this Pecan Praline Ice cream or any other recipe on my website, please let me know how you go in the comments below. I love hearing from you. Also, please leave a star rating whilst you're there!
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Pecan Praline and Cream Ice Cream Recipe
- Electric hand-held beaters with the whisk attachment
- 110 g pecan halves
- 200 g brown sugar
- 80 ml double cream (heavy cream)
- 30 g unsalted butter
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
No-churn vanilla ice cream
- 600 ml double (heavy cream)
- 1 can condensed milk (14oz 307ml can)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
- 150 g salted caramel sauce (store-bought or homemade from my Caramel Sauce Recipe- link in notes)
Make the pecan praline
- Toast the pecans. Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F). Lay the pecan halves on a baking tray lined with parchment paper. Bake pecans in the oven for 5 to 8 minutes until golden brown. Set parchment paper-lined baking tray aside. Coarsely chop the pecans.
- Heat up the sugar and cream. In a heavy-based saucepan set over medium heat, add brown sugar and cream; stirring frequently. Attach a candy thermometer to the side of the pan. Once the mixture starts to bubble stir constantly; scraping the sides and bottom so nothing sticks or burns. Stir the mixture constantly until the temperature reaches the softball stage at 115°C (240°F) degrees.
- Add the butter and pecans. Remove the pan from the heat and add the butter. Stir constantly until the butter is melted and is fully combined into the caramel- this can take a minute of vigorous stirring for it to combine fully. Add the vanilla and pecan pieces and stir until coated.
- Layout pecans on a tray and let them harden. Spoon the coated pecan pieces onto the prepared baking tray and spread out. Set aside to cool and harden. Then break up the praline into small pieces.
Make the vanilla ice cream.
- Whip the cream and condensed milk together. Add the milk, condensed milk and vanilla extract into a large bowl. Using hand-held beaters fitted with the whisk, whip the three ingredients until thickened and soft peaks form.
- Fold through praline. Add two-thirds of the praline to the cream mixture and fold through until evenly distributed.
- Layer components into a freezer-safe pan. Spoon one-third of the ice cream into your favourite freezer container. Drizzle a third of the caramel over the top, then sprinkle a third of the remaining pecan praline over the caramel. Use a butter knife or chopstick to swirl the caramel through the ice cream. Repeat the layers finishing with sprinkling praline over the top. Freeze the ice cream for a minimum of 4 to 6 hours, best overnight. Scoop out and serve with a drizzle of any leftover caramel sauce, remaining pecan praline or some chopped pecans.
All recipes are developed and tested in Metric grams. I strongly recommend that you bake using digital scales for a more accurate result. I have provided a conversion to US customary in the recipe but please note that I haven’t tested using this method.