These quick & easy candied pecans are sweet, savory, lightly spiced, and ready with just 5 ingredients in 5 minutes on the stove. A delicious gluten-free, vegan holiday snack and addition to salads, main dishes, and desserts!
I first fell in love with candied pecans at a local Christmas market. Then I decided to try my hand at making them at home (along with delicious roasted chestnuts), and I haven’t looked back since. It turns out that making these easy candied pecans at home takes just minutes on the stove, is easy to adapt flavor-wise, makes your kitchen smell amazing, and will save you money over buying them!
What Are Candied Pecans?
Candied pecans, also called caramelized pecans and glazed pecans, are a sweet confection. They’re made by cooking the nuts on the stove or in the oven with sugar, spices, and sometimes egg white. Then they are left to dry until they have a crunchy, brittle, flavorful sugar coating.
Though I’ve tried roasted candied pecans previously, stovetop candied pecans are my go-to. They’re ready in a fraction of the time (just 5 minutes!), are egg-free and vegan, and are more evenly coated. They just require some speedy work at the end to separate them into a single layer before the coating starts hardening.
For this quick recipe for candied pecans, I’m sharing my current favorite sweet and spicy pecans flavor combination with brown sugar (unrefined option available), orange juice (or water), cinnamon, and optional cayenne – with NO egg. I’ve also included several ways to adapt and add to the flavor to make them your own.
Your kitchen will smell amazing when making them. Plus, these appetizing quick candied pecans are a crowd-pleasing, crunchy, sweet, and savory treat everyone will enjoy, and perfect for gift-giving!
What Is the Difference Between Candied Pecans vs Praline Pecans
Traditionally, candied pecan recipes combine sugar, spices, and egg whites and then cooked until crispy. In comparison, pecan pralines coat the pecans with caramel. This candied pecan recipe falls somewhere between the two, omitting the egg whites for a caramel base to these caramelized pecans.
What Are Candied Pecans Made of
These sweet and spicy cinnamon-glazed pecans require just 5 ingredients you likely already have in your kitchen. For the best candied pecans recipe, you need:
- Pecans: Use raw or roasted, unsalted pecan halves when candying pecans.
- Sugar: Brown sugar is best. Though you can use unrefined coconut sugar, raw cane sugar, or even a 50/50 blend of brown and white sugar.
Note that powdered sugar (which you can buy or make) will adhere better to the cinnamon candied pecans.
- Salt: (Optional) To balance the sweetness and enhance the flavors in the caramelized pecans recipe.
- Vanilla extract: For the best flavor, use natural vanilla extract for these sweet pecans.
- Cinnamon: This warming spice perfectly compliments the brown sugar and pecans in this spiced candied pecan recipe.
- Cayenne pepper: (Optional) Add some cayenne pepper (or chili powder) for a touch of heat. Use chipotle or ancho chili powder for added smokiness.
- Water: Or use fresh orange juice (I often do) for more flavor.
Can You Substitute Walnuts for Pecans
Yes, this easy candied pecans recipe will work with several types of different nuts, including walnuts (though I have another delicious recipe for candied walnuts here), hazelnuts, almonds, and cashews. You could also use pumpkin seeds or sunflower seeds, though they are harder to separate before the coating becomes hard.
How to Make Candied Pecans
How to make glazed pecans on the stove is quick and straightforward, with minimal effort, taking just a few minutes from start to finish.
First, add the water (or orange juice) and the spices to a heavy-based, large frying pan. Heat over medium, stirring to combine.
Add the sugar and stir often until it’s almost entirely melted (a white pan will make this more easily visible).
Then, add the pecans. Use a spatula/spoon to toss them with the cinnamon sugar mixture while cooking for 2-4 minutes, to ensure they’re evenly coated.
Then, spread the coated pecans into a single layer on a parchment paper-lined baking tray (or silicone baking sheet). Ensure they aren’t touching each other too much.
Do this quickly (you have about 30 seconds) to separate the nuts before the candy coating begins to solidify.
Leave the nuts to cool and dry completely, then lightly break up any that are sticking. And this is how to candy pecans.
Enjoy the spicy candied pecans immediately or save them for later.
How Long Do Candied Pecans Last
Keep the cooled, hardened cinnamon candied pecans stored in an airtight container at room temperature for 7-10 days.
Storing them in the refrigerator may cause them to become sticky. However, if you have a fully airtight container, you can store them for up to 3 weeks.
Can You Freeze Candied Pecans
Allow them to cool completely. Then transfer them to a freezer-safe airtight container/bag and freeze them for up to two months. Then, they only need to thaw for a few minutes at room temperature.
Can I Make Candied Pecans Ahead of Time
Yes, you can make these glaze pecans ahead of time as they last for at least 7-10 days at room temperate.
Can You Reheat Candied Pecans
These candied pecans are great at room temperature. If you need to reheat them, you can place them on a flat plate (separate them a bit). Reheat them in the microwave for 2 minutes or so. Alternatively, spread them on a baking tray covered with parchment paper and heat them in the oven (5-10 minutes at 250ºF/120ºC).
Keep in mind that heating them will cause the sugar coating to soften. It will harden again as they cool down.
Uses for Candied Pecans
As long as you stop yourself from eating the entire lot as soon as they’re ready, this festive holiday snack is actually delicious for using as a garnish for cakes (like carrot cake) and desserts, as well as adding to:
- A bowl of ice cream,
- Yogurt bowls with fruit (dairy or dairy-free yogurt),
- Oatmeal or overnight oats,
- Baked into muffins or quick bread,
- Candied pecans for salads, tossed with the rest of the ingredients.
- Over candied yams,
- With roasted vegetables,
- A charcuterie board, cheese board, or grazing platter.
You could also divide these candied nuts between mason jars with a cute label/bow. Give them as a delicious edible gift.
This is likely because you’ve used too much liquid, and undercooked the nuts. Or you live in high humidity (which keeps the nuts from drying properly). To fix the issue, either return them to the stove to cook more, or place them in the oven at a low temperature (or in a dehydrator) to dry them more.
Remember, while warm, they will be sticky. But as they cool, the sugar coating should harden.
You can replace the granulated sugar and water/juice with ¼ cup of liquid sweetener + 1 tablespoon of unsalted butter per cup of nuts. I love making maple-glazed pecans in particular.
Many traditional recipes include egg or butter. But as long as you are making candied pecans with a vegan sugar source, this glazed pecans recipe is naturally vegan.
More Nutty Recipes and DIYs
- The Best Milk Substitutes (Nut & Seed Milks)
- The Guide to the Healthiest Nut Butters
- DIY Homemade Vegan Nutella Recipe
- Hazelnut truffles (vegan Ferrero Rocher)
- Almond Pistachio Thumbprint Cookies Recipe
If you try this easy sugared pecans recipe, let me know how it goes in the comments below. I’d appreciate a recipe card rating and would love to see your recipe recreations – tag me on Instagram @Alphafoodie!
Easy 5 Minute Candied Pecans
- 1 lb pecans or walnuts, almonds, cashews, pumpkin seeds, etc.
- 1/2 cup brown sugar or palm sugar, coconut sugar, etc; check the FAQs for maple/honey option
- 2 tablespoon water OR juice of 1/2 orange
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon powder adjust to taste
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/4 teaspoon salt adjust to taste; omit if preferred
- 1/2 teaspoon Cayenne pepper optional; alternatively use ancho or chipotle pepper for added smokiness.
Check the Recipe Notes below for flavor variations and add-ins!
- Add the water (or orange juice) and spices to a heavy-based, large frying pan and heat over medium, stirring to combine.
- Add the sugar and stir often until it’s almost entirely melted (a white pan will make this more easily visible).
- Add the pecans and use a spatula/spoon to toss them with the cinnamon sugar mixture while cooking for 2-4 minutes, to ensure they’re evenly coated.
- Spread the coated pecans into a single layer on a parchment paper-lined baking tray (or silicone baking sheet), ensuring they aren’t touching each other too much.Do this quickly (you have about 30 seconds) to separate the nuts before the candy coating begins to solidify.
- Leave the nuts to cool and dry completely, then lightly break up any that are sticking. Enjoy the spicy candied pecans immediately or save them for later.
How to Store Candied Nuts?
- Store the cooled, hardened Cinnamon candied pecans in an airtight container for 7-10 days on the counter.Storing them in the refrigerator may cause them to become sticky. However, if you have a fully airtight container, you can store them for up to 3 weeks.Freeze: Allow them to cool completely before transferring them to a freezer-safe airtight container/bag and freeze them for up to two months. Then, they only need to thaw for a few minutes at room temperature.
- Avoid wax paper: the hot candied pecans can cause the wax to melt and end up being a big mess.
- Monitor the pan: The sugar can burn quickly if not monitored and stirred often. Don’t walk away from the pan.
- Adjust the heat: Tweak the amount of cayenne pepper, or even omit it entirely.
- Spread quickly: When spreading the nuts over the baking tray, you have about 30 seconds before the coating starts setting and causes the nuts to clump.
- For a thinner coating: Add extra nuts to the syrups sugar mixture in the pan.
- Herbs: in place of the cayenne powder, you could use fresh herbs like rosemary, thyme, or sage. You need around 1 ½-2 tablespoon chopped herbs.
- Spices: Swap the cinnamon for pumpkin pie spice or chai spice. Or add more warmth with nutmeg, cardamom, ginger, or smoked paprika (just a tiny pinch).
- Citrus Zest: Add 1-2 teaspoons of lemon or orange zest when you candy pecans.
- Alcohol: Replace around 1 tablespoon of the water/ juice with Bourbon, Amaretto, or whiskey.