Melting Sugar + Toasted Nuts = Kitchen Magic (Or, How to Make Candied Pecans)

Candied pecans (or walnuts, or almonds) are a great culinary trick to have up your sleeve. They are easy to make, very versatile and they’ll impress the socks off anyone you serve them to.  I love to add them to salads or set them out in a bowl for nibbles. (And they are totally irresistible, so make extra!)

Make these when you are able to give your full attention to what you’re doing; the sugar melts quickly, and burns if you’re not paying attention! The times below are estimates because precise times depend on the heat of your stove. (For a rough time estimate, it took me 7 minutes to make these on my gas stove from start to finish.)

Once you dump the nuts on the parchment you have about thirty seconds to pull them apart before the sugar hardens into glassy crystals.

Any skillet will work, but you are making caramel, which is notoriously rough on nonstick pans. Stainless steel is preferable only for the sake of your pan.

Candied Nuts

  • ½ cup white table sugar
  • 2 cups pecans, slivered almonds, walnut halves, or other nuts, as desired
  • pinch kosher salt

Consider one of the following, all optional:

  • pinch cinnamon
  • pinch cloves
  • generous pinch cayenne
  1. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper or foil and set aside.
  2. Heat sugar, nuts, salt and optional spices in heavy medium skillet over medium-low heat.  Stir occasionally with wooden spoon.  Do not add water.  After several minutes, the sugar will begin to look sticky.  After several more minutes, the sugar will begin to melt.  Stir continually, coating the nuts with the melted sugar.
  3. When sugar is completely melted and has reached a medium amber color, empty contents of skillet into thin layer onto prepared sheet.  Use two forks to pull nuts apart.  Let cool and break into pieces.  Store in cookie tin or glass jar with tightly fitting lid.

(Note:  if the sugar does not seem to be melting after about five minutes, your stove may not be hot enough.  Increase the heat to medium and continue as directed.  Monitor very carefully.)



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  1. Laura says:

    These look really, really good. We are having a family party this Sunday and I just might whip these up!
    I just found your site today and I CANNOT tell you how much I am enjoying reading all of your posts!
    First of all, I LOVE all things Jane Austen so, I’m SO here with you. 🙂 Secondly, I love all things that build up women and affirm our feminine roles-even thought that’s not always considered cool or whatever. I too love being a girl and all that it entails. I love keeping home, raising kids, cooking (well maybe not cooking but I do love baking) and trying to look pretty and my best.

    So, I say “Bravo” to you and your site! Finally I feel like I’ve found something that I’ve been looking for-even though I didn’t even know I was searching for you. 🙂
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  2. Paula Muller says:

    My pecans did not harden or dry on the parchment. They are sticky and a bit chewy. Cooked on gas stove for about 7to 8 minutes total. What can I do with them now, so they get done and crunchy?

    Thanks for any help!

    • Anne says:

      Oh no! That doesn’t sound good. If I were you I’d pop them in the oven instead of putting them back on the stove. Try 300 degrees for a few minutes, watching them carefully. Pay attention to the color on them, because they won’t be crispy while they’re still hot. They crisp up as they cool.

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