The 2 Best Methods For Making Candied Pecans

Candied pecans are one of those foods that could almost be considered a staple. It's a snack, a salad topping, a dessert, a cheese embellishment, a pie filling, and — according to Xcellent Insights – is an industry projected to grow in the coming years. They can be savory with rosemary and garlic or sweet with cinnamon and sugar, and work with practically any combination of spices. Lucky for us topping lovers, pecans are a year-round, versatile favorite.

Recipe searches for candied pecans often yield results for pralines. Pralines are candies made with pecans, brown sugar, cream, and butter. This 17th-century French dessert (traditionally just almonds coated in boiled sugar) was introduced to Louisiana by French settlers in the 1800s. The South adopted the pecan as their native nut, writes The Atlantic, adding cream and butter to make a soft, cookie-like candy. The praline has been edited, upgraded, altered, and adapted over the years to expand into simple candy-coated nuts — like candied pecans.

The oven method is hands-off

Candied pecans (also known as candy-coated pecans) can be made in two ways: on the stove or in the oven. Both produce the same crunchy results, but with different techniques. These variations of cooking are entirely up to your preference and kitchen space. Traditionally candied pecans are pecan halves coated in egg whites and a sugar-spice mixture, explains Master Class. But the combination of spice, sugar, or salt is entirely up to you. 

Coat the pecans in an egg white mixture and toss them in the spice combination per the recipe you've chosen. Spread the well-coated pecans evenly on a parchment-lined baking sheet so that they don't stick together. Bake in the oven for up to an hour, according to your chosen recipe. Some recipes recommend that you stir halfway through your cooking time (per Gimme Some Oven).

This method is nice because it's hands-off, allowing you to go about your other kitchen duties. It also fills the kitchen with a wonderful aroma.

The stove-top method is quick and easy

Alternatively, the stovetop method works just as well. Stove-top provides a little more control, and can be quicker. It's ideal if your oven is full of turkeys, casseroles, or breads, and doesn't have room for anymore friends. This pecan method does not use egg-white either — which means they can be vegan, according to Inspired Taste.

Candied pecans are fairly easy to make, so cooking them on a stovetop doesn't require too much fuss from a busy cook. In Fifteen Spatula's recipe, brown sugar and spices are cooked until bubbly in a non-stick pan. Once the sugar is completely dissolved, toss in the pecan halves, stir, and cook for 3 to 5 minutes (depending on the heat your stove puts out). What gives stovetop pecans their crunch is the sugar melting and then re-crystallizing as it cools, says Master Class. The only downside with this quick stovetop method is that the sugar can burn if cooked too long, Striped Spatula warns. So watch carefully. Both methods result in crunchy, savory, and ultra-versatile candied pecans. You may want to make an extra batch just for yourself.