How to Make Candied Nuts!
Sugar Spiced Pecans

Candied Nuts11

Last week I gave you a recipe for the salad that could land me in culinary jail. It included sugared/spiced pecans. A few of you out there asked for the recipe for these smashing little nuts. Since I am both a proponent of and a bit of an expert in smashing nuts I am proud to share my technique.

Although I have to say if you want hot nuts, it’s probably easier to just pay for them. Bulk Barn carries them oddly enough.




This recipe can be halved or quartered or whatever you want.


Grab your nuts.  And your sugar and water.

Go overboard with the nuts.  This recipe makes plenty of syrup for a heaping 2 cup pile of nuts.

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If you want a spicy nut, also grab your cayenne pepper.

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Pour the sugar (mixed with the pepper) and water into a pan.

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When the mixture starts to boil, add your nuts.

Did you notice I  keep saying  nuts?

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Stir the mixture on medium/low constantly for about 5 minutes.

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Eventually all the water will magically evaporate and you’ll be left with the sugar which is now sticking to the nuts.

You can end it all here and be happy with “Sugared Nuts”.  They’re really good.

Or ….

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You can do the bravest thing ever done by any individual in the history of the world.

You can caramelize the sugar and make candied nuts.

Just continue cooking and constantly stirring the nuts on a slightly lower temperature.  The second you see any smoke, pull the nuts off the heat and stir, stir, stir your little heart out.  Set back on the heat.  Repeat this until the sugar caramelizes and coats the nuts.  This will take around 15 minutes.

*special note:  If you’re using the cayenne pepper be careful not to inhale the smoke.  It’ll burn.  I know.  I did it several times.

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For the candied (caramelized) nuts you’ll need to spread them out on a baking sheet so they’re not touching.  Otherwise they’ll all clump together into an alarming, enormous, single candied nut.

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Like I said earlier, unless there’s some sort of special occasion where you need thickly coated, candied nuts, I’d really just go buy them at the grocery store.  It’s difficult to not burn them once you get to the caramelizing stage  (although it’s entirely possible) and the coating when you make them at home is inevitably thicker than the store bought ones.  If you like a thick skin on your nuts, the homemade ones are the way to go.

Nuts, nuts,  nuts.


  1. David says:

    I watched as they made these at a conession at a fair and they also put vanilla in their batch

  2. josie says:

    thank you for the recipe and the photos which helped me know when the pecans were ready. delicious!

  3. Julye says:

    looks delicious !!

  4. Jennifer says:

    I made these in the oven with cinnamon a couple days ago and they were so good I ate them all! My question is ‘JUST HOW BAD FOR YOU ARE THESE?’

  5. Melanie says:

    Dollarama!! Oh how I love that store…oh and nice nuts by the way…that doesn’t sound right…or maybe it sounds too right?

  6. Celine says:

    I just had some like these at Milestones in a yummy salad. Thanks for the recipe!

  7. Eva says:

    couldn’t you make the caramel and add the nuts at the last second and spread onto the baking sheet? wouldn’t that be easier to keep the nuts from burning?

    • Karen says:

      Eva – Yup. You could melt the sugar first, but you still have to watch it for burning. Technically you aren’t supposed to stir it, but rather just move the pan around. Hard to do when you’re only using a small amount of sugar though. ~ karen!

  8. V says:

    they look great! too bad I can’t find pecan nuts here in Italy, how I miss them.

  9. pjr says:

    Nice nuts. Any chance you can do a post on cast iron pan maintenance? I’ve inherited one and have tried several of the ‘verified internet” procedures. None have worked.I trust you, teach us please.

  10. dana says:

    How are you liking those IKEA spice tins? I have them, but I made little shadowbox vignettes in them because I was leery of using them for powdery things.
    BTW, nuts. Can’t say it enough.

  11. Janelle says:

    I made a version of these and the recipe called for finely diced, candied orange peel…they were yummy and Christmas-y.

  12. Nancy says:

    I am just NUTS about this recipe..except the cayenne part..I only like cayenne in hot sauce/buffalo wings..Your nuts look very pretty!!

  13. lori says:

    I also have made these but do the oven method. I think I will try this one,looks much easier!! you could add Cinnamon instead of pepper, yes??

  14. Tricia Rose says:

    I keep meaning to make healthy activated nut but so far haven’t, just foist the recipe on other people… however this takes me back to the way carnival gypsies in the South of France make praline in big copper kettles over open fires, just starting with sugar and almonds and stirring, and stirring, and the smell was like very heaven….

  15. CBuffy says:

    I have a wonderful cast iron pan from my mil when she passed away. But I have a horrible glass top stove. So… it’s packed away until I get rid of the stove. In the meantime, I make my sugared nuts in the crockpot. Takes longer, but YUM it’s good!

    • lori says:

      CBuffy… why don’t you use your cast iron pan on your glass top stove???? I do and don’t have any problems. just wondering.

  16. Lisa says:

    Or, if you’re lucky enough to be in the kitchen with a friend, ask your friend to grab your nuts.

  17. Laurel says:

    I have made similar nuts, but what really got me excited is your photography! Love that shot of the frying pan with the subway tile in the background – what is your camera/lens?

    • Karen says:

      Thanks Laurel – It’s the original Nikon D40, with the standard issue lens on it. (18 – 55mm) ~ karen! p.s. the subway tile is actually painted brick!

  18. Liz S. says:

    Darn that resolution to lose the rest of my pregnancy weight.

  19. Barbie says:

    Karen I just LOVE your NUTS! I am so happy to see this done stove top! I have always done it in the oven! Love this method so much better!
    Also I am kicking myself because I didn’t take my Moms cast iron pans when we packed her house up! Stupid stupid stupid!

  20. Nicole2 says:

    I was at the Bulk Barn yesterday and I bought those. They are incredibly delicious!! Very addictive with that kick of cayenne. I have to refrain myself from munching on them until I can make the salad.

    I think I will be the buying type rather than the making it myself type.

  21. Karen, I can’t believe you are even daring to suggest that store bought might be the way to go over homemade. With your recipes, how could we fail? (and at least when we do, you’ll show us how to get the stain out of the pavers).

  22. Gayla T says:

    Oh nuts, now I’m going to blow my new diet on nuts. Can’t be satisfied for us to eat plain nuts that just might be considered healthy eating, Miss Nut Buster has me eating sugared nuts. I’m leaving out the hot stuff and putting in cinnamon. That’s what the ones they sell at the Mall smell like so I’m going to try it that way. I enjoyed seeing you cooking your nuts in your pioneer cast iron skillet. No matter what they come up with the original is still the best. I bought mine at a farm sale in 1960 or 1961 and it had been the skillet the old lady who lived there had used her entire married life so I’m thinking mine must be right at 100 years old and it looks just like your new one. I also bought her deep one and there is nothing in the world that does friend chicken better. Now I’m going to do nuts in them. Thanks for the good tutorial.

    • Karen says:

      Gayla T – I’ve never bought a new cast iron pan. You’d have to be nuts to buy a cast iron pan. I probably got that one at a garage sale. ~ karen!

  23. missnicoleo says:

    and for the third time since I found your blog, you are a mind reader. I need candied nuts for my own salad I have been making. and here it is. on your blog. I wish for you a billion dollars

  24. April says:

    Yummy! Thanks for the recipe!

  25. Marti says:

    You were right: this looks great!

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