Comida Latina, Dairy Free, Recipes, Snacks, Sweets

Candied Cayenne Pecans Recipe

March 15, 2011
My relationship with these nuts started innocently enough. I was a young line cook at my first high-profile restaurant job, recently transplanted to the Napa Valley from the Midwest and thinking there wasn’t much in the world that I couldn’t chop or stir my way out of.

I had the bi-weekly duty of making enormous batches of these nuts (we used pistachios instead of pecans) first thing in the morning, right after the chips were fried, but before service began and the fryer oil was tainted with calamari and onion rings. They were a garnish for the butter lettuce salad—their spice cooled by buttermilk-blue cheese dressing and crisp leaves of endive.

Now I’m eternally tied to these nuts. Their addictive nature has taken hold of my family members and I am now required to make them every Christmas or risk jeopardizing very important relationships.

Once I made the mistake of handing my mother-in-law a tin of cookies instead of these nuts. One look at her strained smile and I knew something was up. “You didn’t make the nuts?” She said trying to disguise her disappointment.

Well, you know where I was that night? Standing over a pot of boiling oil is where, making those nuts with the only slotted spoon she had in her house, hoping the plastic would hold out until I finished.

Luckily, she is a forgiving woman and the next morning the nuts were prominently displayed on the table and everything was right with the world.

Candied Cayenne Pecans Recipe

Yield: 1 1/2 Pounds Nuts

Sweet and spicy pecan recipe that requires no oven. Dairy Free!

Adapted from Mustard's Grill Cookbook

Nuts will keep tightly covered at room temperature for 3 weeks.


  • 1 1/2 pounds pecan halves
  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 quarts vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper


  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add pecans and blanch until slightly tender, about 3 minutes. Drain and transfer to a large bowl. Add powdered sugar and mix until completely incorporated.
  2. Thoroughly dry pot and return to stove. Fill with oil making sure pot is big enough so 2 quarts of oil only comes up about half way. The oil will bubble up dramatically when you add the pecans and you want to leave lots of room. Attach a deep fry thermometer to the side and heat oil to 350°F over medium heat. Meanwhile, combine salt and cayenne in a small bowl and have ready a baking sheet.
  3. Give nuts another stir to coat them in the sugar and then using a metal slotted spoon or a spider scoop up a spoonful of nuts, letting any excess moisture drip back into the bowl. Carefully slide nuts into the hot oil and repeat until you have about 1-2 cups worth in the oil. You want to give the nuts plenty of room to move about in the oil and not clump up with each other.
  4. Fry nuts, stirring occasionally, until very brown, about 5 minutes. Remove with the spider, letting any excess oil drip back into the pot, transfer to the baking sheet and spread out to a single layer. Immediately sprinkle with salt mixture and let cool to harden, then push to one side of the baking sheet. Once oil has returned to 350°F, repeat with remaining nuts.

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  • consumer advocate March 15, 2011 at 4:03 pm

    we are nuts for these! thanks for the recipe! did you just make a batch, and are perhaps traveling with them?????????

  • ingridbuck@pecan halves August 30, 2011 at 2:01 pm

    That is amazing. I never knew that candy pecans are this easy to prepare. Though I still hope I can get it really well. I’d better be sure.