Sweet pralines bubbling in an old copper pot. The click-clack of a horse-drawn carriage on a cobblestone street. Jazz drifting from an ancient doorway. The deep flavor of rich seafood gumbo. The first bite of a hot beignet. The sweet smell of warm pralines drifting from the kitchen.
When people fall in love with New Orleans, it is these senses that fill their hearts. Over 80 years ago, Aunt Sally’s founders lit a fire under a copper pot with the ambitious goal of bringing some of these tastes, smells, and love of New Orleans to the world.
Aunt Sally’s was founded in the tightly knit French Creole community of New Orleans in the early 1900s. In 1935, newlyweds Pierre and Diane Bagur opened the first Aunt Sally’s Praline Shop in a commercial strip of the French Quarter known as the French Market. They sold hand-made pralines, along with a collection of retail merchandise representing New Orleans culture and Creole traditions. Over the next several decades, the family opened more stores, created new recipes, and modernized their production facilities, evolving into an iconic New Orleans brand. In addition to retail stores, Aunt Sally’s developed successful mail order, internet, and wholesale channels, while maintaining family ownership and a solid commitment to the City of New Orleans.
Today, Aunt Sally’s headquarters is located just blocks from the Mississippi River, the Superdome, and New Orleans’ Central Business District. Every day the sweet scent of pralines bubbling in copper pots dances out into the surrounding neighborhood tempting streetcar riders and posh restaurant patrons alike.
We currently operate two retail stores: our flagship store located at 810 Decatur Street in the French Quarter, and our newest store at 750 St. Charles Avenue, in the historic Warehouse District. At our stores and online we sell New Orleans gifts and souvenirs, including excellent cookbooks, specialty foods, housewares and local art. And, of course, pralines – Creole and Creamy.
Our famous pralines are created from a short list of quality ingredients, starring Louisiana pecans, Louisiana cane sugar, milk, and butter. They’re cooked over open flame in large, bowl-shaped copper pots because of the copper’s even heat conduction. These pots are also important for their ability to maintain the exact temperatures required at the various stages of cooking. Without these precise temps and even heat, Aunt Sally’s pralines wouldn’t be possible.
The cooks stir the hot liquid for approximately 30 minutes, and when the mixture is the right temperature, vanilla and other flavors are added as called for by the recipes written so long ago. Our cooks stir the pots vigorously in order to incorporate the proper amount of air as the candy cooks. When the moment is right, they pull the pots off the stove and hand pour the pralines onto parchment paper which sits on either cool marble slabs or a stainless steel table.
The Creole Praline is made every day, using the original family recipe, cooked and poured entirely by hand, with no preservatives. It is a thin, slightly crispy candy with a perfectly balanced nutty sweetness, made in original and chocolate flavors.
The Creamy Praline follows a recipe invented by Aunt Sally’s in 2000, and it is a thicker, fudge-like candy which we make in five flavors. While the delicate Creole candy is best enjoyed within two weeks of being made, the Creamy varieties have an eight month shelf life.
All of Aunt Sally’s pralines are certified Kosher and 100% gluten free. And delicious!
The vision, history, and tradition of the Bagur family is an American success story. The third and fourth generations of the Bagur family are dedicated to carrying out Diane and Pierre’s dream of Southern hospitality and the perfect praline. What a young couple started over 80 years ago in the French Quarter, is now a multi-million dollar business, delivering the highest quality and most recognized brand of pralines to customers all around the world.
The exact history of how the Praline came to be is unknown, but we do know that in the 1600s a French chef named Clement Lassagne created a candy made of sugar and almonds. Chef Lassagne made this candy for the French Marshall and Diplomat Cesar du Plessis-Praslin, and he named it in his honor: a Praline. As French emigrants arrived in New Orleans in the 1700s they brought their family recipes along, and modified them to embrace local ingredients. Local sugarcane replaced the European sugar beets, pecans replaced almonds, and in the early days of our nation both French Creole and African American cooks created new, American versions of this confectionery. These recipes were closely guarded and passed down from generation to generation in many families, including the Bagurs.
In 19th century New Orleans, a street vendor was known as a Vendeuse, a French word pronounced Ven-DOOSE. These were enterprising women who used their skills during the Pre-Civil War slave economy to make and sell goods as extra income to support their families. The New Orleans name for a vendor who specifically sold pralines was Praline Vendeuse, or a Pralinière. Through cooking and commerce, the praline became synonymous with New Orleans, as a delicious candy loved by everyone.
Which is the correct pronunciation of these delicate crispy, creamy treats?
Recipes vary from creamy to chewy to everything in between, and pralines are now known through the South from Dallas to D.C. And few words get pronounced the same in Dallas and D.C.
If you go into the kitchens of New Orleans, you’ll never hear “pray-leen.” But you can call them whatever you wish as long as you say “Aunt Sally’s” first.