How to: Caramelize Nuts

Caramelizing may sound scary, but it’s pretty darn easy, and once you get the technique down, you can caramelize any nut to your heart’s content. They’re great on salads, on top of desserts, or just to snack on!

There are several different methods of caramelizing nuts, but this is my favorite because I think it’s the easiest. You make sort of a caramel coating and toast the nuts in it as it cooks as opposed to just melting plain sugar which can sometimes end in disaster. 

In these pictures I’m using macadamia nuts, for the Steak and Mango Salad, but you could do pecans, walnuts, whatever. And let me just say that these are g o o d. I made these ones for my dinner, and instead I ate the entire pan plain!

Caramelized Nuts
recipe by Our Best Bites

2 T brown sugar
1/2 T light corn syrup
1/2 T butter
1/2  C nuts
Optional: 1/8 tsp cinnamon (SO good)

Place brown sugar, corn syrup, and butter (and cinnamon if you’re using) in a non-stick skillet on the stove top. Set heat to medium or medium-high. Stir the mixture as it comes together until it bubbles like this:

Add nuts and stir to coat


Continue cooking for 5-7 minutes, stirring constantly until nuts turn golden brown in color and smell toasted.

OR, after nuts are coated in sugar mixture, transfer from skillet to a parchment lined baking sheet and place in a 400 degree oven. Stir occasionally (every 1-2 minutes) until golden brown and toasted.  It happens quick, so keep an eye on them! 

Transfer to foil (lightly sprayed with non-stick spray) or parchment and cool completely.

Break them apart with your fingers and enjoy!

Macadamia Nuts:


woman in denim shirt holding a salad bowl
Meet The Author

Sara Wells

Sara Wells co-founded Our Best Bites in 2008. She is the author of three Bestselling Cook Books, Best Bites: 150 Family Favorite RecipesSavoring the Seasons with Our Best Bites, and 400 Calories or Less from Our Best Bites. Sara’s work has been featured in many local and national news outlets and publications such as Parenting MagazineBetter Homes & GardensFine CookingThe Rachel Ray Show and the New York Times.

Read More

Join The Discussion

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Questions & Reviews

  1. I tried to do the candied nuts and added maple syrup to the water thinking I was adding flavor. It didn’t boil down to crystalize – it just got soupy. I’m not a cook, but …what happened? 🙁

    1. The syrup interfered with the chemical process. You don’t want to mess with sugar, it’s very touchy!

  2. I made these because Whole Food sells these caramelized spanish pecans (imported from Spain) which are expensive and they don’t often stock them. So I decided to make my own. I used the oven per the instructions and they taste amazing. Doesn’t taste exactly like it but it is just as good if not better.

  3. Great snack and lovely to give as a gift when placed in a fancy container and tied with ribbon! I do the skillet method also. However, I add a tablespoon of lemon juice which adds a slight sweet and sour taste! I end up eating most of them before anyone even knows I have made them!

  4. I follwed directions but mine looked nothing like picture. They looked like molasses and tasted burnt. Any ideas why?

    1. Sounds like you burned them 🙁 They should be a nice light caramel color, and although the caramel mixture is soft and gooey when they are removed from the pan, they harden and turn crisp as they cooled. All pans and ovens are different, so it’s best to go by appearance and smell!

  5. I transferred the batch I just made to waxed paper and the nuts stuck and now have a paper coating. I recommend changing the recipe to say DON’T transfer to wax paper. Back to the store for more nuts…

    1. I’ve done it on waxed paper before with no problems, but that’s good to know!

  6. I would think you could make them several days in advance if you store them in an airtight container.

  7. This was the first time that I’ve attempted to make these and they turned out absolutely delicious! Using them as a pancake topping for my Father’s Day breakfast for my hubby. Thank you!

  8. This recipe is perfect! I have used this recipe with sliced, blanched almonds and puvlerized the caramelized nuts in the food processor and used it as a crumb mixture. It adds a perfect crunch and texture to cakes and chocolates. Thanks for sharing!

  9. This was so good i put it on top of carot cupcakes. also i made brittle i changed it alittle for the brittle i used 1 cup brown sugar and one cup boiling water and put the nuts on a baking pan and poured the mixture on top then put it in a 350 degree oven for 2 mins and lets it cool in the freezer for 3 mins it came out AMAZING!!! it melted when it hit ur tounge but i used walnut.

  10. These turned out awesome. I completed entire process in a saute pan. I turned the pecans ever minute for about 12 minutes and they are perfect and crunchy.

  11. You could substitute honey for corn syrup. It adds a tinge of different flavor, but acts the same way, which is to keep the caramel from crystalizing.

  12. Im a cake decorator and I was asked for a caramelized pistachio cake filling. Does this caramelizing method work for pistachios? After caramelizing the pistachios, Im sure I can make a cake filling with them right?

    1. Awesome. I am on. Ww. So to make it a little more ww
      Friendly I used becel and brown sugar sweetener
      Still used corn syrup. This has spiced up my
      Foods in an awesome way. By the way I used a mix of walnut
      Almonds and pecans. 1/2 tsp on fruit veg ff desserts salads
      and potatoes.
      Thank you Thank you Thank you !!!

  13. How many times can you double the recipe and have it still work? (I use the word double because quadruple is the biggest word I know for that…and I still think I would want to do more nuts than that!) Should I just make several single batches of this? Sorry for a silly question…

  14. I soooo love your site. You make food I would actually EAT and COOK. Bless you both. 🙂 I use many of your recipes and I have to say thanks for this post on the nuts. I tried a recipe where you are supposed to melt the white sugar and you’re right, it WAS a disaster. I was so confused! I wish I would have checked here FIRST but I didn’t think you would have a recipe for this! Proved me wrong! Your way is MUCH MUCH easier! xoxo

  15. Mmmm…I’m addicted now. I will be making them again…and again. They are great on salads!! Thanks!

  16. Barbara- I just edited to save a step and cooked them entirely in the skillet. If you prefer, you could put them in the oven instead. 400 degrees, and just stir them every couple of minutes until they're toasty brown!

  17. I love these and made them last year. Noticed now it doesn't say to put them in the oven. Is there a reason why?

  18. I made these last night and I LOVE them! I will defiantly make them again. But I wanted to eat the whole plate too!

    I love your blog and check it religiously!
    You inspired me to start my own blog. I just started it yesterday but I am already loving the world of blogging. I would love it if you would check out my blog. I recreate clothing that I already own.

  19. Laura- the terms "candied" and "caramelized" are kind of used interchangeably when it comes to nuts. The sugar/butter method is just a bit lighter than this one. These aren't "goopy" since the candy part is crunchy- but it's more like a nut covered in a thin toffee coating, with a little bit more of a richer flavor from the brown sugar.

  20. Dumb question: Do carmelized nuts taste the same as candied nuts? Your pics look a little more "goopy" than when I have done it with just sugar and a dallop of butter. But I think goopy is great. 🙂

  21. If you are using pecans and cooking them on the stove, they won't be crunchy. If you want crunchy pecans they will have to be done in the oven. Very yummy!!!

  22. Ingrid, we don’t have a printing feature- but we’re working on it! If you’d like to just print the text, just highlight the text and on your printing window select “Print Selection.”

  23. Hi, I recently found your blog though Honey B and have been playing catch up. I was wondering if you have a printable version of this recipe? My children absolutely love carmelized nuts and would like to use your recipe to make them some.

    Btw, you have a wonderful blog and will be back!

  24. I loved this salad! I’ve got my mango that I won and I bought some flank steak so some time this week I’ll be making it. I’m excited for Ned to try it!

  25. Mmmmm I LOVE carmelized nuts!!! I always do pecans and the best way to tell if they’re done baking is a taste test! (And yes I have burned my tongue more than once with my impatience) I can’t wait to try it with macadamia nuts!