Sweet and Salty Nuts in 10 Minutes

Glazed nuts, toffee nuts, caramelized nuts…whatever you call these sweet and salty bites, they are crunchy and delicious!  And so easy to make.  I mean really.  These nuts come together in about 10 minutes.  You can buy similar products in gourmet stores for outrageous prices that I never understand.  Why should nuts cost 2 to 3 times as much because they have some sugar on them?  Sugar is cheap!

I love these nuts on a salad, but they are delicious in just about any context.  Chop and sprinkle them over pumpkin spice ice cream.  Use them whole as a beautiful and delicious decoration for carrot cake or sweet potato pie.  The spicy variations (see below) make great party snacks.

Just look how simple the ingredients are:

  • 3 tablespoons light brown sugar, packed
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • Large pinch of kosher salt
  • 3/4 cup nuts (I like pecan or walnut halves best)

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Note:  This recipe is easily doubled.

Put the brown sugar, water, butter and kosher salt in a heavy, preferably non-stick, skillet.

Bring to boil, stirring.

Boil for 1 minute before adding the nuts.  I used pecans today, but you could use just about anything…walnuts, cashews, peanuts, almonds, hazelnuts.  Go crazy!

Stir and toss until the nuts are thoroughly coated with a glaze, about 3 minutes.  If they start to smoke, take them off before they burn.

Transfer nuts to sheet of foil or parchment paper and quickly separate with forks.

The syrup may seem a little chewy at first, but it becomes crisp when it cools completely.  The nuts keep for at least 3 days at room temperature and much longer in the fridge, but the real challenge is keeping them until you serve to use them.

Significant snacking will occur so make extra.

VARIATION:  Add a little spice to the glaze.  For instance, try 1/2 teaspoon of curry or cumin or whatever spice goes with what you’re serving.  Or try 1/4 teaspoon of cayenne for a little kick.

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20 Comments

  1. Hi again Heather. Usually I like to toast nuts for more crunch and better flavor. I was wondering if the nuts in this recipe get that from their time in the pan with the sugar syrup or would it be good to lightly toast them first? They look nicely browned but I wasn’t sure if that was from the brown sugar or the nuts getting toasty. thanks!

    Reply
    • Hi Pam, I toast my nuts in most situations. However, in this recipe, it’s not necessary. The cooking process results in nice fragrant crunchy nut without pretoasting. Best, Heather

      Reply
  2. Mmm candied nuts are definitely a weakness of mine…especially around the holidays! I bet these would also be tasty on top of oatmeal.

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  3. Thank the heavens I finally round a recipe that has you boil the sugar and butter first. I’ve been making batches of sweet & savory nuts for weeks now to find the sugar and spices just clump into balls of flavor and don’t stick to the nuts. I used this method and added cayenne, fresh chopped rosemary and then salted at the end. Delish!

    Reply
    • Very nice! I love the idea of adding rosemary. Happy Holidays! — H

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  4. yummmm! there’s always a ton of extra nuts hanging around in my host fam’s house and i’m stoked to make this for munchies. seems like they’d be really good for munching on while making thanksgiving dinner!

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  5. I think I followed this exactly and the nuts (peanuts) never became crunchy; it was more like nuts suspended in a soft caramel candy. Any idea why?

    Reply
    • Try it at a higher temp. You want to burn the sugar without burning the nuts. I find that my nuts are perfect when they start to smoke a little. That let’s you know that the sugar is burning (which is really what caramelized anything is, burnt sugar). Just a note that the nuts won’t be crunchy while still hot in the pan because that keeps the sugar molten. The burnt sugar hardens on the nuts start to cool. Good luck! – Heather

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  6. Did a double batch using macadamia, cashew and almond — threw in about half teaspoon of allspice and some red pepper flakes. Delicious on top of chocolate ice cream!

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  7. What about using raw peanuts? Do I have to parch them first?

    Reply
    • I would. – Heather

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  8. Do you have to use kosher salt?

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  9. Thank you for the recipe!

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  10. I love these, I have just made the using 500g of peacan nuts, I have had to come and tell you how deeeeeeeliSh these. Nuts really are, I can’t stop eating them! I hope I have a few left to try them when they are fully cooled down! Super easy to make and extra yummmmy! Thanks

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  11. These are awesome!!!! Used them on my pumpkin cupcakes,there came out delicious.

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  12. This recipe is the best. I’ve been making them since you first posted. Heather, please blog more!

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  13. I do something similar, but I use a cup of raw sugar in a medium glass bowl, about 1/3 cup of water, 1/2 teaspoon of butter extract, and about 15 turns of freshly finely ground sea salt.

    Cook on high in microwave, at 1 minute intervals, stirring with a fork in between until bubbly and sticking to side of bowl, then add 2 cups of toasted nuts (I toast mine in a bowl in the microwave, on high for 2 minutes), and fold the nuts, rolling through the syrup mixture until fully covered, then turn it all out onto waxed paper … Separate into a single layer, and allow to cool.usually takes 4-5 minutes of heating and stirring syrup until ready. The folding part goes quickly, because the sticky syrup crystallizes quickly.

    Store in air tight container, but do not put lid on until the nuts are cooled completely.

    No reason for all the fattening butter. The extract gives it the same buttery flavor, and the toffee texture is still melt in your mouth crunchy!

    * Hint … Scrape the bowl with a sharp edged sturdy plastic spoon to get ‘toffee crumbles’ for sprinkling.

    Reply
  14. Hi.can I use Brazil nuts?

    Reply
    • I think so.

      Reply

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