These spicy-sweet roasted almonds, made with almonds, chili pepper, cayenne, maple syrup, and salt, are a perfect vegan snack. Add to salads for instant appeal.
Almonds are good for you. That’s undisputed. And these spicy-sweet almonds are just plain good. That’s proven by our tester comments below. So do we really need to discuss this anymore?–Renee Schettler
LC Let There Be Almonds Note
Folks tend to be gobsmacked by these sticky, spicy, seductive roasted almonds with a sweet heat—and we gotta say, we understand why. These simple little lovelies lend just the right pretense of sweet impropriety to an otherwise virtuous salad like, for instance, our Kale Harvest Salad. And that’s not all. We can think of all manner of other ways to indulge in these. We grab a handful in the afternoon. We set out bowls of them with cocktails. We grab another handful in the evening. We toss them with popcorn on game day. We pack them up all pretty and gift them come the holidays. We scatter a handful over ice cream. We could go on. But we’re going to stop, because we’d rather hear from you. How do you find them most fetching? Tell us in a comment below.
Spicy-Sweet Roasted Almonds
- 1 cup raw whole almonds
- 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
- 1 tablespoon neutral vegetable oil, such as grapeseed or canola
- 1/4 teaspoon chili powder
- 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt
- Preheat the oven to 350°F (176°C). Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Toss the almonds, maple syrup, oil, chili powder, cayenne pepper, and salt in a large bowl to coat. Spread the almond mixture in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet.
- Bake, stirring every 5 minutes, until the almonds turn golden and the syrup begins to thicken and coat the almonds, about 15 minutes. Transfer the parchment paper and almonds to a wire rack and let cool. (The almonds and their coating may still be tacky when they come out of the oven, but after they cool they’ll turn crunchy.)
Recipe Testers’ Reviews
In the past I’ve done sweet and salty peanuts, but never almonds. Even though these are spicy, they’re not too crazy spicy. They’re easy to make and certainly much better and healthier than what you’d buy in the store. We all loved them. I’d suggest doubling the recipe right away so as to keep some ready for everyday snacks.
Despite its ease of preparation and relatively few ingredients, something simple and lovely emerges that you can make anytime. The maple syrup enveloped the almonds completely, leaving them shiny with a strong crunch, while the cayenne and chili powder added a subtle heat at the end. The almonds are more “sweet” than “spicy,” but the seasonings can be adjusted to your taste. And be sure to stir every 5 minutes; it helps keep the almonds from getting too toasted. I already had all the ingredients on hand, and it can easily be doubled or tripled. Try eating the almonds solo as a snack, stirred into oatmeal, as a garnish on a salad, or atop a bowl of vanilla ice cream. They’re that versatile.
I wondered why anyone would make just 1 cup of these when they’re so deliciously seasonal until I realized they were actually a garnish for the Harvest Kale Salad. I’m nevertheless glad to have made them, although I didn’t make the salad itself. They’re easy enough to make a fresh batch every time you want to serve them, but why not double or triple the recipe, so there’s enough to share? This 1 cup isn’t enough to pass around generously! Like many nutty snacks/appetizers/hors d’oeuvres, they’re addictive; unlike many, they’re also vegan—a big plus when feeding groups of folks whose food preferences/allergies may not be familiar. I used grapeseed oil and pure maple syrup as directed. I’ve seen a maple syrup-agave nectar blend that I’d also try out on another batch. The baking time was perfect, and, in addition to the golden-colored almonds and thickening syrup as guides, the kitchen filled with their spicy-sweet aroma. They were tacky when they came out of the oven, and did turn crunchy when cool, as promised. However, they need to be stored carefully in an airtight container if kept overnight or longer. The few I had left after nibbling—placed in a not perfectly airtight container—gummed together in one big clump here in our humid climate. They still tasted fine, but I missed the crunchiness of their just-roasted freshness.
Originally published August 30, 2013