Candied Pecans are a great handmade gift, easy to make recipe for a Christmas cookie exchange, and a perfect addition to your holiday dessert table. With just 6 common pantry ingredients in this easy recipe, you can make these delicious sweet sugared pecans with cinnamon to give as holiday gifts or keep some for yourself to sprinkle over salads or serve to guests.
I first shared this recipe in 2013, but it was time for an update. So, I’ve updated the name of the recipe from sugared pecans to candied pecans; I just think more people know and love candied pecans. And, I’ve updated the pictures and information for a better user experience.
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Please let me know if you have any questions about this recipe. I read all the comments myself and I try to help as soon as I can. I have readers from all levels of comfort and experience in the kitchen on my site, and I’ve tried to answer some of your questions already in the post. But if I’ve missed anything, please feel free to leave a comment and ask.
Most of the older pictures I had of these sweet pecans were simple snapshots of the pecans on a party table.
I’ve made this treat for baby showers, bridal showers, and all kinds of holiday get-togethers. They’re a pretty budget-friendly treat to make too!
This is one of those recipes I’ve been making for years, and I have no idea where it originally came from.
What I do know is that these pecans are super delish, super easy, and people just love ’em. They are usually the first thing to disappear from the table at parties!
The house smells amazing when you make them! Doesn’t cinnamon just smell like Christmas!
This is a MUST MAKE recipe this holiday season!
Fill up small jars to give as great holiday gifts. Tie it up with a pretty ribbon, and your handmade gift is going to make someone so happy!
Place a few on a cookie tray, or leave them out for Santa as a nice change of pace.
A bag of these would make a fantastic gift for a special teacher too!
These ship really well too, making them a great gift for family on the other side of the country. Check out my tips on How to Ship Baked Goods for more info.
- Satisfy your sweet tooth with these quick and easy candied nuts without egg.
- If you’re looking for something sweet, crunchy, and totally irresistible this is the snack you want!
- Toss them in with some Chex cereal, chocolate chips, and plain almonds for a great snack mix!
- Use them in salads. They are great in a salad with arugula, goat cheese, and apples!
- Top desserts with these bad boys! A sprinkle of these over an ice cream sundae makes for a very happy camper! Or over some rice pudding or chocolate pudding.
- Or top a cake or cupcakes with them.
- Bake some into your next batch of pumpkin bread, Orange Marmalade bread or other quick breads.
- Pile some up on a cheese board or charcuterie board.
- They’re great on top of sweet potatoes for the ultimate candied sweet potatoes!
How to make candied pecans
You can easily make these pecans on the stove top in under 10 minutes. Because these aren’t roasted, they are super quick and easy to make.
They’re egg-free, gluten-free, vegan, and so much fun! And this recipe is made without brown sugar.
Be sure to scroll down to the printable recipe card for full ingredient amounts and instructions.
Stir together the sugar, cinnamon, cream of tartar, and boiling water in a small saucepan.
Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture comes to a boil. Continue to boil until mixture reaches 240° F (soft ball stage) on a candy thermometer, about 8 minutes total.
Remove saucepan from heat, and stir in pecans.
Let cool a few minutes, and add vanilla, stirring until pecans are evenly coated.
Pour pecans onto a sheet of waxed paper, parchment paper, or a silpat.
Separate the nuts with 2 forks. Let cool. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 weeks.
Can I switch up the recipe?
You can customize the flavors of this recipe to your liking.
Feel free to also add any other spices such as cardamom, ginger, nutmeg, cloves, or pumpkin pie spice.
A pinch of cayenne pepper will add some zip to the pecans.
Sprinkle them with unsweetened cocoa when they’re done for a chocolate treat.
Yes, this recipe will work just as well with most nuts.
I would recommend walnuts, cashews, or hazelnuts.
Can I leave out the cream of tartar?
Cream of tartar is a stabilizer, inhibiting sugar crystallization and it helps keep the consistency of the candy-coating smooth. It’s an acid, like lemon juice or vinegar, and it breaks down sugar (sucrose) into glucose and fructose. This helps prevents that crystallization, so the end product doesn’t have large crunchy sugar capsules.
It’s a dry, powdery, acidic byproduct of fermenting grapes into wine. And you can find it in the baking aisle of the grocery store or by the spices.
I’ve heard from some people who live in other countries, that cream of tartar isn’t available to them.
In that case, if you don’t have access to it, I’d say just leave it out.
The candy coating may not have the same exact texture, but trying to substitute anything else is too much work, and I think the candy will be just fine.
It’s kind of like a “cheater ingredient” to make the candy a little bit easier to work with.
It’s also in many cookies, and if you’d like to read more about it, check out my Snickerdoodles cookies recipe.
Other great nut recipes
I love snacking on nuts. They’re healthy and help satisfy the need to crunch!
Candied nuts can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for one week.
Just place them in a ziptop bag, or in a nice glass container with a tight-fitting lid.
Want to keep them for longer? Place that airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 weeks.
Should you refrigerate the candied pecans?
Do candied pecans need to be refrigerated?
No, they store nicely on the counter, but if you want to keep them fresher for a little longer, pop them in the fridge.
And the nice thing is that they can be stored on the counter, in the fridge, or the freezer and they are just as good!
Yes, these Cinnamon-Sugar Candied Pecans freeze well.
Allow them to cool completely before popping them into the freezer in an airtight ziptop bag for up to 2 months.
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via the pin.
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
- ½ cup boiling water
- 3 cups pecan halves
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla
- Stir together the sugar, cinnamon, cream of tartar, and boiling water in a small saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture comes to a boil. Continue to boil until mixture reaches 240° F (soft ball stage) on a candy thermometer, about 8 minutes total.
- Remove saucepan from heat, and stir in pecans. Let cool a few minutes, and add vanilla, stirring until pecans are evenly coated. Pour pecans onto a sheet of waxed paper, parchment paper, or a silpat. Separate the nuts with 2 forks. Let cool. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 weeks.
Nutritional information is based on third-party calculations, and should be considered estimates. Actual nutritional content will vary based on brands used, measuring methods, portion sizes, and more.