Make Ahead

Crispy Spice-Brined Pecans

October 25, 2010
5 Ratings
  • Serves 2 cups of nuts
Author Notes

Here’s another spice-brined “crispy” nut recipe. These pecan halves are delicately flavored, to be savored one by one, slowly. (That’s actually not a bad way to eat everything else, of course.) Raw pecans are brined in a solution of salt, sweet spices and fresh orange peel, then dried and lightly roasted in a very slow oven. Your patience will be rewarded with a mildly-flavored nut with a beautiful texture. The method is based on one described by Sally Fallon in "Nourishing Traditions." Be warned: these are habit forming. Enjoy!! - AntoniaJames —AntoniaJames

Test Kitchen Notes

These spiced pecans -- unlike their sugar-shellacked counterparts -- are sitting, unassumingly, on a wonderful secret. At first glance, they appear raw and untouched, but one bite betrays that they're actually perfectly salted and spiced from within, and dried to a crisp. The long brining and low, low roasting technique takes only time and almost no effort. But here's another secret: those times can be approximated with little ill effect. Even with a couple hours shaved off each the brining and roasting times, these still disappeared from the jar. If you can't find mace, substitute nutmeg or try one of AntoniaJames' other, equally enticing crispy spiced nut recipes. - A&M —The Editors

What You'll Need
  • 2 cups of raw pecan halves
  • 2 teaspoons of sea salt
  • ½ of a cinnamon stick, broken into 3 or 4 pieces
  • ½ teaspoon ground mace
  • 3 whole cloves
  • 2 pieces of orange peel, each 1” x 3”
  1. Combine 1 ½ cups of boiling water in a glass or ceramic bowl with all of the other ingredients except the pecan halves. Cool to lukewarm, then stir well.
  2. Add the nuts and allow them to soak for 6-8 hours.
  3. Preheat oven to 150 degrees Fahrenheit.
  4. With a slotted spoon, remove the pecans from the brining liquid and spread them on a baking sheet lined with parchment. Remove the whole spices and the orange peel.
  5. Roast for 10-12 hours, stirring occasionally.
  6. Enjoy!!
  7. If by chance, there are any left, store them in a tightly lidded container.
Contest Entries

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • msophelia
  • Yaya
  • Hibatt
  • Droplet
  • Chef Carlos
    Chef Carlos

Recipe by: AntoniaJames

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87 Reviews

sandy B. September 14, 2021
Followed this recipe to a T.
A waste of time and whole cloves.
I sprayed the pecans with Pam and added salt, sugar, and cayenne to save them.
AntoniaJames September 15, 2021
Glad you found a workaround that suits you. ;o)
Sarah S. December 18, 2014
Hi Antonia,
I was hoping to make your vanilla almonds for my mother for Christmas again this year- they were a big hit last year, but I see the recipe is no longer on the site. Would you mind sharing the ratios with me please? I remember it is a similar technique to this and used vanilla beans, but I no longer have the ratios to work from. Thanks for any help!
AntoniaJames December 22, 2014
Sarah, I've looked high and low for that recipe, but cannot find it. You should send a note to [email protected] and ask them to see if they have it in the archives. They probably do. So sorry I could not be of more help. ;o)
maletta E. October 12, 2014
I think I will experiment with this and try pumkin pie spice for holloween. I just think they will be a big hit at the haunted house party will let you all know
BJ December 24, 2013
I followed this recipe to the T. The nuts came out crispy but not tasting of much more than pecan flavor. I don't recommend spending the time.
msophelia December 4, 2013
wondering if these could go in a dehydrator, rather than an oven, as long as it hits the right temperature?
AntoniaJames December 4, 2013
Yes! I haven't tried it, but I have no reason to believe that it wouldn't. You just need a very low temperature over a long period, to get the brined nuts nice and crisp. ;o)
msophelia December 4, 2013
excellent! will be trying these out soon. :)
Yaya December 4, 2013
temperature of the oven?
AntoniaJames December 4, 2013
150 degrees Fahrenheit. ;o)
Hibatt September 10, 2013
My oven only goes down to 175, will that be o.k?
AntoniaJames December 4, 2013
Yes, it should be fine. You can probably cut the total time down; also, you can open the oven for about 30 seconds at the end of say, 6 hours, to let any residual steam out; give the nuts a light stir on the baking sheet and then shut the door with the heat off and let the nuts sit in the oven as it cools. ;o)
Danielle September 1, 2013
The review mentions other recipes . . . where do I look? I can't wait to fill the pantry with brine-crisped nuts (might try with other varieties of nuts, if it goes well).
wkbeckman June 11, 2013
How about adding dried chiles to the brine, or fresh jalapenos? Would that add some heat?
monkeymom June 11, 2013
I recently made a version with ground cayenne pepper and shallot powder, a very conservative 1/2 tsp of each. I liked using the ground because after I removed the nuts from the brine, I didn't rinse the nuts. As the nuts dried in the oven, the pepper and shallot powder residue that was left stuck to the nuts and gave them a very pleasant little coating. I wished I had put more cayenne in and will at least double it next time.
Chef C. December 4, 2013
Great thought, I'll try the same approach. Gracias
beejay45 June 8, 2013
I think these would make an amazing pecan pie. I do love pecan pie, but zippy nuts instead of plain, wow! Thank you for this great technique, AntoniaJames.
AntoniaJames June 10, 2013
Thanks, beejay45. I'm sure they'd make a great pecan pie, though you might lose some of their magical crispiness in a pie. I like putting them in a cookie inspired by a simple nut crescent recipe I inherited from my mother -- a favorite holiday cookie in many households. Here's the link to my crispy-cardamom brined pecan cookies: . The nuts stay nice and crispy, making the cookies rather special. ;o)
John B. May 9, 2013
I used pecans. I have no info on how walnuts will work with this prep. The nuts that I made didn't stay around very long so I am sorry that I can't answer your question re how quickly the nuts will risk rancidity.
Droplet May 9, 2013
AJ, I was wondering do you have any observations regarding how well these keep? I have about 5 lbs of walnuts from last season that were stored in their shell and I am cracking them today and tomorrow to finish them up in the next couple of months. If I treat a large portion of them as above, do you think they might go rancid fairly quickly? I just thought it would be nice to utilize the 12 hour oven time as best as I can with several trays at once, but don't want to waste so much material in case they don't keep as well. Thank you
John B. December 21, 2012
Wonderful nuanced flavor, better as the pecans age a bit. Great as a cocktail snack. Subtle orange/spice is there for your discovery.
AntoniaJames January 2, 2013
So glad you enjoyed them. I've been making spice-brined pecans with cardamom and nutmeg lately, and orange, which is a lovely combination as well. ;o)
Carolin H. December 12, 2012
If I use a convection oven should be less time baking?
Carolin H. December 12, 2012
Sorry... baking time?
AntoniaJames December 12, 2012
I make these in a convection oven. At this very low temperature, the time required is no different. ;o)
Abu D. December 12, 2012
Has anyone doubled or tripled this recipe? If I am cooking for 10-12 hours and making it as Christmas gifts, I'd love to make a larger batch.
AntoniaJames December 12, 2012
Yes, you can make a double batch. I recommend though putting the nuts in the brine in separate bowls for each batch, and to spread them out on separate baking sheets. I.e., make duplicate, simultaneous batches. It's very important that there be plenty of room between the nuts on the baking sheet, to allow them to dry completely. Their crispiness results from the drying, so the more room you have between the nuts, the crispier they will be. Also, with the double batch, you have twice as much moisture in your oven, so be sure to open the oven door very briefly periodically (after the first half hour and then at least twice twice during the next few hours), to allow that moisture to escape. You'll be amazed at how much moisture these produce. ;o)
Chef C. December 12, 2012
While these look interesting, somehow the 10-12 hr cooking time seems an impediment to time challenged cooks like moi. I may try them at 300 F for 30 minutes and see how they turn out
AntoniaJames December 12, 2012
They won't be crispy, I don't think. They need the long, slow, low-temperature heat to allow the moisture from the brine to cook off, leaving a dry nut. But do let us know how they turn out, if you try this! ;o)
RioMissPam November 27, 2011
Saw this recipe from Pinterest and looks so yummy. Will be making these today.
Patrisha November 23, 2011
Congrats on your win!! These sound yummy!! Going to make a batch using allspice since I am out of mace.
AntoniaJames November 23, 2011
Thank you so much! Allspice sounds positively divine. I must, must try that. Do let me know how they turn out, please. ;o)
These look delicious and they give some ideas to change up another nut recipe that I have! Thanks! I can't wait to try these.
AntoniaJames November 23, 2011
Thanks so much. I hope you do!! ;o)
AntoninDevourChoc May 11, 2011
These are killer.