Candied Peanut Recipe

candied peanuts

Let’s get right to the point: this is my killer app recipe, the one I go to more than anything else. I could tell a million stories about this, but I’ll just skip all that stuff for now and scoot right to the goods.

I love these peanuts! Not only are they absolutely scrumptious and the easiest candy you can make, but if you keep a sack of raw almonds or peanuts on hand, you can make them in about 10 minutes. Tied into a little sack, they’re a great hostess gift in lieu of a bottle of wine (and cheaper!), and I serve them often as a cocktail snack, or after dinner, in a bowl for everyone to dig into.

candied peanuts

I also like to mix these candied peanuts in just-churned ice cream, which I’m going to do with this particular batch, along with a swirl of homemade dulce de leche. A handful chopped and sprinkled over a spinach salad or batch of cole slaw would be pretty terrific, for those looking for savory apps. And at the risk of infuriating any purists, topping a bowl of Asian noodles.


I brought back a few bags of smoked salt from Texas, which I’m sure set off some alarms with the TSA when they smelled smoke wafting from my luggage. But that smoky aroma prompted me to make these almost as soon as I landed home in Paris. You can use any kind of interesting salt, such as cinnamon salt or coarse sea salt, and you can add some spices at the end (if you add them earlier, they’ll burn.) But resist the temptation to get too fussy; these simple candied peanuts are great just the way they are.

And once you tilt out your first batch of candied peanuts, you’ll beam with pride like the accomplished candymaker that you’ve just become.

Caramelized Peanuts

Adapted from The Perfect Scoop

You can easily cut the recipe in half, although I don’t think you’ll have any trouble finishing off a whole batch. I’ve made this many times using raw almonds and peanuts, but if you want to experiment with other nuts, I’d be interested in hearing how they turn out. I think round nuts work best so the sugar can tumble around and coat them, rather than get stuck in any pecan-like nooks and crannies.

  • 2 cups (275g) raw peanuts (or almonds)
  • 1 cup (200g) sugar
  • 1/3 cup (75ml) water
  • a sprinkle of coarse sea salt (or smoked salt)
  • optional: ground cinnamon or chili powder
pre-candied peanuts

In a wide, heavy-duty skillet, mix the peanuts with the sugar and water. Cook the ingredients over moderate heat, stirring frequently, until the liquid seizes up. It will take a few minutes.

peanuty mess?

At this point, the peanuts will get crusty and the sugar will crystallize.

candied peanuts

The peanuts will become dry and sandy, which is perfectly normal. Don’t worry; you didn’t mess up. Lower the heat and keep going, scraping up any syrup collecting in the bottom of the pan and stir the peanuts in it, coating them as much as possible.

candied peanuts

As you go, tilt the pan, removing it from the heat from time-to-time to regulate the heat and the syrup, so you can coat the nuts with the liquid as it darkens without burning the peanuts or the syrup. This is the only tricky part—I like to get the peanuts as deeply-bronzed as possible. if the mixture starts to smoke, remove it from the heat and stir.

Right before they’re done, sprinkle the peanuts with a sizable pinch of flaky salt (and pinch of cinnamon or chili powder, if you want), stir them a couple of times, then tilt the peanuts out onto a baking sheet or a marble countertop.

candied peanuts

Let the peanuts cool completely, then break up any clumps. Store in an airtight container, where they’ll keep up to a week.

77 comments

  • This looks so good + on top of homemade ice cream it’s a pregnant gal’s dream! Thanks for the recipe.

  • I’m all over this. Looks like the perfect snack to bring on our upcoming trip. Thank you!

  • I’m literally salivating right now.

  • I have a mighty bag of raw peanuts given to me by some friends who recently visited Georgia, and a picnic for 20 coming up this weekend. Your timing is impeccable, David!

  • Oooh, I just bought a big bag of pecans. I think I’ll try the recipe with them tonight!

  • This looks delicious, David. I am definitely going to try this out on company tonight; thanks for the recipe! :D

  • Speaking of pregnant gals, I’m in the middle of making a half-dozen kinds of ice cream as a present for a new mom. Am working mostly from your book (thanks again!) and this sounds like a fantastic add-in. When doing so, is it best to chop the nuts or leave them whole? I just don’t want any broken teeth on my conscience.

  • This look sooo good, I’m going to make them next week for Bunco. This is a chubby girls dream too. Thanks for sharing!

  • This reminds me of when I was a little girl in Texas, I used to do a scoop of vanilla ice cream (Blue Bell, of course) and top it with Planters dry roasted peanuts and a sprinkle of Qwik (hot chocolate powder). I like your more sophisticated version of my nostalgic classic and will be trying it very soon!

  • Oh! I’ll definitely try these out with almonds…I”m almond obsessed!

  • um…
    YUM.

    i bow to you.

  • They look wicked. I am going to make these for my Grandfather, he loves all things nuts and/or candy. These are right up his alley. Thanks!

  • David,
    This is the first time I’m writing, but I’ve been reading and enjoying for a while. I made your butterscotch pudding which was delicious, only I thought I could detect the slightest hint of the cornstarch. Have you ever tried Wondra flour instead (I think that’s the right stuff)? Would that work? I’m going to make these nuts, too. I’m always looking for good hostess gifts! Should the almonds be skinless too? I assume so. Keep up the good work.

  • A week are you kidding maybe an hour. Hope your trip was a good one.

  • Holy Moly! These would not last 5 minutes at my house. If I want to put them in some ice cream, I’ll have to double the recipe and then hide them!

  • I’m all Southern and get requests for nutty things frequently. I’m allergic to all tree and ground nuts (certain legumes aren’t my friends either) but I like your recipe. I might use it with soynuts. Something crunchy. Yum.

  • Yum! Can’t wait to make these… must pick up raw peanuts tomorrow.

  • Spooning this into homemade ice cream defines gilding the lily. Doesn’t it? I’ll be dreaming about these tonight.

  • Oh yes! I can personally attest to the greatness of these peanuts. Thanks for posting the recipe, David – and with photos too. For my first go, I think I’ll do a half-batch. Otherwise, a certain someone might do himself in on them. ;)

  • Yum! My grandmother used to make these, with almonds. Great idea to use them for a hostess gift. Thanks!

  • David, you seem like a really nice guy, but truly I think you are the devil himself (can you say SAAAY-TAN?) tempting us with these candied peanuts. must resist… must resist…

    ;-)

  • Are you trying to make us fat!?! These look fantastic….and completely ‘do-able’! The step by step pictures and instructions are perfect. I am definitely going to give these a try….Thanks!

  • I can see myself eating the entire 2 cups, no problem. Thank you for the recipe.

  • Wow….those look yummy! I’m a serious almond freak, so I’ll try these this weekend and toss them in our salad.

  • So could we use the same technique with honey? Would use either less or no water at all?

    Here in Australia, we have honeyed roasted macadamia nuts. They’d be a treat to replicate!

  • These look just like the peanuts you get in NY street carts!

  • I can’t wait to try this with Chipotle powder!

  • Jessica: I leave peanuts and almonds whole, since if you chop them first, they may get over-roasted.

    Andrew: I would imagine those honeyed nuts have sugar in the recipe, since I think it’s important for the crystallization. But you can easily cut the recipe in half and experiment with it—and let us know how they turn out.

    Zoe: There’s no Wondra in France, but some people do use flour in their pudding recipes. You can try potato starch as well, in the same quantities.

    And I never use skinless almonds, since I like the look of the darker skins. But either blanched or unblanched almonds work just fine.

  • hey D!

    we used your Vietnamese Coffee ice cream recipe in my cooking class last week.

    it was un(&!*$(*!$believable. couldn’t believe that ice cream could taste so delicious without eggs.

    xo, jaden

  • Am definitely going to try this one – my colleagues will go crazy for it! I mean me, of course. :)

  • I’m there and will also try walnuts since I have a tree or two. Thanks.

  • David, these nuts are an inspiration! A good reason for keeping raw nuts in the house. I like these 10 minute recipes, since they always come in handy when there’s a hungry group coming in from an outing. Even though these are sweet they could easily come out at apero.

  • I’m going to try this soon. I usually melt everything in the pan (with the cinnamon) and then add the almonds.
    And I agree: these nuts are done pretty fast, never fail, are very tasty and make great gifts.

    I have also made a mixture using sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds. That’s very tasty too, but my favorites are the almonds.

  • yum! looks delicious! i’ll definitely be trying this soon- although the recipe comes one day too late- i just threw away a huge bag of peanuts that were past their prime yesterday! i’m sure this could’ve revived them!

  • Those just shouldn’t be legal!

  • I am definitely making these!

  • How come you don’t weigh 400 pounds??? I think I have gained 20 pounds just reading your blog! :-)
    Love it all though, thanks for the great blog read each day!

  • I am making these today. They look better than any app nuts, I’ve ever seen. Bravo!!!!!!

  • My mouth is actually watering. I have got to find myself some raw nuts.

  • This was timely, as I needed something to make to take to dinner this evening … I made it with hazelnuts (and, distractedly, too much water) … very good indeed. I’ve got a big bag of walnuts, and I will try it with those, although I know what you mean about the cracks and crevices

    http://joannasfood.blogspot.com/2008/04/caramel-salt-nuts.html

    Thanks David
    Joanna

  • Miam-miam, comme toutes vos recettes dailleurs. Merci.

  • This look YUMMY!!! I am going to get peanut tomorrow to try this!

    Love your blog.

  • Oooh, YUM, this looks like one those warm, cozy, naughty, and addictive snacks one has around the holidays. Love you for having it all year ’round. :)

  • I have a big bag of pecans, cashews and macadamias left over from a bridge party. Guess what they are going to get next week? An I think I will LOVE the sugar all nestled up in the pecan wrinkles! Now I just have to decide how to season them. Lacking decent smoked salt (not smoky enough), how about throwing in a little smoked paprika? I may try a small batch first. These same ladies swooned over your chocolate-matzo-toffee stuff, too!

  • I’ve used your recipe for this using almonds several times. So easy, soooo delicious. My friends go crazy over them.

    They are even better coated in chocolate and cocoa powder. Seriously addictive.

  • Mary: Smoked paprika would be brilliant with them, I think. Just be careful, since my recipe uses raw nuts. If yours are already roasted, you might try cooking the syrup a bit first, stirring until it looks cloudy, then adding them. I haven’t ever used previously-roasted nuts, but go for it!

  • I’m somewhat tempted to add a little more than just a sprinkle of salt. Those look pretty exciting David.

    xx fanny

  • ! I just made Dulce de Leche Ice Cream with your spiced nuts in it a week ago! It was awesome.

  • it’s a good thing I don’t have these beauties at hand: once I’d pop, I’d never stop!

  • Wowsers, those look killer. I don’t have smoked salt, but I do have ginger salt that I bought in the weekly market, which looks to be about 50% fresh ginger ground into salt. Do you think that would work with the almonds? What aperitif do you serve them with?

  • Oh my god these look good! Must make them immediately! Just one question — you say a wide heavy skillet. I’m trying to think — I’ve got a calphalon semi-nonstick, or a cast iron. Is nonstick okay for this application?

    Can’t wait to make them, thanks in advance for your help on pan selection!
    Emily

  • Oh, David! How do you stay thin? Paris IS magical!

    Peanuts on the grocery list…

  • I’ve made something very similar to this, but I add garam masala right at the end – awesome. These are always the first app to disappear at parties. The mixture of spicy, salty and sweet is perfect.

  • Argh! David! I tried making these in a saucepan (because I don’t have a skillet on hand) and they don’t look beautifully caramelized like yours! Do you think it’s because I used a saucepan instead of a skillet?

  • I usually buy roasted peanuts only at the fair. To be honest I never thought about making my own. I agree that I they would make a great gift. Thank you I will give them a try.

  • Joanna: Those do look great! I love hazelnuts, too…

    Maria: Yes. A wide skillet is best because the liquid can evaporate easily. In a small saucepan, the nuts can get crowded.

    I often use my favorite saucier (which has a wide-open top) for these with great success, as well as a normal skillet.

    Emily: Non-stick would work. My only failure was once I used a Le Creuset Dutch oven, which I think retained too much heat and they came out funny.

    (…of course, I was doing a presentation in front of a big crowd when I had my problem with the Dutch oven.)

  • I have an addiction to those toffee style peanuts that you find once in a while. Something tells me that I’d like these too.

    I love the idea of adding them to ice cream (and homemade ice cream at that!)

  • I used to eat peanuts prepared this way in West Africa. I’m really happy to have the recipe now – and to know it’s so simple!

  • Mmm, those look so good!

  • One of my friends in London was a peanut cook. You know the street vendors that candy peanuts in the big steel drums driving the whole neighborhood into a feeding frenzy with the scent of caramelized sugar? I lived off those candied peanuts for 4 years. You’re welcome to bring these over, instead of the mandatory bottle of wine, any ol’ time.

  • David,
    I served candied almonds at my book club…next to a bowl of M&M’s…pop a couple of each in your mouth and heaven occurs.
    So very good and so very easy.
    I doubled the recipe and thought that I goofed…but all worked out well.

    Thanks for the inspiration!

  • Damnit, and I JUST made fudge. My housemate is gonna kill me… but these are too good not to make!

  • I’ve made this with cream (without water), it’s more creamy and caramelized.

    In Czech we make this also with syrup (juicy concentrate-strawberry etc.), but i like it with cream more.

  • I had a sale on pecans in my house (bags leftover from a catering job this week) so made them despite you preference to the round nuts. They were good, but as you said did not roll as well in the pan, which made me feel that I couldn’t quite get them toasty enough.
    After I do peanuts I am going to try pistachios, what do you think?

  • Kim: I wouldn’t use pistachios. Even if you could find raw ones, which are difficult to find, they’d likely get over-roasted during the long cooking.

    You could try adding them closer to the end, as I suggested above, but for my money, they’re kinda pricey to do too much experimenting with.

  • Hi David,
    I combined 2 of your recipes…the praline almonds and these peanuts…and I added both cinnamon and chili. So good! Here’s what I posted: http://talkmorelater.blogspot.com/

    Thank you for the inspiration and don’t you love the small sugar nuggets that don’t attach to the peanuts? They turn golden and are my favorite part. I might just make those and throw them in ice cream.

    heather

  • I’m sure you know the french name of those delicious candied peanuts: Chouchou.. isn’t that cute!!
    But if you want to get the french touch, you have to add vanilla sugar, it’s the secret of the wonderful aroma you smell when they cook them at the fete foraine. And you can also play with the color as you can see here.

  • Hi, I really enjoy reading your blogs. I came upon your site when I was web surfing about Paris. My son is currently a student there, I told him to visit your site for some tips about Paris.

    I tried the candied peanut recipe, it turned out good but isn’t shiny like the ones pictured above. Can I add oil/butter to make it shiny?

    Thank you . Have a great day.

  • Hi. I tried this last week with almonds & pecans and used just maple syrup & sugar. I topped them with Murray River pink salt and cinnamon mix. I finished them all during the weekend and am making round 2 today! :)

  • I tried a half-batch with hazelnuts, and somehow I didn’t get all that syrupy goodness. The sugar water crystallized, and then it was pretty much over. Maybe not enough water? The nuts aren’t as crunchy as I’d hoped.

    I’m sure it’s my own ineptitude or lack of proper cookware. I was just so excited to see a recipe for something simple that didn’t require fancy equipment or an oven, that I had to try it! Someday I’ll be able to move out of this tiny studio in Paris and have a proper kitchen!

  • You are bad, bad, bad with a capital ‘B’. First you get me started on caramel/chocolate covered matzoh and then every conceivable kind of unimaginably delicious ice creams, and now peanuts made with no less than a cup of sugar. How do you propose that I handle my unseemly (almost unsightly) weight gain now that I’m addicted to your recipes? This is absolutely no fair! At least if you were here in San Francisco I could attempt to facilitate your weight gain with my chopped liver and chicken soup with knaidlach and home made Pastrami etc., Anyway David – inspite of myself – thanks for teaching me how to make a cornucopia of great treats.

  • Two words: CINNAMON CASHEWS.

    So very, very awesome. Thanks, David!

  • I used cashew nuts and they are SO addictive! So good! They’ll go great with some cold beer and a late night movie. Thanks for the recipe!

  • I made this recipe using a bag of plain ol’ Planters peanuts and almonds and by golly they are to die for. Great with an ice cold beer.

  • Help!

    I was so excited to make these, but they didn’t turn out…

    My peanuts got arrested development and never get past the sandy/dry stage. I lowered the temperature from medium to low (when it reached that stage), but they just stayed sandy & dry (not a trace of caramelization or syrup). So I turned up the temp to medium, and it started to brown more. But still no caramelization. Then I started improvising and added more water to try and get some syrup going. But the water would just quickly dry out and I’d go back to sandy/dry state. I eventually got them a bit more golden, but the caramelization never happened. And it ended up taking me about an hour! I used a wok-like skillet.

    Clearly I’m a novice…what am I doing wrong?

  • When I want a summer salad and and crave all sorts of tastes I add a bit of feta, dried cranberries and those sugared almonds to baby romaine and a light poppyseed dressing. I used to buy the nuts–now I know how to make them! Thanks!