This easy, fast, delicious recipe for candied walnuts will become your go-to snack solution! You are seriously going to love these. They are so versatile. Add in the optional spice or some cayenne for a sweet and spicy zing!
The key to making this recipe work is to work fast. Once you get the walnuts off the stove you are racing the clock to get them nice and separated so they don’t clump. This is easy to do if you work in small batches. They are much easier to manage.
Add them to salads and ice cream. But truly, they stand on their own. These glazed walnuts are sugary and crunchy and will become a family favorite.
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This is an easy recipe to make in advance and have on hand. Enjoy candied walnuts as a snack, dessert, and for movie night. Put some in your child’s lunch for a protein-packed, salty, sweet treat.
Keep a bag in your kitchen cabinet so you can make these caramelized walnuts anytime.
I buy big bags of walnuts from Costco to make them more budget friendly. It’s their Kirkland Signature brand. They come in 48 oz (1.36kg) bags. We secure them with a chip clip, and they stay fresh. The smaller pieces are still a good size so they are perfect for this candied walnuts recipe. Sam’s Club has them as well. Of course, you can buy walnuts in grocery stores and at mass-market retailers such as Walmart, Target, Meijer, Walgreens, etc.
Follow my step-by-step guide down below to make your own homemade candied walnuts. You only need walnuts and butter along with some pantry staples. It’s easy to prepare last minute. They are so quick and easy to make!
What You Need to Make Candied Walnuts
- Walnuts – Of course, walnuts are the star of the show! Use fresh walnuts, and you won’t have to roast them in advance.
- Granulated Sugar – It’s also called pure cane sugar. You may choose to use organic sugar as well.
- Brown Sugar – You can use light or dark brown sugar. It will caramelize walnuts.
- Butter – Use real butter, not butter imitation or margarine. Choose unsalted if possible.
- Fine Sea Salt – Sea salt adds extra flavor but you can use regular table salt.
- Pure Vanilla Extract – Use only pure vanilla extract, not imitation vanilla extract. For the negligible price difference, you get real ingredients without extra chemicals.
- Cinnamon (ground) – Choose pure cinnamon. My favorite is Red Ape Cinnamon which is certified Palm Oil Free.
This candied walnuts recipe calls for vanilla extract and ground cinnamon. However, if you don’t have them, these sugared walnuts will still taste amazing.
- Pinch of Cayenne (ground)
Easy Ingredient Substitutions
- Granulated Sugar – use Coconut Sugar
- Brown Sugar – use Sucanat. It’s unrefined whole cane sugar.
- Walnuts – use Almonds, Cashews, Pecans, Pistachios. You can use most any nut or even make a mix of two or more different nuts. You can also use peanuts.
How to Make Candied Walnuts
- Line baking pan with parchment paper.
- Melt butter in a medium non-stick pan over medium heat. A heavy-bottomed pot or pan such as cast iron also works well.
- Working quickly, add in the sugar, salt, vanilla, cinnamon. Add cayenne (if desired). Stir.
- Add the walnuts and stir to coat thoroughly. It is important to keep it moving so the butter and sugar don’t burn. Stir consistently until the nut are well coated and the sugar is melted. Don’t let it boil.
- Remove the walnut mixture from the pan onto parchment paper. Quickly separate the nuts as much as you can so they don’t clump together. The sugars will cool fast, and you don’t have much time to separate them. This is why I recommend making this in small batches.
- Allow to cool, about 7 minutes, then eat the delicious candied walnuts!
How to Store Candied Walnuts
Be sure the candied walnuts are completely cooled. Then you can transfer them to glass jar or other container with an airtight lid for storage. Store them in the refrigerator for up to two weeks. Serve the sugared walnuts cold or reheat to serve them warm.
You can also freeze them in freezer bags for up to three months. (Be sure to get the air out before freezing.) Thaw before serving.
Candied Walnuts Recipe Tips
- Be sure to continue stirring to avoid scorching the sugar or burning the walnuts. Lower the temperature as necessary.
- Using fresh walnuts will yield the best flavor and crunch.
- You may want to make half the batch with cayenne (for the adults!) and the other half without it (for the kids!).
- Include larger and smaller pieces in this candied nut recipe. The walnuts don’t need to be in halves.
Using Shelled Walnuts
If you are looking to involve the family, you can buy shelled walnuts from the grocery store. In the United States, you’ll find them in the fall. There will be bins of loose nuts in the produce department. You can scoop them and bag them. Stores sell them by the pound.
Then at home, get your nut crackers out. Teach children how to crack open walnuts.
Depending on your child’s attention span and how successful they are cracking open the walnuts, they may or may not want to crack them all open. Be sure to also have some bagged walnuts on hand to add to the recipe. Otherwise, you’ll be left standing them cracking the rest. While it’s fun as a family activity, there’s no need to use time doing this on your own!
Uses for Candied Walnuts
The sweet, slightly tangy flavor make for a delicious anytime snack.
- Mix them in plain yogurt.
- Add to quinoa.
- Mix into oatmeal.
- Sprinkle on top of cake and cupcakes.
- Put them in bowls for entertaining.
- Toss candied walnuts on top of ice cream.
- Add on top of strawberry compote when serving waffles, pancakes or French toast.
- Don’t worry if you only have small walnut pieces. They’ll taste great.
- Mix in any nuts. The brown sugar which caramelizes the nuts will make them taste incredible.
- If your budget allows, choose pure vanilla extract. Imitation extract contains chemicals.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can you make candied walnuts in the microwave?
Yes, you can make candied walnuts in the microwave. Use a large glass bowl to avoid bubbling over. Cook on high setting for up to eight minutes, checking and stirring it every two minutes. Be careful when removing the bowl as it will be hot! Pour the candied walnuts on a baking pan lined with parchment paper. As you pour, don’t pile them up; separate them before they cool.
How long do candied walnuts last?
You can store them in airtight containers for up to three weeks in the refrigerator. If you leave them out on the counter, keep them sealed and away from sunlight. You can store them at room temperature for a week.
Why are my candied nuts sticky?
Be sure to cook the sugar coating long enough.
Homemade Candied Walnuts
My family eats a lot of nuts, especially walnuts, for breakfast and as snack. Once I started making candied walnuts, now that’s all they want!
With more and more candies and sugary treats containing palm oil, we make all of our desserts and most of our sugary snacks from scratch. This candied walnuts recipe is always a winner in our house. Sugared walnuts you make at home tops anything you’ll find in stores. Now that you know how to make candied walnuts, you’ll never need to buy them again.
Making these at home is an easy way to eat cleaner. Once a very novice baker and cook, in a short time I learned how to make most all foods from scratch. My son has a palm oil allergy and sensitivity. Most store-bought treats and desserts are out of the question. We rarely buy processed foods because of all of the added ingredients. We want to keep him healthy.
Keeping walnuts in your pantry means you can make glazed walnuts anytime. They are ready in minutes.
If you try this candied walnuts recipe, please let me know in the comments. I love hearing from readers and like encouraging people to bake and cook at home as much as possible. I also want to encourage people to read ingredient labels in stores before buying anything.
- 1 cup raw walnut pieces
- 1 tablespoon real butter
- 2 tablespoons while granulated sugar or coconut sugar
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar or Sucanat
- ⅛ teaspoon fine sea salt
- ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- pinch of ground cayenne optional
- Line a baking pan with parchment paper.
- Melt the butter in a medium non-stick pan over medium heat. If you have heavy-bottomed pot, use it. Cast iron works well.
- Quickly add in the sugar, salt, vanilla, cinnamon. Add cayenne (if desired).
- Add the walnuts and stir to coat thoroughly. It is important to keep it moving so the butter and sugar don’t burn. Stir constantly until the nut are well coated and the sugar is melted.
- Remove the nut mixture from the pan onto parchment paper. Quickly separate the walnuts so they don’t clump together. The sugar will cool fast, so you don’t have much time to separate them, hence the small batch.
- Allow to cool for about 7 minutes. Eat and enjoy!