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Spiced Pretzel Nut Cocktail Mix recipe

This is one of my “Greatest-Hits” recipes, and in the spirit of holiday sharing, I thought it was time to share it with everyone. I made it for a cocktail get-together the other night and my guests dove in so fast that I had to pull the bowl away just to get some for myself!

Spiced Pretzel Nut Cocktail Mix recipe

Although I confess, I ate my fair share before my guests arrived…but what’s a holiday party without at least one of your guests feeling guilty about doing something they might later regret. This is a real “keeper”—not just because it tastes so good, but also because it’s quickly made from ingredients that most of us have on hand. So it can be made at the last-minute while you race around showering, shaving, and freshening-up anything around the house that needs freshening-up for your arriving guests.

Spiced Pretzel Nut Cocktail Mix recipe

When I moved to France, I had a bit of a time finding the small twisted pretzels that I prefer in this mix, so I’ve made it with pretzels sticks too, which are called ‘sticks d’Alsace.’ Use any mix of nuts you want. Pecan halves are particularly appealing…at least to me, since those are the nuts I catch myself plucking out before my guests arrive. But whole almonds, cashews, peanuts, and hazelnuts are all very good in the mix.

Spiced Pretzel Nut Cocktail Mix recipe

Spiced Glazed Nuts and Pretzel Mix

Adapted from The Sweet Life in Paris Glazing the nuts with spices and adding a touch of sweetness, makes this the perfect nibble before dinner with an aperitif. I melt the butter in a large bowl, so I can do all the mixing in that bowl, making one less thing for me to wash as well. Note that the salt is added after the nuts are stirred, so it doesn’t dissolve. And be sure to use coarse salt, which has an appealing, crunchy texture and more delicate flavor than ordinary table salt.
  • 2 cups (200g) mixed raw nuts, (untoasted); any combination of cashews, whole almonds, peanuts, pecan halves, and hazelnuts
  • 1 tablespoon (15g) unsalted butter, melted
  • 3 tablespoons (45g) dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 teaspoon cayenne or red pepper powder, (see Note, below)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon flaky sea salt or kosher salt
  • 2 cups (100g) small pretzel twists
  • Spread the nuts on a baking sheet and roast in a 350ºF (180ºC) oven for 10 minutes, stirring once for even toasting.
  • In a medium bowl, mix together the melted butter, brown sugar, cinnamon, cayenne, and maple syrup.
  • Add the warm nuts, stirring until coated. Then mix in the salt and pretzels, and stir until the nuts and pretzels are completely coated.
  • Spread the mixture back on the baking sheet and return to the oven for 12-18 minutes, stirring twice during cooking. Remove from oven and cool completely, separating the nuts and pretzels as they cool.
  • Once cool, this mixture can be stored in an airtight container for up to a week.


Note: I usually make these with cayenne pepper, although occasionally I've gotten a message from someone saying that they were a bit too spicy for their tastes. You can use a milder red pepper powder such as ancho chile, chipotle, pimente d'Espelette, or paprika, smoked or sweet. Or you can dial the cayenne pepper down to 1/4 or 1/2 teaspoon according to your tastes, although I use the full-on amount noted in the recipe when I make this and haven't had anyone tell me they were too spicy.


    • evelin

    I haven’t yet made spiced nuts but I have a couple of your other recipes. Your recipe will join that list without further questions:)

    These would definitely make a good snack for those long hours of New Year’s Eve.

    • Nicole

    I’ve seen a few different recipes lately for spiced nuts and I’m ready to try making some! I like the addition of the pretzels in your recipe and also the maple syrup! I’ll be trying them out this week, thanks!

    • David

    I hope you like them! If you can’t get maple syrup, you can use honey instead, although it’s so tempting to put maple syrup in as many things as I can.

    • Barbara

    I make a version of these as little holiday gifts for all my coworkers. My fave is also the pecans so I put more of them in the mix.

    happy holidays!

    • Val

    I heartily agree with the idea that Maple Syrup (or maple sugar or maple candy or anything maple) should be used as often as possible. So delicious. Equally appealing is the pic of Vincent Cassel that is part of the blogads. Its like a gift with purchase…an extra prize just for checking out my favorite blog! Happy day!

    • Robert

    I followed the recipe for fresh-roasted peanuts (with sea salt and corn syrup) you posted a while back, and those have become a staple snack in our house. I can’t wait to give this one try. Thanks for the recipe!

    • Scott

    Ooohhh, sounds good. I may just have to add this to the list of holiday treats I’ll be pulling together over the coming week… I sort of Chex-Mixed myself out over the past few weeks. This may be the perfect fill-in.

    Is it easier to find Maple syrup in France now? I remember being on the lookout for peanut butter (back in the early 90’s) but can’t recall seeing anything maple. Being a good New Englander I should have noticed.

    My wife seems to think Chocolate should somehow be added here…(which is odd, she’s more of a salty than sweet treat person) Any thoughts on that?

    • gladys

    Perfect! I was just looking for a recipe for the walnuts my neighbour gave me that he picked off his tree. Do you think walnuts will work too?

    • David

    Scott: For some reason maple syrup is readily available here. It’s imported from Canada and not expensive…another reason to live in France!

    Gladys: Yes, you could certainly use all those fresh walnut halves in here. I just stop tying all the different kinds of nuts folks could use since the list was getting a bit too long.

    Val: I didn’t know who Vince Cassel was, but I’m glad to share my blog with him if it makes you happy : )

    • mimi

    Sounds far superior to the ubiquitous Chex-Mix I am bombarded with this time of year. Thanks for sharing.

    Funny thing about reading your own writing: You see only what you think you have written. Without an army of proofreaders and editors, little things slip through.

    The writing here is lively and the writer’s personality shines through. I like the conversational tone.

    • Melissa

    Five books??? I only know about three! David, what on earth are you hiding from us?

    I can’t say about the ones you’ve obviously kept secret, but the other three are indeed perfection. From the entertaining headnotes to the meticulous instructions to the always-successful results, I have yet to spot a single flaw.

    p.s. And really, five hours is nothing… Sometimes I’ll spend two days on a post and still manage to overlook about 500 typos!

    • Tracey

    Sounds like an excellent variation on one of my favourite munchies, the Bar Nuts from Union Square Cafe. I usually halve this for a small group, otherwise I inhale the leftovers.

    Recipe By : Union Square Cafe, NYC via Saveur Magazine, March – 2001

    1 1/2 cups cashews — unsalted
    1 1/2 cups pecans — unsalted
    1 1/2 cups walnuts — unsalted
    1 1/2 cups hazelnuts — unsalted
    6 tablespoons fresh rosemary leaves
    1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
    2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
    2 teaspoons kosher salt
    3 tablespoons melted butter

    Put the nuts onto a large baking sheet. Toast in a pre-heated 350~ oven until golden brown about 10 minutes.

    Remove from the oven and toss with the fresh rosemary leaves, cayenne pepper, brown sugar, coarse salt and the melted butter.

    Makes about 6 cups

    Serving Size : 12

    • Adam

    David, I used this recipe on Thanksgiving and it was a big hit! I’d meant to tell you but then I got too busy working on my book, “Pretzels, Nuts and Sugar: A Journey into the Soul of David Lebovitz, an Unauthorized Biography.” Thanks for a great recipe!

    • Connie

    Thank you for all the hard work you do on these post. They are always informative

    • Christine

    Alright! Because of you I’m not going to make my own candied nut recipe this year. I’m going to HAVE to make yours instead. :)
    I’m glad you responded to Hans in the way you did. He clearly doesn’t understand what it means to blog. I think you set him straight.

    • m

    Hmm. Nuts, my favourite. I’ll think I’ll print out the recipe to take with me to the braces chappy next visit and see if he’ll give me a reprieve, there again I could take along some nuts already made up and then I might get more sympathy for my indiscretion.

    • Elisa

    I, for instance, enjoy your blog so much. I guess you can say that I literally breathe it in and I’m sure so do most of your readers.

    Good luck with the Food Blog Awards, you certainly got my vote.

    • MJ

    Thanks – this is a greatest hit recipe. Easy to put together and very tasty.

    • Hao Li

    This is an excellent and simple recipe. I made one batch yesterday as Christmas present for my boyfriend’s grandparents that we will be visiting over the holidays. Unfortunately, half of it was gone an hour after my boyfriend came home from work. I had to make a second batch to make up for the “loss.”

    I used popcorn instead of pretzels because everyone in my boyfriend’s family loves popcorn. It is just as good. I also used less salt because it was a bit too salty.

    • Linda H.

    I made your nuts and pretzels recipe (heavy on the pecans) tonight with the idea of taking it to a Christmas Eve party. Can’t now. It’s half gone. Delicious!

    • archana suri

    David- don’t you change a thing- your blog is thoroughly enjoyable…and ahem…educational for so many of us…see you in 2007 my friend.

    • Mark

    Thanks for sharing this – I’ve made it 3 times.
    Did you use salted pretzels? The brand I bought (the Actor turned food manufacturer) were very salty, so I didn’t add the additional salt. I haven’t found a thin unsalted pretzel yet.
    Happy New Year –

    • kellymo

    Since Christmas, I’ve now made 3 variations of this recipe – the last being all pecans (4 cups!), because you weren’t kidding about them being the most addictive part. Increased the butter, salt and maple syrup a little for the all-nut version. These are meant to be some ‘new year/thank you’ type gifts, but crap. I can’t keep my mitts off them. Thank you so much for this recipe!

    • sarah548

    I made these last year for 250 people and everybody loved them. Lost the recipe! Argh. Just found it again. It will never be lost again. Thanks for a really, really good mix.

    • RZH

    I never ever thought I would criticize a recipe on this site, but these were very sweet for my taste. Next time I will nix the maple syrup, cut down the brown sugar, and increase the cayenne to 1 teaspoon. (Have to say though, even then I doubt they will hold a candle to your pralined nuts! I do them with cashews and people lose all sense of restraint).

    • Schmee

    Thanks for this recipe. I made several batches to give to friends this Christmas – a perfect munch to beat the credit-crunch… Everyone loved them, and those who asked for the recipe have been sent here.

    (Thanks also to those who commented above, as I too reduced the salt added because I could only get salted pretzels.)

    • Karen

    I noticed in “The Sweet Life in Paris“, there is a similar recipe. The addition of cocoa is the only significant difference that I can see, but I wonder which one is your favorite?

    • David

    Hi Karen: I like the mix both ways. This is the standard, so I’d give this one a try and see if you like it, then try the other one another time : )

    • Jane D

    These are delicious. I made three batches already. Thank you David for sharing -everything – recipes, pictures, thoughts, laughs, all things that you share. I do appreciate how you carefully give us instructions that are easy to follow. Very useful indeed to people who don’t really know how to cook – much. I have always been successful with your recipes and feel like I too can cook – a bit.

    • Linda Briganti

    I made the version from “The Sweet Life in Paris”, using smoked paprika and served them at my garden club meeting (along with one of Dorie Greenspan’s treats) last night. Huge hit. Told everyone where I got the recipe and hope someone buys your book.

    • Sarah

    Last Christmas, my fiance was unemployed, so we decided to make baskets of homemade treats for our families instead of blowing wads of cash on gifts. We included a bag of these in each one, and after sampling a few, I was very upset that I hadn’t made a second batch for myself. Everyone loved them – my mom finished hers within half an hour of receiving it, and then started in on my dad’s.

    Thanks for the recipe and I look forward to trying more – I just bought an ice cream maker so I’ll be back to this site shortly!

    • Lynanne

    This recipe was AWESOME! It was all I could do to keep from eating 1/2 bag of the pretzels before even finishing stirring them into the nuts. Perhaps a little salt difficient this afternoon? I planned my afternoon around the trip to G.Detou to buy the nuts I didn’t have. Good thing I had noix de pecans stored away in the freezer as they were all out – and seemed to be for the near future! Look forward to sharing this recipe with friends who are around this holiday season.

    Thanks again, David.

    • Ninabi

    How delicious- maple syrup is something I had never considered in making spiced nuts. I’ve always used plain white sugar/salt/bit of chipotle but this I will try.

    I bought your book yesterday. It will be a gift for someone who loves to cook and can sit for hours reading recipes so I thought I’d broaden her horizons. Of course, I have to peek at the present before I wrap it up.


    This recipe for spiced nuts is exactly what I’m looking for.

    Love the sweet and salty…..

    Making it tomorrow, hope it lasts til’ x-mas!
    (I’ll hide it somewhere safe!)

    Happy Holidays!

    • Amy

    OK. So I am a bit late to this party but these are exactly what I was looking for and exactly what my party needed!! Many thanks. A very happy, healthy new year to you, David.

    • ek

    Found this a few weeks ago when looking for a Christmas hostess gift. Thanks so much; just finished my SIXTH batch! Did not have raw cashews but this still worked out fine. Putting the recipe into my “tried and true” file folder.

    • Grace

    I made 10 batches of this recipe! I thought the pecans would be my favorite part but I have to say I love the pretzels the best! I used salted pretzels and just used less salt than the recipe calls for. Am I the only one that thought it was too spicy? Don’t get me wrong I LOVE spicy food like Thai, Korean, and Indian but I had to cut the cayenne down in the recipe. Thanks for the recipe!

    • Alain Roy

    I just tried out this recipe for Christmas, and my entire family loved it. Thanks so much!

    • sheila @ Elements

    I came across this before I had breakfast this morning, was craving nuts, and so I decided to try something similar. I didn’t add the cayenne pepper though ’cause I really didn’t want anything too spicy for breakfast. I’ll bet it’s great like that though. :)

    • Patty

    I finally got around to making these tonight…a double batch to take to a reception tomorrow. They are absolutely fabulous, a perfect balance of sweet & heat.


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