Spiced Candied Pecans
An easy appetizer that anyone can make, and one that everybody loves!
I can assure you, these spiced pecans are so easy, it literally takes longer to read this post than it does to make them. You basically put everything in a bowl, stir, and bake. And voilà, after a few minutes in the oven, you’ve got a big bowl of spiced, candied nuts to go crazy with.
I’ve noticed this year, people — such as the lovely Ina Garten — are telling everyone to take it easy, and I’m all for that. Now that we’re all adults, we don’t need to prove anything to anyone — right? We’re supposed to celebrate holidays, not make ourselves crazy. I’m a big fan of keeping things simple, and these super easy spiced candied pecans really fit that bill.
There are often lists of things that are “deal breakers” in recipes, and mine is “Heat 4 quarts of oil in a large stockpot fitted with the thermometer,” which is the reason I don’t deep-fry at home; it’s not the thermometer, but I don’t want to heat €25 worth of oil to make a batch of French fries.
But many people cite thermometers as deal breakers, although I’m not sure why, but I’m happy to say that these candied pecans don’t require one of those. Or deep-frying, for that matter😅. You just need a bowl, a spatula, and a baking sheet. And that’s it.
Pecans in France tend to have been, um…around the block longer than they should, so to speak, and often aren’t very fresh. So I ask friends who go to Costco (there’s one near Paris) to grab me a few bags, where they’re sometimes actually less expensive than they are at their stores in the States. Regardless of the price—which I don’t quibble over - one of my readers once referred to overpaying for things as the “expat tax”—they’re usually very good and fresh since they move stock quickly.
While I’ll admit these make a great nibble on their own, you could also chop them up after they’ve cooled and garnish a holiday dessert, such as a pumpkin pie or pumpkin cheesecake, or even a scoop of pumpkin ice cream, with them. The spiciness also makes them a great pre-dinner appetizer, so people don’t have to wait until dessert to enjoy them. I’m just sayin’…
Spiced Candied Pecans
Makes 2 cups
Likely some of you are wondering about making this with other nuts. I haven’t tried other nuts since I love the toasty flavor of pecans and think the little ridges in them help to hold the coating in place. But if you do try another nut, let us know in the comments how it works out.
(Update: A few people in other countries asked about powdered sugar, sometimes called confectioners’ sugar in English. In England, it’s icing sugar and in France, it’s sucre glace. You can read more on French sugars here.)
6 tablespoons (55g) powdered sugar
3 teaspoons water (total)
3/4 teaspoon flaky sea salt or Diamond Crystal kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon cayenne powder
2 cups (210g) pecans, untoasted
Preheat the oven to 350ºF (180ºC). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.
In a medium bowl, stir together the powdered sugar, 2 1/2 teaspoons of water, salt, cayenne, and pecans. Stir well so that the pecans are coated with the mixture, and it’s fine if there are some wet clumps of sugar. If necessary, add the remaining 1/2 teaspoon of water. (The nuts should be almost covered in the thick slightly dry syrup; you don’t want it watery and they shouldn’t be swimming in liquid. See the fourth photo in the post for how mine looks.)
Spread the nuts on the baking sheet.
Bake, stirring once or twice during baking, until they are golden brown and shiny, 10 to 12 minutes. Cool on the baking sheet, breaking up any clusters as they cool.
Once cool, store in an airtight container until ready to serve. They can be made a few days in advance, but honestly, if you’re anything like me, they won’t last that long (!)
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