Easy Spiced Pecans (sweet and spicy)
If you’re looking for something to bake and gift this holiday season, try these spiced pecans. This is a family favorite recipe that has been used for years. These holiday nuts have a sweet and spicy flavor that people will love snacking on during cocktail hour!
‘Tis the season of gift giving and spiced pecans make the perfect edible treats for family, friends, coworkers—whomever is on your list! Credit goes to my godmother Ginger for this recipe. She makes them every year and they are always a hit. It seems that some of the best recipes are passed down from family members (have you seen my Aunt Carol’s Scandinavian almond bars?)
Why this recipe works
You can make large batches and gift them for Christmas! There is the ability to adjust the spices to make the nuts either more sweet or more spicy. Not only can you serve pecans alongside holiday cocktails, but they also make a great topping for salads or garnish for desserts, like my maple cake.
- Halved pecans are best for holding onto the glaze. I usually buy a giant bag or two from Costco.
- Egg white: An extra large egg white helps the spices stick to the nuts.
- Brown sugar: Light or dark brown sugar adds all the sweetness!
- Aleppo pepper: This is a Mediterranean spice my godmother swears by. If you can’t find it, use chili powder, which will make the nuts less spicy, but it’s what Ina Garten uses!
- Cardamom: This spice gives a certain je ne sais quoi that people love. Ground ginger is a good substitute.
- Cayenne: Here’s the heat! For less spicy pecans, omit the cayenne. For more spice, add a couple extra pinches!
Try using walnuts instead of pecans or a mix of both! You can also use this recipe for almonds or peanuts, but it works better with nuts that have crevices to hold onto the glaze and spices. For large batches, double the recipe and use two baking sheets.
To make sweet pecans, omit the cayenne and use chili powder instead of aleppo pepper. For more spice, definitely use aleppo pepper and increase the cayenne to 1/4 teaspoon.
How to make spiced pecans
- Whisk egg white until frothy.
- Add brown sugar, spices and vanilla. Whisk until well combined.
- Add pecan halves and stir until coated. Transfer to parchment-lined baking sheet and spread evenly.
- Bake at 225 F for 1 hour, tossing the nuts every 15 minutes. Cool completely.
Spread pecans into a single layer so they are baked evenly. If you’re doing a double batch, use two baking sheets. Close the oven door whenever you take the nuts out to toss them otherwise heat will escape from the oven and make the baking time significantly longer.
To gift spiced pecans, make sure they cool completely before packaging. Place them in a mason jar and wrap with a ribbon and tag. You can also buy gift bags online and make your own tags or stickers.
Frequently Asked Questions
When they first come out of the oven the pecans will be sticky. Then they will cool completely and the sugar coating will harden. If they are still sticky, place them back in the oven at 300 F for 15 more minutes and cool completely.
The nuts were not roasted long enough or the oven wasn’t hot enough. Check your oven temperature with an oven thermometer.
Yes, but nuts with crevices, such as walnuts, work best. Perhaps do a mix!
Yes! Let them cool completely, then store in a freezer bag with all the air removed for up to 1 month.
Use spiced pecans as garnish in these desserts!
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Get the Recipe: Spiced Pecans
- 1 pound pecan halves, about 4 cups or 16 ounces
- 1 extra large egg white, large egg white works too
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- ½ cup (100 g) brown sugar, light or dark
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon ground cardamom, or ground ginger
- ½ teaspoon ground aleppo pepper, or chili powder for less spicy pecans
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
- Pinch of cayenne, optional
- Preheat oven to 225° F. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
- In a large bowl, whisk egg white vigorously until frothy, about 30 seconds. Whisk in remaining ingredients (vanilla, brown sugar and spices). Stir in pecan halves until coated.
- Transfer pecans and any liquid to prepared baking sheet. Spread into an even layer.
- Bake at 225° F for 1 hour, tossing the pecans every 15 minutes and spreading into an even layer. Remember to close the oven door when tossing the nuts so the heat doesn't escape. Let the pecans cool completely, which will allow them to become crispy. Enjoy as is, use as garnish on a dessert or give as a gift for the holidays.