- 2 teaspoons vegetable oil
- 1 cup (packed) golden drown sugar
- 3 tablespoons chili powder
- 2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) unsalted butter
- 1 tablespoon hot chili sauce (such as sambal oelek or sriracha)*
Preheat oven to 350°F. Brush rimmed baking sheet with oil. Attach candy thermometer to side of heavy medium saucepan (do not allow tip to touch bottom). Add sugar and 1/4 cup water to saucepan and stir over medium heat until sugar dissolves. Increase heat and boil without stirring until thermometer registers 240°F, occasionally swirling pan and brushing down sides with wet pastry brush, about 4 minutes (time will vary depending on size of pan). Remove from heat. Quickly stir in chili powder, butter, chili sauce, and salt (mixture may bubble). Working quickly, add nuts; stir until coated. Transfer to baking sheet, spreading to separate nuts. Bake until nuts are browned and mixture bubbles, stirring occasionally, about 9 minutes. Cool. Break nuts apart. (Can be made 1 week ahead. Store at room temperature in airtight container.)
Spice Up Your Holiday With Three Spiced Nuts Variations
I can't think of nuts without a little ditty from my childhood popping into my head:
Nuts, nuts, I like nuts If you take them away I'll hate your guts I like peanuts, I like walnuts, I like some nuts, I like all nuts So gimme, gimme, gimme, gimme, gimme some nuts!
I mean, that kind of covers it, right? Nuts are great, don't touch my nuts, unless. um. okay, never mind.
Anyway, back to nuts. With the holidays approaching, this is a great time to think about spiced nuts. They're the perfect snack to keep family and other guests occupied while you finish the grand meal you have planned. (Need help on that front? We've got advice on how to select and prep ham, crown roast of lamb, beef tenderloin, prime rib, and all sorts of other roasts.) Spiced nuts are also a perfect small gift for a holiday party host—or your coworkers!
Here are three wildly different spiced nut recipes to help break you free from the monotony of many of the recipes out there. I went nuts creating them, and I hope you'll go nuts for them.
Spiced Nut Basics
There are several ways to approach spiced nuts. Some recipes make a glaze with sugar, egg whites, and spices. Some use a fat like butter along with the sugar and flavorings, and others just dust roasted nuts in dry spices. I wanted to explore a few of these methods to see how they affected the finished nuts.
First, I tested the egg whites. It's one of the biggest variables I found in the recipes I researched, some calling for none, some calling for one, some calling for several. I whipped up a handful of batches of nuts where everything was equal except the amount of egg whites.
From left, the above nuts have no egg, one egg per quart of nuts, two eggs per quart, and three eggs per quart. For the no-egg batch, I made a simple syrup, then glazed the nuts in it with spices. The egg-less nuts have the shiniest candy coating, while increasing amounts of egg white make an increasingly airy shell. When I had my colleagues taste the batches,* everyone preferred the single egg white batch, saying that it had a more satisfying texture and crunch than the very airy ones. Given the unanimous preference for the single-white batch, that's what I ended up using in the two recipes here that call for whites.
*Well, each batch except the non-egg one, which went missing from the SE test kitchen before the tasting. I'm going to assume that meant they were popular with someone.
For the third flavor of nuts, a savory blend of olive and rosemary, I wanted a more subtle not-too-sweet glaze, and opted for no whites. As I mentioned above, one way to do that is to make a sugar syrup and then coat the nuts in it before roasting, but I saw other recipes (including one from a trusted cookbook author and TV personality that gets high ratings online) that call for cooking sugar in butter, and then tossing the nuts in that.
Here's what happens when you do that:
Maybe some folks think that globs of sugar that refuse to dissolve in the fat are the makings of a great spiced-nut recipe, but I do not. A caramel coating, and the even glaze it delivers is the way to go.
The third thing I tested was cooking time. I used a moderate 300°F oven, since I wanted a heat that was high enough to give the nuts a roasted flavor, while gentle enough not to give risk over-roasting them—nuts are delicate, and too often spiced nuts have a subtle burnt flavor. I found that for all the nuts I tested (raw almonds, raw cashews, pecans, and walnuts), 30 minutes was about the maximum cooking time at 300°F before they started to cross the line into a flavor that I don't enjoy. If you like a harder roast, you can definitely choose to cook yours for longer.
Here, now, are the three flavors I came up with I used specific nuts for each flavor, but feel free to switch them up since all flavors will work on all nut types.
Mexican Spiced Chocolate Pecans
Taking a cue from Mexico, I made a blend of brown sugar, cocoa powder, dark chocolate, and both warm and hot spices (cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, cayenne, etc.).
I whisked that chocolaty sugar-spice blend into an egg white.
Then folded in the pecans.
I spread them on a greased baking sheet and roasted them at 300°F for about 25 minutes.
The finished nuts have a deep chocolate flavor that leans more to dark and bitter than sweet, with a round spice flavor that's followed with just-strong-enough level of heat.
Smoky Candied Almonds
Borrowing their flavor from a barbecue-style dry rub, these almonds are coated in an egg-white-and-brown-sugar glaze that's flavored with smoked paprika, a little Old Bay (for its hit of celery salt and other spices), cayenne for heat, and black pepper.
These have a good salty-sweet balance, with a satisfying smokiness that makes them a great pairing for all kinds of drinks, from beer to bourbon.
This flavor was my biggest stretch, but man did it work. The secret here was my microwave: I used it to dehydrate both the rosemary and some oil-cured black olives, a critically important step.
At first, I attempted to make these with fresh rosemary, but that's not a good idea. Not only does rosemary oxidize quickly once minced, turning it a dark brown color, but no matter how finely you mince it, you'll never get it to the powdery consistency that can really coat the nuts.
Instead of using store-bought dried rosemary, which has been sitting on a shelf for who knows how long, losing flavor all along, I decided to take fresh sprigs and dry them myself. The microwave is brilliant for this.
Just look at these dried sprigs:
They practically look fresh still! To do it, all you have to do is sandwich the fresh sprigs between two sheets of paper towel, then microwave them at full power for one or two minutes. It's important to keep a close eye on them while doing this: it's a short step between drying the rosemary and it igniting in the microwave.
Once dried, I ground the sprigs in my mortar and pestle.
The rosemary quickly becomes a fine powder.
Tapping it through a fine mesh strainer gets out any twiggy bits. See how vibrant that dried rosemary powder is?
I also used the microwave to dehydrate some oil-cured olives. This I do at half power, and it took about five minutes in my microwave for them to dry completely. Once again, it's critical you keep an eye on them while they dry, because they too can burn if not monitored.
They'll seem dry to the touch, but they'll still be loaded with their own natural olive oil. Once you crush them in a mortar, the oil will release, forming a concentrated paste.
I toss the olive paste first with cashews that I've already very lightly glazed in a sugar syrup. They'll be very greasy at this point, thanks to all that olive oil.
The dried rosemary powder, though, will help soak up a good deal of that oil. They'll still be a little oily, but not too much.
The finished nuts are mostly savory, with a salty, herbal kick, but just a hint of that sweet glaze keeps things in balance.
So now that I've shown you my nuts, here's the deal: look, but don't touch. Feel free to touch your own though.
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We have been exploring the world of nuts that the child will eat. If we put enough flavours on them - no problem. Plain nuts - No interest.
This is a delicious one that makes use of some of the rosemary that is in abundance right now. Is fresh rosemary super popular across Canada? I know when I first moved out to Vancouver it seemed to be growing every where.
This recipe is super adaptable, we used the nuts we had on hand. Surprisingly we don't have ALL the nuts in our house at all times. It is loosely adapted from this one at No Spoon Necessary. It can be any combination of nuts and seeds.
- 2 Cups Mixed Raw Nuts (pecans, walnuts, cashews, macadamia, almonds)
- 2 TBS Unsalted Butter or Coconut Oil
- 2 heaping TBS Fresh Rosemary – finely chopped
- 1 TBS Light Brown Sugar
- 1 tsp Cumin
- ¼ tsp Cayenne Pepper
- 2 tsp Sea Salt
- ¼ tsp Fresh Black Pepper
- 1 ½ tsp Pure Maple Syrup
These can be made and stored for days at a time, the flavours will be even better after a day of sitting.
Ingredients Needed to Make Spiced Nuts
Mixed Nuts. Use raw nuts if you can find them. I like to use a mix of raw almonds and raw pecans, though I&rsquoll toss in some lightly roasted peanuts as well. Cashews are very delicious here. You can use pretty much any nuts you prefer. This recipe uses 3 cups. It is easily scalable.
Chili Powders. This is your &ldquospicy&rdquo factor. I&rsquom using a blend of my own homemade spicy chili powder, some cayenne pepper, smoky chipotle powder, and a bit of ghost pepper powder for extra heat. However, go with your own favorite brands and blends. A couple tablespoons is enough.
Sugar. I use 1/4 cup white sugar for the sweet element. Brown sugar is a good substitute. Honey can work, though it&rsquos pretty sticky. You can omit the sugar if you&rsquod like a spicy version only.
Extra Spices. I like to add in some cinnamon because it pairs so nicely with nuts, as well as some salt. You can use your favorite spice mix and blends, though. Consider anise, cardamom, ginger, perhaps a Cajun Seasoning or Creole Seasoning, or even something like Old Bay Seasoning for added spiciness.
Egg White. Egg whites provide some of the &ldquostickiness&rdquo that will help your spices and seasonings stick to the nuts while they&rsquore baking. Other recipes use oil, cooking spray or something like a maple syrup, but I find the egg whites work best, as it does not remain oily after the nuts are cooked.
Begin by combining the Confectioners sugar, kosher salt, cayenne pepper and 4 teaspoons of water in a medium bowl.
Add the pecans to the sugar mixture and stir until evenly coated.
Place the nuts on a parchment lined baking sheet in a single layer.
Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, until the nuts are crusty on top and caramelized on the bottom.
Slide the parchment off of the baking sheet onto a countertop — this stops the nuts from overcooking on the hot baking sheet.
When the nuts are completely cool, use your hands to break them apart.
Transfer the nuts to a bowl and serve, or store in a covered container for up to a few weeks.
Photo by Alexandra Grablewski (Chronicle Books, 2018)
Addictive spiced nuts.
We’re spiced nuts fanatics around here. Every season we make pounds and pounds and pounds of them, that we eat ourselves and give as gifts. These are the nuts my kids beg for when the weather turns cooler, that we’re told we must bring to holiday gatherings, and that we can barely keep around the house because they are so addictively good.
Bonus: making these makes your house smell amazing.
We’ve spent many years honing the perfect recipe, which is dead simple and inherently flexible. (In fact, since 2014 when I first published this recipe on Modern Mrs Darcy, we’ve continued to hone it—increasing the spices by about one-third, and decreasing the sugar by about one-half.)
I borrowed the basic technique from the people at Cooks Illustrated, from a long time ago: beat an egg white with a little water, stir in a pound of nuts, add spices, and bake. It’s quick and easy and the results are terrific. There are other methods, involving corn syrup and stovetop cooking and other fussiness, and while the end result is tasty, the Cooks’ method is so simple my kids can follow it, and do.
I’ve significantly modified the recipe over the years. I slashed the sugar in half from where we started, because while sugared nuts are delicious, all that sugar makes me woozy (or at least it should), especially around the holidays. These are sweet, but not too sweet.
We’ve also done a lot of tinkering with the spice mix over the years. I like the traditional cinnamon, and the cayenne makes them gently spicy. (If you like heat, double the cayenne. My kids would kill me if I did that.) I adore cloves, so you’ll find them here. 1/2 teaspoon is just the right amount for me feel free to omit if you don’t keep cloves on hand.
Any nuts will do: I used an equal mix of almonds, pecans, and walnuts. Hazelnuts and cashews are also good in this recipe, and macadamias are straight-up indulgent.
A word of warning: keep these in a tightly sealed container, and preferably on a high shelf. They’re seriously addictive.
Not-too-sweet spiced nuts
1 pound raw mixed nuts (I used equal portions of almonds, pecans, and walnuts)
1 egg white, room temperature
1 tablespoon water
3 tablespoons white sugar
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt (I use Diamond brand reduce to 1 teaspoon if using Morton)
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
Preheat oven to 275 degrees. Combine salt, spices, and sugar in small bowl. Whisk egg white and water together in mixing bowl. Add nuts stir to coat. Sprinkle spice mixture over nuts and stir to coat evenly.
Spread nuts in a single layer on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake for 30 minutes, stirring halfway through. Remove from oven. When cool, break the nuts apart and store in a tightly sealed container.
Spiced Walnuts Recipe! Give your walnuts a serious makeover and tasty explosion of flavor with this easy Spiced Walnuts Recipe!
Cinnamon Sugar Almonds Recipe
This addicting and delicious Cinnamon Sugar Almonds Recipe is the festive snack recipe you’ve been looking for!Hey there. it's so nice to meet you! I'm Heidi: a Frugal Girl living in sunny Arizona! I love sharing Easy Recipes, DIY Decor, Style & Beauty Hacks, Gardening Tips, Travel Hacks, and Creative Ways to Live the Sweet Life on a Budget. I'm so glad you're here! More About Me >>
These spiced nuts are an intensely addictive snack, so be careful how much you put out at one time. They are the perfect bar snack and make a great gift wrapped in a little bag or jar too.
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- 1 egg white lightly beaten
- ¼ cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
- ¼ teaspoon ground allspice
- pinch ground cayenne pepper
- 1 cup pecan halves
- 1 cup cashews
- 1 cup almonds
- Combine the egg white with the sugar and spices in a bowl.
- Pre-heat the air fryer to 300ºF.
- Spray or brush the air fryer basket with vegetable oil. Toss the nuts together in the spiced egg white and transfer half of the nuts to the air fryer basket.
- Air-fry for 25 minutes, stirring the nuts in the basket a few times during the cooking process. Taste the nuts (carefully because they will be very hot) to see if they are crunchy and nicely toasted. Air-fry for a few more minutes if necessary. Repeat with remaining nuts.
- Serve warm or cool to room temperature and store in an airtight container for up to two weeks.
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Spiced Nuts15 min prep 9 servings 9 ingredients
These delicious homemade, spiced nuts are a far cry from the canned store bought varieties, and super easy to make. They are also my downfall. If I find a bowl in front of me, . I simply cannot stop eating them. It could be worse. Compared to other snacks, these aren’t so bad. Despite their high calorie count, nuts are choc-a-bloc with healthy monounsaturated fats, protein, vitamins, minerals and cancer fighting antioxidants. This can’t be said for many of the popular snacks out there. Better yet, when you roast nuts at home, you control the salt and sugar. Yum!