Candied pecans are one of those things that improve just about everything. Toss them into a mixed greens or creamy chicken salad. Crumble them up and mix them with homemade butterscotch sauce for the best ice cream or pie topping you’ve ever had. Nestle them in with fruits and cheeses on your holiday charcuterie board, or serve them by themselves alongside your favorite champagne cocktails. Alternatively, you could always just eat them straight off the counter as they cool because you lack the patience and the willpower to let them make it further than that. However you enjoy them, candied pecans are an incredibly delicious and very versatile ingredient that’s wonderful to have in the cupboard, especially during the holiday season.
Perhaps the best thing about these sweet little nuts is that they’re almost stupidly easy to make. A few simple ingredients go into a pot and come out having combined to make something magical. Plus, making a big batch of these will make your house smell like Mrs. Claus’ kitchen, so don’t blame us if the neighbors come knocking for an impromptu holiday chit-chat.
If those neighbors do come a-knocking, though, these candied pecans make absolutely perfect holiday gifts. Make a big batch and package them up in cute little jars or holiday tins tied with a ribbon and note including the recipe.
So if you’re wondering how to make candied pecans, this is our very favorite recipe.
Candied pecans can be made in the oven, but we find the stovetop method to be simpler and easier, especially when making a small batch. They’ll be ready to eat in less than 10 minutes, and there’s no need to preheat an oven.
- 2 cups pecan halves
- 6 tablespoons brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 teaspoons orange zest
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat, and set aside.
- In a medium skillet over medium heat, combine brown sugar, cinnamon, salt, cayenne, vanilla, water, and orange zest. Cook, stirring often, until the brown sugar melts and bubbles, about 1 minute.
- Stir pecans into the brown sugar mixture, stirring to coat. Cook, stirring constantly, until the pecans are fragrant, 2 to 3 minutes.
- Transfer the candied pecans to the prepared baking sheet and spread them into an even layer. Cool, and then break them up before serving.
- Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to two weeks.
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