Would You Like to Taste My Nuts? Candied Vanilla-Spiced Pecans, That Is


One of the things I like to do most Christmases is to make candied nuts.  They’re so easy to do and everyone in my family loves them, I don’t know why I don’t make them more often.  Hell, it’s gotten to the point where we always talk about “Dad’s Nuts,” and, well, the headline above clearly demonstrates where this can sink.  My 14 year old son started actually walked into the dining room yesterday, carrying a bowl of nuts, asking his grandmother — HIS GRANDMOTHER, for chrissake, whether she wanted to taste his nuts.  I think he’s still blushing over it, but it’s  pretty damn funny.  Almost as funny as the Schwetty Balls skit from SNL.

So, what’s so special about my nuts?  First, they’re sweet, but not overly so.  They’re not pralines or anything close to that.  They’re easy to make, and you don’t have to coat them with egg white.  The flavor is fairly complex, but perfect for the holidays.   And frankly, you can use whatever spices you want.  You can add a kick of cayenne if you wan’t a hot and sweet effect.  Want some more warmth, add a bit of clove.  It’s up to you.  I adapted this recipe from one of my favorite cookbooks in the world, the Frog-Commissary Cookbook.

These make great gifts, too.  Just put some tasty nuts in a Mason jar, put on a ribbon, and you’re good to go.

Candied Vanilla-Spiced Pecans

  • 1 pound pecan halves
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 2 Tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla powder (or 1 vanilla bean, ground finely)*
  • 1/4 tsp grated nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp allspice
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 325°F. Add pecans to a small pot of boiling water and blanch for 1 minute.  Drain.  While nuts are blanching, combine sugars and vegetable oil in a boil.  Add drained, hot pecans to sugar mixture, toss to coat thoroughly, and let stand for about 10 minutes.  Spread on a baking sheet, preferably lined with a Silpat (for easier clean-up), and bake for about 30 minutes, turning them every 8 minutes or so, until the nuts are medium brown and crispy.  While baking, combine the dry ingredients, including the pulverized vanilla bean, if using one.  Add the hot, baked nuts to a bowl and thoroughly toss with the spices and vanilla.  Allow the nuts to cool completely.  They will get crunchier as they cool.

Note: If you don’t have vanilla powder or a vanilla bean, add 1 Tbsp of vanilla extract to the sugar and oil mixture.


12 Responses to Would You Like to Taste My Nuts? Candied Vanilla-Spiced Pecans, That Is

  1. Dana says:

    You should try my salty balls around the holidays. They are perfect for the season.

  2. Fuzzy says:

    And of course there’s Chef’s chocolate balls from South Park….

  3. Daria says:

    I made some vanilla sugar recently, do you think I could use that instead of the plain sugar at the beginning?

  4. Megan says:

    Add some cayenne, and you’re speaking my language – I usually just toast pecans in brown sugar, butter, cayenne and then S&P when they’re resting. DEEE licious.

  5. who says:

    i agree with megan. i love cayenne on my nuts as well as some toasted and ground star anise, grains of paradise, and a touch of allspice. that added to the vanilla, sugar, etc. with salt…. fantastic!

  6. Varmint says:

    I don’t add the cayenne, simply because my kids wouldn’t like them as much.

    Daria, you could use vanilla sugar, but I doubt that will result in enough vanilla to make a difference in taste.

  7. Gail says:

    Do you think cashews would work for this?

  8. Varmint says:

    Walnuts would definitely work, but I’m not entirely sure about cashews. They have a slightly different texture, but in the end, they’re nuts. So give it a try and report back here, please!

  9. Jessica says:

    These look very tempting, indeed! I have a recipe that I found on The NYT and it’s a wonderful marriage of spiced nuts and (drum roll please) BACON! As many of us know, everything tastes better with bacon.

    Recipe: Spiced Nuts With Sugared Bacon
    2 cups unsalted, roasted mixed nuts (or use all almonds or cashews)
    1 1/2 tablespoons egg white, beaten slightly
    2 tablespoons granulated sugar
    1 teaspoon garam masala
    3/4 teaspoon cumin
    1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
    1/8 teaspoon allspice
    Pinch of cloves
    1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
    1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper, to taste
    3/4 pound sliced bacon
    1/2 cup light brown sugar.
    1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. In a large bowl, toss nuts with egg white, coating nuts evenly. Add granulated sugar, spices, salt and cayenne, and toss to combine.
    2. Spread nuts on a baking sheet. Roast, stirring frequently and breaking up any clumps, until nuts are nicely browned, 12 to 15 minutes. Break up any remaining clumps while nuts are still warm; immediately transfer to a bowl.
    3. Increase oven temperature to 350 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with a nonstick liner (or use parchment paper sprayed with nonstick spray). Arrange bacon in a single layer on baking sheet. Sprinkle a thin, even layer of brown sugar over bacon, coating both sides. Bake until crisp and dark golden, 20 to 25 minutes.
    4. Transfer bacon slices to a wire rack set over a rimmed baking sheet (or some paper towels) to cool. Cool. Break bacon into bite-size pieces and mix with nuts.
    Yield: 2 cups.

  10. Gail says:

    Varmint, I tried your recipe with the cashews and the result is…just say no! lol They weren’t bad but not good either. They also seemed to burn fast. I only got through about 16 minutes before they started to brown very fast. Next time I will try the recipe with the pecans.

  11. MB says:


    Your nuts were a hit and were enjoyed by young and old but mostly blonde girls 😉 Thanks for sharing!

  12. DeezNUTS says:

    NO!!! Would you like to taste MY nuts!!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: