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Pecan Praline Cookies Recipe: Top 1986 Contest Winner

Experience the magic of Southern hospitality right in your kitchen with our Pecan Praline Cookies recipe! These delightful chewy cookies, with their perfect balance of sweetness and nuttiness, will transport you straight to a charming Southern porch swing. Easy to follow, hard to resist – this recipe holds the secret to creating unforgettable memories and smiles!

praline cookies the 1986 winner's recipe

Do you ever wonder why some recipes withstand the test of time while others fade away into obscurity? 

The answer lies in their ability to captivate our taste buds and earn a permanent place in our culinary repertoire. 

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This recipe, a 1986 Chicago Tribune Cookie Contest winner, has managed to reign supreme for over three decades.

A family tale of Christmas praline cookies started with a little girl, a front yard pecan tree, and promises of praline cookies.

And many years later, we’re still enjoying these buttery Pecan Praline Cookies in front of a huge Christmas tree in the corner of the living room with our own family, using the exact same recipe.

From its irresistible flavor to its foolproof execution, get ready to discover why the Pecan Praline Cookies recipe deserves a permanent spot in your dessert table this holiday season. 

Tell us your favorite pecan story in the comments. 

Disclosure – I may get a small commission for purchases made through affiliate links in this post.

pecan praline cookies the 1986 winner's recipe

🔑 Key to Success #1 – Soften The Butter Before You Start

Softening the butter is a crucial step in creating the perfect texture for the Pecan Praline Cookies. 

By allowing the butter to come to room temperature before incorporating it into the dough, you ensure that it will blend easily with the other ingredients.

When butter is too cold, it can be difficult to evenly distribute throughout the dough, leaving chunks or pockets that can affect the texture and taste of the cookies 

Softening the butter allows it to become pliable, making it easier to incorporate and ensuring a consistent texture throughout every bite.

To soften the butter properly, it’s best to take it out of the refrigerator and let it sit at room temperature for about 30 minutes. 

The ideal softness is when the butter is still cool to the touch but easily spreads when pressed. 

This ensures that it is soft enough to blend well without being too warm, which can cause the dough to become greasy or spread too much during baking.

1986 winner praline cookies recipe

🔑 Key to Success #2 – Use Brown Sugar for Extra Flavor

When it comes to baking, the type of sugar you use can make a significant difference in the final outcome of your cookies. 

While granulated sugar is commonly used in many cookie recipes, the addition of brown sugar in the 1986 Praline Cookies recipe takes the flavor profile to a whole new level.

Brown sugar has a distinct taste that adds a rich and caramel-like sweetness to baked goods. 

It’s made by combining molasses with white sugar, giving it its unique flavor and moist texture. 

When incorporated into these cookies, the brown sugar contributes to a delightful depth of flavor that perfectly complements the other ingredients.

The molasses in brown sugar also helps to create a soft and chewy texture in the cookies. 

Not only does brown sugar enhance the taste and texture of the cookies, but it also adds a beautiful color. 

The natural golden hue of brown sugar gives these cookies a warm and inviting appearance. 

Cream one cup sugar with the softened butter using an electric mixer until the mixture is light and fluffy. 

pecan praline cookies the 1986 winner's recipe

🔑 Key to Success #3 – Break Pecans by Hand

When it comes to the perfect Pecan Praline cookie, every detail matters. 

And one crucial step that cannot be overlooked is breaking the pecans by hand. 

This small but significant action may seem like an extra effort, but it makes all the difference in the final product even though it adds a few minutes to the preparation time.

By breaking the pecans by hand, you ensure that each piece is the ideal size and shape for these cookies. 

It allows you to have more control over the texture, ensuring that you have a balance of larger and smaller pecan pieces in every bite. 

This creates a delightful crunch while also giving the cookies a rustic, homemade feel.

Not only does breaking the pecans by hand add to the overall texture and appearance of the cookies, but it also brings out their natural flavors. 

As you bake this sweet treat, the pecans will get toasty and a little brown to bring out even more flavor. 

Pecan praline cookies recipe

📌 Get the Printable Recipe for Pecan Praline Cookies

Save this Pecan Praline Cookies recipe to your favorite Vintage Recipes board or your Holiday Cookies board.

Pecan Praline Cookies Recipe
pecan praline cookies the 1986 winner's recipe

Pecan Praline Cookies (1986 Contest Winner)

Yield: 24 cookies
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes

Indulge your taste buds with this tantalizing recipe for Pecan Praline Cookies! Expect a delightful crunch on the outside and a heavenly chew on the inside. With each bite, savor the rich pecan flavor mingling with sweet praline. Get ready to experience a textural treat that's sure to make it one of your favorite delicious cookie recipes. Enjoy baking and munching away!


  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups brown sugar, packed
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup pecans, broken into pieces


  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees F. 
  2. In a medium bowl, cream butter and brown sugar until fluffy. Mix in the egg until mixture is light.
  3. Stir in flour and salt by hand. Add vanilla and broken pecans. Stir well until fully combined. 
  4. Roll the dough into balls about the size of walnuts, then place on ungreased cookie sheets and flatten to about 1/8 inch using the bottom of a glass. 
  5. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes until the cookies are brown. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely and firm up. 


You can also use chopped pecans instead of breaking them by hand.

Place parchment paper on the cookie sheet to make clean up a breeze!

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Nutrition Information:
Yield: 24 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 139Total Fat: 7gSaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 4gCholesterol: 18mgSodium: 37mgCarbohydrates: 18gFiber: 1gSugar: 11gProtein: 2g

Nutrition Information Provided For Educational and Informational Purposes Only.

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