One of the number one questions I get from friends is how to make candied nuts for salads. I confess that candied nuts are one of the reasons I am the salad lover I am. The sweet, salty crunch of candied nuts is irresistible nestled among leafy greens, and coupled with cheese, fruit, and veggies. Mmm…
The recipe I’ve used for years is from a beloved cookbook that I’m pretty sure your mom has on her shelf. My mom does. You might also. I have several editions of this book on my shelf: the ubiquitous red and white Better Homes & Gardens Cookbook. I learned to cook from that book. So many good memories! When I learned how to make candied nuts, it was a very good day. And it’s easier than you might think!
Even though this recipe is incredibly simple, you do have to give it your complete attention. And that means not answering the phone and ignoring any crying children – but only for a few minutes. ;) It really only does take about 10 minutes, tops, from beginning to end.
My default is always pecans because I love their maple flavor and tender texture. Plus they taste fantastic toasted. But I’ve also made this recipe with almonds, cashews, hazelnuts, and walnuts. You could even use sliced almonds. (I’m still partial to pecans though. Ha!)
Ice cream topping
Add-in for cookies, brownies, ice cream, cakes, cake filling, or decorating
For the holidays, I really love this recipe for Orange Spiced Nuts. It’s a little more involved than these candied nuts, but it’s totally worth it and it makes a ton!
- 2 cups whole nuts (pecans, walnuts, almonds)
- ½ cup sugar
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- Place a piece of parchment paper or a silicone baking mat on a flat surface or baking sheet. (DO NOT USE WAXED PAPER!!! If you don't have parchment or silicone, you can use a baking sheet coated with non-stick cooking spray.)
- Heat a non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Melt the butter and add the sugar and nuts.
- Cook while stirring constantly with a wooden spoon until the sugar melts and turns a golden brown. (You may still see some sugar crystals that haven't melted--it's okay.)
- Remove pan from heat and add vanilla extract. (It will bubble up.) Stir vigorously.
- Turn the hot nuts out onto the prepared surface. Spread nuts out evenly. Cool completely before using or eating.
HOW TO PHOTOS + TIPS
Heat a non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Melt the butter, then add the sugar and nuts.
Cook, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until the sugar melts and turns golden brown, or a medium dark amber. You may still see some sugar crystals that haven’t melted – it’s okay.
Remove pan from heat and add vanilla extract. (It will bubble up.) Stir vigorously.
Turn the hot nuts out onto the prepared surface – remember NOT waxed paper. Parchment or silicone baking mats are the preferred choice, but an oiled baking sheet works too.
Spread nuts out evenly. Cool completely before using or eating. Store in an airtight container or zipper lock bag for about 2 weeks.
Pro tip: the best way to chop the nuts is with a serrated knife.