This French style walnut praline is just 3 simple ingredients and so quick and easy to make. Perfect for gifting, these candied walnuts are delicious and can be used in so many other ways too.

Try other nuts too like the pecans in these toffee pecan chocolate truffles or hazelnuts in these hazelnut praline chocolate truffles.  

A hand holding a piece of walnut praline.

Why you’ll love them

  • 3 ingredients
  • 15 minutes effort
  • Easily scalable
  • Use any nuts you like
  • Perfect for gifting or having at the ready for topping cakes or ice cream

What is praline

Praline is slightly different things in different places, though all centre around nuts and caramelised sugar.

This is the French style praline which is simple sugar and nuts. The sugar is turned into toffee and the nuts coated to make a crunchy candy – aka candied walnuts. Often, they are then ground down to a very fine powder and used in cakes and tarts. I love to use it in truffles too.

In the US, praline is a similar confection but often has the addition of cream and / or butter making it a slightly softer crunch, creamier flavour and it’s often coated in chocolate as well.

I add a touch of baking soda to my walnut praline. When added to the hot toffee, it causes it to aerate slightly and give it a crisper crunch. Baking soda is the ingredient that makes honeycomb puff up and fill with air holes. You can absolutely leave it out if you prefer or don’t have it on hand.

Tools you’ll need

Ingredients for walnut praline

Ingredients for candied walnuts on a marble benchtop.

Detailed quantities and directions in the recipe card below.

  1. Walnut halves: Make sure to use fresh walnuts, not the ones that have been in your pantry for months unused.
  2. Sugar: Just plain white sugar is all you need. I prefer caster sugar (you may know it as superfine sugar) as it tends to dissolve quicker but you can use white granulated. Don’t use icing / powdered sugar.
  3. Baking soda: Baking soda is optional but gives the toffee a slightly crisper crunch as opposed to a hard crunch. Both ways taste amazing so you can’t go wrong.

You can also add spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, pumpkin spice or cardamom to add a cosy, spiced up flavour to your praline.

Maybe add just a tablespoon of maple syrup or honey to give it another flavour dimension.

Can I use other nuts?

You can absolutely use any nuts you want in this nut praline. Try almonds, pecans, peanuts, cashews, hazelnuts, oh and macadamias are divine.

How to make praline

You will need to take a few precautions to make sure your toffee doesn’t crystallise but walnut praline is actually pretty simple.

A collage of 4 images showing how to make walnut praline.

See the recipe card below for the full recipe details.

  1. Toast the walnuts: Line a baking sheet with baking paper, then scatter over the walnuts (photo 1). Toast them in a preheated oven for about 10 minutes. Set aside.
  2. Clean your saucepan by rubbing all around the inside with some vinegar or lemon juice, then rinse out. No need to dry it.
  3. Add the sugar to the saucepan and give it a gentle shake to level it out, then add the water. Let this sit for a minute or two so almost all the sugar is wet. 
  4. Place the pan over low heat on the stove and don’t touch it. You must use low heat and let it slowly dissolve then gradually come to a boil. Once the mixture boils, let it keep cooking until it turns golden amber, then take it off the heat.
  5. Sprinkle the baking soda over the walnuts (photo 2), then gather up the sides of the baking paper like a funnel and pour it into the toffee (photo 3).
  6. Set the praline: Give the mixture a good stir, then place the baking paper back onto the baking sheet and pour the praline over it. It will set quickly and once it’s completely cool, it will be hard and ready to use.

Troubleshooting toffee

Making walnut praline from scratch is very simple however, if you don’t take the right steps, the toffee can crystallise and become grainy instead of smooth and clear. That graininess is caused by crystallisation – where the sugar reverts back to it’s crystal state.

A few things that can cause crystallisation are anything that isn’t sugar coming in contact with the sugar as it heats, trace amounts of grease in your saucepan, sudden temperature changes or above ideal humidity in your environment.

My post on caramel apple muffins has a big section on caramel / toffee and the tips for how to get it perfect be sure to check that out if you have any issues.

A batch of candied walnuts on a sheet of baking paper.

Why didn’t my praline set?

As long as you get this praline to a good amber gold colour, it should set up just fine. That colour is a great indicator to know when it’s ready but what you’re really doing is getting the syrup to hard crack stage. If it doesn’t get to that stage it may not set hard.

You can use a candy thermometer to be absolutely sure if you like. It should read 150-155°C / 300-310°F

Sometimes humidity can cause issues with candy. For instance, where I live, though not a tropical place, summer gets humid enough that I leave candy making for a few months.

How to use walnut praline

Try some of these delicious ways to use praline.

  • Eat it just as it is – wrap it up in small bags or wrap in cellophane (making sure it’s airtight) and give away to family and friends.
  • Crush it up in a mortar and pestle or in a food processor, then use it mixed through or over ice cream.
  • Use the crushed praline for scattering over cakes, or using inside cakes.
  • Bake the crushed praline into cookies.
  • Coat large pieces in chocolate and gift them.
  • Scatter over cheesecake.

How to store walnut praline

Walnut praline keeps very well making this a great candy for gifting. Store it in a cool, dry place, like the pantry (not the fridge as it will melt in there) in an airtight container.

Stored properly, walnut praline will keep for weeks and never truly goes off. At worst, the texture may change but I doubt it will last long enough for that to happen.

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Candied walnuts stacked up on a small dark tray.

These toffee glazed walnuts are such a special treat and a great treat to give to friends and family during the festive season. Make sure you make enough for yourself too though.

If you try this walnut praline recipe, please take a moment to leave a rating and comment below. I love hearing from you and it helps other readers too! You can also take a photo and tag @sugarsaltmagic on Instagram.

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A batch of walnut praline on a sheet of baking paper on a dark tray.

Walnut Praline (Candied Walnuts)

4.5 from 2 votes
This walnut praline is a combination of walnuts and caramelised sugar, resulting in crunchy candied walnuts. Eat them whole or coated in chocolate or use them crush up for topping ice cream or dressing up cakes and cupcakes.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup walnut halves (110g / 4oz)
  • ½ cup caster (superfine) sugar (100g / 3.5oz)
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda, optional

Equipment

Instructions
 

  • Preheat the oven to 180C / 350F / 160C fan-forced. Line a large baking tray with baking paper.
  • Spread the walnuts out in a single layer on the prepared baking tray and bake for 10 minutes. Set aside to cool.
  • Tip the sugar into a small-medium stainless steel saucepan and give it a shake to level it out. Slowly drizzle the water all around the sugar. Let it sit for a minute to soak.
  • You can do this step while the sugar is boiling in the next step. Sprinkle the baking soda over the cooled walnuts.
  • Turn the heat on very low and let the sugar come to a boil without touching or moving it. Let it continue boiling until it’s amber in colour. Remove from heat.
  • Grab the sides of the baking paper and tip the walnuts and baking soda into the toffee. Stir it through immediately.
  • Place the baking paper back on the tray, then tip the praline out onto the tray. Spread out with your spoon and let it cool completely to set.

Notes

  1. Be patient with the toffee. Don’t rush it or you risk the sugar not dissolving before it starts to boil, causing it to crystallise.
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