Food & Drink

30 Ways to Cook with Pecans

Readers are going nuts for these standout Southern pecan recipes
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Caramel Cake with Pecans

The decadent treat from Virginia’s heralded Red Truck Bakery deliciously solves a small-town mystery.

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photo: Johnny autry | Food Styling by Charlotte Autry

Pickapeppa Pecans 

Pickapeppa Hot Sauce actually hails from Jamaica, but its flavor profile—spicy-salty-sweet with the oaky undertones that come from barrel aging—meshes perfectly with Southern standbys from barbecue to Bloody Marys. When it collides with pecans, it’s a match made in Southern cocktail-hour heaven.

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photo: TBD

Arkansas Trail Mix

A throwback to a time when bar snacks merited the same considered panache as the drinks they cushioned, this snack combines house-made cheese straws with a slew of Southern add-ins: candied black walnuts and pecans, and flash-fried soybeans and black-eyed peas.

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photo: JOHNNY AUTRY

Bourbon Pecan Pie

It’s hard to beat a fresh pecan pie—unless you add a little bourbon.

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photo: JOHNNY AUTRY

Vivian Howard’s Party Magnet

The most infamous of party apps — the cheese ball—gets a Southern upgrade with salt-and-butter-roasted pecans.

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photo: REX MILLER

Strawberry Delight

This modern take on the icebox standard starts with a rich marriage of cream and buttermilk into which a happy cobble of cookies, pecans, and tiny marshmallows is stirred—then, a ribbon of fresh strawberry syrup adds character, color, and sweetness.

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photo: Johnny Autry

Sorghum-Bourbon Pecan Pie

The South’s only cultivated indigenous nut performs double duty in this recipe: crushed pecan cookies for the crust, chopped nuts for the filling.

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Pimento Cheese-Stuffed Cheese Straws

These “Swanee Bites” involve a thick smear of pimento cheese between two cheese straws; the edges of the little sandwiches are then rolled in chopped pecans.

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photo: Johnny Autry

Zucchini Bread

Zucchini bread has been a regular as a teacher gift, a potluck offering, and a welcome-to-the-neighborhood present for about as long as people have been overwhelmed by a garden full of zucchini. To give this one a Southern touch, don’t skip the chopped pecans.

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photo: Phillip Rhodes

Bourbon, Pecan, and Coffee Sweet Rolls

“They’re like a morning on Bourbon Street in New Orleans (but without the hangover),” write cookbook authors James Briscione and Brooke Parkhurst of these tasty rolls.

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photo: Andrew Purcell

Bourbon Balls

Originally concocted by Ruth Hanly Booe, a Kentuckian who started a chocolate business in 1919, bourbon balls generally come in two forms: One that’s heavy on the chocolate and one that relies more on a cookie base. This version falls firmly in the chocolate camp.

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photo: Margaret Houston

Candied Sweet Potatoes with Pecan Bacon Syrup

In this sweet-and-salty hybrid, chef Vivian Howard takes inspiration from both the syrupy yams of her childhood and the smash-fried plantains that she discovered as a chef in New York City.

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photo: squire fox

Sweet Divinities

These meringue clouds studded with hunks of pecan are bound to trigger a few sweet memories, especially among Southerners.

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photo: Lisa Fain

Pecan-Praline Rolls

These nut-studded rolls reach next-level deliciousness with a glaze of sugar, whipping cream, and praline liqueur.

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photo: Sandy Wilson

Spicy Pickle Chicken Salad

This spicy take on a Southern classic gets its crunch from chopped pecans and crisp celery.

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photo: Peter Frank Edwards

Pecan Pralines

Is it any wonder that pralines are a classic of both New Orleans and Charleston? The texture and the flavor are simply irresistible—and as long as you have a candy thermometer and a strong arm for beating, pralines aren’t difficult to make.

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photo: Peter Frank Edwards

Spiced Dark Chocolate Cherry Saltine Toffee

Here, Virginia Willis transforms a basic cracker into a classic holiday treat.

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photo: Hélene Dujardin

Mexican Wedding Cookies

Mariana Barran de Goodall shares her tradition of making cuernitos de azúcar, or Mexican wedding cookies, as a way to pay tribute to her Mexican roots during the holidays.

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photo: Julie Soefer

Bourbon Salted Caramel Cheesecake with Pralines

In this truly decadent dessert from Charleston’s WildFlour Pastry, bourbon and pecans are king.

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photo: Marlena Sloss

Jack and Coke Sheet Cake

Coke makes the cake moist, and a bit of Tennessee’s Jack Daniel’s sour mash whiskey helps even more. The chopped pecans are optional, but we highly recommend the addition.

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photo: Marta Ortiz

Mississippi Mud Cake

Pastry chef Kelly Fields shares her take on a childhood favorite—marshmallows and all.

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photo: Oriana Koren

Gigi’s Blue Ribbon Pumpkin Bread

Serve up fall’s favorite flavor in warm, comforting slices with this recipe from Gigi Butler of Tennessee-based Pies by Gigi.

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photo: Courtesy of Gigi's

Darius King’s Pecan Chewy Bars

The Garden & Gun Club sous chef offers a sweet, gooey dessert reminiscent of his Charleston roots.

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photo: Courtesy of Darius King

Bourbon Brown Butter Peach Ice Cream

Chef Joe Trull shares a take on the perfect summer treat.

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photo: Margaret Houston

The 6151 Richmond Pie

“The flavors each represent one of the show’s four characters,” write bakers and authors Chris Taylor and Paul Arguin in their cookbook The New Pie. “A pecan crust for Georgia-born Southern belle Blanche Devereaux; Italian limoncello liqueur for the mom-and-daughter duo Sophia Petrillo and Dorothy Zbornak; and Scandinavian lingonberry jam to represent St. Olaf Woman of the Year Rose Nylund.”

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photo: Andrew Thomas Lee

Blueberry Streusel Muffins

Use this praline topping and a frozen-fruit hack to elevate a summer treat to a year-round breakfast staple.

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photo: Mary Britton Senseney

Chef Ann Kim’s Butterscotch Bars

These one-bowl wonders require just one bowl and one pan. “It’s the easiest process with the least amount of clean up,” Kim says.

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photo: courtesy of the G&G club

Pecan Praline Pancakes

This decadent recipe comes courtesy of Atlanta chef Anne Quatrano. But is it for breakfast or dessert? You decide. (“Both” is also a perfectly acceptable answer.)

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Pumpkin Bread Pudding with Maple Whipped Cream

Top this decadent riff on the classic pumpkin bread with maple-spiced nuts—and be sure to make extra for snacking.

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photo: Squire Fox

Collard Pesto

Winter greens like collards, mustard, kale, or chard make hearty substitutes for summer basil in this easy no-cook pesto, replacing the herb’s anise flavors with stronger mustardy tones. Here, pecans also take the place of the usual pine nuts for an extra dose of Southern flare.

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photo: Jacqueline Stofsick