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I have a soft spot, or should I say, a crunchy spot, for candied nuts. I like it when they’re baked to a crispy, golden brown, with a touch of sweetness that comes from coating the nuts with just enough sugar to make them crackle in your mouth, but not enough to overwhelm.

I also like a bit of salt, spice, and even some heat added, as a counterpoint. Just enough so a little glow hits you a few seconds later, but not enough to burn. In other words, exactly the right amount to make you want you to grab another handful. Ladies and gentlemen, messieurs-dames, these are those nuts.

I’ve made nuts like this before, but was interested in giving this recipe a go, from Almonds, Anchovies and Pancetta: A Vegetarian Cookbook, Kind Of by Cal Peternell. I worked with Cal at Chez Panisse a number of years ago. I don’t remember anything about him, except that he was tall. Okay, that’s not really true. Cal was also memorable for his serious sense of humor, that definitely comes through in his writing.

His new book is intended to take some of the wind out of overly-serious cooking. In this book of “simple, flexible” recipes, the focus is on vegetables, with meat (like pancetta, as well as other ingredients, like anchovies and bottarga) used as a seasoning. It’s a freewheeling book with drawings by Cal, his wife, and his two sons, with a personal message to cooks to celebrate and respect your ingredients, and how to use them to create delicious things to eat.

These almonds are, indeed, addictive. The title of them in the book uses a common moniker for that, due to your inability to stop eating them once you start. Trust me, I had to put these in a sealed container to keep my hands off them. But that wasn’t enough to make me peel off that lid, and keep digging in. I even hid them from my partner so I didn’t have to share. I’m a little ashamed about that, but it’s something I have to live with.

A bowl of these spiced candied nuts is like granola without all the other stuff in it that you don’t care about. Or like a bowl of completely amazing breakfast cereal, without messing with the milk. In short, it’s like, well…I’ll let you come to your own conclusion.

Spiced Candied Almonds

Adapted from Almonds, Anchovies and Pancetta: A Vegetarian Cookbook, Kind Of by Cal Peternell Red chile flakes are sometimes called crushed red pepper. Don't like spice? You can leave them out, although I found them not overwhelming at all. It is, however, important to use sea salt. Fine table salt is quite harsh and they won't taste very good if you use it, so try to use flaky sea salt, such as fleur de sel or Maldon, if you have it. If you've been reading my blog or my books for a while, I hope I've convinced you to keep salt like that in your kitchen by now. If not, you could use Diamond kosher salt. These candied almonds are terrific on their own, but can also be sprinkled over ice cream, a serving of cake, or as part of an apéritif snack spread.
Servings 6 servings
  • 2 cups (160g) sliced almonds, natural or blanched
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon flaky sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup (60ml) water
  • 1/4 cup (50g) sugar
  • Preheat the oven to 325ºF (165ºC).
  • Put the almonds in a medium-sized bowl along with the red pepper flakes, sea salt, and several generous turns of freshly ground black pepper.
  • In a small saucepan, heat the water and sugar, stirring, until the sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat and stir the syrup into the almonds so they're completely coated. (Cal mentions they will steam considerably when you add the syrup, but mine didn't. But it's something to be aware of.)
  • Scrape the almonds into a mesh strainer set over a bowl or pan, and let drain 5 minutes.
  • Spread the almonds on a baking sheet in a single layer.
  • Bake the almonds in the oven until the almonds are golden brown, removing them from the oven to stir them twice during baking, so they brown evenly. They'll take about 15 to 20 minutes to bake. Remove the almonds from the oven and let cool before removing them from the baking sheet.


Storage: Store the almonds in an airtight container. They can be left at room temperature up to two weeks.


    • Elizabeth

    How much maple syrup or honey would you use as a substitute for sugar?

      • David
      David Lebovitz

      I haven’t tried it with a liquid sweetener but if you want to play around with it, the amount of syrup in this recipe is 1/4 cup (60ml). I’m not sure if the nuts will crisp up the same if using honey or maple syrup, but if you try it, let us know how it works out!

        • GFY

        maple syrup crisps beautifully, I use it exclusively when making granola!

    • Susan Walter

    Yum. I’ve just been doing something similar but with walnuts (I had a bumper crop in the Touraine last year, so have boxes of nuts to shell and use).

    • Taste of France

    Oh la la la la la la. I would eat the entire batch in one go. The pepper is brilliant.

    • Renuka

    can I use whole blanched almonds instead of sliced?

      • Cyndy

      Oooooh. Please try that and report back! I have whole blanched almonds sitting in the freezer waiting to be used for who knows what.

    • Joan

    I had a bumper crop of pecans this year (in Texas) and will try this as a variation on my usual cinnamon/clove/nutmeg and cayenne pepper candied pecans. I like the simplicity of this recipe.

    On another note … I’ve been searching Paris for kosher salt. Either Morton’s or Diamond will do, but I can’t find either. Can you recommend a source? I imagine Thanksgiving might have sold it, but sadly, they’ve closed.

    • David
    David Lebovitz

    Joan: I’ve not seen kosher salt in Paris but I know that you can order it on

    Renuka: Yes, I’ve mentioned that either could be used : )

    (I actually prefer unblanched sliced almonds but I don’t think I’ve seen those in Paris.)

    • Tess

    Another salt question: I’ve been unsuccessful in finding Maldon salt in Germany, which is where I live. Is fleur de sel really a good replacement? Also, have you been able to find a type of salt that is close to kosher salt? Not sure I want to always order it from the UK…

      • Lynne

      Hi Tess – I shop in southern Germany and the Rewe shops here carry Maldon salt.

      • Pam

      I’m in Frankfurt, and Edeka, Hit Markt, and the food section in the basement of Kaufhof all carry Maldon.

      • Annabel

      In Berlin, both KaDeWe and Karstadt Perfetto carry it (also the smoked version, quite interesting) as well as some smaller specialty shops.

    • Laura

    These look delicious! I’ve just finished L’Appart and I felt so bad for you and all you went through. It is hard to believe you experienced so many dishonest people on your job. Cheers to you for surviving all that merde!!!!

      • GFY

      Oh me too! brutal…Thanks so much for sharing that experience though, because I learned a lot about how easy it can be to fall into that kind of situation and how to get out of it!! Yikes. You really are so sweet – and now we all know a dash of salt and pepper are also necessary to balance out a personality as well lol! Lots of love to yoou

    • Nina

    I make something similar to sprinkle over a simple salad with vinagarette.

    • David
    David Lebovitz

    Laura: For all the not-so-great people, there were some extraordinary people that were really terrific. Glad I made it through, but it was quite a story!

    Tess: They’re not exactly the same thing but they’re both very good finishing salts. Some people prefer one or the other. I haven’t looked for a replacement for kosher salt since I use grey sea salt, although I keep kosher salt around for recipe testing when I’m writing a cookbook, to see how it works & tastes.

    (Oddly, there’s a French brand of kosher salt that’s available in the U.S., but I’ve never seen it in France.)

    • Jill

    I had all the ingredients and thought I should jump right in. LOVE THEM! So tasty and crunchy! I followed the recipe exactly. Thank you for solving 2 issues: what to do with a giant bag of Costco sliced almonds, and how to include something crunchy with my cheese/fruit board for tonight’s party. !Voila! Thank you David!

    • Lynne

    OMG – I just made a batch. Easy to make and fantastic taste. Thank you!

    • Margaret

    I love Cal’s cookbooks and will have to try this. I like the addition of red pepper flakes and sea salt. My SIL bakes sliced almonds and unsweetened coconut flakes mixed with agave syrup — it makes a delicious snack. And yes, I keep fleur de sel and Maldon sea salt in my kitchen along with Diamond kosher salt. I’m not sure if it’s because of your blog, but if it is, thanks David!

    • Valerie

    David, I love that you hid the almonds so you wouldn’t have to share. Now I don’t feel so bad about hiding food.

    • Heather

    How much of the salt and pepper do you lose by straining after adding the syrup?

      • Pat

      This was my issue. The syrup essentially washed all the seasonings away so that the nuts were quite mild. Next time I’d consider seasoning after the syrup steps.

    • Susan

    David, I noticed on Good Reads that Danielle Trussoni had L’appart listed as a book she wants to read. Don’t know if you are familiar with her work, she is probably best known for her Angelology books. She recently published Home Sweet Maison, the French art of making a home, under her married name. She is very talented and always an interesting read.

    • Jeff

    Is there a reason for adding the syrup to the almonds rather than dumping the seasoned almonds into the syrup, stirring, then straining? In my mind, that would be easier (I haven’t gotten home to try it yet).

      • David
      David Lebovitz

      I make my French almonds like that (from my book, The Perfect Scoop), by making a syrup and stirring them in the nuts. I’m not sure why he did them the way they did, but I followed his instructions and they came out nicely, too.

    • GFY

    Ok, someone was going to go there, why not me? But against my better judgement how can I not address the elephant in the room: the title of this book! which his publisher if not Cal himself, surely knows is so wrong. They are in the food industry as cookbook publishers after all so should be educators and style shapers when it comes to correct terminology!

    I am not a food nazi by any means except I guess on this point – but specifically because I find it contributes to the apparent confusion that restaurant chef’s who try to provide vegetarian options in restaurants have about what is vegetarian and what is not. I thought all this was sorted out in the 90’s and am kind of shocked that it ends up being perpetuated by someone with a stint at Chez Panisse of all places. I know CP is not Greens but I kind of consider Deborah Madison and Alice Waters on the same type of team, a very educated team “mmm”…accent on educated. They should have known better here.

      • GFY

      PS: and I will be making these almonds today – if any survive the mad munch fest I expect to follow, they will be added to a batch of homemade granola that’s on my to-do list, thank you!

      • Cris S.

      I find it amusing for you to be such a stickler about a word/title that clearly includes the qualifier “kind of” and yet throw around the word nazi in relation to something relatively minor like this…

    • Julie

    Thanks so much for this recipe. I’ve been looking for an oven roasted option. I had one, lost it and this looks right.

    • g

    Making some now. I wonder how they’d be with some orange zest mixed in. (I’m reminded a little of Ottolenghi’s “florentines”…)

    • Natalie

    These candied almonds are definitely the perfect (addictive!) snack. Can’t wait to try your recipe!

    • Linda

    Hi David,
    I just made the Candied Almonds from 1/2 of the large bag from Costco. I had to put mine in the freezer so I would, hopefully, leave them alone. They are addictive!! Thanks for sharing. Linda

    • Susan

    Everything I makes of yours is a success, but these were consumed completely before they were completely cooled. I suggest that the recipe be at least doubled if there is a need for some later.

    • Eloise

    I rarely comment, and I know you know how good these are, but wanted to share that these nuts are Bloody Lovely, and you’ve kicked off the weekend nicely! Thank you!

      • David
      David Lebovitz

      Happy you liked them!

    • Rachel

    YES. I’m with Eloise. Just made these and they are AMAZING. Very difficult to stop munching and I might just have to hide them, as you suggest. Thanks so much David!

    • TheLadyJAK

    These look amazing, but I have two questions about technique: Is there any reason to not stir the almonds into the pot of syrup (saving the washing of a bowl) and why are we catching the strained syrup in a bowl if it’s not being reused?

      • David
      David Lebovitz

      I have a similar recipe in my book, The Perfect Scoop, that uses all the syrup and you don’t drain any away. If using this recipe, and can drain the syrup in something else but for the time period indicated, I find it easiest to rest the strainer in a bowl.

    • Peggy Linke

    David, these are wonderful! Thank you. They’re great just popped in the mouth, but I also used them in a tossed salad, and instead of croutons on split pea soup. Great!

    • Catherine Heukelman (south africa)

    Good Morning David,
    I’ve read all your books, and and loved them.
    Also enjoy reading your column with
    the hints included.
    About your almond recipe…can I use
    cashew nuts? I have a huge container
    of them which I would like to “tart up”
    and this recipe sounds like IT!

    • Diane

    These nuts are amazing. I can’t stop eating them. Great combination of slightly sweet and spicy. I love how some of them stick together like bits of granola. Thanks for sharing the recipe.

    • Linda

    What a wonderful recipe – I’ll never make candied almonds any of way again. Thanks so much!!!
    Linda from Canada

    • Kathy Watson

    In exploring Korean food over the last few years, I’ve become a huge fan of the cuisine’s red pepper flake, gochugaru. I now use it for all recipes listing red pepper flake. It is a medium hot red pepper, slightly sweet and tangy. What I like most about it is that it has no seeds, unlike Italian-style pepper flake. I find the seeds are often bitter, or just plain off-putting. So I even use gochugaru in Italian dishes! Easy to find in Asian markets.

      • David
      David Lebovitz

      I use that too but did find out recently (the hard way) Korean chile powder once opened, should be stored in the refrigerator or freezer as it can be moldy…which happened to my bag. (I usually store it in the refrigerator but was out of room so put it in a drawer – lesson learned!)


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