Candied Pecans

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 scattered on a dark surface.

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? Originally published December 11, 2015.Renee Schettler Rossi

Candied Pecans

  • Quick Glance
  • (12)
  • 15 M
  • 1 H, 15 M
  • Makes about 5 cups
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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.]

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    • Cayenne 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.


    #leitesculinaria on Instagram If you make this recipe, snap a photo and hashtag it #LeitesCulinaria. We'd love to see your creations on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.


    1. OMG, you are definitely brilliant to come up with such recipe!
      Just made it, turned out amaaaaaazing. I added 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper.
      Love it, thank you XoXo

    2. When they say “you can’t stop eating them”, believe it. And beware! Those with mild tree nut sensitivities may find themselves over the line… as did my daughter when I sent her back to school (3-hour drive) with a 1-pound tin. She still can’t eat walnuts, pecans, macadamias, almonds, hazelnuts…tree nuts in general. We have, however, finally found a reasonable substitute for pecan pie (made with pretzels!).

    3.…goodness. These are quite possibly the most addictive thing I’ve ever made for the holidays. Trust me, you will NOT want to share these with anyone and I dare you to stop after one or two nibbles. You will want to inhale the entire sheet pan of them. Once your friends and family cast them be prepared to make multiple batches for them. Yes they are that good!!!!

      1. Carol, you are a woman after my own heart. There is a special place in hell reserved for folks like us who don’t want to share! So glad you enjoyed the recipe. Happy holidays.

    4. My usual “fan favorite” nuts for party night are the sweet and spicy roasted mixed nuts on your site. Everyone loves those tasty sweet mixed nuts with the surprise of a bit of heat. I make that recipe often as hostess gifts and for family parties. I was looking for a caramelized nut recipe (without the kick) to add to a salad and stumbled upon this recipe. These pecans were the perfect addition to a light green salad with a hint of gorgonzola. The sweetness of the pecans and the tart combination from the gorgonzola was a perfect match It was difficult not to eat the entire pan the minute they came out of the oven. My family and friends devoured the container I brought (thankfully, after I used what I needed for the salad). I used less sugar than the recipe called for (3/4 cup) and then followed the recipe exactly. In all, the prep time was less than 10 minutes and it took slightly less than 60 minutes to get to the golden brown/crisp stage. The nuts did not stick together at all and the cleanup was very, very easy. I’m sure I will be making these little treats often. Another success story. Thank you, Leite’s Culinaria.

      1. You are so very welcome, CherieDe. We’re so glad that you like the recipe—both the taste and the ease with which they come together—and are incredibly grateful you took the time to let us know. Be well!

    5. My girlfriend got a large sack of fresh pecans from Georgia as a gift. What to do with them? This was the perfect and super-easy solution. The cayenne is a must and I love the idea of some cumin as a savory addition. Five milk cans, indeed!

      A white plate with a mound of coated and crispy candied pecans

      1. Suzanne, I’m delighted that you enjoyed these. And lucky you! (Why, oh, why doesn’t The One come home with a big sack of pecans for me? But that’s a conversation for a different time!) Any pictures?

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