This pistachio brittle, made with roasted pistachios, almond extract, and sugar, is an easy introduction to candy making. Perfect for noshing on or holiday gift-giving.
I honestly love taking a bite of this brittle, catching the chewy, roasted, salty notes from the pistachios…and the unavoidable consequence of them getting stuck in my teeth. Besides eating it as is, there is a lot you can do with this brittle. For a dipped effect, try dunking large shards in melted dark chocolate and cooling them, or pulse the brittle in a food processor to break it up into a coarse powder and sprinkle it over ice cream or use it to decorate a frosted cake or cupcakes. I even put wedges of it on a cheese platter next to some fresh fruit.–Alex Guarnaschelli
- Candy or instant-read thermometer
- Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper, nonstick aluminum foil, or a silicone baking mat. Spray a spatula (preferably a silicone one) with cooking spray.
- In a large nonstick skillet over medium-low heat, combine the sugar, water, corn syrup, butter, and almond extract. Cook, stirring only occasionally with a spatula or wooden spoon, until the sugar melts and the temperature reaches hard-crack stage, 300°F (149°C) on an instant-read or candy thermometer, which should take 15 to 20 minutes. The mixture will bubble throughout the cooking and may barely change to a light golden color.
☞TESTER TIP: Rely on the actual temperature of the brittle rather than the timing or its appearance to determine its readiness.
- Remove the skillet from the heat and quickly and carefully stir in the baking soda, 1 teaspoon of salt, and the pistachios.
☞TESTER TIP: The mixture will bubble up pretty furiously when you add the baking soda. It’s simply a result of a chemical reaction—not a demon. Everything’s fine and will settle down in a moment.
- Immediately pour the mixture onto the prepared baking sheet, pouring it all over the sheet. Use the slicked spatula to quickly spread the mixture as thinly as possible, preferably 1/8 to 1/4 inch (3 to 6 mm) thick.
- Immediately sprinkle the mixture with 1/2 to 1 teaspoon kosher or Maldon sea salt and let cool until hardened, about 10 minutes.
- Cover the brittle with a layer of plastic wrap or seal it in a large resealable plastic bag and break it into pieces by hitting it with a rolling pin. Store the brittle in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 3 months. Do not refrigerate the pistachio brittle.
Recipe Testers’ Reviews
Being an avid candymaker, I’m always looking for new recipes to add to my collection, especially for holiday gift-giving. This one caught my eye as it’s different than most brittle recipes and much easier. The recipe took me 30 minutes from start to finish, which is great during busy holiday times. It’s also easy prep and cleanup—one skillet, a few measuring tools.
I found the recipe easy to follow, although I made a few changes. If you don’t have parchment, and want to get into candy making, I recommend investing in nonstick foil. I used it instead of parchment for this recipe with no issues and perfect results. I used all ingredients as specified, and followed the prescribed process.
Versatility is an added bonus. Plain, dipped in chocolate, on candy trays, in a tin as a gift, added to an appetizer tray.
Note that the amount of pistachios is roughly a 6oz bag of roasted, salted, shelled nuts. Super convenient. I was a little worried about the almond extract, but there is NO almondy taste or aftertaste. Everything is mellow and works together.
I cooked the sugar mixture in a dark, nonstick skillet for 15 minutes and, being skeptical and cautious, I decided to use a thermometer to check the temperature. Even though there was some coloring, it wasn’t as pronounced as I expected and I was concerned. It ended up being at hard-crack (300°F). No need for concern—don’t go by color on this one.
When pouring this into the pan, it will be easier if you pour it around the entire pan rather than into the middle in a large blob. Instead of using the spatula to spread, I sprayed 2 dinner forks with nonstick spray oil and used those with great results. (I do this with most brittle recipes with success.)
It was hardened within 10 to 15 minutes. Because I used the forks to pull the brittle into a thinner sheet, it covered a majority of the pan and was perfectly thin (thinner than the height of the pistachios). Friends with teeth issues will bless you if you can get it thin. (Thick brittle is hard to bite but baking soda helps to lighten it up a bit.)
I was really pleased with the results—great flavor with great pistachio taste, a bit of saltiness, and a great buttery finish without greasiness. I’m happy to add this to my candy recipe rotation!
This will be a short and sweet review, just like the brittle itself. It’s a simple and quick recipe with excellent results.
The addition of butter was something new to me in terms of brittle recipes, but I appreciate the added richness in flavor. It does, however, lend a certain greasiness to the final product that probably isn’t ideal.
For the final sprinkle of salt after spreading, I used flaky Maldon sea salt, which I think is preferable as it doesn’t dissolve into the brittle quite so much as the kosher salt.
A silicone mat in place of parchment makes everything about spreading, cooling, and breaking the brittle that much easier. Similarly, a silicone spatula is a better option than a wooden spoon for the occasional stir of the sugar mixture as it cooks in the skillet.
The mixture was remarkably easy to spread on the prepared sheet pan, cooling quickly but with enough pliability to allow for a lot of flattening to get an appropriately thin brittle (1/8 inch). Ultimately, I was able to spread to almost the full size of the sheet pan, about a 10-by-12-inch rectangle.
The brittle was ready to break apart after 5 minutes of cooling. I didn’t need to work so hard to break the brittle into pieces and instead used my hands to create large shards.
The recipe suggests a freshness of 3 days at room temperature but I have always frozen brittle with great success for long-term holding.
We loved this pistachio brittle. It’s everything it promises to be. That last sprinkle of salt is truly the perfect finishing note to bring out the sweetness of the caramel and the saltiness of the pistachios. I would make this again and again, perhaps using other types of nuts, but I think the pistachio version will always be a favorite.
We kept the brittle in a sealed container at room temp for more than a week and there was no change over time.
11/10! My husband declared this his “favorite candy ever” and said I need to give this the absolute highest rating possible…and he is not usually one for sweets, which says a lot!
This was perhaps one of the fastest and easiest recipes I’ve ever tried and the results were incredible. I made it twice in 24 hours— the first time I followed it exactly and ended up with a really nice, thick brittle. I found it a bit tricky to stir the pistachios into the caramel and then spread it out (the caramel starts to harden very quickly!) so the second time I spread the pistachios on a baking sheet and poured the caramel sauce over top. This method was far easier and yielded a thinner, more even brittle. I’m going to try this recipe with other nuts too!
For those of us (namely me!) who are not experienced brittle or candy makers, the flavor of this recipe is outstanding. It tasted SO GOOD! I loved the almond flavoring with the pistachios. What a wonderful variation to the typical peanut brittle.
A 12-oz bag of pistachios measured out to 2 cups (336 grams). I used the entire 2 cups since I like having more nuts-to-syrup ratio. And, since the pistachios were salted and roasted without their shells, they weighed more than their shelled cousins. Using the stainless-steel saucepan made the syrup’s color changes easier for me to see.
This time I also used a large heavy stainless-steel saucepan so I could better gauge the color of the syrup which was difficult in my dark-colored skillet. I had everything measured and in the saucepan in 6 minutes and I cranked up the flame to medium-high just until the mixture started bubbling thickly. I turned the flame down to medium and then started the timer and let it cook for 22 minutes before it got to that beautiful amber color and the temperature registered 310° F. I probably let it go a little too long, because when I added the baking soda, salt and pistachios it started to harden up quickly and I really had to push it out of the pan to get it spread out onto the sheet pan. I add flaked Maldon sea salt to the top of the brittle.
It hardened up completely in 10 minutes and was absolutely beautiful (like the photo) and had that wonderful pistachio-almond flavor. Yay!!!!
I’ll be doing this brittle again.
Originally published December 08, 2020