Candied nuts swimming in a thick cinnamon-sugar crusted shell, the sweetly spiced aroma dancing around the house as you make them, and their bite-size addictive crunchiness… I just love everything about today’s treat. This classic is and has always been one of my very favorites around the holidays.
The recipe is from my mom’s dear friend Sharyn. My mom had one taste and has been making them for my family for years. When I went home over Thanksgiving, the first thing I needed… before any turkey or pumpkin pie… was this candied nut recipe.
I had NO IDEA candied nuts were so easy to make. It’s a dangerous, yet amazing thing.
Only about 10 minutes of prep work, 30 minutes of wait time, and about 5 minutes to sit on your tush and eat an entire bowl of them. I’m not kidding. As I sat on the couch watching How I Met Your Mother, a huge bowl of the nuts in hand, I realized that… ooops… I ate them all. Time to grab more from the batch, don’t mind if I do!
Thank goodness they are typically only made around the holidays. But I don’t think that is going to stop me from making a batch of this notoriously addictive snack in July.
This candied nut recipe will work for any kind of nuts, but I prefer using pecans because the cinnamon sugar goo gets stuck in the pecan’s little crevices. All of the pecan’s crinkles are enveloped with a thick layer of the sweet stuff.
I also used almonds in today’s batch as well – I wanted a second nut in the batch for a variety of texture. The sugared coating works well on almonds, but a smooth nut does not “catch” as much coating as a pecan. Peanuts, cashews, macadamias – whatever you’d like to use up in your pantry – would also work as the second nut in this recipe, but make sure you use pecans as the primary base.
If you’re anything like me, you want a heavily coated nut and pecans will get ya there.
So what’s in this magical candied coating? Glad you asked. An easy 5 ingredient mixture.
First, you’ll beat two egg whites and 2 tablespoons of water to a frothy, fluffy, cloud-like consistency with very stiff peaks. It took me about 4 minutes, beaten on medium-high, to get the egg whites + water to that point. You want this mixture to be as voluminous as possible because the sugar will weigh it down.
Next, add the sugar. Two cups of the sweet stuff. You’re making candied nuts, not diet food. Don’t be afraid to use that sugar!
Finally, mix in 2.5 teaspoons of cinnamon and 2 teaspoons of salt. I adore cinnamon in my recipes and, more often than not, have quite the heavy hand when pouring it. Cut down to 2 teaspoons at the minimum if you aren’t a cinnamon freak like I am. The salt in this mixture cuts down on the sweetness and each bite is partly salty/partly sweet/partly spiced. A plethora of pleasant taste profiles on your itty bitty tastebuds.
Once the sugar coating is ready, toss in the nuts and mix everything up well to cover every last morsel. Trust me, you want every inch of the nuts coated with a heavy blanket of the cinnamon/sugar/egg-whites, so make sure you do a job here.
Line a baking sheet with heavy duty parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. You’ll be thankful you did – I certainly don’t want burnt cinnamon sugar glaze stuck to my baking sheet. I already hate doing dishes as is, thankyouverymuch.
Spread the coated nuts over the lined sheet and bake for 45 minutes at 300F, stirring every 15 minutes to avoid burning. Warning: you’ll be so mesmorized by the glorious scent of the candied nuts roasting away in the kitchen, that you may just forget about anything else important in life. Like laundry in the dryer or a voicemail from your boss… just be aware of that in advance.
As the nuts cool, you’ll find little crunchy sugared coating bits that didn’t quite make it onto the nuts scattered around. Those may just be my favorite little bites. I could eat a bowl of just the crispy sugar coating! Package them up in little treat bags for your friends or set them out at a holiday get-together, perhaps along with some sprinkle-loaded chocolate covered pretzels?
I have zero self control around these sugar bombs. Hey, egg whites and nuts are good for you, though… right?!
Candied Cinnamon-Sugar Nuts
That addicting and delicious holiday snack found at the mall can be made at home. And will have your house smelling like the holidays in no time! Makes a wonderful holiday gift.
Yield: 6 cups
- 5 cups whole pecans, unsalted
- 1 cup whole almonds, unsalted
- 2 egg whites
- 2 Tablespoons water
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 2 and 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 2 teaspoons salt
Preheat oven to 300F degrees. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper and spray with non-stick spray; or a silicone baking mat. Set aside.
Mix pecans and almonds in a large bowl. Set aside.
Using an electric mixer, beat egg whites and water on medium-high speed until stiff peaks form, about 4-5 minutes. Add the sugar, cinnamon, and salt, stirring until well combined.
Pour sugar mixture over nuts and stir to coat completely. Spread nuts over the baking sheets and bake for 45 minutes, stirring every 15. Allow to cool completely and enjoy. Store nuts at room temperature for a few weeks, covered.
*Recipe can easily be halved to keep around the house or doubled to feed a large crowd.
This recipe comes from Sharyn, my mom's wonderful friend. Thank you Sharyn!
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What are your favorite sweet snacky foods? Here are some of mine: