While New Orleans has plenty of iconic desserts (bread pudding, snowballs, beignets), we have to admit that one of our all-time favorite sweet treats is a classic. Made from butter, evaporated milk, sugar and homegrown pecans, there’s no arguing that pralines (pronounced PRAH-leens) are a quintessential New Orleans dessert. A Southern institution, pralines are seen as a can’t-miss delicacy for visiting travelers. So pack your bags because we’ve rounded up the best spots in NOLA to try this sugary, creamy, pecan-laden candy.
Market, Candy Store, American, $$$
Rumor has it that Southern Candymakers’ original pralines were listed on the Best of the U.S.A. list by Bon Appetit. That’s not something to scoff at. Southern Candymakers is proud of its NOLA-styled pralines, and it lets everyone know it. Opened over 25 years ago, this family-owned store has two downtown locations: one located on Decatur Street, open daily from 9am to 7pm, and the other inside the historic French Market, open daily from 9am to 6pm. Its must-have handcrafted confections, which range from pralines and toffees to caramels and chocolates, include the original assortment of creamy, chocolate, rum, sweet potato, peanut butter, or coconut pralines. The best thing about these tasty treats? They’re hand-scooped, cooled on a marble slab, then sealed to ship the day they’re made. It doesn’t get much fresher than that. Be sure to bring an appetite while visiting the candy shop as it also serves a variety of must-try delicious sweets like chocolate pecan fudge, glazed pecans, cashew brittle, and white chocolate macadamia toffee. Drooling yet?
Having served one of the best praline confections in the Big Easy for over 35 years, Loretta’s Authentic Pralines has expanded to two locations: a classic candy counter located inside the popular French Market and a cafe serving breakfast and lunch on North Rampart, open Tuesday through Friday from 9am to 5pm and Saturday from 9am to 3pm. If you visit the cafe, don’t miss its beignet menu. With items like crab beignets, praline beignets (duh), and even burger beignets, it’s pretty hard to pass up. If you’re a beignet fiend like the rest of us, you’ll want to consult our local’s guide to New Orleans’ best beignets. The sweets bar inside the French Market, which opens daily from 9am to 6pm, offers visiting tourists many variations of New Orleans’ most popular sugar-treat, including peanut butter, chocolate, coconut, no-pecan, and rum, as well as praline flavors and tasters. Loretta’s also hosts an inventory of mouthwatering cookies, macaroons, marshmallows, and fudge.
An authentic purveyor of all things New Orleans, Aunt Sally’s has been making Creole pecan pralines since 1935. This iconic local brand has two locations: one in the French Quarter, open daily from 8am to 8pm and one in the Warehouse District, open Monday-Friday from 8am to 5pm and Saturdays from 10am to 4pm. You can count on Aunt Sally’s to constantly be cooking up fresh batches of its handmade, hand-poured confection every day. Its most acclaimed pralines are the Creole triple chocolate, the creamy bananas foster, and the creamy café au lait. Visitors to Aunt Sally’s also have the chance to pick up lots of local goodies to bring back as souvenirs. From regional cookbooks to fish fry mixes and Tony Chachere’s Famous Creole Seasoning, there’s lots of NOLA-themed memorabilia to choose from. Looking for something for those gluten-free or kosher family members? You’re in luck because all of Aunt Sally’s pralines and pralinettes cater to both.
Luring customers in with gourmet, caramel-dipped candy apples, Mister Apple Candy Store is a sweet shop that is also known for its Creole praline confections. The apple-themed joint, located inside the historic French Quarter, suits those looking for a quick, one-stop shop to try the original version of the New Orleans specialty. Aside from the pralines, local favorites at the store include brownies drizzled in white chocolate, dark-chocolate-covered pretzels, and gourmet caramel apples topped with white chocolate and Butterfinger crumbs. Mister Apple Candy Store is open every day from 10am to 9pm, except for Fridays and Saturdays when the store closes at 11pm.
What began as “a home delivery service targeting career women, who were too busy to prepare home cooked meals for their families,” is now The Praline Connection, a Frenchmen Street restaurant serving Cajun-Creole style food and signature pralines for dessert at affordable prices. The down-home eatery, which opened in 1990, features made-to-order pralines, which are prepared in the old fashioned, spoon dripped method, as well as two other dessert confections bathed in praline sauce: bread pudding and cheesecake. This local favorite is the perfect spot for those looking to experience a traditional New Orleans meal and dessert all at the same place. Get your po-boy, étouffée and praline fix all in one spot.
We’ve got to give mad props to a family-owned and operated business that still makes everything by hand the old-fashioned way. Located in the heart of the French Quarter, Leah’s Pralines has been spilling sweet aromas out of its copper kettles for over 72 years. In addition to its traditional pralines, make sure to stop by Wednesday through Monday between 10am to 6pm to get your hands on its Creole seasonings, chocolate dipped pecan brittle, pecan turtles, bacon pecan brittle (you read that right), and other tasty treats.