Candied pecans. Made with sugar and spice—specifically cinnamon and nutmeg—and everything nice, these sublime noshes are a must for holiday cocktail parties as well as for salads.
Candied pecans. The very mention sorta makes you stop whatever you’re doing and get in the holiday spirit, doesn’t it? Salty yet sweet, crisp yet tender, and confoundingly impossible to stop eating at just one handful. They’re blanketed in sugar and spice and everything nice, which is evident the moment you taste them. So much so that folks are saying they’re “Irresistible” and “The perfect combination of sweet, salt, spice, and crunch.” and “We. Can. NOT. Stop. Eating. Them.” and “Absolutely perfect.” Every once in a while a recipe comes along that captures the hearts and fetishes of our recipe testers and readers. This is one of those recipes. Sorta makes you want to try them, eh?–Renee Schettler Rossi
- Preheat the oven to 250°F (121°C). Butter a rimmed baking sheet.
- In a bowl, beat the egg white, vanilla, and water just until very frothy. In a separate bowl, combine the sugar, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Add the pecans to the egg-white mixture and gently toss to coat. Transfer the nuts to the sugar mixture and toss to coat. Spread the nuts evenly on the baking sheet.
- Bake for 1 hour, stirring every 10 to 15 minutes. Watch the pecans carefully during the last 15 to 20 minutes of cooking for doneness. The nuts should be a lovely golden brown, crunchy, and evenly coated with the hardened sugar coating when they come out of the oven. Store the pecans in an airtight container in a cool, dry place for up to 2 weeks. [Editor’s Note: Hah! 2 weeks. We defy you to get them to last past the first night. But if you hide some, as we did, and manage to ignore their siren call, as we did, you’ll find them just as tempting at 2 weeks old as you did the very first day.]
Candied Pecans VariationsCayenne Candied Pecans When combining the sugar, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg, add a dash of cayenne pepper to the dry ingredients. Proceed with the recipe as written. Candied Walnuts Swap walnuts for the pecans. Proceed with the recipe as written.
Recipe Testers’ Reviews
These candied pecans are absolutely perfect, except perhaps for the fact that I might not share them because they are so addictively good. I made a batch using half walnuts and half pecans, and while I was worried they might become a hard, solid mass on the baking sheet, by stirring every 10 to 15 minutes, they neatly fell apart into individual pieces as they baked and were ready at the end of the hour.
The egg white mixture transforms them and they are crunchy then crumbly all the way through in a transformed way, not hard or sticky like many caramelized treatments that more resemble a brittle that has to be broken apart. I’m looking forward to making a batch with a little bit of cayenne next.
The pecans are a great holiday treat, though they will be hard to give away.
Cursing this recipe, as we Can. NOT. Stop. Eating. Them. I knew I should’ve made a smaller batch. I have a few recipes for candied pecans and other nuts using egg white, but this one will definitely become my go-to recipe. The balance of sweet/spice/salty is perfect and the coating is not too thick.
Even better? The nuts didn’t all stick to each other, as they sometimes do with this method. I think it’s because I whisked the egg white with an electric beater (other methods do not call for this—some methods don’t even call for the egg white to be whisked at all, and what results is a gloopy mess), so the coating was light and coated all the nuts evenly. The nuts currently in our wine cellar in airtight containers, and we keep sneaking a few when we go past. They’re holding up well but I doubt they’ll last for 2 weeks.
I don’t think I’ve ever given a recipe a “10” rating until now. One pound makes 5 generous cups of candied pecans, which is very important to know because you will eat 1 cup right away. Yes, they’re that good. My husband described them as “the perfect combination of sweet, salt, spice, and crunch.”
I added the dash of cayenne pepper and I think it should be a permanent ingredient. Another reason I gave the recipe a “10” is because it’s very easy to prepare. The baking time was 1 hour—exactly as written. You do need to stir the nuts every 15 minutes, but you can also be doing other things while the nuts are baking. I definitely plan to give these as gifts. And then make more for home consumption.
Get out the gift bags, but make plenty of extras for enjoying yourself! We couldn’t stop munching on these sweet and crunchy pecans! I used walnuts instead of pecans, and they were delicious.
I baked the mixture on a Silpat, and it made it very easy to stir and remove them after cooling. The baking time of 1 hour was perfect. We had a few left after 5 days and they were still just as crunchy as when freshly baked. I look forward to using the next batch on ice cream or in salads but this batch was eaten out of hand. I’ll try the cayenne pepper mixture next time.
This recipe turned out to be an irresistible snack for enjoying yourself or for gift giving—just make plenty!
I love giving homemade gifts to friends and clients during the holiday season. (I also love receiving them! Hint, hint…) Whether a sweet or savory treat, taking the time to make small “happies” for people is a great way to make them feel special! I’ll be adding these sweet yet salty candied pecans to my gift list this year.
I loved the idea of adding vanilla extract to the mix. I did the cayenne pepper variation because I love a bit of spice in sweet and salty snacks. The pecans were perfectly sweet, and the heat from the cayenne pepper settles in right at the end of each bite.
I really enjoyed this pecans recipe because it reminded me of the holidays and also the county fair, where you could get these candied nuts on a cold night.
I found that 1 pound was a good number to snack on and did not feel overly candied or anything like that. The measurements were spot-on with the ingredients. I put down some parchment paper on the sheet to ensure they did not stick too much to the baking sheet. These did not last long, so I would say that for the 2 days they were here, they kept their freshness and holiday taste.
Simple, simple, simple, and yet yummy. I made both the candied and cayenne candied pecans. The sugar coating was not overpowering, and the cayenne added just enough heat so that it wasn’t the only thing you could taste. Great gift idea.
The flavor of these pecans is great. This is a fairly easy recipe and is similar to many others like it on the web.
I usually donʻt like making candied nuts this way because I think the egg whites make them less able to keep well. The taste definitely canʻt be beat here. It was hard to tell the exact yield because people were eating them before I had a chance to measure. Iʻm not sure how long theyʻll keep, though, because they were clearly quite popular.
This is a case where just everything about the recipe seemed right. The proportions, the measurements, the timing all worked effortlessly. It’s a long bake time, but very little attention needs to be paid. Who knows if these would keep for up to 2 weeks?! They were gone in a flash! They would certainly make a lovely gift this holiday season. I especially like the idea of making both versions, which I did, and giving the pair as a gift, 1 sweet and 1 spicy. And I am happy to report that the handful I set aside for 2 weeks and then set out was gone in as much of a flash as the original serving, and no one said anything but that they were delicious. Another plus for this recipe, that it can be made well in advance for efficiency in preparation for serving or gifting.) I think 2 or 3 dashes cayenne would also be appropriate to give the spicy version a little more zing. And walnuts absolutely could work here as well. These candied pecans are a wonderful snack that would make a great pre-meal nibble with drinks. The nuts would also be delicious atop a salad, ice cream, pumpkin or sweet potato pie, or even baked sweet potatoes.
If you have limited self-control, I’d suggest that you skip this recipe. It took me about 15 minutes to get everything together and ready to go into the oven. These are amazing and very additive.
I took them out at the 40-minute mark and was happy with the results. I ended up with about 2 1/2 cups but after I was done sampling them I had only 1 cup left so the yield is accurate in that case.
Adding ice cream is even better. A must for the holidays and I can’t wait to make them with the cayenne.
This is one of the easiest recipes, which makes it the perfect present and the perfect snack. I made these pecans and since have remade them again and again. The first time I decided to make them to bring to the Nutcracker rehearsals so that my younger daughter could have something healthy to snack on while backstage. Adults and children all loved them and many kept on asking me for the recipe. So of course I HAD to make more.
Even hot straight our of the oven, they were amazing. What I loved the most was the fact that though they were a bit sweet, they weren’t crazy sweet. The other tastes were also pretty subtle so that nothing overcrowded the actual pecans, which was nice.
All that can be said concerning these candied pecans is,OH MY!
Originally published December 11, 2015