Candied Spiced Nuts

These candied spiced nuts are sweet and spicy and the sorta thing friends demolish in minutes at cocktail parties and holiday gatherings yet talk about for months afterward.

A layer of assorted nuts and rosemary sprigs on a sheet of parchment paper resting in a sheet pan

These candied spiced nuts are surprisingly easy to make and even easier to make disappear. The nuts are sweet and spicy and the sorta thing friends demolish in minutes at holiday gatherings and cocktail parties yet talk about for months afterward. Originally published November 20, 2016.Renee Schettler Rossi

*What Kind Of Nuts To Use When You Make Candied Spiced Nuts

We’ve made this candied spiced nuts recipe over and over and over with almonds, pecans, cashews, and Brazil nuts and been wowed each time although hazelnuts and walnuts could also work well here, too. Either raw or roasted nuts work spectacularly. If you use raw nuts, you’ll end up with slightly sweeter nuts. If you use roasted nuts, they’ll be more savory.

Candied Spiced Nuts

  • Quick Glance
  • Quick Glance
  • 25 M
  • 1 H
  • Makes about 1 pound (455 g)
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Preheat an oven to 350°F (175°C). Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone liner.

Spread the nuts in a single layer on the baking sheet and roast until aromatic and lightly toasted, 5 to 7 minutes, stirring halfway through. Remove from the oven.

In a small bowl, stir 1/2 teaspoon salt with the cumin, cinnamon, ginger, and cayenne or smoked paprika.

In a large, heavy skillet, stir the sugar with the water and remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat, without stirring (you can tilt the skillet a bit to distribute the sugar and to swirl it, but do not stir the contents or the syrup will crystallize). Continue to cook until the sugar turns a medium amber color, 6 to 12 minutes, depending on your stove’s exact heat.

Working carefully and quickly, stir in half the spice mixture and all the nuts and combine well. Tip the nuts back out onto the still-lined sheet pan and spread out as evenly as you can with a fork. Immediately sprinkle the nuts with 1/3 of the reserved spice mixture. Bake, stirring and flipping the nuts with a pair of forks every 5 minutes or so to keep the nuts coated in the caramel and breaking up any large clumps, 15 to 20 minutes. Each time you stir the nuts, add 1/3 of the remaining spice mixture. The last time you stir the nuts, add the rosemary and additional sea salt, if desired.

Let the nuts to cool completely on the baking sheet, then break up any remaining large clusters. Store in an airtight container for up to 1 week.

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Recipe Testers' Reviews

These candied spiced nuts are very easy to make and are delicious. And, most importantly, they do not get stale after a week, which makes them a smart choice for gift giving. In fact, I think they got better after a week! I stored them in an airtight Rubbermaid container. I used raw cashews and almonds and smoked paprika, not cayenne pepper. I stirred the mixture twice and used 1/2 the remaining spice mixture each time. At first, the finished nuts may look like brittle because there is a little extra syrup left in the pan. Make sure you cool the nuts completely before breaking them up. The candied nuts continue to harden even after they are cool, so break the brittle portions up some more to get the size pieces you want.

This would make a fantastic holiday or hostess gift. I managed to make ours last 5 days by hiding the candied spiced nuts. They stayed very fresh, didn't go sticky or soft, and the flavors held up great. I'd say you'd get about 6 generous gift bags out of this, around 4 servings per bag, and it seems like it's an easy recipe to scale up if you need more than that. The one big departure from the recipe notes and photo was that the sugar mixture didn't gather around the nuts—it did coat them but the end result was more like a very thin brittle than individually coated nuts. My neighbors expressed worries about their teeth when I dropped a bag off with them, but 10 minutes later, I got a text saying they had devoured half the bag without any trouble. This took 1 hour in total, with only short pockets of idle time—it was easier to stay close to the stove than try to multitask. I used a mix of cashews, pecans, almonds, and Brazil nuts (heavy on the cashews), and went for smoked paprika over cayenne. I have a fan-assisted oven so I did the initial roast of the nuts a bit lower than suggested, at 160°C (I roast a lot of nuts and normally keep the oven at 150°C but was trying to get as close to the recipe as possible). I did 6 minutes of toasting the plain nuts, at which point they tasted like they were on their way but hadn't noticeably colored, followed by another 15 minutes with the sugar and spice mix. I thought they were just tipping over into being burned, but no one else noticed it or minded. Something to watch out for, though.


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  1. This is the carmelized sugar method. The other way to get stuff to stick is with the whipped egg whites method. Does anyone know why or how potato chip seasoning sticks to chips? Is it just because the seasoning is applied right after coming out of the frying oil?

    1. Hi Ron, seasoning sticks to potato chips due to several factors, the most important being surface oil content and temperature. So basically, a hot, oily chip will have the best adhesion.

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