This candied walnuts recipe is lightly sweetened, easy to make, and so irresistibly delicious. Perfect for snacking, adding to salads, giving as gifts — you name it!
Friends, I have a new candied walnuts recipe for us this season!
And I have to say, I’m loving this one because it is refreshingly not too sweet. ♡
I’ve reduced the amount of sugar in traditional candied nuts by 75% in this recipe. But guess what — they still taste delightfully sweet! And as it turns out, the lighter “candy” coating in this recipe has the added bonus of allowing you to better taste the toasted walnuts themselves, as well as the vanilla, cinnamon and tiny hint of cayenne mixed in there too. It’s the perfect balance of flavors in my opinion, and my husband and I found these walnuts to be 100% irresistible. (Lol, like seriously, our first batch didn’t even last for two days!)
I’m also happy to report that this particular candied walnuts recipe is a breeze to make in the oven (only one stir necessary partway through). And they taste absolutely amazing sprinkled on salads, stirred into trail mixes, sprinkled on sweet potatoes, or — my favorite — popped plain as a sweet snack. Bonus, they also freeze well and make for great gifts, if you’re looking to give away some DIY treats this holiday season.
Anyway, I’m a big fan. So if you’re in the market for a lighter candied walnuts recipe, bring home some nuts and let’s make a quick batch together!
Candied Walnuts Ingredients:
To make this candied walnuts recipe, you will need:
Walnuts: About 4 cups raw walnut halves (or chopped walnuts).
Egg white: To bind the candy coating to the walnuts.
Vanilla extract: Just a little for flavor!
Brown sugar: I used packed brown sugar, but you could also sub in white (granulated) sugar or coconut sugar instead.
Spices: Ground cinnamon plus a hint of cayenne.
Fine sea salt: My preferred salt for this recipe. (Note that if you choose to use table salt instead, you will need to use less salt.)
Full ingredient amounts/directions included in the recipe below.
How To Make Candied Walnuts:
To make this candied walnuts recipe, simply…
Mix together the candy coating. In a small bowl, whisk together the brown sugar, cinnamon, salt and cayenne until combined.
Prep the walnuts. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the egg white and vanilla. Then add the walnuts and toss until they are evenly coated. Add the brown sugar mixture and toss again until the walnuts are evenly coated.
Bake. Spread the walnuts out on a parchment-covered baking sheet in a single layer (try to avoid much overlapping) and bake for 40 minutes, removing the baking sheet halfway through to give the walnuts a brief stir. Remove from the oven and let cool for about 10 minutes or so.
Serve. These candied walnuts are best served fresh while they are perfectly warm and crispy! That said, they can also be stored in a sealed container for up to two weeks, or frozen for up to 2 months.
Want to customize this candied nuts recipe a bit? Feel free to…
Adjust the sweetness. If you would like sweeter (more traditional) candied walnuts, you can increase the amount of brown sugar from 1/4 cup up to 1 cup.
Use pecans instead. Walnuts and pecans are interchangeable here. So feel free to use pecans instead, or a 50/50 mix!
Use different seasonings. Feel free to sub in pumpkin pie spice or chai spice in place of the ground cinnamon.
Use different sugar. As mentioned above, feel free to use white granulated sugar or coconut sugar instead of brown sugar if you prefer.
Omit (or increase) the cayenne. If you prefer your candied walnuts not to have any extra kick, you’re welcome to omit the cayenne. Or if you would like them to be extra spicy, you can double it (to 1/2 teaspoon total).
How To Serve Candied Walnuts:
Some of my favorite ways to serve candied walnuts include…
Plain: This is admittedly my favorite way to eat candied nuts — just popping a few plain as a sweet snack!
Salads: These candied walnuts would be a delicious addition to salads of all kinds.
Sweet potatoes: Candied walnuts also taste delicious sprinkled on baked sweet potatoes, mashed sweet potatoes, or sweet potato casserole.
Snack mix: Stir them into Chex Mix or your favorite trail mixes for an extra a pop of sweetness.
This candied walnuts recipe is lightly sweetened, easy to make, and so irresistibly delicious. See notes above for possible ingredient variations.
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne
1 egg white
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 cups (12 ounces) raw walnut halves
Heat oven to 300°F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside.
In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the brown sugar, sea salt, cinnamon and cayenne until combined.
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together egg white and vanilla until combined. Add the walnuts and toss until they are evenly coated with the egg white mixture. Add the brown sugar mixture and toss until the walnuts are evenly coated.
Spread the walnuts out in an even layer on the baking sheet. Bake for 20 minutes. Remove baking sheet from the oven, and give the walnuts a brief stir. Return to the oven and bake for 5 more minutes. Remove and transfer to a wire rack to cool for 10 minutes.
Serve immediately, or store in a sealed container for up to 2 weeks.
Baking time: After a few readers reported that the initial cooking time (40 minutes total) resulted in overcooked walnuts, we have retested and reduced the cooing time to 25 minutes total.
I just made these because I was craving some candied nuts to go along with the seared pears with goat cheese I wanted to make.
Quick and easy and the reduction of sugar is exactly what I wanted.
I divided my batches into thirds producing one batch as is, one with finely chopped coconut shavings, and about with bourbon maple syrup (that one had bake a little mindset longer) all a are delicious.
These were easy and awesome! I followed the directions to a T and they came out fabulous! Nice and crunchy, not overly sweet. Yum!
i made these, using 1/3 c brown sugar and using the 25 min baking time. they taste burned and are nit glossy, like there wasn’t enough sugar to cover the egg white. any suggestion?
Made these today, absolutely awesome recipe. I increased the cayenne pepper because I like the heat
Do you whisk the egg whites and vanilla until it forms peaks or just until mixed together?
Easy recipe but my walnuts has a bitter after taste. How do I get rid of the bitter taste ?
I made this with 1 cup sugar and bake it for 20 minutes on 300 degrees and they came out perfect! Thank you for sharing. I’m gonna add some flavor whiskey next time I make it. I can’t stop eating it! Lol so good!
Ok, so double that brown sugar and the cayenne pepper, add a little maple syrup to your dry mix with walnuts. Heat 2 tablespoons of salted stick butter over medium heat then cook them walnuts over that heat for about 7-10 minutes.. your welcome.
These were not good. Way too much salt not enough sugar. Total waste of a bag of walnuts… back to the food store I go.
These are sooooo good! A perfect level of sweetness. The vanilla and cayenne are an unexpected and delicious combination. I originally made these as a gift for some coworkers but they’ve become a favorite salad topper and afternoon snack for me!
Definitely not the best ones I have done. You are better off melting butter and sugar and flavor in a pan I to a caramel and then coating. These are just boring and the sugar didn’t melt completely, not sweet at all.