Sweet, Spicy, Salty Candied Pecans

Tested & Perfected Recipes Cookbook Recipe

These candied pecans are perfect to serve with cocktails or toss over salads, and the best part is that they take just 15 minutes to make!

candied pecans

Photo by Alexandra Grablewski (Chronicle Books, 2018)

These candied pecans are madly addictive. They’re perfect to serve with cocktails, toss over salads, or just keep around the house over the holidays. They also make a delicious homemade gift.  The best part? You only need four simple ingredients to make them — and if you start right now, you’ll be done in 15 minutes.

What You’ll Need To Make Candied Pecans

ingredients for candied pecans

Step-by-Step instructions

Begin by combining the Confectioners sugar, kosher salt, cayenne pepper and 4 teaspoons of water in a medium bowl.

confectioners' sugar, salt, cayenne and water in bowl

Whisk until combined.

whisked candied pecans mixture

Add the pecans to the sugar mixture and stir until evenly coated.

mixing the pecans with the sugar mixture

Place the nuts on a parchment lined baking sheet in a single layer.

pecans on baking sheet

Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, until the nuts are crusty on top and caramelized on the bottom.

baked candied pecans

Slide the parchment off of the baking sheet onto a countertop — this stops the nuts from overcooking on the hot baking sheet.

nuts cooling on countertop

When the nuts are completely cool, use your hands to break them apart.

candied pecans broken apart

Transfer the nuts to a bowl and serve, or store in a covered container for up to a few weeks.

candied pecans

Photo by Alexandra Grablewski (Chronicle Books, 2018)

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Sweet, Spicy & Salty Candied Pecans

These candied pecans are perfect to serve with cocktails or toss over salads, and the best part is that they take just 15 minutes to make!

Servings: Makes 2 cups
Prep Time: 5 Minutes
Cook Time: 10 Minutes
Total Time: 15 Minutes


  • 1/2 cup Confectioners' sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 4 teaspoons water
  • 2 cups pecans


  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F and set an oven rack in the middle position. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the Confectioners' sugar, kosher salt, cayenne pepper, and water.  
  3. Add the pecans to the sugar mixture and stir until the nuts are evenly coated.
  4. Transfer the pecans to the prepared baking sheet and arrange in a single layer. Do your best to make sure the nuts are evenly spread out (if they are clumped together, they won't cook evenly). Scrape out every last bit of glaze from the bowl and drizzle over the nuts. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, until the pecans are caramelized and the caramel on the baking sheet is a rich brown color but not burnt. (The nuts around the edges will darken first; watch closely so they don't burn.)
  5. Immediately slide the parchment off of the hot baking sheet and allow the pecans to cool completely on the countertop (this stops the cooking process and prevents the nuts from burning). Once cool, remove the pecans from the parchment, breaking apart any clusters if necessary, and store in an airtight container for up to two weeks.
  6. Note: If the nuts are sticky after cooling, that means they are a bit undercooked. Pop them back in the oven for a few minutes and let cool again.

Nutrition Information

Powered by Edamam

  • Per serving (8 servings)
  • Serving size: 1/4 cup
  • Calories: 217
  • Fat: 20 g
  • Saturated fat: 2 g
  • Carbohydrates: 11 g
  • Sugar: 8 g
  • Fiber: 3 g
  • Protein: 3 g
  • Sodium: 178 mg
  • Cholesterol: 0 mg

This website is written and produced for informational purposes only. I am not a certified nutritionist and the nutritional data on this site has not been evaluated or approved by a nutritionist or the Food and Drug Administration. Nutritional information is offered as a courtesy and should not be construed as a guarantee. The data is calculated through an online nutritional calculator, Edamam.com. Although I do my best to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures should be considered estimates only. Varying factors such as product types or brands purchased, natural fluctuations in fresh produce, and the way ingredients are processed change the effective nutritional information in any given recipe. Furthermore, different online calculators provide different results depending on their own nutrition fact sources and algorithms. To obtain the most accurate nutritional information in a given recipe, you should calculate the nutritional information with the actual ingredients used in your recipe, using your preferred nutrition calculator.

Gluten-Free Adaptable Note

To the best of my knowledge, all of the ingredients used in this recipe are gluten-free or widely available in gluten-free versions. There is hidden gluten in many foods; if you're following a gluten-free diet or cooking for someone with gluten allergies, always read the labels of your ingredients to verify that they are gluten-free.

See more recipes:

Reviews & Comments

  • These are so good and easy it’s unbelievable! I bought the Once Upon a Chef Cookbook last year and use it more than my many, many cookbooks. The recipes are all so no nonsense and excellent. No crazy list of unusual ingredients that you’ll not use again-thank you!The many I have made turn out perfectly. I moved to the UK in 2021 and my books are still packed so I searched the site in hopes of finding this recipe-hoorah!

    • — Georgia Burg on August 5, 2021
    • Reply
    • ❤️

      • — Jenn on August 6, 2021
      • Reply
  • These are simply amazing! How far in advance can you make these pecans, assuming they are stored in an airtight container?

    • — Miriam Wolock on August 3, 2021
    • Reply
    • Glad you like them! These are best if eaten within about a week (but you can probably get away with a few extra days tacked onto that.

      • — Jenn on August 3, 2021
      • Reply
  • Absolutely delicious!!! Thank you for this wonderful and simple recipe. We all love it as a snack!

    • — Mrs. M on July 17, 2021
    • Reply
  • Absolutely love this recipe. Also tried it with almonds, not as good as they’re so dense but still enjoyable. One issue however, the nuts kept sticking to the parchment paper. Don’t know what I’m doing wrong?

    • — Willie on June 27, 2021
    • Reply
    • Hi Willie, did you definitely use parchment paper? Also, they do stick a little, but I find that if I start to crumble up the paper a little as I’m breaking up the nuts that they release from the paper. Also, it could be that they were a bit undercooked. Please LMK if I can help in any other way.

      • — Jenn on June 28, 2021
      • Reply
  • I love making these. They are so tasty but hardly take anything to make.
    I made some today, however, and they are softer and very sticky. I put them back in the oven, as you suggested but this didn’t dry them out.
    All in all, I probably baked them for close to 25 minutes. Any other suggestions?

    • — Jane on June 15, 2021
    • Reply
    • Sorry you had a problem this time around! Wow, the fact that you baked them for close to 25 minutes and still couldn’t get them to the right texture leads me to believe that perhaps you made a measuring error. Is there any chance that could be the case? Or might your oven temperature be off?

      • — Jenn on June 16, 2021
      • Reply
  • These are completely delicious! I made them a day in advance for a salad I was serving for Easter. I had to remake them Easter morning because my husband and I ate them all, and I made a lot! He has asked me to please never run out of these nuts. Coming from him that is the greatest compliment because he (unlike me) eats to live. These nuts would make an excellent gift during the holidays if I can give them away immediately, or I’m sure they would disappear. This recipe is also much easier and less messy than others I have tried and 10X better! Thank you so much for this recipe!

    • — Rose Rolo on May 31, 2021
    • Reply
  • Just made 4 recipes. Turned out delicious! I have made these with an egg white based recipe for many years. Like this recipe much better as nuts don’t cook as long and separate much easier! Recipe is a keeper!

    • — Sharon Giannangeli on April 23, 2021
    • Reply
  • Simple and delicious. Followed recipe exactly and the nuts were a perfect blend of sweet, salty and spicy. No one flavor overpowered the other. It really did take just minutes to prepare and cook. I brought these to my book club and everyone loved them!

    • — Patrice on March 31, 2021
    • Reply
  • OMG- so good, so easy! Definitely could be hard to stop eating.

    • — Joie on March 18, 2021
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  • The BEST.
    Add good quality vanilla ice cream to a bowl, sprinkle cinnamon. Add pecans and whipped cream
    and then add the sugar shards on top of whipped cream.
    Thanks Jen.

    • — Marge & Sissy on March 15, 2021
    • Reply
  • These are fantastic, however could this recipe also work with peanuts?

    • — Yumster on February 24, 2021
    • Reply
    • Glad you like them! Technically, peanuts will work here, but I like pecans for this recipe because they have all the cracks and crevices that the glaze sinks into. Please LMK how they turn out if you try them with peanuts!

      • — Jenn on February 24, 2021
      • Reply
      • Hi Jenn! The peanuts worked great but I made a few adjustments. I only used one cup of peanuts instead of two and kept tossing them in the oven every 10 min so the sugar would stick. They are great! Thank you for the recipe!

        • — Yumster on February 25, 2021
        • Reply
        • So glad they worked out — thanks for reporting back!

          • — Jenn on February 25, 2021
          • Reply
  • Could I substitute maple syrup for icing sugar and if so how much would you recommend. Thanks.

    • — Jude Hogan on February 23, 2021
    • Reply
    • I wouldn’t recommend it, Jude — sorry!

      • — Jenn on February 23, 2021
      • Reply
  • Very quick and easy recipe as written and tastes good. I made two batches one of them as written (it baked for 15 minutes at 5280ft) and for the second one I replaced one teaspoon of the water with vanilla extract, 1/2 of the powdered sugar with brown sugar, used a full teaspoon of cayenne and about a 1/4-1/2tsp of fresh fround black pepper. Baked for 15 minutes also. Depends on your taste but we liked the slight bit of additional complexity. Thanks for the very easy recipe that’s easy to tweak if desired.

    • — Doug Yosh on February 22, 2021
    • Reply
  • These pecans were GREAT, and so fast to prepare! Jenn, you were right on the money when you said if you start making these now you’ll be eating them in 15 minutes!

    I had some odd pecans left over that were purchased when I bought some nuts and spices at the bulk store, and the 5-spice powder somehow infiltrated the pecans! They made some unusual tasting chocolate chip pecan cookies! I wondered what to do with the rest and looked up candied pecan recipes. I wasn’t surprised to find a great recipe here, because I often land at your blog when searching recipes.

    The icing sugar is brilliant. It created a fairly thick mixture that really stuck to the nuts, and didn’t create a super sticky end product, that has happened before when I’ve tried candied nuts with maple syrup, honey or brown sugar.

    I decided to intentionally amp up the 5-spice flavor by adding it to the sugar mixture, and they were THE BOMB! With the sweet salty heat, the flavor combination was really outstanding. I will be making these again (and will play with other flavor combinations, too).


    • — Tiina on February 3, 2021
    • Reply
  • These were easy to make and yummy! Great in a salad or as a snack. Hard to eat just a couple!

    • — Pam C. on February 3, 2021
    • Reply
  • This is my go to recipe for pecans as salad toppers. I’ve made them several times and they turn out perfectly every time. They have just the right amount of spice and they stay crisp for weeks kept in a sealed container. I 100% recommend this recipe!

    • — Sarah BC on February 3, 2021
    • Reply
    • How do you manage to keep these for several weeks?! 😉 Lol! They’re so delicious we can’t resist them! 🙂

      • — Tiina on February 3, 2021
      • Reply
  • These nuts are the perfect amount of spicy. If you eat them right out of the oven it’s like the hot nuts they sell on the street, my favourite.

    • — Ian on February 1, 2021
    • Reply
  • I made these for Christmas gifts and they were a hit. The added spice took the sweet edge off that you get from candied pecans. I will definitely make these again.

    • — Lisa M on February 1, 2021
    • Reply
    • Great idea! In a great jar with some pretty fabric and ribbon! Keeping that one in the hat for next holiday season!

      • — Tiina on February 3, 2021
      • Reply
  • This is a simple recipe with amazing results. It was sweet and salty without being a “junk” food. It’s lovely paired with an adult beverage and has been enjoyed by several friends who have also made this. It can also be a gift from the kitchen ❤️

    • — Maureen Lacey on January 31, 2021
    • Reply
  • These are amazing. They are hard to share.

    • — Ruby on January 31, 2021
    • Reply
    • I concur wholepecanly.

      • — Tiina on February 3, 2021
      • Reply
  • I love making these for gifts because they are a great alternative to all the sweet cookies or candy around the holidays. I keep mine on the mild side, but they truly are addictive. As other reviews mention, they are excellent in salads as well.

    • — Jill on January 30, 2021
    • Reply
  • Every recipe on this site is fabulous, but this may be the single best, because it is SO easy and everyone goes wild for them. “Crack nuts” is an appropriate nickname. GREAT host/hostess gift. Be sure to pay attention to the nuts in the oven–the notes about their burning in a moment are spot on. And be sure to take the nuts off the baking sheet as soon as they come out of the over. Would give these 10 stars if I could…

    • — Andria K on January 30, 2021
    • Reply
    • I agree. Jenn’s blog is one of my top 5 go-to’s when I’m looking for a recipe. And when I randomly google recipes, I often end up here, too. This recipe is a total winner.

      • — Tiina on February 3, 2021
      • Reply
  • One of my favorites! I made these nuts at Christmas time and gave them as gifts. Then I had to make another batch just for the family. Delicious!

    • — Mary K. on January 30, 2021
    • Reply
  • These are one of my favorite snacks to make and keep on hand for munching with a drink before dinner. I’ve also served them on salad especially with blue cheese dressing! They’re so easy to make!

    • — Nancy on January 29, 2021
    • Reply
  • Oh, these are good! They disappeared quickly.

    • — Victoria on January 28, 2021
    • Reply
  • I needed a quick item to take to a party. These were fast and delicious! Love the heat and sweet!

    • — Cheryl Munkvold on January 28, 2021
    • Reply
  • I made these pecans for our family Christmas celebration. I was unsure whether to adjust the cayenne because my husband and I are quite sensitive to heat, while our adult kids love spicy foods. I decided to make it as written, and they were delicious. I couldn’t stop eating them, even though they burned my mouth. They were too hot for the hubs, and the youngsters didn’t realize they were supposed to be spicy but still liked them. I definitely recommend this recipe, but have no idea how to adjust the heat to suit a crowd.

    • — Mary on January 28, 2021
    • Reply
  • This is my year-round go to recipe. Anytime I need a last minute hostess gift this is it. I keep pecans in the freezer so they are always on hand. I order them in five-pound bags from a pecan farm and freeze them. Do not buy those awful bags at the grocery store. This is an easy recipe. Just the right amount of spice. DO NOT WALK AWAY FROM THE OVEN WHEN THE NUTS ARE BAKING! Put the nuts in a lovely jar and tie a pretty ribbon on it. If you keep these at home find a hiding place if you want some for yourself.

    • — Sue MacHugh on January 28, 2021
    • Reply
  • Addictive!!! Altho we aren’t entertaining any more these days I make these to treat ourselves as we stay at home and stay safe. A treat is well deserved these days! Such an easy recipe but so very very good and no changes whatsoever to the recipe. Thanks Jenn!

    • — Val on January 28, 2021
    • Reply
  • This recipe is ridiculously good and simple. Add an extra pinch of cayenne if you want more heat. I keep mine in the oven a little longer than recipe instructs for a crunchier pecan.

    • — Mary on January 28, 2021
    • Reply
    • Hi,
      Made these as a gift for coworkers, but didn’t add the cayenne since we can’t into spicy. They loved them, always wanted them. Now I make a batch and keep it for snacks and for my salads. Ginger

      • — Ginger B on January 29, 2021
      • Reply
  • During the holidays made several batches for friends and family. This recipe is a very big hit! Not only are they delicious but so easy to make! Thanks for sharing your wonder recipes.

    • — Barb on January 28, 2021
    • Reply
  • So good, & makes a great gift. I’ve made them at Christmas, Football games, and vacation snack. Perfection.

    • — Joni V on January 28, 2021
    • Reply
  • Can’t keep these in the house for very long… lol
    My husband can find them no matter where I hide them.
    Easiest and tastiest spiced nuts ever.
    Thanks Jenn.

    • — Barb from Canada on January 28, 2021
    • Reply
  • My husband loves pecans. I have tried lots of recipes. Many are too sweet. This recipe is his favorite. So easy. The prefect sweet /hot ratio. I have a copy of the recipe taped to the inside of my spice cabinet, as a matter of fact.

    • — HB on January 28, 2021
    • Reply

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