I love this little recipe for sweet, crunchy, salty Candied Pecans. If you haven’t had Candied Pecans, they’re cooked and coated in a sweet syrup that hardens into a shiny coating and it absolutely transforms your plain old nuts into crunchy deliciousness. They’re really something special and a few will make anything you use them in special, too. This is a small batch, made in minutes, for when you need a few for a garnish of some sort. It works well with all kinds of other nuts, too.
So this is a “small batch” recipe that can be whipped up in just a few minutes in a small pan; it’s not a big recipe for snacks or parties or putting in pretty bags for gift giving. For that, I usually make my Sweet, Spicy Slow Cooker Nuts. I am actually trying not to think about that recipe and keep it reserved for the Holidays because I love those and want them all the time! You might want to click over and pin that recipe for the appropriate season, but in the meantime, let’s keep focusing on these delicious Candied Pecans.
About Candied Pecans:
The recipe makes just a few Candied Pecans, although you can double the recipe. As is, it’s just the right amount to add to a salad. A few candied pecans are a great incentive to keep on eating that salad…you’ll find yourself eating more just hoping for the next bite that has a bit of these sweet, crunchy pecans. They just “make” my Spinach Salad with Candied Pecans, and they make you forget you’re eating all healthy things like the quinoa and the chickpeas!
I love to use a few candied pecans to decorate a cake, especially if I want it to look nice for company or if I’m taking the cake somewhere. On a layer cake, they can go around the top edge. On a sheet pan cake, the servings can be marked off and a single, perfect candied pecan placed in the center of each. The same goes for brownies. And a few can be chopped and sprinkled over cupcakes, too.
A cake doesn’t necessarily have to have pecans IN it to have pecans On it, though sometimes that’s nice, too. Candied Pecans (or other nuts) are great on top of something chocolate, like my Texas Sheet Cake. Candied Pecans (or other nuts) seem to have a special affinity for anything with Cream Cheese Frosting. They’d be great on top of my Best Banana Sheet Cake, and I wish I would have candied the hazelnuts on My Mom’s Classic Carrot Cake. And the same for the pecans on my Easy Pumpkin Spice Sheet Cake.
And gosh, don’t forget Candied Pecans on an ice cream sundae, maybe with Old Fashioned Butterscotch Sauce or Salted Caramel Sauce!! Heaven! I’m done now. If you need more ways to use your fab Candied Pecans, you’re on your own!
Making Candied Pecans:
The recipe for Candied Pecans is just so super simple, it sounds a little insane. You take a handful of nuts, a little honey or sugar, and a touch of salt, maybe a pinch of cayenne if you lean that way, add a bit of water and heat it, slowly. It will boil and bubble and reduce down and once it starts to look just a little amber colored and there is nothing but a thin coating of caramel on the pan, you’re done!
Give the pecans a stir and lay the pecans out on some wax or parchment paper to cool. Resist the impulse to separate them with your fingers, the’re molten hot in a way that only cooked sugar can get. Once cool, and coating hardens up, remove them from, the paper. Candied Pecans are not going to be like “earth shattering” hard coating but there will be a def crispness and a bit of crunchiness and the pecans will be all shiny and taste fabulous!
Use a heavy, small pan if possible. If the pan is too large, the syrup (the sugar or honey and water) will be spread over the whole surface and the pecans won’t coat well and then as the water evaporates away, you’ll be left with a hard mess in your pan. Trust me, it’s not pretty when that happens. You’ll probably need to soak that pan for a while to dissolve the sugary substance.
These may not harden properly in very humid weather, especially if you don’t have air, and store better, too when it’s dry. Use them as soon as possible, a day or two in the summer, though they’ll last better in the winter.
Saving Money on Candied Pecans:
This recipe works with just about any nuts you’d like to use, almonds, hazelnuts & pecans. Nuts can be expensive, so check the bulk bin or buying clubs for the best prices, and the Aldi prices are usually just as good as the Costco prices. Fall is the time of year to clean out your stash of nuts from the previous year and put them to use before restocking. You’ll find nuts at their low in the fall after harvest and up through the Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s sales.
The fridge is okay for storage, but for maximum shelf life, toss nuts in your freezer and preferably your deep freeze, as close to zero degrees as possible, where they’ll stay fresh a lot longer. While this PDF is geared towards growers it does have some good information and charts about how long your nuts will stay fresh.Print
Candied Pecans (or Other Nuts)
Fun, Candied Pecans take minutes to make and are a great garnish salads, desserts and sundaes.
- Prep Time: 2 minutes
- Cook Time: 4 to 5 minutes
- Total Time: 20 minutes
- Yield: 2/3 cup 1x
- Category: Appetizers
- Method: Stove
- Cuisine: American
- A handful or two of pecans or pecan pieces, enough to cover the bottom of a small pan
- 2 tablespoons sugar or honey
- 2 tablespoons water
- Pinch of salt and/or pinch cayenne, optional
- Salt to finish, optional
Add all ingredients to a saucepan, except for any salt you wish to use to sprinkle over the finished pecans. Bring to a boil, then turn down to a simmer. Cook 4 to 5 minutes until most of the syrup is gone, and the remaining syrup has turned a light amber color. Watch carefully at the end, they can burn easily. Do not stir and if a heavy-bottomed pan is used there should be no need to swirl. If there is unmelted sugar around the edges, carefully swirl the pan to incorporate it in with the rest of the liquid.
When finished, with a spoon, stir to coat the pecans and turn onto a parchment-lined sheet tray to dry. Separate with a spoon or fork. Sprinkle with salt if desired. Use within a day or two and store in a tightly sealed container in a cool place.
- If you think they’ve gone too far, and aren’t burnt yet, but looking a bit dry and crusty, add a smidge of water and stir.
- If you pull the pecans out too early, they’ll still be good, but won’t have a crunchy coating, they’ll just be sweet.
- Recipe may be difficult in very hot humid weather and pecans may remain a little sticky if that’s the case.
Keywords: Appetizer, Candy, Desserts, Nuts and Seeds, Pecans, Salad