5 Ingredients or Fewer

Pine Nut Brittle with Rosemary

October 27, 2011
5 Ratings
Photo by James Ransom
  • Makes enough for one big tin or about 6 little bags of treats
Author Notes

Pine nuts and rosemary are two flavors that scream "holidays" to me. It's probably the closest you can get to eating the Christmas tree without getting tinsel in your teeth. So I decided to combine them here with another Christmas classic that dentists love to hate: brittle. Enjoy! —Ms. T

Test Kitchen Notes

We love pine nuts and rosemary together (could anything be more evocative of rolling Tuscan hills?), but the idea of combining them in brittle form struck us as groundbreaking. Ms. T has you cloak the pine nuts in a buttery caramel, and while it’s still hot you stir in plenty of chopped rosemary, which then infuses the brittle with its perfume. A shower of crunchy sea salt is the finishing touch. A word of caution: be careful, or you may find yourself demolishing half the batch in one sitting, like we did! – A&M —The Editors

What You'll Need
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 1/2 cups pine nuts
  • 8 tablespoons (one stick) unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 tablespoon finely ground sea salt (I used grey sea salt)
  1. Place the sugar in a large, heavy saucepan over high heat and stir with a wooden spoon until sugar begins to melt. Lower the heat to medium-high and keep stirring just until the sugar is melted. Stop stirring and watch for it to turn a medium caramel color. About 10 minutes total.
  2. Stir in pine nuts, and then butter. Allow pine nuts to cook for about two minutes, stirring constantly. Stir in half of the rosemary and half of the sea salt.
  3. Turn the mixture out onto a sheet pan lined with parchment paper, and spread it evenly to the desired thickness with a wooden spoon or stiff rubber spatula. Sprinkle remaining rosemary and salt on top, while brittle is still warm.
  4. Allow to cool completely--at least one hour--then break the brittle into pieces and store in an airtight container at room temperature. If your brittle isn't brittle enough to break into pieces, pop it in the freezer for 10 to 15 minutes, until it hardens enough to snap easily.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Steven Williamson
    Steven Williamson
  • RaquelG
  • insecureepicure
  • The Principal Cook
    The Principal Cook
  • Melissa Slattery
    Melissa Slattery
A museum marketing professional 8 hours a day, and a gal who's dreaming, drooling, obsessing about food for the other 18 hours. Wait, that doesn't add up to 24? Oh, that's because I'm counting the hours I'm supposed to be working that I dream about food (don't tell my boss). Several years ago, I started a cooking club with six girlfriends...ten years later...many of our addresses and last names have changed, our palettes have gotten more sophisticated and the wine has gotten less cheap. We now usually sit at dining room tables like grownups instead of on cushions on the floor of studio apartments, and the conversations have shifted with the life stages...but we're still going strong, the food gets better every month, and nothing is more pleasurable than sharing an afternoon laughing, eating, and trading tips on recipes and life.

144 Reviews

JOYCE G. January 23, 2019
I made this and then had to remake immediately to the friends I gave it to. Simple & stunning. Cannot believe how sophisticated it tastes.
Risa B. December 15, 2018
I guess after 3 Christmases of being the top brittle of my brittle offerings, I should write a review... This is indeed wonderful and unusual. I'm going to be *that person* and say that I've never made it exactly as written - instead I use 1c pine nuts, 1c pumpkin seeds, and 0.5c sunflower seeds, which really cuts costs and adds a nice mix of flavors. I bet almost any mix of nuts or seeds here would be great. Highly recommended!
Bunnie1 February 7, 2017
I ended up using YouTube for melting the sugar..... the best bet is pushing it rather than stirring it. Then I followed the recipe as instructed ... adding half the rosemary while cooking and sprinkling on top with black cypress sea salt when rolling out. I have never used a thermometer and every time I made this it has been a success. It is only hard to stir for a minute .... if adding butter at the same time works please let me know!
Steven W. February 7, 2017
I hope this gets a reply, since many of the comments are two years old. Many brittle recipes call for the butter to go right in with the sugar, then cook to 300 degrees before adding the what have you. I am not skiled enough to cook without a thermometer, to judge medium caramel color. Any idea what that temp would be? I see other in comments the mixture became too hard to stir and required leaving on the heat to loosen. I think that could be avoided by putting the butter in at the beginning? I realize there are many ways to brittle...
RaquelG December 10, 2014
I've made this for several Christmases now to rave reviews! The rosemary really is the kicker... I usually mix it in rather than sprinkle on top. Divine!
insecureepicure January 19, 2014
I teach cooking and I used this recipe in one of my classes. I try to teach fast desserts that are little bits of sweet and low carb. This brittle is delicious.
The P. December 24, 2013
Wow! We made this last night for giving to friends and quickly discovered how addictive it is! Following LeeLeeBee's suggestion, we added 2 teaspoons of baking soda after we took it off the heat, and it came out beautifully. A brilliant recipe!
roughcut December 23, 2013
Can I use Earth Balance to make this vegan?
Amy H. April 4, 2015
Yes! I have done that and it turned out beautifully.
Melissa S. December 17, 2013
I had clumping from too much stuirring but medium heat and patience smoothed things out. Once the butter was in it took a while for it to completely incorporate. Once it did everything was fine. My first try ever at butter brickle, it really is fabulous I'm having trouble not eating it all right now.
ElisaVR December 14, 2013
Hi, I'm new to making brittle, so maybe that is my problem...but when I just made this, it didn't turn out at all. When I added the pinenuts they suck together with the sugar right away, clumping up, and it was very hard to stir. It seemed like there was not enough of the sugar (although I did follow the proportions). Then when I added the butter, it got all grainy. So I have a pan full of wonderful tasting sugar coated pinenuts...but not at all brittle. Any suggestions? Thank you!
DavyD December 14, 2013
The sugar needs to be completely melted before you add the pine nuts. I found that only occasionally stirring the sugar as it melted prevented clumping. Also, keeping the heat on low while mixing in the butter and pine nuts will prevent clumps.
serafinadellarosa December 16, 2013
Just made this last night and it's out of this world. The pine nuts and butter clumped like made on me as well. I raised the heat and the sugar loosened up enough for me to be able to stir and pour.
Kim B. December 14, 2013
How long does this keep. My husband made it for Thanksgiving (lucky me, he loves to cook) and we were saving some for Christmas. I had a little piece the other night and it seemed fine, though maybe a bit of Rosemary was tough?
JSykes December 11, 2013
This brittle looks awesome - but it seems to use a lot of pine nuts. I love them, but I'm afraid to eat more than a few. Anyone who has ever experienced a "taste disturbance" from them will know exactly what I'm talking about. Anyway, this is probably a bizarre sort of comment, but was just wondering if anyone had an issue with that.
carswell December 14, 2013
I toast the pine nuts first. It enhances the nuttiness and reduces any residual bitterness in the nuts.

I first made this a couple of years ago and it was a huge hit. It's now one of my yearly donations to the festive season's indulgences.
koechin December 4, 2013
i had been gifted with a large bag of raw cashews, so i toasted them and worked them into this brittle. for the top sprinkling salt i used a recipe for pomegranate salt that looked festively pink. don't know if it made much of a taste difference but it sure looked good. amazing recipe, thanks for giving me another kitchen gift recipe.
Ms. T. December 6, 2013
Oooh, what a nice twist! Happy that my recipe could be your starting point :)
LeeLeeBee December 2, 2013
This recipe was so, so good. Any thoughts on whether adding baking soda, like in traditional peanut brittle, will increase airiness and crunch?
Ms. T. December 6, 2013
Hmmm...I've never tried it, but please report back if you try it! Glad you like the recipe :)
Ann W. November 17, 2013
I'm assuming this brittle will stay 'hard and crunchy' if it's packaged properly. Sending some for holiday gifts. Anyone have suggestions regarding packaging?
Ms. T. November 18, 2013
Yes, just make sure it's fully cooled before you package it up in an airtight container. I usually use plastic food gift bags from the Container Store, tied with ribbon. I'm sure a cookie tin/or tupperware container would work too, but I would probably wrap in wax paper or plastic wrap inside.
ChefFace January 23, 2013
Yummm... Made this twice over the holidays, it was a huge hit, thank you so much for sharing ;)
Bunnie1 December 29, 2012
The best gift I gave this year..... I used fresh rosemary I grow in my pot outside and sprinkled black cypress flake salt with pink river salt to the finished brittle ...... Beautiful !!!!!!!! Love love love this recipe!
Karli December 19, 2012
Has anyone used organic cane sugar for this recipe? I just tried to use I & quickly realized my conundrum...color, the sugar is already a light brown, so I had no way of knowing when it was ready for the pine nuts. Black, I waited till the sugar was waaayyy too dark/burned (after letting it cook for 10 min, per the recipe's instruction). Is there a temp that the sugar should be before putting in the pine nuts? Has anyone under browned the sugar before putting in the nuts & then not had it turn out right?

hardlikearmour December 19, 2012
I use organic cane sugar for making caramels all the time, so I know what you're talking about. I find tilting the pan and checking what a thin layer of sugar looks like helps visualize the color change better. The sugar turns a nice golden brown in the 325-330º F range.
Karli December 19, 2012
Thank you! So helpful. Trying again...
cheese1227 February 24, 2012
My oh my! Just made this to serve as a garnish to a blood orange and fennel salad I am serving tomorrow. It is fabulous!
Choirbell January 22, 2012
I made this brittle for Christmas and it was a huge success!!! Everyone loved the slightly sweet, salty savory flavors. It was a nice foil for all of the overly sweet goodies at the Christmas table!