Deciding to make homemade gifts for the holidays might seem overly ambitious. But it doesn’t have to be.
Really, it’s as simple as making your list of recipients, picking a few of your favorite recipes that have a good shelf life, gathering some glass jars, a few rolls of decorative ribbon, and some gift tags or labels, and you’re good to go.
Set aside an afternoon for cooking or baking and assembly line packing, queue up your favorite tunes, and make your kitchen into Santa’s secret workshop. You may be the only elf in residence, but trust me, you’re up to the task!
After that, all I have left is baking these sweet and salty candied nuts. In fact, I’m making two batches, because they’re that good. (One down, and one to go!)
If you need a gift idea, trust me when I say this scrumptious snack makes a great one that’s always appreciated.
After I mixed and baked the blend of walnuts and pecans with cayenne pepper and cinnamon, plus sugar and egg whites, I pulled the trays out of the oven (and popped a few handfuls of the hot, fragrant candied nuts in my mouth, I admit). Then I cooled what was left and scooped them into jars. I’ll tie these with ribbon, and label them for gifting.
I love those moments when my actions are all about someone else, about giving to someone else and putting a little bit of extra love into what I’ve made. My Christmas prep and shopping might not be quite finished yet, but it’s been wonderful to take some time in the kitchen to stop and reflect for awhile.
For me, this is what the holiday season is all about.Print
When guests gather in your home for the holidays, make sure you have sugar and spice candied nuts on hand for all your snacking needs.
- 1 cup turbinado or demerara sugar
- 1 Tbsp kosher salt
- 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 large egg white, room temperature
- 1 Tbsp water
- 1/2 lb raw walnut halves
- 1/2 lb raw pecan halves
- Preheat oven to 300˚F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Mix sugar, salt, cayenne, and cinnamon in a medium-sized bowl, making sure there are no lumps. Set aside.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fit with the whisk attachment, or by hand with a whisk, beat egg white and water on medium speed until frothy but not stiff, about 1 minute. Add walnuts and pecans, and stir to coat evenly.
- Sprinkle with the sugar mixture, and toss until evenly coated. Spread in a single layer on the prepared cookie sheet.
- Bake for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from oven and, using a spatula, gently separate nuts to make sure they are not touching to prevent them from sticking together. Cool completely on the baking sheet.
- When completely cool, pour the nuts into a bowl and serve or store in an airtight container. Nuts can be stored for 3-4 weeks.
Recipe adapted from Smitten Kitchen.
- Category: Snacks
- Method: Baking
- Cuisine: Christmas
Keywords: candied nuts, pecans, walnuts, holiday, Christmas
Cooking By the Numbers…
Step 1 – Measure Ingredients
Measure out all ingredients as listed. Set out ingredients as they appear in the ingredients list along with all of the necessary equipment, to make your job easier!
If you plan to start with whole nuts, don’t miss our guide to the best nutcrackers.
Preheat oven to 300˚F. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
Step 2 – Make Dry Mixture
Stir together sugar, salt, cayenne, and cinnamon in a medium bowl. Make sure there are no lumps in the mixture.
Step 3 – Make Wet Mixture
Add egg white and water to the bowl of a stand mixer fit with the whisk attachment.
Beat on medium speed until frothy but not stiff. This will take about 1 minute.
Add walnuts and pecans to the egg white mixture.
Sprinkle in the sugar mixture and toss until the nuts are evenly coated.
Step 4 – Bake
Spread nuts in an even layer on the prepared baking sheet.
Bake for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally throughout the baking process.
Remove from oven and use a spatula to gently separate the nuts.
Make sure they are not touching so they don’t stick together in clumps.
Step 5 – Cool
Cool completely in the baking sheet. Once cool, add nuts to a bowl and serve, or package in jars with tight-fitting lids for gift giving.
Nuts can be stored in an airtight container for 3-4 weeks.
Sugar and Spice and Everything Nice
As great as these nuts are for setting out at holiday gatherings and other events, they make for an incredible gift to friends and family.
To make an easy gift, fill a pint-sized mason jar with the sugar and spice candied nuts. Tie a ribbon around the neck of the jar and. It’s as easy as that.
You can also pack up small 4-ounce mason jars with the nuts as a stocking stuffer or take-away for your upcoming holiday gatherings. It’s the perfect holiday party favor!
This is such an easy recipe that just about everyone loves, there’s no reason not to share these with everyone you know.
Want more food gift ideas? Check out the recipes below for inspiration:
- Homemade Mulled Wine Spice Mix
- Easy Chocolate Candy Bark
- Chewy, Gooey Caramel Candy
- Hot Chocolate Mix or Baking Mix in a Jar
For the spring and summer months, consider making another sugary treat: candied flowers!
How will you share this snack with friends and family? Tell us in the comments below, and be sure to come back to rate the recipe when you’ve tried it. We want to know if you love this snack just as much as we do!
Photos by Meghan Yager, © Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details. Originally published on December 23, 2009. Last updated: December 29, 2019 at 1:06 am. With additional writing and editing by Meghan Yager and Allison Sidhu.
Nutritional information derived from a database of known generic and branded foods and ingredients and was not compiled by a registered dietitian or submitted for lab testing. It should be viewed as an approximation.
About Shanna Mallon
Shanna Mallon is a freelance writer who holds an MA in writing from DePaul University. Her work has been featured in a variety of media outlets, including The Kitchn, Better Homes & Gardens, Taste of Home, Houzz.com, Foodista, Entrepreneur, and Ragan PR. In 2014, she co-authored The Einkorn Cookbook with her husband, Tim. Today, you can find her digging into food topics and celebrating the everyday grace of eating on her blog, Go Eat Your Bread with Joy. Shanna lives in Nashville, Tennessee, with Tim and their two small kids.