How to Candy Pecans

October 25, 2012

Last summer we were next door having dinner with our good friends.  Jami made a delicious salad with candied pecans.  They tasted, well, like candy, and I begged her to tell me how to make them.  She explained.  Sounded easy.  I went home and tried it.  And then totally messed it up.  I did a little more research, figured out what I did wrong, and I’ve been buying pecans in bulk ever since!  Hubby, who says he hates nuts, will eat an entire batch of these if I don’t hide them quick enough!  They are ahhhmazing in salad.  People have second helpings just to get more pecans.  They are a must. 

You need 1 1/2 cups of whole pecans.  I rough chop them for salad, just to make them a more manageable size.  You can leave them whole to eat them as a snack.
 Throw 1/2 cup of sugar in a saucepan and turn the heat to medium-low.

Toast your pecans.  I put mine under a broiler for 2-3 minutes.  Careful…they burn QUICK if you aren’t careful.  I like mine really toasty.  Like almost burned, but not quite.  Living on the edge.

While your nuts are toasting, get out some foil or parchment (I always use foil because it’s closer and there isn’t much time for those extra two steps to get the parchment paper out of the pantry).  Get out a couple of forks and some kosher salt.  This is the secret ingredient!!  They were awesome before, but a necessity after I started adding the salt.  Do not skip this!

When the nuts are toasted, turn the sugar up to medium heat.  Sugar burns quickly too, so I start it at a low heat to get it going, and then turn it up when I’m ready to use it.  Trust me, you do NOT want burned sugar! 
The sugar will liquify and turn a beautiful amber color.  When it’s mostly melted I turn off the heat, stir the sugar to finish off any crystals that remain, and then quickly dump my toasty nuts in.

Keep working very quickly!  Stir the nuts into the sugar and evenly coat them.  Once they are coated, quickly dump them out onto the foil/parchment.  Grab the forks and spread them out a little.  THIS IS THE IMPORTANT PART!!!!  Pour some kosher salt into your hand (1/2-1 teaspoon) and sprinkle over the hot sugar.  Don’t let the sugar cool first or the salt won’t stick.  You want the salt to stick!

Once they are salted, continue spreading the nuts out into a single layer to cool.  When they are cool, eat one and groan just a little because it’s one of the best things you’ve ever tasted.  Then break them apart and store them in a plastic bag in the fridge.  

Candied Pecans

1 1/2 cups whole pecans, rough chopped
1/2 cup white sugar
kosher salt

Place sugar in a saucepan over medium-low heat.  Toast your pecans under a broiler for 2-3 minutes, watching them carefully so they don’t burn.  Turn the sugar up to medium heat.  Once it is mostly an amber color, turn heat off and stir to finish dissolving sugar.  Working quickly, dump the nuts into the sugar and stir to coat.  Dump the coated nuts onto the foil/parchment paper, and using two forks, spread them out a little.  Pour some kosher salt into your hand and sprinkle it onto the nuts while they are still very hot.  Then continue spreading them out as they cool.  Once cool, break them apart and store in a plastic bag in the fridge.  If they last that long.  

*I use these in salad instead of croutons.  It gets rave reviews every time.  

*I have also candied walnuts and almonds–and they’re good–but pecans are definitely my favorite!

By Becky

Becky is a mom to 4 kiddos and wife to an awesome guy. She's a food fanatic and loves creating and improving recipes. Bread is her weakness and delicious food is her passion!