Holiday Giving: Sweet N’ Spicy Candied Nuts


Greetings from NYC! This is a bittersweet homecoming, as my grandmother’s funeral is today, but it’s also great to be home, and in the company of my family and friends. It has been a long, long six months since I first arrived in Washington, and I’m looking forward to a little reflective time over this break. I’m also looking forward to catching up on some sorely needed blog work: emails, comments, updates, guest posts, and so on. Finally, I’m looking forward to being upstate with Chloe on Wednesday and Thursday! I haven’t gotten up there in well over a year, and I’m long overdue.

So, while I attend to family duties today, I’m leaving you all with yet another edible gift idea: the first were my pumpkin and mocha chip macaroons. And now we have something a little more traditional: candied nuts. But this traditional recipe gets a spicy twist with some untraditional spices, and a touch of heat. Hence the sweet n’ spicy part!

I first made this recipe years ago, while I was still working at FSG. It quickly became my coworkers’ and friends’ favorite of my gifted treats, and I’ve been making it every single year since. I guarantee that you’ll have the same results with your loved ones, if you make this recipe. And the good news for all of my readers is that there’s no dehydrating required, so you won’t have to modify this recipe for your oven.


Sweet N’ Spicy Candied Nuts (vegan, gluten free, soy free)

Makes about 4 cups worth

2 cups pecans
1 cup walnuts
1 cup cashews
1/3 cup coconut oil
1 tbsp tamari
1/2 cup cane sugar
1 tbsp cumin
2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 – 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

1) Turn all nuts into a big mixing bowl.

2) Whisk together the coconut oil and tamari. Pour over nuts and toss with hands to mix thoroughly.

3) Add sugar, cumin, cinnamon and cayenne to the nuts. Toss well to combine thoroughly. Add more sugar if you have a sweet(er) tooth! And if you need a little more moisture, add a tbsp of maple syrup or agave.

4) Bake at 250 degrees for about 30 minutes, until nuts are nicely toasted and glazed. Check on them often to make sure they’re not burning. At the 30 minute mark, reduce oven to 200 degrees and cook for another 15 minutes.

5) Remove from oven and break nuts apart gently with a spoon or tongs. Allow to cool completely before serving!!

This isn’t a super-healthy recipe by any means, but it is a perfect recipe for a holiday treat—one you give yourself, or one you give to others. And you can’t beat the buttery tasting, spicy sweet glaze:


This is one you’ll want to bookmark!

Hope I’m managing to give you all inspiration for some economical and tasty holiday gifts. Usually, I do a big holiday gift guide with vegan appliances, culinary specialties, and apparel. This year, as a student on a budget that truly only allows for edible giving, I thought I’d stay true to my own constraints and show you exactly what I plan to give to the people I love. I always say that food is the best kind of gift—nourishment for body and soul—and I hope you all agree Smile


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Categories: Snacks

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  1. Oh, man. I know from personal experience that loss around the holidays is so hard, no matter what you celebrate. Hope you can have some good time with your family when you need it. Also, thanks for posting the recipe. I made these to take to two little gatherings, and they went over really well.

  2. My condolences regarding the loss of your grandma. I tried making these nuts today and I burned them all in less then 5 minutes 🙁 Are the degrees in Fahrenheit or Celsius? Just to be sure…

  3. Thank goodness you posted this recipe yesterday! I whipped up a batch and gifted them in small mason jars for my 2 bosses, then in small bags for some of the assistants in my department. Everyone seems to love them!

  4. Sending you good thoughts and hope you enjoy the time at home with your family. I’m not really a fan of spicy and sweet flavour combinations, but these nuts sound spectacular. You had me at cumin!

  5. I’m so sorry for your loss of your grandma, Gena. Wishing you and your family peace and love during this time. Hugs.

  6. Sorry for your grandma, Gena..

    I really like food as a gift, and as a New Year gift, I will be putting homemade candies (along with small L’occitane soaps and creams) inside each gift box. It is more thoughtful than just buying a present.

  7. I just found your site today as it was linked from Anne’s. Love it. Excellent information and great reads. I try to eat mostly vegetarian and vegan (when it’s cooked for me b/c I’m just an awful cook). Perhaps your blog will inspire me and help me try to maintain a more veganesque lifestyle. Keep up the good work.

  8. Nourishment for the body and soul indeed. I hope that YOU get some soul and body nourishment this Christmas season!

  9. I can’t wait to try your nut recipe! My work friends would fall in love with me all over again! 🙂

    Prayers to you & your family for your loss.

  10. Gena we are so sorry for your loss. Sending you and your family lots of hugs. You are in our prayers.

    And yes this is a bookmark recipe, so easy and sounds so yummy! Perfect for this time of year too 🙂

  11. These candied nuts look amazing! I love any nut or trail mix made with coconut oil!

    I am so sorry for your loss Gena, my thoughts and prayers are with you.

  12. So sorry for your loss 🙁

    Enjoy your time in NYC!! Those nuts sound delicious. You have been posting so many recipes I want to try! Thanks.

  13. So sorry to hear of your loss. Not that it’s ever easy, but I know it must be especially hard this time of year.

    Your nuts sound wonderful. I make a similar version but use cardamom too – it’s really good with the coconut oil!

  14. Amen to staying true to your own constraints (I guess that’s what my last post was about too). And in similar mind-meld vein, I’m making all kinds of candied nuts over here! I just wish I could find pretty bags anywhere in town.

    I hope that the funeral is as sweet an event as it can be, and unfolds into a celebration of your grandmother’s life with grateful memories of your times together.

  15. Those sound devine. I have not yet tried my hand at a roasted or candied nut recipe, but that seems perfect for this Xmas. We have an Arab half to my family that comes often for Christmas dinners and nuts, which were so common growing up, have not had the same presence in my life since moving to the US. These are a great coming together of different memories for us. I’m excited to make them!

    I extend my heart to you and your family during this time too, and am glad that you have the opportunity to attend your grandmother’s ceremony. That is not always the case these days with people at greater distances from their family members. All the best, and many hugs from the Midwest.

  16. Gena, I’m sorry for your loss and my thoughts are with you and your famiy.

    This is a great idea – inexpensive and easy, its the perfect host/hostess gift for the holidays!

  17. Hang in there, Gena…will be thinking of you today.

    Hopefully you will have plenty of time to recharge after a grueling semester. This is a great time to relax and be reflective.

  18. Sorry for your loss, Gena. I’m sending positive thoughts to you and your family.

    I completely agree about food being one of the best gifts, especially when it’s homemade. It’s so much more personal than simply buying something. I also really like to make donations to my loved ones’ favorite charities around the holidays.

  19. I am so sorry about the funeral today and for the loss of your Grandma, Gena. I wish you and your family peace during this time.

    As for the nuts, I made coconut oil roasted cinnamon sugar nuts before we left the States for the month. They were such a hit with Skylar’s teachers and friends. And easy! Yours look great and whoever receives them is lucky!