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.
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.–Renee Schettler Rossi
☞ Table of Contents
*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
- 1 teaspoon fine sea salt plus more if needed
- 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne or smoked paprika
- 1 pound raw or roasted nuts* (such as almonds, pecans, hazelnuts, walnuts, cashews, or any combination)
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 2 tablespoons cold water
- 1 sprig rosemary leaves only, left whole or finely chopped
- 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.
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.
The 45 minutes these nuts take to make could be the longest of your life, and then, as tempted as you are, do not eat these spiced nuts while they are warm. Waiting for them to cool (it doesn’t take long, I swear) is worth it. They are caramel-y, salty, and warmly spicy. I’d like them to be more strongly spiced—maybe bump each up by 1/4 teaspoon? I used smoked paprika rather than cayenne, and I missed the peppery heat. I used roasted, salted mixed nuts, so I only baked the nuts for 15 minutes in order to prevent over-roasting, but I think the caramel could have benefitted from more time, probably more than 5 minutes. The caramel didn’t dry up like the recipe suggested it would; rather, it pooled nicely around the nuts and turned out more like a brittle. Depending on the person, that might not make the best holiday gift. Next time, I’ll definitely use raw nuts so the caramel can cook the full length AND I’ll increase those spices. We’re not afraid of a little extra heat.
I would definitely make these candied spiced nuts for holiday gifts. They were crunchy, flavorful, and perfectly seasoned. It seemed to make sense to add all of spice mix at once. I didn’t see the value of adding it in phases and struggling with the caramel that was very sticky throughout most of the baking. As the baking progressed, it tended to relax and allowed me to pat the nuts (with a spatula, of course) into a single layer with the caramel beneath to hold them together. It was delicious, one of the best spiced nuts recipe I have ever made! I cooked the sugar, water, and salt for 6 minutes to get it to a medium amber color. It is extremely important to get the pan off the heat as soon as the sugar starts to turn to amber or it will very quickly overcook and turn a very dark color. The caramel-coated nuts took 18 minutes for the glaze to be thin and shiny. I can’t say anything about storing the nuts for up to a week since the nuts only lasted 2 days on the kitchen counter—perfect for snacking any time of the day and especially delicious crumbled over vanilla ice cream! We really liked these candied spiced nuts. There were some clusters of nuts that were held together by a thin brittle. About a third of the nuts were glazed and separate, as shown in the photo. The rest were brittle. I used 1/8 teaspoon each of both the cayenne and the paprika, which gave the nuts and caramel a spicy kick and a mild smokiness. The sweet, smoky, and spicy flavors together with the toasted nuts are a delicious combination. Great as a snack or for holiday gifts. I added half the spice mixture before I started baking the nuts, half of the remaining mixture after the first 5 minutes, and the remaining half after the second 5 minutes. I think you can add the entire mixture at once at the start of baking them. I don’t see any reason for adding the mixture in smaller amounts. I finely chopped the rosemary before adding it so that the rosemary would be evenly distributed among the nuts.
Dang, these candied spiced nuts are addictively, delectably delicious. I have not been able to stop eating this since making it. The sweet and savory flavors are marvelous. The spices wonderful. This would make a great food gift for, well, anytime. This recipe is very straightforward and easy to make. While the oven was heating up, I mixed up the spice mixture. I baked almonds, pecans, hazelnuts, macadamia nuts, cashews, and walnuts for 7 minutes, at which time they were toasty and smelled wonderful. While they were baking, I mixed the sugar, salt, and water in a medium skillet. After taking the nuts out of the oven, I heated up the skillet, stirred the ingredients just to incorporate them, and let them warm up as the recipe instructed. Make sure to swirl the pan as the mixture cooks. At the 4 1/2-minute mark, the perimeter of the pan had a lovely amber color. I had to turn the heat off before the 5-minute mark. The rest turned amber that quickly. I pulled the pan and added the spice mixture. The spice mixture needs to be added before the nuts, or it won’t distribute evenly. I worked quickly to get the nuts coated, poured everything onto the sheet pan, and separated the nuts as best I could. There were very few nuts that stuck together. Those that did had actually cooled off enough that I could separate them quickly with my fingers. I sprinkled some of the reserved spice mixture over the nuts and put the pan back into the oven. I repeated this 2 more times, using up all of the spice mixture. The last time I added 1/8 cup rosemary leaves. They came off of a 12-inch sprig of fresh rosemary. I had increased the amount of rosemary from the first time I made this recipe and would increase it even more next time. The sweet and savory notes of these nuts are fabulous. They are great on their own. I added some of the walnuts to a roasted beet salad with an orange vinaigrette. I can see adding different nuts to a salad of mixed greens, as well as a spinach salad. How many people would these feed? Well, it depends on how many people are around. A bowl of these would be wonderful at a party. A bag of these with a fancy bow would make a lovely gift for the holidays, or when going to someone’s house for dinner. Or you and your special someone could just keep eating them, as we have been doing. I keep telling myself that I shouldn’t open the container that the nuts are in; however, I don’t seem to listen. Then I play the “just one more time” game. That doesn’t work for me, either. See if it does for you.
I think I love this recipe. It’s easy enough to make and even the scary caramel part is not that bad. They were savory with a hint of sweet. One taster even asked if I’d smoked the nuts to get that smoky taste. Making the caramel took about 10 minutes, but I was watching the pot more than the clock at that point. I used a smoked sweet paprika along with the other spices. I ended up using all the spice mix, forgot to add the rosemary, and will have to make another batch to see if they hold up well over time, as mine are all gone now. I used a raw nut, but I think I’d probably go for a roasted unsalted nut next time. Everyone nibbled from one big bowl, so if I had to guess at the number of servings, I’d say 20+, as people were grabbing them by the handful to munch on while we finished preparing dinner. I think these would be great as a holiday gift, a game-time snack, or an appetizer while you finish the meal. These are definitely going on my holiday roster. As for storing the nuts, we have yet to have them last more than a day or two. Even as I type this, I hear the distinctive sounds of someone in the kitchen opening the container. I think these would make a very popular gift for the holidays or any time of year.
I chose this recipe because I am looking for recipes that can become holiday gifts and that can be served casually and in social settings. These filled both criteria and got bonus points for the interesting mix of spices that make them much better than many store-bought candied spiced nuts I’ve had before. The caramel sauce formed a kind of bark which made it difficult to break the nuts up. I put them in an airtight container after breaking the bark into pieces and shook it, which loosened the nuts from the bark.
I think I’ve tested all of the nut recipes on this site so far, and here’s another winner to add to the already wonderful array! With the holidays just around the corner, this candied spiced nuts recipe would be perfect, starting right in with Halloween and proceeding to New Year’s. They’d be great as a gift, terrific as a pre-meal nibble, lovely as a snack, and, yes, I think they would also be great atop vanilla ice cream, as suggested. I began with raw almonds, and I used the best and freshest spices from my spice shop, where they recommended Saigon Cassia cinnamon and Peruvian ginger. I also used a smoked Spanish sweet paprika. I used parchment paper. I was not very scientific about the measuring of the additional spice mixture, but it was roughly one third each time. When I initially tasted these nuts, I thought I would recommend additional spices all around, but after they cooled, the ratio of spices to nuts was just right. I did add additional salt but not until they had cooled. I didn’t feel they needed additional salt until I tasted them at room temperature. I have no idea if they would keep for up to a week, as mine certainly didn’t last that long! I used whole rosemary leaves, which seemed to balance the other flavors nicely. I think these would be terrific served at holiday gatherings. They definitely have a holiday feel about them, which led me, on this batch, to think that using either pecans or pumpkin seeds would be an appealing option to affirm the holiday spirit. They are addictive, which makes it difficult to determine the number of servings. A tablespoon or so atop vanilla ice cream would be lovely. One could easily consume handfuls at a holiday party without realizing it, nibbling here and there over a period of time. The balance of flavors is lovely, although I expected a spicier profile given the title.
Originally published December 16, 2017