Caramel Pecan Clusters are so chewy, buttery, and packed full of nutty pecans. This homemade pecan candy is easy to make and perfect for gifting to loved ones during the holiday season. You’ll love every chewy bite!
*This recipe is sponsored by Dixie Crystals! Thanks for supporting the brands that help make this site possible!*
Homemade Chewy Pecan Candy Recipe
It’s officially homemade candy season! Well, if you have a sweet tooth like me, it’s candy season all year long… But this is really the time to let your candy making skills shine! And don’t worry, this Christmas candy recipe is definitely beginner-friendly. It’s so easy to whip up a batch of these soft and chewy caramels.
All you need to make this easy candy recipe is 7 simple and inexpensive ingredients. I’m all about saving money, especially during the holiday season! With budget-friendly kitchen staples like brown sugar, vanilla extract, butter, and just a few others, I love that I can make a big batch of candy without breaking the bank.
The real magic of this recipe is the way that the toasted pecans perfectly compliment the sweet, buttery homemade caramel. It’s not just the flavors that pair so well together, either. The slightly crunchy pecans nestled into each bite of chewy, yet oh so soft caramel is really amazing. If you gift these candies to family and friends, be ready to share this recipe – they’ll be asking for it!
If you love homemade candy with pecans, I have a few more recipes you will enjoy! These Pecan Pie Truffles are a hit every year, as well as this Pecan Christmas Crack. I also have an easy recipe for Pecan Caramel Bars and this decadent Pecan Praline Sauce!
Guess what? You likely already have everything you need to make these little candies in your kitchen right now! There’s nothing better than a no-frills recipe that uses familiar ingredients.
- Dixie Crystals Brown Sugar – My very favorite sugar! You can use dark or light, it’s up to you. Darker brown sugar with create a deeper caramel from the extra molasses.
- Light Corn Syrup – This is a key ingredient! It prevents the caramel from becoming grainy.
- Kosher Salt – I always prefer using kosher salt over iodized. With iodized salt, you tend to get a noticeably salty flavor, but kosher salt serves to enhance the other ingredients.
- Heavy Cream – Do NOT substitute this ingredient with any other dairy product!
- Unsalted Butter – This ingredient immensely helps with both the flavor and consistency of the caramels.
- Vanilla Extract – For the best flavor, try to use pure vanilla extract instead of imitation.
- Toasted Chopped Pecans
- Sauce Pan
- Rubber Spatula: or a wooden spoon.
- Parchment Paper: or wax paper or silicon baking mats!
- Candy Thermometer: You will need a candy thermometer (or an instant read thermometer) to make sure your candy reaches 245°F. If you cook it less, it will not set up. If you cook it longer, it will become rock hard.
HOW TO MAKE CARAMEL PECAN CLUSTERS
Grab your candy thermometer and let’s get to work!
Prepare. Place parchment paper (or a silicone baking mat) on a cookie sheet. Set aside.
Stir and dissolve. Add the brown sugar, corn syrup, and salt to a pot over medium-high heat. Stir often and slowly to help the sugar dissolve.
Make it creamy. Once the sugar has dissolved and the mixture begins to bubble, slowly drizzle in the heavy cream, stirring constantly.
Add the butter. Once the cream is fully incorporated, stir in the butter.
Remove from heat. Gently stir the mixture until your candy thermometer reads 245°F. At that time, remove the pot from the heat and stir in the vanilla and pecans.
Scoop and let sit. Use a small cookie scoop to scoop the mixture onto the prepared pan. Once all the mixture has been scooped, you can go back and smush the tops to create your desired shape.
TIPS FOR THE BEST Results
- Have all of the ingredients prepped and ready: Make sure to prep all of your ingredients before starting! You MUST stir the caramel while it cooks so it does not burn. Having all the ingredients ready to go is a must.
- Use the right pot: Use a high-sided pot. The mixture will bubble up a bit and you do not want to risk anything boiling over or getting any hot candy splashes on your skin or your stove top.
- Check that temperature: You must rely on your candy thermometer for this recipe. Do not try to make these caramels without one! As soon as the temperature reaches 245°F, remove the pot from the heat and immediately stir in the pecans and vanilla. If your candy mixture does not reach 245°F, it will not set up correctly. If your candy mixture is cooked to a higher temperature than 245°F, it will become very hard.
WHY DO I NEED TO POUR THE HEAVY CREAM IN SO SLOWLY?
You don’t want that mixture to stop bubbling. It’s a little balancing act during this step of the process. You need to stir in the heavy cream, but if you do so too quickly, it’ll cool the mixture and your bubbles will be gone. This will result in caramels that don’t have great texture. Make sure to be slow and steady when pouring in the heavy cream!
I’ve noticed that my 1-inch cookie scoop creates the perfect size for these caramel candies. Plus, using a scoop ensures that all of the clusters will be exactly the same size. Just be sure to scoop all of the caramel first before you smush them into the desired shape. If you try to do so as you go, the caramel in the pot will have time to set and harden.
STORING CARAMEL PECAN CANDY
You can keep these Caramel Pecan Clusters in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 weeks. That’s what makes them such great little presents to give to friends, family, and neighbors! They’re the gift that keeps on giving for about 14 days. That’s plenty of time to dig in!
You can also freeze these pecan clusters for up to 6 months. To freeze, I like to wrap each candy indivually – and tightly – with saran wrap. Then place them in a freezer friendly ziploc bag.
Caramel Pecan Clusters
- 1 cup Dixie Crystals Brown Sugar
- 1 cup light corn syrup
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 cup heavy cream
- ¼ cup unsalted butter
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup toasted chopped pecans
- Add parchment paper, or a silicone baking mat, to a cookie sheet and set it aside.
- In a high-sided pot over medium-high heat, add brown sugar, light corn syrup, and kosher salt. Stir the mixture to help dissolve the sugar into the corn syrup. Make sure to keep slowly stirring as you do not want any hot spots in the pan to burn the sugars.
- Once the mixture starts to gently bubble, and the granulated sugar has dissolved, VERY SLOWLY drizzle in the heavy creamy while continually stirring. You do not want the mixture to stop bubbling, so you must drizzle this cold heavy creamy in very slowly.
- When all the heavy cream has been added add in the butter while continually stirring.
- Continue gently stirring until the mixture has reached 245°F on a candy thermometer, about 15-20 minutes.
- Once the mixture has reached 245°F, remove from the heat and quickly stir in the vanilla extract and the toasted chopped pecans.
- Using a small cookie scoop, scoop out the caramel nut mixture onto the prepared parchment paper pan. The caramel will run a little, this is ok.
- Once all the mixture has been scooped you can now go back to the candy and gently smoosh it up so it’s taller than wide. You can also let it sit a little bit before scooping BUT then you have to work extra quickly so it does not get too set up.
- Store candy in an airtight contianer, at room temperature, for up to 2 weeks.
- Freeze pecan clusters for up to 6 months. To freeze, I like to wrap each candy indivually – and tightly – with saran wrap. Then place them in a freezer friendly ziploc bag.
More Holiday Candy Recipes:
- Peppermint Meringues
- Soft Rum Caramels
- Butter Pecan Fudge
- Sponge Candy (aka Honeycomb Candy)
- Best Christmas Crack
- Peppermint Oreo Truffle Balls
- Butterscotch Haystacks
- Pecan Brittle
- Peanut Butter Pretzel Crockpot Candy
- Almond Joy Truffles
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