Peanut Brittle

CATEGORIES: Candy, Christmas, Kate

In spite of all the new and fancy holiday treats that come out every year, I’m a sucker for good old-fashioned Christmas candy, the kinds of treats Grandma and the little old ladies who are fabulous cooks make. Fudge. Toffee. Caramels. And…yes…peanut brittle, which is kind of on its way out in terms of trendiness, but so delicious and addictive, especially if you throw chocolate into the mix.

This is a great recipe for beginning candy makers–it’s trickier than mixing marshmallows and chocolate chips for fudge, but it’s not nearly as rip-your-hair-out frustrating as English toffee. I’ve honestly never had it not turn out, which I definitely CAN’T say about other old-fashioned candy that I’ve made. Plus, once the peanuts start cooking in the sugar mixture (it smells a-MAZ-ing) and you have some holiday music playing, it’s impossible to not feel the holiday spirit.

Peanut Brittle (and Chocolate Peanut Brittle)
Recipe from Our Best Bites

2 c. sugar
1 c. light corn syrup
3/4 c. water
2 c. raw peanuts*
3 Tbsp. butter
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
Chocolate chips (optional)

*You’ll find raw peanuts in the baking section of the grocery store, usually called raw Spanish peanuts. They’re not roasted or salted or in their shells or anything–just raw peanuts. If you taste one, it’ll taste like a raw pea, which gets into the fact that a peanut is a legume and not an actual nut, but that’s beside the point… 🙂

Combine sugar, corn syrup, and water in a heavy 3-quart saucepan. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until clear and syrupy.

Attach your candy thermometer to the pot in a place where it can measure the temperature of the candy but isn’t touching the bottom of the pan. Add peanuts and cook over medium heat until the candy reaches 300 degrees, stirring occasionally; this will probably take about 30-45 minutes. However, you’ll want to stick close by in case it cooks more quickly. Also, if you’re almost to 300 degrees and you start to smell burning, go ahead and remove it from the burner simply because most candy thermometers most of us have aren’t 100% calibrated.

While the candy is cooking, spray a baking sheet with non-stick cooking spray and place on a heat-safe surface. When candy is done cooking, add butter and incorporate completely into the mixture and then stir in the vanilla, salt, and baking soda, which will make it foamy (don’t freak out, that means it’s working). Pour quickly onto the baking sheet and spread evenly onto the pan. It won’t spread to the edges; you just want it to be about 1/4″ thick.

Now…this is where pure evil comes in.

I don’t put chocolate on all of my peanut brittle because there are people out there who feel like changing peanut brittle in any way is heresy. However…has the combination of chocolate and peanuts EVER led us astray? I love it because it’s a lot like toffee, only easier and way less temperamental. If you’re feeling the urge (and I really think you should), sprinkle some chocolate chips over the hot peanut brittle and just spread it out with a silicone spatula.

Allow the peanut brittle to cool completely (and the chocolate to become completely solid, if you’re using chocolate) and then take a butter knife and start jabbing at your slab of peanut brittle. Feeling a little pent-up aggression? Do the people who grossly misuse the self checkout at the grocery store make you want to jab your (or their) eyes out? Prone to road rage? Been to Walmart on a Saturday lately? Now’s your chance to get it all out! As you jab, it will start to break apart and then you can break it into smaller pieces as you figure out how big you want your pieces to be.

You can serve it in a tin or on a cute holiday plate at a party or you could package it in cellophane bags and tie them with ribbons or tuck the bags into some Christmas lanterns. Or hide it in your cupboards and when your kids/boss/significant other/parents/in-laws/mailman are driving you crazy in the weeks to come, you can grab a piece and hide in the bathroom with a rogue People magazine and a diet Coke. Never done it, I swear.



  1. oooh, look at me, being first!
    Can I use nuts that are not peanuts? I hate them. Can I make almond brittle or macadamia nut brittle or something?

  2. Manda–I'm sure you can beause I've seen them before, I've just never done it! 🙂 Macadamias might be tricky because a) they're hard to find raw and b) they have a very high fat content, so that might change things a little, but the ingredients are so cheap that I don't think it would be too hard to experiment.

    Megan–You can…but it's tricky, potentially dangerous, and you have to be able to make some subtle distinctions in candy consistency. It involves dropping a bit of the candy syrup into cold water and seeing how the consistency changes. I seriously bought the cheapest candy thermometer (I think it was 2 bucks) at Walmart like 7 years ago and I'm still using it, so to me, it's totally been worth it.

  3. This looks sooo yummy! Can't wait to make it. I've heard of cashew brittle, so maybe that could be a good substitution for Manda.

    Just wanted to mention that you can calibrate your candy thermometer by placing it in a pot of boiling water and reading the temp. If it's not at 212° F, then you can adjust how you read it accordingly.


  4. What altitude are you cooking at? Are you at sea-level? I would like to cook it to the proper temperature where I am. Sounds yummy, especially with the chocolate chips on top 🙂

  5. Weecakies–I'm at sea level. When I lived at a high altitude, 300 degrees was perfect and it took quite awhile to cook. Here at sea level, 290-295 would probably be about right and it took significantly less time.

  6. I love peanut brittle and would love to try this! I don't see where the butter, vanilla, baking soda and salt are used. They are listed but I don't see them in the recipe.

  7. Maybe this is a stupid question but I was wondering if there is a reason behind the spanish peanuts? Anytime I've made peanut brittle I've used regular salted peanuts. No big deal, just curious!

  8. I love the addition of chocolate. We might have to try that this year. We make peanut brittle every year (to continue Grandma's tradition). We like to put aluminum foil on cereal bowls or other small bowls (use non-stick spray on the foil) and then pour the peanut brittle on top of it. When it hardens, it makes a nice bowl for us to put more peanut brittle and other treats into. Then we wrap it in cellophane and tie it with a ribbon. It makes a great gift for neighbors, teachers, co-workers!!

    1. The bowl is GENIOUS! My poor relatives are going to be so inundated this Christmas! (Except maybe the sister-in-law who follows my pins…lol)

  9. Thanks for pointing out the butter/vanilla/baking soda/salt thing! 🙂 I added that to the instructions.

    Susie–do you add the peanuts when you start cooking the candy or do you add them at the end? I think this recipe uses raw peanuts so they can cook while the candy is cooking and I always thought non-raw peanuts might get a little too done, but who am I to say? 🙂 BTW, I love your doggie! That's exactly what I want! 🙂

    Steph–That bowl idea is GENIUS! I'm going to have to try it! 🙂

  10. The brittle looks yummy. By the way, I was trying to get to your italian sausage soup recipe and the link is messed up. It takes me to the cream of chicken recipe instead. If you could fix that I'd be so happy, since I wanted to make it for dinner!

  11. maybe i didn't read your directions carefully enough…happens…but do you add the vanilla, the butter and baking soda at the end before pouring onto the greased baking sheet? i so love you girls….really i do. gush.

  12. Kate, my recipe is a microwave one and it has you add the peanuts half way through. You cook till brown so that makes sense what you said. If I remember correctly you can burn the peanuts if cooked too long. I'll have to try your version with the spanish peanuts. Thanks, she is a mutt! 🙂 We know she has lab and we think maybe border collie and/or pit. She's a great dog!

    I agree about the bowls! Thanks for sharing Steph! I'm definately stealing that idea this year, hope you don't mind. 😉

  13. Merry Christmas!
    I LOVE you guys! I look forward to reading all of your new ideas and trying them. I have told all of my friends about you ( in Calif.,Indiana, Utah, Wyo., Idaho, etc.) and they are just as "hooked" as I am.
    Keep up the GREAT job.
    Debra Davis

  14. Just made it…yum!
    I'll make another batch later this weekend, and need to just remember that once it gets to about 280, the temp rises pretty fast, so I need to watch it more closely. I ended up cooking mine a few degrees past 300 'cause I missed it, but it's still good!

  15. Kate and Susie – I'm excited you are going to try it! You'll have to let me know how your bowls turn out. Inevitably some get broken and we just break them up into pieces to fill other bowls.

    I use a Pampered Chef thermometer and it works great – (no, I'm not a p.chef consultant!):D Grandma used to always have a brown paper bag next to the brittle pan and she always said that when the brittle looked the same color as the bag it was done. Worked great for her all those years. 😉

  16. Natasha–I've never messed with it, just because candy is so exact that I didn't want to waste the time or ingredients. If your concern is about high fructose corn syrup, it's actually a different product from corn syrup (HFCS is a chemical derivative of corn syrup). You could try substituting honey, but I'm not making any promises… 🙂

  17. My hubby and I are making the peanut brittle tonight and I thought I should give you more info about the bowls. If you decide to make them, have the brittle sit for about a minute or so on the foil and then drape it over the cereal bowl – otherwise it will run down the bowl. 🙂

  18. I LOVE peanut brittle, and my life changed for the better when I discovered a recipe for delicious microwave peanut brittle that can be made in less than fifteen minutes start to finish–no stirring constantly, no candy thermometer needed. I make it every year at Christmas. Have you ever tried microwave peanut brittle?

  19. If you guys ever want a more airy brittle its very simple. While I love peanut brittle, the hardness is tough on my teeth. I found the key to a lighter version is all in the cooling.

    Before I start cooking, I get three pie plates and butter them up. (I buy the disposable ones from Kroger which have a nice wave pattern to the edge).

    After you butter you plates, place them in the freezer to get nice and cold. Make sure you have plenty of space in the freezer later.

    After you add your baking soda to the mixture, poor immediately to the plates fresh from the freezer. And place them in the freezer for about 20 mins. Then put them in the fridge till cool to the touch.

    I then pop them out of the pans gently and wipe the excess butter off them. Package in a bread bag with a nice ribbon and voila! A great giveaway gift!

  20. You should really look into microwave peanut brittle! I am serious, it is so fast, and you can't even taste the difference. I have gotten gobs of compliments.

  21. Thank you for the good writeup. It in reality was once a amusement account it. Glance advanced to far added agreeable from you! However, how could we keep in touch?

  22. I have been making peanut brittle for more years than I can count. My mother was a young girl when her mother taught her to make it on a wood burning stove back in the 30’s. When I was a girl, my mother taught me to make it on a gas stove. Once we discovered the microwave it became our peanut brittle cooking source and that is how I make it today. I will never go back to cooking it on a stove again. It is a breeze to make it in the microwave and is almost foolproof. There are plenty of recipe’s on the internet to tell you how. Good luck to you all!

Leave a Reply

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.