These delicious candied pecans are super simple to make! Only 4 ingredients needed, and ready in under 5 minutes.
This is a very simple recipe. There’s no need to bake the pecans or anything like that. Everything is made in one skillet on the stovetop.
Use on salads, baked goods, charcuterie boards, and more. Or package them up in little jars to make the cutest holiday gifts!
Candied pecans are one of those things that I often make quickly for salads, and I just realized that I don’t have a recipe for them. Well, that changes today!
This is a very quick and simple recipe. You only need 4 very basic ingredients and a non-stick skillet. Seriously! Ready in under 5 minutes.
In other words, this recipe is highly versatile and can be used in a variety of ways. It is an excellent way to enhance the flavor and texture of your dishes.
Why we love this candied pecans recipe:
- Super simple! Only 4 ingredients and 5 minutes needed.
- Made on the stovetop, all in one pan. No baking required
- Texture: The outside is caramelized and slightly crunchy, while the inside is tender.
- Versatile! Great on salads, baked goods, appetizers, charcuterie board, and so much more.
Here are some helpful ingredient notes (quantities can be found in the recipe card down below). In fact, I always have these on hand, so making candied pecans at home is always easy.
- Pecan halves
- Light brown sugar or granulated sugar: You can also use dark brown sugar. For a crunchier exterior, use granulated sugar, which tends to crystalize better.
- Water: Use to melt the sugar and coat the pecans.
- A pinch of salt
Nothing complicated here. As simple as 1-2-3! Here’s a quick tutorial.
Step 1 | Toast pecans
In a small non-stick skillet, toast the pecan halves over medium-high heat for about 1 minute, tossing occasionally. Remove toasted pecans from the skillet and set aside.
Step 2 | Melt sugar and cook
Reduce heat to medium. In the same skillet, stir in the sugar, water, and a pinch of salt. Stir. Allow everything to melt. Then, toss in the pecans in a single layer. Once it starts to bubble up, stir occasionally for 1 to 2 minutes until coated and thickened.
Tip: It’s important to use medium heat here. This temperature will allow the sugar to melt properly and coat the pecans thoroughly.
Step 3 | Let cool
Turn off the heat and transfer the pecans onto a piece of parchment paper (to prevent sticking). Let cool completely, and then chop if needed. It will continue to caramelize and harden a bit, but still keep a tender texture inside.
Serve these candied pecans over salads, baked goods, on charcuterie board, and more. The possibilities are endless!
Add-ins and Variations
This is a basic recipe, which means you can personalize it in endless ways! Here are my favorite ways to make these candied pecans more interesting:
- Add a touch of honey or maple syrup and cook it down for an extra 3 to 5 minutes.
- Add a pinch of cayenne pepper for a kick.
- Toast the pecans with finely chopped fresh herbs, such as thyme or rosemary.
- Add a touch of fragrant spices, such as cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, etc.
Make Ahead and Storage
Allow them to cool down completely and store in an airtight container for up to 1 week at room temperature. You may also refrigerate them for up to 2 weeks, but they won’t be as crunchy because of the humidity in the fridge.
Freezing? Yes you can! Spread the candied pecans on a sheet pan and freeze for 45 minutes. Once hardened, transfer to a freezer-friendly resealable bag, and freeze for up to 3 months. This will prevent them from sticking to each other. Thaw in the fridge, or reheat in the oven or skillet.
While there are so many uses for this recipe, 9 out of 10 times, I use them primarily for salads. It’s my favorite way of serving these pecans.
I always make a double batch and keep the rest for other lunch salads throughout the week. Try these:
Aside from salads, here are other creative ways you can use candied pecans:
- On these cozy Apple Cinnamon Pancakes! Perfect for a cozy morning.
- Serve as appetizers along with an assortment of nuts.
- Charcuterie boards!
- On fall-inspired desserts. Try sprinkling candied pecans on top of Apple Bundt Cake, Fresh Apple Cake, or Carrot Cupcakes.
- Use it to garnish savory dishes, such as my favorite Apple Pork Chops.
- Great for garnishing holiday side dishes, such as Roasted Rainbow Carrots.
- Make little gift jars (be sure to make note of storage instructions).
Yes! Granulated sugar will make the exterior crunchier and harder than if using brown sugar.
Yes. Spread them on a baking sheet and freeze for 45 minutes. Once hardened, transfer to a freezer-safe bag and freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw or reheat in the oven or skillet.
Because we use brown sugar, these have a slight caramelized crunch with a soft bite. They shouldn’t be soggy, the sugar may not have melted properly (make sure to use medium heat). If you want the exterior to harden more, use granulated sugar instead.
Absolutely! Walnuts are a great substitute.
Tips for Success
- Toast the pecans on a skillet first (instructions included below), but it’s totally optional. It will still turn out great if you decide not to.
- Start with pecans halves (rather than crushed pecans) for the sugar to adhere better. You can always chop them into smaller pieces later.
- Use a non-stick skillet to prevent the caramelized sugar from sticking. You want the sugar to stick to the nuts, not the pan.
- Use medium heat. This temperature allows the sugar to melt properly and coat the pecans uniformly.
Easy Candied Pecans
- 1 cup pecan halves
- ¼ cup light brown sugar, packed - or granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon water, plus more as needed
- A pinch of salt
- In an 8-inch non-stick skillet, toast the pecans over medium-high heat for about 1 minute, tossing. Remove from the skillet and set aside.
- Reduce heat to medium. In the same skillet, stir in the sugar, water, and a pinch of salt. Stir. Allow everything to melt.
- Then, toss in the pecans in a single layer. Once it starts to bubble up, stir occasionally for 1 to 2 minutes until coated and thickened.
- Turn off the heat and transfer the candied pecans onto a piece of parchment paper and allow them to cool. If desire, chop them up and serve as garnish on salads, baked goods, and more.
- Be sure to use a non-stick skillet to prevent the sugar from sticking to the pan.
- Use medium heat to simmer the pecans with the sugary mixture for best results.
- Optional flavor add-ins: cayenne pepper (for heat), cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, etc.
- Make ahead and storage: Let cool completely. Then store in an airtight container for up to 1 week at room temperature.
- Freezing: Arrange on a sheet and and freeze for 45 minutes. Once hardened, transfer to a freezer-friendly resealable bag and freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw or rehear in the oven or stovetop.
- Pecans: Walnuts
- Brown sugar: Granulated sugar.