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Easy Candied Pecans (Cinnamon Sugar)

Easy candied pecans don’t need an hour in the oven for that crispy-sweet flavor to develop. See how easy it is to make this classic appetizer in half the time. Make a big batch for holiday giving, special events or to top a salad. They’re a classic!

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I made a bag of these easy candied pecans for the garbage man a few years ago for Christmas. I never thought much about it until he pulled up the next week and hunted me down to ask if I’d make him some more.

I did.

These little cinnamon sugar jewels are a true treat and they are stinking addictive so tread lightly if you can’t control yourself.

Popular all over the country in candy shops and malls everywhere at the holidays, they’re great for eating out of a paper cone while you roam through Bloomingdales buying people presents they don’t need. Or Big Lots. Whatever–we don’t discriminate around here.

And we’re going to do something a little risky to make them even faster. Most recipes on the internet require a low-temperature roast for up to an hour or longer while you diligently toss your nuts every 5 or 10 minutes.

You’re welcome to go that route if you want to, but I’ve always used my eagle-eye to watch mine closely and bake at a hotter temp for a quarter of the time. Let’s just get these done.

What you’ll need for easy candied pecans

  • 1 egg white
  • Pecan halves (smaller pieces will surely burn)
  • Sugar of your choice (brown, white or I suspicion coconut sugar would work here)
  • Cinnamon
  • Vanilla
  • Pinch of salt
  • Baking sheet
  • A bit of cooking spray or oil to grease the pan

Sprouted nuts make things a little healthier

Nuts and seeds contain a natural enzyme called phytic acid. This acid loves to float through your body, pull out important minerals your body needs and take them away. This is pretty important to know considering 92% of Americans are deficient in minerals like vitamin D, zinc, iron, folate and magnesium.

If you eat a lot of nuts and seeds, it’s important to either soak your nuts first in a solution of either water and baking soda or lemon juice then drain and re-dry them. I don’t have time for that so I buy mine already done.

Look for nuts that have been “activated” or “sprouted” in your healthy food section. They won’t be in the baking aisle usually. I also shop Thrive Market for them, but they aren’t always in stock.

How to put your candied pecans together

Separate your egg and use just the white. Use a whisk to beat the egg white until it’s frothy. Add the vanilla and whisk it in briefly.

a bowl of frothy egg whites with a whisk

Add the pecans and toss to coat them evenly. It may not seem like one egg white is enough, but it works great for 3 to 4 cups of pecan halves. If you want to make more than that, use two whites.

a bowl of pecans with a spoon that have been tossed with egg whites
toss your pecans with egg white to begin the process of candying them.

Stir together your sugar choice with the cinnamon (nutmeg, pumpkin pie spice, or even a bit of cayenne would be amazing here) and sprinkle over the pecans. Stir well to coat.

a bowl of pecans with cinnamon sugar on top in a bowl

Once the nuts are thoroughly coated, set them aside and lightly grease your cookie sheet. Don’t line it with foil or parchment paper because it will stick like the dickens when the sugar hardens. Spread the pecans on the pan in a single layer.

a cookie sheet of pecans ready for the oven

Then bake at 325 for 10-15 minutes, stirring your nuts every 5 minutes. Make sure you are bringing the nuts on the ends of the pan to the center and turning them really well. If you put them in the oven and walk away for 15 minutes, you will burn them.

You just want to cook them until the “wet” look of the egg goes away. They won’t be super crispy yet–but the candied pecans will harden as they cool. Leave them on the cookie sheet until cool enough to transfer to a container.

How to store candied pecans

Nuts can go soft pretty fast after roasting. Make your pecans no more than 2 days in advance of when you want to serve them and keep them in an air tight container on the counter. There’s no need to refrigerate them and it will only make them go soft faster.

What if my candied pecans stay soft after baking?

You probably didn’t cook them long enough. Sugar has to reach specific temperatures in order to caramelize and make the crispy outside you expect so make sure you roast and toast yours long enough.

Flavor variations you could try with this recipe

There are so many!

  • Add cayenne for a bit of heat–just a pinch though!
  • Change the vanilla out for another extract like peppermint, orange or almond or do a blend with the vanilla
  • Change the cinnamon out for pecan or apple pie spice, nutmeg or add in a pinch of cloves
  • Melt in a few chocolate chips in the last minute in the oven and toss the nuts with the chocolate and let cool
  • Add other nuts like walnuts or almonds to the pan
  • Melt in some very finely crushed candy canes for a holiday feel
an up close photo of candied pecans in a white bowl on a holiday table

Easy Candied Pecans with Cinnamon Sugar

These little nutty treats are the height of holiday snacking!
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Course: Appetizer
Prep Time: 8 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 23 minutes
Servings: 8 people
Author: Rachel Ballard

Ingredients

  • 3 cups pecan halves
  • 1 egg white
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • 1/2 cup sugar organic cane sugar, granulated, or coconut sugar
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • pinch salt optional

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 325. Grease a cookie sheet and set aside. Do not use foil or parchment paper on the cookie sheet.
  • In a medium bowl, whisk the egg white until frothy. Add the vanilla and whisk again to combine.
  • Add the pecans and toss to coat them evenly in the egg whites. Set aside.
  • In a small bowl mix the sugar of your choice, salt and cinnamon. Sprinkle over the pecans and toss to coat the nuts evenly.
  • Spread on the cookie sheet in an even layer.
  • Bake, turning the pecans well every 5 minutes until the wetness of the egg dries. Keep turning them often and make sure to bring the nuts along the edge of the pan to the center and the center nuts to the edges so they don't burn. Don't walk away from the stove!
  • Remove the pan from the oven and let the nuts cool on the pan. They will crisp further as they sit. Keep them in an air tight container at room temperature for up to 5 days.
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