{recipe} Sweet & Spicy Holiday Nuts

This is one of my favorite holiday snacks – crunchy sugar-coated nuts with balancing hits of salt and spice.

The trick with these is to stir them super vigorously so the sugar starts to crystallize and help the spices cling to the nuts. Once they start to get sandy and sugary, you’ll know they are ready to go. I remember learning learning to make these in pastry school and not seeing them get sandy, despite what I thought were my best efforts at stirring them. The instructor came by and sneered, “you call that VIGOROUS? You need to stir VIGOROUSLY!” So I always think of that and smile while I’m stirring them. Vigorously.

And since you get a mini arm workout, you can justify eating a few extra nuts.

You can easily double or triple this recipe or play with the spices to your liking. If you don’t have a candy thermometer, here’s a guide to help you get to soft ball stage without one.

Recipe: Sweet & Spicy Holiday Nuts
makes 1 1/2 cups nuts


  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon allspice
  • Large pinch of cayenne pepper
  • Large pinch of salt
  • 1 1/2 cups unsalted shelled nuts of your choice


  • Combine sugar and water in a saucepan on the stove over medium high heat. Meanwhile, combine spices and salt in a bowl.
  • Insert a candy thermometer into the sugar and when it reaches 238 degrees (soft ball stage) turn off the heat and add the spices and the nuts.
  • Stir vigorously with a wooden spoon for 2-3 minutes, until the nuts start to get a sandy texture.
  • Pour nuts out onto a sheet of parchment paper or foil to cool. When they are cool enough to handle, gently break the clumps up with your hands.
  • You can store them for up to a week in a sealed plastic bag or tightly closed container.

You may also like...

2 Responses

  1. Dana says:

    Mmmmm, I like the sound of that curry powder!