A pecan log combines billowy, sweet nougat with soft, buttery caramel and toasted pecans.

This old-fashioned pecan log candy recipe comes from my Grandma’s treasured church cookbook. I hope you love it too! You also might like these recipes for peanut brittle and English toffee.

Pecan log sliced on a baking sheet


 

This pecan log recipe (aka pecan roll) comes from my Grandma’s church cookbook that she put together with her friends back in the 70s. This from-scratch recipe is as good as it gets when it comes to homemade candy! The women, Elda Peck, who wrote this recipe was well-known for her homemade candy recipes.

My Grandma used to make this recipe and bring us pecan logs wrapped in wax paper for the holidays each year. I’m excited to now share the recipe with you!

The recipe is a little vague so I’ve added some tips and tricks to ensure it works in your kitchen. I hope you love it too!

The Original Recipe

photo of pecan log recipe from old cookbook

Why I Love This Recipe

  • Made with the BEST homemade caramel ever: This soft caramel recipe (also from Elda Peck) has been on my website since 2012 and gotten rave reviews. Paired with this homemade nougat this is an extra special homemade treat!
  • Soft, melt-in-your-mouth texture: A pecan log candy is made with soft caramel, a creamy smooth nougat center, and a sprinkling of delicious pecans. It’s a soft, slightly chewy, crispy combination that’s irresistible.
  • Classic vintage recipe: Coming from an old church cookbook, this recipe is as old-fashioned as it gets.
  • Great for gifting: This recipe is a labor of love, but anyone would be thrilled to receive a homemade pecan log for the holidays!

Ingredients You’ll Need

overhead shot of ingredients needed to make a pecan log

Here are a few notes on the key ingredients:

  • Corn syrup: This is an essential ingredient for both the caramel and the nougat. Use light corn syrup. Unfortunately there is no swap for corn syrup! (It’s a once-a-year treat around here!)
  • Evaporated milk: Evaporated milk is the secret ingredient for the caramel! It lends a delicious flavor.
  • Egg whites: The recipe calls for 1/4 to 1/2 cup of egg whites. I ended up using 3 large egg whites, which came out to just under 1/2 cup. The first time I made the recipe, I wasn’t sure how long to beat the egg whites before adding the first batch of sugar syrup. I beat them for about one minute the first time and three minutes the second time, but the results were similar for both. So I think you have some leeway on the speed and duration for beating the egg whites!
  • Flour: I use gluten-free flour to keep this recipe gluten-free. All-purpose wheat flour will also work for this nougat recipe.

How to Make a Pecan Log

  • Line 2 jelly roll pans with parchment paper and lightly grease with cooking spray. 
  • Spread the chopped pecans evenly over the bottom of both pans. Set aside. 

Make the Caramel

how to make a pecan log - how to make the caramel
  • Melt the sugar, butter, corn syrup, and salt together in a large, heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat. (A stainless steel pot works best for these caramels.) Bring to a simmer.
  • Once the mixture comes to a boil, add the evaporated milk a little at a time to the hot caramel, taking 10-15 minutes per can and stirring constantly. A labor of love indeed!
  • Once all the milk is added use a candy thermometer and bring the mixture to 238F-240F and not any hotter! Even a few degrees hotter will make them chewy instead of soft. (This will take another 15 minutes or so!) I highly recommend double checking the temperature with an instant read thermometer as it comes to temperature. It should be golden brown in color at this point.
  • Immediately pour the caramel sauce into the prepared pans and cool completely.

Tips for Making Caramel

  • Testing the temperature: The most important part of making homemade caramels is to be sure they come up to the right temperature. For soft caramels 238F is the perfect temperature. I like to use a candy thermometer while I’m stirring/cooking the caramels then MOST IMPORTANTLY double check the temperature with an instant thermometer. Be sure to check the temperature in the middle of the caramel mixtureIf the thermometer is touching the bottom of the pan the temperature won’t be correct.
  • Testing the consistency: I highly recommend using a thermometer AND the cold water test to be sure you get perfectly chewy candies. To do the cold water test, simply fill a small cup with cold water then drizzle a little of the caramel into the cup. You should be able to use your fingers to form it into a stable ball, but it will still be soft and easy to squish.
  • Use a stainless steel pot if possible! These caramels turn out much butter when made in a stainless steel pot (as opposed to an enameled Dutch Oven).

(Full caramel tutorial here!)

Make the Nougat

how to make a pecan log - making the nougat
  • Combine sugar, corn syrup, and salt together in a large, heavy-bottomed medium saucepan over medium heat to melt. (A stainless steel pot works best. An enameled dutch oven pot will make the temperature harder to control and can lead to overcooking.)
  • Bring the syrup mixture to a boil and boil until it reaches 244F. Wash down the sides of the pot so the sugar dissolves fully (if needed), but there’s no need to stir once it’s boiling. 
  • Meanwhile, add the egg whites to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat on medium-high speed for 2 minutes until starting to thicken/foam. 
  • When the syrup mixture reaches 244F, slowly pour in ⅓ of the syrup while mixing on low speed. Pour the syrup in very slowly and carefully and be sure it’s being mixed the whole time. Put the remaining syrup in the pot back on the stove and cook over medium heat until it reaches 264F. 
  • With the mixer running on low, pour the rest of the syrup (slowly and carefully) into the egg whites. Continue mixing on medium-high speed for 5 minutes, or until the mixture is stiff and starts to clump around the whisk. It won’t form completely stiff peaks but will thicken quite a bit. 
  • With the electric mixer running on low, stir in the vanilla extract, and ½ the butter and flour.  Mix in the rest of the butter/flour.

Tips for Making Nougat

  • Beating the egg whites: The original nougat recipe from my Grandma’s cookbook instructs to beat the mixture “like divinity.” These instructions were quite vague, so I decided to mix on medium-high speed in my Kitchenaid for 5 minutes until the mixture was stiff and started to clump more around the whisk. The mixture never quite formed stiff peaks, but it definitely thickened up nicely.
  • Cube the butter: The nougat mixture quickly becomes very difficult to stir after adding the butter and flour, so I like to cut the butter into very small cubes to make sure it incorporates properly. Be sure to use room-temperature butter for best results with the pecan roll!

Assemble the Pecan Log

how to make a pecan log - slicing the log
  • Divide in half and pour over the cooled caramel. Smooth into an even layer. Let cool completely.
  • Place rolls on a cutting board. With the short side of the pan facing you, cut the pecan roll candy in half top to bottom. Then cut each side into 8 even pieces with a sharp serrated knife.
how to make a pecan log - slicing the log
  • Roll each piece into a log so the nougat is fully encased in caramel. You will yield 16 sliced rolls per pan and 32 rolls total. 
  • Wrap each caramel pecan log in candy paper – like wax paper or parchment paper. (Don’t use plastic wrap — they will stick to it!)

Storage Instructions

Store each wrapped pecan log in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 7 days. The pecan log will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for even longer – like up to 10 days.

Pecan log sliced on a countertop

Pecan Log Recipe Tips

  • Use a candy thermometer: This is an essential tool for getting the right consistency with your pecan log! Even a few degrees hotter will make them chewy instead of soft. I highly recommend double checking the temperature with an instant read thermometer as it comes to temperature.
  • A stainless steel pot works best for making the caramel. An enameled dutch oven pot will make the temperature harder to control and can lead to overcooking.
  • Pay close attention to the assembly instructions. Assembling the pecan log is a little complicated, so read through the instructions a few times before you begin. It will make sense once you’ve done it!
  • These are my favorite quarter-sheet jelly roll pans for making a pecan log!
Pecan roll pieces rolled up in wax paper and placed in a bowl
Pecan roll slices on a baking sheet
5 from 3 votes

Pecan Log Recipe

Cook Time 30 minutes
Servings 16
A pecan log combines billowy, sweet nougat with soft, buttery caramel and toasted pecans. It's an old-fashioned treat that's perfect for the holidays!

Ingredients

FOR THE CARAMEL:

  • 4 cups (800g) granulated sugar
  • 1 cup (226g) butter, 2 sticks
  • 2 cups (473ml) white corn syrup
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 2 12 oz (708ml) cans evaporated milk

FOR THE NOUGAT:

  • 2 cups (400g) granulated sugar
  • 2 ½ cups (591ml) white corn syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 1/3 cup (83ml) egg whites from 3 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 6 tablespoons (84g) butter room temperature and cut into small pieces
  • 2 teaspoons (6g) flour I use gluten-free flour

FOR ROLLING:

  • 2 cups (260g) chopped pecans

Instructions 

  • Line 2 jelly roll pans with parchment paper and lightly grease with cooking spray.
  • Spread the chopped pecans evenly over the bottom of both pans. Set aside.

MAKE THE CARAMEL

  • Melt the sugar, butter, corn syrup, and salt together in a large, heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat. (A stainless steel pot works best for these caramels.)
  • Once the mixture comes to a boil, add the evaporated milk a little at a time, taking 10-15 minutes per can and stirring constantly. A labor of love indeed.
  • Once all the milk is added use a candy thermometer and bring the mixture to 238F-240F and not any hotter! Even a few degrees hotter will make them chewy instead of soft. (This will take another 15 minutes or so!) I highly recommend double checking the temperature with an instant read thermometer as it comes to temperature.
  • Immediately pour into the prepared pans and cool completely.

MAKE THE NOUGAT

  • Melt the sugar, corn syrup, and salt together in a large, heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat. (A stainless steel pot works best. An enameled dutch oven pot will make the temperature harder to control and can lead to overcooking.)
  • Bring the syrup mixture to a boil and boil until it reaches 244F. Wash down the sides of the pot to remove any sugar crystals if needed, but there’s no need to stir once it’s boiling.
  • Meanwhile, add the egg whites to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat on medium-high speed for 2 minutes until starting to thicken/foam.
  • When the syrup mixture reaches 244F, slowly pour in ⅓ of the syrup while mixing on low speed. Pour the syrup in very slowly and carefully and be sure it’s being mixed the whole time.
  • Put the remaining syrup in the pot back on the stove and cook over medium heat until it reaches 264F.
  • With the mixer running on low, pour the rest of the syrup (slowly and carefully) into the egg whites.
  • Continue mixing on medium-high speed for 5 minutes, or until the mixture is stiff and starts to clump around the whisk. It won’t form completely stiff peaks but will thicken quite a bit.
  • With the mixer running on low, stir in the vanilla, and ½ the butter and flour. Mix in the rest of the butter/flour.
  • Divide in half and pour over the cooled caramel. Smooth into an even layer. Let cool completely.

SLICE THE PECAN ROLLS

  • With the short side of the pan facing you, cut the candy in half top to bottom. Then cut each side into 8 even pieces. Roll each piece into a log so the nougat is fully encased in caramel. You will yield 16 rolls per pan and 32 rolls total.
  • Wrap each roll in candy paper – like wax or parchment paper. Store the pecan rolls in an airtight container. Enjoy!

Nutrition

Calories: 193kcal | Carbohydrates: 50g | Fat: 0.2g | Sodium: 1mg | Potassium: 1mg | Sugar: 50g | Calcium: 1mg | Iron: 0.03mg

FAQs

What is the center of a pecan log?

The center of a pecan log is made of creamy, smooth nougat that is similar to divinity. The nougat is made by whipping egg whites and combining them with a sugar syrup, butter, vanilla, and a bit of flour. Once it has set, the nougat center is wrapped in soft caramel and then rolled in fresh, crisp pecan pieces. It’s a delicious old-fashioned treat that stands the test of time!

Where did pecan rolls originate?

Pecan rolls were first popularized in 1937 in Eastman, Georgia. This is where Ethel Stuckey started selling her version of pecan rolls at a roadside pecan stand. The treat quickly caught on and is still a popular holiday treat today.

What does a pecan log taste like?

A pecan roll or pecan log is a sweet, chewy treat that combines the flavors of rich caramel, vanilla nougat, and crunchy, toasted pecans. It’s a fun twist on homemade soft caramels and makes a delicious holiday treat!

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read our disclosure policy.

Categories: ,

Hi, I’m Erin!

BS Food Science,

MS Nutrition

I believe you can make amazing, gluten-free food with everyday ingredients that everyone will enjoy. I’m here to share my tried-and-true recipes with you!

You may also like

image for website to buy cookies cookbook

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating