Monday, December 10, 2012

Hot and Sweet Spiced Pecans

Everyone has a dish that inherently says Christmas to them. The dishes that we always make every year, the one's that get passed down from generation to generation, that no matter how many food trends pass, you can't get enough of. This is the thing I love about food the most; it's ability to transport our senses to another time -- and for me, so much more vividly than other memories.

When I was younger the first thing I remember making for Christmas dinner was a Boston Bibb Lettuce Salad with Hot and Sweet Spiced Pecans, bleu cheese and a dressing that came from children's cookbook. It started with my mom letting me put lettuce on the plate and shake the dressing, but as I grew, I learned how to do the other parts. The pecans were always the most daunting and complex part of the culinary endeavor, but as a adult, they're really quite simple.

Ahh...we grow up so fast.

Sugar, cumin and red pepper flake give these pecans a sweet start and a hot finish.

I would strongly suggest using cast iron for this recipe, or at very least a heavy bottomed pan. With hot oil and sugar, don't even think of messing with the non-stick stuff. I'm lucky enough to have my Grammie's old cast iron skillets -- complete with 50+ years of seasoning.

Toasted and sticky, awaiting a spicy bath.

A quick toss in the spices and you're all set. Enjoy on a salad or all alone. They're also a great holiday goodie to share with friends.

Hot and Sweet Spiced Pecans
2 cups halved pecans
2 tablespoons peanut oil
3 tablespoons granulated sugar, divided
1 tablespoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flake

Over medium heat, warm peanut oil in a cast iron skillet or heavy bottomed pan. Stir in 2 tablespoons sugar and continue stirring until sugar melts and turns a light brown. Add pecans to pan stirring for 1-2 minutes, until pecans begin to toast and are evenly coated with melted sugar.

In a large bowl, combine remaining sugar, salt, red pepper flake and cumin. Toss pecans in spice mixture until evenly coated. Remove pecans to a cookie sheet lined with parchment.

Serve once pecans have cooled and sugar has hardened.


  1. OMG. My nana used to make these for us, and I haven't had them in years. I absolutely need to make these for Christmas this year

  2. Sounds delish. Could I use another type of oil (say Canola)? Or will that not work as well?

  3. Any neutral-flavored oil that can withstand high heat -- like canola, vegetable or grapeseed -- will work here too, but the Peanut Oil gives great flavor.


Let's chat! Add your comment here. Note, there may be a delay in posting for comment moderation.